Launching the I’m Learning Mandarin Podcast

Photo by Magda Ehlers on

I’m excited to announce the official launch of the I’m Learning Mandarin podcast. Each episode I will discuss a new topic regarding how best to learn Chinese, drawing on stories and insights from my experience of learning Mandarin outside of China over the past four years. The first episode is based on my blog about Mandarin tones. In the future, I plan to include interviews and free discussions with interesting people who can offer intelligent insight into the process of learning Chinese.

In Episode 1, I discuss common problems elementary and lower intermediate learners encounter when learning tones. My aim is to help learners who are grappling with tones realise the difficulties they experience are entirely normal but will get better over time. You can listen to the podcast on Spotify, Anchor, or using the podcast player below. Please comment to let me know your views and experiences, as well as suggestions for future content.

Acquiring Mandarin: Naturalistic Immersion or Structured Learning? I'm Learning Mandarin

Traditionally, highly structured approaches were favoured in classroom environments. But it’s fair to say today’s online language learning community has waged war on this idea. Language should be all about fun, enjoying yourself. The influential linguist Stephen Krashen argues that the most effective way to acquire a language is to expose yourself to content which you can comprehend and immerse yourself in activities which you enjoy. The more time you spend doing this, the more you will gradually progress closer and closer to fluency. I myself have been heavily influenced by these ideas and I think I’ve benefited from them immensely. It was largely through immersing myself in content I enjoyed that, despite not living in China, I was able to self study to a level where I could comfortably engage in meaningful conversations with native Chinese speakers. But, I have also learned from experience that relying too heavily on immersion alone when studying Chinese has its limits. This is particularly the case when it comes to tones and characters, two aspects of Chinese which many learners find hard to master. To discuss these issues with me I have invited a guest who is a friend of the podcast, Lionel Rowe. Lionel speaks fluent Chinese which he acquired while living in Beijing for a period of seven years. His learning methods were much more structured than mine, particularly at the beginning, so I thought it would be interesting to discuss our different language learning experiences with him on the podcast. 
  1. Acquiring Mandarin: Naturalistic Immersion or Structured Learning?
  2. Rethinking How You Learn Mandarin Tones

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