How To: Chinese Only Day

This is a quick guide on how to do a Chinese only day. What’s a Chinese only day? I hear you scream.

A Chinese only day is when you spend a whole day (or week/month) speaking in only Chinese / Mandarin. This will help your spoken level of the language ten fold and help you to learn to deal with frustration.

What do I need?

  • Yourself & basic knowledge of Mandarin sentence structure
  • Pleco (iOS and Andriod APP) English/Chinese Dictionary app
  • Mandarin Monkey Phrase & Grammar book 2 (not a necessity but would help)
  • Motivation to succeed
  • Someone to speak Chinese with (or speak to yourself but language exchange partners would be more useful)
That’s pretty much it.  

Now what? 

Ok, so let me talk you through my normal Chinese only day. Bare in mind all the following is in Chinese. 

I wake up, say good morning in to my wife and children. I ask my wife if she wants tea and what she wants for breakfast. Alternatively she asks me (depending on who is up first). We have breakfast and get our daughter ready for school. I ask my daughter what she wants to wear and give her something to eat etc. 

I will get dressed and tell myself what I am wearing, brush teeth, wash etc. all the while while telling myself what I am doing. A little bit like a crazy person. 

Take daughter to school and start working day. We discuss what we are doing that specific day and any and all chores or errands that need to be run. 

If I get stuck at any point and cannot make the connection in Chinese or don’t know the word I use pleco and say the word or words until my wife understands what I am trying to say. She will then correct me or carry on about her day. 

The most difficult thing about having a Chinese only day is fighting the urge to say something you think is really important in English. It is never as important as you think. unless a panther is about to attack your family, you are in immediate health danger or need to save someones life, you telling your significant other that your feet smelt a little like the fondue you had last Christmas really isn’t as important as you thought. 

If you think its super important you must must must tell that person. Write it down. But only SPEAK CHINESE. 

Realism

Let’s be realistic. You might be a glass half full type of person and think that a day speaking only Chinese would be easy, which is great. But it isn’t easy. 

You might be a glass half empty type and believe that it’s going to be difficult. It is, but not impossible and very worthwhile.

There comes a point in the day where you think you really really need to express whatever is on your mind in slightly more articulate means. You can get your point across in Mandarin, I promise you. Or wait until tomorrow. 

This method is not for everyone, some learners prefer to stick their head in a book and swat up on grammar until they think they have a hold on the language. Or watch Friends with a Chinese dub on Netflix. But to improve your spoken Chinese / Mandarin you need to speak it. For as long as your mind can take it. 

Perhaps, take it in small steps, and try a Mandarin only hour with a speaking partner. The when you brain has recovered try and speak for two hours the following day or week. Step up your game to a full day when you are ready. 

YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE LOTS OF MISTAKES AND SOUND STUPID SOMETIMES. But that is entirely ok and completely normal. You will make yourself angry, you might make your partner angry, but after the day is finished you will have such a feeling of achievement and likely a bunch of new words. 

We Believe in You

If you really want to get your Chinese / Mandarin to the next level try a Chinese only day. Battle through the frustration and try and have fun with it. 

Good luck!