A Year of Chinese Mandarin…

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This year Language learners Journal Founder Trisha Dunbar will be focusing on Chinese Mandarin. Although there are a number of different Chinese dialects including Cantonese and Shanghaiese. Mandarin is the most spoken language in the would with 1,000,000,000+ speakers and rising. It forms part of the Sino-Tibetan language family.

Full transparency: From time-to-time we do use affiliate links for paid products on this site. This means Language Learners Journal gets a small commission for some (not all) referrals. It doesn’t affect the price of anything but doing so has helped to maintain, improve and keep this site ad-free for over 3 years. We appreciate the support, thank you.

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Learning Chinese Mandarin means that you will be using both the right and left sides of the brain!

The language has four tones, plus a neutral one. Getting the tones right is an important factor…

… it can make all the difference between referring to your mother as a or ( – meaning a horse)!

A language without an alphabet!

Chinese has no alphabet! It is made up of a series of characters.

To help western society better understand there is the Pinyin system. This helps to spell out the sounds of Chinese using Roman letters. It is used as a helpful written aid to guide Chinese pronunciation.

You can follow Trisha’s journey from a false beginner to HSK 2 and beyond on Twitter and Facebook or Check the Mandarin Board on Pinterest.

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10 reasons to learn Mandarin Chinese

  1. Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world. If you can speak it then you can communicate with nearly a billion people worldwide!
  2. China is an economic superpower and a major trade point.
  3. China has a fascinating and rich history and culture.
  4. It is easier than you think! There are no verbs, plurals, tenses, subject-verb agreement, OR conjugations.
  5. Chinese could be regarded as one of the most logical languages in the world!
  6. Speaking and reading in Mandarin Chinese is a great workout for the brain as it uses both the left and right hemispheres!
  7. The Chinese love to hear Westerns ‘attempt’ to speak their language and can be very supportive in helping you learn.
  8. Traveling or doing business abroad? As well as China, Mandarin is spoken in countries such as Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Philippines and Mongolia.
  9. Make new friends! Learning Mandarin gives you access to communicate with many people and connect on a deeper level, not just in Asia but across the world! Almost every major Western city has a growing Chinese community within it. Being able to communicate with those in your neighborhood and exchange students at your local university will help to connect communities, as well as foster lifelong friendships.
  10. Self-development. Being proficient in Mandarin will certainly boost your CV and make you stand out among against the many other applicants. Even if you don’t actively need the language for work it shows that you have commitment, focus and an understanding of another culture.

Recommended Resources

Here are my most highly recommended resources for learning Mandarin Chinese. The resources below have played a crucial role to my own learning of this beautiful language.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step;  Chinese: 千里之行,始於足下; pinyin: Qiānlǐ zhī xíng, shǐyú zú xià.”

Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)

Italki – is an excellent resource and one that I regularly use to help me learn languages via Skype lessons. These lessons offer flexibility that fits perfectly into my busy lifestyle. Lessons can vary in price but start from about $5 for a 30 minute session. Register using this link to receive an additional $10 in credits after you have complete your first paid lesson!

uTalkuTalk is one my favourite resources for learning languages. It uses verbal, visual and fun exercises to teach languages increases your chance of success. Their tried and tested products work by stimulating both sides of the brain at the same time – the visual memory (right brain) and verbal (left side). This dual-coding improves recall and learning dramatically. Adding fun to the mix helps release the neurotransmitter chemical dopamine which keeps you motivated and improves memory recall. A fabulous free alternative is LingoHut.

Easy Peasy Chinese –This book and audio CD (Amazon) is a fabulous resource for beginners and will help you get to grips with speaking, writing and understanding the basics of the language in no time.

The Chineasy Range – An excellent resource for visual language learners. From books to flashcards and even board games. I have used this range to teach my own family Chinese. check out the full range on Amazon.

HelloChinese – Learn Chinese via this awesome app which is similar to Duolingo. There is a paid element, but the free content will enable you to grasp the basics via gamification methods. Although I don’t recommend using this app alone as it is not a replacement for real conversations. It is however a welcome and fun boost to vocabulary and learning the sounds of Chinese.

Learning Chinese? Let us know in the comments section below what resources you are currently using.

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Learning a new language and would like some community support? Come join our free, friendly and supportive group today or sign up for our free-mentorship programme! 


Thanks for visiting Language Learners Journal! If you have enjoyed this article please share it and inspire your friends and family to learn Chinese.

#AYearofMandarin

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65 Inspiring challenge ideas to improve your life…

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You can make a massive difference to your life without having to spend lots of money in only 15 minutes per day for 100 days. This post presents you with 65 challenge ideas to inspire your life.

65 15 minutes x 100 day inspiring challenge ideas…

1. Learn a foreign language by practicing for as little as 15 minutes per day for the next 100 days.

2. Give a compliment everyday for the next 100 days.

3. Draw or paint a picture everyday for the next 100 days and build a portfolio.

4. Write in a journal for the next 100 days.

5. Exercise daily – doesn’t mean joining a gym!

6. *Give up alcohol for 100 days and research ways to detox.

7. Give up watching TV for 100 days and use the extra time to find a new hobby.

8. Listen to a different song everyday for 100 days.

9. Spend 3 – 15 minutes just focusing on your breath every day!

10. Take time out each day to observe your thoughts without judgement and note your mood.

11. Take a photograph & add some effects to it… every day for the next 100 days.

12. Work on writing a story or song 15 minutes per day for 100 days.

13. Grow your vocab – learn a new word a day!

14. Teach others something new every day.

15. Think of your worst habit that you’ve been meaning to ditch and work on giving it up over the next 100 days.

16. Do some gentle stretching exercises for 15 minutes everyday for the next 100 days.

17. Do some yoga everyday for the next 100 days.

18. Read an inspirational and motivational blog a day…extra kudos if it is in a language you are learning!

19. Write a blog post everyday for the next 100 days!

20. Spend 15 minutes a day repeating positive affirmations and practicing positive thinking.

21. Keep a laughter journal. Write down one thing a day that really made you laugh.

22. Work on those abs – Do 50 sit-ups a day.

23. Scribble or write some quotes on the back of a postcard everyday for the next 100 days.

24. Prepare or cook something healthy everyday for the next 100 days.

25. Cycle for at least 15 minutes everyday for the next 100 days.

26. Keep a worry journal, rate worries from 1 – 10 and write a solution for the main worries. Notice any patterns occurring? Note these down too, along with an action plan.

27. Write and reflect upon a gratitude list for the next 100 days.

28. What have you always wanted to do but never have? Write a bucket list and spend the next 100 days completing as many items from it as possible. #BucketList

29. Take up knitting or crochet. Random I know, but knit or crochet an item a day! Post your creations on Instagram or Pinterest with the hastag #15x100Challenge for extra credit and as a record of progress being made.

30. Don’t bitch OR moan or saying ANYTHING negative about people for the next 100 days!

31. Live on a really strict budget for the next 100 days and save some money!

32. Wake up at 5am to do 15 minutes meditation every morning for the next 100 days.

33. Spend 15 minutes every morning playing devils advocate with yourself to challenge your own beliefs.

34. Face a fear!  Push yourself out of your comfort zone and work on a phobia for the next 100 days.

35. Spend 15 minutes learning to love yourself.

36. Learn a new magic trick everyday for the next 100 days.

37. Plant a flower a day — in your garden or at random places.

38. Write a motivational quote on a sticky note everyday for you guessed it the next 100 days and pop them in random places, such as in library books or on trees!

39. Business owner? Work on your social media marketing for at least 15 minutes per day everyday for the next 100 days.

40. Get you and your friends to write down cool ideas for things to do and put them in a hat and pull out a different thing each day for the next 100 days.

41. Can’t draw? Then practice every day for the next 100 days record your progress in a sketchbook and post on Instagram, prepare to be amazed with the results!

42. Learn to play an instrument in 100 day, i.e. the ukulele, flute, guitar…

43.*Stop smoking over the next 100 days. If you need some support check out this awesome NHS site. #SmokeFree.

44. Learn something new over the next 100 days…

45. Make a patchwork quilt in 100 days.

46. Research a different culture, religion or philosophy every day for the next 100 days.

47. Read about a different period of history every day.

48. Do one thing each day that makes you feel inspired.

49. Revamp your house in 100 days.

50. Deep clean, sort and tidy your home by focusing on one small area everyday for the next 100 days.

51. Spend at least 15 minutes in nature whether it’s your garden, a park, the countryside or the beach.

52. Go caffeine free for 100 days.

53. Ditch social media sites for 100 days, or limit yourself to just 15 minutes per day.

54. Spend 100 days as a vegetarian or vegan

55. Do at least 1 random act of kindness everyday.

56. Visit a new website everyday.

57. Read a chapter of a book. Finished the whole book then start a new chapter of a new book!

58. Ditch your car and walk.

59. Be positive for 100 days straight even if things go wrong, focus only on the positives.

60. Change sleeping patterns i.e. go to bed earlier or wake up earlier and stick to those times EVERYDAY for 100 days (even weekends).

61. Spend 100 days fundraising for a charity or promoting a good cause.

62. Grow those brain cells… Do a brain training puzzle everyday,  like sudoku, crosswords or  Lumosity puzzles for 15 minutes per day, everyday for the next 100 days.

63. Reflect upon and write down something you love about your partner or a close family member every day and give them the list after your 100 day challenge.

64. Read or write a poem a day.

65. Dance or sing everyday — whether you’re good at it or not.

BONUS. DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for 15 minutes, everyday for the next 100 days!

Thank you for reading this post. I wish you all the best with whatever challenge you decide to do over the next 100 days. If you decide to try out any of the challenges mentioned then please keep in touch or share your progress on social media with the hashtag #15x100Challenge.  I’d love to hear how you get on.

On Twitter? Why not hold yourself publicly accountable and Tweet about the challenge you would like to do!

Don’t forget to like our brand new Facebook Page and join our free supportive Self-Development Hub to help keep you motivated and disciplined during the challenge.

If you have any ideas not on the list please let me know in the comments section below.


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Which Hormones Affect Your Appetite?

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Trying to live your healthiest life with so many conflicting sources of information available can be difficult. To top that off, there is still a lot of science surrounding the human body and health (especially the science around diet and language learning) that is not truly understood. One subject that is well-documented, though, is appetite suppression.

An easy way to think of weight loss and appetite suppression is calories in versus calories out. The direction that more calories are headed is where the weight will eventually go. This means that if you are eating more calories than you are working off, you will gain weight and vice versa. A clever way to hack this system is through the use of appetite suppression from hormones. This article will discuss various hormones that can affect your appetite and the options that they are typically available in.  

Supplement Use Gaining Speed

Everywhere you look it seems like there is a new advertisement for a vitamin or mineral supplement that you should try. Why is this trend becoming so popular? One of the reasons is that research continues to evolve regarding the advantages of a healthy diet for the human body. There is constantly new science being announced that discusses the effects of certain diets and how our bodies are able to break down the individual components. Vitamins and minerals are increasing as popular supplements because they can fill that gap between what our bodies need and what we can gain from healthy food sources. Some things are simply not available from food sources and must be taken via a supplement. As more people use these supplements, there are more reviews and reports of improvements in things like mood and energy, and the cycle continues.

Perks of Hormones

Hormones can be a great chemical to manipulate in order for us to reach our highest health potential. These chemicals can trigger many of our vital life processes, such as hunger and reproduction. When it comes to specifically focusing on appetite, there are three main ones to take a look at, and those are insulin, ghrelin, and leptin. There are also other hormones naturally occuring in the body that can indirectly affect our appetite and can be used under doctor supervision to help us achieve the goals we set for ourselves.

Insulin is a hormone produced by specific cells within the pancreas. This substance pulls sugar or simple carbohydrates from your bloodstream, such as glucose, and turns it into energy that you can use throughout the day. As your insulin levels drop, your body responds by producing something called ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone. Having higher levels of insulin, so long as you are within the appropriate range, can leave you feeling fuller and satiated after a meal.

Ghrelin and Leptin

These two hormones work on a sort of see-saw mechanic. When your insulin levels are low, the production of ghrelin is triggered. This increases your appetite and encourages you to eat to gain more fuel for your body. Leptin is a hormone that works to inhibit the action of ghrelin and is triggered by glucose metabolism. This hormone will be the one to tell you that you’re full and should stop eating. Other things can impact these hormones as well, such as lack of sleep and a properly functioning body mechanic. Those who are diagnosed with issues like diabetes can experience much more trouble keeping these hormones regulated.

Injections versus Pills

When it comes to making this decision, it’s important to remember that your doctor is ultimately going to be able to give you the best advice. It’s also important that you listen to what your body tells you. If after a few doses you are still not feeling your best, then perhaps it’s time to change things up. In addition, some people consider injections a better option, and they aren’t necessarily wrong. It all depends on your goals and again, how your body reacts. Pills are going to take longer to be digested and absorbed within your body. It’s also possible that less of the supplement you take will be absorbed because of what is lost during the digestion and absorption process. On the other hand, injections have a more immediate effect. They are able to go directly into your bloodstream and start producing effects within fifteen minutes or less. Injections also have the ability to be timed better so that hunger isn’t striking during inopportune times, such as the middle of a workout.

Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin

A good example of a situation where injections may be better is with HCG. This is a hormone that is produced when a woman is pregnant, and it stimulates other hormones to activate. One use for this hormone is appetite suppression which leads to weight loss when combined with a specific diet plan. You can read more about the link between HCG diet hormones and appetite suppression.

Conclusion

As you can see, hormones play quite the important role in hunger, appetite, and making the fine balance between the two. Hormones like ghrelin and leptin work directly to keep hunger and appetite suppression mechanisms in check, while other hormones like insulin work more indirectly to help produce the same effects. In addition, there are a wide variety of ways to get these supplements into your body, providing you with the freedom to structure your lifestyle the way that best suits you. Pills may take a little longer to produce their desired effects but are easy and pain-free to administer. Injections hurt more to administer, but the effects are nearly immediate and can be useful in certain situations. The last thing to remember is that even though you will no doubt do your due diligence on research for various hormones and supplements, it is still best to discuss your plan with your doctor prior to getting started. It’s possible that you may have a health condition or are taking a medication that could interfere with the hormones, preventing you from getting the intended effect.

References:

Calories In Vs Calories Out: The Basic Formula Explained

Multivitamin/mineral Supplements

Your ‘Hunger Hormones’

Do Carbs Make You Hungry?

Comparing HCG Diet Hormones