Cracking the Intermediate Plateau (Podcast)

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Catch-Up With Will Hart: How to Nail Chinese Sentence Structure & Visiting China for the First Time I'm Learning Mandarin

Links: Our Masterclasses on Sentence Mining & Tones Upcoming Mandarin Retreats Will's Youtube Channel — One year ago I interviewed someone who totally transformed my perspective on learning Chinese and particularly reaching high levels in the spoken language. By now, listeners will be familiar with Will Hart, the Mandarin learning phenomenon who became incredibly fluent in Chinese within the space of just a year and a half.  Since I last interviewed Will here last year we’ve become friends and collaborated on a number of Mandarin learning projects. A few weeks ago he interviewed me on his YouTube channel in Chinese, which I reposted as an episode on this podcast.  I wanted to catch up with Will again to discuss what he’s been up to since the last time we spoke. In this episode Will tells us about how his learning methods have evolved over time. He also shares his experiences of immersing in Chinese both in the UK as well as on his first ever trip to China last month.

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As an intermediate Mandarin learner, one of the main challenges I face is acquiring lower frequency words. In any language the most frequent few thousand words account for over 90% of words used in daily conversation. Mandarin is no different and, although I typically understand the vast majority of words in a sentence, it’s those rarer words which can throw me off. 

So how can we overcome the intermediate plateau and learn enough low frequency words to become proficient? 

That’s where today’s guest Andrew Methven comes in. Andrew first started learning Chinese whilst on a backpacking trip in China in 2002-03. He eventually went on to train as a translator and interpreter, before joining a startup in the UK focussed on China. More recently, he started the newsletter: designed to help intermediate and advanced learners fill in key gaps in the vocabulary. 

Every week Andrew shares new words, phrases, idioms, colloquialisms and slang with the goal of helping readers maintain and improve their Chinese, while staying up to date with latest language trends. Andrew’s experiences of backpacking through China as well as his insights into overcoming the long intermediate plateau are fascinating and insightful. 

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