Intermediate to Fluent Chinese in 30 Days: Final Post and Lessons Learned

While I failed the 30 day blogging challenge, the 30 day Chinese learning challenge has had some interesting results for me.

Main takeaways:

  • You need to put in the hours
  • There’s a lot of time in a day that can be used for language practice
  • The most important thing is to build a habit
  • Consistency is the name of the game
  • Replace Facebook time as language learning time

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Confusing Chinese Characters – How to Distinguish 更 and 便


Chinese characters can sometimes be confusing. In this post, we take a look at four similar looking characters and examine some ways to remember and distinguish them.

Character Pinyin Definition
gèng more / even more
gēng part of 更改 (gēnggǎi) change
便 biàn convenient
便 pián part of 便宜 (piányi) cheap

I chose these two characters with four meanings because they’re relatively common and I myself have been having problems remembering how to write them down due to the similarity of the forms and two of them having multiple readings. They also happen to be on the HSK vocabulary lists from level 3 onwards.

Let’s look at each of them in context to make it easier to remember, then devise some memory aids to easily distinguish them from each other.

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Numbers in Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, Fookien and Tagalog


At the 3rd session of my Basic Korean class yesterday, we learned about numbers. And since I already know about numbers in Mandarin, Cantonese, Fookien and Tagalog, I thought of making this table as a memory aid.

Number Mandarin Cantonese Fookien Tagalog Korean
1 / 一 jat1 it isa 하나 (hana)
2 / 二 èr ji6 di dalawa 둘 (dul)
3 / 三 sān saam3 sa tatlo 셋 (set)
4 / 四 sei3 si apat 넷 (net)
5 / 五 ng5 go lima 다섯 (daseot)
6 / 六 lìu luk6 lak anim 여섯 (yeoseot)
7 / 七 cat1 chit pito 일곱 (ilgop)
8 / 八 baat3 pue walo 여덟 (yeodeol)
9 / 九 jiǔ gau2 kaw siyam 아홉 (ahop)
10 / 十 shí sap6 tsap sampu 열 (yeol)

Note: The Cantonese column uses Jyutping romanization. The Fookien column does not include tone information.

Korean Cultural Center Philippines vs. Ateneo Confucius Institute

Chinese & Korean

First off, a bit of background: one of my goals is to learn Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Yes, all three. Yes, I know it’s kinda crazy. Anyway, as part of this goal, I originally planned to start learning basic Korean or Japanese as soon as I attained an advanced level in Mandarin Chinese.

Actually, I will be re-taking Intermediate Level 6 (out of 6) at the Confucius Institute in Ateneo Professional Schools, Makati next week in order to further polish my skills before proceeding to the Advanced classes. So, not quite at the advanced level—yet.

Regardless of which, I decided, against sanity and the advice of some people, to enroll in a Basic Korean class at the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines. On the same day. Chinese in the morning and Korean in the afternoon. Saturday was the only schedule that was feasible for me due to my work schedule. I’m not yet sure if this would cause some linguistic confusion but I hypothesize that it would not due to the level disparity. Well, let’s see how it plays out.

For now, let’s just focus on these two government-supported institutes. Having attended classes at the Confucius Institute for over a year now, I’ve noticed some differences in their approaches, which I’ll talk about in this post. This is not about which one is better; I’m simply contrasting them should you be interested in learning Chinese or Korean from these institutions.

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Awesome Korean, Japanese, and Chinese Language Resources to Enhance Your Learning

It’s inspiring how one person can collect and build such a great body of work at Guide to Japanese. Strangely enough, I found this blog when I was looking for a specific construction on Chinese.

Wikis are immensely useful for collecting and organizing information on languages. The Korean Wiki Project is a great example. I looked for an equivalent for Chinese but haven’t found one yet.

Professor O’s Learn Korean Videos are not only informative but also entertaining. I like the way she uses graphics and different characters to give examples of language use.

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