Over the past few weeks I haven’t posted quite as often as previously. There are two main reasons for this.
The first is that I was struggling for motivation. Having achieved my new year’s resolution in 2022 to get my spoken Mandarin to a level where I’d be comfortable hosting podcasts in the language I felt I’d documented how I went about it pretty comprehensively and needed a new challenge.
The second reason is that I found that challenge and have been busy preparing for it: moving to Taiwan.
I took a three week trip to Taiwan in April 2019 shortly before the pandemic hit. I’d been learning Mandarin for a couple of years but, as I’ve blogged elsewhere, the trip only served to remind me just how limited my Chinese level was. Outside the classroom and in the wild I could understand close to nothing, and native speakers could barely understand me.
Upon my return I vowed to continue studying Chinese with the hope of one day returning to Taiwan as a fluent speaker. Soon afterwards the pandemic arrived and all travel plans were postponed indefinitely.
Then, last summer, just as Taiwan decided to lift its travel restrictions, I was granted six months of development leave from the university where I work. I’ve been accepted onto the Mandarin Spring course at National Taiwan University which starts in February and plan to use my time there to immerse in the culture and take my Chinese to the next level.
I have two main language learning goals. First, I want to get comfortable living my daily life entirely in Mandarin Chinese. Although I am conversationally pretty fluent now, there are aspects of day to day language it’s difficult to pick up when studying from abroad and I will need to plug these gaps quickly in order to navigate renting an apartment, travelling and generally surviving.
I also hope to become proficient at reading traditional characters, having initially studied simplified, as well as raise my overall literacy level to a point where reading most modern novels without the aid of an online dictionary doesn’t feel like work.
So the time has finally arrived to fly out and I’m very excited. I’ll mix travel with study while blogging about my experience on here. Meanwhile, I’ll continue developing the Mandarin Retreat project I’ve been working on for the past few months.
Together with co-founder Karl Baker and our team of volunteers we’ve organised several immersive Mandarin learning trips in the UK, and have many more planned over the coming months, enabling learners of all levels to replicate the experience of living in Chinese speaking countries, being surrounded by the language for a whole weekend.
How about you? What are your language learning goals for 2023? Let me know in the comments!
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