一百天中文 (One Hundred Days of Chinese)

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100 days from now I am going to ace the HSK 1 Chinese test. I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately when it comes to learning Chinese. I found myself using way too many streak freezes on Duolingo and doing other silly things to keep my “streak” alive instead of focusing on learning.

So my plan to do something about it is spend a minimum of 1 hour each day for the next 100 days focused on studying Chinese.

I’ll share my journey here for accountability by updating this page. I’ll also post about it on social media using #100DaysOfChinese. Wish me luck :D

Here’s some of the resources that I am using to learn.

Day 1

Kicked off the first day by finishing a Duolingo lesson around identifying tableware which also included some new new animals like 鸟 - I love how this character kind of looks like a bird.

Then I switched over to the Chinese Skill App and learned about purpose. As in, going somewhere for a specific purpose. I really love watching Kyle give the video lessons, he makes things so approachable, gives me hope.

Day 2

I did an hour while on a flight back to SF from Indianapolis. I started with Duolingo by knocking out another lesson about identifying tableware. Learning all the necessary things like 叉, 刀, 盘, and of course 筷子

My favorite phrase that I learned today was 我们想和德国啤酒 because it reminded me of my friend CJ.

Then I did another lesson in Chinese Skill app around purpose, I also did some general vocab flash cards here, and it didn’t go super well. I try to make things as hard as possible for myself by only counting something as correct If I remember the meaning along with the tone. The tone always seems to get me. Its a huge pain in the ass to learn this way, but I do find that when I finally do learn a character, I actually learn it.

I finished by doing a reading from the Du Chinese app. It was actually kind of deep. The story was called 我可以买你的一天吗 (Can I buy a day from you?) about a kid who tries to buy a work day back from his dad so they can spend more time together. I really love this app because you are not “primed” for learning specific characters in the way you are when you are in a topical lesson in Duo Lingo or Chinese Skill. I always feel like I am making huge progress when I am able to read stories in the Du Chinese app. I read this story out loud to Aosheng when I came home too.

United had this TV show about Celebrities opening a Chinese restaurant as a part of their in-flight entertainment so I took the opportunity to do a bit of immersion. I understood like 10% of what was going on, but Chinese reality shows use a healthy dose of special effects and animations to help get the point across.

Day 3

Did Duolingo on my new Framework 16 laptop that Aosheng bought me for my birthday. I did the personalized training, typing on the Ubuntu pinyin keyboard takes some getting used to. Made me wish that ToneBoard had a Desktop App for GNU/Linux.

Almost done with Section 2 Unit 25, next up will be discussing sports.

Words I had some trouble with:

蔬菜 - shu1 cai4 - vegetable 
万 vs. 玩 - wan4 (Ten thousand) vs. wan4 (Play) - I mixed up the
一包 vs. 一袋 - yi1 bao1 (one pack?) vs. yi1 dai4 (one bag) - It's still
not 100% clear to me which one to use when. 

I read a lesson from Du Chinese called “I’m So Happy” 我太高兴了, about a girl who is writing a letter to her parents about how happy she is that they are coming to visit. This was a pretty tough one, a bunch of new words that I did not know and it took me a while to slog through it.

Day 4

Kevin reminded me that there is a version of ToneBoard that works on desktop because he also shipped a ToneBoard Chrome Extension a few years ago. This is awesome, and I used it to do more lessons during my studies today.

I think its kind of silly that Duolingo does not allow you to type in English when translating from Chinese to English and instead forces you to use the English word bank, this feels like a missed opportunity because Word Banks feel like a huge crutch most of the time.

The best part of Du Chinese is that it allows you to make flash cards for spaced repetition later, I wish Duolingo also offered this ability. I may also consider bringing back Flashy, but this is only something I would do in the future because I tend to get carried away and instead of focusing on whatever project I have going on (like learning Chinese) ill go build a bunch of tooling to make that “easier” instead of doing the thing itself.

My favorite phrase of the day was, I want a bowl of Beef Noodles, because its late in the day and I am hungry.


I finished the lesson on identifying tableware, that I have been putzing through for weeks. I’m glad to see that this initiative is working!

Day 5

Started Section 2, Unit 26 in Duolingo, Discussing Sports.


There were many new and difficult words in this lessons, I slogged through it a bit. I was also wishing that there was an equivalent of Pleco for web. I wish there was some way to add specific characters to spaced repetition flash cards. In my fantasy world Du Chinese flash cards mixed with Pleco’s lookup would be ideal.

Day 6 - 天六


I’m gonna start writing the date here just to practice.

Finished Section 2, Unit 26 Discussing Sports in Duolingo. I decided to just power through this entire section, it took be a little bit over an hour but I’m excited to move on to other things next.

Next up I am going to start a lesson about asking someone out, I am also going to try to spend more time each day at least doing one lesson in Du Chinese, maybe I’ll start there instead of getting sucked into the Duolingo rabbit hole.

Day 7 - 天七


I finally learned 走吧 (let’s go) which is one of the first phrases I recognized Aosheng’s parents saying all the time to him. :D

I started Chinese Skill Unit 26 - Making Travel Plans


I also hit up Du Chinese and did a reading called “This is My Mom” where a girlie sees her mom at the entrance of a movie theatre. 我想我的妈妈

Day 8 - 天八


Did a bunch of Duolingo lessons while riding the 14R all the way to Exelsior. It was bumpy and annoying, but interesting to learn how to ask people out to places.

Day 9 - 天九


My brain feels like it’s at capacity, its taking me like 4x as long to get through some of these lessons. I think I may be trying to stuff too much in there, perhaps its a good time to go back and do some more review?

I installed the Google Translate extension, not sure why I did not do this sooner. This allows you to highlight text and go to the translation. It also has a feature that I just learned about that allows you to save phrases and even export them to Google Sheets. I wonder if this is the way that I can start to build in the custom flash cards that I have been dreaming about.

The extension is especially handy in some Duolingo lesson types because sometimes they give you the correct characters but not information about the tone (even if you have tones turned on) which makes it very hard to learn what the actual correct thing is.

I moved on to Chinese Skill lesson on travel plans. I learned how to say 巴黎(paris)! So when I write my annual letter in Chinese I’ll be able to say 今年我去巴黎出差

Day 10 - 天十


I mostly just did a review in Chinese Skill of a lot of previous materials. Since it still feels like my brain cannot take in any new information. But I can’t have too many days like this one because at that rate I’ll never pass HSK1 :(

Day 11 - 天十一


Listened to two episodes of Chill Chat and did some more review on DuoLingo. This podcast is a really great supplement for listening immersion with realistic conversations that don’t sound like sad robot. The only issue is that a lot of the content is a bit too advanced for me, but I am working on fixing that!

Day 12 - 天十二



I finished Duolingo section 2, Unit 26, on asking someone out. Next up will be describing health issues!

Day 13 - 天十三



Started section 2, Unit 27 in Duoling, describing health issues.

Day 14 - 第一天十四


丈夫told me that I was doing 天十三 incorrectly, google translate works just fine, but this turns out not to be proper grammar. The correct form is to prefix with 第一, I am going to keep the mistakes around to remember growth.

Spent today going over more health issues in Duolingo. Aosheng is sick so I got a real world chance to practice a bit.

Day 15 第一天十五


Mostly did more Duolingo studying health issues. It was late ate night and I fell asleep in the middle of a lesson.

Day 16 第一天十六


Duolingo decided to get rid of the writing practice section without any notice. It’s so annoying, it seems they keep doing weird things like this that makes me want to stop using it.

Did a couple of lessons in Chinese Skill instead and am planning to spend more time working in here instead of focusing on Duolingo.

Day 17 第一天十七


Listened to this great YouTube lesson via Chinese Skill over lunch. I had not seen these before and its a great way to get some immersion in instead of mindlessly watching something else.

I did one Duolingo lesson, and finished the Chinese Skill section on providing directions. I feel like I am reaching the point where I need to spent a lot more time reviewing and a lot less time absorbing. Definitely feels like my brain is reaching a limit.

Started researching what the actual list of characters for HSK 1 is, there are now 500 because the test has been “upgraded”, oh joy!

Day 18 第十八天


It turns out I was doing “Day X” incorrectly the second time too. Day one is like 第一天 but day two is not 第一二天 it should just be 第二天. Google translate accepts everything so its a good reminder to be careful.

Found that there were some characters missing from the Pleco deck for HSK 1, they had 497 when there should be 500. Made [a post in the forums] (https://www.plecoforums.com/threads/premade-hsk-3-0-level-1-card-missing-a-few-characters.7538/) and shared my spreadsheet where I did some investigation.

One of the missing characters is 干 which is a homograph. gan1 (first tone) means dry, while gan4 (fourth tone) means do. It turns out there are a ton of these in Chinese, but the good news is that this is the only one in the initial test, so I’ll worry about all the others later.

I used the Pleco SRS flash cards for the first time, its really nice, and I love all the different options for learning in each direction.

Day 19 第十九天


Finished the Duolingo section on health issues and did a lot more review.

Day 20 第二十天


Mostly did review, Duolingo and some flash cards. I really like the idea of Pleco flashcards, but I wish there was a way to keep it simpler for a specific level. For example if I am studying some basic HSK1 words, I don’t need to know every single possible definition for a given character. It creates more confusion than anything else.

Day 21 第二十一天


Finished the lesson in Duolingo about chatting over dinner and did some review on Chinese Skill using their training videos while riding Peleton. Also did the video lesson on Chinese Skill about inviting someone out. It’s interesting how Chinese Skill and Duolingo have a very similar topic order.

Day 22 第二十二天


Started Duolingo lesson about shopping for clothes while riding the bus out to the Mission.

Day 23 第二十三天


Finished Duolingo section on shopping for clothes. Also did Pleco SRS, got 84% correct out of 104 cards, feeling very inspired about actually being able to pass HSK 1.0 :D

Day 24 第二十四天


Reviewed 100 words and phrases via Chineseskill Video, felt really nice that I knew like 80% of them!

Day 25 第二十五天


Aosheng told me that sometimes you can just write the date like this instead to save time. 2024年7月16号,he also said that normally you would write the day as 日 and you would use 号 only when you are speaking.

Day 26 第二十六天


Did a lesson in Duolingo about body parts and did more SRS flash cards in Pelco. 1/4th of the way done! I feel an urge to make sure I have all 500 characters memorized for HSK1 before trying to learn any more advanced things.

Day 27 第二十七天


One more lesson in Duolingo and flash card review in Pleco.

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