Archer-aiming-at-a-target Mandarin Monkey

Focus is going to play a huge factor in making your Learning Mandarin dream come true. But what helps focus? 

Focus is what is going to separate you from the fair weather learner who is just in it for ‘some fun’ and those who excel and get their target language to stick. 

At some point you need to rely on your own motivation to pull you through the hard spells when learning Mandarin.

You can download software and have apps galore on your phone but nothing pulls you through tough times during learning a language than sitting with yourself and re-affirming WHY you are doing this. 

With learning Mandarin, you need to have a clear goal as to why you are doing this (with any ambition really). Maybe you are learning for love or to have a conversation with a friend, or because you like the challenge or because you want to move to another country or work abroad. Whatever your reason it needs to be compelling enough to drive you forward. 

Once you have your goal you need to utterly focus on obtaining that skill. I have heard many differences in opinion on how long that should be from 20 hours in total to 10,000 hours to master it. 

If you spend 45 minutes pers day for one month on any given skill you will be surprised at how much you have improved. 

Will you get frustrated? Yep. 

Will you want to give up? Probably. 

Should you? Nope. 

Not if it’s something you enjoy. 

Why? because the result of giving up versus the result of persisting is 100% better. If you get to the 20 hour mark and don’t feel you made significant progress, then you have spent less than a day of your entire life trying to get good at something you wanted to, and you can at least judge at that point if you should continue. 

I have learned how to play the guitar, drums, beatbox, speak Mandarin, edit, design and code apps using the same principle. 

Once I start learning something and I see marked improvement I generally don’t want to stop. And I usually don’t until I have acquired a ‘good enough’ standard of proficiency. 

So What Helps Focus?

Here are some things that may help you focus:

  1. Put your phone in your bedroom! If you work in your room, put it in the kitchen or downstairs or in the bathroom. 
  2. Use Chrome study extensions to block sites you tend to go to to procrastinate.
  3. Have a cuppa tea or coffee. Caffeine seems to help in small doses. 
  4. Study in blocks. Try 20 minutes with a 5 minute break. DON’T BREAK THE 5 MINUTE BREAK RULE. Get back to it after you have eaten your orange or stretched your legs. 
  5. Healthy diet is key. You all know that already!
  6. Sleep! You must sleep. If you are too tired you are not going to be able to focus on that complicated Mandarin sentence structure you have been trying to wrap your head around. 
  7. Slap a date on your specific goal. You want to be able to introduce yourself in Mandarin by March 28th? Good goal. You want to introduce yourself in Mandarin at some point. Bad goal. 
  8. Try and pull your thoughts back onto the task at hand. My mind wanders several times a day. Even writing this short article my mind has tried to pull me away to YouTube or some other task I have to do. I MUST FINISH THIS! 
  9. Break your Mandarin study into smaller chunks. You can then tick these off at the end of the day and at least feel like you have achieved something. Don’t forget to remind yourself regularly and USE the sentences you learned else you will forget.
    1. Learn how to say my name is. 
    2. Learn how to count to ten
    3. Learn how to say my age. 
    4. Learn how to tell someone my address.

Keep learning! 

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