Hey guys, I am going back home for about a month at the end July. Just wondering what you guys usually do about your Chinese progress when you go back home…do you keep studying a little everyday, or just take it easy and let your Chinese muscles recover a little so they hopefully grow back stronger for when you come back? I’ve been here for 5 years, so this isn’t my first trip back or anything, but just wondering what most of you do. Thanks!
Generally, when I’ve gone back home I practice writing characters and try to remember the vocabulary which I rarely use. I don’t practice new material because I like my vacation time to be review time, not study time. I guess it also depends on how long you’ll be gone. I haven’t been away from China for more than a month in the past three years.
You’d probably do better to read, assuming you have quite a bit of the structure of Chinese already in your head.
Reading is one of the best ways to build fluency. To have reading help with fluency and language proficiency, though, for Chinese it needs to be done on some device that allows instant access to the pronunciations of the characters. There are lots of those around today. The reading thingie inside Pleco Dictionary is very good for this sort of reading. Don’t worry about writing everything down or memorizing new words unless you see them multiple times; just read. Try to find something that’s actually interesting, and read it.
I turned the majority of the Chinese practice that I do into Anki flashcard decks. Anki hosts a page called AnkiWeb, and I can practice directly from the site.
Other people have taken the PAVC books and Integrated Chinese books and made shared Anki decks for them. I think that they suck, but they’re better than nothing.