Chinese course length


How long does it take to complete the chinese course? I'm doing 50xp a day. I was just curious how long it would take to finish. Also, at what point would it be worth it to watch Chinese movies/videos?

May 1, 2019


My rough estimate is that it will take me about 400h to finish the tree (i.e. level 5 for every lesson).

These 400h include a bit of meta tasks:

  • such as tracking and planning for my progress

  • performing some timed practices on the website here and there to prevent the loss of vocabulary

  • venturing into forums to learn a few tidbits and "have fun" while still not completely leaving the "learning" mood.

50 xp is probably something in the 20 - 30 minutes a day range and requires 4 sessions (assuming you get 4 x 10 session points + 10/20 session bonus points). Let's just assume 30 minutes which seems like a decent figure.

According to my excel tracker, the tree currently contains 3,348 sessions.

This gets us back to the ballpark of the 400h figure (3,348 sessions / 8 sessions per hour).

So you should expect to finish the tree in about 800 days, or, in other words, 2 years and 3 months.

I've not done the tree yet, I'm about halfway through it. I expect that after finishing the tree, I'll be able to read graded reader series and watch simple kids cartoons at worst and be able to read simple pieces of world news or watch short soap operas at best. Just tried reading a 300 words graded reader series book yesterday, it took me 1h to get a rough idea of the first 20 lines.

Edit: missing word.

May 1, 2019

Thanks! I'll finish it before I leave school then :DD

May 2, 2019

I'm almost done with the course, and it's taken me almost exactly a year. I knew a tiny amount of Cantonese from when I was a kid, so I had a bit of a leg up at the start. However, I took some relatively lengthy hiatuses from studying over the course of this year, so I think it's doable.

同学加油! Come on, you can do it! Studying Chinese is fun, and it's totally worth it.

What I do right now:

1) Finish maybe 5-6 Duolingo lessons each day. Depending on time and difficulty, I'll go through 1-4 new bubbles a week to level 1. Generally advance up to level 3 for review, then just rely on the auto practice thing (the weight lifting button).

2) Text message with Chinese people I meet on Tandem. Ask questions, they teach me slang, I correct their English, fun times.

3) Write about a paragraph-long journal entry in Chinese every day (using a Pinyin keyboard on my laptop). I started this when I was maybe 3/5 of the way through the tree. It was really hard at first (I'd write like two sentences), but got better quickly.

4) Watch some simple Chinese TV shows with Chinese subtitles. Stop when needed to look up characters, etc.

5) Read through a Chinese textbook, do some exercises (started this about 3/4 of the way through the tree)

6) Write characters by hand, mostly for funsies and relaxation, about 1-2 times a week (started this about 3/4 of the way through the tree)

7) Take notes on new characters or phrases on my laptop using a Pinyin keyboard (started this about 1/2 of the way through the tree). I somewhat rarely look at this for reference (usually just use Pleco), but I think logging the new words helps with memorization.

Here are some of my "language abilities":

  • Chat over text with Chinese people on Tandem, have them go "Oh, your Chinese is very good" (which is not particularly difficult, but gradually more and more people start saying it).
  • Watch simple TV shows with very standard Mandarin like 爸爸去哪儿, stopping now and again to read the subtitles (in Chinese)
  • Understand spoken Mandarin if it's slowish, very clearly enunciated, and relatively standard. I find Beijing and Guangdong accents easiest to understand.
  • Scroll through Weibo and have a general idea of what's going on. Lots of the posts require some studying or word lookup, but some of them I just understand.
  • Read dialogues in textbooks (basically up to HSK 3-4, which Duolingo says is what the course covers*)
  • Talk to people in person, order food in Chinatown, and chat with the old Falun Gong ladies on the street. People seem to clearly understand me, but whether I understand them is highly dependent on how slowly and clearly they talk. There tends to be a lot of smiling and nodding on my part.


May 3, 2019

Thank you for all this info! Super helpful!! What textbook do you use for Chinese? And where do you find the tv shows to watch?

May 3, 2019

I have an old (1980s) version of "Practical Chinese Reader" level 2. I recommend you get something slightly more modern and aligned with HSK (the Chinese version of the TOEFL, which you might eventually want to take).

One thing you'll notice with most textbooks is that they use a different font from the standard web font. Expect this to make reading a little more difficult, until you get used to it.

A lot of Chinese shows are available straight on YouTube---for example, just try searching 爸爸去哪儿. There are also a lot of educational videos, including a few different series by 大山 Dashan at different skill levels.

May 3, 2019

Okay, thank you very much!

May 4, 2019

It depends, how many minutes do you spend learning Chinese each day? And start watching Chinese stuff when you get about 30 to 40% through the course, but that's just my recommendations, I could be wrong.

May 1, 2019

I'm not sure how long I do it for, but I'm hoping to do at least half an hour a day. And thanks for the recommendation

May 2, 2019

If you do it for about 30 minutes a day, it should take you about a year and a half to two years.

May 2, 2019

I now have 52 of the 88 Lessons finished, i always do Level 5 straigt ahead and repeat it through the practice option now and then. I started with Duolingo in February, so im am only doing this for less than four Months. But think I am learning a bit fast compared to others. Since I visited Taiwan over new year (the normal one not chinese new year) (have been there for two weeks and kind of fell in love with it) I kind of turned into an chinese addict.... About Movies: It is worth watching them no matter how far you are. Wachting chinese series or movies with english subtitles does help to get a better feeling for the language while noticing some vocabulary you have learned here and then, which is getting more and more with your chinese skills growing. At some point you start to realize the meanings of some words you dont know (cause you understand the rest or you have heared the word a few times and start to understand). And it is getting better and better... of course it also depends on the series you watch. I am always watching my series on viki, where you have quite a huge amount of nice chinese and taiwanese series.

May 27, 2019
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