Cracking the Intermediate Plateau (Podcast)

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The Key Predictors of Mandarin Success I'm Learning Mandarin

On today’s episode I discuss learning Mandarin with a man who has not only learned the language for  himself, he’s also observed the trajectories of hundreds of other learners over the years.  Max Hobbs is Marketing Director at the leading Chinese language school, LTL Mandarin. He first came into contact with Chinese while backpacking in 2014 and he has since continued to study Mandarin whilst working. His position at the school has given him a real birds eye view, observing and documenting the stories of numerous students over the years at the school he works for.  I found it really insightful to talk to him about his learning experiences and in particular his observations of which attitudes and traits are the strongest predictors of a successful Mandarin learner.

*The I’m Learning Mandarin Podcast is now available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify . If you enjoyed this content please subscribe on your favourite podcast provider and leave a review. You can also subscribe to this blog to have new posts and podcasts pinged straight to your email.

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: https://slowchinese.substack.com 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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