Translating the Mandarin Word for Festivals: 节日

The English word “holiday” is seemingly not that complicated − simply two words, “holy” and “day”, stuck together. However there are differences between the way the word is used in American English and British English. In American English, we normally reserve the term for a religious or culturally significant day; while in British English it can be … Read moreTranslating the Mandarin Word for Festivals: 节日

Mandarin Vocabulary: “消费降级” Consumption Downgrade

Today’s Mandarin language point is 消费降级. 消费 (xiāofèi – to consume) + 降级 (jiàngjí – to downgrade) = 消费降级 (xiāofèi jiàngjí – consumption downgrade).  From a cultural perspective, the phrase 消费降级 symbolizes the current idea business/economic climate in China; i.e. the cooling off of the Chinese economy. As of writing today, the Shanghai Composite Index … Read moreMandarin Vocabulary: “消费降级” Consumption Downgrade

Is the Term “China Hand” Still Relevant for Foreigners in China Today?

The word 中国通 (zhongguo tong) means “China hand” or “China watcher” in Mandarin. It’s a combination of 中国 (zhongguo – China) and 通 (tong – to know well). The three characters, when combined together, create the meaning of one who knows China well, i.e. a “China hand”. Today it’s still used to describe foreigners in … Read moreIs the Term “China Hand” Still Relevant for Foreigners in China Today?

The Difference Between 外婆 and 姥姥 In Chinese

Do you know how to refer to your maternal grandmother in Chinese? It depends on who you ask. One way to say it is 外婆 (waipo). The first character, 外 (wai), means outside. The second character, 婆 (po), means grandmother. The two characters come together to mean your “outside grandmother”, as in traditional Chinese culture the women goes … Read moreThe Difference Between 外婆 and 姥姥 In Chinese

“WeChat” By Higher Brothers ft. Keith Ape Is Fire

I get a very particular sense of rage when I’m in the middle of doing something and I hear a message arriving on my phone. Here in China, the messages mostly come through WeChat, that lime green “do-everything” app developed by Tencent. I don’t know if I always used to get as angry when being … Read more“WeChat” By Higher Brothers ft. Keith Ape Is Fire

Squid Chuan’r (鱿鱼串儿)

Squid chuan’r is the kind of chuan’r that’s better left unordered. Yet it consistently seems to find a way onto my table. Go figure. I always try and explain to my friends that squid in Beijing just makes me think of the fresh seafood back home in New England. Of course, I leave out the … Read moreSquid Chuan’r (鱿鱼串儿)

5 Useful Attitudes and Habits to Adopt When Learning Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Chinese is a notoriously difficult language to learn. When I first came to China in the summer of 2013 I knew zero Chinese, but still I had hope that I could succeed where other language learners before me had failed. In the beginning I learned the easy stuff. Phrases like “听不懂 (tīng bu dǒng)” … Read more5 Useful Attitudes and Habits to Adopt When Learning Mandarin Chinese

Questions That Effective Language Learners Ask Themselves

Have you ever wanted to learn something so badly that you studied it all the time? If you are like me, then you have experienced the point at which studying becomes counterproductive. When learning something new, it is important to take intermittent breaks. This practice allows you to replenish your “focus muscles” and reflect on … Read moreQuestions That Effective Language Learners Ask Themselves

Using Movies to Increase Fluency and Cultural Knowledge

Watching movies in Chinese is a great way to improve your fluency in the language. Similar to learning a language through immersion, this technique forces you to progress via context and setting. If used effectively, this technique will not only increase your listening comprehension, but will also increase your vocabulary and cultural knowledge. How I … Read moreUsing Movies to Increase Fluency and Cultural Knowledge