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Enjune Zhang

Ten reasons why I admire Li Ziqi so much

Ten reasons why I admire Li Ziqi so much


If people are talking about a girl who could make a set of bamboo sofa without a single nail, show you how the ancient Chinese writing tool is produced, tell the story of how a grain of rice grows from a seed,they are talking about Li Ziqi, a Chinese girl doing what she likes regardless of what they say. 

She is true to herself
Rumor goes that she’s just a cyber-celebrity who aims at a rise to fame, and a benefit from that reputation. She could be anything bad given how the gossips are going to shape, but she still keeps on with these vlog, where she shows us every detail of her life. 
She knows that silence is the best way to suffocate gossip
The way she lives and the way she handles things is too amazing for us to believe. That’s probably why she becomes a target of the negative comment from those far away from such a way of living. Instead of getting involved in rebuttal, she prefers updating the videos for years to show how persistent she is to something she had chosen, with or without comments.      
She is willing to learn everything new to achieve her goals
She admits that she no nothing about some of the skills shown in her video at first. Her eagerness to learn opens up the possibility to trying something new. 
She is a genius with business acumen
Her name becomes a brand now and products related are available on line. Commercial benefit is just the byproduct from her previous effort winning the fans with the videos of high quality. 
She promotes the spread of Chinese culture with talented videos
Foreigners and even Chinese get to know how things are made or coming to being by watching her videos. She acts like an almighty craftsman telling you how things awesome may start with something quite usual and simple, in a creative way.
She realizes financial freedom by doing the things she enjoys
She keeps doing what she likes, sharing her life in videos, making you the witness of her life interesting and vivid, showing you how she makes the things she wants on her own. She gets lucky by earning both attention and money the way she deserves.
She lives a life of pastoral style far from the madding crowd
Living in the remote village, surrounding by plants she grows as food, accompanying by dogs and goats she keeps as pets, she plays the role in a poem-like farm where those people struggling in the urban life don’t even have the time to dream of.
She knows what’s important to her and sticks to it while leaving out all the rest
She used to work in the city as a DJ, a waitress, a Taobao seller, and her grandmother’s getting ill making her back to hometown. Being with grandmother means a lot to her, given her childhood without care from parents but grandparents, and her yearning for self-sufficiency further motivates her stay in Mianyang, Suchuan.
She’s brilliant in an ordinary way
She can do almost everything, capable of all kinds of skills, making things from the most common materials and ingredients, creating stuff better than you could have imagined. She looks like a fairy, but she’s living a normal life industriously. You may find that what she manages to do is nothing impossible when you break it into steps, but all when all these easy sections combine, you see something complicatedly great. That’s something we fail to cope with without distractions. We lack that kind of concentration to make it.
She knows how to tell the story and opens up our mind for more possibilities
Her videos are silent in conversations or monologues. She shows you all the things in the way she works. Thanks to her breaking things into steps to make it simple to know how things work. Her videos act like a trigger of inspiration, especially to those who imitate her and tell the story of their lives.

She knows how to dye the cloth and awake the beauty and magpies on the dress with thread and needle. This is about the art of embroidery.


She knows how to make Chinese traditional food out of the normal ingredients. This is about the taste of China.


She knows how to make the sculpture of characters and get the printing done. That’s the beauty of ancient Chinese inventions.


She knows how to make the cosmetics applied by ancient Chinese ladies with flowers and honey. That’s the secret of make-up.


No more meaningless debate on whether she’s doing this alone or with a team backing her up, no more negative comments on her making videos for the sake of fame and fortune. Mind the way she conveys her love of Chinese culture in modesty, and the truth that Chinese culture shines in the eyes of foreign YOUTUBE audience because of her post. She is real and vivid the way she is. 



Enjune Zhang

Ladies in TV plays as charming agents (I)
影视剧里的美艳特工 之一:于曼丽


A legendary agent in The Disguiser (伪装者) with complex background


People see how stunningly glamorous she is, not knowing what she has been through. What’s on her is shining, making you trapped in the way she looks fascinating. What’s behind her is a mystery, a disguiser trying to get rid of suffering.

She’s silent, indifferent and unusual in the crowd. Staying in the same military camp, no one knows where she’s from. All they know is that she’s far from easy to get along with, or even get near to. She gives everyone a break in his arm when she is approached by someone in a way deemed offensive to her.

She’s supposed to be trained to be a weapon killing without a blink, and she’s close to that end step by step, a cruel assassinator cold in blood, without sense of love, kindness or mercy but the proficiency in certain mission. She doesn’t need feelings to survive, just a task is enough. She was told not to let anything warm settle in her heart, or that will be the most aching barrier pulling her from staying excellent and professional as a qualified agent.

She met him as her partner, an unwanted guy stepping right into her fence, bringing her back to a lady with innocent wish from a killer caring for nothing but endless assignments, together with a rhythm disordered and the experiences unexpected .

She’s a condemned prisoner for killing three bandits without mercy. They picked her as a potential agent for the way she looks and the way she acts, pretty face with innocent eye contact, sexy figure disarming enemies of their defense, and a swift response supported by ruthlessness that’s going to pull the trigger before the prey knows it’s too late.

She got killed by the way she loves a man. I have been cursing the stupid arrangement dragging her into a partnership for times. Idiot captain, if you do want to keep a knife sharp, keep it away from anything that’s possible to get it rotten or weakened. Stop asking why it is rusty when you put it in the water contained environment away from scabbard. No more unnecessary test, since woman can hardly stand the test of mission over true love.

the  disguiser.jpg

the disguiser.jpg

Enjune Zhang

Yammie Lam,HongKong actress living her life her way


It was in November 2018 that I read her story on newspaper. She was found dead in her shabby department alone, without no one knowing that she slipped and fell over in the bathroom until days later.

Her death brings about various news about her while she was still alive. They all focus on how beautiful and talented she was at her early age, and what kind of hard life she had been struggling through when she was claimed to be a psychopath.

She has been through a lot, the suppression by TVB, the personal injury when she was filming in Taiwan, car accident, sexual assault, myoma, etc . She could have been living a more decent life if she stopped fighting with what she thought is wrong. She refused all the things against her mind and principle. 

Her pretty face and fascinating smile remind me of my childhood memory of those famous TV series. There was glow shinning like stars in her eyes. Every role she played she told the story vivid enough for people to cherish in their memory. Although it is a pity that I learn her name after she passed away, her face makes it filling my mind with all the scenes where she had once been sparkling like fire.






Enjune Zhang

John Lone: A lonely Chinese movie star famous in Hollywood


He's known for his excellent acting proficiency in various roles, no matter it is the god father of the gang, the spy in disguise as an opera actress, or the last emperor of Qing dynasty. His oriental face was once getting in the way when he struggled to become a movie star in America, but it gave him the flame and glory when he reached the top in Hollywood. There is something deep down this Asian look that European actors hard to imitate or show. He hadn't lost everything unique in him, he polished his skill in American drama, spoke American English in a native way, and the western form he shaped for himself, hadn't changed the core in him. Deep down he deems himself Chinese. What's different in a person may make it hard for his way up, since he is so different from the popular criteria claiming what elites in this filed should look like. However, those loyal to what he originally was thrive and win. It was a lonely way for him to get to where he is now, but it is simply worth it. His time comes after it passes the turning point.

There seems to be a lonely king living in his heart, making every rise and fall of his eyebrow elegantly lined with noble temperament. This is something rooted in his life, his life as an orphan at the early age, a poor child without childhood, and an apprentice in operatic circle bullied and teased by the peers. What's painful inside the body of a shell, may be bred into the pearls. What's doom and gloom in his early life finally become the shining medal for the rest of life.


John Lone 尊龙


Master work

1985  龙年 Year of the Dragon 

1987  末代皇帝 The Last Emperor

1993  蝴蝶君 M. Butterfly

Enjune Zhang
7 facts about Cantonese
Not everyone speaking Cantonese knows the facts about this language, more specifically, a dialect of Chinese. However, knowing them may smoothen your path of learning Cantonese.
1 Not every Cantonese could speak Cantonese
We call people born in Guangdong province Cantonese. People in Chaozhou and Meizhou are Cantonese, but they both have their own mother tongue, Teochew and Hakka.
2 Cantonese is spoken not only in Guangdong province
People in several parts of Guangxi province speak Cantonese, say Wuzhou and Yulin. Immigrants moving from south China to foreign countries speak Cantonese, especially those in New Zealand, Australia, American and Canada, etc.
3 Cantonese applies the same Chinese characters applied in Mandarin
Frequently applied Chinese characters are with their Cantonese pronunciation, but some are not applied when we write in Cantonese while we may have some other wordings describing the same thing different from Mandarin. It will be hard to find the exact character in dictionary corresponding to the pronunciation, since the modern dictionary is edited according to Mandarin. Therefore, we may make the written form of Cantonese closer to the Mandarin style, applying the characters normally used in Mandarin with the same meaning let along getting the character 100% matchable with the Cantonese pronunciation written. It is quite normal when someone speaking Cantonese doesn't know how to write a certain character he has just spoken. Written language in Cantonese is highly consistent with that of Mandarin, which makes the title in TV program reading friendly nationwide, while leaving that part of characters alien from the perspective of Mandarin seldom applied and recalled even by people speaking Cantonese.
4 There is Pinyin for Cantonese too
Pinyin in Cantonese is a romanization of of pronunciation. It is invented for foreigners or Chinese not natively speaking Cantonese. Actually, native Cantonese speakers have no idea of the tones and Pinyin of Cantonese, which is even hard for them to comprehend and master. Cantonese native speakers learn Cantonese via daily imitation and practice without the help of Pinyin.
5 There are more than four tones in Cantonese
There are six tones in Cantonese, which is marked as 1-6. If the Cantonese pronunciation of a character is ended with p, t or k, which sounds short, strong and stops in an abrupt way, it is taken as a special tone since it shares the same pitch of tone 1, 3 or 6. 
6 Chinese mark the pronunciation of Cantonese with characters
There is no such a thing as Pinyin in ancient China. Pronunciation of Chinese is marked by a combination of characters, with one familiar character sharing the same consonant with the alien character, and the other sharing the same vowel.
7 There are varies accents and styles of Cantonese
Not people speaking Cantonese can understand the Cantonese they speak to each other. Cantonese spoken by people in Hong Kong may sound a little bit different to those spoken by people in Guangzhou. But anyway they could understand each other. However, it is not the same when it comes to the case where the difference is distinct, say, pronouncing the same thing in hugely different accents, or describing the same thing in different wordings. It is talking about the difference between Cantonese in Guangzhou and Cantonese in other Guangdong cities. The latter may develop toward a way close to Cantonese in Guangzhou style or Hong Kong style, given that Guangzhou is the capital in Guangdong province, and its accent is taken as something standard for people in any other area of Guangdong to follow, while Hong Kong media like TVB are widely known and they are having greater influence to people in mainland China.
Video resources for Cantonese learners
Enjune Zhang
He learns to play chess and music instrument just to draw better
It was Sunday, trapped in house by the rainy morning, that I read the story about him. I was not knowing what to do then since the rain put an end to my plan going out for a walk and doing the recording along the way. I was thinking about doing the recording at home only to find that the goddamn cellphone was unavailable for clear record without blending some noise of electric current into my voice. What the hell is going on? What a big joke!
We have planned to do a lot in the leisure future when we are busy, making a to do list and awaiting them to be finished when we have the time. But the things don't see any accomplishment when that time comes, since a lot of other things unexpected do come along with the time available.
Somebody may go around the obstacle and find another way to his goal set, while the others stand still wondering why, cursing damn, or moving to another direction when they see no possibility to go through the barrier. 
The story I read about Mr Bingshan Shen is a well reflection of the somebody mentioned above.
What if what you do could always have something to do with what you are going to do next? It may be a perfect form of efficiency in life, because nothing you've ever done has been wasted.
Mr Shen enjoyed drawing when he was young, and that's his lifelong love of labor too. Sight means almost everything to a painter, but illness got him blind when he was right 26 years old. He had to quit drawing unless he could draw without seeing, which means he should draw with the guidance of memory, judging the position of next stroke based on the last one, and having his own rhythm in mind to move along.
That's difficult for even normal people, let alone for someone disable. But one has no idea of what difference he is capable of making until fate gets him cornered. He put drawing aside,  starting to learn to play chess and a kind of traditional Chinese music instrument named Yangqin. It took him 27 years. 
He led the way back to drawing when he had mastered both chess and Yangqin well, which brought him fame nationwide. He wouldn't rest on that glory, since he knew what he had learned these for.
I was shocked when I saw how he connected drawing with the way he played chess and the Yangqin. Playing chess gave him a great improvement in memory, so he's good at visualizing the chessboard in mind, systemizing every move based on the lines crossing each other on it. He made it planning what to do next playing without watching the layout. 
The layout's in his heart. And when this game saw its transformation on the paper and color, he could manage drawing well by memorizing what he had done and designing the coming steps based on what's formed in his mind, so blindness was no longer in the way. He took the paper his chessboard and every time he put a brush on it, it's like moving a piece of chess thereon.
His experience in Yangqin sharpened his sense in rhythm and alteration of details. Different pitches arranged in various rhythm make the melody. And he was specialized in  making ever-changing melody possible without seeing. He saw drawing as the flow of music where colors and lines got changing to make what's in his mind vivid onto the paper. That's how playing the Yangqin helped him with his drawing. It's all about control of rhythm when you polish the details.
Barrier brings him patience, and he makes it a legend.

Enjune Zhang
Read half of the books in Chinese book shop for free

You are just an app away from an opportunity to read over 50% of books published by various Chinese publishing houses for free. I am not crazy and this wish is not unrealistic.
As a senior searcher for materials free of charge, I strongly believe that there must be a free online library of Chinese books after I find the one with English original books available to download without paying a penny. I find it now. Although only online reading is allowed within two hours a day, it is enough for someone who spends 2 hours reading each day and keeps it this way day by day.
Thanks for Netease snail reader, I have access to online library after I am away from college and still get the resources to keep lifelong study going on. Owing to this app, I stop buying books or being anxious about where I should keep the books after finishing them. I still keep a habit of dropping by the book store once every two months, just to get to know what's new for readers. All I need to do is have a name of the book I am interested in and put it on my bookshelf of that app.
Here are the 6 ways that you could locate a book suiting your taste and bring it into your reading list in snail reader.
1 Find the Chinese counterpart of the book you are familiar with
2 Find the book of your favorite Chinese author
3 Check what's new on the recommended list
4 Go to the Chinese local book store and have a glimpse of the content of the certain book you feel like reading
5 Search on Chinese online book seller for an attractive name
6 Search by famous Chinese public house. Start with the bilingual ones
Find more details of this Chinese online library in PDF attached if you deem it useful
guidance for snail reader.pdf
Enjune Zhang
Apps helping Chinese native speakers with their English may boost your Chinese 
Apps available for Chinese native speakers to learn English see a rapid boom these years, and most of them focus on providing video and audio materials and offering related practice aiming at the improvement on listening comprehension and spoken fluency. Materials for language learners are common, so if they could be applied to learn English by Chinese native speakers, they are applicable for non Chinese native speakers to learn Chinese. Both types of learners are doing the same thing actually, finding the connection between Chinese and English and figuring out a better way for them to sound native when applying a foreign language. Expecting pronunciation of Chinese and a function testing whether we have pronounced Chinese in a correct way from these apps is not realistic, however, if we have some other ways to fill the gap mentioned above, things will be different. And it's like developing a special version upgraded based on the particular need of foreign learners. To make this happen, we would build a connection between English learning app and translation app.

Two things important determining the outcome and experience will be the learning materials available, whether they are closely connected to daily life, and the level of translator, a translator making standard Mandarin pronunciation possible and offering a system telling you whether you are doing good in pronouncing Mandarin. A combination of the apps listed below would be practical and worth a try.

1 可可英语
An app with both audio and video materials for Chinese students to learn English, resources available concerning TED speech, foreign news, BBC documentary, American & British TV series, etc.

2 有道翻译官
An app available for text and voice translation, powered by Youdao group, catering for Chinese travelling abroad or talking with foreigners

3 一点英语
An app providing short English videos in various topics in multiple fields with Chinese and English titles

Details for downloading of the apps and the operating guidance of each app are shown in the PDF attached. 
Here are the basic steps concerned, and see if it could open up another channel for you to immerse in Chinese.
a. Find a certain bilingual audio/ video in可可英语 or一点英语.

b. Find how the wordings in Chinese match with the English text.

c. Copy the Chinese text to get it pronounced by有道翻译官 (for text in 可可英语,search it in Chinese search engine if direct copy from the app is not working).

d. Learn how it is pronounced and polish your own pronunciation, then input the same characters in short sentence with your voice. Your pronunciation need to be correct and standard for the system to get you the right character. This may be the objective reflection compared with a mere score given by the system.

e. Take the test provided by the system checking if you can choose the corresponding meaning of a certain word given in Chinese or English.

English learning app may help you with your Chinese if you want it -by enjune.pdf
Enjune Zhang
3 things getting in your way to learn a foreign language
1. Afraid of making mistake
Don't be afraid to look stupid when you are trying to figure out something you are not familiar with. Dare to make expression and utter your voice even if you are basing on the wrong evidence. You may never know that you are wrong if you silence your opinion, your argument, your pronunciation, your writing style, your way of comprehension within your brain. Get them exposed and someone may jump out of nowhere to correct you, that's how you can boost your language skill and understanding of certain thing language related, whether your mistake is pointed out in a friendly way or not. Otherwise, you are stupid instead of looking stupid. It is quite normal that your pronunciation will sound strange and unnatural to native speakers. They could detect your atmosphere of foreign accent once you start with the greeting, and unfortunately what you are going to say next, anything different from what they deem normal and natural, could never escape their judgment. But it is not the reason to make you a mute. Keep speaking your way and make necessary adjustment as you know more about what will be the thing that gives you away, until one day you are next to perfect. Keep writing and posting in foreign language even if someone else keeps claiming that you are making things complicate or confusing to them but not in the way stubbornly clinging to your old habits. Maybe sometimes dignity and sense of shame may get in the way but you have to cut it loose and swallow the pain if you find that something does need improvement. And you do it for a better yourself. During adjustment, stick to your own view if you are not well persuaded even if you are not part of the overwhelming majority. Keep your own judgment and don't let it be navigated by bias or timidity of something not in line with you. If someone's claiming something isn't worth a try, you should be the one to test it and decide to be a follower or not. You just choose the same path or stay on your own way for your own sake.
2. Unwelcome things alien or different from you
We are born to seek ally and stand against the difference. Any voice not in the same tone with ours, we are likely to call it a noise. But learning and idea exchange is anti nature. We need to be brave enough to be different and tolerant enough to accept existence of different opinions. The real modesty is not solely presented to someone more professional than you but also an amateur, not someone showing their admiration to you but someone uttering a voice different from yours. Correct your pronunciation based on the way how the native speakers pronounce it and make it sound more native, but stick to your accent if it doesn't essentially prevent the others from understanding what you've said. Don't care too much about the uniqueness in accent, even native speakers have their accent inherited from local dialect to deal with. Keep it part of your pronunciation if it is not too strong to make yourself understood. 
3. Partial effort on input or output, orally or writtenly
He who is good at a language is a balancer, doing good in listening, speaking, reading and writing instead of blocking his potential to a certain aspect. Think about how it may have something to do with your spoken Chinese when you listen to the Chinese broadcast. Think about what you could read next when you see a bottleneck in your writing. Develop a nose for listening materials and reading materials, and make it output oriented. Spend related time to be a speaker, a listener, a writer and a reader during different time of a day.
Enjune Zhang
1 Why is it called 七夕?
It is on July 7 lunar calendar, and the related activity worshiping Zhinv, the seventh daughters (织女/七姐)of the Queen of Heaven (王母娘娘), comes in the evening of this day. We call evening 夕(xi) in ancient Chinese. So it means a festival falling on the evening of July 7. And the legend of 织女 furthers the meaning of this custom and its connection with the number seven. 
2 Why does somebody regard it as Chinese Valentine?
As the myth goes, 织女 comes to the man's world (we call it 下凡) and falls in love with 牛郎. However, their love gets hindered by the parents of 织女, and the couple is forced to be apart, without any opportunity to meet each other except the date July 7, when the magpies (喜鹊) of the world gather to make the bridge across the milky way for them. 
It is said that 牛郎织女 will meet each other this day, which is a symbol of reunion of couples through the thick and thin, a reflection of 有情人终成眷属.
3 Is it really the Chinese Valentine?
Traditional Chinese Valentine is on Jan 15 lunar calendar, and it is lantern festival (正月十五:元宵节) too. Girls stay at home with no chance to meet the potential BF in ancient China, but their opportunity comes in lantern festival, when they are allowed to go out watch the lantern show (赏花灯) and have fun figuring out the lantern riddles (猜灯谜).  And that's when the single get to each other, so lantern festival works like the Valentine better than Qixi, when single girls just have fun on their own.
4 Why is it also called 乞巧节?
Being smart in mind and deft in handcraft (心灵手巧)is the best praise for girls in ancient China. It is a day when single girls ask that quality and ability from 织女. Zhinv is good at waving and capable of getting the fabric done next to perfect. Girls dressed up decently gather and worship the goddess with the handcraft they make, praying for the skillfulness like 织女 and a happy marriage like 牛郎织女. 
5 What did girls in ancient China do in Qixi Festival?
Worship 织女 with their handcraft. There will be a competition in handcraft, and girls are judged by their handwork, like embroidery, decorations knitted with beads, clay figurine, etc. as offerings.
Collect the dews to wash their hands and eyes. It is said that eyes will be clearer and hands will be more skillful and proficient with the craft after wash. Water is deemed blessed by 织女 on that day.
Wash their hair and dye their nails. Single girls do this as a way in seek of beautify and happy marriage. 
6 Why does ancient Chinese have a festival like this on July 7?
Initially, festival on July 7 has nothing to do with 牛郎织女, and it is just a day to worship time and nature. 七 is a special number in Chinese culture, which sounds similar to 吉.  It means lucky. July 7 could be deemed as double 吉, conforming to the Chinese saying 好事成双. China has several festivals like this, with the day in the same number as the month per lunar calendar, say, double five, May 5 as dragon boat day, double nine, Sep 9, Chongyang Festival.
7 Why is it a festival for single girls in ancient China?
It was originally a day for single girls to pray for all the best from 织女. Actually married female are fully occupied by family and kids and they are far away from those days when they gather to pray for a better self and the ideal marriage accordingly. Qixi provides a good timing for young girls to get together and discuss what they are longing for.
8 Why do people store water or go swimming that day as a custom?
It is said that 织女 comes down for a bath in the river that day and the water is blessed. People believe that water fetched in a certain period of time is magically good for human body. 
Enjune Zhang
How we practice spoken foreign language via shadowing and echoing
如何通过影子跟读 & 回声跟读提升外语听力口语水平
Have you been wondering why you have watched a bunch of videos in foreign language but still fail to utter the word appropriately and fluently when you need to. That's probably because you watch but never practice based on what you've watched.
What we need to make it communicating fluently and finding the exact expression fitting the certain context when we speak? Basically three elements, familiarity of the wordings, pronunciation you are confident with, and swift reaction to what you've heard. Simply put, to manage a conversation well you need to know what the other party means, figure out the suitable words you would like to apply to convey what's in your mind, and pronounce it accurately enough for others to understand. If you stagger in any part mentioned above, the conversation lacks the fluency and agile state of mind to go smooth. 
You may find that people good at talking with foreigners have a lot in common, and that's far from coincidence. First of all, their listening comprehension of foreign language won't get in the way of further expression. They make it understanding what the other is talking about in seconds, and the faster it is, the less time it takes for him to respond.
Second, they are resourceful in the volume of expression available. The wordings seem automatically come into mind whenever the idea hits. And they are connected to memory by pronunciation instead of written form.
Finally, they are confident in their pronunciation. It doesn't necessarily mean the pronunciation is accurate or native without flaws, but it sounds not too weird for the native speaker to get it, so it won't make them too shy to speak out.
To make a progress in spoken language, we need to be familiar with the pronunciation, and the meaning corresponding based on how the words sound instead of the way they are written. Therefore, we could react quickly when we hear and get the words with the least struggling when speaking. How may practice echoing and shadowing help with the improvement?
Every time we watch a video in foreign language, especially those with titles, we read the meaning through the written language instead of understand it purely via pronunciation. And we've thought we get it, but actually we just don't focus on the connection between pronunciation and meaning good enough to make us well prepared to the future conversation with similar expression as the potential content. We may find it would be easier for us to realize what it means based on written form instead of reflecting its meaning the minute we hear it, since the connection between pronunciation and meaning hasn't been well developed. 
Both echoing and shadowing help us build and strengthen the connection between what we actually hear and what it means. When we echo what we hear, we try to repeat and imitate the pronunciation and lessen the inconformity between what we hear and the way we pronounce. The more consistent it is between them, the less time it costs for us to reflect what's said and further what it means.
Echoing also improves our muscle memory of the pronunciation and meaning of the words since we are practicing speaking up, which makes it relevant to our daily activity. Memory does serve better to the things we frequently apply than those we have ignored. We have paid little attention to the pronunciation when we watch videos without noticing the voice but the titles, or are too hurried for the meaning to notice how it is spoken. However, echoing brings us close to the pronunciation, which will be closer if we echo the video without titles and with scene where we could see how the commentator moves his mouth muscles.
Pronunciation has something to do with oral movement, and it will be a guidance of how to pronounce by watching how it is pronounced by others. Reading the meaning from lips will bring you closer to the meaning, too. It means the connection among movement, pronunciation and meaning is established. You don't need to reflect the written form to know what it means when hear it, and you can simply move your lips for the certain vocabulary when the thought strikes you.
When you are easy with echoing, it is worthwhile to take a further step to shadowing, which means repeating and imitating without pause. Unlike echoing where we finish hearing each sentence and hit a pause before we repeat, where we have more time to react and polish the way we speak, shadowing leaves us limited time to respond or polish since we are repeating almost simultaneously with the video.
Shadowing requires familiarity with the language, so that you are less likely to make mistake when imitating, and it means a higher level for reaction, which you cannot reach without former practice in echoing.
Imitation with consciousness is the shortest and most efficient path to mastering a skill, so it counts when you compare your pronunciation with the standard model and fill in the space of improvement if there is any. Make every move effective in boosting spoken language by echoing then shadowing.
Enjune Zhang
How does a Chinese child learn about his mother tongue (from age 3 to 8 )
中国人小时候都是怎样学母语的 (以3岁至8岁年龄段为例)
I happen to pay a visit to the bookstore and the children's book area is crowded with kids and their mothers busy teaching them how to read after the words. They get lucky to have parents around being their tutors, and I remember that I have nowhere to find mine when I was three or four, let alone to have them teach me how to read or write. It reminds me of how we learn mother tongue as a child.

In China, children are supposed to go to kindergarten at about the age of four, and before that time family members play a significant part in showing us how to talk, besides, the TV programs and the materials with characters and vocal function mean a lot to us back in those days. 

At the beginning we have no idea what it means when we imitate the pronunciation of the adults, and they seem to enjoy teaching us how to speak without feeling bored. Later on we say the character or word presented to us before and we seem to get the things we want in return, and that's when we start to realize how speaking up will make the life of an infant easier. 

We still have no idea of the written forms of what we speak, and just name it after the adults, trying to make it sound not so confusing to them so our demand will be soon satisfied. Actually, we take speaking as a way to give the order, which we want the people around us to follow. 

Therefore, what we speak is closely related to our need from within, until the adults bring about something like flashcards with pictures of animals and music instruments, story books and reading machine, etc. That's when we start to know something about the outside world instead of focusing just on the daily necessity of eating and sleeping. And what we have been exposed to at this period, somewhere around age three, will distinguish us from the peer concerning the level of language. 

We have no idea what this is about until we are put together in the kindergarten later, and see that some of the kids know almost everything even before the teachers start the lessons, while some of them have a hard time understanding what the teacher is talking about.    

Thanks for my grandpa's habit of watching CCTV channels and his patience reading bedtime story to me, I knew that there is another way of pronunciation of Chinese which sounds alien and strange to people speaking Cantonese originally. And my listening comprehension was pretty good before I went to the kindergarten.

The only thing puzzled me was that we talked with teachers and classmates in Cantonese but read after the tape in Mandarin when we learned from the textbook. We started learning how to identify the corresponding characters and build their connections with the pronunciations. With a certain foundation of listening comprehension, it was easy for us to link the written forms with the familiar words we'd heard hundreds of times.                                                                      

Pinyin was not introduced until a term before we were going to primary school. Prior to Pinyin, we had read after the tapes for Mandarin pronunciation of the certain text. Actually we could speak Mandarin before we had Pinyin into our life. And then in primary school Pinyin was taught again and it remained an important part of our course throughout the nine-year compulsory education. Pinyin is not the necessity for someone to speak Mandarin. Language has something more important to do with imitation than rules.

I guess that people born in Beijing hardly need to learn Pinyin since they have mastered the pronunciation of Mandarin through everyday communication since childhood, and similar situation may happen to the English native speakers that they don't go directly to phonetic symbols when they study how to speak English. 

Pinyin is not the starting point of our connection with Mandarin, not should any pronunciation rules with any language. Speak first, then let Pinyin help us correct and polish the pronunciation we have, and lead us to more characters of which we have no idea of their pronunciation.

We started to look up a new character in the dictionary via radical and Pinyin when we read and wrote at the age of five or six as pupils in the first grade of primary school. Teachers taught us how to make words with the characters learned just now, and then the sentence with a certain word given. Building the words and sentences got us well prepared to the composition later on, and we started writing from diary. 

We were asked to do lots of reading apart from the textbooks, guided by the booklist recommended by teachers. But I was the one ignoring all the recommendation and went directly to the bookshop to explore books of my own taste. I read really slowly and even now I kept this habit. I preferred taking notes of the beautiful wordings applied and sometimes marking down things crossing my mind while reading. It helps my improvement in writing a lot, in native language as well as foreign language.                

It will be a natural way learning language from listening, speaking, reading and then writing, and I'm curious about how much more efficient and effective I would become in learning English if I take the right path instead of paying partial attention to reading only. I try to recall how I learn Chinese just to see what kind of enlightenment I have for English study. 
Enjune Zhang
轻课 An creative business model of online course in Chinese educational industry   
Entity training agency like New Oriental teaching English is nothing new in China, online education course is on the rise. Lately, I find one promising a 100% refund after full time learning. It's amazing, for both the operator and customers. But how could they earn money if the students paying for the courses will get all the money back after they finish the learning tasks on time as required?         
在中国,像新东方那样的实体培训机构已没什么好稀奇,网上教程如今正异军突起。最近,发现了一个承诺学够学时便全额退款的网课运营商。 这无论对经营者还是客户,都是大写的惊喜。 如果按要求按时完成学业的学生都可以在课程结束后取得全额退款,那么这种网课经营模式是怎样获利的呢?
People signing up for the courses pay via Wechat and get the entry of the class. The courses take them 90-120 days or more to finish, and they need to guarantee an everyday visit up to required period to get the scholarship, with the same amount as the original payment, returning to customers' account 10 days after the end of the whole courses.   
It amounts to a collection of money from the mass to earn money by the money kept by the operator for a period of time. Both parties are making temporary investment. The operator could lend the money to someone else to get the interests while the customers offer the money to get access to courses in limited time, a temporary investment of money to get knowledge, the influence of which could be permanent. That's about mutual benefit.                                                
Such a mode concerning incentive system does the customers good, too. It encourages the learners to learn and have the money back. Sometimes we don't have to own something to make profit or benefit from it. It is enough that we apply it and make the most out of it as a passerby.
Maybe we would leave the book purchased years ago sleeping with dust covered without turning a page or two, but we may probably be busy finishing those we borrow from the library with a specific time limit. That's it, we are born to be urged and motivated by the deadline, by the sense of urgency that something will be taken away from us, or we would rather lie idly than keep the ball rolling. This kind of business model does us a favor by limiting what we have to here and now in a creative way.                                                                         
Be aware of the man reading just a single book, since he makes it focusing on the limited resources. In an era with information flooding in, it is not difficult to gather a bunch of materials and swear that we would get them conquered. It is just a matter of when. Attention is precious compared with the resources handily available everywhere.
And it is true that attention is simply wasted away during the hasty skip from resource to resource. Therefore, the goal we promise to ourselves is mere an empty vision without a due date. It will be news for the nowaday procrastinators, dragging them out of the embarrassment where they keep claiming that they will do it but rewriting the deadline.     
P.S. This is not an advertisement but an objective analysis for a business model active via Wechact recently, another brand new operation based on win-win situation between the company and the customers.
Enjune Zhang
6 facts you should know about Chinese radical 
1. Code of character  
There are lots of characters sharing the same part, and meanings of these characters have something to do with that certain part, and this is more than coincidence. We call this part radical.It exists as part of the character before it is applied as the clue to search for the characters in dictionary.Radical (部首) is just the name given later.Characters with this part are essentially related to a certain kind of thing or something related to that certain kind of thing, and that's how characters are formed and the meanings stretch. A new character formed with the radical carries the basic meaning of radical itself, and some specific meaning further, which the radical itself could not reach. For example,氵means water, characters with it as radical (海江湖泊) have something to do with water,but their meanings will be more concrete than water.Relation between meaning of radical and meaning of character with the radical is like that between the general and the specific. An accurate identification of a character's radical could help you distinguish it from its counterparts by revealing what it is mainly about. Sometimes,we may come across confusing characters like 请清情晴蜻氰鲭, but the meanings may reveal themselves if you know the meaning of the radical 讠(talk),氵(water),忄(heart),日(sun),虫(insect),气(gas),鱼(fish). 讠refers to conversation, so 请 (please) is a wording applied in daily communication;清(clear),a description of water 氵; 情(feeling),a mental activity related to heart 忄; 晴 (sunny),a status of weather related to sun; 蜻(dragon fly), an insect; 氰 (cyanogen), a  poisonous gas; 鲭(mackerel),a kind of fish. Knowing the meaning of radicals can also help us with the identification of similar radicals like 礻(supernatural being) and 衤(clothes). Therefore, you won't apply 礻by mistake when you try to write the character 袖(sleeve),which is part of the clothes; neither will you think that 衤will be part of 福 (blessing),something supernatural beyond your control.      
2. A crack on the radical with greater amount of characters first  
Focus on the radicals widely applied to tons of characters instead of keeping your eye on those with small amount of example available. So it is wise to pay more attention to several radicals frequently employed. You will find the rule mentioned applies to most of the occasions.Sometimes when it is hard to find the relation between the character and its radical, don't be too hurried to cast a doubt in it.The evolution of characters may leave some original radicals behind. For example,it is unclear why 白 has anything to do with 的,and 宀 with 它.However, if we take a further look into the ancient form of character,the answer is around the corner.旳 is the original of 的,it takes 日(sun) as the radical.旳 means as clear and bright as the sun.And meaning could be extended into "as certain and undeniable as something's existence under the sun", which leads to 旳确 dí què. Here in this word 旳=确. Although its modern form 的 has another pronunciation of de, the wording of 的确 remains. And the transformation of the radical makes the relation between the radical and character confusing. Another case is 它 (牠).It makes sense that 他 (he) has a radical of 亻and 她 (she) takes a 女 as radical. And 牜(animal) acts as the radical of 牠(it). 牠 is the original of 它, and again the inconsistence of ancient and modern form brings about the mystery. Therefore, if the link between modern character and its radical is weak,try to give an exploration to its ancient form. Drop it if you don't have adequate clue to make the relation make sense. Just focus on what you know applicable. It is a rule self evident and can justify more than half of the stories if it is not for every occasion. Even universal law may have its exception. And what's more, it is a valuable clue for you to link characters together for easier memory.Building connections is the way to make learning less complicated,so if you figure out the path,don't squander it.    
3. Memorize the certain radical with its essential meaning and the related characters frequently applied  
It is unrealistic to learn radicals separating therm from characters related.It will be a utopian thought to conquer all the radicals and then take a look of the characters and expect that you could open every door with the key you get. Start with the common characters and find the radicals corresponding. Every link you see between the character and its character may mean another strengthening of your belief in mind.  
4. Focus on the radical that could be a character itself  
There are radicals acting as an independent character itself, and a concentration on them may save your trouble.  
5 How to strengthen familiarity with radicals  
Practice searching characters via radical; analyse the radical for every new character you come across, trying to see why the meaning has something to do with radical.  
6 How to decide the radical of a certain character  
If it is a character with a part reflecting the pronunciation (not the 100% pronunciation and probably the vowel of the Pinyin), and another part indicating the meaning, try the part carrying the meaning (清 with 氵). If it is a character with a part embracing another part, try the part outside (围 with 囗;句 with 勹, 函 with 凵).If it is a character with side by side structure, the left part is likely to be taken, but the right part could be the radical if it contains less strokes (姑 with 女; 故 with 攵). If it is a character with top-bottom structure, take the part less incompact (盛 with 皿, 覆 with 覀).If it is a character inseparable,take it as the whole (羊 takes itself as radical). If the radical is not clear to find, try the first stroke to see if you get it right (中 wtih 丨).

Finally, for those who would like to learn more about Chinese radicals, resources available are listed below.
汉辞网 http://www.hydcd.com/zidian/hz/2240.htm                      
汉字英雄 explanation of radical given by 于丹
Essential Meaning Of Radicals Frequently Applied-enjune.pdf
Enjune Zhang
I have asked people learning Chinese as their foreign language what will be something puzzling them beside Pinyin, and 60% of them have idiom (成语) as answer.
Backed up by story and historical quotation, idioms frequently come in the form of four characters combination, based on the meaning of ancient Chinese, or extended meaning and metaphorical meaning of Chinese. It is a hard-to-crack case even for Chinese native speaks, let alone to mention the challenge they present to foreign friends.
I still remember the first material guiding me to Chinese idiom. It is not the dictionary but a picture book with cartoons vividly showing the background story of idiom. And that's probably the most frequently applied resource that open up a Chinese child's door to this special kind of wording culture-related. 
There will be many reasons why a certain idiom fails your comprehension, but most of them fall into the four mainly listed below. Elaboration is given based on 狼狈为奸 for example.
1. Not knowing the story behind it
Almost right behind each idiom lies a story, and some of them sound like a fable(寓言), containing the truth you need to know the idiom better. 狼 and 狈 pass a sheepfold and the sheep are attractive to them but out of reach. The fence is high for both of them. An idea occurs to狈, and he asks狼 to stand onto his shoulders so that狼could lay his hands to the sheep. And they get their meal by carrying out this plan. 狼狈为奸gives a description of this situation in brief wording. Both characters 狼&狈 appear at the beginning of the idiom, while 为奸means doing something evilly bad. So you know why it is stated as" act in collusion with each other "in the dictionary.
2. No comprehension based on classical Chinese
Idioms come from traditional Chinese culture, so ancient Chinese is involved beside modern Chinese. If you cannot figure it out based on the literal meaning applied nowadays, try the corresponding meaning in ancient Chinese. I bet you may wonder why 狼狈, describing an embarrassing and awkward situation, as it is shown in Pleco, would have something to do with 为奸. It may take you less time to see what 狼狈不堪 means, since the word狼狈here is consistent with what you are familiar with. That's it. 狼狈in 狼狈为奸means something different in ancient Chinese. 狼is wolf and 狈is a wolf-like animal. They refer to bad guys alike. Words in modern Chinese come in two-character form, so you may take为奸here as a unit instead of breaking it into two parts, 为and奸. Take a check in Pleco you may find the meanings are given respectively, which suggests that this is a combination of two parts, representing two separate meaning in ancient Chinese. 为=做=实施=do, 奸=奸邪之事=坏事=bad thing. The meaning could be around the corner if you take the words from the perspective of ancient Chinese, even if you don't know the story behind.
3. Things hardly existent in modern daily life
Something involved in the idiom could be rarely seen in daily life, and something is not even existent. It makes idioms more strange to non native speakers. 狈is the animal in tale only, so you would hardly know that it refers to someone next to the wolf in this idiomatic story,not a clue that it will be an executor 故事中的执行者 and subject 主语/主角 of the story.
4. Extended meaning and metaphor contained
Idioms act like a fable telling something more than the story itself. It involves meaning extended or implied. 狼狈为奸tells more than the story of how two evil animals snatch the sheep. 狼狈indicates the bad guys while stealing sheep could be extended to anything evil or illegal. Idioms are formed in detailed story but they are highly summerized and logically inducted, from the concrete to the abstract, from the particular case to the universal phenomena, available for analogy based on individual case arising from daily life. 成语是故事的高度概括与浓缩,归纳成一个道理,而我们对成语的运用则是基于日常个案的类比,借用成语形容类似的情况。The meaning implied or extended to fit in the summary universally applicable in daily circumstances makes idiom not straightforward enough to understand.
Enjune Zhang
It takes listening, speaking, reading and writing to make a language complete, and listening is always the hardest part to crack. Compared with reading and writing, you have limited time to react, without any possibility to go over a certain wording for times the way you do when reading. Moreover, reading doesn't involve pronunciation and sometimes you may find that you understand what's been said once you have the script of the listening materials. What'll be said and the way it sounds, the speed it takes depend on the person leading the conversation, and the uncertainty of content, accent and pace make listening harder than spoken Chinese. 
Conclusion above is based on the assumption that the degree of complexity stays the same. Characteristics of Chinese below make you need more time to figure out the content orally expressed, and further the uncertainty of Chinese listening. 
1 Different characters in the same pronunciation
There are several characters sharing the same Pinyin, and you have no idea what's talked about without connecting it to the words around it or putting it in the context. You won't see the difference about 气, 器, 弃 since they sound the same. And you have no idea which of the following is mentioned here, 中指, 终止or 中止if "zhong zhi" is all you hear. Such a high frequency in application of same pronunciation makes Chinese confusing to foreign speakers. Therefore, memorizing the characters in words, and minding how the certain word match with the other (collocation) mean a lot to improvement of Chinese listening skill.
2 Standard Mandarin challenged by dialects
Not every Chinese speaks standard Mandarin like the host or hostess in broadcast. Unfortunately, people living in different areas of China have a lifelong battle against their dialect's negative impact on Mandarin pronunciation. This could be a huge influence since Chinese dialects vary a lot from each other. You know the English is speaking English even if he has accent, but you don't know the Chinese is speaking Mandarin if he sounds much too dialect influenced. However, it's not the reason that you could slack off in practicing standard Mandarin. On the contrary, you should be familiar with Mandarin pronunciation to know which pronunciation is likely to be influenced by dialect and how it is affected, so you could realize which character is about even if it is not pronounced in perfect Mandarin. Be well prepared with the Mandarin blending with several dialect, so you are not losing confidence when you doesn't sound good for the moment, and you won't be too shocked when some Chinese disappoint you with their pronunciation far from perfect.
3 Pronunciation in monosyllable with tones unfamiliar to non native speakers
Characters are pronounced in monosyllable no matter how long its Pinyin seems to be. 
Each character is pronounced separatedly, like water drops falling down to hit the ground one by one, different from liaison in English, which sounds like a river flowing forward. Say each Chinese character independently without lengthening the sound or make them connect to each other. That's the way how Chinese is spoken, and familiar with such a style in pronunciation does matter to your listening. It is true that some Chinese students claim that the listening materials in English test will be easier to understand if the announcers making the audio tape speak English the way they do, pronouncing each t, d, k at the end of each vocabulary clearly, without consonant at the end of a word connecting to the vowel at the beginning of next word. Be familiar with the pronunciation rules and style of a language does smooth the process of listening comprehension. We may understand in seconds if our own pronunciation is identical with how native Chinese people speak Chinese.
4 Wording out of range
There are words you seldom come across in text book or literature reading, and you are likely to get trapped if they show up in the conversation. Make yourself exposed to 成语, 谚语, 歇后语, 网络热词, 双关语, etc, and listen to conversation or materials with topics close to daily life. I am not recommending CCTV news but you could try it if it is not boring to you. Documentary in CCTV 9 will be good choice but go get some refreshment before it makes you doze off. TV shows recording how people are asked to finish the tasks or introducing you to something worth your attention or place worth visiting (综艺节目, 游记, 美食节目) are easy for you to cling to and follow through. The more you don't understand, the more you need to practice listening. We didn't understand most of our parents' conversations when we were around two or three, but we still listened until we learned enough to comprehend what's been said. Therefore, do not say no to listening material because you understand little about it. Try and you may find even if you can't tell the meaning of a word you are still getting familiar with the way Chinese is spoken, how Chinese people describe things and what kind of wording they choose. It is a process of accumulation hidden but may see its meaning as you proceed with and finally make what you've heard part of your wordings.
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