A new buddy of mine asked me through Twitter the other day:

@zhongruige basically, what chinese-specific material have you found the most useful/fun/cool? it never feels like you have quite enough…

To which I left a rather lengthy reply:

@[handsome China buddy] I am kind of all over the place with Chinese material–but it’s all “relevant to my interests”. Generally, though, I read more than I watch movies or anything. For example, I’m reading this article now because I like the artwork in that station: http://sseess.pixnet.net/blog/post/24757929
You’re right it never feels like enough, or I get really bored of it quickly, so I constantly try and keep new stuff flowing in. When I didn’t, I got lazy/stagnant and reverted back to English stuff. How about yourself? (Sorry for the long answer!!)

The point I was trying to get at, and I believe missed entirely, is that my focus is on just creating a lot of “stuff” in Chinese to keep around. We have a lot of “stuff” in English: links to BBC, Facebook, that quirkly blog that you read but you wish other people didn’t know you read, books, movies, magazines, etc. etc. We built up over our life times the strongest collection of English material that no school could replicate.

Just do the same with Chinese (or your L2). It’s really that simple. All you need to do is start. With the internet, there’s nothing stopping you from building an equally impressive collection.

Here’s what I do:

Buy any reading material, for even passing interests, from http://www.books.com.tw, 7-11, bookstores, etc. Do the same for movies as well.

Head to the internet where I spend a fair share of time and surround myself with Chinese websites:

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Yahoo! News, PChome News, Dictionaries, etc. It helps having it at your fingertips.

The point is, you have to surround yourself with the same kind of material you surround yourself with in English: filler material, “busy work”, stuff you look at when you SHOULD be working (in my case my SRS).

When you get bored reading about x in your L2, just switch to something lighter, more fun, or a silly video/movie that you can totally just “veg out to”. No pressure. Sit back with some popcorn, have a regular coke, go hog wild.

The point is, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS have material in your L2 with you from a variety of sources. You’ll be less tempted to take a break in English; take a break in your L2 instead.