My return to Mandarin

I’m happy to say I will finally be finding the time to return to my Mandarin quest, after an extended hiatus of slightly more than 1 year.

Said hiatus was a result of my having begun a job as a full-time German QA tester and translator for Sony Online Entertainment in February of 2010, as the hours I had previously dedicated to Mandarin were now to be spent learning esoteric German vocabulary used to describe any number of medieval weapons, armor and creatures in order to be able to translate SOE titles like Everquest II (

So, back to Mandarin – this morning I listened to an Intermediate podcast on CSLPOD 

and I was surprised to find out how familiar the language remains to me after having listened to it intensively for only 4 months and then perhaps only a few times in the course of the last 14 months.

Although I’d like to dedicate the 3 hours a day to listening I was able to maintain during my studies at the end of 2009/beginning of 2010, I doubt that I will realistically be able to do that on a daily basis, as I am also an aspiring mnemonist ( and would like to start competing in memory competitions sometime in the next 2 years.

I think it’s important to mention, however, that I DO NOT use mnemonic devices to remember words in Mandarin, nor in any other language I am learning, until I have reached the point where I can already speak comfortably (see

My primary method of learning still involves an 80-20 mix of listening and reading, respectively, in the target language (in the case of Mandarin I read the pinyin, not the characters – see my post from December 31st), where I try to listen to at least an hour of content a day and repeat lessons as necessary depending on the amount of new vocabulary.

Also, I begin listening to intermediate and advanced dialogues I have the texts for at an a very early stage, as these can be roughly translated into your native language using Google translate or Babylon, and then you can read them while listening – confer

In fact, one of the great things about CSLPOD is the fact that members can contribute translations for the lessons they are studying, and they are usually quite good (much better than using Google Translate, to say the least!).

And finally, although I would say I understand Mandarin at an Intermediate level, I have never attempted to have a conversation, as I simply do not feel like doing so. I am content with the knowledge that my comprehension and my feeling for the language are improving on a daily basis, as evidenced by the ever-growing number of audios I can understand.

I don’t worry about grammar, I don’t try to memorize vocabulary – I just try to find things interesting to me to listen to and I try to understand more every day. For an article that mirrors much of what I think about the “benefits” of “learning grammar”,  be sure to check out

I welcome any comments or criticisms, and look forward to posting again soon.

Regards from San Diego

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