Recently, I've been studying Chinese really well. I still feel far from "fluent" and wish I was leaps and bounds better, but I'm not sure I'll ever feel that great about my Chinese.
I'm beginning to realize more and more that, for me, studying Chinese is a lot like playing the guitar: I'll never be satisfied with where I'm at. I'd be lying to myself if I said that I haven't improved (in both guitar and Chinese), but I just feel so far from where I want to ultimately be.
Although frustrating, I'm not sure that having such resistant feelings towards contentment is a bad thing.
I'm 100% committed to SuperMemo. Avid readers of my blog know that I began using the spaced repetition study method this past Spring.
It is simply unbelievable. I don't know where I would be without SuperMemo. Trying to learn Chinese without it seems incomprehensible to me now. I turned my two best friends in Xi'an on to SuperMemo and the three of us are fully committed.
The following photos show just how strong my commitment actually is:
I'm now up to pile "BJ" on my Chinese flashcards. This means that I've already used "A" through "Z", "AA" through "AZ," and have recently gone from "BA" to "BJ."
By my calculation, that means I have 62 piles of flashcards integrated into my SuperMemo study method. I roughly have between 25 and 35 flashcards in each of those piles. So that means I have between 1,550 and 2,170 Chinese flashcards made.
I'd say that all of those are more or less part of my working vocabulary. Theoretically, I should know the pinyin, tones, Chinese characters, and English translation of every card in every one of those piles. Of course I don't know 100% of all these cards at any given time, but I'm getting there.
In addition to being a Chinese flashcard fiend, I'm still using my text book to develop my skills with the language.
Here are some photos from the chapter I covered last week with my teacher:
This is the last page of the previous chapter. At the end of each chapter, there is a passage with tons of new vocabulary. As you can see, there were a number of new words for me here. There are also a few reading comprehension questions to chew on. This is a traditional Chinese folk story about why the moon often looks so sad.
The beginning of Chapter 18. This is an article about the benefits and drawbacks of living in "the era of cards." The "cards" this chapter is referring to are credit cards and things like that. Quite a timely topic for me to be studying these days.
More of the passage and a cheesy dialog between two students studying Chinese in China.
The end of the dialog and the beginning of the "New Words" section. As I go over the words with my Chinese tutor, a graduate student who I spend four hours a week one-on-one with, I make notes about the words and add any new ones that seem useful to me.
The end of the new words and a few notes on some of the words.
The chapter goes on further with some grammar and then exercises, but I'll just end my posting of the chapter here.
Like I said, I'm by no means satisfied with my Chinese. I'm more conversational, yet still trip up quite frequently. My listening, not something that SuperMemo or studying by myself can help, really needs to pick up. And I'm still quite a ways from being able to read a Chinese newspaper.
But despite these frustrations, I'm not discouraged. I'm loving studying Chinese. At this point, I see it as a life-long commitment. I'll keep getting better and I'll keep having fun with it.
I'm finding the whole endeavor to be thoroughly satisfying.