Joe H., Circus Performer, Massachusetts, USA

Your website and podcast have been extremely helpful to me in my recent trips to China. I’ve become a premium subscriber because it’s been so useful. I’ve tried several other Chinese language resources,but have found yours to be the best.

I am a performer and I decided that since I would be spending so much time in China, it would be nice to learn some of the language. I thought it would be respectful to at least try, and based on my experience, the Chinese people love it when Americans try and speak their language. I managed to learn to speak 90% of my act in Mandarin.

Regarding your course, I am relatively new to it, and am only on lesson 17. I must confess that I skipped around a little to learn words that I knew I needed right away. But I am going back to make sure I have the previous lessons learned before I get too far ahead of myself. I like the approach of breaking down words to their roots. it has helped me with cab drivers, restaurant workers, store owners etc. One thing I found out by being in China and trying to get around, is that when I am shopping, shopkeepers will take out calculators to show you the price they are asking, and then I can take the calculator to make a counter offer. So learning all the numbers up to 1000 wasn’t as urgent to me as some other things. But you can only learn what it is you need to know by being in China, (or Taiwan). There is no substitute for jumping right in and trying to make yourself understood. After that, try to understand what people are saying to you, then try and understand what they are saying to each other. I had just started picking up things that people would say to me when I left. It was so much fun ! A cab driver told me my Chinese was very good, I was so happy to hear that, and understand what he said. A lot of the people in our group would ask me to go with them, because I could translate a little for them. I would also suggest to your listeners to try and learn a few phrases in the local dialect. When I said Thank You, Your Welcome, Hello and Good Bye in Shanghai Dialect, the people loved it ! It made feel good as well. A simple act of respect can go a long way.

I think the difficulty between lessons is OK. As in learning anything, practice, practice, practice. Without practice, it doesn’t matter how much or how little the difficulty increases, you won’t learn anything. I am fortunate in that I have been going to China, so I have a need and a place to speak what I learn. There is a Chinatown in Boston, near where I live, so I may go there to try and to speak some Chinese. ( I tried to speak Chinese to some people I’ve run into, but there are a lot of Vietnamese people around here, and I’ve embarrassed myself a few times. I can’t tell what part of Asia people are from by sight.) I will also be going back in February and May of next year. Hopefully I’ll be much further along in your excellent course.

I like your course because of the way the words are broken down to their roots. I like the fact that they are always broken down, even if you’ve already explained it 3 times in previous lessons. It’s hard to fall behind with your course. I like the way you explain which tones are being used. Like I mentioned, I’m a little hard of hearing, and I haven’t developed an ear for the tones yet, so for you to tell us which one it was is very helpful. You must be a very patient man to go over things so thoroughly. I like the support materials for premium subscribers. Again, I need to see the words, it helps me remember them. The practice exercises are helpful as well.

One thing that I do to help me learn is to have an imaginary conversation with someone, could be a bus driver, or a cab driver, store owner, person attending the festival and try to uses as many words as possible. That’s one way I discover what I haven’t learned yet, but need to know.

Keep up the good work. I think you’ve helped a lot of people learn what they once thought to be a difficult language.

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