Learn Chinese Through Songs #20 – In My Song

In My Song (我的歌声里), by Qu Wanting (曲婉婷). This is a very passionate and emotional song, which has become very popular. Qu's slightly husky voice gives the song a distinctive style, and it's not too difficult to sing either. Like some of the other songs in this series, this song has become even more popular after being featured on the Chinese TV show 'The Voice of China' (中国好声音), and has since become a karaoke favourite. I hope you enjoy it. Even if you don't want to sing it, it's still a great Continue Reading

Learn Chinese Through Songs #18 – Mouse Loves Rice

Mouse Loves Rice (老鼠爱大米) by Yang Chengang (杨臣刚). This song is another favourite among Chinese learners. It's also been reproduced across Asia in a number of different languages, including English (it really doesn't work in English!) The music and the lyrics are sickly sweet, so it's not exactly going to be a song you're going to listen to just for pleasure, but the lyrics actually introduce a number of important grammar patterns in Chinese in a simple way, so you'll learn a lot from this one Continue Reading

One Car in Flames and An Army of Ten Thousand Keyboards – The Anatomy of a Chinese PR Disaster

It was a very hazy and smoggy day in Beijing, seemingly just like any other. I was just sitting in my office in the middle of the city, doing a bit of light editing work. A couple of reports about small middle class issues, cooperation between Mainland China and Taiwan, and a bit of finger-pointing over the whole NSA spying on the European leaders saga. Nothing too ground-breaking. Then, suddenly, all the feeds on my screen start flashing up at once, from the Chinese twitter equivalent Weibo Continue Reading

Why it’s easy to learn Chinese

When I say that it's easy to learn Chinese, I don’t mean that you can become fluent in a few weeks or without effort, but that getting to a functional level reading and speaking Mandarin Chinese is in fact fairly straight-forward. Let me explain why. Learning to speak Firstly, Chinese is simply a set of repeating constructions, phrases and patterns. Mandarin or Cantonese, the principle is the same. In this respect, learning to speak Mandarin is similar to learning to speak other languages. Continue Reading

How to get past a beginner / intermediate level in Chinese

I got an email a couple of days ago from a blog reader who wrote "I watched your video where you spoke Chinese and would say I understood about 75% of it, however I know I would have no chance of replicating it if asked to speak.  How often have you encountered people like me who understand quite a bit of the language, even at fast speeds, but can only speak in short, choppy sentences?" First of all, this is a common and sometimes frustrating part of learning to speak a language, but it is Continue Reading

101 Reasons Why Learning Chinese Is Easy

Is learning Chinese hard? An age-old debate among language learners is whether Chinese is exponentially more difficult to learn than other languages. Here are 101 reasons why it is easy to learn to understand, speak, read and write Mandarin Chinese, why there are actually a lot of things in your favour and how there are a lot of tools that can help you. Chinese, like any other language, is just made up of repeated patterns, which can be practised and learnt. Verbs don’t conjugate in Continue Reading

Language courses for the self-learner have got to improve

It has become a trend now for people to learn languages on their own, using 'teach yourself' style language courses. A myriad of products have sprung up for those who don't want to pay for a full class, and want to learn in their own time, at their own speed and on their own terms. This is, of course, a great thing. It is great that more people are becoming interested in learning languages. However, we now see language courses with huge marketing efforts behind them, making some very bold Continue Reading

10 of the most unusual English brand names in China

A light hearted post today. Since I came to Beijing this time, I have noticed changes in branding in China. I have seen just how many Chinese retail brands are on the rise and how many Chinese clothing and household shops can be seen in trendy shopping malls, alongside familiar Western brands. Brands in China are starting to use English names as well, but maybe not in the way that you might expect. Here I've compiled a Top 10 list of some of my favourite experimental 'English brand names' in Continue Reading

How persistence will get you to an expert level in Chinese

Yesterday, I published a guest post on 'Fluent in 3 Months', a language learning website that I have been a fan of for a long time. I am very grateful to Benny Lewis, the 'Irish Polyglot' for hosting me! Head to the homepage of his travel and language learning blog to find out more. Recently, a number of readers have asked me about what it was like when I first starting learning Chinese, when I started a university course in Chinese back in 2006. I have documented some of the challenges at Continue Reading

TV in China – What TV Stations and Shows Are Popular?

I have written already on how to watch Chinese TV online. Watching TV shows can be a great way to improve your language skills, increase your listening comprehension in a language or pick up the latest slang, all in a very relaxed way! It is worth saying that watching TV in China is a very popular pastime. Even when I am visiting friends in China, the TV often on. There are TVs in the buses, and in some taxis and public places. TV is everywhere. In this article I am concentrating on TV in Continue Reading