With university going on you have to ask the question, how are you able to keep up with learning Chinese when your so busy?
The first thing I have to say is that you do have to prioritise. I have sacrificed my free time in order to learn. When I am not eating, cooking, studying, or hanging out with friends or going to societies I’m learning Chinese. With the obvious exception of those times where you get distracted which always take up too much of your day. When you study so much though, I feel like that kind of thing is still healthy.
So what do I do?
If I cannot find time to make progress during a day, then I can at least make sure I’m not loosing progress. So essentially this involves reviewing all my words on memrise and reviewing all my hanzi on decks.
Then there are some things that I have to do during a week, that I have set in place already planned that I absolutely have to do.
The first thing is that my university offers me a language course as an extra module, which means that studying Chinese contributes at least a little to helping my university experience. This happens once a week for two hours, and then afterwards I have a lot of homework I need to do, usually on the same day I get it so that it’s out of the way.
They put me on the Chinese three language course after testing how good I was, which means that the lessons are easy to follow yet I still learn a lot. I however plan to overtake the course before the semester ends, so that I can finish far ahead of it. Same is true next semester when I take Chinese four.
Then I still call my friend from China to learn with her. Though it may be seen as unnecessary, I do genuinely love to talk to her and I feel like I still learn a lot. She motivates me to work harder and is pretty important to make me learn faster.
Next is the help from the language partner my university gives me. This is an official scheme, which means that we have an hour where I help her English and an hour where she helps my Chinese. It’s quite useful, and also for just an hour theirs not too much to do afterwards. As we only just started uni, and we haven’t been partners for long, it also feels like theirs less obligation, which means that when I don’t have enough time there is something I can do to drop. Generally it’s also pretty useful.
Those are all the essential things that I have to do, here’s what’s extra.
I go to societies to help me learn Chinese as well. The first is cosplay society, which I didn’t expect to be where I went for Chinese help, however most of the members are Chinese and it’s useful conversation practice, they can also help me with my homework. As well as that the society is the chill kind of place where you can pretty much do anything, meaning this is perfectly accepted. There are times where it’s turned into every single person there helping with my homework and it can genuinely feel kind of cool.
I also go to a language exchange society where English and Chinese people converse and chat to help each other improve and to gain conversation practice. It’s really fun, nice and friendly, as things tend to be, and really have to be, if your going to try to awkwardly converse in a language you don’t know very well. I also got asked to earn a small amount of money through giving my perspective on language learning, meaning that I’m making a profit from the society too!
There is also East Asian society, which doesn’t meet up regularly, but provides another place to practice when I want too.
Mahjong society is also another one that I go to. I generally don’t use Chinese really while I’m there, but it’s never like I couldn’t use it either.
I think there probably are more, but those are the ones that I’ve been too so far. It’s interesting and fun, I’m very grateful that the university has so many events like this to help me.
I don’t think Chinese as a language for non specialists (people who aren’t taking it for their degree) is too unpopular, neither are the people taking it for a degree. Yet, these events are massively underpopulated by English speakers, which is something I’m not necessarily complaining about, as it gives me more chance to practice. However at the same time it does make me a bit sad.
Of course you can do extra, like typing up memrise decks, studying grammar, or anything else. For example I really want to pass the HSK3 exam in December, however it’s quite difficult, and I have very little time to study this particular thing in particular. Which means that I will likely have to take the HSK2 exam instead, which I am fully confident I could pass any day, any time. The jump between HSK2 and 3 is just big haha.
So essentially this is what I do. Do you wonder how I have time to do anything besides this? Well the answer is that I don’t. This is what I do now, it’s fun so I’m not complaining. Essentially I’m living the dream which everyone wants, for their hobby’s to be useful. I didn’t feel like I had that before with anime and video games, yet here it feels like I do. And the feeling of not wasting your time is better than anything the other two can offer me.
Do I have free time to do anything? Not very much, but maybe that’s only because I use it. Does it mean that I’m behind on university work? Maybe slightly but not really yet, the knowledge of knowing how little time you have has made it so that I do my work faster so that I can get it out of the way.
I also want to clarify that I am weird, and that this is far from normal, and that this is something that many people could not do. I understand that, and don’t let this deter you if you want to learn a language. Do what works for you, find out what you like and dislike. Don’t do stuff that people tell you to do if you really hate doing it, you can always find a way to learn the same thing in a more enjoyable way, even if it will take longer, at least you will be able to enjoy the journey, and anything that you do which you dislike is only going to make you more likely to give up.
Hey, if you take baby steps, and build up slowly. Maybe one day you will suddenly realise that your life isn’t too different to the one described here! Not to say that that should be the goal, or is even admirable, but hey it works for me. And if this comes across as something you might like maybe it will work for you.
Essentially you can find time to do the things you want to do if you care about those things enough. I really wish you so much luck in trying to find that.
If you want to talk about this more drop a comment, and also if you want to tell me how your language learning is going so far I’d be really interested to hear that!