Podcast #26: Mastering Chinese

In this episode of the podcast I have a conversation with Phil, one half of the Chengdu-based Chinese language program called Mandarin Blueprint. Our conversation covers many areas of language acquisition, in both formal and informal settings, and includes a ton of useful tips for Chinese learners in particular. Phil speaks tremendous Chinese and has, with his business partner Luke, created a comprehensive program for guiding students online and in Chengdu toward mastery in Chinese.

Topics Discussed

  • How Phil was the first recipient of Chengdu’s entrepreneurship visa
  • The shortcomings of studying Chinese in a Chinese university
  • Rapidly acquiring elite-level Chinese to pass HSK 6
  • The Mandarin Blueprint ideology which Phil promotes
  • The “Heisig Method”, memory palaces, and more language acquisition tricks
  • Tools & resources for advancing your learning
  • Phil’s daily routine for improving his Chinese

Download & Stream Links

Note: this podcast has chapters which you can use to navigate to different topics in the conversation. These will appear only if you are listening to the podcast app which supports chapters. If you are using an iPhone, we suggest Overcast which is a free download.

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Mandarin Blueprint’s Hanzi Movie Method

For a limited time, Mandarin Blueprint is offering a deep discount on their “Hanzi Movie Method” program. Scan the QR code in the image below to learn more or sign up for the two week course at the limited-time 50% discount rate.

Mandarin Blueprint

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Charlie

About Charlie

Having lived in Chengdu for ten years, Charlie has traveled to every corner of China and back again, calling the Yulin neighborhood of Chengdu his adopted home.

13 Responses to “Podcast #26: Mastering Chinese”

  1. Great podcast. First comment attempt: “comment too long” lol. So I’ll divide it into two or more parts.

    I think you both have a deep understanding of the Chinese language, probably even better than an average Chinese person. As a Chinese myself I don’t even know much about my first language in terms of structures, tones and syllables. 409 syllables in Chinese? I didn’t know that. Ha.

    • Charlie

      Right? One of my only regrets is that I didn’t ask Phil to actually speak some Chinese. He is really skilled. Hearing a foreigner speak such good Chinese is a great motivator to improve.

  2. I can especially relate to two points mentioned in the podcast:

    “The things that unite people more and not the ‘culture’ that divides people” – I’m a firm believer that if you keep an open heart and an open mind, you would be surprised to find yourself on the track to gain the best of both worlds (East and West). We are all made of flesh and bones and are fundamentally the same after all.

    • Charlie

      Language is a huge part of this. Most foreigners who don’t speak Chinese have difficulty “connecting” on that level. This is why I believe that learning Chinese is maybe the most important foundation of success in China, whether in business, hobbies, relationships, etc.

  3. “Immerse yourself in the language you are learning” – can’t agree more as I’ve had a very similar experience learning English. English has been a compulsory subject for me since the fifth grade and all throughout junior and senior high school. Apart from formal learning at school where they focused on vocabulary and grammar rules, I would read books and news articles and listen to podcasts, music and watch a whole bunch of movies in my spare time as well. I could say that I definitely learned way more by self-learning than from my teachers. Didn’t really pay much attention to grammar rules. Sorry, teach. My own experience was that if you have read or heard enough of the language it kind of becomes your second nature when you actually use it- just like learning your first language imo. It’s all about finding your own niche when it comes to language learning. Interest as the best teacher plays a very big part as well. Another thing I want to mention though, is that you won’t be able to truly master the language until you’ve gained a deeper understanding of the culture, as the language is the main medium/carrier of its culture.

  4. Any foreigner can learn the native language better through passion and hard work.

    Well done to Phil!

    • Charlie

      I feel the same way: it’s inspiring to see how much progress Phil has made. Anyone can do it. But most people will not be able to achieve that level of mastery because it demands a lot of time and effort, discipline, genuine passion for the language, etc.

  5. Thanks for the podcast and additional information. Interesting!

  6. Did you learn Chinese formally Charlie like Phil did?

    • Charlie

      No, I didn’t, I begun studying Chinese myself as soon as I arrived in China in 2005. I dabbled with some HSK prep classes years ago, but otherwise have never taken any classes.

  7. Do you and Phil speak Sichuan dialect as well? Hsk is formal but you can self learn really well.

  8. I can understand Sichuan dialect, but I don’t try to speak it. It is rare to meet someone from Sichuan under 50 who doesn’t understand Mandarin, and seeing as I’m a Mandarin teacher I’d rather practice that way. They understand me, I keep perfecting my Mandarin, and all parties have a good time 😀

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