I’m back! I have been to China twice in the last four months – first in February for two weeks visiting Nanjing, and then in May and June (for 5 weeks!) on a school trip to Shanghai to study Mandarin at the 上海中医院大学 (Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine) – which was a fantastic experience. Following up three weeks there, I visited Nanjing for another two weeks, but also made a short trip to Beijing via slow train.
I really feel my Mandarin has improved. Not always in a steady and smooth progression – rather in fits and starts. The progress was rapid at the beginning but seemed to slow down for a while, then I went on the trip and the listening and speaking practice (I often had no choice but to speak Mandarin), was invaluable.
I’ve been back for a few weeks; a chance to relax; little less studying, but I think that is fair – though I regularly practice my vocab. Riding and relaxing has been my activity for a bit, but I am feeling the urge to practice. Like any skill, I think language is a continuous journey of improvement. Overall progression can be slow or fast but as long as you keep working at it, and have a good strategy and guidance or teaching – you will always see results.
I think it’s time to go back to Skritter – starting from scratch and get some reading and writing practice. Meanwhile, listening has improved a lot – instead of recognising a few words, I recognise a lot, including some phrases. I guess sometimes I can even understand the basics of many conversations. On the speaking side, I would have to say that is the most difficult now. I worry too much about getting the grammar and order correct. Even when I know the words, I often hold myself back.