Phase 2: School Books
Vocabulary, Grammar, Context, and Culture, all in one!
Everyone knows that Vocabulary and Grammar are easier to learn when you see them in context. Even in one’s native language, the kids who read the most are the ones with the largest vocabularies. The problem then is finding good materials for reading and listening practice. Materials made for beginners can be too easy and unrealistic; while authentic native material can be too difficult for beginners. In addition, a dictionary is not usually enough to understand a passage, as it may contain some advanced grammar; or worse, an expression, that only makes sense if you know the story behind it.
My solution for this has been to study native materials aimed at school children. Now to be sure, a five-year-old native speaker will have a mastery of the language greater than that of even an advanced student; but you can be sure that they will stay away from more complex concepts and ideas. If you can speak at the level of a five-year-old, you can honestly say you are fluent in Chinese!
Another great thing about children’s textbooks is that they provide a window into the national consciousness. As you learn thousands of the most important Vocabulary and Grammar in context, you also get to see what the children of the target language (in this case, the children of Taiwan) are taught as they grow up. Not only can this improve your understanding of the people you are trying to communicate with, but isn’t learning about other cultures one of the reasons you started studying a foreign language in the first place?
Below are the Contents for Phase II. The first four books are all from the 1st Grade, and once you’ve finished them, you should be approaching the Chinese level of a native speaking five-year-old. That means about 3750 Vocabulary and Grammar flashcards, divided into 75 sections of about 50 new words per section. Completing two or three sections per day is totally possible, but one per day is more manageable for those with a job, kids, school, life, etc.
The flashcard deck for this unit can be found in the Flashcards Deluxe Shared Library, under the name DLB Chinese Phase II: School Books.
Once downloaded, lets change some settings. Using the Back button in the top left, go back to the main screen. Select the deck you just downloaded (DLB Chinese Phase II: School Books), and then select the gear icon in the top right. From there, select:
☛ Card Order ☛ Spaced Repetition
☛ Spaced Repetition Settings ☛ Max New Cards
Type “7” ☛ Save
☛ Max Cards In Round
Type “100” ☛ Save
⇐ Back ⇐ Back
☛ Cards to Study ☛ Category 2
You will now see a list of the 75 Days that the cards are broken into. Double-click one of the check boxes to deselect all, then click on the first box to study cards from Day 1 only.
☛ Font / Alignment ☛ Font Size ☛ Text 1 ☛ x-Large
⇐ Back ⇐ Back ⇐ Back
And that’s it! Don’t neglect to make all these changes, especially the 7 Max New Cards limit. I’ve found it’s the best deck size for learning brand new words as fast as possible. The 100 Max Cards In Round number might seem rather high, but keep in mind that you will be doing a lot of your vocabulary practice just by reading the passages.
How to Learn
Every day, you should:
1. Spend at least 10-20 minutes reviewing old DUE flashcards.
2. Spend another 10-20 minutes reviewing old textbook passages.
3. Activate a NEW pile of flashcards from the next selection, and study them all; moving each card from “New” to “Active” (by getting it correct 3 times in a row).
4. Read through the corresponding NEW passage several times.
5. Practice saying each line or sentence of the passage quickly, both in your head and out loud, until you can say it smoothly and without mistakes.
*Saying the passages to yourself using your “mind voice”, NOT under your breath, is important. Not only will it save your breath, but it will improve your listening by decreasing the amount of time needed to process the sounds in your brain.
*Also when you’re reading, keep the meaning of the words in your mind as you speak. (Use the Perapera Popup Dictionary Plugin when you forget a word.
All this shouldn’t take more than an hour or two per day to complete, with your goal being to finish the 1st Grade in 75 days. Good luck!