I should be learning the language, instead I spend too much time reading about the language. To be more specific, reading about how people learn languages and opinions on language study. I regularly surf various language forums throughout the day reading about how people become fluent and getting involved in various debates. At the end of the day, I can spend 4-5 hours reading about something I already knew or information that simply doesn’t improve my Cantonese. You can see that 140 hours per month is spent on meaningless discussions.

I followed a lengthy discussion on Chinesepod.com - Is Steve Kaufmann right? I read every comment, even checking Steve’s blog for any posts and comments. This consumed around 3 hours of my time, in which I gained nothing. This type of time wasting happens on a daily basis. For the last 4 days I had very limited Internet access being in Guangzhou for Chinese New Year with my wife’s family. I was able to learn a large amount of Cantonese and spent the majority of my time in “oral Cantonese” discussions. This time would have probably been spent reading/writing in English on language blogs/forums when in Hong Kong.

Even at this very moment typing this post, I am watching TVB, however, my brain remains in English because I’m typing in English. My thoughts are constructed in English while I write and read English. Its like an addiction, if I have a computer in front of me, I can’t help but check/participate/and debate on various language forums. As I can’t read no more than 40 Chinese characters, I am forced to browse using English as my Internet language.

Why not turn off the computer? I would learn faster if I didn’t have the Internet, however, the Cantonese Dictionary has become a vital component for my continual improvement. I need to know definitions in order to understand what I’m hearing, and so why I continue to use the Internet. You can’t simply just listen to new words and eventually work out the meaning that easily.

I’m sure many other people fall into the same trap. The intention is to learn the language, but instead you are spending the time reading posts about languages as is the case if you have read this post.