11. Uncle Jay’s Target Practice


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The Mandarin Blueprint Podcast focuses primarily on The Mandarin Blueprint Method online course and the Pronunciation Mastery online course. Creators Luke Neale & Phil Crimmins answer questions and comments from the online curriculum, discuss topics related to China and Mandarin learning and have special guests.


Chad Ressler - From Email

Hey guys,

Just wanted to share this with you. I spent some time a few weeks ago watching Ron White’s YouTube channel and learning more about memory palaces. There were some other sites that showed different sketches that people did of theirs as well that I looked at.
I decided that it might be a good idea to organize my Chinese sets to better visualize them in my mind. So, I came up with the Ressler Hanzi Movie Production Co. where all my movie sets are located.
My fiancee made this with her cricut. She has a crafting side business but I get stuff for free! All the sets are alphabetical by Chinese final with my childhood home being on its own. We placed certain markers like trees I remembered or where the lawn was located. My father in law raises chickens so on that set there is a rooster on the house.
I spend time each day just looking at it and visualizing those sets in my mind so they aren’t hazy. And, I can picture myself sort of walking into each set. I can have it out while I’m learning characters as well to prompt my mind to recall more details.
Thought you guys might enjoy it so wanted to share it with you.


Ryan Smith - From Email

The RSS feed for the podcast seems to lag behind the Youtube playlist by at least 4 days. Do you think it’d be possible to speed that up so I can listen to the responses you post sooner?


Deven Chen - From Email & Reddit

I recently decided to purchase a lifetime subscription to Mandarin Blueprint. Why did I do so? Why should you believe me? As a subscriber I got an email asking to leave a comment about the product. Luke & Phil did NOT solicit a positive review, simply a comment. I am here to share my experience just in case someone else can benefit from it. I have no affiliation with Luke & Phil except as a customer of their product. If you read on, you will just have take my word for it, but for especially beginners, you might just end up learning something. My Chinese journey story: My folks came from China originally but like many overseas Chinese I have lost touch with culture, language of the Motherland. I have had the pleasure of taking classes for 1 year in my local Californian city. It’s been a blast! My instructor’s methodology is to take a deep dive into the language. The result is that even though I still struggle to have even the simplest of conversations, given google translate and enough time, I can generate a reasonably correct 把 (ba) sentence, even a (被)bei sentence. At this point have covered up to 300 汉字 (characters). I have the following problems. 1. My pronunciation sucks, big time 2. It’s a royal pain to try to remember 300 characters with non-immersive language exposure such as mine. 3. My time is limited. I have tried several language apps to help with these problems, but having come across Mandarin Blueprint, I REALLY REALLY like Luke & Phil’s methodology. Whenever I am struggling to remember characters for my next quiz, I keep saying to myself, “There’s got to be a better way”, and I believe I have found the better way with their approach. I have a scientific background by training and Mandarin Blueprint’s science-based methodology for associative based memory storage and retrieval is intuitively appealing. The pronunciation course is one of the best I have come across. If I were to fault it I would simply request more practice/test exercises for tones say 40 – 60 per shot as done by a different organization. I am 1/3 of the way through the language course and will soon start actual Mandarin Blueprint course, but I am optimistic and confident this path offers me a way out of rote memorization hell. Hope someone out there finds this helpful.


Chad Ressler on Character #69: 付 fù MAKE A MOVIE

Location: Backyard of my childhood home
Actor: Fung Yu-Sau
Props: Chuck Norris and Wheel Width Caliper

I’m in the backyard of my childhood home running an illegal gambling operation. On the side of the garage I have a giant odds chart with “Pays” written above it. Chuck Norris is set to square off against Fung Yu-Sau. Fung Yu-Sau stands facing Norris holding a wheel width caliper up to him and says that he can defeat him using only that as a weapon. All of the betters suddenly start putting their money on Fung Yu-Sau. Norris looks at my chart, sees he is no longer the favorite, gives me a $100 bet on himself, and defeats Fung Yu-Sau with a single roundhouse kick. We look up at the chart and under “Pays” we see that Norris has won $100,000.


Daniel Léo Simpson on Character #5: 干 gān It's a Word!

Hmmm…not clear as to why character being taught as 干 gān, 1st tone is given in the 4th example sentence with 干 in “nǐ gàn shénme gōngzuò ne” as 4th tone


Daniel Léo Simpson on ``BONUS: Characters Strokes and Stroke Order``

I think maybe this is working because I paused the video and just from what I’ve learned already thought, “Shu4” well that’s the bathroom – so I saw Gandalf (or Moses’) staff plunging down the toilette but I had a shoe on top of the staff forcing it in the toilette like a plunger. (Instead of the shoe I guess it should be the Sh actor but shoe just seemed to come into my head). Then I saw “heng2” well that’s the kitchen which made me think of a Rodney Dangerfield I had just seen on YT tonight. “She cooks so bad the roaches in the kitchen hung themselves”. Wow! So I saw a horizontal ‘row’ of roaches “heng” (hung) there. Then “pie3” – well that’s my bedroom – and “pie” is pronounced like “piede” (foot) in Italian and “Pie” in Spanish, and it does indeed look a bit like a ‘foot’ so I imagined myself kicking the bottom of my dresser repeatedly with my foot. I can easily remember all three right now – the name, the character and the tone, no problem. I simply stopped there because I wanted to get on with the video, and I know I’m not doing it “correctly” because I’m not using actors for the pinyin, (shoe, hung, foot) but it does show that instinctively I started moving with associations even though I only have a limited amount of material from the course at this early stage. Very promising!


Chad Ressler on Character #71: 才 cái MAKE A MOVIE

Location: Kitchen of my old trailer
Actor: Christopher Walken
Props: Razor Blade, Hockey Stick, Samurai Sword

Christopher Walken is hanging out with me in the kitchen of my old trailer and still can’t walk very well. I told him that Phil Crimmins said we couldn’t use his walker because FROM Phil’s perspective that wasn’t a very good idea. Christopher said he still needs something to help him walk, so I offer to go down to the medical supply store because the only thing I have in the kitchen is a razor blade, hockey stick, and samurai sword. He says ok. I go to start my car, but realize I forgot my wallet and go back inside. Walking in I see Christopher has built a forearm crutch with the razor blade, hockey stick, and samurai sword. Surprised, I asked him what he did and he replies, I built this JUST NOW and hobbles away complaining that he doesn’t have his walker.


Ryan Smith on Character #112: 种 zhǒng Make A Movie

Actor: My Uncle Jay
Props: An archery target (a bullseye on a hay bale) & a stalk of wheat
Location: Around my desk in my office (we used to have a ping-p`ong` table.

Keyword connection: I was having issues coming up with a way to visualize “type of”, so I decided to mix in “type of” along with the homonym of “to type on a keyboard” to make sure it was more obvious to me.

Scene: Uncle Jay is sitting at my desk at work, programming on my computer. He gets bored, so he starts typing furiously until on the screen an archery target made of straw appears. But he programmed in the wrong type of target! So he quickly types some more until the picture on the screen changes to be a target made of wheat, readily apparent by several overly magnified individual stalks of wheat sticking out the side.


Chad Ressler on Character #79: 点 diǎn MAKE A MOVIE

Location: Living room of my grandma’s house
Actor: Diane (my landlord)
Props: Iwo Jima memorial and campfire

My landlord Diane and I are in the living room of my grandma’s house. Diane says that she wants to paint the walls because she doesn’t like the plain white and suggests a grey color. I tell her that it will not look good and that she’s not allowed to paint anyway. Furious, she tells me it will look good and that she will prove it. Suddenly, she builds a campfire in the middle of the living room, grabs a miniature replica of the iwo jima memorial that my grandma has, and melts it down in a pot. She then takes a brush and paints a LITTLE DOT on the wall and says “there, it will look fine”.


Know NoName on Character #17: 八 bā ``Pick a Prop``

August calendar. 八 kinda looks like an A and August is the 8th month of the year.

Know NoName on Character #12: 午 wǔ ``Pick a Prop``

Kinda looks like a can opener opening a can..

Chad Ressler on Character #78: 占 zhàn ``Pick a Prop``

I went with the Iwo Jima memorial. The soldiers raising the flag represent the base and then the flag represents the top portion of the character. America OCCUPIED Iwo Jima until 1968.

Chad Ressler on Character #75: 下 xià ``Pick a Prop``

I went with a car lift. It incorporates the shape and the meaning because we work under/below the lifts.

Ryan Smith on Character #106: 呆 dāi ``Pick a Prop``

I like a little white lab mouse holding a flower, as a nod to one of my favorite sci-fi stories: “Flowers for Algernon”.

Chad Ressler on Character #74: 上 shàng ``Pick a Prop``

I went with Shang Di which was the supreme God during the Shang Dynasty.

Chad Ressler on Character #73: 卜 bǔ ``Pick a Prop``

I went with a magical Guan Dao. Something that might be used by a Shaolin Monk in a wuxia movie.

Chad Ressler on Character #72: 牙 yá ``Pick a Prop``

The teeth on the shark from the movie Jaws

Sidney Green on Character #210: 行 xíng ``Pick a Prop``

I have chosen a pair of fixed binoculars on a stand as prop for this one

Robert Carver on Character #187: 可 kě ``Pick a Prop``

I like President Obama, because his slogan “Yes We Can”

Robert Carver on ``Pick a Prop``Character #190: 奇 qí

I first learned this character as meaning “strange”, and I see you suggest “weird” as an option in Anki. So, for me: Weird Al Yankovich!


Know NoName on Character #69: 付 fù Casting Call

It seemed to me that it was most important to have the actor’s name closely follow the sound (on either the front or end of the name) so I just went with ‘foodie’ as the actor and have a picture of a random but stereotypical looking foodie (hipster). Thoughts?

Know NoName on Character #10: 入 rù Casting Call

Rudy (from the movie which was based on a real person but he’s fictional to me!)

Chad Ressler on Character #73: 卜 bǔ Casting Call

Black Mask (Jet Li’s character in the movie Black Mask)

Chad Ressler on Character #69: 付 fù Casting Call

Fung Yu-Sau (Wang Baoqiang’s character in Kung Fu Killer)

Chad Ressler on Character #68: 过 guò Casting Call

Gremlin (from the 1984 movie)

Know NoName on Character #84: 目 mù Casting Call

I was gonna go with Mutant Ninja Turtles but I think Mufasa is better

Know NoName on Character #5: 干 gān Casting Call

Gary Busey!


Luke Taylor, UK - From Reddit

(Original Reddit Post: https://www.reddit.com/r/ChineseLanguage/comments/azphoq/it_only_took_3_years_the_mandarin_blueprint/ei9pvuy/?context=3)

As someone who has just about completed the Mandarin Blueprint Course in its current form, I thought I’d offer my thoughts for anyone on the fence.

I started the course as a complete beginner, knowing next to nothing about the language other than 你好 and 谢谢. After slightly more than three months, I can confidently say I know more than 600 characters and 1000 words. Not just how to read and speak, but how to write with the correct stroke order.

The usage of memory palaces is obviously not new and has been used for language learning in the past, but it’s never been presented in such a linear manner, which makes the learning process seem a lot more manageable and less like an insurmountable mountain to climb.

I’ve seen many people say using techniques like memory palaces just adds yet another step to learning and acquiring a new character or word, but this just isn’t the case in my experience. After reviewing 3-4 times in Anki, I no longer need to refer back to the visualization; I can read and write a character as if it’s a word in my native language.

Moving forward, I’m continuing to learn the most frequent characters at an average rate of 10-15 characters a day using the method. I’m currently living with Chinese friends as a student in the UK, which is not only a benefit for my speaking and listening but also a means of measuring my progress. I’m still far from understanding everything in a native conversation, but every day I recognize a new word I’ve just learnt, adding to my motivation to learn even further.

I’d like to thank Phil and Luke for providing such a groundbreaking course. I would fully recommend anyone still on the fence to check out the free trial to get a feel of the program before committing and of course checking out the now free pronounciation course as well.


16 episodes available. A new episode about every 5 days averaging 70 mins duration .