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Monday, October 24, 2005

Focus, focus and focus

As an adult learner, the greatest advantage is the ability to focus. And that holds the key to be a fluent Mandarin speaker.

In fact, most of the time, the ability to focus is the only thing that can be controlled by you. So use it wise.

There are a number of things you need to pay attention to when comes to learning Mandarin (conversational Mandarin):

1. vocabulary ( quote: When I want to express something, I found I don't have the words. I want to learn lots of new words.)

2. tones (quote: I don't want to address mother as horse. I want my teacher to correct my tones on each word.)

3. grammar (quote: I need to learn more grammar.)

ATTENTION! You certainly need to spend some time to learn these, but DO NOT FOCUS ON THEM!! I can't stress more on this point. The reason is simple, focusing on these three points will never make you a Mandarin speaker, let alone a fluent one. If you have already spent lots of time on these, and in the real time situation you still find yourself unable to speak, you should try a different approach.

You want to communicate with Mandarin speaking people, the real effective approach is to focus on listening to proper texts and practicing speaking. Do not jump. Do not run before you can walk.

Carefully select a listening text which contains less than 3% new words for you, and listen to it again and again until you understand every word without translating them into another languge in your head. Then use your own words retell what you have heard till your expression is quite fluent. The next is go on to the next listening exercise. Do the same thing.

In this process, you are practicing extensively the grammar and the vocab you learned before, and moreover, your brain subconciously picked up the tones. The tones come to you naturally.

This is the power of focus. Focus on the pounds, and the pennies will take care of themselves!
If next time, you read something about a man who wanted to order dumpling, but got slaped on his face, laughted at it. It is a good joke, but it hardly ever happened.