Interested in learning a language outside of the traditional, sugarcoated world of textbooks and classrooms? Why not try using your phone? Today I used a notification from the update of my bank app as an opportunity to study some more Chinese (note: bank is 农业银行 – Agriculture Bank of China). I’ve documented my translation process … Read moreLanguage Learning Documentation: Translating an App Notification
Above you will see an advertisement from the back of a bus stop just outside of the U-Town shopping center. The poster shows two shop owners not accepting cash, stating they prefer customers use their digital wallets (不收现金). The poster was sponsored by the People’s Bank of China (中国人民银行) and interestingly at a time when the … Read moreFormal Mandarin Chinese (五道口 banner example)
宇宙中心 (yuzhou zhongxin) is Chinese for the center of the universe. It’s also a common saying in reference to Wudaokou, the hub of university life in Beijing. But why do people refer to it as the “center of the universe?” Perhaps the reason is its proximity to Beida, Tsinghua, and many other well-known universities. Or … Read moreThe Center of the Universe Is Anything but Stable.
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?
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
By all records and opinions, China has developed quite fast over the past forty plus years. Starting in 1978 with Deng Xiaoping’s famous market reforms, the country has maintained an annual GDP growth of 9% on average. In fact, if you were to compare a modern Chinese city (commonly referred to as “first-tier”) with one … Read more40 Years of Reform and Opening up in China – the Importance of Perspective
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 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）
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
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