Lesson Transcript


Becky: Welcome to a special Inner Circle Audio Lesson! I'm Becky and I'll be your host. My co-host today is the founder of InnovativeLanguage.com... Peter Galante!
Peter: Hi everyone! Peter here.
Becky: In this Inner Circle, we’re talking about How To Turn Your Language Weaknesses into Strengths
Peter: ...by Going Above And Beyond
Becky: You’ll learn...
Peter: One: My Goal for the Year and My Learning Progress
Becky: Two: How to Find Your Weaknesses by Going Above and Beyond.
Peter: And Three, How to Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths
Becky: ...All so you can master your target language and reach your goals!
Becky: Listeners, welcome back to the Inner Circle.
Peter: Last time, you learned all about my holistic approach for Chinese in 2017...
Becky: ...how to come up with anchor points, set successful goals...
Peter: ...and how to set language learning routines.
Becky: ...so you don’t fail your language learning goals...
Peter: ...right around this time of year when 90% of the people...
Becky: ....you mean, the New Year's Resolutionists?
Peter: Yeah, those are the ones, Becky.
Becky: ...I know it because I’m one of them.
Peter: But... listeners, statistically speaking, it’s around this time of year when a good 90% of the people quit their goals. And, it’s a common pattern every year.
Becky: So what about you? So you had quite a bit of goals for February.
Peter: That’s right Becky. I had 4 goals for Chinese. Reading, writing, speaking and listening.
Becky: And? Did you uh... overwhelm yourself?
Peter: Becky. There’s a reason why we set small, measurable, monthly goals with a deadline.
Becky: Because they work?
Peter: Exactly. And if they don’t work, you make sure to make them even smaller and easier to accomplish.
Becky: So how’d you do? What are the results for the month?
Peter: You’ll find out in just a minute. Let’s jump into the first part.
Becky: Peter’s Goal for the Year and Learning Progress
Peter: First, you should know that I’ve decided on a goal for the year.
Becky: Oh, you’re actually going to go for a language proficiency test?
Peter: That’s right. This is completely different from my usual goals but it’s an interesting challenge.
Becky: It is.
Peter: Now, for my goals. Here’s what I promised for the month
For listening: 2 hours of ChineseClass101 lessons
For speaking: a 10 minute conversation with an in-law.
For reading: There’s my family group chat on WeChat.
For writing: 2 messages a week for family in Chinese.
Peter: And I exceeded all of those goals.
Becky: From what I remember, you paired listening and speaking and reading with writing. Can you break down how you did it?
Peter: For speaking... I prepared with ChineseClass101 lessons. I did 3 lessons a week. I reviewed my new grammar patterns. And I also looked up topics that I wanted to talk about with my in-laws. The Chinese New Year was a big topic this month. And I looked up words for that as well as how to say American holidays in Chinese...
Becky: ...just so you could compare and keep the conversation going, right?
Peter: Exactly. This gave me extra talking points to use and helped me take up time...
Becky: ...so hitting the 10 minute conversation goal was no problem.
Peter: No problem And here’s where technology plays such a big role. If I wanted to say something in Chinese but I forgot it or I just didn’t remember, I’d use quickly Google Translate and keep the conversation going. But I would only do it for 1 word. I wouldn’t do sentences. Again, if you use it for sentences, it really slows it down, but for words, here and there, it’s very very useful to keep the conversation at a higher level than it normally would be.
Becky: Then, you had ...reading and writing. So texting with your family...
Peter: ...as well as my Premium PLUS teacher and ChineseClass101 lessons. Actually, technology helped a lot here too.
Becky: Oh, how so?
Peter: With texting, there’s “predictive text” that really makes writing in Chinese easier.
Becky: Ah, it feeds you the characters and words you’re probably looking for.
Peter: Exactly. And with reading, Google Translate helped out tons when I wasn’t sure of something.
Becky: Alright, so you hit all of your goals. I’m impressed...
Peter: Well, Becky, I’ll admit this. While this all sounds good...
Becky: Uh oh.
Peter: There’s a Japanese saying: There’s a difference between the ground and the clouds. And or sky.”
Becky: What do you mean?
Peter: So, remember we go back to that new yearly goal of a standardized test? My success here is a little deceptive. These goals sound good on paper but they don’t tell the entire story here.
Becky: Okay, let’s hear it.
Peter: Let’s get into the second part.
Becky: Two: How to Discover Your Weaknesses by Going Above and Beyond
Peter: In hindsight, going holistic was a good start.
Becky: Listeners, remember, you don’t need a whole reading, writing, speaking, listening approach.
Peter: Again, it all depends on your goal. If your goal is to communicate, to travel, to speak with friends...
Becky: ...then you should focus on speaking and listening first.
Peter: But, in my case, it makes sense to take a holistic approach because of my goal.
Becky: ...to take the test.
Peter: I’m kind of going above and beyond with that goal .
Becky: Right; tests cover all four aspects: reading, writing, speaking, listening.
Peter: Some tests really don’t focus on speaking but taking on all of these helped me discover some real weaknesses. For example, with speaking...
Becky: Wait, I thought you handled 10 minutes of Chinese conversation. Where’s the weakness?
Peter: Remember, my success here is deceptive. Here’s what I mean. The reason I was able to hit my goal was because I controlled the conversation.
Becky: Ah, when you prepare, control the conversation and talk about things you know...
Peter: ....it’s a lot easier! There are a ton of set phrases, questions and answers that we use over and over in daily conversations...
Becky: ...like “how was your weekend? It was good. How are the kids?”...
Peter: ...then there’s preparing for topics ahead of time, like the Chinese New Year.
Becky: But if the conversation went to a topic you can’t talk about, like the economy?
Peter: I’d be in big trouble. So while 10 minutes sounds good... it’s like that saying goes. “There’s a difference between the ground and sky.”
Becky: There’s a massive difference between your perceived ability...
Peter: ...and here’s where it gets very important: my actual Chinese proficiency. So this shows my first weakness.
Becky: I see. You can’t spend 10 minutes in Chinese on ANY topic.
Peter: Right. Plus, the deceptive part here is... relatives often won’t correct you.
Becky: Your in-laws don’t point out your mistakes?
Peter: Not usually. They understand what I want to talk about and if you correct someone - think about a non-native speaker - they may not get everything perfect but you can usually understand them and interrupting is really, kind of, makes communication not so much fun.
Becky: Peter, I think you have really nice in-laws.
Peter: They are! But, I can guarantee you that I mispronounced words and got some tones wrong.
Becky: But how would you know?
Peter: Well, I do a postmortem analysis. I follow up with my Premium PLUS teacher and repeat a lot of what I had prepared on paper.
Becky. Ah, I see. Postmortem. I like it. It’s like your Chinese was dead on arrival. But, Peter, I don’t think these are so bad. I mean, communication isn’t about perfection. If your in-laws understood you...
Peter: Becky, exactly. It all depends on what your goal is.
Becky: Listeners, don’t worry too much about making mistakes. It’s all part of the learning process.
Peter: Exactly. But why do I bring these mistakes up? It goes back to the test.
Becky: Yeah, with tests, you can’t miss a word. Tests measure perfection.
Peter: If you don’t write a character perfectly, you lose points.
Becky: If you mispronounce something, you lose points.
Peter: You can understand 90% of a sentence but if you don’t know a key element... like the subject or the object, It’s wrong. And if you make enough mistakes, you fail.
Becky: Okay, I think I’m starting to see now.
Peter: Again, the approach really needs to suit the goal. If your goal is speaking, please go talk, make mistakes. If your goal is texting, please go and text, make mistakes. But for me, all this is new – I started taking practice tests in preparation for my goal.
Becky: And?
Peter: Becky, it was not good. Ugly. Reading texts from family members when you can kind of understand the context, or you can access google, is one thing. But the test was tough. Reading passages on a practice exam is completely different.
Becky: Very true.
Peter: Reading is my second weakness and probably my biggest one.
Becky: Then the listening part of a test would be just as tough, no?
Peter: Same thing with listening. That’s my third weakness. Listening to my in-laws or easy lessons is kind of one thing. Again, you usually understand the gist of it. And you don't have to understand everything to participate. And you can ask “I didn’t understand, can you tell me what that is?”
Becky: ...are the audio dialogues on the listening part of the test different?
Peter: It’s completely different than everyday conversation. It’s so much more formal. Complex grammar patterns. Talking about vocabulary you rarely use.
Becky: I think either way, Peter, you’re off to a nice start. You’re going above and beyond...
Peter: ...and it is giving me a lot of valuable feedback. A reality check. And helping me understand what my weaknesses are...
Becky: ...that I don’t think you would know if you hadn’t set a goal like that.
Peter: Yeah, very different than controlling the conversation or participating in a family conversation over dinner... when most people are talking about the food or a person you know intimately.
Becky: So Peter, what would you say is your biggest weakness?
Peter: Very, very easy. And I think many people share the same weakness. Reading is one of the most challenging parts of a language. But this can be turned into a strength. This really helped me refocus on an important learning tactic; the power of reading and how it can really turbocharge your language.
Becky: Really? I thought speaking is the way to go.
Peter: Again, it is. I do believe when you start to learn a language, you should focus on getting out there and communicating and it’s so much fun to use a language. But reading is so important. Here’s why. When I first started Japanese, started with reading. The ability to read allowed me to study 100% of the time. When you’re on the train, you can read the characters. You can immerse yourself in it. That’s why it’s so powerful... because while you can’t always have a speaking partner...
Becky: ...you can always read, boost your vocabulary and grammar.
Peter: Exactly. And especially with Japanese. I was able to keep up with the Chinese students in my Japanese class because I had studied Kanji. Most of the other western students were in a different class because they didn’t have the Kanji background.
Becky: Alright Peter, so now, you know your weaknesses.
Peter: So, the next logical step is to focus on them.
Becky: What about our listeners? How can they find their weaknesses and work on them?
Peter: Great question, Becky. Let’s get into part three.
Becky: How You Can Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths.
Peter: Listeners, a good rule to remember is...
Becky: ...you only get good at what you invest most of your time into.
Peter: So, if you started learning language by reading first...
Becky: ...and spent most of your time there...
Peter: You’ll be good at reading.
Becky: You might have a nice buildup of vocabulary.
Peter: But if you take a look at what you neglect... like speaking...
Becky: Then you know what your weaknesses are.
Peter: And then, it’s just a matter of putting the time in.
Becky: Peter, I would say it’s kind of like working out, right? Only muscles you focus on the most get bigger.
Peter: ...and the ones you neglect stay weak. It’s kind of like at the gym, sometimes you see the guys with the big arms and big chest, but not so much on the...
Becky: ...on the legs with the calf muscles!
Peter: Becky, where are you looking?
Becky: Yeah, I’ve seen those guys for sure.
Peter: And women!
Becky: Yeah, and women! For sure! So next, listeners, we recommend going above and beyond, like Peter.
Peter: You don’t have to follow my example. Please do not follow my example of taking a test.
Becky: Remember, tests are not the ultimate benchmark of your language abilities.
Peter: But if you go above and beyond...
Becky: ...you’ll instantly spot your weaknesses.
Peter: For example, we have lessons from Absolute Beginner to Advanced. If you’re a Beginner...
Becky: ...go above and try an Intermediate Lesson. Try something harder.
Peter: You can test your listening skills with the listening comprehension video series.
Becky: ...or the advanced audio blog.
Peter: You can test your reading skills with the reading comprehension video series...
Becky: ...which is brand new, by the way!
Peter: If you want to test out your speaking or pronunciation skills...
Becky: ... send an audio recording to your Premium PLUS teacher.
Peter: Right, you can even ask for unique assignments that fit your needs.
Becky: Your Premium PLUS teacher will come up with a challenge for you.
Peter: Now, here’s the most important lesson here. When you discover your weaknesses...
Becky: ...when you come across words and grammar you don’t know...
Peter: ...don’t take it as bad news. It’s valuable feedback for you to act on.
Becky: It’s simply pointing you to where you should focus.
Peter: So, if you listen to an Advanced Audio lesson...
Becky: ...and can’t understand most of the words said...
Peter: Here’s your opportunity to turn a weakness into a strength. How?
Becky: Read along with the lesson notes or the lesson transcripts where you get the full translations.
Peter: Use the dictionary to pick words apart one by one.
Becky: Then listen, read along and repeat until you get it all 100% down.
Peter: It’s just a matter of putting in the time.
Becky: Alright, what about you, Peter? You said you’ll be focusing on reading first.
Peter: That’s right. I’ll maintain my current routines:
3 ChineseClass101 lessons a week
10 minutes of conversation with the in-laws
Sending text messages to my family group chat in Chinese and my Premium PLUS teacher
Becky: And reading?
Peter: I’ll use my Premium PLUS teacher and ask for reading assignments. In the past, I had a German teacher send me simple articles and passages to read. Then, she’d quiz me on the content and answer my questions. So, we’ll do that with Chinese. I’ll also be using the Advanced Audio Blog lessons and will read along with the lesson notes. And of course, I’ll be using actual practice tests.
Becky: Can we have some concrete numbers here?
Peter: Okay, I will get the level of Chinese I will take next month. For now, I want to master 3 Advanced Audio Blog Lessons – word for word – by the end of next month.
Becky: Good one. These are NOT easy lessons, by the way, listeners.
Peter: And with Premium PLUS, I want to master 2 articles. As in, read with confidence and understand every single word and grammar point.
Becky: Okay, what’s the deadline here?
Peter: March 31st.
Becky: Alright, sounds good!
Peter: Listeners, let us know what your goals are for the month.
Becky: And do you ever go above and beyond to test your language?
Peter: Email us at inner dot circle at innovative language dot com.
Becky: And stay tuned for the next Inner Circle.


Becky: Well, that’s going to do it for this special Inner Circle lesson!
Peter: Bye everyone!
Becky: Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time.