Mandarinblueprint-Learn Mandarin Online 100% in One Place

The Mandarin Blueprint Method will get you to literacy and fluency faster than you ever thought possible. Read, Understand, Speak and Even Write Mandarin Chinese Quickly and Easily, All in One Place.

Learn Learn Mandarin Online in One Place

As you progress through the 4,200 lessons that make up our curriculum, you will learn how to pronounce like a native, how to read and write full stories, and how to speak fluently. All the content is laid out for you in perfect order, and all of the boring legwork is done for you.


Acquire Chinese the Natural (and Fun) Way

No more boring textbooks, teachers, or classes. Instead, you’ll apply a combination of patent-pending memory techniques, learning technologies, and top linguistic research to reach your goals much faster, while actually enjoying yourself the entire time.

The Ultimate Personalized Learning Experience

You will apply the techniques of memory athletes, creating connections to new characters and vocabulary based on people, places, objects, and actions from your own life. Learning this way is super-fun, super-efficient, and 100% personal to you. Learn Mandarin Chinese today!

How the Course Works

There are 6 unique phases within The Mandarin Blueprint Method. Each phase focuses on a key element of Mandarin and builds seamlessly upon one another in a linear, unified learning experience all the way to literacy and fluency.

Pronounce Mandarin Like A Native Speaker In 6 Hours

Solid Pronunciation training lays the foundation for your entire language skillset, and it should be the very first thing you learn when taking on Mandarin. Our short course “Pronunciation Mastery” contains everything you need to be able to produce, understand, and read every Mandarin syllable just like a native speaker.


Vocabulary Building

As you speed-learn characters, you will “unlock” new words with increasing frequency. We guide you on how to acquire these new words easily by creating mnemonics based on their intuitive word structure, and drawing on your life experience. Learn Mandarin Chinese today!

Sentence Building

After you’ve built up a foundation of Chinese words, we will show you carefully crafted sentences that almost exclusively contain characters and words you have already learned. By following this step-by-step process, you will be reading and understanding Chinese in a matter of hours.

Paragraph Building

Now things really start to get fun! On top of sentences, you’ll start unlocking entire paragraphs filled with conversations and opinions, all of which you’ll be able to read and understand without help! This deeper, more engaging context makes learning grammar an enjoyable and natural process, instead of a mind-numbing slog through a series of textbooks.

Story Building

In this final phase, we’ll start introducing longer-form content created by our native Chinese writers. Once again, these are expertly designed using words and characters you have already learned. By reading and listening to all of this content daily, you’ll find your Mandarin skills increasing faster than you ever thought possible!


High Quality HD Video & Native Audio

Mandarinblueprint  produced all of the 850 videos in the course to a high standard in our sound-proof booth, and every single video is edited to be short, engaging and a pleasure to watch. All of their native audio is also studio-quality, and both male and female are available.

Easy-To-Use Course Platform

All 4,200 lessons and 57 levels will be accessible immediately from desktop and mobile as soon as you sign up. The videos load quickly, and everything from navigating the platform itself to downloading your support materials is intuitive and clear.

A Wealth Of Support Materials

You get 10,000+ digital flashcards with images and studio-quality native audio for everything we teach you. Plus, get access to reading and listening content any time from shared google slides, along with a huge selection of informational PDF documents. Learn Mandarin Chinese today!

Outstanding Customer Service

Your success is their success. That’s why we read and answer every email and comment, usually through video response or as a part of our weekly podcast. It’s just like having your own personal language coaches there with you all the way to fluency.

A Living, Growing Curriculum

Not only do your comments within each lesson help other new learners better apply our methods, they love to discuss them on their podcast. Mandarinblueprint often makes these clips into video content for the curriculum itself! Learn Mandarin Chinese today!

Incredibly Committed Community

On their course platform and community forum you can give and receive advice, support, and information from other learners just like you. Their members surprise us every day with how helpful, positive and motivated they are.


Learn Characters Like a Memory Athlete

Learning Chinese characters is 100% essential because this allows you to read, and reading (and listening) is the key to fluency. Using our mnemonic visualization system “The Hanzi Movie Method”, learning characters is easier than ever before.


Acquire Vocabulary Faster than Ever Before

As your foundation of components and characters grows, you will unlock an increasing number of compound words made up of these essential building blocks. We’ll teach you how to create mnemonics to memorize the words almost instantly, and supply multi-media flashcards so you never forget what you learn.

Hack vocabulary using the power of ‘living links’

Link to the Characters

As you attempt to find a connection to a new vocabulary word, say it out loud. Does anything come to mind? Is there any connection, even a tenuous one, to a sound you already recognize?

What if, when you hear the word 你好 níhǎo (hello), you visualized someone staring at their knees, perplexed, wondering HOW these KNEES got there, only to then say HELLO to several new acquaintances that entered the room? Learn Mandarin Chinese today!

Link to the Sound

Learn Mandarin Online nowAre you surprised to find out that “肌肉” jīròu – muscle” is the same pronunciation as “鸡肉 jīròu – chicken meat?” Can you imagine a chicken that is jacked like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime? How about the word “说明” shuōmíng – “To Explain” sounding a little like Sean Connery saying the word “Swimming”? Does that conjuring up the image of Mr Connery giving swimming lessons?

Whether the Chinese word you are learning sounds like something from your native language or a previously learned Mandarin word, taking a moment to recognize the sound connection will make the memory all the more solid.

Link to Images

We recognize images far better than text or even sound. If you associate a memorable image and the sound of a new word when first seeing it, you are so much more likely to form long term memory of that word, and in record time. In The Mandarin Blueprint Method, we show you how to quickly take your lived experience and turn it into an intelligent online image search. Once you’ve chosen an image (or images) to represent the word, it’s time for the final step.

Create & Review Incredible Multimedia Flashcards

We have created and organized thousands of powerful spaced repetition flashcards in perfect order for you. All you need to do is add your images and start reviewing! Each flashcard contains studio-quality native male and female audio for every word you learn. Learn Mandarin online course today!

Unlock the Superpower Hiding Inside All of Us: Mnemonic Visualization

The most effective methods for memorizing information tap into our innate ability to visualize. These techniques are used by World Memory Champions to perform astounding feats, such as memorizing a deck of cards in 17 seconds or 520 random digits in five minutes. Learn Mandarin Chinese today!
We have simply adapted them to Chinese characters in a highly systemized way, changing the game of Mandarin learning forever. Here’s how it works.

Use Objects to Remember the Character Components

You can use our suggestions, those of other course members, or choose a completely new 3D object that represents the meaning or appearance of the component you need to learn. We call these objects “props”.

Use People and Places from Your Life to Remember the Pinyin and Tones

You can use our suggestions, those of other course members, or choose a completely new 3D object that represents the meaning or appearance of the component you need to learn. We call these objects “props”. Learn Mandarin online course today!

Use Places to Remember the Pinyin Finals

Choose buildings you know well to represent the endings of Chinese syllables known as ‘finals’. These “movie sets” can be places you’ve lived, homes of friends and families, workplaces, stores, or any other place you know well.

Use Rooms to Remember the Five Tones

The rooms or areas within your “sets” will represent the tone of the character you are learning. Outside the entrance is first tone, in the hallway or kitchen is second tone, bedrooms and living rooms are third tone, the bathroom and backyard is fourth tone, and the fifth tone is on the roof. Learn Mandarin online course today!

Shoot Movie Scene in Your Mind to Remember any Character Forever

This is where it all comes together. Your actor will interact with the various props within the right room of the right set to visually represent the meaning of the Chinese character you need to learn.

As your skills improve, we will introduce “Special Effects” taken straight from the teachings of world memory champions and our own innovation to make your mini-movies even more vivid and personal to you.

Using this technique, you will learn how to read, pronounce and even write any Chinese character in less than one minute, and never forget it.

Want some other courses? Check the following


Learn the Right Characters at the Right Time with OCLO

OCLO - Optimal Character Learning Order

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It’s not just the method of learning that matters, but just as important is learning the right characters at the right time. By following our Optimal Character Learning Order, you will only learn a new character component that is made up of other simple components you already know.

Learning common components ‘unlocks’ high-frequency characters, and common vocabulary are unlocked only when you learn their characters. Learn Mandarin online course today!

Acquire Grammar Easily Through Comprehensible Input

To learn how to use words correctly, you must see and hear them in the context. After just a few levels of our course, you will begin to acquire grammar through reading and listening to content you can understand, also known as “comprehensible input”.

Usually, doing this in Chinese without the help of translation takes many months, even years. With The Mandarin Blueprint Method, it is now possible to go from zero to reading and listening in just a few weeks.

See New Words in Context You Can Understand Immediately

At the start of phase three, your character count is 105, and word count around 80. Usually, this would be nowhere near enough of a foundation to start getting comprehensible input, but not with our course. Our team of native writers has prepared example sentences using words and characters you already know so you can see words in context as soon as possible.

Knowing the characters and words in the sentences we provide gives you a HUGE advantage over other learners. You will get the fully comprehensible context you need to acquire new vocabulary and grammar right away.

Play YOUR Way

There is more than one way to make your way through the course, depending on your learning goals. If you are in a rush to acquire Mandarin, we have laid out a fast-track by clearly labeling the absolutely essential sentences.
These “required” sentences teach you a certain key grammar structure, or they are part of a larger piece of content you unlock in Phase 4. Learn Mandarin Chinese today!
Phase 4: Paragraph Building

Stepping it Up a Notch with Conversations, Opinions and Short Stories

In the same way that learning a character can unlock a new vocabulary word and a new vocabulary words unlock sentences, several sentences can unlock more extended form dialogues, opinions, or short stories. Getting larger context like this allows you to start to read and listen in a broader context, which is even more fun!

Acquire Words More Naturally with Greater Context

The broader context provides a greater depth of emotion, and the possibility to engage more with the language. Plus, because all content is created to suit your level perfectly, you can understand everything. This way, when you see that a “New Short Story is Unlocked,” you can focus on enjoying the content without having to constantly run to the dictionary.

Listen and Read Offline from Any Device

All of our stories, articles and dialogues are downloadable and accessible offline so you can immerse yourself in Mandarin Chinese wherever you are. All content has built-in male and female audio of varying speeds.
Phase 5: Story Building

Read Full Stories in Mandarin Without Help

Many of the paragraphs you unlocked in the previous phase form over one hundred full stories to be unlocked in Phase 5. There are western classics like Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding hood as well as stories from ancient China that will give you an insight into Chinese philosophy and myths that have influenced the culture. After you learn all the paragraphs of a story, the full story will unlock.

No More Learning Vocabulary or Sentences. Just Pure Context.

You’ll still learn character-by-character, but learning vocabulary and grammar will become far more eclectic. Instead of being as strict about precisely which words you see in each sentence, we’ll drop the idea of using vocabulary and sentence flashcards as a requirement and instead focus on giving you graded reading content. Such an approach is far less controlled, and thus simplifies the process. Your discipline to reach that point will pay off! Learn Mandarin Chinese today!

Chinese Fluency: How Long Does it Take with Mandarin Blueprint?

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Finishing The Mandarin Blueprint Method online video course (including all of the review materials) will have you comprehending 94% of Mandarin Chinese by frequency. That’s enough comprehension to communicate fluently in most conversational contexts. There are, of course, levels of Chinese fluency, but it’s fair to say you’ll be far beyond “basic fluency” upon completion of the course.

Therefore, asking the question “how long does it take to complete The Mandarin Blueprint Method” is similar to asking “How long does it take to reach fluency in Mandarin Chinese?” Before we give our answer, let’s talk about how long the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of the US Department of State estimates it takes to reach Mandarin fluency:

Mandarin Chinese is one of the hardest languages in the world

Source: Reddit

According to the FSI, Mandarin is among the most challenging languages to learn in the world, and the reason given is ‘the writing system.’ They conclude that reaching Chinese fluency and literacy takes 2200 hours. There is your framework for how long it should take. We’ll now show you how long it takes to complete The Mandarin Blueprint Method:

Reaching Chinese fluency with things to learn and review

“Things” to Learn (& Review) to reach Chinese Fluency

The above metrics show you precisely how many things you must learn and review to reach 94% comprehension by frequency. This includes characters, words, and grammar acquired through the comprehensible input of sentences and short stories.

You must both learn and review each one of these “things” to commit them to long term memory, so the next question is: How long does it take learn each thing?

reaching fluency with Mandarin Blueprint

As you can see, our underlying methodology saves learning time at each level of the language, from character components to grammar.

However, you can’t learn something once and never review it again in the beginner and intermediate stages. Advanced learners can (sometimes) get away with learning a new word and utilizing it so quickly that review is unnecessary, but for the first 94% of the language, you’re going to need practice reps to reach fluency and literacy.

Learn Mandarin online course today!

SRS to the Rescue

Luckily, spaced repetition software (aka ‘smart flashcards’) have streamlined recalling what you’ve learned. Here’s how it shakes out in our course:

Reviewing time to reach Mandarin fluency

We have several course members who were generous enough to share their flashcard statistics with us, which gives us a highly objective average for individual flashcard review.

Chinese Character & Vocab Flashcards – Average 9.6 seconds per review.

Sentence Flashcards – Average 14.5 seconds per review. Sentence flashcards take longer because of the native audio recordings (both male and female) to listen to on each of the cards.

Each card must be reviewed at least 10 times for the SRS software to consider the item “mature,” i.e., committed to your long-term memory. Therefore the equation to determine review time is simple: [Number of cards] x [10 (or 15) seconds] x [10 reps].

Note that the “output” section is incumbent upon the individual learning to do. No online teacher can make you open your mouth and speak to another Mandarin Chinese speaker for 250 hours. Luckily, there is a range of services that offer tutoring or language exchanges.

It’s the Hours Not the Years

Of course, every metric discussed is an average within a distribution. As an individual, you will go faster or slower than the average on each of the parameters. It’s highly unlikely it will take you precisely 841 hours, but you’ll be somewhere in the ballpark.

Remember that 2200 hours recommended by the FSI to reach Chinese Fluency? It’s fair to say The Mandarin Blueprint Method leaves those estimates in the dust.

When will you be fluent chart of Mandarin Blueprint

Journey On To Chinese Fluency

Of course, these estimates are merely to give you a sense of how much responsibility you take on by committing to fluency in Mandarin Chinese, but the journey itself will change you. Whether you do it in 3 months or ten years, what matters is that you drink deep of that thrill that only education can provide. More important than anything else is consistency. Showing up is more than half the battle.

The Best Program on the Planet to Learn Chinese

This post was written by Natalia Kovalenko. She’s a member of The Mandarin Blueprint Method video course, and this is her case study. Enjoy!


Hello, my name is Natalia Kovalenko, I was born and grew up in Russia, so English is my second language and Korean is my third (I married a Korean guy). So I am not a novice at learning languages. I was always interested in learning Chinese, as I love Chinese culture, movies, and dramas but the very idea of characters was too daunting. Oh, and the tones! I’m tone deaf.:(

The first time I attempted learning Chinese was in 2008 in Korea. I took a class at a local community center. I enjoyed it at the beginning but quickly fell behind as soon as we started studying characters. Even though Koreans have their own alphabet, they also learn Chinese characters at school – although they learn traditional, not simplified characters, they are still at an advantage compared to me, and my classmates were progressing very quickly. I couldn’t keep up and eventually dropped out.

Next, I bought several textbooks that explicitly taught Chinese characters. The basic premise in them was – if you write each character for 40(!!!) pages, you will remember it forever. Guess what – I still keep two 40-page notebooks (specially lined for Chinese character practice) filled with ‘你好 nǐhǎo,’ and I still don’t know how to write those two characters! But only because they were not yet covered in Mandarin Blueprint. 🙂

I also studied with a Chinese friend – you’d think it’s a great idea, right? I remember once complaining that I couldn’t remember which word had which tone – she looked at me and told me that in China even deaf people speak with perfect tones and that I had no excuse. Well, that obviously didn’t last.

We moved to Hong Kong in 2015 and I really thought it was my chance! Kids were learning Mandarin in school and there were many classes available.

However, no one had a good way to help me learn characters, other than rote learning, and even the things taught were not very useful (I mean, how often does one get to say “giraffe’s neck is long, but turtle’s legs are short”, in any language?).

I also tried an online program offered by, which was fun at first but as always, it became too hard, and I gave up.

What problem were you facing that caused you to search for a Chinese course?

We moved back to Sydney last August (2019), and for a long time I couldn’t find work, which was very stressful. Then Covid-19 happened and my employment chances went out of the window entirely, which was depressing. Then suddenly, at the end of March, a doctor friend called and offered me a job as a receptionist at her clinic.

I went there to see the place and was dismayed to discover that over 90% of their clients were Chinese, many of whom spoke little to no English! These are the people I’d have to talk to on the phone every day! So I went home to think it over. It was Friday.

The next morning I was scrolling down my Facebook page and I saw this Western guy (Luke) suggesting I learn Mandarin pronunciation while in the lockdown for a very reasonable price. I was intrigued – a British guy was offering to teach me how to sound good in Mandarin! So I signed up. I was immediately so impressed that I signed up for the whole program that very evening.

I felt it in my bones that this was THE program I looked for all these years (where were you 12 years ago???) – two non-Chinese guys, who mastered the language themselves and succeeded at it. Perfect. And now I have the right motivation as well – my goal is to be able to speak to the patients of my clinic on the phone in 6 months.

What would it mean for you personally/work if you succeed in learning Chinese?

I think employment opportunities for a person who can speak Chinese are limitless in any country. Plus I will finally be able to watch my favourite Chinese dramas without subtitles! I can’t wait.

How long, on average, does it take you to learn a character?

And How long did it take you to get to that speed?

In the beginning it took maybe 5 minutes. Now – less than a minute. You get really used to it. I love my movies! I go all out making them. Some are a bit over the top, but some are really, really good!

Which 3 parts of Mandarin Blueprint have made the biggest impact?

The most important part, which is probably surprising, is not about the way to learn the characters, or the pronunciation, or the grammar. It is that no one is going to push you to go out and speak the language right away. You have NO idea how incredibly liberating and also comforting that is! The stress to put yourself “out there” is removed. I don’t have to go out on the street and yell Nihao at Chinese-looking people! It may be a small thing, but for me it’s the most significant.

How incredibly easy, compared to all my previous efforts, it is to learn Chinese characters! At first, I’ll be honest with you, it was a bit ridiculous. Jet Li in my English teacher’s bathroom! I mean, really? But it really works. Trust me. Give it a go.

The passion and enthusiasm of the two teachers is contagious. I remember thinking around the time they were explaining character #28 – can they really keep up this level of excitement? Yes, they can! I’ve never seen two people more in love with the subject they teach. Luke, Phil – I hope I can meet you one day.

What aspect of each of the 3 parts?

Part One: Don’t force yourself to speak at early stages. Don’t memorize the sentences. Don’t worry about the grammar. Take it easy. No one ever said that to me before in a language class and this is precisely what I needed.

Part Two: Making movies is fun, and not a chore, and how easy it is to recall them, and to remember how to say them and to write them. And the tones!

The program is so enjoyable that it’s the highlight of my day. I can’t wait to review my Anki cards. It’s like a really exciting computer game where you get rewarded for moving from level to level. I never get tired of it.

Part Three: Incredibly quick turnaround on any feedback. I had a small problem with billing. It was fixed within minutes. MINUTES, people!!!

What results have you achieved & what impact has it had on your life?

So far it’s been about 3 weeks. I’m on character #106 and I know ALL of them really well thanks to the Hanzi Movie Method. It really is the most amazing thing. I’ve always been really good at imagining things, so some of my movies are cinematic masterpieces, if I may say so myself.:) I share some of them with my kids, both of whom have a background in learning Chinese, and they are really impressed!

The most amazing thing happened yesterday at the clinic. These days many people call to see if we have a flu vaccine, we are always out and never know when the next batch is delivered. I took a call from a patient, he didn’t speak English, I passed the phone to a Chinese-speaking nurse. And she said:

你要什么?Nǐ yào shénme?


没有。 Méi yǒu.


不知道。Bù zhīdào.

And she hung up.

I sat there, speechless. I understood every word! It was such an amazing feeling. Like Christmas, seriously. I nearly cried.

What were you skeptical about?

I wasn’t skeptical for a minute, especially after I watched videos of both Luke and Phil speaking Mandarin. MIND. BLOWN. This is what I always wanted – people who’ve learned the language themselves, tried traditional ways, struggled, created a better program, tested it, and put it out there.

Any suggestions for how we can improve the course?

You can’t improve upon perfection.:)  Well, at least at the stage I’m in, I can’t think of anything I would do to change the program. I’m your biggest fan.

I make tiny tweaks to my own learning style – for example, I found that since we are making movies, and I love movies, I prefer to make most of my actors actual actors, and not people from my life. It just helps me personally, makes it more interesting.

Would you recommend Mandarin Blueprint? Why or why not?

You left the hardest question for last!

Let me put it like this – do I think that Mandarin Blueprint is, hands down, the best program on the planet to learn Chinese, especially how to read and memorize Chinese characters (because that’s the part I’m doing right now)?

The answer is YES! A thousand times yes.

Do I want other people to find out about it? NO! I’m with Ramona, your other student – I want this to be my special secret! No one else can know about this! Let them go through the torture of writing each character out for 40 pages!

But honestly, I think everyone should know about Mandarin Blueprint, and I hope they will, you so deserve it. I take my hat off to you both.

Immersion: How To Learn Chinese by Immersing Yourself

Immersion is one of the most critical factors for long-term language learning success, and you can achieve it even with a busy schedule. Immersion is a spectrum that ranges from completely removing your native language from your life to something a bit more manageable. There are two keys to consistent immersion: How you manage your environment and how you manage your time.

Environment Management

Let’s start with the place you will likely end up being most often while studying Chinese: Your house.

Listen To Mandarin All the Time

Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, put those earphones in/on and consume. Try to avoid turning off the audio if it gets distracting; just turn it down. Make it a challenge to see how many hours a week you can put into this without getting dumped, divorced, or fired.

Keep Books Around You

Make sure you have some reading material within three feet of your body at all times. Kindles can be great, but I particularly enjoy a good old fashioned paperback next to me on my bedside table, desk, coffee table…or toilet.

Label Things

This is rather old-fashioned (and top-down) but it’s a tried and true method of learning common words for objects around you that contain rarer characters you aren’t ready to learn yet. If this sounds a bit inconvenient and you’d rather do this in a virtual world only, check out the game Influent

Keep the Place Clean

A tidy house is proven to be conducive to learning better. A messy room distracts you and increases anxiety.

Soundproof Your Study Location

This one is especially useful if you live in a busy city, or if you have children and want a few precious minutes to cram.

Maintain Ideal Temperature and Lighting

When you are too warm or too cool, it becomes difficult to concentrate. Natural light is ideal, but if that’s not an option go for lots of cool white (not yellow) light.

Only Chinese Music

If you must listen to music while doing other learning activities, make it either Chinese music or non-Chinese music without lyrics, e.g., classical.

Find Chinese People Wherever You Are

Chinese people can be found in pretty much every major city or town, which means endless opportunities for Mandarin practice. In my experience, there is no group of people in the world more excited to speak Mandarin with you than Chinese people living outside of China. Start speaking Mandarin to some of these people and I guarantee that the positive reaction you receive will be highly motivating for you.

Use Chinese Social Networks

While Weibo and Renren are tried and true classics worth visiting regularly, you should also try the insanely popular video sharing platforms Kuaishou and Douyin. Overall though, WeChat is the clear winner for online social interaction. Try the “People Nearby,” “Shake,” and “Drift Bottle” functions to meet and chat with random people.

Look for Mandarin Versions of Content You Like

Replace the media you consume with Mandarin translations. A great way to do this is to make a list of everything you are interested in consuming and search for the Chinese names for them using Wikipedia. Search for what you want in English then switch the language to simplified Chinese in the left menu.

If you then search for “国语配⾳ guóyǔ pèiyīn” along with the Chinese name of a non-Chinese movie, you may find a version dubbed in Mandarin. If you don’t get lucky enough to find it, you can always settle for Chinese subtitles.

The first things I tried to read once I reached the intermediate level were western comics and novels. I started with my childhood favorite 加菲猫 jiāfēimāo Garfield, and moved onto more difficult comics as my reading ability increased.

Change Your Device Languages Into Mandarin

Switch your smartphone, laptop, tablet, and smart TV to Chinese. Don’t think you’re ready for it yet? Maybe you aren’t, but making the switch will force you to learn the characters and words you need to function.

Use “Focus” Apps

Apps like Self-control and Freedom block all notifications and even internet connection for fixed periods. You could combine these with your timeboxing app so you don’t even have a chance to be distracted during your work period. Anki flashcard reviews do not require the internet.

Leverage the Power of Your Smartphone

Your environment changes as you move around throughout the day, and it is essential to take steps to create an immersive environment you can take with you wherever you go. Luckily, no matter where you are, you have a little rectangle in your pocket that can make this possible.

The most impactful thing I did for my immersion was creating and maintaining a varied collection of listening and reading content on my smartphone. I categorize all kinds of apps on my home screen that help me improve with the various aspects of Mandarin.

Feel free to categorize how you like, but I would highly recommend at least a listening and reading category. I also have “watching” and “speaking.” Check it out:

Apps for Reading, Listening, Watching and Speaking Chinese

Time Management

If you want to reach competency in Mandarin Chinese, I recommend you invest at least thirty minutes per day just in listening and reading.

Doing this may seem intimidating at first, but it’s easy enough with a dose of mindfulness and some small, worthwhile sacrifices. Here are some recommended ways of creating and managing your time better.

Fill the Gaps In Your Day

Fill any gaps in your day with Mandarin, while traveling, at work, at the gym, when the baby is asleep, etc. This is not just a more efficient use of your time, but it also naturally breaks up your immersion throughout the day. This is way better than doing everything in one big chunk.

Listening Takes Priority

Remember that listening is the easy win when it comes to immersion because you can do pretty much anything else at the same time. Listening and reading at the same time is ideal, but of course, involves more focus.

Save the Tougher Stuff for Mornings

Aside from the rather rare ‘night owls,’ all of us are more active in the morning. It is a good idea to take advantage of this and get the more intensive acquisition activities taken care of in the wee hours.

Save the more chilled-out immersion activities like reading a comic, watching a Chinese tv show, or listening to a podcast for the rest of the day.

Get Up Earlier

Want some inspiration for this one? Check out Jocko Willink, the US navy seal, who gets up at 4:45 am every morning to lift heavy things. After listening to how he lives his life, you’ll find setting your alarm thirty minutes earlier every day pretty tame.

Cut Down On Other Leisure Activities

Try to consume less trash TV, Youtube & video games. Not none, just less. Remember what is possible in thirty minutes a day?

That’s half an episode of something… Please don’t feel ashamed of watching your favorite show or zoning out on youtube or your favorite video game once in a while. We all have to chill sometimes. Just know that it is essential to set reasonable limits if you have the goal of mastering Mandarin.

Use Timeboxing For Learning Chinese

Timeboxing (also known as the “Pomodoro technique”) is a proven technique to create more efficient study sessions. Each timebox consists of a fixed period of work, followed by a shorter rest period. The standard timebox is twenty-five minutes of work, followed by five minutes of rest. Doing this means every sixty minutes creates fifty minutes of productive focus. This ratio is excellent.

Although the standard time box is just fine, there are many different kinds of timeboxes you can do. It is really fun to experiment with work and rest periods of different lengths. I would suggest making an extra long rest period of, say, fifteen minutes every third rest period. You can also set yourself a goal of a certain number of timeboxes you want to complete for each day, and tally them up as you go. There are some great timeboxing apps you can use to automate the whole process. I like Be Focused.

When the timer is on, you are either 100% working or 100% relaxing. You should never work with distractions or think about working while resting. After timeboxing for a while, you will notice that you naturally enter a flow state. If you timebox daily, you will figure out the right amount of time to maintain ‘flow’ for each learning activity. For more on the different types of timeboxing, check out this blog post.

Positive Learning Methods for Chinese

Mindset is everything when it comes to learning a language, especially one with as large a time commitment as Mandarin Chinese. As well as gifting you with the motivation to learn every day, your mindset also directly affects how well your brain absorbs the information you learn. Therefore, having positive learning methods is essential and the ideal state of language acquisition is one that is 100% stress-free. This is yet another reason why traditional language learning methods do not work; they are inherently stressful.

You remember those high school language classes, right? You get pumped with information through repetitive drills and tons of homework. And then you are expected to regurgitate cold knowledge with great accuracy in exams and quizzes throughout each year. All the while, you are going through the most stressful time in life: Adolescence.

Research has shown that stress or various other negative emotions can create a ‘blockage’ in your mind that can hinder the acquisition process. Dr. Stephen Krashen calls this “The Affective Filter.” His research shows that even if you were to get understandable and engaging content, a high-stress environment would negate a large portion of your gains.

The best way to combat this affective filter is to maintain a calm and positive state as much as possible. Here are some great ways to do that:

Use Positive Learning Methods You Know Work

If you are spending time with Chinese and you know it is time well-spent, then your fun levels increase, and your stress levels stay way down. The flip-side is also the case. If you have any doubts about the efficacy of your methods or tools, you will not be able to relax for long.

What stressed me out in university was the knowledge that the methods I was using to teach myself outside of class were far more effective. When it ‘clicked’ that university was mostly a giant waste of time in comparison, my boredom and stress levels increased even further.

See Language Learning as a Fun Game

Aim to create the most entertaining and chilled-out positive learning process you can, all while being in contact with Chinese as much as you can throughout the day. Timeboxing is a simple way of turning any activity into a fun (and highly efficient) game.

Aim for “Flow State”

Stress-free doesn’t mean challenge-free. If your workload is too low or your tasks too easy, you will become bored, and boredom can be just as bad for your progress and motivation as anxiety. You don’t want such little challenge and workload in your day-to-day acquisition process that you get bored. Instead, try to hit that sweet spot known as “Flow state.”

Flow state is the point between anxiety and boredom where you forget you are even consuming a foreign language and are just enjoying the content.

The difficulty level and length of time spent learning should be decided by what has you in flow state most often.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

You will make mistakes. Or you will look silly. You will forget words and phrases you got right perfectly a week before. Guess what? None of it matters.

Looking and feeling silly is a necessary part of the language learning process, and it is a sign you are getting out of your comfort zone. Roll with the punches and learn to laugh at yourself, and you will be far better off for it.

Set Realistic Expectations

Shoot for the stars, but perhaps one of the closer ones. Take into account as many factors as you can when setting time-based achievement goals and aim high but within the realm of possibility for your situation. See this post about SMART goals for a reminder of this.

Know That Fluency Is Possible

Fluency is possible within one year (even six months), as long as you have the right methods, habits, and a positive learning mindset. Phil and I are both fluent in Mandarin, and so are many thousands of other Chinese learners around the world. We are not especially smart; we just built good habits and showed up every day.

Follow Your Emotions

Let your emotions be your guide. Feeling energized? Make some engaging SRS flashcards. Feeling lazy? Put on a Mandarin podcast, take a walk, and let your mind wander. Let your unconscious do the heavy lifting of processing the Chinese. Feeling nostalgic? Watch a movie from your childhood dubbed in Chinese. Feeling curious? Check out a word you saved into pleco a while back and see how to use it in a sentence.

Be Open-minded…

Be willing to try new tools, techniques, and resources for learning Chinese, because you never know what you might end up finding that engages you.

For example, I used to think comics were for nerds and kids until I realized how many high-quality comics have been translated into Chinese, all accessible from smartphone apps. If reading comics makes you a nerd-child, then that’s what I am now, I guess. The same goes for watching those “cheesy” Chinese TV shows and movies. Man, am I glad I took that leap! Now I’ve always got one of those crazy shows on, and I’m picking up new words from them all the time.

…but Also Be Brutal About Learning Chinese

Never let yourself be frustrated by a medium or piece of content you don’t enjoy. Drop it and go find something else. It may just be that your level isn’t high enough to enjoy that particular content right now.

Be Around the Right People

I firmly believe that we are the average of the five people with whom we spend the most time with. Find positive learning communities on social media platforms or Meetups in your local area and take part actively.

Take Time to Reflect on How Far You’ve Come

Take Time to Reflect on How Far You’ve Come

Whether you want to keep a journal or blog, record yourself regularly, or just be more mindful, it’s a great idea to stop every few weeks or months and take stock of your progress.

You could even do this daily. Think to yourself: “Do I know more Chinese than yesterday?” and make sure the answer is “yes” by never having a zero-day.

Remember to Enjoy the Learning Process

Us humans adapt to successes very quickly. As soon as we realize a dream, we add another one. On the one hand, this is how we all have the potential to achieve greatness. On the other hand, it is a bit of a drag because we are rarely satisfied long-term by achieving our goals.

Whatever your goals are with Mandarin, achieving them will become normality sooner than you can blink, so you must enjoy the learning process.