Monday, July 31, 2006

Christmas in July Lesson

Just got the Christmas in July Lesson finished in time for the end of the month. This one has lots of Christmas and shopping stuff in it.

This is lesson number 23 and the last one I am going to add to this file. I will start the new file with a lesson on exercise followed by some classroom stuff. I also want to start adding some Chinese characters to the third file.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Taiwan In The New Year PART III

The continuing saga of my travels in Taiwan.

Taiwan In The New Year

PART III – Day 1 continued…

The most striking thing about the whole scene though was the Chinese signs everywhere. The whole place can take on a very alien feel when you are unable to read any of the street signs, sides of trucks or signs hanging from buildings. Even the voice coming out of the taxi radio was alien.

Finally we arrived in the suburb of Panchiao and the scene became even more crowded. Panchiao looks and feels like the classic over crowded Chinese city. Every building has a neon sign or two hanging from it, with Chinese writing running from top to bottom instead of left to right.

Apart from the cars, trucks and buses crowded into the narrower streets here there are thousands of motor scooters weaving in and out of the traffic. Like everyone else our taxi driver started frequently honking his horn and ignoring the honks from every other vehicle. We swerved around the side of a truck in front of us and almost wiped out a couple of scooters in the process. One of which has one child sitting on the seat behind the rider and another young child standing dangerously between the rider’s legs.

Finally we turn into the single lane street where our hotel was located. The taxi just fit between the hundreds of scooters lined up in two rows on either side of the road.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Chinese character flash cards

I don’t need to create the Chinese character flash cards that I talked about in a previous post, because someone has already done it on FlashcardExchange. joeenglish8889 has sets of numbers and radicals exactly like I was talking about doing myself. So I will start by memorising the first 10 numbers.

一 yi2

二 er4

三 san4

四 si4

五 wu3

六 liu4

七 qi1

八 ba1

九 jiu3

十 shi2

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Here is the transcript of the third lesson from the jMemorise flash card file available HERE

This one is mainly dealing with numbers and counting. I found myself that numbers were the first real hurdle that slowed me down while learning Chinese. However flash cards are by far the best way to learn numbers, and when you do have the numbers sorted out in your mind it can give you a real sense of achievement. It is a good feeling when you can grab something in a shop, then at the counter ask in Chinese how much it costs and understand the reply.


I live in Sydney. = wo3 zhu4 zai4 xi1 ni2
Six = liu4
Seven = qi1
Eight = ba1
Nine = jiu3
Ten = shi2
one of = yi2 ge
two of = liang3 ge
three of = san1 ge
four of = si4 ge
five of = wu3 ge
six of = liu4 ge
seven of = qi1 ge
eight of = ba1 ge
nine of = jiu3 ge
ten of = shi2 ge
eleven = shi2 yi1
twelve = shi2 er4
thirteen = shi2 san1
fourteen = shi2 si4
fifteen = shi2 wu3
twenty = er4 shi2
twenty one = er4 shi2 yi1
twenty two = er4 shi2 er4
Happy birthday! = sheng1 ri4 kuai4 le4
What's your age? = ni3 ji3 sui4
I'm twenty years old. = wo3 er4 shi2 sui4
I'm ten years old. = wo3 shi2 sui4
I'm eighteen years old. = wo3 shi2 ba1 sui4
I'm thirty five years old. = wo3 san1 shi2 wu3 sui4

Sunday, July 23, 2006

More Chinese TV and radio stations

Here are some more links to Chinese TV and radio stations that actually work more often than not. I have put these onto a separate page on the website along with the last lot of TV and radio links I posted on here. If anyone finds I am wrong about any of these stations as far as reliability goes then please let me know and I will remove it from the list.

Ningbo Radio
News & Talkback radio 20Kbps. To listen click HERE
Chinese Adult Contemporary radio 32Kbps. To listen click HERE

Nanjing TV Station
Youth TV 350Kbps. To Watch click HERE
Entertainment TV 350Kbps. To Watch click HERE

TDM Macau [] NOTE - I didn't include this link because clicking on it started the download of an unknown file. Go there at your own risk!
Chinese Adult Contemporary 20kbps. To listen click HERE

Radio voice of the West Lake
Chinese Easy Listening 32kbps. To listen click HERE

Friday, July 21, 2006


All Chinese characters either are themselves or have a component called a radical. I’m not sure if there is an absolute definition of a radical, but most will give a hint to the characters meaning. Or at least place the character in a category like, has something to do with people ( 亻, the man radical), or has something to do with plants ( 艹 , the grass radical). Mind you the relationship between the meaning of the character and the category the radical places it in can often be very obscure and often culture based.

Chinese dictionaries are organised by radical, which are organised by the number of strokes used to write the radical. Depending on the dictionary used there can be as many as 214 different radicals with between 1 and 17 stroke counts.

I am going to start learning Chinese characters by first learning the characters for the numbers 1 to 17, followed by the radicals. Then I will start to learn some proper characters.

I was hopping to use the free ZDT flashcard software for this, but I can’t get it to work on my computer. All the characters look like little squares.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

China Idol

This video proves that it doesn’t mater what part of the world you are in there is always someone willing to make a complete fool of themselves all in the name of becoming famous.

The clip is from the China version of American Idol.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Next Lesson Finished

I've finished lesson 22 and added it to the jMemorize Flashcard file. This one I have called Holidays and included lots of place names and stuff.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Here is the transcript of the second lesson from the jMemorise flash card file.

Although I called this lesson “Where do you live?” I also included some numbers in this one so that the next lesson didn’t become too overwhelming.


Yes = dui4
Where do you live? = ni3 zhu4 zai4 na3 li3
I live in China. = wo3 zhu4 zai4 zhong1 guo2
I live in Australia. = wo3 zhu4 zai4 ao4 da4 li4 ya4
I live in Beijing. = wo3 zhu4 zai4 bei3 jing1
Come = lai2
One = yi1
Two = er4
Three = san1
Four = si4
Five = wu3
Give to me. = gei3 wo3

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Learning Chinese characters

After this discussion started me thinking about the subject I have decided it is time I started thinking about how to learn to read and write Chinese characters. I am faced with a hard choice when it comes to which system of characters to learn. Traditional Chinese characters will be of much more use to me personally than simplified would be. But it seems that if I don’t learn to at least read the simplified characters then I will be cutting myself off from a lot of stuff out there, particularly on the internet.

So I have decided to attempt the super human task of learning both systems of characters. In the very likely event that it turns out to be too difficult or time consuming then I will drop the simplified and just learn the traditional system. I feel I should at least make an attempt at the simplified though.

I also need to decide how to learn the characters. I am not sure that flash cards would work as well for me learning the characters as they do learning pinyin. I think I will need something a bit more interactive to get them to stick in my mind.

I do have a plan though about what to learn and where to start. I will relearn all the lessons I already have organised in the flash card files, but this time with Chinese characters. This doesn’t mean I will stop adding to the pinyin flashcards however. I still need the pinyin to expand my vocabulary.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Taiwan In The New Year - PART II

Here are more of my travels in Taiwan.

Taiwan In The New Year

PART II – Day 1

Taiwan is a country with a chequered past and an uncertain future. It is a country that is fiercely proud of its Chinese past, and just as proud of its more recent and vigorous democracy. It has existed under the shadow and constant threat of China since 1949 when the Mao Zedong lead communist army forced the dictator Chiang Kaishek and his army from the Chinese Mainland and into Taiwan.

Taiwan was not happy to play host to Chiang Kaishek and his Kuomintang or KMT Nationalist Party. Only two years earlier between 10,000 and 30,000 Taiwanese were massacred when anti-KMT riots had broken out and were brutally repressed. Taiwan remained under martial law until 1987, when it was transformed into a true democracy.

Since the 1980’s China and Taiwan have played a dangerous game, with China insisting that Taiwan is one of it’s provinces and Taiwan periodically hinting at a desire for official independence. However despite all the chest beating in some ways China and Taiwan do have close ties. Taiwan is now the largest foreign investor in China’s rapidly growing economy.

Taiwan is only 395km long and has a maximum width of 144km. Its mountains though are extremely high, reaching 3,952m at Yu mountain, which apart from the Himalayas is the highest peak in North East Asia.

We didn’t see any of this from our aircraft though as we made our way up the 160km wide Taiwan Strait, which runs between Taiwan and Mainland China. We flew into the Chiang Kaishek International Airport from the west, six days before the Chinese New Year.

As we flew in low on our final approach to the airport we had a good view of the surrounding countryside and already differences between the East and the West were apparent. All of the farmland was divided into small sections. Presumably rice fields, though it was a bit hard to tell through the smoggy haze. Also there appeared to be a distinct lack of tiled roofs.

It was already late afternoon before we made our way out of the airport. The first thing we did was exchange our money for Taiwan dollars. Then we went straight to the counter with a giant ‘Car Rental’ written in English above it and asked about hiring a taxi.

After leaving the airport and heading south for a while we passed by a solid wall of high rise buildings. They seemed to be all crowding up against the mountains that surround the city of Taipei. The city proper has a population of about 3 million with another 3 million in the surrounding Taipei County. Although the population of Taipei is of a reasonably large size the whole city is crammed into a surprisingly small valley making it one of the most densely populated places in the world.

Unfortunately as we drove into the Tamsui River Valley a combination of smog and twilight stopped us from seeing very much of the city. The surrounding area as far as we could see though was a mass of high rise buildings.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Lesson 21 - Back on the farm

I've finished lesson number 21 in the JMemorize Flashcard file. This one is all about country stuff like planting tree's and feeding animals.

The next lesson will be about holidays and traveling, then I thought I might do a sort of Christmas in July lesson to cover things like shopping, giving presents and various foods. That would take the flashcard file to lesson 23 which is probably enough for the second file.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Chinese-English Dictionary

HERE is a free online Chinese-English dictionary. It is based on the CEDICT dictionary files, which now have 34,608 definitions and is still growing. It also has audio files with the search results.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Ron Sims

HERE is a fun blog and video podcast from an American black guy living in China. He is doing this because we wants to be famous, but he can be funny at times. He is trying to document his life in china with episodes on, Can a black man get a good haircut in China?, Trying street food, and a Chinese rap talent show. He is not always as funny as he thinks he is, but this show does give a very good insight into the life of a foreigner living in China.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Garbage trucks

The first time I went to Taiwan I kept hearing what sounded like Mr Whippy Ice-cream vans playing "Fur Elise". However this seemed a bit strange to me in the middle of the city. It turned out that garbage trucks in Taiwan play this music to let the residents know to bring their garbage down to the street. Here is a short video someone made of a garbage truck in Taiwan, just to prove the point.