Bradley has dual Australian and New Zealand citizenship. Apart from English and Mandarin Chinese, he also speaks a smattering of Cantonese. Bradley first started learning Chinese when he was about 6 and he studied a few years of Chinese through the New Zealand high school curriculum and a couple of Mandarin University papers. Bradley now lives in Christchurch, New Zealand and he has recently graduated from university and currently work as a full stack web developer. Bradley also does some random jobs on the side including acting, hosting, and pine tree removal.
Interesting facts about Bradley:
1. He was born in Taiwan.
2. He competed in the 2015 Chinese Bridge Competition and had a great time!

“Find your [purpose] for learning Mandarin and just hang on to that… Purpose trumps motivation every time.”

–  Bradley Meredith

Time Stamped Show Notes

  • [1:43] – Bradley started learning Mandarin when he was 6 years old by learning to count
  • [2:33] – Bradley was born in Taiwan because his parents were working there at an orphanage
  • [2:44] – Bradley moved to 广西guǎng xī in southern China before he turned 1
  • [3:14] – Bradley moved around a lot as a kid between China and New Zealand
  • [4:09] – Bradley started picking up Mandarin naturally by playing with other kids while he was growing up in China
  • [4:40] – Bradley studied 3 years of Chinese in high school in New Zealand and finished it early so he did a couple of university papers at that time as well
  • [5:33] – Bradley was already speaking conversational Chinese by year 11 but didn’t read or write much
  • [5:58] – Why did Bradley learn Chinese?
    • [6:10] – Bradley didn’t really make an effort to learn as a kid but just absorbed the language in order to interact with other kids
    • [6:31] – When he got older, Bradley had to focus on Mandarin a lot more in order to learn at a good pace
    • [6:46] – Bradley would get frustrated that he couldn’t express his thoughts very well in Chinese and that motivated him to keep studying
  • [7:19] – How did Bradley learn Chinese?
    • [7:27] – While growing up in China, Bradley’s parents would just send him off to play with other kids and that’s how he picked up some Chinese naturally
    • [8:29] – When Bradley was back in New Zealand, he tried to stay immersed in the language as much as possible by watching Chinese movies, making friends with Chinese students at his school, etc.
    • [8:53] – Bradley’s Chinese did get a little rusty but he found a new source of motivation once he started university and had many more opportunities to interact with Chinese people
    • [9:31] – Bradley actively learned reading and writing Chinese through his high school courses and the two university papers he did
    • [10:00] – Bradley learns new vocabulary by talking to his Chinese friends and then looking up whatever he doesn’t understand in Pleco and going back to review it a few times afterwards
  • [10:32] – What has been Bradley’s biggest challenge in learning Chinese?
    • [10:36] – Bradley feels lucky that he learned Chinese while he was younger because the tones came more naturally to him
    • [10:50] – Bradley’s biggest challenge was the writing, which he overcomes mostly through repetition and practice
    • [11:28] – Bradley also struggles with linguistic fluency. It’s important to speak at the right pace, but that’s challenging if you have to constantly translate things back and forth in your head instead of thinking in the same language that you’re speaking
      • [12:10] – Bradley finds that the more often he is speaking Chinese with friends the more he is able to think and converse in Chinese without having to translate things in his head
    • [12:50] – When he moved back to New Zealand, Bradley was conversational about simpler subjects from childhood, but he wasn’t at the level to talk about politics, economics, etc.
      • [13:29] – Bradley is still trying to break through that barrier and to be capable of talking about more complex subjects fluently
    • [14:10] – the Chinese language is also adapting with internet slang and phrases that Bradley doesn’t always know about, so it’s important to keep motivated and looking to learn new things
    • [15:01] – Victor breaks down the two levels of fluency. There’s basic conversational fluency, and then there’s specific deeper fluency where you learn the vocabulary that applies to subject matters that you are interested in
  • [16:16] – What’s the difference between learning Chinese as a kid vs. adult?
    • [16:35] – The main advantage of learning any language as a kid is that you absorb new information more quickly
    • [16:50] – The biggest advantage of learning Chinese at a young age is picking up accents and tones much better, so you’re able to sound more like a native speaker
  • [18:15] – How did Bradley deal with accents and dialects?
    • [18:17] – Growing up in the south, Bradley was exposed to a few different dialects including Cantonese, which he could understand a little bit but doesn’t speak well
  • [19:08] – If Bradley were to start learning Chinese again from scratch, how would he do it?
    • [19:16] – The best thing to do is to just immerse yourself completely, so if you’re really serious about learning Chinese you could go to school or get a job in China
    • [19:50] – If you want to pick it up quickly, you have to practice as often as possible
    • [20:00] – Get out of your comfort zone by going to see a Chinese movie or going to a Chinese dinner. You may not think you’re Chinese is up to it but it forces you to grow
    • [20:40] – By ‘throwing yourself into the deep end’ you’ll stay motivated and learn more quickly
  • [20:58] – Embarrassing moment: Confusing the words for ‘date’ and ‘pizza’
    • [21:06] – Bradley remembers one time when his mom was trying to order a pizza but accidentally asked a guy out on a date instead
  • [22:28] – Most rewarding moment: Winning the Chinese Bridge Competition
    • [22:36] – Bradley participated in the 2015 Chinese bridge competition and was actually crowned champion at the end after a lot of hard work preparing
  • [23:39] – How does Bradley use his Chinese now?
    • [23:41] – Bradley has done some acting in Chinese and used it to be a tour guide, as well as using it often to converse with Chinese friends
    • [24:00] – Bradley also does some hosting, including a recent business lunch streaming event celebrating a partnership between a Chinese company and a Kiwi (New Zealand) company
  • [24:45] – Life before learning Chinese vs. life after learning Chinese
    • [24:54] – It’s much happier! Growing up and being unable to communicate with other kids in China was frustrating so it felt great to be able to become part of social groups later on
    • [25:20] – Bradley’s life would be 100% different now if he didn’t know Chinese as it’s helped him make close friends, find jobs, and more
  • [25:46] – A difference between the Chinese culture and Bradley’s own culture
    • [25:52] – In China it’s very important to not embarrass yourself or others – to ‘keep face’. In New Zealand this idea of ‘face’ is much less important
    • [26:18] – In Chinese culture, you always maintain humility, which is different from Western culture and something Bradley really admires about China
  • [27:10] – Bradley’s favourite cities in China: 广西guǎng xī 南宁nán níng,阳朔yáng shuò
    • [27:12] – 南宁nán níng is where Bradley spent the most time growing up and still has some Chinese friends
    • [27:33] – 阳朔yáng shuò is a beautiful little town with mountains, caves, and streams. Bradley has heard it’s become more touristy recently though
    • [28:19] – 广西guǎng xī is a region with a lot of the mountains that are like the ones in the movie Avatar, as well as rice patties and lots of other cool nature to explore
    • [28:53] – 南宁nán níng is growing rapidly and has a population around 6 million. It’s known as one of the greener cities in China and has lots of parks and trees

Bradley’s Favourite Chinese Quote

  • [34:11] – 一寸光阴一寸金,寸金难买寸光阴: “time is more valuable than money”, or could as be translated as “you can’t buy time”
    • 一(yī) – one
    • 寸(cùn) – inch
    • 光阴(guāngyin) – time
    • 一(yī) – one
    • 寸(cùn) – inch
    • 金(jīn) – gold
    • 寸(cùn) – inch
    • 金(jīn) – gold
    • 难(nán) – difficult / unable
    • 买(mǎi) – buy
    • 寸(cùn) – inch
    • 光阴(guāngyin) – time

Bradley’s Advice for Chinese Learners

  • [36:16] – Get immersed and stay motivated
  • [36:23] – Find your purpose for learning Chinese and really hang on to it so that you can persevere even when your motivation is lacking

Connect with Bradley

Resources Mentioned:

  • [30:00] – Google translate; One reason that Google translate is so good is that it has a built-in pinyin typing feature so that you don’t need a Chinese keyboard to type Chinese characters
  • 20:59 – Pleco – Bradley uses this to saves words so that he can go back and quiz himself on them later
  • [32:14] – 老夫子 (Old Master Q) – Hong Kong comic that doesn’t have too many characters and uses really functional Chinese. Bradley also found that reading these comics was much more enjoyable than a textbook would be

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