Frequently asked questions
- Why are the lessons so short?
- Is it important to repeat when the teacher asks me to?
- Can I do more than one lesson per day?
- How many new lessons should I do each week?
- What is the minimum number of lessons I should study each week?
- Is it possible to study too much?
- Should I take breaks between lessons?
- Is it possible to learn more than one language at a time?
- How much review should I do?
- Do I need to know everything perfectly?
- Is there a best time of day to study?
- Why don't you have music or special sounds (whale songs?) in the background like some other courses?
- How is learning about culture going to help me learn a language?
- A friend told me that it is best to learn through total immersion in the language. Why do you use (English) to teach?
- I find that I can understand more than I can say. Is this normal?
- Why don't you speak slowly in the lessons?
- Some people seem to learn languages much quicker than other people? How do they do that? How can I do that?
- Do have any advice for learning vocabulary?
- Why don't you have downloadable flashcards like other language teaching companies?
- I am studying a Medlock Method Chinese course. Do I need to learn to write the Chinese words?
- I am studying a Medlock Method Chinese course and I have noticed that you write the Chinese characters on the screen. Is it necessary to learn to read Chinese characters?
- I am studying a Medlock Method Chinese course. I have noticed that sometimes you have the pinyin romanization on the screen and sometimes you don't. Why is this?
- I am studying a Medlock Method Chinese course. Do I need to learn the pinyin Romanization?
- I have heard that Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language. What does this mean?
- I am studying a Medlock Method Chinese course. I find that I cannot tell the difference between tones, what should I do?
A key advantage of the Medlock Method is that the lessons are short enough to use during breaks or commuting time. This convenience helps keep you motivated as well as not overloading you with too much new information.
Yes, it is. It is very important to be actively involved in the lesson. Research shows that learners who recite what they are studying learn better and have significantly better recall over time. Of course there may be situations where it is not practical or perhaps a little embarrassing to speak out loud. In these cases saying the words in your head can be just as effective. If necessary repeat the lesson at more convenient time or location.
Of course, but don't overload yourself. The key to fast and effective language learning is to always be working at the edge of your comfort zone. In other words it should not be too easy not should it be too difficult. If it is too difficult you might become discouraged.
The majority of Medlock Method customers try to complete five to six lessons each week. This fits easily into most people's schedules without disturbing work or home life. This pace also seems to be the good for keeping up learning momentum and motivation.
We recommend that you aim to complete a minimum of one unit a week (3 video lessons). If you are doing fewer than one unit per week you run the risk of losing your momentum and may end up giving up on your investment.
Unless you are a full-time student or have a very pressing reason to learn very quickly you should think hard before attempting to learn too many new sentence patterns. One unit a day should be the absolute maximum, and give yourself at least one day off each week. While it is good to have ambitious learning targets, those targets have to be fitted into your daily life.
Yes, even if it is just a short break. Most research on learning suggests that short breaks between study session helps people to remember in the long term. Even a break as short as two or three minutes has been shown to be beneficial.
Yes, it is. However, be careful to avoid interference between the languages. The best way to do this is to break up the study session. For example, study Chinese in the morning and German later on in the afternoon making sure you do something else between study sessions.
As each video contains material from the previous lessons you won't need to do much review. We recommend that you watch each lesson twice. However, there may be times when you didn't understand or remember something. In such cases it can be a good idea to over the lesson or unit again. We generally work on the 80% principle. This means that if you could reproduce 80% of the material when requested to during the lesson then you are okay to go forward to the next lesson. Of course you can always use the supplementary course. The supplementary lessons are designed compliment a whole unit and concentrate on giving extra review for vocabulary and sentence patterns.
It is always very satisfactory to learn something perfectly first time, but it is of course not always possible. Luckily is not necessary to be 100% perfect before you go on to learn new material. In fact it is possible get stuck in a review loop where you are constantly going over old material, getting confused and increasingly de-motivated. Should you find yourself in this situation move on to the next lesson; you will be exposed to old patterns there anyway.
Yes, but it's different for all of us. You will need to experiment to find out what works for you. Our best advice is to stop studying when you are tired, hungry or distracted. These states are not conducive to learning.
Until will have seen proper scientific evidence that these work we will continue to believe that such things are gimmicks. We believe that learning should be interesting and can be fun, but we don't do gimmicks.
Learning a language is only part of the solution to learning to communicate with people. Learning about culture helps you to understand the way people think, and the way people think affects what they say and why they say it. When you learn language and culture together you will become a much more effective communicator.
Children have an innate ability to learn a language without need of translation if they are immersed in the language environment. This ability starts to recede at about nine or ten years old, although it never disappears. While an adult certainly can learn a language through total immersion, it takes time and an extraordinary amount of dedication. There is a belief among some people that you learn the language better through immersion. However, this is more due to the time and dedication invested in learning rather than the technique itself.
The next question is usually why? The words you hear give you clues to understanding and jog your memory. On the other hand, when you are trying to say something you have to access your memory without the help of clues. This is harder.
The good news is that as you begin to understand the new language, you will find that speaking is not far behind. It is just a matter of repeated exposure the words and patterns. As they become imprinted in your mind they are easier to retrieve when you need them.
In real life when you ask people to speak slowly they will; for about a minute or two minutes if you are lucky. Chinese people find it hard to speak their own language slowly so they inevitably revert to their normal speaking pace. Our aim is to teach you to understand and speak the language at the pace that it is normally spoken. In our experience people who learn the language spoken at the speed native-speakers use are better able to understand and use the language while people who learn the language spoken slowly encounter difficulties.
They tend to learn new language in chunks; whole sentences or phrases rather than lists or individual bits of vocabulary. This means they can instantly use the language to communicate effectively. Which takes us to the next key tendency; they actively attempt to communicate. This gives them practice at using the language so they don't forget what they have learned: use it or lose it is their philosophy. What's more, by using what they already know they get introduced to new language.
They are not afraid of getting things wrong. This is different from saying they don't care about getting things wrong. In fact, they often care a great deal about getting things right. This is why they pay attention to the language, listening for sounds and patterns. For language is all about sounds and patterns. Super learners notice patterns because they are looking for them (even if, like children, they are not always aware that they are looking for them).
Noticing sounds and patterns leads to actively trying to reproduce the sounds and patterns. In order to do this you need to think about what you are doing, and thinking about what you are doing is one of the most effective ways of remembering something. It is far more effective than running down a list repeating in parrot fashion.
If you want to improve your language learning effectiveness then do what the super learners do. Learn whole chunks, of language, engage in the language, notice the language, don't fear the language and actively think about how to use the language.
Apart from the benefits of the context, learning new vocabulary in phrases or sentences allows for the possibility of learning multiple vocabulary items in one go. For example, suppose you have been introduced to two new words, kettle and boil. You can either learn the words individually or you can chunk them together in a sentence like this; the kettle has just boiled. I our experience it takes the same amount of time and effort to remember effectively this one short phase as it does to remember one item of vocabulary. Furthermore, as the single item of vocabulary has no context you are more likely to forget it over time.
Our next piece of advice is to chunk down your learning. Don't try to do too much in one go. In our experience learning too much in one go is both ineffective and inefficient. If you want to learn or review twenty new words it is better to break the task up into two groups of ten. Take a break between learning sessions and start the new sessions without going over the previous session first.
Writing sentences and phrases down after listening to your Medlock Method lesson or when creating your own sentences can also be highly beneficial. Making your own set of flash cards to carry around with you is excellent reason to right things down.
The time taken to create your own flashcards should be seen as an investment. It is an investment that will pay you back over time. Downloadable flashcards may look like a clever investment because they appear to save time, but like many investments that seem to be too good they often end up having a disappointing performance.
At the early stages of your learning journey Medlock Method emphasizes conversation skills over reading and writing skills, so you don't have to learn to write the characters. It really depends on how far you want to go with your Chinese. If you are just looking at everyday conversation then it is not necessary to learn how to write: although it you may find it interesting and useful.
You will also probably notice that the teachers point out characters that are commonly seen public places. We suggest that you do make an attempt at remembering these as they are very useful.
You should also remember that pinyin is just a tool to help you learn Chinese. The goal is not to learn pinyin, rather pinyin is a guide to help you reach your Chinese learning goals.
Pinyin is the official way to Romanize the Chinese language in the P.R.C. It is a very accurate pronunciation guide and very easy learn and use. Some of the letters don't fit into the English language alphabet very well (C and X for example) but most do and the exceptions aren't difficult to learn. We recommend that you study the six free Medlock Method Pinyin lessons at the same time you are studying the first few units. Not only will it help you with the pinyin, it will also help you improve your pronunciation.
Like many East Asian and African languages Chinese is a tonal language. This means that the meaning changes depending on the tone of the word. This isn't just a difference in feeling; it is an entirely different meaning. If you study the free Medlock Method Pinyin lessons you will find it helps you to distinguish the tones better. For more on tones look at this Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonal_language
This is fairly normal for speakers of European languages. You will get use to tones over time, it just requires practice and exposure to the Chinese language. A great way to accelerate your ability to recognize and reproduce tones is to use the free Medlock Method Pinyin course.