30 day experiment-challenge thingy

I won’t lie, I am a massive coffee drinker – 3 cups of coffee a day? Try 6, and that’s on a slow day 😀

I’ve been seeing a lot of research on coffee being bad. Coffee being good. Coffee is actualy hydrating. Not it’s not! Yes, science proves it! Bullshrimp!!

So you know what? I am going to go on a 30 day experiment, it is also a challenge for me because I love coffee, and I’m about to take it away.

For 30 days I am going to drink the recommended 8 glasses of water every day, not only that but I am also going to give up drinking tea and coffee thereby eliminating all caffeine.

I am actually excited and curious about the what I will notice in my body with this break from caffeine and a huge increase in water consumption, cause let’s face it, we don’t drink enough water.

I’ve been thinking about how to fit in 8 glasses of water in in the waking hours, and really it’s not that hard if you swap sipping water with casual gulping, you can finish a glass within a few minutes.

So my plan is as follows (and it’s very simple and not as bad as I initially thought):

Before 12pm – drink 2 glasses

Between 12 and 3pm – drink 2 glasses

Between 3 and 6pm – another 2 glasses

Between 6 and 9pm – finish off those last 2 bad boys

Giving up coffee will be hard because I’m half Italian, I love my coffee, I drink espresso as a night cap. Coffee, especially in the mornings is a godsend but I’m just gonna have to bite the bullet and get that watery kick instead.

So today is day 1. I have drunk 3 glasses so far. I’m behind because I just decided to do the challenge now, for the rest of today I will have a glass every half hour to make up those 5 remaining glasses.

It would be good to get initial numbers like blood pressure, weight, etc. But it’s a bit late in the day plus day 1 won’t really affect anything so I will post some numbers on day 2.

So there it is. My challenge, the reason why I’m posting my progress on here is to make me accountable and also to remind me that I’m on this stupid challenge that I will regret when I look at the coffee jar tomorrow morning :s


P.S For my language learning activities I’m doing a challenge called the TV method with Mandarin Chinese. I am aiming for at least 3 hours of contact time per day. I am an upper intermediate in Chinese so the progress report probably won’t be AS exciting as if I was starting out in the language, but I am putting this challenge to myself to get to that ellusive native-fluency mark.

If you want me to post my TV method progress then comment below, if not then I won’t bother 🙂

My Weekly Language Plan

In this blog I would like to write about my weekly plan for how I go about tackling the Chinese language (普通话). It is one thing to have a method of study and it is another to have a weekly plan of action – in fact, also include a daily plan of action.

Below is my weekly plan:

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
Speaking Listening Reading Writing Translating Blog Video
说话 听力 阅读 写作 翻译 博客 视频

So, I have taken all the four elements of language (speaking, listening, reading, and writing), including an extra skill – translation. Translation for me is a must for anyone who has reached the upper intermediate stages of their studied language (I plan to make a video or maybe another blog on this skill). This is a fairly new plan for me as I tend to bungle up all these elements into one study session, however I have been experimenting and have come up with this. I’ll see how it goes next week as today is Saturday so it’s blog-writing time!

So with the speaking I tend to speak to my Chinese friends in Beijing, Xiamen, Guangzhou etc. With listening, I am currently studying for my HSK 4 exam so I will be dealing with the listening exercises on this day. With reading I will be just googling Chinese topics and read blogs, newspaper articles etc. Writing again will be via my HSK 4 book where I will be writing out the dialogues. With translation I will be selecting a blog in English and translating it into Chinese (I think this is better than Chinese-English), for translation corrections I will post my work on the italki website, people there are awesome!

The Topical Sentence Approach – Welsh –

If you read my last post then the title of this blog will be familiar to you, if not then here is a brief explanation:

The Topical Sentence Approach (TTSA) is a method on using the mainstream sentence method (used by AJATT and Glossika) and making it more of a core language system rather than needing to supplement it with other methods, though by saying this I would always advise you to supplement any method with a dose of speaking, listening and reading, and even translating.

TTSA is all about picking a topic or a theme and focusing on sentences that revolve around it, for more info please read this

So then, let’s get on with the show! this will be lesson 1 of Welsh using TTSA. Below will be 15 sentences revolving around the theme of ‘Basic sentences’. For native sentences use italki, for pronunciation use RhinoSpike.

<< In Welsh, when you see a ‘u’ pronounce it as an ‘i’. So ‘dysgu’ is pronounced ‘dysgi’ >>

Now, I got these sentences from the SsiW website (with a few added vocab of my own) which, if you are learning Welsh from there is a great way to reinforce the language.

  1. I speak English
    1. Dw i’n siarad Saesneg
  2. I am learning Welsh
    1. Dw i’n dysgu Cymraeg
  3. I am trying to learn Welsh
    1. Dw i’n trio dysgu Cymraeg
  4. I don’t speak Welsh well
    1. Dw i ddim yn siarad Cymraeg yn dda
  5. I want to speak German
    1. Dw i eisiau siarad Almaeneg
  6. I want to try to learn Welsh
    1. Dw i eisiau trio dysgu Cymraeg
  7. I can speak English
    1. Dw i’n medru siarad Cymraeg
  8. I can wait
    1. Dw i’n medru aros
  9. I can’t wait
    1. Dw i ddim yn medru aros
  10. I like learning languages
    1. Dw i’n licio ieithoedd
  11. I don’t like grammar
    1. Dw i ddim yn licio gramadeg
  12. I can’t learn grammar
    1. Dw i ddim yn medru dysgu gramadeg
  13. I want to drink something
    1. Dw i eisiau yfed rhywbeth
  14. I can speak Welsh and English
    1. Dw i’n medru siarad Cymraeg a Saesneg
  15. I can’t speak Welsh but I can speak French
    1. Dw i ddim yn medru siarad Cymraeg ond Dw i’n medru siarad Ffrangeg

Imagine going over these sentences for 7 days, everyday you add another 15 sentences. These sentences will be flowing out of you like a native in no time!

Remember, the one thing that joins all methods together and makes them successful or not is repetition!

Here is my video on this subject: Welsh video

Ciao for now!


My language mission

Hello everyone, how are we today???

Today I’m going to talk about my language mission for this year (hopefully I can achieve a sufficient level within 6 months). The mission is to become fluent in two languages that are related to me, which are: Italian (I’m Italian on my mother’s side), and Welsh (Welsh on my father’s side). I know how to speak a bit of Welsh and a bit more of Italian so that is why I am hoping to achieve my mission within 6 months. So here we go!

The method that I will be using is a method that is already out there, but I have given it a twist, I have googled this method to see if other people have done it but I can’t find anything.

What I will be doing is creating 20 sentences a day, these sentences won’t be random (as maybe the sentence packs offered by Glossika), these sentences will be topical, and I will be repeating these sentences 5 times everyday for 1 week. So on the last day I will be having a sentence pack of 140 sentences. These will be topical and will include questions and answers which can be used in a conversational template.

So let me give you an example of my first day in both Welsh and Italian. First, let’s have a look at Italian. Since I already know the fundamentals of the language I chose ‘weather’ as my first topic:

  1. How is the weather today?

come è il tempo oggi?

  1. The weather is nice.

il tempo è buono

  1. The weather is not very good.

il tempo non è molto buono

  1. It’s very cold.

fa molto freddo

  1. It’s been raining all day

ha piovuto tutto il giorno

Rather than picking random sentences that I may or may not use, I have picked sentences that I have seen myself use a lot. Now how did I find these sentences? read below:

I wrote these sentences in English and below I typed (to the best of my ability what I think the Italian is), then I posted these sentences on Italki (an amazing website to get native sentences) and I got a reply in the same day. This way I know that these sentences do not sound weird or whatever, these are native sentences that are spoken by natives all so natively!

So again here are 5 Welsh sentences from day 1 (daily activities)

  • I wake up
    • Dw i’n deffro
  • I get up
    • Dw i’n codi
  • I wash
    • Dw i’n ymolchi
  • I get dressed
    • Dw i’n gwisgo
  • I have breakfast
    • Dw i’n bwyta brecwast

Here I can say this every morning as I go about my business!

So that’s it! it really is a slight modification to the sentence method which I would like to call ‘The Topic Sentence Approach’

Ciao for now!


A template in starting a language

Ever wanted to start a language but don’t know how? Sure, there are many people who have learned many languages who say ‘use my method and you will succeed’ or ‘my method is better than your method’. The latter gets thrown about a lot with polyglots (thinking of Benny Lewis and Steve Kaufman here, though I admire them both as I have Benny’s book and use Steve’s LingQ website).

There are a lot of methods, however each method has one thing in common that makes them so successful, do you know what that is? It is repetition. Let’s take Moses McCormick’s method from one of his videos, he spends at least 7 days constantly listening to and reading the same material, I did this when I was learning Welsh and by the end of the 7 day period I had absorbed all the material – the vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation etcetera. So repetition is king!

Below I have written out a short template, which you will go and ask native speakers to translate in their native language, (use italki for this), once done, spend 7 days saying it over and over, (at least 30 times), you should get a native to say it as well so you can get the pronunciation down, also if you feel you want to do more, write it out numerous times as well. But the point is repetition. So, here is the template, I will use Italian as an example:

  • Buongiorno
  • Mi chiamo
  • Abito a … , in …
  • Ho … anni
  • Molto piacere

And that’s it, (I will do a template for experienced language learners which will be longer), so let’s analyse this, the five points in English are:

  • Hello
  • My name is …
  • I live in [place], in [country]
  • I am … years old
  • Nice to meet you

Now I will not learn each word, for example ‘mi chiamo’, I will not look up the meaning of ‘mi’ and ‘chiamo’, I will chunk the language together and just learn ‘mi chiamo’ as one word. For the age, I only need to know how to say my own age, break the rules with this, don’t start learning 1,2,3,4 etc, go straight to your own age; learn the numbers after!

Let’s use this template in another language (Mandarin Chinese):

  • 你好
  • 我叫 …
  • 我住在 【place】【country】
  • 我 … 岁
  • 很高兴认识你

Now don’t stop here as you will want to converse with the native speaker, the next thing is to learn how to ask for someone’s name and so on. Get all this information from a native speaker and not from a textbook, the reason I’m saying this is so that you can get the most authentic spoken language, (speaking from experience when learning Chinese). Once you have the questions, say them to yourself and then answer yourself, (again at least 30 times a day for a week).

  • Come si chiama? – mi chiamo Tommaso
  • Dove abiti? – abito a Lampeter in Galles
  • Quanti anni hai? – ho 28 (ventotto) anni

Again in Chinese:

  • 你叫什么? – 我叫大龙
  • 你住在哪儿? – 我住在兰彼得威尔士
  • 你多大了? – 我二十八岁

And there you go guys. In fact, after this you can design your own template on describing your home town, family members etc. The good thing about this is that it is not set in stone; alter the template I gave you with ‘how are you? – I’m fine’

Check out my video on this here: Italian template

Ciao for now.

The simplicity of Chinese – lesson 2

In this short lesson we will learn how to create questions with what you have learned so far, it is so simple. The sentence pattern is: adjective + ma? (in this pattern we drop the ‘hěn’ out) So, already you can try some questions and answers.

<<again learn the most important questions and answers set as chunks of language>>

<Example> nǐ hǎo ma? (how are you?) – wǒ hěn hǎo. (I’m good)

nǐ lèi ma? – wǒ bú lèi, kěshì wǒ hěn máng.

tā gāoxìng ma? – tā hěn gāoxìng.

nǐ máng ma? – wǒ hěn máng.

nǐ lèi ma? – wǒ bú lèi, wǒ hěn shāngxīn.

A very useful question word is the word ‘why?’ is ‘wèishénme?’, with this word you don’t use ‘ma?’ but you keep ‘hěn’. Let’s see some examples:

wèishénme nǐ hěn máng? – wǒ hěn máng yīnwèi wǒ hěn gāoxìng.

wèishénme nǐ hěn shāngxīn? – wǒ hěn shāngxīn yīnwèi wǒ hěn lèi.

jíshǐ nǐ hěn máng, nǐ hěn gāoxìng. wèishénme?

This is a very short lesson, however to learn more try out my youtube video and see what you think about beginning Chinese with just pinyin. With just these two lessons you can have a small conversation.

Let me know what you think and if you are learning Chinese, would you like me to continue doing these lessons in pinyin?

Ciao for now ^_^

My Chinese video: Learning Chinese without characters




The simplicity of Chinese

Hey all,

Today I want to show you how simple Chinese becomes when you stop focusing on Chinese characters (hanzi 汉字) and learn with only pinyin (拼音), this is very important to do, especially at the beginning because spoken and written Chinese are two different things, because there is no way for you to know how to pronounce 汉字 without pinyin it is like learning another language. So let us do away with the 汉字 for now and see how quickly you can pick up Chinese with just pinyin (with using the method of language chunking).

(This lesson assumes that you can read pinyin and are comfortable with the tones and the tone changes, if not then youtube it, it will only take a few minutes).


Now instead of me teaching you the word for ‘I’ plus the word for ‘to be’, we will just chunk those words together and learn them as a single unit – no worries!

(Now in Chinese there are two forms of the verb ‘to be’, one that goes with nouns and the other that goes with adjectives, don’t worry about it).

I am – wǒ hěn

Now all you need to do is place an adjective at the end and you have your first phrase

Your first language chunk goes like this: wǒ hěn + adjective.

So now let’s learn some adjectives!

Good – hǎo     <wǒ hěn hǎo>

Busy – máng     <wǒ hěn máng>

Tired – lèi     <wǒ hěn lèi>

Let’s stop here a minute to increase your pronoun vocab. Again these will be learned as chunks and not as individual words.

You are – nǐ hěn

Now you are able to understand and say these sentences.

nǐ hěn máng, wǒ hěn lèi.

Remember, since you’ve learned ‘nǐ hěn’ and ‘wǒ hěn’ as single chunks, the only thing you are focusing on are the adjectives. Let’s increase the sentence with these useful words:

Because – yīnwēi

Even though – jíshǐ

jíshǐ wǒ hěn lèi, wǒ hěn máng.

(These sentences may sound odd, but the point here is to keep saying them, allow your mouth muscles to get used to the sounds and your brain to familiarise yourself with the language chunks and the vocab).

nǐ hěn lèi yīnwēi nǐ hěn máng.

Let’s try more adjectives.

Happy – gāoxìng

Sad – shāngxīn

Sentence test! jíshǐ wǒ hěn máng, wǒ hěn gāoxìng.

To simply negate these phrase just substitute ‘hěn’ with ‘bù’

wǒ bù hǎo.

jíshǐ nǐ hěn máng, nǐ bú lèi. (remember bù becomes bú when followed by another fourth tone).

Another pronoun: He/she – tā

tā hěn shāngxīn, tā bù gāoxìng.

jíshǐ nǐ hěn lèi, tā hěn máng.

yīnwēi wǒ hěn lèi, wǒ bù gāoxìng.


Well that’s it for lesson 1. Any comments would be awesome! do you agree that you should avoid Chinese characters during the initial stages or doesn’t it matter?

Ciao for now!

Chunking language

There is a problem with learning languages, and that is people learn words individually and they try and analyse every word in a sentence. This is not good as I will explain: The Chinese equivalent for ‘What’s wrong with that?’ is zhe you shenme bu hao 这有什么不好? Now if you were to come across this idiomatic expression and you try to analyse every word, then the odds are you won’t come up with the expression ‘What’s wrong with that?’, however if you learn this as just one expression (left unanalysed), you will find that it will be retained quicker than if you were to learn the words individually THEN put them all together.

One lyric from the Chinese song youcai hua 油菜花 is: wo shou guo de shang 我受过的伤, now if you were to analyse this phrase individually then you will probably come up with something like ‘The wounds that I have received’, the translation however is ‘my wounds’, so I tried an experiment and I learned 我受过的伤 as one chunk meaning ‘my wounds’ and I found out that I was able to learn it quicker and retain it for longer.

In all languages you will find that there are words that naturally come (chunk) together, for example if you were to make up a sentence with the word figment in it then you would probably have the word imagination in it as well.

– – –

So this is my first blog post about what I am researching do far, it is making the task of learning languages a lot more easier and hopefully you all can catch a glimpse of it in my first blog. In the next few blogs I intend to write language lessons using this chunking method, any feedback would be appreciative.

Until next time! Ciao!