Chinese Advancements

Chinese Advancements

It has been three years and three months since I started learning Chinese. Let’s do a quick recap of how my Chinese education has gone over the past few years, shall we?

(It might be helpful to note that  I have been studying Chinese, I have also been studying several other languages, including: Korean, Spanish, Farsi/Persian, Russian, and Czech. Chinese has consistently been my primary foreign language throughout this time, however.)


  • Year 1
    • Focused on pronunciation
    • Studied pinyin and tones
    • Learned about 500 vocabulary words
    • Learned how to write Chinese characters properly
    • Accomplishment #1: Gained a foundation in Chinese phonetics and pronunciation
    • Accomplishment #2: Made lots of Chinese teachers angry. Most Chinese teachers that I encountered felt that I was wasting time – theirs and mine; and that since I was not learning dozens of pages of grammar each week that I was an embarrassment to them. Only if I succeeded and learned quickly was I worth their time. I went through a lot of teachers that first year.


  • Year 2
    • Continued to work on pronunciation
    • Studied basic grammar
    • Studied basic sentence constructions
    • Accomplishment #1: Completed HSK1-level materials
    • Accomplishment #2: I upset several more Chinese teachers for the same reason stated above. I made even more teachers upset when I specified that I only wanted to study with teachers from Beijing or with a Beijingese dialect. Native Chinese speakers from other parts of mainland China were offended, while Chinese speakers who were not located in mainland Chinese wanted to argue politics. For the latter, I tried to assure them that as a black person in America, with both black and Native American ancestry, I could relate to their struggles. However, they did not seem to have much of a point of reference for the plights of Native Americans or blacks in the US, so those conversations were less than productive. (The struggle was real.)
    • Accomplishment #3: I found two native Chinese speakers to study with. One is from Beijing and the other is from southern China.


  • Year 3
    • Continued to work on pronunciation
    • Studied more intermediate-level grammar
    • Reverse-engineered hundreds of Chinese sentences
    • Translated hundreds of English sentences into Chinese
    • Accomplishment #1: Completed HSK2-level materials
    • Accomplishment #2: Completed 2 semesters of Chinese courses at a community college (GPA: 4.1)


  • Year 4 (Current)
    • Continued to work on pronunciation
    • Began to have my very first conversations in Chinese
    • Began writing/speaking/composing original sentences
    • Began writing short essays

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