Mack's log: Mandarin, damn the torpedoes!

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Dr Mack Rettosy
White Belt
Posts: 45
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2020 5:53 pm
Location: USA, The Great Lakes
Languages: English (N), Mandarin
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=16180
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Re: Dr. Mack Rettosy's Journal: Mastering Mandarin

Postby Dr Mack Rettosy » Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:37 pm

Nothing to say in Mandarin today, and that's okay! I don't want to force myself to say something in Chinese if the thought does not originate in Mandarin. I get enough writing practice during my morning study.

I reached out to a colleague who directs our institute's China relations program. I want to start becoming involved professionally, but also thought it would serve two other purposes. First, as a way to expose myself to more Chinese language and culture. Second, to put my commitment to learn Mandarin into a social context. Right now I could quit and no one except myself and my SO would know. Joining a group will expand my sources of motivation.
4 x
Short-term:
HelloChinese immersions: 457 / 521 / 525 lessons
Read 500 HSK1-4 TCB articles: 235 / 500 / 500 articles
Heisig RSH Vol I: 399 / 1500 / 1500 汉字

Long-term:
Study: 393 / 5000 / 5000 hours

Flickserve
Orange Belt
Posts: 147
Joined: Thu May 17, 2018 10:08 pm
Languages: *
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Re: Dr. Mack Rettosy's Journal: Mastering Mandarin

Postby Flickserve » Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:56 pm

博士 - Bóshì - PhD

医生 - Yīshēng - medical doctor
3 x

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Dr Mack Rettosy
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Posts: 45
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2020 5:53 pm
Location: USA, The Great Lakes
Languages: English (N), Mandarin
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=16180
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Re: Dr. Mack Rettosy's Journal: Mastering Mandarin

Postby Dr Mack Rettosy » Sat Oct 24, 2020 6:05 pm

Flickserve wrote:博士 - Bóshì - PhD

医生 - Yīshēng - medical doctor


"No, no, I'm not THAT kind of Doctor." :lol:

Thank you for the correction. Better to get that right early on. Although, I'm not the kind of person to overtly advertise my PhD (well, I suppose putting it in my forum name is an exception). So hopefully this distinction will only come up whenever I start using Mandarin for work!
1 x
Short-term:
HelloChinese immersions: 457 / 521 / 525 lessons
Read 500 HSK1-4 TCB articles: 235 / 500 / 500 articles
Heisig RSH Vol I: 399 / 1500 / 1500 汉字

Long-term:
Study: 393 / 5000 / 5000 hours

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Dr Mack Rettosy
White Belt
Posts: 45
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2020 5:53 pm
Location: USA, The Great Lakes
Languages: English (N), Mandarin
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=16180
x 188

Re: Dr. Mack Rettosy's Journal: Mastering Mandarin

Postby Dr Mack Rettosy » Sat Oct 24, 2020 6:25 pm

Wǒ xué gè liǎng xīngqí hányù. Wǒ de Hányù yǐjīng gèng wǒ Déyù.

I study Chinese for two weeks. My Chinese is already further than my German.

=====

Learning new vocabulary and grammar with HC continues to be easy. However writing Pinyin in this journal is definitely challenging. Feeling inhibited, but want to just get stuff down even if there are errors. Fear can slow progress. I can always revisit these past entries to learn from my mistakes.
3 x
Short-term:
HelloChinese immersions: 457 / 521 / 525 lessons
Read 500 HSK1-4 TCB articles: 235 / 500 / 500 articles
Heisig RSH Vol I: 399 / 1500 / 1500 汉字

Long-term:
Study: 393 / 5000 / 5000 hours

eldarion
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2020 1:07 pm
Languages: -
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Re: Dr. Mack Rettosy's Journal: Mastering Mandarin

Postby eldarion » Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:28 pm

Dr Mack Rettosy wrote:Wǒ xué gè liǎng xīngqí hányù. Wǒ de Hányù yǐjīng gèng wǒ Déyù.
I study Chinese for two weeks. My Chinese is already further than my German.


My correction:

我学习汉语两个星期。
Wǒ xuéxí Hànyǔ liǎng gè xīngqí.
I study Chinese for two weeks.

我的汉语已经比我的德语好。
Wǒ de Hànyǔ yǐjīng bǐ wǒ de Déyǔ hǎo.
My Chinese is already better than my German.

Happy Learning!
4 x

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Dr Mack Rettosy
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Posts: 45
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2020 5:53 pm
Location: USA, The Great Lakes
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Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=16180
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Re: Dr. Mack Rettosy's Journal: Mastering Mandarin

Postby Dr Mack Rettosy » Tue Oct 27, 2020 4:29 pm

eldarion wrote:
Dr Mack Rettosy wrote:Wǒ xué gè liǎng xīngqí hányù. Wǒ de Hányù yǐjīng gèng wǒ Déyù.
I study Chinese for two weeks. My Chinese is already further than my German.


My correction:

我学习汉语两个星期。
Wǒ xuéxí Hànyǔ liǎng gè xīngqí.
I study Chinese for two weeks.

我的汉语已经比我的德语好。
Wǒ de Hànyǔ yǐjīng bǐ wǒ de Déyǔ hǎo.
My Chinese is already better than my German.

Happy Learning!


谢谢!

=====

Today I learned that I've been making a pronunciation error for many years. Not just a word, but a name, and not just any name, but my old boss's name..! The specifics are fabricated, but the general gist of the mistake is the same: it's a two-worded name, first word tone 3 and second word tone 1, meaning 'beam of sun'. But, my pronunciation had been first word tone 4, second word tone 1, which changed the meaning to 'spray of urine' (again, totally making this up so if you know these translation the example will not make literal sense). Oh well, maybe they thought it was endearing to hear their names attempted with tones?
3 x
Short-term:
HelloChinese immersions: 457 / 521 / 525 lessons
Read 500 HSK1-4 TCB articles: 235 / 500 / 500 articles
Heisig RSH Vol I: 399 / 1500 / 1500 汉字

Long-term:
Study: 393 / 5000 / 5000 hours

User avatar
Dr Mack Rettosy
White Belt
Posts: 45
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2020 5:53 pm
Location: USA, The Great Lakes
Languages: English (N), Mandarin
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=16180
x 188

Re: Finishing Iverson's guide to language learning

Postby Dr Mack Rettosy » Fri Oct 30, 2020 2:40 pm

When I discover a new hobby, I try to get the biggest most complete picture possible of the subject matter. In doing so, I use the hard-earned knowledge of others to construct my own framework, and then during my own active learning this framework acts as a guide to place my own insights. Standing on shoulders of giants. So, the first meta-learning material I began with was Iverson's guide to language learning. I finished reading all except a few chapters in the grammar section. It was a fun read and highly introspective.

Two personal takeaways:
1)"Thinking" in a language is an active process. In graduate school I had a friend who lived by himself without TV or internet. At some point early in our friendship I asked him, what do you do when you get home? I'll never forget his response: "nothing". I think, especially in this digital age, we undervalue time with our own thoughts. The time we spend not listening to others, is time we can spend listening to ourselves. This is when we dream about what we want and create the story of our life. More specific to language, this time is necessary for assimilating information, formulating thoughts, beginning to babble the new language, etc.

2) Iverson distinguishes two types of language learners: Detail Oriented vs Big Picture. The detail oriented person approaches new content (vocabulary, grammar rules, etc.) slowly but with great focus. They prefer to master the material before moving on. The big picture person moves quickly through material and is comfortable making mistakes, and through repetition their memory and comprehension crystallize the language in a somewhat unpredictable manner. Speaking for myself, I lean towards being a big picture learner. I see no problem with making many mistakes as long as they can be learned from. I think one key advantage to this style is that there is a spaced repetition system built in. Learn a word once, move on to more words, come back to the word often to re-learn.
6 x
Short-term:
HelloChinese immersions: 457 / 521 / 525 lessons
Read 500 HSK1-4 TCB articles: 235 / 500 / 500 articles
Heisig RSH Vol I: 399 / 1500 / 1500 汉字

Long-term:
Study: 393 / 5000 / 5000 hours

User avatar
Dr Mack Rettosy
White Belt
Posts: 45
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2020 5:53 pm
Location: USA, The Great Lakes
Languages: English (N), Mandarin
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=16180
x 188

Re: Dr. Mack Rettosy's Journal: Mastering Mandarin

Postby Dr Mack Rettosy » Tue Nov 03, 2020 3:02 pm

I was planning to wait until the one month mark to give an update, but I hit some big milestones today and wanted to share.

I have officially logged 50 hours of intensive study! This represents 1% completion of my long-term goal to study 5000 hours. When I say intensive study, I really mean time spent on the HelloChinese app, which can be easily tracked by Apple's screen time monitoring. I've decided not to track time watching videos or reading b/logs for several reasons. These activities are hard to accurately track and frankly I fear timing them would take away my enjoyment and sense of relaxation. Coincidentally, I've also reached a word exposure milestone of 500 words, meaning an exposure rate of 10 words/hour.

Why the 5000 hour goal?

After a lot of research, my understanding is that the expected time to mastery (i.e. HSK6 and beyond) will take around 5,000 hours. The Foreign Service Institute categorizes Mandarin as a Class IV, an "exceptionally difficult" language for native English learners, and estimates >2200 hours of class time needed before reaching "professional working proficiency". I believe this is equivalent to HSK5-6? Whatever is meant by professional working proficiency, that I think is my true goal ("Mastering" mandarin may be too ambitious *gulp*). I figure it will take 2500-5000 hours to reach a place that I am satisfied with my level of proficiency, perhaps a middle of 3750 hours. Other estimates of time needed to achieve HSK1-5 also exist and they scale exponentially (see below). I'd like to reach this level in two years, by which time I will be ready to take a new job that requires the Mandarin language in some capacity.

How many hours/day will I need to study to reach proficiency in two years?

I made a table in excel that inputs time studying per day, and outputs the time in days required to reach each level. Green represents acceptable time to completion (<2 years), yellow is less desirable (2-5 years), and want to avoid red (>5 years).

Time table for learning mandarin.png
Time table for learning mandarin.png (25.15 KiB) Viewed 209 times


This is why visuals are important, it screams: PROFESSIONAL PROFICIENCY IS GOING TO TAKE SIX HOURS OF STUDY EACH DAY FOR TWO YEARS! Ouch.

So, I need to be reminding myself that there are many fun milestones along the way. You can see I listed what each HSK level 'opens up' in terms of new experiences:
HSK1 - Babble
HSK2 - Self-narrate
HSK3 - Talk with co-workers
HSK4 - Meaningful language exchanges
HSK5 - Passive learning books and audio
HSK6 - Professional use

For example, if I push myself and study three hours a day, I could be talking to my co-workers in five months! That seems more manageable and is just as motivating as my long term goal. Similarly, I can say I am just as excited to start having meaningful language exchanges and reading stimulating materials, which makes each milestone of HSK3-6 very meaningful to me. It's HSK0-2 which "gives me" less, but these levels have other motivators like making rapid progress and beginner's enthusiasm.

What's my plan?

Front load time spent studying, aiming for 3-4 hours a day until I reach HSK3 and can start talking with colleagues. Right now I'm averaging just over two hours study per day: 1.5-2 hours before work, 0.25 hours on commute to work. Some options to increase this are studying during lunch (0.5), commute home (0.25), during exercise (0.5), and evenings at home (however by night I am exhausted and wanting to relax and spend time with my significant other). Weekends I can easily hit 4 hours, assuming I'm not with family or taking trips with my SO. Once talking to my co-workers at HSK3, I might cool down to 1-2 hours a day and reassess my progress then.

edits: LOTS of edits.
Last edited by Dr Mack Rettosy on Tue Dec 29, 2020 5:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
6 x
Short-term:
HelloChinese immersions: 457 / 521 / 525 lessons
Read 500 HSK1-4 TCB articles: 235 / 500 / 500 articles
Heisig RSH Vol I: 399 / 1500 / 1500 汉字

Long-term:
Study: 393 / 5000 / 5000 hours

golyplot
Blue Belt
Posts: 780
Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2017 9:41 pm
Languages: Am. English (N), German, French, ASL (abandoned), Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=12230
x 1325

Re: Dr. Mack Rettosy's Journal: Mastering Mandarin

Postby golyplot » Tue Nov 03, 2020 3:33 pm

tangleweeds wrote:Another highly recommended app for East Asian languages is Lingodeer (my fave, as it isn't overly gamified and thus doesn't talk down to me).


FWIW, I did the Lingodeer Japanese course and was very disappointed. I would not recommend Lingodeer.

Dr Mack Rettosy wrote:For example, if I push myself and study three hours a day, I could be talking to my co-workers in five months! That seems more manageable and is just as motivating as my long term goal. Similarly, I can say I am just as excited to start having meaningful language exchanges and reading stimulating materials, which makes each milestone of HSK3-6 very meaningful to me. It's HSK0-2 which "gives me" less, but these levels have other motivators like making rapid progress and beginner's enthusiasm.


Just a warning, but the FSL numbers are an estimate, not a rule, and are derived from their own instruction program, not whatever random activities a self-learner might undertake.

It's important to have goals, but you should also be prepared for the possibility that you still won't be comfortable talking to people after five months. Of course, that depends more on your willingness (and your coworkers willingness) to put up with extremely awkward conversation than anything else.
3 x

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Dr Mack Rettosy
White Belt
Posts: 45
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2020 5:53 pm
Location: USA, The Great Lakes
Languages: English (N), Mandarin
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=16180
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Re: Dr. Mack Rettosy's Journal: Mastering Mandarin

Postby Dr Mack Rettosy » Tue Nov 03, 2020 3:46 pm

golyplot wrote:
tangleweeds wrote:Another highly recommended app for East Asian languages is Lingodeer (my fave, as it isn't overly gamified and thus doesn't talk down to me).


FWIW, I did the Lingodeer Japanese course and was very disappointed. I would not recommend Lingodeer.

Dr Mack Rettosy wrote:For example, if I push myself and study three hours a day, I could be talking to my co-workers in five months! That seems more manageable and is just as motivating as my long term goal. Similarly, I can say I am just as excited to start having meaningful language exchanges and reading stimulating materials, which makes each milestone of HSK3-6 very meaningful to me. It's HSK0-2 which "gives me" less, but these levels have other motivators like making rapid progress and beginner's enthusiasm.


Just a warning, but the FSL numbers are an estimate, not a rule, and are derived from their own instruction program, not whatever random activities a self-learner might undertake.

It's important to have goals, but you should also be prepared for the possibility that you still won't be comfortable talking to people after five months. Of course, that depends more on your willingness (and your coworkers willingness) to put up with extremely awkward conversation than anything else.


I appreciate the dose of reality, I'll definitely keep that in mind. Fortunately my co-workers and I have casual relationships so I wouldn't feel awkward trying to speak to them. Actually, I think feeding into my comfortably is the fact the colleagues in mind are barely A2 in terms of listening and speaking (obviously much higher reading/writing comprehension)

Some of my optimism comes from Irrationale's log over at HTLAL (http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=12024&PN=1). He started conversing within four months of study! Although his motivation was ON ANOTHER LEVEL. I think he occasionally hit 7+ hours a day studying? He also seemed uniquely motivated to converse, and in retrospect, he thought this was counterproductive and that he would have benefited from more input before trying to output. So yeah, this is definitely a reality check for me, maybe I need to adjust my expectations.
3 x
Short-term:
HelloChinese immersions: 457 / 521 / 525 lessons
Read 500 HSK1-4 TCB articles: 235 / 500 / 500 articles
Heisig RSH Vol I: 399 / 1500 / 1500 汉字

Long-term:
Study: 393 / 5000 / 5000 hours


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