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…
Peter: What You Learn From Failing a Language Proficiency Exam
Becky: You’ll Learn...
Peter: One, The Results Of My 2017 Language Goal
Becky: Two, The Successes Gained From Taking on this Challenge
Peter: And three, The Most Useful Tools I’ve Used to Prepare for the Test
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 how to improve your reading, grammar and vocabulary...
Becky: ...and last time we spoke, Peter, you were prepping for HSK.
Peter: The Chinese Language Proficiency Test. The third level.
Becky: This is exciting. And now here we are at the end of the year. When was the exam?
Peter: Uhh, it was earlier this month. December 3rd.
Becky: I guess we all know how you did, huh? The title of this episode gives it away.
Peter: Becky... let’s get into the first part of this final inner circle.
Becky: One, The Results Of Peter’s 2017 Language Goal
Peter: Becky, actually... I have a very anticlimactic answer for you.
Becky: Uh oh.
Peter: I don’t know if I passed. The results should be announced on January 3rd so...
Becky: Oh...
Peter: But I think I failed, hence the title.
Becky: What makes you say that?
Peter: You kind of know, right? I think I overshot and should’ve probably tried a lower level.
Becky: Yeah, I know the feeling. Where do you think you went wrong?
Peter: Well, the listening section was okay. With all the ChineseClass101 lessons I’ve taken...
Becky: ...your ear’s pretty much used to it.
Peter: Exactly. I can’t say for sure how I did there. But, the reading part....
Becky: That was hard, huh?
Peter: It was tricky. It’s funny because you can know 90% of the words in a passage but if you don’t know a few key words...
Becky: ...or a certain grammar pattern...
Peter: ...it will throw you off. You can miss the whole meaning.
Becky: How many times did you run into that?
Peter: More than enough, Becky, more than enough.
Becky: And what about the vocabulary?
Peter: That was pretty straightforward. I either knew it or I didn’t. I had to take educated guesses on maybe a third of the questions.
Becky: Well... so we don’t know the results yet....
Peter: I think it’s safe to assume I failed.
Becky: Huh, so is this the first yearly goal that you failed?
Peter: I was close to missing last year’s goal too. But, since that goal was mine, I had the freedom to readjust.
Becky: Yeah, you can’t really back out of a test or ask “hey teacher, i’d like an easier test.”
Peter: No, you can’t. But... you know, this isn’t complete failure either.
Becky: What do you mean?
Peter: Let’s jump into the second part.
Becky: The Successes Gained From Taking on this Challenge
Peter: So, taking the test...
Becky: Oh, hold on. I get it. It’s like that quote goes, “It’s about the journey, not the destination.”
Peter: Exactly. Who said that?
Becky: Not sure. It’s one of the many inspirational quotes I posted on Facebook.
Peter: Well... inspirational or not, there is truth to it, listeners.
Becky: Everytime you set a goal...
Peter: And your actions align with it, meaning you put in work...
Becky: For example, if you want to speak Japanese, so you practice speaking 10 minutes a day or even 5 minutes.
Peter: ...you’ll end up much closer to your goal...
Becky: ...than you would just fiddling around without a clear, specific goal.
Peter: But, if you’ve ever failed a goal...
Becky: ...before you write it off as a loss...
Peter: ...Just take a look at how far you’ve come.
Becky: Listeners, if you’ve been setting small monthly goals like...
Peter: ...Learn 100 words by the end of the month....
Becky: ...speak 1 minute of conversation by the end of the month....
Peter: ...and then, learn 200 more, or speak for another minute the following month....
Becky: You can easily tally up your progress to see how much you’ve learned.
Peter: Remember, learning a language is simply a matter of time.
Becky: It may not come as fast as you had hoped...
Peter: ...but with time...
Becky: ...It will come.
Peter: I may have not passed the test, but in my case, you can measure my improvement.
Becky: So, what successes did you gain from this?
Peter: First, let’s talk about what we can measure. The Level 3 HSK had 80 questions.
Becky: What’s the passing grade?
Peter: You need 180 points to pass. The max you can get is 300.
Becky: That’s very lenient of them. You only needed to get 60% right to pass, Peter.
Peter: Easier said than done, Becky. Remember, I first started taking practice tests in June.
Becky: I remember. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed.
Peter: I got a bit more serious in September, but my scores were low.
Becky: How low are we talking?
Peter: Around 100. I was just running through the tests without reviewing really. Towards the end of November...
Becky: ...when the urgency kicked in...
Peter: ...actually, I was hovering around 170 points.
Becky: Oh wow, so a good 70 point jump. Almost at the passing grade.
Peter: The next thing is, I’ve learned around 500 Chinese words.
Becky: Is that in total? As in, that’s how many words you know?
Peter: No, that’s like asking... Becky, how many English words do you know?
Becky: No clue. I don’t even know how many Japanese words I know!
Peter: See? I mean, 500 in addition to what I already knew. But I could measure these 500 because I studied them with our flashcards.
Becky: I’d say that’s a pretty nice accomplishment.
Peter: The next benefit is... aiming for this test balanced out my learning.
Becky: Yeah, usually you skip the grammar and go straight to speaking.
Peter: Exactly. But the test forced me to sit down, learn proper grammar, learn vocabulary...
Becky: ...and it sounds like it took you out of your comfort zone.
Peter: It did! I went from passively taking ChineseClass101 lessons, to writing out characters, and writing out sentences for my Premium PLUS teacher. I had to force myself to spend more time on the lessons!
Becky: Yeah, writing and looking up words takes up a lot of time.
Peter: I think I had to put in an hour a day.
Becky: But overall, you have measurable proof that this year did not go to waste.
Peter: Exactly.
Becky: Listeners, what about you? Have you ever fallen short of reaching a goal?
Peter: Remember, the big lesson is... it’s just a matter of time. You may not be able to reach your goal as fast as you’d like to...
Becky: ...but if you put in the time, it will come.
Peter: And if you’re setting SMALL goals, reaching them is not a problem.
Becky: Yeah, Peter, I’d argue you that you broke your rule here and aimed for a very big goal. Proficiency tests are a big deal.
Peter: Maybe you’re right, Becky.
Becky: Alright, so based on your journey this year... I want to ask...
Peter: Yes?
Becky: What study tools and tactics helped you the most?
Peter: You mean, if our listeners were to take a language test?
Becky: Right. What should they use?
Peter: Okay, let’s get into the 3rd part.
Becky: Three. The Most Useful Tools I’ve Used to Prepare for the Test
Peter: Since I focused on 3 areas for the test...
Becky: Reading, Grammar and Vocabulary?
Peter: Oh, let’s include listening too. Exams tend to have a listening section.
Becky: Okay.
Peter: The most useful tools from the site were... first, definitely conversations from the lessons.
Becky: For listening practice, right?
Peter: Exactly, but more importantly, you hear native level conversation in the lessons...
Becky: ...which is usually fast...
Peter: ...and not a slow, beginner-level, one-person speech that you’d hear on most audio programs.
Becky: Yeah, I prefer learning from the real thing - native level conversations.
Peter: And if you have a hard time catching what’s said, the Dialog tool breaks down the conversations into individual lines that you can play again and again. It’s super powerful for mastering and understanding native speech.
Becky: Listeners, remember, you can find the Dialog tool in every lesson.
Peter: So, the dialog tool was also extremely useful.
Becky: It breaks down the conversations and makes listening easier.
Peter: The grammar points in the lesson notes were useful too.
Becky: What was your process with that? Did you just read the notes?
Peter: I did and after that, I’d create a few examples of my own using that rule. I’d send that to my Premium PLUS teacher.
Becky: Ah, to get confirmation that you’re using it properly.
Peter: Exactly. Next, the vocab section and the sample sentences helped with reading and vocabulary.
Becky: You know, between reviewing words and sentences, I like reviewing sentences more.
Peter: Really? Why?
Becky: Well, words, you learn them one by one. With sentences, you see how words are used, you might learn a useful thing to say... and you review grammar indirectly.
Peter: That’s a great point and I agree with you there. Actually, that’s what makes reviewing sample sentences so powerful.
Becky: I wonder... can we study sentences with our flashcards?
Peter: Not yet but that may be a good flashcard feature to have. I’ll talk to the team.
Becky: Tell them it was my idea. It was Becky. All mine.
Peter: Speaking... of flashcards, they were also useful in helping me master vocabulary.
Becky: How so?
Peter: The words that I studied with flashcards, I had no problem recognizing them on the test.
Becky: But of the ones you studied, not ALL of them were on the test, right?
Peter: Yeah, that’s the thing about tests. You can’t predict what will be on there.
Becky: You can’t...
Peter: Finally, what I think would be useful for Japanese learners... are our new extensive reading books.
Becky: Listeners, these are simple books. And the goal of these books is to turn you into become a fluent reader by... reading and absorbing a lot.
Peter: In fact, we recommend that you read without a dictionary.
Becky: You can skip the words you don’t know and jump to a new book if the current one is too tough.
Peter: The point of this is, so that you read more, practice more, get exposed to more text...without getting stuck and frustrated over one little detail.
Becky: These books are only available on JapanesePod101 for Absolute Beginner and Beginner Level.
Peter:.. but will they be available on all sites next year.
Becky: Speaking of next year, Peter, what’s your next goal. A new language? Another shot at the test?
Peter: Uhhh... let me think about it.
Becky: C’mon, the early bird gets the worm. Start now!
Peter: I think January is a great time to reset and start new language goals. What do you think listeners?
Becky: What are your language goals for the new year?
Peter: Leave us a comment!
Becky: And remember, new Inner Circle lessons are coming in 2018. Have a Happy New Year, listeners, and we’ll see you soon!
Peter: Thank you again!


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