You probably know that you should be directing your Chinese learning. But turning what you know into concrete steps to take can be really hard. After thinking about the problem for a while, I’ve come up with an easy way to figure out what you should be studying. I’m calling it the 5-4-3-2-1 plan.
Try the 5-4-3-2-1 Plan
The 5-4-3-2-1 plan is a simple way to get you to learn to direct your language studies. Learning Chinese should be a personal voyage. By following this simple plan, you are getting yourself to think more clearly about what you want to learn and how you want to improve. The plan gives you clear goals, some short-term, some long-term, and it helps you keep yourself motivated.
- Write down 5 things you want to say in Chinese. During the next week, learn how to say them (if you don’t know where to learn them, you can ask me in the comments). Remember, Chinese is different from English, so sometimes you can’t say exactly what you want to say. (Do this every week.)
- Write down 4 topics that interest you, and start a plan to learn how to discuss them in Chinese. Every month, pick one topic and spend some time learning vocabulary related to that topic and practicing talking about that topic.
- Write down 3 mistakes you’re making, and focus on fixing them every day for the next two weeks. Focus on the mistakes that you are making all the time. If you aren’t making any mistakes, then you aren’t using your Chinese enough! (Repeat this every 2 weeks.)
- Write down 2 things you will do to learn Chinese this week. Keep these tasks small and simple, e.g. I will read an article on 财新 (Cáixīn is my favorite Chinese news website), or I will spend 30 minutes studying my flashcards. Don’t just list things you have to do, e.g. I will do my Chinese homework for class. (Repeat every week.)
- Spend 1 minute to write about 1 situation where you were proud of your Chinese. Write about what happened and what you said or heard in a journal. Write about why this situation made you feel good. Every month, you should take a look at this, and if you want, you could also add another situation that made you proud.