Amanda Hsiung-Blodgett (a.k.a. “Miss Panda”) is an intercultural language consultant and trainer, the author of Let’s Learn Mandarin Chinese with Miss Panda! and First Mandarin Sounds: an Awesome Chinese Word Book, and the host of the Playful Chinese podcast. I love her approach to language learning, especially her emphasis on play and having fun. As she puts it eloquently:
“Playing is learning. Learning is playing.”
In the interview, we discuss:
- How Amanda first got interested in foreign languages.
- Her journey to learn English in Taiwan.
- The critical role of interest and passion in mastering a language.
- The limitations of classroom-based learning.
- The role of an effective language teacher.
- The differences between child and adult language acquisition.
- The problem of focusing too much on the result, and not enough on the process.
- The power of using music in language learning.
- The most common mistakes Chinese language learners make.
- How to learn Chinese characters using story-based mnemonics instead of rote memory.
- The dangers of perfectionism and resource overwhelm in language learning.
- The many ways in which Mandarin Chinese is easy.
- The power of play in language learning, especially for children.
- When to start speaking and how to start communicating with few words.
- Finding a balance point between growth and trauma in learning.
- The importance of using your “Chinese brain.”
Concepts, People & Resources Mentioned
- Mànhuà (漫畫, 漫画, “comic books”)
- 我不是完美小孩 (My Perfect Little World)
- Conditional mood in English
- Focus on the “Process” over the “Product”
- Bǔxíbān (補習班, 补习班, “cram schools,” lit. “remedial education classes”)
- Learning languages with Netflix
- Taiwanese Scallion Pancakes (台式蔥油餅)
- Remembering the Simplified Hanzi
- Remembering the Traditional Hanzi
- 4x U.S. Memory Champion Nelson Dellis on why & how he is learning Dutch in just one year
- Chinese radio stations on TuneIn
- Pleco Chinese dictionary
- Skritter Chinese character training (use code LANGUAGEMASTERY to get 10% off)
- Arch Chinese
- Chinese content on Netflix
- Language Learning with Netflix (Chrome extension)
- Harvard Business Review
- Cultural literacy
- Xīntài (心態, 心态, “mentality/psychology”)
- Matt vs. Japan
- Bīngqílín (冰淇淋, “ice cream”)
- Why You Need a Balanced Diet of “Declarative” and “Procedural” Memory Tasks