Saturday, April 29, 2006

An end to the VideoHotPot's

It looks like there wont be any more VideoHotPot video's from ChinesePod. The two stars of the show have left Shanghai so the series has been shelved for the forseeable future. It's a pity, it was a good series. I used to look forward to each new episode.

The episodes that are available are,

Episode 1 - The Market

Episode 2 - The Restaurant

Episode 3 - Making a Reservation

Episode 4 - Mr Cab Driver

Episode 5 - A Trip to the Zoo

Episode 6 - The Tone Police

Peaceful Island

These pictures are of Peaceful Island at the northern end of Taiwan not far from the city of Keelung.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Other Bloggers learning Chinese

It is interesting to watch the progress of others who are also learning Mandarin and so I have been keeping an eye on some other bloggers who are learning the language as well.

The first of these bloggers that I came across was Chris from the UK. I discovered his blog after he got this write up on the ChinesePod Weblog. Chris has been learning Chinese for about 3 months now.

The second blogger I have been watching is another Australian named Charles. His blog is called CHINESEWITHEASE (I’m not really sure that the words “Chinese” and “Ease” belong in the same sentence). I first discovered Charles’s blog after he left a comment here suggesting some software. I gather that Charles’s Chinese is far ahead of my own. He has actually spent some time living and studying in Taiwan.

The third blogger I only came across about a week ago when he was mentioned on Chris’s blog. Matt is also from the UK and has a blog called repulsive monkey. Matt is studying Chinese at University College London and is also ahead of me at an intermediate level. Matt is also an avid Tai Chi enthusiast.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Second ChinesePod CD

I’ve now finished the second CD I made from the ChinesePod lessons. That means I have finished Newbie Podcast number twelve. I have added a few new words from the CD to my ChinesePod flashcard file. They are,

shui3 guo3 = Fruit
ban4 gong1 shi4 = Office
jiang3 = Speak
dan4 shi4 = But, however

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Hanzi Smatter article

Yesterday I was looking through one of our local Chinese language newspapers, the Oriental Post, and I came across an article about the Hanzi Smatter website. This web site is dedicated to the misuse of Chinese characters.

I have to say that the funniest thing about the article is the fact that in an article about using incorrect Chinese characters they managed to use the wrong English word at the very start of the article.

The article says,

Every thought of getting one of those cool Chinese characters tattoos or adorning your living room with the latest Zen tabletop? Before you jump in and join the Chinese and Japanese lifestyle vogue.
Check the annals of Hanzi Smatter( for an amusing reality check of what should and shouldn't be.

It says that the site was based on this website called Engrish. The article gives the following as two good examples of the posts on Hanzi Smatter.

Ease of Gas Retention


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Lesson 16 Shopping

I've finished the next lesson and added it to the jMemorize flashcard file HERE.

This lesson about shopping is full of stuff like,
"What do you want to buy?, I want to buy an apple. How much does it cost?, It costs one dollar." etc...

The next lesson will be about going to the zoo.

Monday, April 24, 2006

China Rant

Here is a link to an interesting web site I found called ChinaRant.

It is basically a public Blog for people who are living in China but having a bit of trouble coping with the cultural differences.

Personally I feel that the cultural differences are what make going to another country most interesting. Having said that though some of their observations are very funny at times. Here are some highlights.

Ikea’s Couch Surfers

Fast Cars and Pee

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Traditional Taiwan music

Here is a very short film clip I found of some traditional Taiwan music, played at a temple festival.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Beijing Faces Podcast

I just happened to come across an interesting radio program today as I flicked through the stations while waiting in a McDonalds drive through. When I got home I had a look at the Radio National website and found a podcast of the program HERE.

It was made by an Australian journalist who has been living in Beijing for the last six months. It is interesting to listen to how the locals feel about their city. The Radio National web site says about the program,

Journalist Elise Potaka is learning Mandarin, and last year she lived in Beijing for six months. Beijing is impossible to really understand from any single perspective; it is a city in continual flux, a city of 24-hour building sites where in a matter of weeks, whole streetscapes can change as multi-story apartment buildings rise on the ruins of demolished neighbourhoods.

There is a second part to the podcast about some diaries found in a factory that burnt down in southern China, but I couldn't listen to all of this one. The music was too much for me.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Another picture of the Chiang Kaishek Memorial Compound

This is another picture of the Chiang Kaishek memorial compound in Taipei city. This was taken on a different trip to the previous pictures. There is a lot of people there at this time because it is only a couple of days after the Chinese New Year.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Started second Flashcard file

I have started my second jMemorize flashcard file with a short lesson on "Colors and shapes". The file is available HERE.

The next lesson I'm going to add will be about going to the shop.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Most embarrassing moments while learning chinese, Part 2

Here are some more of peoples most embarrassing moments while learning chinese, taken from Chinese-forums.

A coworker (Chinese) was telling me about how she had bad skin because she ate too much lajiao. I was pretty new to Chinese and tried to respond in Chinese that actually, I thought her skin was just fine.

"Ni you hen hao pi!" I used the second tone on pi. That can translate into "You have a really nice fart!"

The look I got was unforgettable. Others still tease me about it.

By channamasala

i came home this summer to relax and rest a bit. my mom and i were going to start speaking in chinese so i wouldn't forget too much. she asked me a question and i said sui2 bian4 (doesn't matter).

she started laughing... apparently my tone wasn't quite right (she heard sui3) and i had said something like "poop pieces"

By quinoa

Actually I think what they said was “shui3 bian4” or water poop, IE. Diarrhoea

Monday, April 17, 2006

Should I write my own software for learning Mandarin?

I’ve been having some trouble with jMemorize resetting my computer. I’m sure this says more about my computer than the software. Though it has got me thinking that maybe I should write my own software. I don’t think I would bother writing anything as complex as jMemorize, just something that would hold my own flash cards, but not allow customised cards the way jMemorise does.

There are a few specific features I could add that would be very useful as well.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Fuhuojie kuaile

Zhu4 da4 jia1 fu4 huo2 jie2 kuai4 le4. In case you don't understand that, it means "Wishing everybody a happy Easter".

I thought that today I would say a little about my strategy for learning Chinese. It might not be a good strategy for most people, but it does seem to be working OK for myself so far. In fact some of what I'm doing is very different to the standard, as far as I can tell. There is one very big problem with my strategy to date however, but today's podcast from ChinesePod has given me an idea about that, which I will get to in a moment.

My strategy so far has been mainly aimed at building up a vocabulary. I choose a subject then build up a list of words and phrases to memorize with flashcards. I have only been learning words in pinyin so far, but I intend to start learning some Chinese characters before too long. I have stayed with pinyin up until now because there is only so much I can stuff into my brain at any one time and I thought I would try and learn to speak Chinese before learning to read Chinese. Unfortunately this is where the big problem comes in. But I'll get back to that in a moment.

I also don't write pinyin squashed together as everyone else seems to do, but I do have a reason for doing it the way I do. Most people seem to write the sentence at the start of this post as "Zhu4 da4jia1 fu4huo2jie2 kuai4le4", so that each word corresponds to the equivalent word in English. That is, "Wish everybody Easter happy". I tend to spread it all out so that each word corresponds to the equivalent Chinese character. That is "Zhu4 da4 jia1 fu4 huo2 jie2 kuai4 le4", or 祝大家复活节快乐. I may be misguided in this, but I feel that it will be that little bit easier to learn to read the characters if I am already thinking of the language in the one syllable word chunks that each character represents.

Now back to the problem with this strategy. I thought that I could build up my vocabulary and practice speaking as I went along. I thought that as time went on my conversation would get better as my vocabulary increased. The problem with this is that conversation doesn't really work that way. I will need to build up a very large vocabulary before I can even start to hold a meaningfull conversation. The conversations I have now are either very short (two or three sentences) or are really English conversations with the odd Chinese word or phrase thrown in. My vocabulary is just not large enough. What I am now going to try to do is practice speaking, by choosing a subject that I know a number of relevant words for, and then try to converse on that subject for half an hour or so.

I will keep an eye on what else Ken has to say on this subject. It is where I need the most help at the moment.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Keelung Central Park

This is a short video I made of Central Park in the city of Keelung in the north of Taiwan.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Some more Taiwan pictures

These are some more pictures of Taiwan. The first one is looking toward Taipei city from the Chiang Kaishek memorial.

The second is a large statue of Budda at a temple and monastery in the city of Hualien, on the east coast of Taiwan.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Finished ChinesePod CD1

Ok I've finished the first CD I made from the ChinesePod podcasts.

This is working out well actually. There are a few words they have had in the podcasts that I wouldn't necessarily have thought of learning. But I think they will probably help a lot with my conversational skills. As opposed to my vocabulary.

I still intend to make another jMemorize flashcard file of my own list of words and have already started working on it, but I am now also going to put some of the new words from the podcasts into a file to help me memorize them as well.

I wont put this file online but here are the words/phrases I've included so far from the first six podcasts on CD1.

xue2 xiao4 = School
ma3 ma3 hu3 hu3 = So-so
zhen1 de ma = Really?
wei4 shen2 me = Why?
yin1 wei2 = because
kai1 xin1 = Feel happy
nan2 guo4 = Upset
wo3 bu4 neng2 shuo1 = I'm unable to say.
pu3 tong1 = normal, standard

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Taiwan Beer

I can’t put my finger on it, but there is something very wrong with this image.

I found this on a blog called The Taipei Kid.

I quote, "I am not sure what sort of target market Taiwan Beer is trying to go for with this new label, which features a zonked-out little girl on the can with the words "Something about love." Truly a collectors' item."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"Your supposed to lift on 3! Who ever heard of doing anything on 2!"

Here is a funny video I found. Someone filmed this just outside Beijing. These guys should pay more attention to what they are doing and less attention to the camera.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Got a mention on ChinesePod

This site was mentioned by Ken Carroll on the ChinesePod weblog. The post entitled "ChinesePod in the blogospere", has extracts from a few different blogs that have mentioned ChinesePod in the last few days.

It seems Ken doesn't agree with a comment I made about flashcards being the best way to learn Chinese. Actually I agree with what he says in the comments area, that "exposure to the language" is very important, however I find that a large part of learning a language like Mandarin is all the memorizing you need to do. And so far flashcards are the best method I have come across for doing this.

Note: If the page looks blank after you click on the link, just scroll down.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Chinese Calligraphy Web Site

HERE is a very interesting web page I found about Chinese Calligraphy. It shows a bit about how Chinese characters have evolved over the last 3 or 4 thousand years, how simple characters are used to make up more complex characters and ideas, and some advice on how characters should be written.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Using Chinese Podcasts

Up until now I’ve mostly used the ChinesePod podcasts as background noise while I was doing other stuff on the computer. I only really half listened to them and so didn’t get all that much out of them.

However my situation at work has temporarily changed so that at least two days a week I now have a half hour drive to where I’m working and a half hour drive home again. A perfect opportunity to properly listen to the podcasts. I don’t actually own an MP3 player so I have burned the first five podcasts onto a CD so I can listen to them in the car. I’m not sure how much I will get out of doing this. I still think flash cards are by far the best way of learning Chinese, however I do think that it is important that I hear as much Chinese spoken correctly as possible. I find that the more I hear a word or phrase spoken the more it gets burned into my brain and the easier it is to speak (without concentrating) using the correct tone. Of course this only works if I understand what is being said. I have seen advice here and there on the internet telling people to listen to as much spoken Chinese as possible even if they don’t understand a word of it. The idea seems to be to get used to hearing the sound of the language, however I personally think this is a complete wast of time that could be spent better memorising a few new words.

I’m not really sure what is the best way to go about this, so initially I’m going to listen to each podcast completely three times and then move onto the next one. The only reason I have for doing it this way is that I read somewhere ( I can’t remember where ) that someone else did it this way, and it is as good a plan as any. So far I am up to podcast number two.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Lesson 14 - Chinese places around town

I’ve put the next and last Chinese lesson into the first basic jMemorize flash card file. I think that is enough for the most basic file, so from the next lesson I’ll start a new Basic Level Two flash card file. I will continue to check this file however and do any cards that come up. I have most of the stuff in the file memorised now so hopefully not many will pop up too often. I’m still not sure what happens when a card in pile nine is memorised however. Is there a pile ten?

This lesson is called “Chinese places around town”, and is mostly concerned with how to get to Chinese gardens, restaurants and China Town. There is also a bit on ordering Chinese food and using Chopsticks.

At this stage I think the best plan for the Basic Level Two file is to follow much the same subject matter as in the first file but to expand on it a bit. Anyway I’m still working on that.

The latest version of the flash card file is available HERE.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Got a mention on the jMemorize web site

I just found out that Riad Djemili the developer of the jMemorize flash card software that I use for my flash cards has mentioned this site on his blog. You can see his March 12 post HERE.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Chinese Premier in town

The Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrived here in Perth yesterday. When Wen arrived at the airport he made a speech in which he said that he is here to further develop Chinese Australian ties. While he is here he hopes to sign an agreement on uranium trade with Australia.

HERE is the official Chinese story from

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Regular Video Chinese Lessons Online

Here is a new VideoHotpot Chinese lesson from ChinesePod. This one is called The Restaurant. The first video they made was so successful it seems that they have decided to make the video lessons a regular feature. Apparently they have at least a couple more in the pipeline anyway. Hopefully there will be many more of these. The casual format they use makes them very easy to watch and learn with.