So 2010 is almost over.
I'd like to reflect this past year on my Mandarin. I graduated this year with a Mandarin (+ General Linguistics) degree cum laude. But, to me, it speaks more than my actual abilities. I have learned how to score really good marks, but doesn't really reflect my knowledge of the language.
One of the biggest things that helped me this year, was the choice of our teacher to give us the book and accompanying TV series, 香樟树. [Head over to the 电视剧 section] as homework for the year. We had to consistently hand in a summary of each chapter of the book every week. In the last term, we had to double that 'cause we were lagging behind. You could've watch the TV series if you want, but sometimes the two differed. However, the basic premise was the same in most parts. I however, watched the series before tackling the next chapter. So I kept track on both at the same time.
To actively practice my listening and watch a TV show only in Chinese (with Chinese subtitles) on top of reading the book with numerous unknown vocabulary was an immense learning curve;. Furthermore, the summaries had to be written in Chinese and we had to give definitions of about 10-15 idioms each week that occurred in the chapter... in Chinese. That was really difficult. My abstract Chinese thinking got a lot better.
Although, tracking one's ability in a language in concrete measures is often difficult, I have felt my reading has improved immensely. I got a better understanding of Chinese prose. Furthermore, with the TV series I got a better understanding of natural Chinese dialogue. It is there where I first learned phrases with 慢, like 慢走 or 慢吃.
One area that I feel I am still lacking in is speaking. I did go to extra classes each week, but I still need a lot of practice and is on the top of my list for 2011 to improve on.
Furthermore, I started this blog and Social Mandarin, which has brought me much joy in sharing my thoughts and connecting with other Chinese learners.
Next year I'm going to hopefully blog a bit more, keep Social Mandarin going strong and start my Master's Degree in Hypermedia for Language Learning. I've got lots of ideas on how to improve language learning, especially in Mandarin, since I have been through the process and still am going through it. I know what bothered me at first and what I know I will need to improve with Mandarin.
[Sneaky edit]: I forgot to mention. I got a lovely girlfriend that also learns Mandarin at the same department, but she was a first year this year. I helped her with her homework and it has been an interesting blast from the past. Seeing those old exercises and sentences really makes for a good jolt of the memory. You just realize how easy it was back then. How things are so obvious. The retrospection gave me an interesting outlook. I would recommend going back over your first textbook/notes/material and just refresh your memory.
May 2011 be a fruitful year for all Mandarin learners. 万事如意！