Learning Mandarin and French, and a bit of other languages

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lemme_try
White Belt
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 9:40 pm
Languages: Speaks: Russian, English
Learning: French, Mandarin
Dabbing: Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=14084
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Re: Lemme_try's log learning French and Mandarin

Postby lemme_try » Tue May 19, 2020 5:37 pm

The Extra French videos were such stupid fun! I may have to find Extra German now.


Yeah I hate that show, it is so cheesy, but does what it is suppose to do. There are some other more interesting programs, but yeah, need to experiment and find what you like. I personally love Assimil, but I hated Pimsluer's, but some people swear by it.

FSI has a reputation for being "torture" but don't let that scare you off.


I am ready for it, but want to have a bit more time when I start doing it, so I don't feel guilty, or feel worried about other aspects of my life at the back of my mind.
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lemme_try
White Belt
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 9:40 pm
Languages: Speaks: Russian, English
Learning: French, Mandarin
Dabbing: Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=14084
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Re: Lemme_try's log learning French and Mandarin

Postby lemme_try » Fri Jun 05, 2020 4:29 pm

Has been a weird year. Has been very intense but yet fast. I don't seem to be in control of my time. Been feeling a bit down. Don't want to get into the global politics and offend people in here. I am sure people from all walks of life come to enjoy this forum , and representing wide spectrum of political direction and stance.

I managed to get a bit of studying done. I have been really enjoying Assimil French. No wonder it is so widely recommended in here, I have been consistent, and have been seeing some results. As long as I am progressing, whether it is slow or fast, it should take me somewhere, right?! My listening has been improving, my reading has been improving, but other skills have stalled, simply because I don't practice those skills, speaking and writing that is. But I have been listening to quite a bit of podcasts. I accidentally found very nice channel on youtube called InnerFrench. The guy who runs the channel seems very nice. So I have been following his podcasts. I really like his accent, the presentation and content of his material. From his channel I learned that historical province of Touraine which has been split into departments has the most "proper" French accident. The guy is from Tours, which lies in on of those mentioned departments.

From his podcast I learnt about Stephan Kraschen and his hypothesis. His hypothesis make sense to me, so trying to follow it. Expose myself to enough native material with progressive difficulty.

I have also been infrequently going through RFI articles, did couple of episodes of Extra French, but to be honest I find it too cheesy and boring. A while back I ran into a youtube video of a foreigner who learnt Russian and he was basically sharing how he did it. I was surprised to find out that he watched a soap opera called "Bednaya Nastya", basically a typical Russian Cinderella story which are popular among housewives and old people. Russians love tv shows about police, criminals and rag to riches stories. But, let me tell you, there is a lot of high quality content in Russian if a person to search for it. I feel like I am falling into the same trap, and consuming the wrong material, but at least my excuse is I am still learning, and Extra French is meant for novice learners. I guess at the end of the day, everybody has their vices, and some people can be guilty of such pleasure. When I was younger I used to binge watch trashy Taiwanese and Korean tv shows, at least the Bednaya Nastya guy is getting use out of it, unlike moi.

I've been having another guilty pleasure, Duolingo. The sentences and examples are not the greatest, but the reward and gaming system has been getting me going.

I have been coming across to a lot of new vocab. I have not been trying to memorise them. I have been exposed to so many words, but I wonder if they are going to stick around without the spaced repetition. If somebody has experience with that, I would appreciate your comments.

Langue et de Civilisation Francaises is the program I want to get back. I really enjoy it. There are grammar points, texts and drills, all exclusively in French.

What is happening with my Chinese is the question nobody asks lol. I have been listening to couple of podcasts. 1. I love learning Chinese 2. Learning Chinese through stories 3. Speak Chinese naturally. All of them have good and bad points. The first one is very comprehensive, everything is structured well, with good explanation points, with a lot of examples but the points explained in English. The second one has very good pace, fully in Mandarin, just talking about random things, explaining some words in more details. But to get the transcript of the recording and vocab list need to be a patreon. I don't mind paying, but just want to make sure that I want to stick with it first. The third podcast is provides the transcript, fully in Mandarin, but I don't know, can't seem to follow her too well.

Oh yeah, almost forgot, I have been enjoying a bit of Mandarin pop music. I guess every little bit helps. lol.

I've been thinking about something I've read and heard many times in the past. Chinese do not think foreigners ( I guess non-Korean and Japanese) can learn Mandarin to close to native fluency thus they dumb down their teaching material. How true is that? I have been having a bit of self doubt as well. Will it ever be possible to learn Mandarin to high level fluency. If anybody has any thoughts on that, would be interesting to hear it.
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lemme_try
White Belt
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 9:40 pm
Languages: Speaks: Russian, English
Learning: French, Mandarin
Dabbing: Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=14084
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Re: Lemme_try's log learning French and Mandarin

Postby lemme_try » Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:23 am

I don't know if anybody is bothered to read my log entries. But this seems to keep me motivated. Maybe I can look back and can see how much I progressed. I enjoy sharing what is happening in my mind.

I slowly started seeing some progress in my French.

Assimil

Still enjoying Assimil. I don't know how far it will take me, but is pretty good, I like it a lot. I am on lesson 24. I am going pretty slow, but that's fine. I am trying to internalise the material. When I listen to the lesson the first time, feels a bit difficult, and I end up missing huge chunks of the conversation. I listen for it a few more times, and see if I can get more from it. Then I go through the text. Naturally, I would not know some of the stuff, because it relates to the French culture. I did not know what PMU and pétanque were, but after looking through the text it made more sense.

Podcast
I have been listening to InnerFrench podcast, I really enjoy it. I go through one podcast few times, go through the text, basically work through it. I wish I could do it more, but I am always tired these days, and I don't want to make it into a habit working on a language just before sleeping, then I will associate it with being tired, that's one thing I don't want to do.

Wikipedia
I like looking up random stuff on internet on my free time. So I thought I should do it in french. I am still far from being able to search things up on google in french, so far now I am just sticking to the french wikipedia. The most articles I have gone through for now relate to my expertise China. Although I have studied Mandarin for some time, my skills are limping big time, my conversational skills are Okish, but the rest of the skills are subpar. My Mandarin should be great on paper, but it is not, why?! Well, life happens, and partially I was too complacent and went with the flow. Can I improve my Chinese, I believe I can. How long is it going to take? As long as it needs. In the past I have done it it spurs, and burnt out fast. It is definitely not a sprint, it's a marathon. I am definitely not built for a sprint. I will take my time.

Another cool article I've read on wikipedia in French was an article on francophonie. Went through articles on the francophonie countries. Vanuatu, Egypt and Vietnam are the ones which stuck with me. Vanuatu is so foreign and exotic to me, and a country I don't think much about, but topics on Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia are very interesting to me. I knew in the past there were French speakers in Egypt, but 3 million is quite considerable, but if you consider their population 100 million. In my mind they always had 80 million people, but their population growth is just crazy, I wonder where all those people live, they don't have much habitable land. It is good idea to update my knowledge once in a while, even if it is from wikipedia.

What cool thing did I learn about Vietnam? Mandarin and English have taken over French as main foreign languages. Less than 700,000 people speak French, which is still surprising, you would expect more people would speak French taking into account the colonial past, but giving the proximity and economic relations and number of Chinese tourists coming to Vietnam, learning Mandarin makes sense, and of course English, a global language. Other reason why South East and East Asians tend to learn Mandarin is huge historical impact of Chinese philosophies and culture, and it is highly pronounced in Vietnam and surrounding areas, and Korea. So, knowledge of Mandarin has a prestige value. At one point, China was an exporter of culture just like ancient Greece and Rome were. Later one, Chinese traders were all over South East Asia and East Asia who built dynasties , did pretty well for themselves some of the cities in South East Asia were founded by those traders, and to this day, the wealth is concentrated in the hands of those Chinese families in South East Asia. I am getting a bit off topic.

While going through the article on Vietnam, discovered only french medium magazine called le courrier du Vietnam, checked out couple of articles there. Why do I need to read about Vietnam? I don't know, why not?!

How much of the wikipedia articles could I understand? Maybe around 50%. Had to look up words quite a bit.

Youtube
I also ended up watching videos on francophonie, there is a program called Nomade I think. Basically a guy travelling through francophonie countries, and interviewing people. Watched an episode on Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and couple of more countries. I could understand about 20-30%. I found it difficult to understand the reporter, he had Quebecois accent. South East Asian interviewees also had think accent, very typical for the region, older people had better accent. What I could understand was that less and less people were learning French, and the ones who were learning did so to serve the French speaking tourists, or they did not have enough people learning french to serve the French speaking tourists, yeah, an important to distinguish, but we will get there. lol. Then I though it would be good idea to check the comments to see what people were saying, naturally out of habit, I thought it would be in English, and of course it was in French. There was a Vietnamese guy who was saying how much important French was, the language of Molière.

My youtube adventure took me to news about French speakers rallying in Ontario, Canada. Apparently, they were promised a French medium university which was not provided to them, and the language was losing its status as in English was taking over, and nothing is being done to preserve language, and the Ontario is doing the opposite, basically trying to get rid of it. The French speakers were uniting into party I think and rallying. That's what I got from the report. In another report on Ontario there was news anchor, with a very thick accent, I was trying to figure out what kind of accent it was, then it hit me, it was an English accent, she was fluent in French but had an extremely thick English accent. I don't know what to think about it, whatever works I guess.

Duolingo :evil:

I completed half of duolingo french since 2019. Completed half of the stories 10 sets out of 20, completed 4 out of 8 levels of French. I don't know what to feel about duolingo, I think it is more negative than positive, it can be a great started for teens to get them interested in the language, but let's not kid ourselves, there are much better ways of learning french than duolingo. I had quit it in the past and came back to it once more. It has improved a lot since then, but still there is a lot of space for an improvement. I think gamification aspects of it is great and all, but at one point it becomes all about the game, taking into account my competitive nature, I can't just let it go. I would rather spend that time on some other learning materials. Rather than spend 5 minutes on duo, it would be better to go through one assimil lesson quickly, read it or even listen to it, much bigger benefit.

I feel like with the duolingo, the developers have no idea what they are doing, I mean when it comes to teaching a language. For them it is a game, a tool to make money, tool to shove ads down our throats, a revenue generator. If they are going to shove ads after every lesson, they might as well provide decent learning material, I've read somewhere they are making some decent money with it, why not provide an app that actually teaches a language?! At the end of the day, it is not about quantity, but quality.

Today I've completed topic on arts, level 4, the sentences were awful. As soon as I completed the topic, I felt unhappy with myself that I have been wasting so much time on the app. I could have spent my time much more productive. Duoling developers are not serious, they don't have love for the languages. 5 minutes listening podcasts or reading wikipedia is better spent time than 1 lesson of duolingo. I wish I realised it sooner. I deleted my account today. That's it for me with duolingo.

Yeah, I have not been doing much of Mandarin practice. Haven't used it much lately. Did a bit of podcasts the ones I have mentioned in my previous entry. I was planning to listen to two podcasts a day, but I can't seem to find my level, it is either too easy, or too complicated. I feel like my Mandarin is very patchy, there are many gaps in my knowledge. But I do strangely have developed listening skills. Tomorrow I am going out to my friend's house. Have been intending to see him for the last ...6 months...has it been this long?! This year went fast. So anyways, he is Chinese. Doesn't speak a lick of English. Only speaks Japanese and Mandarin, and I don't speak much Japanese, so the only language we can communicate in is Mandarin. Has been a while since I have spoken Mandarin, so it is a bit rusty.
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lemme_try
White Belt
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 9:40 pm
Languages: Speaks: Russian, English
Learning: French, Mandarin
Dabbing: Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=14084
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Re: Lemme_try's log learning French and Mandarin

Postby lemme_try » Sat Jul 04, 2020 3:08 am

Went to see my Chinese friend last week. His wife is Japanese, and she is relatively fluent in Mandarin. Her vocabulary and fluency is limited but her tones are to the point. Haven't seen my friend in a while, although he lives half an hour away from me, that's very close distance for Tokyo.

So anyways, I had a pleasant evening with them. Although I thought I would have trouble speaking Mandarin, I did not. Didn't feel any bit shy, just went on with it. Some of the more complex topics were difficult because I forgot a lot of the relevant vocabulary. My oral skills seem to be in the range of B1-B2, surely solid B1. Had no problem with the fluency, made occasional mistakes. Did not think about the tones, if I overthink, I end up making mistakes, and killing the flow of the conversation.

I want to work on the basics more. I want to go through characters and play around with them. I will be dividing them into three groups. HSK 1-4, 5 and 6. I listen them, match them according to radicals and elements, pronunciation, tones, meaning. Want to just play around with it. Want to practice my hand writing for a bit, haven't done it in ages.

Also, I want to listen to the native materials, and thinking maybe break down couple of songs, maybe, maybe not.

For reading I want to do a bit of DuChinese, I am not very good sticking to the apps to be honest. DuChinese is great, they have a lot of free materials that are available for certain period of time once it is published on their app. Pretty good if you need to improve your reading.

But, personally I prefer an actual book, does not have to a physical copy, can be an e-book. With the book I know what to expect, where it is heading, who it is written by, if they have the credentials to teach the material, etc. Whether we like it or not there is a certain level of pedagogy is involved in teaching languages, which apps usually lack. The apps are developed mainly by software guys, and it is a machine for making money for those guys, and I can't stand being fed ads non stop anymore. Youtube, amazon, google all the big guys are shoving down all the ads down our throats, and usually we don't have much say in it, with those half done apps I can say no. Again, this is not about DuChinese, if you guys have not tried it, give it a try.

Hopefully my motivation lasts. Almost forgot, I want to try out some mnemonics on learning Mandarin.

In my next entry I want to talk a bit about my French language, will do it in few days.
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lemme_try
White Belt
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 9:40 pm
Languages: Speaks: Russian, English
Learning: French, Mandarin
Dabbing: Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=14084
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Re: Learning Mandarin and French, and a bit of other languages

Postby lemme_try » Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:57 am

So I have noticed something unpleasant about my Mandarin. I think I am over-confident in my ability. I don't know what I don't know, or what I know. I get false sense that I can understand a lot, well, I don't think I can. My mind is playing tricks on me. I was going through the character list, I can recognise whole bunch of them, but if I have to recall it, I don't think I can.

Need to be honest with myself, and make a plan and tackle the characters one at the time, one grammar point at the time.

Could I have reached intermediate plateau without reaching an intermediate level?!

I don't have this issue with French, I know exactly where I stand. Not far. My plan for French is to follow Assimil, listen more, read more, and watch more.
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lemme_try
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Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 9:40 pm
Languages: Speaks: Russian, English
Learning: French, Mandarin
Dabbing: Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=14084
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Re: Learning Mandarin and French, and a bit of other languages

Postby lemme_try » Thu Jul 09, 2020 12:14 am

So I have been thinking. What would be the best mnemonics technique to learn hanzi?! Things that need to be remembered how the character is written, the pronunciation with the correct tones, and of course the meaning with the usage as oppose to other languages you need remember pronunciation and meaning, the spelling will come naturally.

This is what the most people do. Once a person knows number of characters well enough, and knows the radicals, knows the pronunciation. He/she can dissect new characters for them, use the sounds, use the meanings, and create mnemonics. Let's be honest, quite often just the epistemological meaning of the character is not enough for the character to stick around, so we have to employ our imagination and create additional stories for the character.

I was thinking, the mnemonists at the memory competitions, they create whole system to remember numbers and cards. The current record holder Alex Mullen groups combination of 3 cards, or 3 numbers and creates an image for it, as oppose to the previous champions who used to group them into combination of 2 numbers and 2 cards. There should be a method like that for hanzi. I am a bit lazy to create one.

There are 450-500 sounds in Mandarin, and each of them have maximum of 4 tones plus one neutral tone. Usually the words are combination 2 characters, and rarely over 4 characters. Like previously stated, if we associate each sound with an existing hanzi, and create mnemonics for a tone, and combination of tones. I don't know, it could work. Or is it easier just to follow existing method?!

I would really appreciate if somebody chimes in. This are the thoughts that are going through my mind. I am sure there are a lot of people who have thought about these things. Next two weeks I am thinking to experiment with mnemonics using method of loci, and adopting major system for hanzi. I don't know, to be honest I am a bit sceptical, feel like I am already setting myself for a failure. Let's see.

Would love to hear if anybody has anything to say.
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an onyme
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Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=15312
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Re: Learning Mandarin and French, and a bit of other languages

Postby an onyme » Thu Jul 09, 2020 2:10 am

If I could do it all over again, I think I would have gone for doing mnemonics once I was past the first 1000 or so most common ones. I would associate each possible syllable with a person of note, ideally whose name in Mandarin starts with the sound in question, then create a story involving that person based on the meaning of the radicals. Of course, instead of doing this I opted for the method of bashing my head against the same cards over and over in the Anki deck, which has not been fun.
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lemme_try
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Languages: Speaks: Russian, English
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Re: Learning Mandarin and French, and a bit of other languages

Postby lemme_try » Thu Jul 09, 2020 11:26 am

an onyme wrote:If I could do it all over again, I think I would have gone for doing mnemonics once I was past the first 1000 or so most common ones. I would associate each possible syllable with a person of note, ideally whose name in Mandarin starts with the sound in question, then create a story involving that person based on the meaning of the radicals. Of course, instead of doing this I opted for the method of bashing my head against the same cards over and over in the Anki deck, which has not been fun.


Yeah, I also used rotary method with a hint of mnemonics to memorise couple of thousand characters. The problem is, they don't stick. That's the problem, I have a sense that I know them, but I don't. I suspect at best I can recognise them, but will not be able to write them if I have to.

I like your idea. But memorising few thousand names in Chinese is a mission on its own lol. But you did touch an interesting point though. It could work. So there are set of characters in Mandarin that are used commonly for phonetics. Although the characters have a meaning, but a lot of foreign words are spelled out using those particular characters. Should basically cover all the 450-500 sounds, but will not be able to cover all the tones. An interesting idea indeed.
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lemme_try
White Belt
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 9:40 pm
Languages: Speaks: Russian, English
Learning: French, Mandarin
Dabbing: Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=14084
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Re: Learning Mandarin and French, and a bit of other languages

Postby lemme_try » Fri Jan 29, 2021 6:06 pm

Happy new year!

Has been while since I wrote anything. But I have been checking on the progress of other people.

My progress has been slow. Still sticking to Assimil. I like it. I have been trying to internalise the lessons and make it more automatic.

My Chinese has been lagging. I will get to it, I need to get urgent matters out of the way first.

Plan is still to stick to Assimil, watch youtube videos in French. Maybe go through Practice makes it perfect grammar book.
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lemme_try
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Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 9:40 pm
Languages: Speaks: Russian, English
Learning: French, Mandarin
Dabbing: Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=14084
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Re: Learning Mandarin and French, and a bit of other languages

Postby lemme_try » Mon Feb 22, 2021 7:21 pm

I was thinking why I dislike certain languages, in the sense, I wouldn't want to learn them.

Just like every other language enthusiast in here, I understand the struggles of learning a language, I understand how much commitment it requires. Also, I understand the rewards that come from it. Along the way, you would have to consume a lot of native material, more often sit through it and break it down. That's an arduous work. When you enjoy the language, even during the tough times, during all the frustration, you see the that glimmering light at the end of the tunnel. What happens when your motivations to learn a language are not right?!

I just can't imagine sitting through and watching Hindi/Urdu movies, listening to their songs. If the labour you put it only bears the fruits that you do not find appealing, what is the point?! One place I would not want to live in is India, and the whole of South Asia, which would make the language useless. I don't know where the enmity towards that particular language comes from. I guess it is all those trashy Indian movies from childhood.

I know not everybody is going to share the same sentiments with me about India and the languages from there. Sometimes ago, I've read a book called Grit by Angela Lee Ducksworth( I think that was the authors name). Anyways, in there she mentioned about a guy whose life goals stemmed from wanting to live in East Africa, and the guy was an American or Brit, can't recall exactly. Thought that was interesting. Many try to escape from those kind of places, and this guy actively took steps to be placed there. The guy visited East Africa while in university, then went on to travel around the world, but yet he wanted to go back there. He learned Swahili while at university, took series jobs spanning over ten years that would lead him to be placed as a head of regional news bureau for East Africa based in Tanzania.

So, I wouldn't judge if somebody would be obsessed with Hindi or India. Would make sense, at the end of the day, it is humongous and very populous country, with very diverse culture. For me, it is just not my cup of tea. Myself, I really find China interesting, and the language fascinating, whether it is Mandarin or regional dialects. But I feel, I've already go my hands full with Mandarin, so I am not going to attempt Cantonese or Hokkien until I am relatively fluent in Mandarin. Lol. Or should I say if I am ever fluent.

To be honest, I don't know why I am learning French. I don't know where this interest comes from. I could say I want to read books in original but funny thing is I am fine reading English translations. It does the job for me. We, English language speakers are pretty spoiled, pretty much all the popular stuff gets translated into English. Then is it traveling?! I have stayed and travel to France a lot, and to be honest I prefer Italy or Spain to France. I really don't know though. I just find it appealing, and for me I am not doing it to pretend to be cool. That's not a good reason to do something, one would run out of steam very fast. Maybe it is the pop culture. Maybe, I would like to read books in original, and I am still lights years behind, and I know what an enormous effort it will take to reach that mile stone and I am just rationalising.

When I was younger, I used to travel to France a lot. And I used to enjoy it great deal, I thought people were nice and the food was delicious. When I used to travel to Italy, I used to find their food unsophisticated and people to be overbearing. I traveled to Italy regularly as well, and let me tell you, I just Italian food now, and good pizza and pasta is my comfort food now. And Italians are so warm that they melted my heart and I don't find them over bearing anymore. They are very hospitable and go out of their way to help you out. You don't see that in Paris much.

So, I love Mandarin. Why?! I am just fascinated by it, and I love it. But I have plateaued at the intermediate level, and I am not putting enough effort to move forward. But when it comes to French, I don't know why I want to learn it. And I am putting effort doing drills, listening to stuff on youtube, trying to read a little. I am doing all of it, without any reasonable aim at sight. I don't know why I am doing it over Mandarin, or Japanese which I need for my daily life right now. Could it be because it is easier? What use could I from French? How would it improve my life? Mandarin I need it for my work, Japanese for my life. French?! I don't need it. Just a hobby I enjoy. Maybe that's what makes it appealing.
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