Landscape Drawing

I haven’t done landscape drawings for a particularly long time, so I’ve always been daunted by them.  Mainly because I’m really bad at drawing trees, leaves, and textures of landscapes, moreso because I lack experience in doing so.

However, I take particular pride in this drawing. The composition is set up well and there’s a good amount of depth that leaves the reader with amount of interest. Unlike other landscape drawings I done, I decided to leave this without color so that I could be more comfortable with line and tone, which are my weaknesses in my landscape drawings.

What I really enjoyed about today was that I had some opportunity to get away and immerse myself with drawing. One thing we forget easily in society (something I’m trying to practice) is that we tend to do so many things at once, try to be very ambitious to search for a “higher quality of life” that we tend to forget about living simply and being satisfied with what we have. I think nature helps us appreciate that; it’s sad that we don’t design enough places that try to accommodate nature into our cities.

Graphic journalism; a possible career path? (emphasis on cities and culture, art?)

I’m really into visuals.

I’m also really into storytelling.

I’m also into empathy and understanding people’s cultures, listening more than speaking.

I’m also into cities, but wish to understand and tell the stories of Chinese cities through the lives of day-to-day people and needs.

Here’s a comic strip to show what graphic / comic journalism is:

This form of journalism takes in several parts of participatory planning, with the focus of the beginning of participatory planning and design. From the perspective of Human Centered Design, this speaks from the perspective of Hearing and Creating.

  • You have to do interviews to get this sort of information.
  • You have to pursue in-context immersion (actually visit scene of project, for example, and experience it)
  • You have to tell a story, and create something that allows people to be able to make decisions based on the way a story is told.

On one hand, I see my career path as trying to improve these areas of HCD, mainly: hearing, creating, and designing. In some ways, should I try to work on each aspect of design as I go through life?

Pursuing graphic journalism temporarily could provide that opportunity to practice listening and note-taking skills, visual story-telling tools. However, I believe this will only help the hearing portion of HCD as I will take the listening/interviews/observations, and turn them into visualizations that show what I’ve gathered. I am not providing any specific design recommendations on how to improve a problem necessarily, but rather develop empathy skills (training my brain) to be observant and clear.

But, in some ways, shouldn’t I develop a strong base for listening? In urban planning, this isn’t even done enough, as we do things so top down!

As for now, I’m going to work more on my drawing skills and see where they will take me.

How To Improve My Chinese Speaking Ability Using FluentFlix

For me, my Chinese listening, reading, and writing ability is much more better than my speaking ability. One big reason for that is that I have not unconsciously retained/practiced these sentence patterns through everyday conversation.

FluentFlix, which uses YouTube videos to improve Chinese vocabulary through English, Chinese subtitles encoded at the bottom of each video, has an automated transcript for each video, with English, Chinese characters, and pinyin, broken down by each line.

I thought: why not try to memorize these lines like an actor does? And repeat, and be an actor, and speak as smoothly as the people do in TV?

I thought about this idea because other language learners such as Luca, HackingChinese ,or Steve Kauffman have stated one should do something memorable that allows you to retain vocabulary/sentence structure, such as singing, learning words/sentence structure through memorable/repeated contexts. A memorable event is something somebody is likely to remember (i.e. your first crush, or when I learned words such as 认真,耐心,I thought of how my parents said those words in Cantonese when I was studying ), which is why I’ve never used Anki/flash cards. The process to me, does not work out because I don’t like the process of making flash cards. It’s too much effort, more than I need.

Here are my steps that I’m attempting. I will adjust as I go, as this is just a trial session for me.

Think of this as a detailed, step-to-step how to study post, because there aren’t that many posts available on how to study, but more posts on key themes that makes studying successful. This is especially true for FluentFlix, as it just came out last summer, yet nobody has really discussed on how to study with FluentFlix. 

How to improve your speaking abilities in Chinese using FluentFlix:

1) Choose a video and print out the transcript, with all the pinyin, English and Chinese subtitles in the transcript.  

I choose more conversational topics (nothing too extremely technical; i.e. news), or videos that allow me to use sentence patterns that I am weak at with vocabulary that I use everyday. Of course, this depends on your level.

For me, I want to be able to use the words and sentences comfortably, as language is not a means of study, but a means of communication. For example, I’d like to be able to discuss my opinions of a movie, be able to tell directions, ask questions about a person’s emotions/feelings/opinions of an event.  My listening is comfortable enough to understand by context what’s going on, but I would struggle with responding back.

2) Spend at most a week (depending on the length of the video) memorizing at most one script until you feel comfortable with the script. Expand on more scripts within a time frame as you get comfortable with the material.

Here are some phases within this area. I’m borrowing some acting/line techniques when I used to do acting in college:

  1. Memorize all the lines first, regardless of pace, or emotion. Don’t focus on emotions, as you want to get the basic structure down. Do it page by page first, and after finishing each page, start from the beginning and recite each line without looking at the script.
  2. Start adding the emotion in the lines by reviewing the video on the computer. Look at the scene in the video, or look at how the speakers use each sentence. This allows you to make each line memorable. Use hand gestures, walk around, speak loudly, etc. Note, I’m doing this by yourself, but if you have a willing friend to practice with, it makes it even more exciting. See how the sentence is portrayed in the video to input a image in your head.
  3. After looking at the computer, see if you can recite the same lines with the same emotions. Try to see if you can go at their pace. Keep repeating until you can reach their same intensity and speed.
  4. Simultaneously, review English translation with Chinese grammar and note any differences in grammar. Even if you know what the sentence means, it’s really important to practice being able to switch from English to Chinese, and vice versa, as you want to train your mind to be able to think in Chinese as quickly as possible. Circle phrases that you would consider using everyday, and repeat them for extra emphasis. 
  5. Find places where you can replace certain nouns/verbs/adjectives! This is important in retaining sentence patterns in your day to day spoken vocabulary.  Review the English translation if needed to note any difference between English and Chinese sentence structures to reduce 
  6. Continue memorizing until it’s natural. Spend at most one-two days focusing on just acting the entire piece out. Think of this as a performance in front of an audience.

Here you go. I must note that this is a work-out for your brain, for your mouth, in oral speaking. I discovered this method after realizing that my studying schedule didn’t seem that efficient (i.e. more input, reading, writing/typing on the computer than output; i.e. an imbalance).

I still believe input is important, as it is a good way of learning vocabulary, increasing comfort with understanding how words / sentence patterns are used in different situations, and helps you have a repository of different topics to talk about. One shouldn’t throw away input.

However, I believe it’s necessary to evaluate how efficiently you are using your time, and whether you have a good balance of input and output. For example, if you can understand a conversation about people’s opinions of a movie or a particular event, but you cannot discuss it yourself, you have dedicated too much time to input.

Again, this takes daily/weekly practice.  Like learning how to play an instrument,  you have to train your brain to be comfortable and proficient enough to use these sentence structures. For example, the phrase “千万不要让他把别的同学带坏“ (Don’t let him be a bad influence to other students) takes a lot of time for me to say naturally in Chinese, but being able to practice saying this sentence multiple times, replacing/readjusting the sentence’s nouns, verbs, adjectives as you practice the words, allows you to comfortably practice verbal output. It takes time to be good at output.

Thus, this strategy is one strategy I will be experiment to use my time effectively. This is key: Spread it out throughout time (a week is good), and do another script once you feel comfortable with the current script.  Don’t rush it; quality over quantity. 

Feel free to modify these steps as needed to adjust your needs and schedules. This is nothing set, as I’m trying to adjust these steps as I go on.

So, who wants to try this method? I’m going to post a progress report a week later to adjust if needed.














公共参与的规划是让市民参与城市规划的过程。 比如说, 如果一个城市想造地铁系统,这个城市会邀请市民提供他们的观点。 有些市民会反对这个地铁项目,会说太贵,政府没有什么钱。 有些市民在这个项目想提供公共空间或者公园。公共参与的目的是为了市民的建议而设计很适合的地方。

实际上, 邀请市民用他们的观点来设计很适合的地方算很不容易。有人太忙,有人不相信政府会代表市民的意见或者想法。 如果市民来去公共会议, 有些人对政府很热血或者他们很不开心。 有些不同的性格来讨论,这么热闹的感觉。对政府人来说,这个效果不太好,或者没有有效。政府人不知到怎么把他们的看法萌芽下城市设计的方面。有太多矛盾,城市规划不完全了解整个市民的看法。

这个是我的研究或者在城市规划的方面我专攻公共参与的城市规划 (public participatory urban planning 或者 participatory planning). 我想知道, 我们怎么用艺术科学技术来改善我们现在的公共参与规划。

Lessons on writing this essay:

  • I need to read more Chinese to internalize what I’ve gathered to learn about different writing styles.
  • At this stage in Chinese, I need to implement more Chinese output.