Friday, June 30, 2006

Learn Chinese web site

Here is a good website called Learn Chinese.

It is a collection of Chinese phrases organised into 8 subject categories. Each phrase is written in English and pinyin and has an audio file. One of the best points of this site however is that the speakers on the audio files sound as if they have a strong Beijing accent, which is the standard for proper pronunciation of Chinese. The equivalent of learning proper British pronunciation of English.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Added another short lesson

I've added another lesson to the flashcard file, though this one is very short. I've called it "What's wrong with you?". It has stuff in it like "I am tired", "I am hungry", "I am thirsty" etc.

Also here is another interesting post from Chris on his Mandarin Student blog about why he thinks it was a mistake to try and learn to speak and write Chinese at the same time. This is very close to how I feel about the subject and goes a long way towards explaining why I haven't started learning to read and write Chinese characters just yet.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Website Update

I’ve added a few links to my website. They are all links to sites that I have mentioned on this blog previously. Here is list of what I added.

DimSum Chinese reading assistant and dictionary - This usefull software allows you to cut and paste Chinese into it, then by moving the mouse pointer over the text DimSum translates it word by word into both English and pinyin.

ALBIS Force-feed your brain - This is an interesting tool for learning Mandarin, and it seems to be free at the moment. They have freelance native speakers maintaining various modules of the various languages.

China Rant - Public Blog for people who are living in China but having a bit of trouble coping with the cultural differences.

Chinese calendar - Allows you to convert any date on the Gregorian to the Chinese calendar and vise versa.

Chinese Calligraphy - Shows 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. - This web site lets you look up your name and see how it is written in Chinese.

Hanzi Smatter - Dedicated to the misuse of Chinese characters.

OrientalPost - A local West Australian Chinese language newspaper.

What’s up in Taiwan - Podcast about the experiences foreign guests of the show have had while travelling or living in Taiwan.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Finished next lesson

I've updated the flashcard file with lesson 19. I've called this one "Weather". It has lots of, hot, cold, rainy, windy etc.. stuff as well as how to ask and say what the temperature is.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Ok here is a transcript of what is in the first lesson of the jMemorize flash card file available HERE


Hello = ni3 hao3
Friend = peng2 you3
Friends = peng2 you3 men
Hello friends. = peng2 you3 men hao3
You = ni3
Good = hao3
Me/I = wo3
How are you? = ni3 hao3 ma
What's your name? = ni3 jiao4 shen2 me ming2 zi
My name is Li Min. = wo3 jiao4 li3 min3
Teacher = lao3 shi1
Hello teacher. = lao3 shi1 hao3
Child = xiao3 hai2 zi
Children = xiao3 hai2 zi men
Hello children. = xiao3 hai2 zi men hao3
Goodbye = zai4 jian4
Goodbye children. = xiao3 hai2 zi men zai4 jian4
Goodbye teacher. = lao3 shi1 zai4 jian4

In the actual flash card file I have included each phrase from both an English to Chinese and a Chinese to English translation. I have found that it is sometimes easy to recognise a Chinese word when you see it, but when it comes to remembering the same word when you need to say something in a conversation it can be much harder.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Chinese radio and TV stations

There are a lot of links to Chinese radio and TV stations out there on the internet. However most of them never work, are too distorted to listen to, or are so slow to load that they are not worth bothering with. Here are a few I found that are of at least passable quality.

The Shanghai Media Group
This is a News broadcast at 31Kbps. To Listen click HERE.
This is a Chinese Pop Music broadcast at 31Kbps. To Listen click HERE.

Nanjing TV Station
Chinese Pop music broadcast at 32Kbps. To Listen click HERE
News TV at 350Kbps. To Watch click HERE
Movies & Soap opera TV 350Kbps. To Watch click HERE
Historic Stories and Plays TV 350Kbps. To Watch click HERE
Lifestyle and Entertainment TV 350Kbps. To Watch click HERE
Entertainment TV 350Kbps. To Watch click HERE

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Checking flashcard lessons

As I am planning to put the lessons from my jMemorize flash cards into the new software I thought I would have them checked independently for spelling mistakes etc…

So far I have had the first four lessons checked and a small number of mistakes did turn up regarding the tones. They were about 99% correct with only about four tones wrong out of the whole four lessons, however because of this I will have all of the lessons double checked.

The errors have already been fixed in the jMemorize file I have available HERE.

I will also post the lessons as they are checked on here, so that anyone who is interested can see what I put into each lesson. I have tried to structure the lessons so that each one builds on the preceding lessons as much as that is possible.

Friday, June 16, 2006

MemChin layout

I have finished the preliminary layout of the MemChin software. Here is a screen capture of it.

The window on the left will display which lesson is the current one and what lessons have already been studied. The top window on the right will display the question and bottom window on the right will display a list of the possible answers. And under that is the progress bar to show the user how much time is remaining in the session.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


HERE is a link to some very useful software for anyone wanting to learn Chinese. The DimSum Chinese reading assistant and dictionary allows you to cut and paste Chinese into it, then by moving the mouse pointer over the text DimSum translates it word by word into both English and pinyin. This is a great tool for reading Chinese web sites. One thing I realy like about DimSum is its ability to group the Chinese characters into words without having to try and work out the words from each individual characters yourself. This feature is especially useful when trying to read something like a Chinese news site.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Baiyang Trail pictures

Here is the last set of the pictures I took on the Baiyang Trail in the Taroko National Park in Taiwan.. These pictures show some of the waterfalls at the end of the trail.

The water was very loud here. The waterfall in the second picture was one of two rivers that flowed into a large pool, where they combined and flowed over another waterfall. The third picture was taken from the bridge in the first picture.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Chinese calendar

HERE is an interesting web site all about the Chinese calendar. It also allows you to convert any date on the Gregorian to the Chinese calendar and vise versa.

Friday, June 09, 2006

More software features

I have decided to add another couple of things to the MemChin Software.

A pause button is essential, and I also thought a progress bar is a good idea. I will make a standard session last 30 minutes and so include a progress bar to let the user know how long they have left.

I think 30 minutes is a good length for each session. I find that after about 30 minutes its always good to get a bit of a break and rest the brain before starting again.

OK, I think that is enough extra features for now. The next task is to design the layout of the software.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Taiwan In The New Year - PART I

OK. Here is the first instalment of my travels in Taiwan story. I have decided to call it, “Taiwan In The New Year”.

PART I - Preparation

Usually travel in a non-English speaking country is fraught with misunderstandings. Once while travelling in Malaysia a taxi driver followed us around the airport for over an hour simply because I didn’t know how to say to him, “We are going to catch the shuttle bus from the hotel we are staying at, we don’t need a taxi.” By the time we did get on the shuttle bus our unwanted taxi driver had become involved in a fight with a second taxi driver who had also approached us.

The day after this as we climbed into a different taxi, I showed the driver a card with the name of our hotel printed on it. He happily said something in Malaysian while nodding his head, and then drove us to what I think was a school or university of some sort. Presumably this was where all foreigners who catch taxis go.

I was hopping that we wouldn’t have this type of problem during our planned trip to Taiwan, as my girlfriend and travelling companion was able to speak fluent Mandarin. Of course there was bound to be ample opportunity for myself to get into trouble.

We had been to Taiwan before and spent most of our time in the capital of Taipei, except for a short trip we made to the city of Hualien.

This time we planned to do a complete journey around the island, starting on the Chinese New Year and hopefully arriving back in Taipei in time to see the Lantern Festival fifteen days later. Our itinerary was planned as follows. One week to see the sights of Taipei and the surrounding area, then on New Year day travel north to see the port city of Keelung and down the east coast to Hualien. In Hualien we planned to see the Taroko National Park which is considered by many to have the most spectacular scenery in Taiwan. Unfortunately we were unable to see the park on our last trip to Hualien because it had been closed due to a tourist having fallen off a cliff to his death.

After Hualien we would travel south to the Kenting National Park at the southern most tip of Taiwan. Then north to the historic city of Tainan, and finally we would head into the centre of the island to Alishan where we planned to see Yu Mountain, one of the highest peaks in East Asia.
If all went well the entire trip should take around three weeks.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Lesson 18 - What time is it?

I have finished the next lesson in my flash card files. This one that I have called "What time is it?" is all about asking the time, date and the day of the week.

The next lesson I am now working on will be about the weather.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Art of Wu Xiu

HERE is a funny post from ChinaRant about the Chinese tradition of having a midday nap. Believe me this is all very true.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

ALBIS Force-feed your brain

HERE is an interesting tool for learning Mandarin, and it seems to be free at the moment. They have freelance native speakers maintaining various modules of the various languages they cover for what ever money they can make from GoogleAds. As far as I can tell anyway.

It does look like an effective way to drum pinyin words into your memory. Just choose Mandarin from the drop down menu, choose a login name and password, then off you go.

The main page of the site is ALBIS Force-feed your brain.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Time for a rethink

I have found that lately the rate at which I have been learning Chinese has severely slowed down even though I seem to be spending more and more time studying. So it is time for a bit of a rethink on what I am doing.

Early on I was learning lots of Chinese very quickly (it was quick for me any way). Then I started to listen to ChinesePod in the car on the way to work and then add the words I learnt to a ChinesePod flashcard file. Unfortunately it very quickly got to the point where this was taking up all of my time. So now I have to make a choice between learning Chinese using my old method or learning Chinese using ChinesePod. I simply don't have time to do both, and by trying to do both I have slowed my learning down to a crawl.

I have decided to go back to my old method of study because it was working very well before I changed. I also find ChinesePod a bit too unstructured as lessons go. But having said that I do think there is a lot of good practical material in there, so I will continue to listen to ChinesePod on the way to work as much needed listening practice. I will just drop the ChinesePod flashcards for now.

Also on the subject of ChinesePod. I see that they have released a new HotPot video lesson which was filmed before the hosts returned to Canada. Unfortunately it appears that YouTube has been hacked and is completely offline so I haven't been able to watch it yet.