Anthony is from Darwin Australia, now living in London England since 2012. He has learnt Chinese for 3 and a half years and planning to take HSK 6 exam soon. Anthony is 27 years old and now studying full time in International Studies (which is essentially international relations) and Chinese.

One interesting fact about Anthony in his own words: Even though I am left handed naturally I can only write Chinese properly with my right hand.

Time Stamped Show Notes

  • [1:33] – Anthony didn’t speak Chinese when he arrived in China, so he took supplementary lessons to catch up to his classmates
    • [1:55] – Anthony’s first writing teacher wouldn’t allow him to write left-handed (his natural hand) so he learned the first few hundred characters right-handed
    • [2:26] – Anthony learned that stroke order makes it much easier to write right-handed
  • [3:21] – Anthony started teaching himself Chinese in 2013, but realised he needed a teacher after 3 months
  • [3:58] – Anthony took a risk and went to China for the intensive 1-month course
    • [4:13] – Anthony was the only person who didn’t speak at least some Chinese
    • [4:26] – He went to a second-tier city, Wuhu 芜湖, where English wasn’t common
  • [4:50] – Anthony chose the Anhui 安徽 program on the recommendation of his dad, who is connected with Anhui through his work
  • [5:55] – Anthony found a Confucius Institute in London that gave him a scholarship to go back to China for six months in Beijing to study once he reached HSK-2
    • [6:34] – Anthony didn’t want to leave after the first semester, so he paid out of pocket for a second semester
  • [6:48] – After returning from Beijing, Anthony was dissatisfied with his work so he went back to university to study international relations with a secondary major of Chinese
  • [7:34] – Why did Anthony learn Chinese?
    • [7:49] – At first, Anthony wanted to learn Chinese as a way to gain a unique skill for career opportunities
    • [8:32] – After starting, Anthony found that he just really enjoys the language
  • [9:24] – What’s is Anthony’s biggest motivation in learning Chinese?
    • [9:34] – Anthony overcomes times of demotivation by changing his study methods whenever he burns out on one method
    • [10:06] – Anthony also reminds himself of how far he has come to stay motivated to keep going
  • [11:03] – How did Anthony learn Chinese?
    • [11:13] – As a beginner, Anthony struggled the most with listening comprehension
      • [11:30] – Anthony watched kid’s television shows dubbed in Chinese and listened to them for hours a day to improve his listening skills
      • [11:57] – Anthony also listened to ChinesePod, which he still uses now
    • [12:33] – Anthony’s speaking strategy was to mimic his teachers and other native speakers as closely as possible
    • [13:18] – Reading aloud and reciting/memorising phrases and short speeches
    • [14:39] – Having language partners is extremely helpful
      • [15:09] – Anthony met language partners just by approaching Chinese speakers who were interested in improving their English
      • [16:42] – Anthony sometimes has conversations where he only uses Chinese and his language partners only uses English
      • [17:26] – Another method was just dividing conversations into even time blocks, one with Chinese and one with English
    • [18:46] – Another tip for improving listening skills is watching Chinese-dubbed Disney films
    • [19:19] – Anthony learned to read and write with kid’s books
  • [20:16] – What had been Anthony’s biggest challenge in learning Chinese?
    • [20:35] – After listening, the next big challenge was learning all of the characters and synonyms
      • [21:04] – Anthony overcame this with reading and flashcards
  • [22:48] – How did Anthony deal with accents and dialects?
    • [22:54] – Anthony had to deal with strong southern accents in Wuhu, but didn’t struggle too much with understanding people in Beijing
  • [24:32] – Embarrassing moment: Buying a laundry card
    • [24:44] – Anthony memorised a sentence to get a laundry card and the staff complimented him on his Chinese, but his Chinese wasn’t actually good enough to understand the compliment
  • [25:48] – Most rewarding moment: Using his Chinese to help others
    • [25:58] – Anthony sat next to two middle aged Chinese women who didn’t speak any English, and helped them fill out the immigration forms. He then went through the non-European passport holder line to help translate for them as they came through customs, for which they were very grateful.
  • [28:41] – Anthony competed in the national semifinals of the Chinese bridge competition and learned a lot about Chinese history and culture
  • [29:39] – Anthony is also considering making Chinese YouTube videos to keep up his speaking while his Chinese friends are gone on holiday
  • [30:14] – Life before learning Chinese vs. life after learning Chinese
    • [30:22] – Before learning Chinese, Anthony didn’t really have a direction in life
    • [30:37] – Learning Chinese opened lots of doors and career opportunities
    • [31:04] – Speaking Chinese has become a positive part of Anthony’s identity
  • [31:29] – A difference between the Chinese culture and Anthony’s own culture
    • [31:37] – Anthony’s experience with all the Chinese teachers he’s ever had is that they are always willing to help, even when he is no longer their student
    • [33:25] – Victor shares a story of how he had the opposite experience in Australia, where a teacher wasn’t willing to help outside of their obligated class time
  • [34:51] – Anthony’s favourite cities in China: Wuhu & Beijing
    • [34:58] – Anthony still enjoys visiting friends and walking around in Wuhu
    • [35:19] – Anthony likes the feeling that Beijing is a ‘sprawling village’
      • [36:16] – Beijing also has a great underground music scene

Anthony’s Favourite Chinese Quote

  • [39:30] – 囊中羞涩 – To have nothing but embarrassment and shame in your pockets
    • 囊(náng) – bag, purse
    • 中(zhōng) – inside, central, middle
    • 羞(xiū) – shame
    • 涩(sè) – harsh
    • [39:52] – As a poor student, this is a very useful phrase for Anthony
  • [40:20] – 不要急于求成,应该契而不舍 – Don’t expect fast results, slowly chip away and don’t give up
    • 不要(bú yào) – don’t
    • 急于求成(jí yú qiú chéng) – anxious for quick results (idiom)
    • 应该(yīng gāi) – should
    • 契(qì) – a contract
    • 而(ér) – and so
    • 不舍(bù shě) – reluctant to part with

Anthony’s Advice for Chinese Learners

  • [40:52] – Find a passion for learning Chinese
  • [40:58] – If you are interested in doing something, you’ll find it much easier and more gratifying to learn

Connect with Anthony

Resources Mentioned:

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