We tell our clients that learning Chinese is easy and it really can be easy, but you need to do a few things right. It just takes time and practice which means you need the discipline to follow through. That’s an intimidating sentence, but it does not need to be. You can successfully build new habits by starting small.
Don’t take on too much.
In saying this, I don’t mean don’t take on too much Chinese. Don’t take on too many new things. Research shows that willpower is like a muscle and if you exercise it too much, it will wear out. Trying to change too many habits at once will essentially drain your willpower and leave you struggling. You want to have a solid track record of studying Chinese regularly before taking on other new habits.
Discipline Starts Small
So you really shouldn’t take on too much Chinese either. The hard part of learning Chinese is the same as the hard part of every other new thing you try in life. All worthwhile things take time and discipline. When I was younger, the word discipline brought up visions of the army. Now I know that discipline just means picking and following through on the right habit.
If you want to speak Chinese, you need to make studying a habit. That is the hard part of learning to speak Chinese. In fact, it is probably the very thing that makes you just a little bit afraid. The trick is to get started, take it slow and make it fun.
Start small and with a plan.
In studying Chinese, you might start with:
- reviewing 5 vocabulary words a day.
- listening to a podcast on the way to work.
- reviewing a sentence pattern a day.
It is essential that the new plan be easy and organized.
- Prepare the materials you want to use ahead of time.
- Make sure you understand any apps.
- Schedule your studies.
Celebrate every success.
There will be good days and bad days. On some days, you will sit down to study for five minutes and get in an hour or even two. On other days, all you will do is sit down to study before something pulls you away. Both of those are victories. If you sit down and study often enough and long enough, you will master Chinese.
Consider an accountability partner. This is just someone who will support you. You let them know when and how long you plan to study and then report. The focus on encouraging you to continue to do well while helping you celebrate your success.