I’ve been struggling to replace ChinesePod as my source of all things Mandarin and a month after my account expired, I’m anxious to do something to end my Mandarin drought.
Truth be told, I’m struggling to know where to turn. I have been studying online from day one and as a result my listening is better than my spoken Mandarin, which in turn is remarkably better than my non existent reading/writing ability. This isn’t a problem in itself and I can honestly say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning this way. It does, however, put me in a difficult position when deciding what to do next. Many courses, tutors, etc. expect you to have mastered all three equally.
So, what are my options?
- Go back to ChinesePod
- Sign up for a formal Mandarin course
- Find a personal Mandarin tutor
- Use alternative online study tools
- Find one or more language exchange partners
- Move to China
Of course, these options are not mutually exclusive and whatever method I choose, it is highly likely that I will end up using a combination of the above to keep things interesting.
In determining how I want to take my studies forward, I’ve been thinking back to some of the best Chinese learning experiences I’ve had. Asking for directions, thinking I understood the directions and ending up hopelessly lost, coffee with my previous Chinese tutor in Shanghai, discovering the characters for ping pong (乒乓), being able to talk (in English) about Chinese current events. So many of these involve interaction with people. Human interaction is key and I think I need more of it.
When I began studying there were four main drivers behind studying online:
- it was interesting
- I could study in private
- I could study anywhere
- I could progress at my own pace
Online study was perfect for my lifestyle. I have often found myself based on an industrial estate, miles from civilisation with a laptop and a patchy mobile connection as my link to the wider world. Being stuck in a hotel is a great opportunity for private study, but not so good for committing to attending regular courses. Things have changed (for now). On Monday morning, I could be told to jump on a train and head out of town, but it’s unlikely. I’m fairly confident that I’m going to be in town for the rest of the year, and that opens up study possibilities.
I’ll be taking a closer look at the following two resources, as recommended by Eli Bildner of Tea Leaf Nation (For Those Coping With Mandarin Withdrawal, Two Tools That Can Help):
But I’m keen to hear your suggestions for; courses in London, podcasts, private tutors, or even language exchange partners. Leave a comment, or get in touch on any of the major social networks.