I am studying Chinese and Flutter development simultaneously.
Over the past year we have ramped up our production of podcasts, videos and teaching based offerings. This meant I haven’t been able to find enough time to practice and continue to grow myself.
I had to make a shift in my learning methods and more importantly, my routine, in order to see a growth.
Great question, thanks for asking!
As a media company/Mandarin Chinese online school we are responisble for helping people grow their Mandarin speaking, reading and writing abilities.
My role in the company has a few prongs.
I must host, both the podcast, course videos or any other element which require English translation.
I must create the artwork, edit the videos, fix and build the website etc. Most of my work is done in English as our audience and market are normally and in the vast majority, English speakers.
This leaves me a lot less time to actually USE my Chinese. While my listening ability has sky rocketed, my speaking has gone in the opposite direction.
What's Flutter development?
Another handsome question.
As you may or may not know, we are building an app for iOS to help Mandarin learners with practicing their listening and speaking skills.
We also, obviously, wanted to bring the app to Android users as well BUT none of us code in the Android language (dart/flutter). So one of us had to learn.
Darian and Anna were already busy with iOS version to get into another so that left me and Ula. Ula is an amazing Chinese teacher but a tech person she is not. Which only left one person.
The language used to develop Android apps is more recently flutter. A widget based coding language.
I bought a Flutter course from udemy from Angela Yu. Very good, and would definitely recommend. It’s only 28 hours long. After a few hours however, it starts getting real complicated, real quick.
So...what do you do?
A few things…
Firstly, I have a large calendar I hang on our bedroom wall which contains several pieces of information, one of which is the whether or not I have studied Chinese and Flutter that day.
There is something very satisfying about having a calendar full of days and days of achievement in the studying arena.
Every day after I have finished a session of study of either Chinese or Flutter I will write that I have done so on my big calendar. This is motivation for me to try and not break the cycle, and also that I have achieved something that day.
Secondly, I use an app, Anki SRS, Chinese English dictionary or a mix of text books or flashcards and study for a minimum of 20 minutes. Sentence drills, tone practice, repetition drills, gap filling exercises or try and have a conversation with Ula (native) without stopping in a subject I don’t know.
I don’t see the need for six hours of non stop study and actually feel it would be detrimental to your advancing in the language. 20 to 60 minutes is all I need to learn a few new words and or structures.
What about coding?
With learning Flutter I have used a different approach in length of time but use the same principle as we (Mandarin Monkey) use in teaching. Use the language as soon as possible and use it as often as possible.
As mentioned, I bought a course from Udemy which covered everything from building your first app, BMI calculator, weather app, magic eight ball and a host of other things. A practical course, as I really dislike text based learning.
As our business requires an Android version of our app and it’s down to me to put it together, I have started to build the app from the ground up by Googling, stackoverflowing and guessing what needs to go where.
This is essentially the best way to learn Chinese as well as it’s the same method.
Learn the basics and get a foundation, then have a stab at the rest. Talk to people who know more than you and ask them to help you correct your mistakes.
Practice the practical as much as possible.
Learning to code is by far the more time consuming for sure, whereas in Chinese you can pick up 5-10 new words and sing them to yourself while in the shower, or use mnemonics to create a funny story in your mind and remember that way. In coding you have to sit there for a number of hours trying to find the correct answer to your issue and then once you have found it, implement. So far I have found that researching the thing I want to do takes way longer than actually doing the thing.
Forming a habit
According to people way smarter than me, it takes 21 days to form a lasting habit.
I have so far persevered with doing either Flutter coding practice of Chinese practice every day, sometimes both.
Also, I have found it to help that I study Chinese just before bed. If I can do 10-15 minutes on an app or repeating several different words or phrases I will tend to remember better in the morning. Something to do with strengthening your neural path ways happens at sleepy time.
I don’t want to break this habit for growth. And I wont. try it.
Try for one whole calendar month to study Chinese every night before bed. Grab your phone and your favorite app and study for 10-20 minutes. Then doze off and make those memorys strong!