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So, today is Mandarin only day for me. Which means that my wife and I will only communicate (speaking) in Mandarin regardless of situation or frustration.

There are some caveats to this day. The first of which is my children are learning three languages, so my job and a dutiful father is to encourage them to speak English as it’s my mother tongue. My wife (Ula) on the other hand will only be communicating in Mandarin with them to re-enforce that language and their grandmother who has been a marvelous helping hand with childcare uses Taiwanese and Mandarin. So today, I will be speaking with the kids in English but with everyone else in Chinese.

The second is if I don’t know a word I will look it up on Pleco or a dictionary. If I cannot find the word or find the correct meaning or usage (sometimes there is a big difference between Taiwanese Mandarin and Chinese Mandarin or if its more commonly used in writing or spoken and I need clarification) I will ask for an explanation either in Mandarin or English but after the explanation and acceptance we head back over to Mandarin for the rest of the day. Until the next time I don’t know a word. 

Ula, won’t spend the day correcting me, and it’s not really about getting everything completely correct. She will of course correct me if, for example, she sees in my speech pattern that I am making the same mistake repeatedly, but she will correct me in Chinese.

There are frustrations 

The day is not without it’s frustrations, if I haven’t completely engaged my Mandarin brain yet and cannot tell her that I just saw a man throwing his wife into a river as we are driving passed. I CANNOT break into English to tell her. It’s a shame because a few seconds quicker and the woman wouldn’t have gotten wet.

In addition to the speed of thought processes there are the normal frustrations with not being able to say what you want to say in various situations, but that’s what pushes you to learn and encourages you to find the answer one way or the other.

It’s only by allowing the peanut butter to fall from a Costco pallet several shelves up onto to your loved ones head and not being able to articulate the sentence ‘move babe!’ or ‘that’s going to hurt’ that forces you to learn after several nights of sleeping on the sofa. 

Mandarin Day

Anyway, today is Mandarin only day, so if you are learning with someone or have friends that are learning only speak with them in Mandarin. If you don’t, speak to yourself. Narrate what you are doing day by day. Tell yourself what you will be doing next. Watch a movie on Netflix in Mandarin (you can have subtitles if you want). Write a film review in Pinyin. It’s endless. Watch your improvement curve if you do it every week. 

If you don’t know how to start, jump onto our YouTube channel and start learning! 


OR if you need some useful sentences to get going on your weekly Mandarin only days. Grab our free ebook here

OR if you want a more extensive trip through Mandarin Chinese buy a copy of our Phrase & Grammar (Currently on sale! until 28th) eBook. HERE


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