There’s No Way Of Learning Chinese With A Messy Mind!
Actually, yes. There is.
No matter how manic, no matter how depressed, no matter how much I’ve got on my plate, ALMOST every day, I fit language learning into my schedule.
One of my best tricks is this:
Win The Morning, Win The Day
Do you reach for your cell phone first thing?
And are you making the mistake of using it as an alarm clock so that you have no choice but to check it first thing?
If you’re serious about learning a language, checking your messages and farting around on social media first thing in the morning is a big no-no. That’s true even if you want to learn languages online.
Think about it. How many times have you gotten caught up in the “Twilight Zone” of Facebook only to notice that 15 minutes … 30 minutes … even an entire hour has slipped past.
So don’t do it.
Here’s How To Get Language Learning In First Thing So You Feel On Top Of Your Progress All Day Long
I hate having that feeling throughout the day that I’m neglecting what I love: memory and language learning.
So in addition to winning back oodles of time by not looking at my “dumb phone” and not turning on the computer, here’s what’s going on right now:
On the floor beside my bed, I have Langenscheidt’s Chinesisch Schreibübungsbuch.
It’s a book written in German that teaches how to write the Chinese characters. Tucked inside the book is the notebook I’m using to draw the characters.
I don’t get out of bed until I’ve spent as long as it takes to practice drawing 8 characters 8 times.
No idea. That’s just the number that came to mind. It’s just part of what I’ve learned from Olly Richards:
You Must Have A Language Learning System
Seriously. You must. Languages don’t get learned Helter Skelter. They get learned based on consistent efforts executed consistently.
That’s the first part of my system and a huge part of The Big Five Of Language Learning.
Next, I pop in my Human Charger and meditate. I do this for exactly 9 minutes.
Why 9 minutes?
Because that’s how long it takes for the Human Charger to shoot its light into my ears. You may have heard me talk about other, more relaxed meditation approaches in the past, but I’m experimenting with this one and it works really well.
Next, I knock off another of The Big Five language learning activities:
Spend Time Listening To Your Language Every Day
Listening to Pimsleur language learning programs (Pimsleur for Mandarin Chinese no less) used to bore the snot out of me. Sorry to be vulgar, but it’s true.
Think about it: You listen to this guy promoting you in English to say stuff in the language you’re studying again and again and …
It’s Like Pounding Nails Into Your Head!
But then I had an idea:
What if I “fuse” listening to Pimsleur recordings with the Magnetic Memory Method.
Oh ho ho, Magnetic friend. That’s when Pimsleur started to get really interesting.
This might sound complex, but it works.
Get a notebook. Reserve it for your MMM Pimsleur experiment. Then get out a pen and pop on your headphones.
Next, make a couple of columns:
English (or mother tongue)
Also, leave space to draw a Memory Palace on the page. Draw one out using all the principles of the Magnetic Memory Method you’ve learned from one of my books or video courses.
If you don’t know how to make a Memory Palace, get this:
It’s all very easy peasy and, yes, even lemon squeezy (as one MMM student once put it).
Now you’re set. Keep the pause button handy and then press play.
When the man introduces how to say: “Excuse me, may I ask?” pause the recording and write this down in your English column.
Then, after you hear the native speaker say it in your target language, write out what you hear in your own spelling. Say it out loud and spell it in whatever way seems best to you.
Don’t Make The Mistake Of Overthinking This
Just do it.
And don’t worry about standardizing your homophonic transliterations. You’re just helping your mind understand the sound and meaning of the phrases using multiple senses and muscles.
Seriously. I can’t tell you the dozens of different ways I’ve spelled different phrases and it doesn’t matter. I can speak them in the target language, in this case, Chinese.
Next, think up some imagery that helps you memorize the words. Whatever comes to mind.
And if you’re following along, the brief meditation will have you calm, relaxed and juiced up with creativity.
Once you’ve got that whipped up, stick it on, at, beside or even under your first Memory Palace station.
Finally, press play again and carry on.
What Will Happen To You Next Is A Language Learning Miracle
Soon the Pimsleur guy will ask you to say that phrase for which you just created mnemonic imagery.
Press pause and then look into your imagination (not at the page!) and “decode” the image you placed on your Memory Palace station.
Of Course You Get It!
Because the reality is that if you know mnemonics, there is never any problem with them.
Anyhow, I do this until I’ve filled out one page of my notebook.
Can You Guess How Much Time This Costs So Far?
Go on, have a guess.
Still no …
Oh, all right, I’ll tell you.
15-20 minutes, more or less.
All thanks to cutting out morning social media and 3 little systems:
8 x 8 characters
9 minutes meditation
1 page of MMM-ified Pimsleur
Do this for a month and you’re further along than most people will get in a lifetime of starting and stopping.
But Wait! There’s More About Memorizing Mandarin Chinese
I Want To Teach You!
So far we’ve covered 4.3 of The Big Five. We’ve got:
… and a touch of solo speaking.
That’s where my Mandarin Chinese speaking partners come in.
You Can’t Expect To Learn A Language Without Actually Speaking It
Now, sometimes what I do with my Mandarin Chinese speaking partners is rather elaborate. More on that in a minute.
The important thing is that I speak with them. Plain and simple.
Doesn’t have to be perfect. Doesn’t even have to be right. It just has to be time spent in the field.
I do this at least two times a week, ideally three.
I sing in Chinese too:
The only problem is …
This Approach To Learning Mandarin Chinese Is Almost 100% Introverted!
Yes, okay, talking with speaking partners online is technically communicating with other human beings.
But it’s still too solitary.
This is why I propose that there’s a sixth component that needs to be added to the Big Five:
Think about it.
Are you going to go through all the work of learning a language just to speak with people online?
Of course not.
You want to be able to strike up conversations with the locals when traveling. Order a memory-friendly drink in a restaurant, either in a local restaurant or abroad. Flirt with cute members of the opposite sex, maybe even find the partner of your dreams.
I know I do. So please stay tuned for more language learning for introverts and socialization secrets coming soon.
In the meantime, check out some of these previous Magnetic Memory Method podcast episodes with other great language learners for in-depth tips and training:
Plus, here’s my Basic Chinese Phrases and Mandarin Mnemonics playlist on YouTube: