Weekly Update - Dec. 1, 2019

December 07, 2019

Weekly Update - Dec. 1, 2019

I switched up my strategy this week. My goal is to learn 3,000 Chinese characters by March 31, 2020. I’m watching a lot of Youtube videos and doing Duolingo on the side so that I’m still learning things other than characters.


It’s kind of incredible how well the Heisig mnemonic method works. I’m remembering this so much better than I was beforehand.

I learned an average of 27.75 characters/day this last week. It’s starting to get pretty difficult, and the next week is going to be a good test of how sustainable this learning plan is going to be. I suspect this will get worse before it gets better, but it’s just something I need to push through. Yesterday, it took me 43 minutes to get through my cards.

Here are my stats:

Date Characters Learned (Target) Characters Learned (Actual)
12/2/2019 25 27
12/3/2019 50 55
12/4/2019 75 83
12/5/2019 100 111

Dec 1 Learning Progress Graph


Pronunciation and tones have been very difficult for me. I know this will probably continue to be the case for a long time.

It’s very hard for me to hear tones in Duolingo’s robot-voice. I’ve yet to find a good solution to this. Forvo is okay, but I haven’t found many phrases with words I know on the site. I’m looking for clearly pronounced sentences that have words relevant to the material I’m learning.

An aha-moment that I had this week was realizing the third tone is not always pronounced as falling-then-rising.

  • Before a 1st, 2nd, or 4th tone, it’s pronounced as falling
  • Before another 3rd tone, it’s changed into a 2nd tone ( as in 你好 - ni hao)
  • In the final position, it’s a low, falling tone
  • Alone, it’s falling-rising

What makes things worse is that I am finding it very difficult to pronounce some sounds. “X” is the hardest.

I need to do some more focused work on pronunciation of Chinese vowels.

Adjustments for Next Week

It’s easy to flip through Anki decks and click “Good” when your memory of the card isn’t actually that great. Especially for something like characters where you can leave off a line or two and it’s not clear in your mind if you knew the answer or not. This is a great example of active vs. passive learning.

To help combat this problem, I’m going to try to physically write a character when I practice. It’s harder to cheat your way through a deck.

I also want to be better about recording my pronunciation so that I can see myself progress over time.

I send updates on my progress every Saturday.