I discovered your website in January 2008, started from lesson 1 and tried to catch up as fast as possible (sometimes 4-5 hours a day) – and exactly today I’m there, lesson 198!!! You did a great job referring the method (from explaining in english turning to more and more chinese or how you choose new vocabulary and repeat it) and you found a nice balance of explaining grammar or just take an expression as it is. I know, it can be difficult, because students want more and more explanation, but sometimes it makes the stuff too complicate and becomes a barrier for the fluency.
Now I’m really happy, that I found a way to keep going and to improve my listening and speaking skills. I really like the videos and dialogues. I know, it was not that difficult for me, because I know most of the characters from last year; and I have now to take care, that I don’t lose track with the new stuff. But you are a big motivator and so I’m looking forward learning more..
I mostly listen first to the new lesson to see, how much I understand just by listening (because I’m quite bad at the “tingli”-part in the HSK-exercises, but it’s such a good feeling, when you listen to native speakers and you actually understand, what they are talking about!). After this first highlight or frustration I print the simplified version and go through it once or twice (bian ting bian kan), look then at the notes (I also like cultural notes) and go sometimes to the vocabulary section and pick some exercices (word order!!) or listen there a few times to (for me) new expressions to get used to the right tones. At last I go to the premium pages, listen to the second dialogue and try the translations – actually as a last test. And then – I enjoy the video (when there is/was one – you see I miss them).
On the whole it works pretty well like that. But you know the feeling for sure: You always get the idea, that as soon as you “turn around” all chinese just falls out of your brain… I guess we are now on a level, where we understand quite a lot (above all when it’s written down – for me in simplified characters), but when it comes to talk and build our own sentences, it gets bad. So I need (!) the sentence-builder-exercises and translation-part to reassure myself.
I’m recommending your website to all my friends – there’s kind of a podcast hype starting in Switzerland and an increasing interest here in China’s language and culture. A really nice thing!