8th January , 2013

Review of 2012 and goals for 2013

2012 in review

2012 was a good year for me in terms of my career. I landed my first agency job with Mr Gareth Thompson at Codepotato. And then landed my first job out of uni with SpecialMoves. I've started learning Mandarin Chinese again _properly _and not treating it like a second class citizen, so I can actually get this shit learnt. I really got my head around JavaScript after using it properly at SpecialMoves and not using it as glue for normal websites. I graduated from university this year and it's the last big step of education before heading out into the big bad world - _and I'm doing alright. _I went to Korea in September, just before I started at SpecialMoves and it was a blast and also went to some crazy villa with SpecialMoves in Spain for 3 days, which was epic to say the least. I couldn't have asked for a better graduation year really, but it's after these kind of life changing steps you really know how to step up your game and where you're going in life, so my goals for 2013 are definitely going to reflect how I want to progress.

Web Development/Career

I want further my learning of JavaScript so I know it so well it's like writing English. I've loved the way the more you learn a language, the more fun it gets - programming languages are no different.

I want to learn another language to help my make apps for a different platform. I feel iOS has always has held a place in my heart, because I have an iPad and an iPhone and I use them both regularly.

I want to think of an idea that could mould my two passions of Chinese and development and create something that can help people to learn Mandarin more effectively - something that I would use.

Passive Income

I have been wanting to make WordPress themes for a long time, so I can get something out there on the market and make some passive income, even if it's not much - you have to start somewhere. I'm going to make at least two WordPress themes that I could put on the Envato market and start to learn more about how people make themes that sell and the more inner workings on WordPress. I've spent years now working with WordPress and I know a lot about it, but there's so many intricate and smart things that the WordPress core team put in so that themes can be made more customisable and reusable that I don't use or just don't need to use when I'm making a custom theme for a client.

Lastly - this isn't a long term goal. But I want to start writing a book. After starting this blog for real, I've realised I really do enjoy writing and the therapeutic nature it has on your mind and your ideas. I think my first idea for a book is on learning how to learn, or productive learning. Or possibly something on learning Mandarin as a second language. Not a textbook type book, but a book that can give you all the strategies you need to create an effective learning strategy. Although I'm not fluent yet, so it probably doesn't look like such a great idea just yet, but time will tell. If that happens, I might have to setup a separate blog for Mandarin learning.


I'm going to be atleast _upper intermediate by the year turns 2014. I'm currently at a lower intermediate level or threshold, classified as B1 by the [CEFR](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CommonEuropeanFrameworkofReferencefor_Languages). I know roughly 600 characters, in writing and reading, possibly more in speaking and listening. I know about 1000 words (words also include words that are single characters but are a word on their own) in writing and reading and possibly more for listening and speaking.

I can give a self introduction about myself, tell people what my hobbies and hold a general casual conversation for 10 minutes without slowing down the pace of the conversation _too much _if allow for my lower level listening skills and 说慢一点 (speak a little slower). I want to know atleast 1200 characters by the end of the year and over 2000 words by the end of the year. But the most important thing is being able to use those words, so I'm going to try up my exposure to native speakers in real life the better my level gets. I'm going to Shanghai at the end of this month, so that will help and give me a boost.

I have also signed up for Olle Linge's Hacking Chinese challenge to help me committed and accountable for learning Chinese. I will do this challenge for as long as it makes sense. My goals aren't to learn a ridiculous amount of characters, but to achieve conversational fluency in the language, but I also believe learning characters and learning to write those characters, triple reinforced those characters into your head to when you've only got an audio reference to the word. It also gives me the ability to learn more Chinese from using tools like LiveMocha

I'm going to take my SOAS lessons that start in a week seriously and use that as a reason to actively learn Chinese everyweek and not just review vocabulary on Skritter. Skritter is a great tool, but it must be used a supplement to active learning and be used as a reinforcement to the time you've spent learning. In other words, the more you learn, the more you use Skritter.

2013 for Mandarin will be my fluency year. By 2014 I want to be _conversationally fluent. _I'm going to define this as being able to hold a conversation with a native for an indefinite amount of time about everyday life, hobbies, dreams, plans, games and essentially anything I would do in my life normally in English, but does not include specialist vocabulary such as discussing particle physics, politics, history or philosophy. I will not slow down the conversation, but I might not know 100% of the words the native says, but I can ask casually in Chinese and be explained to in Chinese and understand the meaning of the explanation. Above all I expect my conversations with natives to be more than tolerable, but _enjoyable. _I won't have perfect tones, or perfect grammar, but I will be able to be understood and understand 98% of everyday conversation with asking the native to speak slower.

Any Chinese learner who reads this, I urge you to set achievable, but difficult goals that requires you stake a significant amount of time into it. This will implore you to spend the time it needs everyday to make fluency achievable in a desirable amount of time. If you learn things too slowly, you lose a lot of efficiency as you forget things over the months and years.


I'm going to travel more in 2013, and the places I'm going to travel to, I'm not going to be lazy and just go out eating and drinking. I will do research before I go and find interesting things to do before I go so I'm not doing research out there or being forced to ask locals even if those interesting things mean I end up just eating and drinking. I'm not saying I shouldn't do that, but I should do _both _so I can fully enjoy the time I spend there. So for this trip to Shanghai I will do at least several hours of research of things I want to do before I go on the trip. I want to see more of China and I want to use my language learning to enhance that whole experience, so in terms of learning for Shanghai, I will also accelerate the rate I'm learning Chinese for these 4 weeks before I go so I can be the best at Mandarin I possibly can be.


I'm going to start exercising more as I haven't been doing for the second half of 2012 since I was graduating and started working full-time and I need to keep healthier as I've fallen ill 3 times in the last 3 months. Whether that's due to lack of sport or unhealthy eating I won't know, but I know I need to eat more fruit.

Keep up this blog. It's as I said therapeutic to get 'pen to paper' as they say, or more correctly now 'ideas to paper', or possibly just 'ideas recorded', but doesn't really have the same ring to it... Anyway I feel that the more I write, the more I can consolidate my own thoughts and ideas that seem so profound when I think about them, but dissipate because I'm too lazy to really refine the idea, write it down and share it for all to see.

I'm going to speak to my brother more. We have a 10 year gap and I don't see him enough even though he's just a stone's throw away in Canary Wharf (I'm in South London).

That's it for my goals. I don't want to set too many or I'm afraid I won't be able to keep them. Many of them are continuations of things I'm doing right now, but I wanted to clarify them and remind myself of what's important in each and every aspect of my life. Last of all I want to make myself accountable for my goals so the best thing to do is publish it online!