Learning Chinese is supposed to be fun, right? So why does it not always feel that way? Something that often affects language learners, myself included, is that we impose a lot of rules or restrictions on ourselves in terms of how or when we should learn. These restrictions in turn can become a hindrance to the learning process.
For instance, you might find that when you buy a Chinese book you force yourself to start from the very beginning and read each and every page before continuing to the next. Where’s the fun in that? Or if a Chinese language movie is on television that looks interesting, rather that just sitting down and watching it there and then, you might think “I need to record this, or find the DVD so I can watch it later and really study it properly!”, instead of just enjoying it for what it is, at the time it is on.
We know that the more restrictions there are, the more a process becomes boring and feels limited, so why do we feel that we need to impose these restrictions? Maybe it’s that we feel for a process to end in success that it needs to have followed a rigid structure. Though we also know that the language acquisition process is based on natural experience and exposure to the language, something which we will be depriving ourselves of if we only allow ourselves partial exposure via strict periods of learning.
Learn to naturally enjoy the learning process
If you can learn to drop these formalities and simply learn to naturally experience the learning process you will enjoy it more and find that you take more in than if you impose strict rules on yourself. The next time you buy a Chinese book, don’t force yourself to start from the beginning. Flick through the pages and read some here and there. See how much you can understand at random points, skip back and forth to the parts you think will be most interesting. If a show comes on TV that you think looks interesting, just sit down and watch for a while, don’t worry about whether or not you can record it or find the DVD later for a serious study session. Enjoy it now!
This isn’t to say that some structure isn’t necessary to maintain motivation, as Steve from Lingomi discusses, but rather that you shouldn’t impose these rules and restrictions all the time, when they needn’t be.
What are some of the stupid rules you impose or things you do when learning Chinese that you think may actually be a hindrance to the learning process?