Monthly Archives: September 2012

This is especially important for mandarin I think where at this time there isn’t as much fun stuff out there as in Japanese.

Ok so, my idea is that for immersion, after khat’s step of, brows through shit at a furious pace finding shit and watching and listening to it, I’m not sure if he said this but I think you should make a playlist of every little thing you see that has any sort of replay value. Like I find show lo’s video clips to have so much replay value. I can cycle like 10 of the really funny 1min clips from youtube like, watching each one every day for a week. And then maybe a month later watch em again. So you know how on tv movies with replay value are always on? Do that for yourself, and do that with stuff in your L2. So simple. And if they have subtitles even better cause you can get the gist of it the first time by reading the subtitles and then put a strip of paper or something to cover that part of the screen for the other times so there is not even the temptation to read them.

Same with music. You gotta make a huge playlist for yourself. Collect enough material that nothing gets too overplayed.


Things that are good for replay value I think are funny things, sexy things, extremely interesting things. Also really anything that would be on the news in that country, as long as it isn’t politics or something that’s all words and no visuals. That is why it made it to the news, cause they knew people would watch it. However the news is only news when its new. After that you might not care, so its good for immersion cause it holds attention, and replayed through the same day might work as well, but not for the playlist. Also a lot of the news in some countries is really negative and if that’s not your scene its understandable. Documentaries good like the news is good.

Ok so what I’m thinking now is that its important to always be building a huge collection of L2 entertainment media. You have a better chance of finding the replay value gems and with more of those you can build an environment where the enjoyment is more dense because the more stuff you have that you know will be awesome to watch again, the more fun you can have with immersion and the more time you can spend in active listening instead of pasive.

So talk shows or whatever with hot girls in skimy outfits talking is good

funny sh## is good

outrageous stuff is good

that is as far as I know aobut my tastes in mandarin shows and its enough, and I will find more as I explore more. The worst thing to do I think is to stop exploring what materials are available. That is placing a limit on how much you can enjoy the langugae, a limit maybe even on how far you will get if you really wanna do immersion mostly, and in general not exploring whats available may be placing a limit on your happyness and sucess in life. By more dvds and watch them for a minute and skip forward and check it out again. F-ing explore, and them tell people all the cool different shit youve found that is’nt all sappy romance songs/dramas that us north americans can”s stomach(that last bit applies to mandarin learners). And tell me cause I wanna watch it too.

I think I’m going to do some research for mandarin entertainment. Like, Ifyou walk into s DVD and buy 10 dvds from a genre you can expect to like, how many of those are you going to like and want to replay in lets say a month?That is a statistic I kinda want to know.

Same with reading. Manga, blogs, youtube comments, whatever. If you dont explor enough you could reach a point where you just feel like there is’nt really anything there for you in the language but you gotta keep exploring until you find somthing you like.

The name of the game in immersion environments is to find somthing you like. That way there is no try. Only do…own at L2.

And make your environtment(your laptop, your ipod, your room) the coolest place to be(keep your laptop running fast, keep your ipod free of shit you don’t listen to, keep your room clean) and the goal should be to slowly build that space up so that its more fun to be in than a movie theater or night club by way of the easy of getting your entertainment(in L2) and the environment in general.

Another thing is don’t effing turn into a Hikikomiro/shut in, if at all possible. Using you laptop in the library with head phones could be really great. Or if there is a china town with a library there even better cause then you might attract attention from actual natives of your L2 and start a coversation(In your L2 if possible). is better that stayin in your room for days on end.

I think it would

There should be no moments in this lanuage learning expereience that you can’t handle. It should be basically enjoying life, having fun, but in the language of your choosing regardless of how much you understand. Then the understanding can come latter as a by product of you living in that language. Well there is a bit of effort I think only when reading cause you have to read first in L2 and then translate. But the fun of the material should balance it out if you found the right stuff, the fun stuff. Not stuff that seems like it should be fun. Stuff that you read while translating and realize you are having fun, or are super interested, ect.

Immersion as a weapon: google the article its good I think for intermediates more.

I feel that with languages especially, but with probably most goals that are hobbies and not life or death things like work, that you have to choose either patience or discipline. In language it seems to make sense to just be patient. Meaning instead of trying to do 50 hanzi/per day for 2 months, just do 10 hanzi per day for a year. The important thing with learning/memorizing a quantity of something, is that you will have to review however many of that thing you learn with your srs until the reviews come down.

I feel its easy to become unsatisfied with the pace of your improvement after a certain point.

From Zero vocabulary to ten words vocabulary seems to be a huge jump. However from 1000 vocab to 1010 seems to be not a huge jump. I think it takes either reaching a point where you can clearly see how far you’ve come, like from 1000 to 2000, to help you stick with a pace like that. Another way, the way I seem to have taken is I binge and then stop and then realize how much further I would have been if I had just kept the pace up. That is motivating as well, its learning the lesson the hard way, but at at least the lesson is learned and the motivation is gained from that, you internalize the idea that slow and steady really does win the race.


As well, when you learn vocab at a 10 word per day pace, I think you’ll find that your access to those words in memory will be easier than the words you learned at 50 words a day. If you give your brain 50 words to store at one time, you might use mnemonics to learn them and you’ll have them in there, but you’ll still have to do a lot of remembering the stories for retrieval. This is not good when you have to speak or understand, and to be functional in a language you really need to have each word easily accessible.


If you want it to be fun, you have to leave your self wanting more. You have to feel like, I could be learning way more than 10 Kanji per day, its almost to easy. But at the same time, you gotta fight that anxiousness to be good at the language “now”. And for this it can help to have binged and loosed. Then its like you realize that you can’t afford to want the language that much because you simply don’t want it enough to binge until fluency or whatever the goal is. You just have other reasons you want to live other than that language and that is why you wont commit to binge until fluent. If you wanted it badly enough you would binge and become fluent, there are probably people like that, but if u binge and fail, there’s a good chance you don’t want it THAT much, which is normal. So its better to just do ten a day, make it an automatic habit, like brushing your teeth, and then forget about it for the rest of the day and focus on the other reasons why you want to live lol. Eventually you will realize you understand some shit, and then you’ll feel like, o man I can do so much more, I should just do 50/day. Don’t. Don’t because the same rules apply and if you binge the odds are that you will purge. Do ten. Eventually you will realize you are close to fluent, and then fluent and you will !!!!!-ing enjoy it.


After learning over 1500 hanzi out of 3000 and burning out. I started simply trying to read things in chinese, using word-chinese plugin for firefox to translate every sentence as I went. I realized that I was able to recognize words based on the characters without knowing what all the characters meant.

Khaztumoto suggests lazy kanj method where you ditch mnemonics and just writing each character, after glancing at it, and giving a vague translation. But then after that comes the sentence method where you do the exact same thing but for sentences. I feel that people might be able to just enter 4 and 5 character sentences into their srs and copy them out by hand, glancing and looking away as many times as needed and then passing as hard. I feel individual characters can be learned at the same time as sentences and that the meanings of individual characters will become obvious if it is important enough, or else its not important enough and wont affect progress. I feel this could at least be done after 1500 hanzi, that’s where all my evidence comes from. Possibly if you just learn the 211 or so radicals and take not of any other elements that will appear which there are like a few hundred more you might be able to go straight to short 4 and 5 word sentences right off. The first sentence wont be input+1 cause it would be your first sentence. But the second one should be all the words from the first sentence except one new one, and the third should be all the words from either the 1st or 2nd sentence plus one new, and ect. That is how its done. Not at all sure if this is possible from 0 characters, but pretty positive its doable from 1500. Also if you start forgeting characters form rtk it shouldn’t matter, cause all that really matters is seeing them in context in a sentence, the key word is really not a big deal. It would be if you went on to learning 3000 chinese written words out of context after that because then you could use each keyword as a mnemonic, but why do that when you could just not and do t the better way of learning sentences.

I partly feel that the reason why I burnt out in the first place after 1500 hanzi was that really started realizing that I get the general idea of hanzi now, I could almost see all the possible combinations of radicals already, and knowing that most of them have no meaning on there own and would have to be almost re-leared in context made memorizing them all on their own first really redundant. Especially with Khatz sentence method whereI will be writing a lot of them out already.

So I feel that if anyone gets to a point where they see the redundancy of learning 3000 out of contexts parts, then they should consider moving straight to sentences and fun. Its like, the characters are fun until you “get it” then if you keep going anyways it just sucks, especially at 50 per day. I feel that learning a language can be fun all the way through, including Rtk, as long as you keep the learning efficient. Also if 50 per day is not fun, don’t do it at all. You could do 10/day for half a year and then switch to 5/day and 10 sentences/day for how ever long and it would be even more fun cause you could have a life.

In the following plan I implement a productivity hack where I start with a small amount of working time and slowly increase the working time by one minute per day. I also do this multiple times throughout the day always leaving a lot of room for recovery in between working times. For this method to work you need to eat right, sleep right and exercise right.

8am 10 new + review  (10min+1min more per day)


10am 10 new + review  (10min+1min more per day)


12am 10 new + review (10min+1min more per day)


1:30pm 10 new + review (10min+1min more per day)

(Part time work)

4pm 10 new + review (10min+1min more per day)


I never ended up using this method, I was in way to much of a hurry. If I had I might have known all the hanzi I needed by now but oh well.


I had been learning Mandarin by constantly having my mp3 playing playing show lo interviews, and by using audacity to get audio sentences and putting those into an srs, on average 15 sentences per day. After about 1500 sentences I decided I wanted to level up my Chinese in some other way. I wanted to be able to understand shows which had only Chinese subtitles so that then I could really enhance the fun and quality of my immersion learning. Basically I was getting impatient. So I decided to learn the 3000 most common Hanzi. This Journal describes my journey and ultimate failure to learn 3000 Hanzi at the pace of 50 Hanzi/day using a Psuedo-Hesig method.

I have documented a journey into burnout while trying to learn the standard 300 Hanzi using a Pseudo-Hesig style method. After learning the 211 or so primitives I learn 3000 Hanzi in order of frequency use mnemonic stories/images and not at all following the order that Hesig suggests which may be easier. I accepted this mission after graduating from college and having the summer to do as I pleased or so I felt.

The journal shows the changes in my thoughts and feelings throughout the process as well as studying plans.
Ultimately I burned out at around 1500 Hanzi and haven’t been able to start back since. Enjoy haha.

Next I tried again the vocabulary thing, but this time it was audio vocab cards which I just made mnemonics for as I heard them, this left room for error because the mnemonics were just for the sound with out tones, I assumed there wouldn’t be shi4qu2 and then shi4qu1, which was a noob assumption, I haven’t checked it out but I’m pretty sure that kinda thing exists in great numbers. Also my listening skills in the language weren’t that great yet so I couldn’t distinguish qu from chu, and sometimes let things go even when I could, like I knew jia and jie were different but if I made the mistake of using the same mnemonic for both I kinda just let it slide. Eventually all these little errors and leech cards got to me, especially since I didn’t suspend leech cards, and at about 300-400 cards I stopped reviewing them.

However I there was over lap of some of those cards in the native material I was listening to so I still retained some of the words.

At the same time as this second vocab thing, which wasn’t a binge cause it was only about 10-20 new cards per say, and using an srs kept the reviews down, I was taking sentences from show lo interviews and clips , I chose his stuff cause he had sub titled stuff, and is cool and funny. I made audio sentence cards for srs and added 10-20 new ones per day. This was one of the best ways I can find for learning a language. It works like a charm, especially if you have been listening to the audio passively for a month and then use it for sentences, cant go wrong. Did about 500 of these and then school got really hard so I had to stop mandarin all together for about two months.

Because the way I scored my srs reps was either hard or fail, I feel that might have helped keep the sentences in better because after 2 months, I still knew most of the sentences I had studied. If they were vocab or hanzi, and I was using mnemonics then it would be way less efficient to mark everything hard because mnemonics kinda pushes things into long term memory fast. However with audio sentences, although I should run an experiment, so far I feel that since they are rote memorization, they require being seen more.

I started back with just listening after two months and then started sentences again in the summer. Got to 500, new sentences, went very well and I could understand a bit of native stuff on topics of show business and that was cool. But then for some reason I started feeling like I should be going faster, so I decided I should learn hanzi so I could watch shows and read while listening like pure Ajatt style. This is were the problem started for me.

Because my method so far was based around not paying a cent for learning this language, this isn’t completely accurate because the internet connection has to be paid for, well actually I could have don most of this at a public library but that’s just inconvenient. Anyways that was one of my goals, not paying money, and so I decided I would do RTK without using RTK. I found a book on radicals in a library and learned all 211 or so plus there variants. Then I downloaded a Taiwanese deck of 3500 or so characters and started making mnemonics for them going by most commonly used.

Learning 50 words per day by mnemonics, at least for the first day, was doable.

However I didn’t have a proper algorithm for spacing out the reviews yet so the following day I had 100 reviews, next day 150, I was thinking of a better way of doing it but I lost motivation before putting that plan in motion. The Idea would be that after 3000 words you should be able to learn from context any other words, it would have been great if I could sustain it but my motivation wasn’t there for it.


Method Idea that didn’t work was trying to memorize a mandarin rap song by listening to it 24/7, not a lot of mandarin rap songs, and they are really difficult, and fast, some people cant even understand rap in their own language if its too fast, the only stuff I liked was faster stuff with big un-common vocab. its possible but maybe time inefficient.



One method that I was able to keep up with till its end was from It was his listening from different angles to raise your awareness post I think. He linked a site called and on this site there is a section with 30 audio clips of mandarin conversation that start very simple and become progressively more challenging, although never too challenging. So the idea is to listen to one, ten times, first twice just listing, then twice listing while reading pinyin, then twice listing while reading the key words, then twice reading the English, the twice listing again. It takes about ten minutes for a one minute clip which is the average.

So by the end of it I counted 500 unique words I learned. He says there are 40 clips and that there are 1000 unique words but I think they got rid of 10 of the later clips or made them so you have to purchase them. Anyways, I followed this through and noticed a big difference like being able to understand a word hear or there of Chinese conversation.


Next started looking for native material to just have on my ipod all the time, and I found a lot on youtube. I added some to a playlist on my Ipod and had it on all all the time.

The reasons this is supposed to be good for foreign language acquisition are:


  1. you get used to hearing the sounds, so that eventually you can distinguish individual words instead of just hear a big stream of words that someone would hear at first.
  2. You are constantly in a foreign language environment and so your motivation to learn stays high
  3. A reason I have noticed, all the times when you are doing nothing, waiting, taking a shit, ect, you have something on in the background and if you understand some of it already you might just start picking out things you understand out of boredom.
  4. Another thing I have noticed is that if you repeat the same hour of immersion material, as it repeats your brain starts to take interest into what it noticed has been said before and its like a space gets allocated for it. So lets say you keep hearing a sentence but don’t know what it means. After hearing it, paying attention or not, you will be able to recognize it and probably repeat the sentence without knowing what it means. So when you find out what the sentence means, you have learned that sentence, and each word in the sentence without any effort. How ever if you try to do this with many sentences it still starts to get harder to tell which but its way easier that learning a sentence you’ve never hear before.


So I kept the native audio, show lo or some other talk show, because they are only talking,and constant talking, which is awesome.