Creating goals is the first step to finishing 52 Weeks of Chinese. Goals are important, which is why I blog about them a lot. If you don’t set any goals, you probably won’t advance as mush as you want. The new year is a great time to rededicate yourself to learning Chinese. Here’s what my goals look like:
The goals you create should be concrete, so I’m creating goals for the week, for the month, and goals for the quarter. At the same time, I’m also keeping a couple long term goals in mind.
My 52 week goals
I want my effective reading speed to be 70% of wife’s reading speed. Even though I can read Chinese, reading feels a bit like work. I think part of the reason is because I read slowly. If I increase my reading speed, I can compact my study times and cover even more material. And maybe reading Chinese will become more fun!
I want to learn the pinyin and meanings of 3000 hanzi. I’m making too many pinyin mistakes. Some of these mistakes occur because I don’t remember the pinyin for characters.
I want 2X listening skills. I listen to a lot of English podcasts, and in order to get through more of them, I listen at 2X speed. I want to be able to do the same thing for Chinese.
And of course, I want to express my personality equally well in English and Chinese.
Measuring progress or improvement is impossible without a first figuring out your baseline. If you’re just starting out, this is easy: your baseline is zero and anything you learn is an improvement.
But if you’re getting back into your Chinese studies (like I am), then measuring yourself is much more important (and a bit harder). When measuring yourself forget about the level your Chinese used to be. That’s the past. Focus on your present skills and the areas you want to improve. Based on my 52 week goals, I plan to do the following:
- Calculate my reading speed. I’ll measure my natural reading speed while reading from various news sources and topics.
- Calculate how many characters I know the pinyin and meaning for. It’s been a while since I really studied, so I don’t know how much I know.
- Find some audio sources that I can record to listen to.
- Record myself discussing 3-5 topics for 90-300 seconds. Over the course of the year, I’ll re-record myself when talking about one of those topics to see how much progress I make.
Actions you can take
- Decide on some activities you will do every day or every week. (related)
- Keep a journal of your activities.
What I’ve done this week
I’ve selected some articles to use as the basis of my reading proficiency. I’ve chose news articles from a few subjects: sports, economics, technology, etc. Each article is over 500 characters long. I’ve started reading these articles, taking note of how many words I’m looking up in a dictionary, and commenting on how difficult the article feels. Going by feeling isn’t an exact science, but it’s better than nothing. In all, I’ve done about 15 minutes of reading a day, which I do after eating dinner. To help read these articles, I’ve been using a Chinese Reader on a website I’m working on. If you’re interested in trying the beta out in a couple of weeks, sign up here.
The plan for next week
- I’ll decide on topics to discuss and record myself discussing them.
- I’ll look into ways to test my character knowledge and calculate my Chinese level
- I’ll look for some podcasts or downloadable online radio programs.
- Create some goals
- Measure your current level
- Decide on actions to take
- Keep track of what you do