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  1. 11 likes
    I’ve found lots of ideas about what to read from the “what are you reading” topic that Skylee started in 2004 now has 46 pages. I hope that topic continues just as it is, nice and relaxed. But the downside there is it’s not exactly in list format …. so that’s kind of what I’m going to try to do. I’m not really sure of the best format so I’ll kind of work that out as I go along. Ideally there’d be (i) a list of authors and maybe an indication of difficulty, (ii) a description of the books of each writer and if necessary (iii) a link to a page where people have already discussed the books in more detail, or to a new page if people want to start such a discussion. I don’t know how it’s going to work out, but I’ll start a new topic. Hopefully it'll be as collaborative as possible but that may mean asking Roddy to change things around at some point. Perhaps we can keep this topic for discussion of what to include. Meanwhile on the main topic, it’ll be a list at the top and then one ‘reply’ per writer.
  2. 10 likes
    Let's say you arrived in China earlier this year either for work or for study and don't have a lot of time, money or language skills at your disposal. And, though it was fun at first, eating out all the time has become problematic. Yes, it can be cheap, but it isn't the healthiest of options and it isn't always as convenient as just whipping up something simple at home. Several of us old timers will try our best to give you a few hints and tips as to how to make some of your meals at home without much in the way of tools or materials. These won't be gourmet feasts, but they will keep body and soul together without costing an arm and a leg and without eating too deeply into your busy schedule. This thread is intended to provide a forum for discussion, comments, questions and answers. We hope it can serve as a useful starting place for your China cooking and eating adventures. You will find that once you try cooking for yourself over here, it will also make it easier to order when you do go out since you will have some familiarity with Chinese ingredients, seasonings, and preparation methods. You will know what those words mean when you see them on a menu. A personal digression, to be up front and get it out of the way. I first came to China in 2006 and fell in love with the people, the food, the way of life. I was still working full time back in the US at the time, but took progressively longer and longer vacations. Am an ER doctor, and was senior enough to have the luxury of being able to schedule generous unpaid time off as long as I did it well in advance. Spent most of my China time learning the language and immersing myself in China's rich history and culture. Have traveled to every province with the exception of Tibet and Xinjiang. Lived in Zhuhai, far south and Harbin, far north. Spent time in Dalian and Beijing as well. Tried Shanghai. Eventually retired and settled in Kunming, where I now spend most of each year. Go back to Texas for a couple months annually. At every stop along the way I have either stayed in a dorm or rented a small apartment, with a short lease of 6 months or less at a time. Never wanted to invest in purchasing top-notch tools or appliances since I knew I would have to soon leave them behind. So I have, by now, equipped six or eight small kitchens, and have done it frugally. Have had a chance to correct beginner mistakes and do things better the next time. Learned tons from my Chinese friends and shamelessly copied their methods. Dorm cooking is similar to bachelor cooking in a bare-bones efficiency apartment. It assumes not much room, not much money, not much time. Let's start today with the basic durable items that will make it possible to prepare at least some of your own chow. You will need something to cook in, such as a flat-bottomed wok. The one shown is a real good one; but a no-name "starter wok" will cost under 100 Yuan and is adequate when beginning. Wok is 炒锅。Mine, illustrated here, is ASD brand 爱仕达。That's a good label; 苏泊尔 Supor is another. Some woks are round on the bottom, and only work well when cooking on gas. My old one was that kind, pictured below. Flat bottom wok is 平地炒锅 though that can also mean a western-style skillet with strait walls. Please see this earlier article for more about selecting a wok plus how to season it and care for it. https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/51217-wok-and-chopsticks/#comment-392506 Woks almost always come with a lid. It shouldn't cost extra. Lid = 盖子。Here are my two lids, the one with a glass center and a convenient "stand up" attachment. The old plain one is lying down beside it. Here, below, is a wok I saw in the store yesterday for peanuts (19 Yuan and 80 Mao.) You want one that can be used on an electric hot plate 电炉, such as the one pictured above. Electric hot plates can be purchased for between 100 and 200 Yuan. Expensive ones have a larger heating area and put out more intense heat. Sometimes they are also programmable, a feature you won't need. An alternative to a wok plus hot plate is an all-in-one electric skillet 电炒锅。These can be bought for as little as 100 Yuan. I would suggest spending around 200 Yuan instead because they cook more evenly. The very cheapest ones have hot spots and cold spots that makes it difficult to cook food without parts of it burning. Best to buy a major brand. Two which are dependable are 美的 and 九阳。Supermarkets like Walmart 沃尔玛 and Carrefour 家乐福 carry them. Appliance stores such as 苏宁电器 are also a good bet. Prices will be the same across the board, unless you hit a special sale or promotion 活动。 I don't have one of these, so cannot tell you for sure first hand, but I've heard that they don't cook as fast as a wok on a hotplate. Arguably, none of these electric skillets do as good a job of 炒菜 frying, but they are satisfactory for less demanding tasks, such as boiling broth for hot pot 火锅 or for 涮菜, useful tasks in a minimalist kitchen. A knife and cutting board 菜板 are essential. This cutting board can be of bamboo or plastic. Either option only costs 10 or 15 Yuan. The square Chinese "cleaver-like" 菜刀 is great for most tasks and one can be had for a song, well under 50 Yuan. A paring knife, known here as a fruit knife 水果刀 can also be useful. The ones on the left, above, are mine. But here are snapshots from a recent shopping trip to the corner store showing a knife and cutting board for 10 Yuan each. Not a very large investment. You need something with which to stir the food and eventually scoop it out. A special stir-fry spatula or 锅铲 may even be included with your wok at no extra charge as a bonus or "sweetner" to clinch the deal. This is the single most important hand tool. A ladle 汤勺 and a coarse strainer 滤网 are also handy. Furthermore, you would be smart to buy some chopsticks 筷子。Knife 刀, fork 叉子 and spoon 勺子are optional but suggested. A supermarket is where to shop for these. Useful "extras" include something with which to handle a hot dish or hot pan. You could, of course, just use a rag instead. Something on which to set a hot pan to keep it from burning the table also is handy, but once again, you could improvise with a magazine or one of last-year's textbooks. The third item in this category of "nice to have" doodads is a steamer stand so that you could place a dish of food in your wok and let it steam over simmering water (with the lid on, of course.) Dishes from which to eat are always discounted in one or another supermarket, and typically cost between 5 and 10 Yuan each. The essentials are a rice bowl 饭碗 and a soup bowl 汤碗。A flat European-style soup dish is also useful, in that it can be used for steaming as well as for eating at the table. You can also find paper plates and paper bowls to use some of the time. I will stop here for discussion before moving to the next section, which will be about essential perishable/disposable items that need to be in your cabinet, such as oil and salt. Please pitch in with your own experiences and ideas. Feel free to offer additions and corrections. Matters of this kind have no absolute right and wrong; lots depends on one's personal preferences and perspective. Thanks!
  3. 9 likes
    The dictionary has been released.
  4. 7 likes
    Alright, I have reached a conclusion after much deliberation: There is nothing wrong with 在未……之前. It is the correct usage and serves an irreplaceable function. It has its roots in the ancient language and has been used by great intellects. Any arbitrary rule against it is misguided. I’ll try and explain in detail how I reached that conclusion. Let’s first start with establishing two facts: 1) 在未……之前 and 在……之前 are not semantically equivalent; 2) 在未……之前 and 在未……時 are not semantically equivalent. This should be obvious. Because otherwise there wouldn’t be an “or” in the proposed solution by the opponents of 在未……之前: namely, to remove 未 or 之前. The guys who came up with this solution must be aware that you cannot always remove 未 from a sentence, because of 1); and you cannot always remove 之前 from a sentence either, because of 2). Hence the awkward two-pronged attack. Easy to demonstrate through examples (all taken from Google search “在未*之前”): a) 在未判罪之前,刑事訴訟必須保障疑犯免受監禁、逼供之苦、享有緘默及不自證其罪(或稱自我指控)的權利…… (Hong Kong Human Rights Commission's document) Obviously, if you omit 未, this ill-formed sentence *在判罪之前,刑事訴訟必須保障疑犯免受監禁、逼供之苦…… would end up implying that in criminal cases, conviction is but a matter of time. (This should also answer @Tulee the OP’s question concerning “the reason for 未 in the sentence at all”) b) 在未燦爛之前就已凋零 (title of online fiction) The 未 in this sentence is a key word, therefore cannot be removed. *在燦爛之前就已凋零 is wrong on so many levels I’ll leave it to those who have better math skills than me. 未燦爛就已凋零 This could have worked, if the rhythm were not off by, let me see, 1, 2, 3 syllables, thus turning poetry into rap. c) 在未遇见你之前,我不愿将就 (random essay) The essay is sloppy nonsense (你 means Mr. Right) but the sentence is interesting. Try removing 之前: *在未遇見你時,我不願將就——哦,一遇見我你就願意將就了。 Try removing 未: *在遇見你之前,我不願將就——哦,遇見我之後你就願意將就了。 Either way, you’re willing to 將就 once you meet your Mr. Right, which doesn’t seem right to me. d) 爱在未死之前 (fan fiction title) This one, no matter how I wrack my brains, just can’t seem to work: *爱在死之前 *愛在死前 *愛在未死時 *愛在未死 *愛死不死 BRAINS! BRAINS! BRAINS! We’ve investigated a few cases where one of the two words (未 and 之前) may not be readily removable. Let me confine myself to saying that what seems to be a genius solution does not work well with titles. Next step. What about the possibility of both words being unremovable? What about legal documents? Good questions. Let’s examine two UN documents, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, Chinese version here), and The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, Chinese version here). UDHR, Article 11. (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence. ㈠ 凡受刑事控告者,在未经获得辩护上所需的一切保证的公开审判而依法证实有罪以前,有权被视为无罪。 ICCPR, PART III, Article 14 2. Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall have the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law. 二、凡受刑事控告者,在未依法证实有罪之前,应有权被视为无罪。 When it comes to the use of 在未……之前 these two documents seem quite consistent. I chose them not only because they are important documents that have been translated into many languages, but also because I believe the wording of these documents must be precise, being worked out carefully by a bunch of legal experts and professional translators (rather than a bunch of armchair grammarians). The ICCPR text is concise. Let’s see if we can “correct the mistake” by removing 未 or 之前. Firstly, removing 未 is out of the question. Same reason as laid out in Example a) above. Can we remove 之前 then? No. “……者,未依法證實有罪,應有權被視為無罪” is simply not good Chinese. Even if you throw in a 經, “未經依法證實有罪,應有權被視為無罪” is still wrong. Because in the original text, “until proved guilty according to law / 在未依法证实有罪之前” is a temporal clause, while 未經依法證實有罪 is a conditional clause. The difference may be trivial to some people, but I believe it’s unacceptable to experts. The UDHR text is much wordier. Parsing it is difficult even for a native speaker. Whether 未or 之前 can be eliminated safely, you be the judge. ==========我是華麗的分隔線========== When I was scouring the internet, lost in the labyrinth of semanticity, a thought hit me. Why does 在未……之前 even exist in the first place? Where did it come from? (Okay, that’s two thoughts.) After wracking some more brains, I seemed to have found an answer: 未……之前 is the direct descendant of the Classical Chinese phrase 未……之先 (variant 未……之初). Examples abound. 子春忍愧而往,得錢一千萬。未受之初,憤發,以為從此謀身治生,石季倫、猗頓小 豎耳。錢既入手,心又翻然,縱適之情,又卻如故。不一二年間,貧過舊日。——唐傳奇《杜子春》/宋・《太平廣記》(878) 或曰:「蓋古之人於材有以教育成就之,而子獨言其求而用之者,何也?」曰:「天下法度未立之先,必先索天下之材而用之;如能用天下之材,則能復先王之法度。能復先王之法度,則天下之小事無不如先王時矣,況教育成就人材之大者乎?此吾所以獨言求而用之之道也。」 ——北宋・王安石《材論》(1021-1086) 蕭何能知之於未用之先,而卒不能保其非叛,方且借信以為自保矣。——南宋・陳亮《陈亮集》(1143-1194) 苟遇知己,不能扶危為未亂之先,而乃捐軀殞命於既敗之後;釣名沽譽,眩世駭俗,由君子觀之,皆所不取也。——明・方孝孺《豫讓論》(1357-1402) 明哲則中心無所惑,而灼有所見於善惡未分之初;定靜則外物不能動,而確有所守於是非初分之際。—— 明・邱濬《大學衍義補》(1421-1495) 物不幸而為人所畜,食人之食,死人之事。償之以死亦足矣,奈何未死之先,又加若是之慘刑乎? ——清・李漁《閒情偶寄》 (1611-1679) 古人未立法之先,不知古人法何法;古人既立法 之後,便不容今人出古法。千百年來,遂使今人 不能一出頭地也。師古人之跡,而不師古人之 心,宜其不能一出頭地也,冤哉!——清・石濤(1642-1707) 【I love this one particularly. If anyone thinks this is a mistake, I challenge him to correct it!】 古人文章似不经意,而未落笔之先必经营惨澹。——清・吳德旋《初月樓古文緒論》(1767-1840) 『你去把野獸帶來,做成美味給我吃,我好在未死之先,在耶和華面前給你祝福。』——《聖經》創世記 27:7 現代標點和合本 『你去為我打些獵物回來,給我預備美味的食物,讓我吃了,在我未死以前可以在耶和華面前給你祝福。』——新譯本 【This is becoming interesting. I didn't expect to find a direct proof to support my claim that 之前 evolved from 之先. Now we've entered the Baihuawen (Written Vernacular Chinese) era.】 未出殯之前,有人來說,他有一穴好地,葬下去可以包我做到總長。我說,我也看過一些堪輿書,但不曾見那部書上有「總長」二字,還是請他留下那塊好地自己用罷。——胡適《我對於喪禮的改革》(1918?) 第一,未講之先,提出一個標準來,——標準就是“為什么?”——“女子不為后嗣”。——胡適《女子問題》(1921) 你的病未好之前,《新青年》決不要你做文章,你就是做來,我決不登出,請你勿怪。 ——陳獨秀力勸胡適戒煙的信札(1920?) 「下等人」還未暴發之先,自然大抵有許多「他媽的」在嘴上,但一遇機會,偶竊一位,略識幾字,便即文雅起來:雅號也有了;身分也高了;家譜也修了,還要尋一個始祖,不是名儒便是名臣。——魯迅《論「他媽的!」》(1925) 當還未做鬼之前,有時先不欺心的人們,遙想著將來,就又不能不想在整塊的公理中,來尋一點情面的末屑,這時候,我們的活無常先生便見得可親愛了,利中取大,害中取小,我們的古哲墨瞿先生謂之「小取」云。——魯迅《無常》(1926) 然而文藝據說至少有一部分是超出於階級鬥爭之外的,為將來的,就是「第三種人」所抱住的真的,永久的文藝。——但可惜,被左翼理論家弄得不敢作了,因為作家在未作之前,就有了被罵的豫感。——魯迅《論第三種人》(1932) 林佩珊佯嗔地睃了她表哥一眼,就往小客厅那方向走。但在未到之前,小客厅的门开了,张素素轻手轻脚踅出来,后面是一个看护妇,将她手里的白瓷方盘对伺候客厅的当差一扬,说了一个字:“水!”接着,那看护妇又缩了进去,小客厅的门依然关上。——茅盾《子夜》(1933) 在我以先,母亲生过两个哥哥,都是一生下就夭折了,我的底下,还死去一个妹妹。我的大弟弟,比我小六岁。在大弟弟未生之前,我在家里是个独子。——冰心《我的童年》(1942) 在这里我可以奉劝诸位有志于写作的青年,切不要着急的将自己的作品在未成熟之前就发表,要多读书,而且要多读世界名著。——老舍《創作經驗談》(1944) 在我們未老之前,看過了過多由於那些先前若干世紀老年人為一個長長的民族歷史所困苦,融合了向墳墓鑽去的道教與佛教的隱遁避世感情而寫成的種種書籍,比回憶還更容易使你未老先衰。——沈從文《廢郵存底》(1975?) And a poem by 殷夫《在死神未到之前》(1927) I deliberately chose some famous names, especially the Baihuawen writers, whose works are what the grammar of Modern Standard Mandarin is based on. To say they are wrong is preposterous. (Incidentally, pre = before, post = after, preposterous = in reverse order 本末倒置) Then one has to ask, why somehow it feels wrong and illogical. The answer is, because Chinese is not English. ==========我是華麗的分隔線========== There is one small fact that we all learned at one point or another but is too often forgotten. In Chinese, words donating directions, i.e. 前, 後, 上, 下, 左, 右, are nouns. They are not prepositions (or postpositions for that matter). Some coverb phrases such as 在……之前 functions as a circumposition. But at the core is still a noun. And when it comes to Classical Chinese, you better abandon the concept of preposition altogether. The correct way to analyze 未動之先 is as a noun phrase. 先 is the head word. 未動 is a verbal phrase that modifies 先 through the use of particle 之. If on the time axis, the event 動 is at (0), then 先 is (-∞ →0) and 後 is (0→∞). 未動 describe the state of 先. 既動 describe the state of 後. 先, what 先? 未動之先. 後, what 後? 既動之後. This is how Classical Chinese works. The noun phrase 未動之先 can be used adverbially to mean 'during the time when the event hadn't happened' => 'before the event happened'. Or it can be used as a noun, for example, in the phrase 於未動之先 where 未動之先 is the object of the verb 於. Unfortunately 之先 fell out of use during Lu Xun's time and was replaced by 之前, and with the widespread use of 在……之前 it looks increasingly like a adpositional phrase. But it still retains some classical characteristics. For example, you can't use 的 to replace 之, right? It's a fixed expression. When you want to say "before V" you use 在未V之前. There may be stylistic variations, but 在未……之前, contrary to some people's belief, is actually THE correct way to say it. You feel it's wrong because you're using European grammar to analyze Classical Chinese, is what I'm saying. Last but not least is the philosophical argument. Yes, many such sentences containing 在未……之前 can be rewritten. But just because you can doesn't mean you should. (Man, I love this construction, so pithy yet not strictly speaking grammatical.) To use two or more patterns to replace one perfectly fine and commonly used pattern, why? Because a few laowai learning Chinese couldn't wrap their head around it? With due respect, that's not a valid reason. It's confusing. Confusing to whom? Everybody knows what it means. It's illogical. Natural language IS messy and illogical. If it weren't so illogical, we would've long been ruled by machines and with half the forum members without a job. So, I hereby revoke my previous admonition. The new advice would be: Laowaimen, 在未……之前 USE IT DON'T ABUSE IT! ========== EDIT: Out of curiosity, I dug around the Four Great Classical Novels: 《水滸傳》(Water Margin) No occurrences of 之先/之前. 《三國演義》(Romance of the Three Kingdoms) Two occurrences of 之前 preceded by a verbal phrase, both in the negative. No 之先 found. (第二十三回)嵩回見表,稱頌朝廷盛德,勸表遣子入侍。表大怒曰:「汝懷二心耶!」欲斬之。嵩大叫曰:「將軍負嵩,嵩不負將軍!」蒯良曰:「嵩未去之前,先有此言矣。」劉表遂赦之。 (第二十八回)正行間,忽見周倉引數十人帶傷而來。關公引他見了玄德。問其何故受傷,倉曰:「某未至臥牛山之前,先有一將單騎而來,與裴元紹交鋒,只一合,刺死裴元紹,盡數招降人伴,占住山寨。……」 《西遊記》(Journey to the West) Tow occurrences of 之前 preceded by a verbal phrase, both in the negative. No 之先 found. (第十一回)十王聞言,伏禮道:「自那龍未生之前,南斗星死簿上已註定該遭殺於人曹之手,我等早已知之。但只是他在此折辨,定要陛下來此,三曹對案。是我等將他送入輪藏,轉生去了。今又有勞陛下降臨,望乞恕我催促之罪。」 (第十二回) 靈通本諱號金蟬,只為無心聽佛講。 轉托塵凡苦受磨,降生世俗遭羅網。 投胎落地就逢兇,未出之前臨惡黨。 父是海州陳狀元,外公總管當朝長。 《紅樓夢》(Dream of the Red Chamber) Five occurrences of 之先 preceded by a verbal phrase, four in the negative. The non-negative case is a stative verb. (第18回)那寶玉未入學堂之先,三四歲時,已得賈妃手引口傳,教授了幾本書、數千字在腹內了。 (第38回)黛玉道:「據我看來,頭一句好的是『圃冷斜陽憶舊遊』,這句背面傅粉。「拋書人對一枝秋』已經妙絕,將供菊說完,沒處再說,故翻回來想到未折未供之先,意思深透。」(This is clearly a noun) (第65回)興兒道:「……又還有一段因果:我們家的規矩,凡爺們大了,未娶親之先,都先放兩個人服侍的。二爺原有兩個,誰知她來了沒半年,都尋出不是來,都打發出去了。……」 (第98回)寶玉一到,想起未病之先,來到這裏,今日屋在人亡,不禁嚎啕大哭。 (第55回)每於夜間針線暇時,臨寢之先,坐了小轎,帶領園中上夜人等,各處巡察一次。 Two occurrences of 之前 used "correctly" in one paragraph not written by Cao. (第120回)士隱道:「非也。這一段奇緣,我先知之。昔年我與先生在仁清巷舊宅門口敘話之前,我已會過他一面。」雨村驚訝道:「京城離貴鄉甚遠,何以能見?」士隱道:「神交久矣。」雨村道:「既然如此,現今寶玉的下落,仙長定能知之。」士隱道:「寶玉,即『寶玉』也。那年榮、寧查抄之前,釵、黛分離之日,此玉早已離世。……」 More complicated than I thought. But I am still of the opinion that traditionally 之先/之前 requires a stative verb (not doing something is a state), and the modern/western-style usage is a late comer. If anything is wrong, it is not the former.
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    I just got a message from someone who has no exposure to Mandarin and also wants to apply for MTCSOL. Here's my reply to those with the same thought: How can you be sure that you want to do a career in teaching chinese when you haven't learned it yet? How can you be sure you'll even be good at it, never mind teaching good chinese to others. It's like saying you want to be an astronaut when you haven't learned physics yet. Of course it's not impossible but it's like a child dreaming and there's an awful LOT to learn. You need to have at least HSK5 to be able to apply for MTCSOL which is still damn difficult even with HSK6. Reaching HSK5 usually requires at least one year of intensive Chinese course fully immersed in the language environment unless you have a miracle learning strategy or are a language genius. Keep in mind that a teacher needs to learn a whole bucket of knowledge to be able to teach one drop of it. And you'll be starting by learning that one drop, but you really do have to learn the whole bucket to be a decent teacher. You can search for application information on this forum, there's plenty of detailed information. MTCSOL can be applied directly to universities. Scholarships like Confucius Institute, Chinese Government, MOFCOM etc have to be applied separately. Each country has its procedures, check your ministry of education or chinese embassy. Use internet efficiently, inform yourself and have common sense.
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    You're quite knowledgeable for a stapler.
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    This sounds like a nature vs nurture debate. SRS or extensive reading? Well, both, of course. If you only SRS, you'll never feel how the words are used in their natural environment; if you only read, you'll forget some words (like handgrenade) before you encounter them again, or you'll just gloss over words that you kind-of-but-not-really understand because you get the general meaning. So both.
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    I learnt both at the same time. It wasn't any real extra effort. In fact I still maintain that learning characters is actually one the easiest parts of Chinese (compared to forming grammatically/idiomatically correct sentences, getting tones clear, etc). I encourage everyone to learn both. Most of the differences follow obvious substitution rules much in the same way British English and American English do (civilisation or civilization, colour or color, center or centre, etc). Once you know those rules using one over the other isn't any extra effort. I feel equally comfortable reading both traditional and simplified to the point where I often don't even notice that I'm reading one set rather than the other and I'm not an advanced Chinese speaker/reader/writer. Too often the whole traditional/simplified debate seems to be made into something much bigger than it really is.
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    Please see this topic here: https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/53546-trying-to-organise-books-people-have-mentioned/ for more, and perhaps any discussion could take place there and I'll keep this topic as just a list of one reply per author ... please do add new authors here as long as you don't mind me perhaps adding to your post in the future if other people give feedback elsewhere about more books by that author. I'm not trying to produce a comprehensive bibliography for any author, but instead to draw together or signpost what people on the forums have said about their books. So far.... 王强 Wang Qiang 麦家 Mai Jia 巴金 Ba Jin 颜歌 Yan Ge 三毛 Sanmao 余华 Yu Hua 钟阿城 Zhong Acheng 洪放 Hong Fang 路遥 Lu Yao 张牧野 Zhang Muye 古龙 Gu Long
  10. 6 likes
    I always have a liesurely bowl of century egg and lean pork porridge 皮蛋瘦肉粥 when visiting Guangzhou and Hong Kong as an accompaniment to dim sum 点心。Last fall I was happy to see that a small 小笼包 xiaolongbao shop that I frequent here in Kunming began offering it on the side. I like its bland taste 清淡 as a change from Kunming's bold, spicy fare. And finally this weekend, I worked up the courage to try making it at home. Have made plenty of zhou here over the years, but never with century eggs. Thought I would tell you about it, partly as a general introduction to what zhou 粥 is all about, and partly as an introduction to the famous and exotic century eggs that you have doubtless read about somewhere down the line. Zhou is one of those things I never ate before coming to China; I guarantee you it isn’t big in Texas. It's something that can be made very plain or fancied up to fit one's mood and desires. This particular type, made with the fabled century egg and thinly sliced lean meat, is very popular here on the Mainland in part because it is said to dispel excess internal heat; in other words it is 清热。It's also quite soothing and easy to digest, thus frequently prescribed for people who are feeble or ailing. But you don’t have to be sick to enjoy it; zhou is the ultimate Chinese comfort food. My first stop in gathering ingredients was the trusty Mr. Yang. He's my go to egg guy at the local wet market. I've been buying from him several years, and he has never done me wrong. His free-range chicken eggs are the best of the best. I asked his advice; told him it was my first time using this exotic delicacy at home to make 稀饭。(In Yunnan, xifan 稀饭 is what we call zhou 粥 。) He explained that he had two kinds: 黄色的 yellow and 黑色的 black. For making zhou, he suggested the black ones, since they had a stronger flavor. I bought two at 2.5 Yuan each. These are duck eggs, quite a bit larger than eggs from a chicken 鸡蛋。Here's a picture to show you what I mean. But let me not get ahead of myself. We need to go back and start at the beginning; we need to talk about making zhou. I often use half and half ordinary white rice 大米 and glutinous rice 糯米 because the finished product has a smoother, silkier texture. Sometimes I rely on a combination of white rice and millet 小米。I also occasionally make zhou as a way to use up left over rice. Whatever grain one chooses, it's important not to use too much, because it expands more than you think it will during cooking. The ratio of water to rice should be at least 13 to 1. Actually 15 to 1 is better if you are using combined grains instead of just white rice. Wash it well: Take the wet rice, a handful at a time, and sort of knead it under water. Never do this if making plain steamed rice; but for zhou it's quite helpful since you want the grains to break down instead of remaining intact. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear; 4 or 5 times. You can cook it stovetop using a clay pot 瓦煲; that's the traditional way but it requires nearly constant stirring for about 30 minutes. The lazy person's method is to use a rice cooker, and that's what I did instead. The rice needs to soak for about 30 minutes before starting to cook. Use that time to prep your other ingredients, namely the meat and the preserved egg. I had bought a nice piece of lean pork loin 里脊 at the market from Ms. Li for 5 Yuan. Her sign advertises, “well-fed, healthy pigs from the mountain.” She and her husband had not gotten to return home to Zhaotong 昭通 for Spring Festival and she was a little blue. Chinese prefer fat meat, generally speaking, such a 五花肉, and lean meat is often a bargain. Using my razor sharp new meat knife, sliced the meat thin and let it marinate in a combination of starch 淀粉 and cooking wine 料酒。Added a pinch of white pepper 白胡椒粉 and another of five spice powder 五香粉。 I let the meat marinate about 30 minutes. Some recipes call for letting it stand even longer; this process helps makes it tender. Minced some elegant garlic chives 韭菜/jiucai and then turned my attention to the glorious egg. Peeled it carefully so as to discover whether or not it had the proper “flower pattern” of surface crystals to indicate it had been made right. This one definitely did, as you can see below. These duck eggs are first brined for a few days, and then packed in a damp coating made of rice hulls and clay mixed with ash and lime. This hardens, and they cure for about three months, Mr. Yang said. The yellow ones cure for a shorter time; they are often served just sliced and arranged as a 凉拌 accompaniment to other heavier warm fare at a special meal. They are an acquired taste, enjoyed in much the same way as westerners relish certain aged cheeses like Roquefort, Blue, or Gorgonzola. The eggs (I used two) can be difficult to slice cleanly since the center is soft. And yes they definitely do have a pungent aroma of hydrogen sulfide aroma and ammonia. The smell fills the room. I dipped my knife blade in water so as to keep the egg from crumbling. Saw another tip suggesting coating the knife with salad oil. Then I started my plain zhou 粥 cooking, using the appropriate setting 稀饭 on the rice cooker. This cycle takes about 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, I opened it, gave it a good stir and added the meat, eggs, and garlic chives. Plus a skimpy teaspoon of salt (the egg has some salt, so you don't need a lot.) In retrospect, I should probably have added some extra water at that point, because the finished product was a little too thick. I'll do that next time. Nonetheless, it had a pleasant and well-balanced taste. The preserved egg added a note of flavor contrast but were by no means overpowering, and the meat added a texture contrast even though it was thoroughly tender. And the garlic chives looked pretty, in a subdued way. One can use other herbs in place of it, such as 香菜 leaf coriander. Zhou freezes well, so I put up half of it in a plastic container. Will thaw it out and reheat it one rainy day when I don’t feel like cooking or when I need to dispel excess internal heat.
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    Okay so my first update for 2017. I don't have any plans about what to do this year/month/week. I've just been doing daily practice with different material depending on my mood. First of all I had good day around Christmas time where a Chinese acquaintance of mine brought her parents along. They were the only Chinese speakers. The parents were feeling a bit left out not being able to speak or understand English. But when the dad found out I could speak some Chinese he was really happy. It turns out the parents had been living in the girl's apartment for two months and didn't go out because they can't communicate with anyone. A sad state of affairs. Usually I'm terrified of speaking to old Chinese people because their accents can be difficult. Furthermore, they were northerners. Still to this day I find northern accents (compared to southern) infinitely more difficult to understand. Despite all this I managed to have quite a lot of conversation with the dad. And as a bit of an ego boo everyone else there was blown away by how fluent I seemed. I've now reached that important stage where non-Chinese speakers/learners can't tell how bad my Chinese is! The best part about talking to the dad was that I couldn't revert to English. I'm so use to just switching to English when I encounter difficulties when I speak to Chinese speakers. This time I had no out and I found the challenge really enjoyable. I wish it was possible to find more non English speaking Chinese. If I was going to use iTalki I'd be tempted to go find a tutor who doesn't speak any English at all. I'm still slowly building up my sentences in Anki. I've got 4 decks at the moment. I've got a deck with all the Chinesepod example sentences and sentences from the dialogues that I wasn't able to comprehend after one or two listens. Here I just have an audio file on the front and mark the card according to whether I can understand it or not. I've a textbook deck filled with sentences from textbook audio CDs that I've found interesting. On these cards I have English prompts on the front with the Chinese audio as the answer on the back. I also have another production deck. That's the 8000 sentence deck. I've set it to only add one new sentence a day recently to keep review time down. Finally I've got a 4th deck of recordings of native speakers reading in a casual/quick/normal manner the example sentences from the grammar sections of the old PCR textbooks. All up I might review around 100 sentences of audio a day currently, with some sentences just a comprehension check and some a production test. I'm going to keep doing this for the foreseeable future as I believe it is the best way to build up my vocabulary, 語感, and listening ability. I find that when I fully comprehend what is said I feel much more confident speaking/replying. Too often when speaking my brain is dedicating most of its power to deciphering what was said leaving me no time/energy to formulate a response/comment. If I ever get to the stage where I have little trouble understanding what is spoken around me I might then put more effort into practicing speaking. I am very happy with my reading ability and do not care if I cannot write as well as I can read. I hope that I can achieve the same with audio. I will be happy if I can comprehend but not necessarily speak fluently. I'm happy with this because I actually believe the production abilities will come about naturally once the corresponding comprehension abilities improve. Even now I never practice writing but my writing is quite good, simply as a product of absorbing so much written content. I hope it will be the same with audio. Besides reviewing audio sentences I've been more actively trying to focus on listening to material that is "at my level" or below. Even "easy" content will often still have some new vocabulary or at the very least, help reinforce some grammar structures I may be a bit more shaky with. The material I've been working with/listening to recently has been the audio stories from the Sinolingua graded readers and assorted other stuff. I've found I'm much more engaged when I use stuff that has video. Recently on this forum someone started a thread about tones and included a link to a youtube channel that I've been working through. Here's the video they linked: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBdRYkTp8Kw This is perfect for me when I just want some reinforcement and some confidence. Watching videos at this level isn't difficult and gives me a sense that I have actually made some progress with my listening in a way that listening to textbook audio etc doesn't. Even though the speed and vocabulary is very stripped down, it gives me a sense that I can understand "real" Chinese. The other "daily life" videos on this channel are quite good. I just wish there was more. I also just saw the SBS link @mackie1402 posted above to the 歡樂空間:台灣歌手黃珮舒分享故事與歌 podcast. I might also listen to this too. She's insanely clear and I can follow what she's saying with some gaps. I hope that I can build up from this base rather than start learning from "real" TV. The only problem will be finding enough content at this level. While reading now has many good resources to get you from 你好 to novels, listening material to get you from 你好 to a drama series is very lacking. (edit. I just looked around more on the SBS site. The other podcasts on there seem very clear and straightforward too. Eg this one http://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/node/778743?language=zh-hans) One last thing, although I am not longer actively practicing reading (it's become just hobby now) I was recently blown away by how quickly I can read simpler novels. I remember everyone saying 活著 was easy when I first read it. I didn't understand what anyone was talking about. Now that I've read a few quite heavy 書面語 books I've discovered how easy 余華's writing is. I picked up a collection of his short stories and managed to get through 50 pages in 2 days. Usually I only do a few pages in that time with my current books. I could really feel how easy 余華's writing is. My next big hurdle will be able to read newspapers as easily as I can novels. At the moment the truncated style and vocabulary gaps slow me down too much. Hope everyone else is doing well.
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    These tasty rice cakes are a premier way to use up left over rice. They don't take much effort or much time and provide an interesting alternative to just making 炒饭 fried rice yet again. I made some yesterday, with an encore just now. Let me show you how it's done so you can give it a try. Left over rice is one of those "blessings in disguise" and you are bound to have plenty of it in the fridge if you live in China, since one makes rice with nearly every meal. Might point out that left over rice works much, much better for this than freshly-made rice, mainly because it's more sticky and not as moist. A rice bowl 饭碗 is a common unit of measure here in China. Most hold between 200 and 250 ml. A soup bowl 汤碗 is the next largest unit of measure, and it holds roughly twice as much. These two bowls are pictured above, side by side. Today's recipe uses one rice bowl of leftover rice. Mince a small amount of smashed garlic and red pepper. I used a medium-hot long red pepper 红辣椒 and removed the seeds, but if you wanted more heat, you could leave the seeds in or even use a smaller, "bird's-eye" type chili pepper instead. I added some finely cut cilantro 香菜。Other things could work here instead, for example garlic chives 韭菜 or scallions 葱花。Maybe even a little minced carrot. Don't use too much of any of these vegetable ingredients or they will make the rice cake crumble and fall apart. Stir these ingredients into the rice along with one egg and mix well. 搅拌均匀。Add a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Drop a large spoonful of this mixture into your preheated wok. Medium flame is enough; it's easy to burn them. Flatten it out with the back of your spoon. A flat-bottom skillet 平底锅 would actually be better, but I didn't have one. Move these patties around gently until they begin to brown, only a minute or two. Then flip them, being careful not to tear them apart. Use a light hand; spatula 锅铲 assisted by chopsticks 筷子。You want them to be moist inside while crisp on the outside. That's all there is to it 即可。
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    The HSK results from Jan 14th's exam are finally in, and I passed HSK 4! 听力: 65 阅读: 84 写作: 69 一共: 218/300 It might not be the highest pass in the world, but I'm still pleased as punch with this. It's great to see that the Anki practice really paid off and the lower score in listening shows where I need to focus on in future. As for writing, I feel I messed the last section up a little but will still be sure to practice via. Lang-8 and HelloTalk to improve my grammar. I'm currently going over the HSK 4 grammar, and once that's thoroughly done (I expect in around a month) I'll be heading full steam ahead to HSK 5 with the aim of passing before the end of August this year. Happy days!
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    大家好, By way of introduction, I was active on Chinese-forums back in 2013-2014 (mostly on the CSC forums). I had applied for a CGS (Chinese Government Scholarship), which in the end I did not get. In mid-2014 I dropped off the internet due to a broken heart at not receiving the CGS (and due to some personal/family circumstances). Nevertheless, in the fall of 2014, I was able to get some financial assistance to attend a university in Henan, where I spent two semesters as a language student. When I returned in 2015, I promised Roddy that I would do a write-up for my university in China. Much to my chagrin, I am just now posting this, over a year later. My time at SIAS In 2014, I enrolled as a language student at SIAS International University. SIAS (not an acronym) is part of Zhengzhou University, but is located outside the city of Zhengzhou in Xinzheng. Boasting a population of 600,000 people, Xinzheng has a "small-town" feel, with a friendly local population. Being outside a major city, Xinzheng is also free of some of the major city amenities (no subway, train stop, etc.). I was told that SIAS has one of the highest ratio of foreign English teachers to student ratio of any university in China. All freshmen and sophomores are required to take oral English, which is almost exclusively taught by native English speakers. (There are over 150 foreign faculty and over 30,000 students.) SIAS is a private university with a unique value-proposition for Chinese students - students enrolled in one of their programs can earn both a Chinese degree and an American degree (through a partnership with Fort Hays State University in Kansas). (The only catch is that those students pay American tuition prices.) Of course, I was there for Chinese, not English. To be honest, I didn't pick SIAS because of language rankings. I hadn't heard of them until a friend who knew a friend… told me. However, after enrolling and going through the first year of their language program, I became very impressed with the quality of their teachers and instruction. Teachers and Education My teachers were pretty amazing. Most of them had a master's degree in how to teach Chinese to foreigners. This was useful in how they could help beginning students from different countries. (For example, they could tell, based on what country you were from, what initials, finals, or tones you would struggle with.) It also seemed that they had a constant awareness of what words we had and hadn't learned yet - and that they adjusted the their oral vocabulary to match. When I arrived, I tested halfway between the beginner and intermediate level, so I started in the absolute beginner class. The first few weeks consisted of pinyin review and basic vocabulary, but by the second month, I had to work hard to keep up. Classes started off in English at the beginning of the semester, with Chinese vocabulary mixed in as we learned it. By the third month, most of the class was taught in Chinese, and by the second semester, English was very rarely heard. We had a typical schedule of 口语,听力,阅读,汉子 and a couple 文化 classes. Class sizes were around 15 students for the core classes and maybe 30 students for the culture classes. The culture classes, which were mandatory, included Kung-fu, calligraphy (fall semester), folk songs, and Chinese painting (sprint semester). Dorms and International Students There were about 200 international students at the school: 4 from the US and UK with the rest from Asia (mostly Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Mongolia, Laos, Bangladesh, etc.). My first semester, I lived in a 4-person room in the International Dorm. The second semester, I received special permission to live in immersion housing with Chinese roommates. (This really helped me with my language learning, not so much because I was speaking more Chinese, as because I was listening to less English in the dorms.) All foreign students were required to participate in various activities. This included the annual week-long international culture week (with performances, ethnic food, crafts, games, etc.), school floats for homecoming, etc. Since each country was expected to be represented, this meant a higher burden on those students with fewer classmates from their country. Outside of required activities, I also joined a couple different student organizations (although dropped out of a couple once the course load became heavier). In the second semester, I participated in a Chinese speaking competition (得了第二名), and a non-free HSK class. I took the HSK IV in May, after a year of study, and scored 262/300. Language Outcome I mentioned earlier that I had tested between the beginner and intermediate level. My language background prior to arriving at SIAS consisted of 3 different language classes in the US (all native teachers), and a little bit of Rosetta Stone. Despite learning pinyin and some basic vocabulary, when I first arrived at SIAS in the fall, I had trouble forming a sentence or understanding very simple instructions. So for me, my Chinese education really began at SIAS. After just one year of education, I can say that I met or exceeded all of my expectations for language learning in this period. Here are a couple videos: Annual candlelighting ceremony for incoming freshman - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZHJxGTk6_Y Promotion video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfXCdsJH0Yk Here are some photos of the campus: 西班牙区: (Dorms) Some fountains that would play to synchronized music. The administration building (back view) Rush-hour traffic on the street outside the school gate: The international dorm (also housed Chinese students since there weren't enough Int'l students) 欧洲街 - European Street (small shops and some dorms) Administration Building (front side) International Dorm (inside view) bathroom in International Dorm:
  15. 5 likes
    Hey Everyone, I got my MTCSOL degree at Dalian University of Foreign Languages in 2014, and has been working as a non-native Chinese language teacher ever since. Our requirement for admission was HSK 5 and HSKK 中级, and the school had us pass HSK 6 and HSKK 高级 sometimes by the second semester, some foreign students didn't pass, but it was no big deal, everyone managed by the time of graduating. Since they needed the rooms for the short term language course attendees in January and July, DUFL made us move out for the winter and summer holidays, but they had a big, closed underground storage area for our stuff where all our books and clothes got nice and mouldy during the winter. Not fun. Anyways, everyone went home for the summer, and stayed, because the third semester was 实习 or internship at your home country. The teachers at DUFL told us that the Chinese students of the same Master's degree have to do the practice teaching in China (wherever they want) and the foreign students should go home and do it in their respective native language environment. If you'd be really, really hopeless in finding any educational facility (the local Con Institute, any elementary or secondary school, any language school or university, even something like a "Chinese Club"), then they might help and put you somewhere in China. Our classmates had no problems, some people just stamped their papers at their previous university, some of us actually did the practice teaching. I asked about 3 of my former uni teachers and one of them told me to ask a local Chinese elementary school, and they were really happy to let me teach the kids for one semester. I don't really remember, but required minimum teaching hours at DUFL were about 30 (which you can do in a week), I had fun so I stayed for four months. We had our residence permits extended before the end of the second semester so we would be able to re-enter the country in the following January. Upon arriving back for the last semester, we had to register again to prove that we would continue and finish our studies and then got the September-February worth of stipend in cash for some reason (that was the biggest wad of 100 yuan bills I have ever seen in one pace ), and had to start writing our theses. Having no classes to attend, I strongly recommend everyone to look for a hobby - China can be a really boring place if you're stuck on a university campus on the outskirts and the one thing you have to do is to sit in front of your computer for five months. Anyways, we finished writing, had a terminal exam which was basically talking about your topic in front of a committee, and everyone got their diploma. One thing about graduating - the paper you get at the end is ONLY IN CHINESE, I was beggig then try to bribe them to print an English version, but they just wouldn't. The only thing I managed after three weeks of banging on different office doors is to get an official DUFL seal on the English translation of my Transcript (that I made myself.....) then gave it to my classmates to translate it into Japanese, Russian, Mongolian, etc. and had those stamped as well. Before coming home they told us if we ever get stuck in looking for a teaching job, we should contact Hanban, because they can help the MTCSOL graduates in finding schools to teach Chinese. If we chose to be delegated by Hanban, our salary would come from them and not the institute we'd we working in. In 2014, they told us this would be 800 USD (I have no idea based on what), but since they couldn't answer for how many teaching ours a week, I wasn't sure if this was such a great deal. Having 3 Chinese classes on Mondays and getting 800 USD a month for it is nice, but teaching 40+ hours a week for the same amount is a lot less interesting. I'm not sure if there is still such an option, I've never confirmed with anyone. Besides, out of my 16 foreign classmates, I'm the only one actually teaching Chinese, most of them just wanted a Master's degree in whatever, obtainable in just 2 years. About the 5-year "follow-up": No one has ever came looking for me whether I'm teaching or not, not from Hanban and not from DUFL. About a year and a half after graduating I might have gotten an e-mail from our Confucius Institute about "hi-ex-scholarship-student-please-fill-out-this-questionnaire", but I'm sure I've completely ignored it and no one has ever came banging on my door. Some of my classmates stayed in China working at travel agencies, as freelance translators, some of them went back home and continued their PhD studies (in some completely different field), or started their own start-up companies, and some of them started families and are busy being moms right now. Not many of us are doing anything with Chinese, let alone teaching it and no one is in jail so far. So if you're concerned about signing the "5-year contract", don't be. It doesn't mean ANYTHING at all. I can't say anything about those countries with lots of Chinese people teaching Chinese while speaking the local language (English, German, French and maybe Spanish), but in a small European country like Hungary (where I'm working) I didn't have any problems looking for a job teaching Chinese. The elementary school wanted me back first for a one-year contract then indefinitely, I just didn't want to, because teaching kids aged 6-10 is HARD. Especially 30 of them in a closed space. I went to two language schools (the ones for adults, classes before or after working hours and on the weekends), both of them hired me on the spot. I'm also private tutoring, sometimes translating, somehow everyone seems to think that you have to at least try to learn Chinese, because it is some sort of key to success, or a different dimension, or I don't know. Anyways, with this many people booking classes all the time, I'm never out of work. I've also tried to teach Chinese at a University for a year, but as in many other countries, it is also mandatory in Hungary to have a PhD degree (or be in a PhD program) to get to teach classes at a University, and I found the PhD program to be a time investment too humongous only to get another degree so I left. I'm just saying this because with an MTCSOL degree (and some further studies) an academic career is also a great option! I just like teaching classes better than researching, that's all. Sorry for the very long post, I just thought to share my experience since graduating this program. Ps.: Having attended three different Chinese universities for various amounts of time, I honestly don't think there's any big difference, you should chose a city in which you'd like to spend two years and there will be nice and so-so teachers everywhere.
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    Well, to be honest it was expected that they would take action to take down the fluentudiscount website. The first reason is that the website is undermining their business practices. It is sad that you have personal problems, but this doesn't justify the meaning of the discount website. The people working at fluentu are also people with their own family and perhaps own problems. How would you behave if someone else is selling your hard work for a cheaper price than you? The second reason is that you did not contact fluentu beforehand about the discount website as some other people already have suggested. It is always problematic if you do the 'don't ask, do first' way, when you aren't the owner of the product/service. If you would asked this first, they probably would tell you that this isn't allowed and probably didn't do anything about the initial first group. The third reason is that you never can make a profit of something that isn't yours. Yeah, there are always loopholes in the system but that doesn't mean you can exploit it. You need to face the consequences for that. The problem that now arises is that legit non-profit study groups can face more difficulties when applying for a group discount. I think this group is the first one that exploited the group discount of Fluentu... I hope that other people can still apply for a group discount without worrying that their subscription will be downgraded in the future. Well, you can't blame Fluentu for this outcome, because the reason that the group has been 'disbanded' is because some people tried to make profit from it. This is the natural reaction of every person who is working and of every company that is profit-based.
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    The Three-Body Problem (Book I) is quite boring too in my opinion. But it gets much better in Book II and III, even captivating shall I say. It was recommended to me by a friend many years ago but I couldn't find an excuse to open a sci-fi book written by a Chinese writer -- until it won the Hugo Award in 2015. The Cultural Revolution theme may be a novelty to Western readers. But boy is it old. The science part isn't exactly shiny either. The frequent reference to historical figures in the computer simulation game feels particularly cheap and amateurish. When I first read it (I mean Book I), I found it indistinguishable in many respects from similar stories by amateur writers, of which you can find many on sites like 起点中文 or 幻剑书盟. (网络文学 seems to be a pretty unique Chinese phenomenon. The closest I can think of is fan-fictions in the West. But they're mostly derivative and cannot compete in scale or influence.) So judging solely from the first book, one would say the author is no better than an average 网络写手 and the work definitely not Hugo Award-worthy (I've read the English translation, which is the award-winning version I presume, a pretty faithful rendition of the original work except for the rearrangement of several chapters). But that impression changes when you open the sequels. Now I consider the first book a boring but necessary background story. Overall I greatly enjoyed reading the series. As a native speaker I'm not in a position to comment on the vocabulary and such but it's interesting to hear what others have to say
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    If you fear that you could run out of 余华 material, you could also contemplate reading some of his novels more than once. I know I should. 观卖血记 and 活着 were among the first novels I read in Chinese. But my reading ability has improved quite a lot since then. Back then, there were some parts and many details that were lost to me. Now, thankfully, the parts I'm forced to gloss over or skip have become infrequent. I've read 天下无贼 three times (the novella, not the whole book). Each time, I discovered and enjoyed things that I had not fully understood previously.
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    Grawrt -- I was thinking the same thing about natural sources of protein being a better, cheaper (and maybe even safer) idea than some mystery powder. And they taste better too. Tofu is another option that's readily available here. A quickly boiled or sauteed green vegetable with tofu plus a small handful of nuts, makes a decent quick meal. Especially if one has a little steamed rice on the side. A small electric rice cooker 电饭锅 costs under 300 Yuan and takes up very little space. Furthermore, it's a very versatile appliance. A small (lidded) electric skillet 电炒锅 is another excellent tool, similarly priced or even less (as low as ¥100)。 One can make a large variety of "soupy noodle" 汤面 one-dish meals in it, heavy on the vegetables, light on the meat (if any.) Plenty is written about using these to full advantage on the local internet by Chinese university students. To have a quick look, try using these search strings on Baidu: -- 大学生如何在宿舍做饭? -- 如何在寝室做饭? The whole subject of how to do minimalist, dormitory-type cooking in China sounds like it might be an interesting topic to explore.
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    穀粉 cereal flour: 黑芝麻 black sesame seeds 白芝麻 white sesame seeds 奇亞籽 chia seeds 亞麻籽 flaxseeds 糙米 brown rice 白米 white rice 香米 fragrant rice (most likely Thai fragrant rice) 小麥 wheat 蕎麥 buckwheat 黑豆 black soybean 黃豆 yellow soybean 花豆 runner bean 扁豆 hyacinth bean 鷹嘴豆 chickpea 等天然食品 etc. natural foods
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    We are the small team behind Tofu Learn vocabulary learning tool, and we are posting here to announce our big update for Chinese (mostly Mandarin). Tofu Learn is a free advanced Spaced Repetition Flashcard system. And now we are adding a whole lot of features for Chinese to it. https://www.tofulearn.com/chinese The two biggest things we are adding are: Learning writing the characters (you write with your finger or mouse, the system rates your performance and offers you the character for next review at the right time). There's a demo on the front page. Built-in dictionary. It’s available by itself, plus it is accessible from every Mandarin card for quick lookup. The Tofu Dictionary is designed for language learners, to help understand and memorize the characters and words by decomposing them and showing related items. This is added to the other useful stuff: tone coloring everywhere (fully customizable colors), both pinyin (in various notations) and bopomofo support, both simplified and traditional characters. We don’t impose a specific approach to learning Hanzi: you can do it in any way you like, and we have decks prepared for each way. Recognizing characters, reproducing characters’ pronunciation from characters, learning writing characters from meaning and pronunciation. For each of these we have pre-made decks for all six HSK levels, all with audio. Also you can easily create your own decks, or import Anki decks (audio, images, and progress all imported). The whole thing just like the rest of Tofu Learn, is free. There are Pro accounts for advanced stuff like automatically fetched pronunciations from Forvo with region preference (Mainland vs. Taiwan), but even those are free while we are in beta. Please tell us what you think of the features, and if you would like anything added on top!
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    The particle 的 is used to form a relative clause. There are two types of relative clauses: bound and free. (Please read this section carefully before we go on: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relative_clause#Bound_and_free) A bound relative clause modifies a noun. The relative clause serves as an adjectival phrase: 我想做的事 I want to do de thing the thing that I want to do A free relative clause does not explicitly modify a noun. The clause itself serves as a noun phrase in the main clause: 我想做的是去钓鱼 I want to do de is go fishing What I want to do is go fishing. Let me quote from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relative_clause#Chinese: In other words, 1) if a verbal phrase + 的 is modifying a noun, then 的 is equivalent to 'that' in English; 2) if a verbal phrase + 的 is not modifying a noun but is used as a noun itself, then 的 is equivalent to 'what (=that which)' in English. In this case, 的 acts sort of like a nominalizer. Still with me? Now I'm going to take some examples from this Chinese Grammar Wiki page https://resources.allsetlearning.com/chinese/grammar/Modifying_nouns_with_phrase_%2B_"de" and turn them into free relative clauses: 不喜欢中国菜的老外 the foreigners who don't like Chinese food 不喜欢中国菜的是少数 Those who don't like Chinese food are in the minority. 穿普拉达的女人 women who wear Prada 穿普拉达的请向前走一步 Those who wear Prada please step forward. 客户问的问题 the questions that the client asked 客户问的不是这个 This is not what the client asked. 妈妈给我买的衣服 the clothes that mom bought for me 这就是妈妈给我买的 This IS what mom bought me. 他写的书 the books that he wrote 他写的全是垃圾 What he wrote are all rubbish. 我画的画 the pictures that I draw 我画的是猫 What I'm drawing is a cat. 老板请的朋友 the friends that the boss invited 老板请的是位很重要的朋友 The one that the boss invited is a very important friend. Hope this helps.
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    Also remember that if you go to the pub/club you will meet girls who like to go to these places. If you go to a library or bookshop or join an evening class you are more likely to met the sort of girl you describe BUT this is by no means a hard and fast rule. As i said earlier you can't tell what someone likes or is interested in from first impressions. Speak to as many women from as many places as you can and you will probably be surprised at where you will eventually find "the one"
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    @mackie1402 Hello, To answer your question, I posted my last weekly update 18 weeks ago. It was a difficult period, both personally and professionally, and so my Chinese studies suffered a bit. But let's take stock of the past two weeks, based on my brilliant scheme for 2017. After I'd finished typing the above post, two weeks ago, I installed a new goal tracking app on my phone. I chose Goaltracker because, contrary to Don't break the chain and such, you can define tasks that are not necessarily to be done each day (e.g. you can choose 5 times/week, etc.). I did not define a vocab collecting/studying/reviewing task because I've been doing that daily for years (though with underwhelming success), so I'm quite confident I can go on without tracking my record. Some reading 5 times/week. Check. Last week, I restarted reading 古龙's 金鹏王朝. I had already read over half of it on my Kindle in the last quarter of 2016, then stopped because I'd lent my device to my wife for a few weeks and, when I came back to Gu Long, I felt overwhelmed, had forgotten who was who and what was happening. In the meantime, I had ordered a hard copy of vol. 1 and 2 from books.com.tw (wonderful service by the way: the books arrived in less than one week) because, silly me, I'd only bought vol. 3 while I was in Taiwan. Anyway, I restarted reading on paper, with the objective of reviewing the same vocab and taking short notes while reading - there are wide margins available to scribble stuff in books written top to bottom/left to right. I'm on page 58/364. 2 language exchange meetings/week: there was 1 in week 1 and 2 in week 2. Active listening exercises 5 times/week: check. When I meet with a language partner, though, my midday study period is used and that counts as active listening. I've been transcribing an SBS podcast called Happy Weekend about Taiwanese singer Huang Peishu. Maybe because she's a 客家人 and she was trained to pronounce correctly (as explained in the podcast), her Mandarin is very clear. My 听力 being what it is, on first listening I did not understand much at all. But with enough looping, looking up words and repeating, I can transcribe 80-90% of what is being said. Until last week I was transcribing the text in pinyin on paper. Now I've started doing it in characters in a text editor. Oh, and by the way, I've joined the 史上最強英語會話8000 Owner Club and started working a bit on those sentences. I fed them into WorkAudioBook and have been using them for parroting/shadowing Classes: The objective was 2 classes/week. Bad start. There were 2 classes on week 1, 1 on week 2 and zero on week 3 (teacher's cancellation). [Not Chinese: Gym: objective is 3 sessions/week. Check. Guitar: don't have the time to practice every day and set no objective. But I've been working again on some simple chord melody arrangements of Reinhardt's Nuages and Monk's 'round Midnight.] And how do you insert those tags linked to a profile, BTW? Thanks.
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    It's been a long time since I've been here in the forums, but thougt it's about time! I want to recommend studying MTCSOL and pursuing the career of a Chinese teacher. At first I was worried if I'm able to find work and I'm staying in Guangzhou for good (for now?), but that hasn't been the case at all. Hyangmi17 mentioned that her classmates have went to open start-ups and thats the case with me as well. I started doing private tutoring my first yeat of MTCSOL, graduated last year and now started my own teaching business and teaching Chinese full time. If anyone has more questions about the degree or the career, I'll try to be around more to answer any questions.
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    Coursera.org Has Beijing University courses for HSK3 preparation - Learn Chinese: HSK Test Preparation HSK3 Part 1 and Part2 These are free since you won't want a certificate. Like you I was a little shocked at how much work HSK3 is after HSK2 was so easy. The Beta testing of Part1, and now Part2 has taken me a long time, much longer than the week it is supposed to. Part1 is running now, Part2 is in Beta and is talking about test strategies. Part2 won't be open until at least March I think, but Part1 is a good start. 老鬼 Learn Chinese: HSK Test Preparation
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    Episode 2 with synced .srt subtitles here: https://youtu.be/vG72tiJPwZc
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    Paging @abcdefg i suspect you're looking at tourist visas and private schools. Not a bad option.
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    Scholarships are free. If there are any people asking for payment without any authorization from the CSC or similar, you should think twice before paying them. It would also be funny to get scammed while trying to get into a PhD program, or further, to waste a lot of money on a scam promising free education. There is something called 黄牛 in Chinese. I learned this from a friend working at the Apple Store here. He said 黄牛 is when, for example, Apple is giving away free headphones to anyone buying their latest phone. Someone (or a group of people usually) goes and buys 1000 phones in the morning, then there are no more free headphones left for genuine phone-buyers later that day. 黄牛 is making a profit selling 1000 headphones, which would have been free. Beware of 黄牛. You might get some help, but don't fall for something that might be a scam.
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    If you agree with the Germans (scroll down for something in a reasonable language, then further for English) that the HSK 5 is equivalent to the CEFR B1 level (Intermediate), then you can look at the CEFR descriptors to see where you *should* be. That last link is the first time I've seen 'Interaction' and 'Production' described separately.
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    I think you're being a little overly harsh stapler. I think HSK 5 is the first of the tests with any significant meaning, but I wouldn't put it at well developed beginner. Firstly, HSK doesn't test spoken ability so there is essentially no indication of that skill from taking any of the tests - you could be mute and still pass HSK 6 with 100%. Secondly, the test can be studied for in quite an effective manner and so someone who passes a high HSK level might be able to listen to one minute conversations and answer questions on it, but probably wouldn't be able to 唠嗑 with a taxi driver. For what its worth, I took HSK 5 after about two years, at which point I thought I was pretty hot stuff - three years later I realise I was pretty useless, and still am. I'd expect someone with 80% on HSK 5 to be able to easily hold a daily conversation, follow a work meeting (without contributing) and use wechat easily. But, as there is no spoken element, you end up with a wide spectrum of actual abilities within each band.
  32. 3 likes
    It's .m4a (I used Firefox+FlashGot). WorkAudioBook only works with mp3 but Audacity should be able to read and convert it. But the segmentation doesn't work very well. They talk too fast and often over each other and there's music...
  33. 3 likes
    I didn't like the automatic avatar, so I got a real one. This will take some getting used to, after fifteen years as a grey outline...
  34. 3 likes
    Hello all, long time lurker, first time poster here. If this is in the wrong section please move where appropriate. This is a review of my time at BLCU for my first semester in the 20hour Chinese language course. I will try to cover all of Roddy’s points suggested here http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/35923-university-write-ups-and-reviews-a-guide/. Application process The application process for me was quite easy because I live in Beijing. I just went to the university and filled out the application and turned it in. It costs 600RMB to apply. Unfortunately, I don’t remember all the documents you need to apply. After applying, you wait about two weeks and pick up your acceptance letter. This letter has the registration process and info for reserving a dorm room on it, applying for an X-2 visa, registration info dates and times and whatnot. I’m sure the process is quite different for people out of the country. I definitely recommend not using an agency as I don’t believe BLCU will turn anyone away, even if you apply after the application deadline. This, of course, is just my opinion and should not be taken as fact, but it seems to be the case as Chinese language programs tend to be a cash cow for universities. After the first semester, I knew I was continuing another semester so I had to get a letter of recommendation from my main professor and I had to fill out the BLCU application again. This time however, you do NOT need to pay the application fee. Again, the acceptance letter gives you the info on it for the registration process where you go through the same process and placement test. The registration period is three days. I went the first day of registration and found it to be lengthy due to how many students were also registering. A classmate of mine did it the last day and he said everything went fast. Course and Funding Arrival and Registration I signed up for the 20 hour a week semester course. I am going for two semesters, but have to pay my own way. I applied for the CSC scholarship but somehow fell through the cracks and CSC nor BLCU received my application. On the day of registration you stand in line to pay all fees. You pay the course fees, 11,600RMB for one semester for the regular 20 hour a week course (23,200RMB for a year program), or 19,100RMB for the 30 hour a week course (38,200RMB for a year) and medical insurance which is 300RMB per semester. I paid 11,900RMB in total. You can pay in RMB or by credit card or UnionPay. To register, you start by going to the place where you to reserve your dorm room if needed. I did not do this location as I live off campus. So I started by going to teaching building 3 (三号教学楼) to queue to pay registration fees. Outside of the building, there is a board with registration instructions and where to go to accomplish each step of the process. This first step took over an hour of waiting because there were so few workers taking the fee payments from students and so many people waiting to pay. In typical China fashion, workers seem to be there with all the equipment to process students but they are not working/and or playing with their phones. I did this whole process with my wife who is Chinese so she did all of the talking. After you pay your fee, you go to another area in the same room and pay your insurance fee and get your student dining hall/library card. You then leave this room and go to another room in the same building where you give them your Chinese name and they give you your student ID card and student handbook. Inside this building where your register and get your student ID card there are about three large white boards with all the student’s names and numbers on it explaining the time and date and location of your placement test. It is impossible to miss. Take a picture of your info and don’t forget it. If you do, you will be placed in a low level class be default. Or so I hear. The placement test starts out with questions in pinyin and then moves onto汉字 (characters). I had studied at a private school before so I knew some Chinese, mostly spoken and how to read pinyin, no characters, so I could do the beginning part of the exam. After you are done with the paper exam, you go up and speak with the examiner and she talks to you in Chinese, asking you simple questions like “你是哪国人? And 你家有几口人?” (“which country are you from?” And, “how many people are in your family?”). Depending on how you do and what you say, she will suggest a level for you. A few days after the placement test, if must go back to the same building to see which level and class you are assigned to. Remember this info as it also tells you which classroom to go to. Classes, Classrooms and Teachers BLCU has six levels, starting at total beginner, A level, and on up to B, C, D, E, and F, which is for highly advanced students. That equals three years of classes with each letter representing a level and semester. “A” level has a lot of students so it is also separated further into numbers with A0 students having no Chinese ability at all, while A4-A5 students know some Chinese and can speak a tiny bit but don’t know characters, ending with A9-10 and A+ which is for people who have studied Chinese before, know some characters and can speak a bit better. Each letter level has this structure from what I hear, for instance, there is a B+, C+, D+ etc. The different levels also start at different chapters in the books we used. The + classes usually are much harder because they have more Japanese, Korean, and heritage speaker students. I was placed into A4. So we started half-way through book one. This skips the numbers, “bo, po, mo….etc” alphabet, and how to read and understand pinyin. We started with characters and reading pinyin from the beginning. We have four classes. The main and most important class is comprehensive (综合), which is 10 hours a week and teaches you the new words and grammar. It usually consists of reading new vocabulary in unison and then the teacher makes example sentences and dialogues that we go over and over changing some of the nouns or verbs and then we form a small group of 2-3 students and we practice these dialogues with each other. We would also read the dialogues in the lessons in our book and the teacher would explain the grammar and usage of the vocab. Some days we would have 听写 (dictation), and others we would be given flashcards or a huge list of vocab written on the board and the teacher would ask us questions using those words. We would answer using the grammar patterns she used, something like 你游泳游得很快吗?(Do you swim fast?), and we would have to respond using that grammar pattern. We used a book series called Speed-Up Chinese (速成汉语) Peking Press, for this class. I liked the books and thought that they were pretty well laid out. They have 10 lessons per book, and each lesson has one or multiple dialogues using new grammar and words from that lesson. The other classes are speaking and listening (口语 and 听力) which are each 4 hours a week. These classes use Short-term Spoken Chinese and Short-term Listening Chinese (汉语口语速成 and 汉语听力速成) by BLCU Press. The last class is a “living” Chinese class where you learn some aspects of Chinese culture like painting and whatnot. This is 2 hours a week. My class had 18 students enrolled, but three never showed up after the first few days, two switched to another class, and people would alternate showing up or not. In reality, only about 8-10 students per class showed up every day. I feel very fortunate for this actually. I am from the US and there were no other people from North America in my class. Koreans outnumbered any other ethnicity. Everyone else was from a different country. We did have 3 Spanish speakers though. My main teacher was apparently ranked in the top 30 in all of China (this was told to me by a classmate, so no reference, sorry). I really liked her teaching and liked her style. She was great. She also taught us more grammar than just ‘A’ level grammar, which I also appreciated. She said we should be exposed to it so we can get used to it earlier rather than later. My Speaking and Listening teachers were grad students studying MTCSOL (Masters in teaching Chinese to speakers of other languages) at BLCU. They were also good, I enjoyed their teaching. I did not like listening class simply for the material. I feel it gives nothing meaningful to my learning and I felt like it was more of a babysitting class than anything else. More perspective on that, granted a bit old now, can be found here starting with post #14 http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/35250-blcu-general-discussion/. The classroom was nice. It had new seats and desks, a projector and white board for the projector, a chalk board, a PC and speakers, an air conditioner, and central heating. Although this should not be surprising as I believe foreign students receive better accommodation and classrooms than the native students. This may be the case at every university in China of any real standing. We did get homework in our 综合 (comprehensive) class but none in our speaking and listening classes. I hear that it depends on the teacher as another student’s speaking teacher required them send her WeChat messages of them speaking every day. There are two exams, a midterm and final exam in each class except the “living Chinese” class. The comprehensive class is the most important class and probably the most difficult exam. You can also take extra classes on your own dime. I’m not sure what they offer these days as I never looked into it. You do get a trip to the great wall, Chinese opera, and a tea house, all paid for by your tuition money. In total from the comprehensive class, we learned about 800 words. If I include the vocabulary from speaking and listening it would possibly be near 900-1,000. I am happy with the progress. A former colleague of mine went to another school and learned half that in the same amount of time. Campus and Environment The campus is small but I find it nice. It feels like a smaller version of any university campus in the US. There are ATMs, little stores, cafes, a library, restaurants, a dining hall that is 2-3 stories, and probably more. I cannot talk about the dorms as I mentioned, I live off campus. Final thoughts I’m going to stand on my soapbox here for a minute. I believe BLCU gets a bit of a bad rep as I have read and seen people make lots of claims about it and the experience they talk about is based off second hand info. Things like it’s all westerners and all students do is party. I think every Chinese language course will have slackers, partiers and no-shows. No university is excluded from that, get over it and focus on your own studies. Also, people have got to face the fact that your classes will be full of foreigners who speak some English and you will never be away from them until you get to higher levels. You are in a Chinese language class after all. Everyone wants a genuine China experience with no English speakers and that is unrealistic if you are a beginner. Also, I think it highly unlikely to befriend Chinese people if your Chinese is not up to a decent level as speaking so simply and dumbed-down to a beginner gets draining on the native speaker. This fact has been discussed on this forum before. Overall I would highly recommend BLCU to anyone who wants to learn Chinese from qualified instructors. As it is one of the premier universities designed to teach Chinese to foreigners they attract top-tier instructors (or so I’d like to believe) that for instance, Beijing Fashion Technology University would not. I also had three different friends who went to BLCU for over year and their Chinese abilities were great. They all recommended it to me. The key is to focus on you and your studies and not let others bother you. That is all I have for now. If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask. I will be continuing another semester starting in March so I could do another write up after that if there is demand.
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    I would like to answer the specific question concerning transcription exercise. It's a very effective way to improve listening comprehension, especially at the elementary to intermediate level. But it takes time and perseverance. My estimation is that for an average person to feel real progress, i.e. from catching only isolated words and phrases to roughly understanding what's going on, you probably need 1-2 months of uninterrupted practice, 1-2 hours a day. So it probably wouldn't be in time for your March test, but if you can spare an hour or two everyday, I don't see why not. Find some listening material, 5-10 minutes worth at normal speed would be enough to keep you busy for those hours. Listen, loop, put them on A-B repeat, slow them down if necessary, use the app mentioned above or whatever tools you have. The end goal is to produce a transcript as accurately as possible. If what you write down doesn't make sense, 99% you're hearing it wrong, try other possibilities. You see, to understand natural speech, we need more than just two ears. The process is unconscious and automatic for our mother tongue, but must be trained when learning a new language. When you feel there's nothing to improve on your transcript, check it with the original text. And don't worry too much if you can't find an original transcript. It probably works even better. When I first started doing transcriptions (for English of course), there was no internet, no Goolge, no electronic dictionaries... Anyways, I wish you good luck in pursuing your dreams!
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    One of most satisfying experiences I've had is reading multiple books by the same author in quick succession. I've done this both with fiction (David Foster Wallace) and with non-fiction (sociologist Peter Berger). After the second or third book you get into a groove, and get a sense of the contour of their thought (what animates them, who their opponents are, how they development an argument over time). Unfortunately, I read far too slowly in Mandarin to do this with 余华, or any other Chinese author. The closest I've come to this feeling in Chinese is reading extensively on a single subject. While I was still in China, I was hired by 四川音乐学院 to lecture on a variety of music-related subjects. At the time, I was working on a PhD in music in English, but I had no idea how to talk about music in Chinese. So I read 《基本乐理通用教材》(a freshman music theory textbook), and then multiple 维基百科 and 百度百科 articles on music-related subjects: 音乐、古典音乐、爵士乐、流行音乐、音乐理论、和声、配器、曲式、作曲、编曲, etc. Over the course of three months, I became way more confident about my ability to speak intelligently on music-related topics. It was a great feeling. Like everyone on this forum, I'm currently reading 余华. I'm working through《十个词汇里的中国》at a snail's pace. No need for me to space it out. There are still lots of 余华 books remaining (I wonder if 余华 is aware of his status among foreigners as a gateway drug to Chinese literature, haha.)
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    Tsinghua, BeiDa, Fudan are prestigious, highly-ranked universities. The sad truth is that the quality of the Chinese language programs does not correlate with the university rankings. It's a popular myth that good university = good Chinese language program, but it's no more than a myth. All of the language programs use the same four or five textbooks, with the same, very Chinese approach of teaching the language. Obviously, teachers and their preparedness and attitude can vary, but there are good teachers and bad teachers at each university, again, regardless of ranking. My advice: try to pick a city instead of a university. The environment you're going to study is more important than the actual university, as on your journey to fluency, you need to do extra efforts on your own (e.g. self-studying, using the language in actual everyday situations). My philosophy is that a smaller a city is the better it suits foreigners to learn Chinese, as there are no English shortcuts in communication. But I also understand why can't most people bear spending a whole year in a boring city in Hebei/Henan province...
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    Not much progress. I was away from home and away from the computer. I did listen to some sentences on my smartphone but not in a big way. I can mimic sentences but not bring them up spontaneously in a conversation. Perhaps I should add some English Chinese Anki cards and ask a tutor to try to get me use these sentences in conversation. Decided this weekend to do instant tutoring on italki for a bit of random chitchat conversation practice. The first one was with a professional tutor from Hunan. It went relatively smoothly so in a fit of feeling good, I went for another session the next day with a community tutor - someone who I have not previously had contact with. Well, it was good in a sense that I was brought back to reality. There was quite a lot material that I couldn't understand. We went considerably overtime so I prebooked another lesson to compensate her for this and for the remaining time, she will transcribe the recordings that I will send back to her. Always good to preserve a good relationship. The session was beneficial in a way because I couldn't differentiate whether it was difficult because of a regional accent or the vocabulary she used. After an hour, it got tiring so we stopped at that point. The good thing about community tutors is their fees are lower so the transcribing service (where I am not necessarily facing the tutor) is cheaper. Professional tutors have their plus and minus points. Will come back to that in the future. Edit - forgot to add that I did do some repeated listening to Mandarin songs and shadowing lyrics for some light relief. The two songs were 爱如潮水 and 突然想起你. Yeah,old!
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    This is an attempt at updating the previous list while also consolidating it. All but a few of these are resources I have personally used and found crucial to my learning at different points. This list is curated to cut down on the time you need to spend checking finding good resources. For an extensive list of resources, see Hacking Chinese and search through an enormous catalogue of properly tagged resources and guides or Mandarin Weekly for a list of online feeds and newsletters about Chinese. If you think any suggestion could be replaced with a better resource or if another resource should be added, please post and explain why you think so. And a note on studying: When learning a language, it is important to combine extensive methods with intensive methods. Extensive methods rely on consuming a lot of relatively easily understood content and focusing on the general gist rather than nuance. When studying extensively, use context to learn new words or just quickly look them up and move on. In contrast, intensive studying methods rely on understanding the nuance and depth of the content. When studying intensively, take the time to learn the new words, replay or re-read the content many times, and analyze the logical structure. Language Courses: Hello Chinese - Duolingo-like phone app for Chinese learners with a handwriting function like Skritter and voice recognition[free] Pimsleur - Audio-based mandarin Chinese course. Wordlist [$22-$550 but look for frequent discounts] EdX Beginner Chinese - Part 1 and Part 2 [free] Coursera Beginner Chinese- Part 1 and Part 2 [free] EdX Intermediate Chinese - [free] EdX Business Chinese (intermediate level) - [free] For advanced learners, simply enroll in a content course that is taught in Chinese. Good luck! Textbooks New Practical Chinese Reader - progressively teaches reading, writing and listening. Often recommended on these forums. Dictionaries Popup Dictionaries for Browsers: Google Chrome: Zhongwen: A Chinese-English Popup Dictionary [free] Mozilla Firefox: Perapera Chinese [free] Safari: Frill [free] Online Dictionaries: YellowBridge Chinese English Dictionary - Overall dictionary [free] Arch Chinese - A Chinese language learner's dictionary [free] with printable flashcards, worksheets, and character breakdown [$3monthly] Jukuu - example sentences dictionary with statistical breakdown [free] Zhonga - Uses CC-CEDICT but with short movie clips as example sentences for many more common words [free] Offline Dictionaries: Wenlin - (Mac/OS) worth getting used to user-interface [100$ with frequent 50% off deals] Pleco - (iOS/Android) nothing comparable. It does everything. If you're are committed to Chinese, then get the professional pack. [free - $100's] Built-in-dictionary - (MacOS) [Need suggestion for free offline dictionary on Windows] Grammar Chinese Grammar Wiki - Excelent grammar explanations [free] Oxford’s Elementary Chinese Grammar Course - Self-teach yourself the basics. [free] Tones Hacking Chinese - A comprehensive explanation and guide to pinyin [free] Tone Trainer online exercises to develop an ear for single tones [free] Hanping Chinese SoundBox - sound board with different tone pairs [free] SpeakGoodChinese (program for training tone pronunciation, see discussion) [free?] Listening Material ChinesePod - An enormous library of podcats [free/$$] Chinese Learn Online - Leveled podcasts that systematically progress in difficulty Glossika Method - Shadow audio recordings to simultaneously improve listening, speaking, and grammar. [Wide range of $] 爱奇艺 - Start with kids shows (喜羊羊与灰太狼) and work up to teens (降世神通) and finally, adult content (欢乐颂). [free] Reading Material (For an extensive list of options and levels, see Graded readers, by the numbers (character/words, page count) The Chairman's Bao - Graded reader-esque news with recordings. [80$/year] Just Learn Chinese - Online graded readers with audio. Beginner to advanced. [free] Graded Readers - Search Amazon for Chinese Breeze (includes audio files) or Mandarin Companion (captivating stories for adults) and DeFrancis (free with traditional character). [free-$15ish] Chinese Text Analyser - Analyze a text for difficulty and known words, also has a built in dictionary which makes using it as a text reader simple. [$10ish?] Marco Polo Project - Authentic reading material from China for Chinese learners Flashcards/Vocabulary Memrise - Gamified vocabulary study. Use pre-made lists or create your own. [free] Anki - Less user friendly but superior SRS algorithm. Shared decks for Chinese [free on MacOS, Windows, Android, but $10 and iOS] Pleco - Read the user guide. Their notecards can do a lot. Study by drawing characters, selecting pinyin, and other ways. SRS is mediocre but a major update is expected soon. Writing Characters The Minimum Requirements - A guide to writing technically correct characters [free] Skritter - Teaches stroke order and vocabulary together [$15/month, $100/year] Hanzi Grids - customizable and printable grids to practice writing characters [free, $10 one time for additional features] Online Language Partners iTalki - seems to have gotten worse since I used it and loved it. Looking for new recommendations. [$$$] Test Prep (HSK) Popup Chinese - sample HSK test exercises Official Website - Link directly to info about HSK tests. Also search for "Hanban."
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    I think you're missing the point. Everyone has preferences, but they were questioning the implied assumption that intellectual women are very hard to find in China. We all know that's not what you were saying, but you were evidently worried that there was a real possibility of that actually being the case. I have no doubt that if you could do an empirical study the relative proportions of intellectual girls would probably differ in some degree between China and your native country, but whether or not it would be a large or noticeable difference is anyone's guess. In fact the larger issue is not materialistic/intellectual (these aren't mutually exclusive of course but I get what you mean), the larger issue is where you meet people in China, and perhaps the stereotypes Chinese people are likely to have of you. These will strongly affect girls who will show interest in/generally avoid dating you (same goes for people in any other country of course). Best advice I can give you is just carry on as you would and engage in any of the more social hobbies that you may have. This is one of the best ways to meet people and strike up genuine friendships and the next step is genuine romance.
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    First off, there's nothing wrong with different pronunciations for the same word. It happens in English too: http://www.tfd.com/primarily And for everybody's convenience, let's use numbers. Tone marks are difficult to read on high resolution screens. The convention is 1, 2, 3, 4 for the four tones and 5 for neutral. I don't have the venerable New Century, but it's simply wrong to read 早上 as zao3shang3. Period. 上 is always shang4 in Mandarin, the only exception is when it's in the word 上声(shang3sheng1) meaning 'the third tone'. For zao3shang3 to mean 'morning', it has to be 早晌, a somewhat dialectal term. To address the other issue, zao3chen2 vs. zao3chen5. You need to know that neutral tone is less widely used in southern China. So it's basically a regional thing, and both readings are correct. Since Putonghua is “以北京语音为标准音,以北方话为基础方言,以典范的现代白话文著作为语法规范” (The pronunciation of the standard is based on the Beijing dialect, its vocabulary is drawn from Mandarin dialects, and the grammar is based on literature in the modern written vernacular), you can argue that zao3chen5 is more 'correct', but that's about it, people you meet on the street still speak the way they always speak.
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    Hi @fabiothebest, I actually paid for 150 hours up front, as the price was quite a bit better than just 100 lessons. I don't know their current price, but I think at the time I had calculated it at about US$11.25 per lesson. In theory, for that price, you're paying for a group lesson, but in reality, I have always had a 1-on-1 lesson. It could be because I'm at a higher level (started at level 7, currently at level 8), so maybe there's less students at the higher levels? We talk exclusively in Mandarin at this level, but after my first lesson, I requested to have all explanations in Mandarin with English as a last resort after my first lesson, so all teachers have been doing that. They keep a profile on you so that any pertinent information is passed on to the next teacher. They recommend 3 classes per week, but I only have 2 per week. I usually find that I get about 30 new vocab per lesson, so 2 a week is plenty for me. It's 45 minutes total. At level 7/8, the entire lesson is pretty much a discussion based on the material, so you can ask questions throughout the entire thing. It's definitely not lecture format. I'm not sure the format of the early levels, but I'm sure it's highly interactive (hence why it's called tutoring instead of a course). As for booking, You can book up to 12 hours ahead of time. 7-days-a-week, 24 hours per day. They have a global network of teachers in order to cover all time zones. I'm really happy with the service so far. I usually rotate through different teachers, you get to rate each teacher at the end of the lesson, and they'll try to match you up more with the teachers you give higher ratings to. Depending on the teachers internet connection, there will be more more or less lag. But I've gotten used to it now, so it's not too much of a distraction. Teacher quality has varied, but it's always been between Good and Excellent, with most of the time being very good. You also see a video of your teacher (but they can't see you). You can have your lesson in-browser, or via iOS/Android apps. I recommend a headset for either one. Tutorming has been very receptive to feedback, you can leave feedback after each lesson, or email them directly. They'll personally follow up to try and make sure you're satisfied. Once there was technical issues and the teacher wasn't able to connect, but they quickly arranged a substitute for the remainder of the class, and refunded the lesson credit (so it was free). Lessons have been very interesting, much better then what I found in my textbooks. For example: The Night Marker, Blood Types, Goodbye to a friend who died, Environmental destruction, After a car accident, Guilt after the taxi driver almost hit an old grandma with the car but you were in a rush to get to a business meeting so you didn't show concern, Getting sick, Cancer, The funeral of a deer, Touring China, taking a cruise, etc. You also let them know your interests, then they try to gear the lessons more towards your interests. I started to get lessons on business and real estate that I wasn't really interested in, so I told them, and they updated my profile so I wouldn't get these. In order to get the most out of the lesson, at least at my level, I recommend the following approach: 1) The vocab and lesson material is posted about 12 hours before the lesson. I go through all the lesson reading and add all the new vocab to my Skritter list. I then learn as many of these new words as I can before the lesson. This way you're not spending your lesson time asking "_______是什么意思?" 2) There are questions in the lesson and places where you have to make your own sentences. I prepare these ahead of time too so that I don't spend time in my lesson trying to think of a sentence while the tutor is waiting. 3) If you do #1 and #2, you can then spend most of your lesson time on the reading and discussion, and getting corrections and feedback from the instructor Sometimes, you might have a lesson spread out over two session, really depends on how well you prepared and how much new material there is. Sometimes you end up chatting with your instructor more, which I didn't like at first because I just wanted to cover the whole lesson, but then I realized that I was also learning a lot through chatting and getting corrections. After the lesson you can view a video recording of the lesson, so you can review as much as you want. There are also homework exercises you can do, you leave the teacher feedback, and they also leave feedback for you. Teachers have been from Taiwan and China so far, and they have all had a standard accent so far. Hope that helps.
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    Jgraham, could you stop quoting entire posts, especially when they're immediately above yours? It's preferable to quote selectively, paraphrase or refer to people by name. Took me half an hour to scroll down here...
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    I have another nitpick. Underneath username and photo, there's a few lines with Chinese: and Location:. But there's no space between the colon and the next word. So: Chinese:fairly advanced Location:Leiden should be: Chinese: fairly advanced Location: Leiden Needless to say this is not an urgent matter, but I thought I'd point it out anyway.
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    Do you have two years work experience and a pulse? Welcome to China! I think you'll be fine, and if you sell yourself as an 'English for lawyers' teacher you could do very well indeed. You might lose out on some jobs to people with more recent qualifications or more experience, but you'll get something.
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    First off, I've been dropping the ball on site admin and particularly in the last six months this has seen a few episodes of avoidable downtime, technical issues and unanswered messages. I moved house, I had a ton of work, and other things.* So I'm sorry about that, and more pertinently, I'm going to try and ensure it's less of a problem in the future. To that end, and given that it looks like I can spend a fair bit of time on this in the next month or two... 1) Hopefully early next week: A bit of downtime while I upgrade to the latest version of the forums software. This has been an ongoing pain in the neck - I was keen to do it years back, the initial releases weren't great, so I put it off. And off, and off, and off. Our current version was first released in 2012 and hasn't been updated since 2014. There's already no technical support and even security updates stop in a few months. That will mean some interface and usability changes. On past experience some people will love these, some people will hate them, and in six weeks time nobody will care. It's still a forum. I'll be around to help figure stuff out, but to keep things simple I'm going to want to leave things as close to the default out-of-the-box settings as possible. That means we have an up to date site which should be easier to administer. Which will be good news for.... 2) New admin folk. Wonderful though Imron and I are, it's long past time for some new blood - folk that know and love the site, and are willing to help others come to know and love it, and kick them out if necessary. And delete spam. There's a fair bit of spam deletion. 3) I'm also going to do something I should have done aaaaaaaaaages ago and make sure Imron (Hi Imron! Hope you don't mind!) has all the necessary passwords and account access to take over if I get hit by a wolf or eaten by a bus, even if just temporarily while something else gets sorted out. 4) Beyond that - I'm not inclined to do anything that requires regular input from me (frequent readers will know how that works out). But one-off jobs are possible. We could maybe justify a server upgrade. The new software might make setting up things like a tutor database possible. We've no doubt lost a few regulars over the last few months, we could see about tempting them back. We'll see. So that's all for now. And for anyone thinking 'Hang on, hasn't he said this kind of thing before' - yep. That's fair. If I'm not following through in the next couple of weeks, you should all start agitating for a better admin. The community deserves it. Roddy *have you seen Scotland in the summer, it's really gorgeous.
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    I actually wrote an explanation and apology of why there isn't. And then I noticed there is! Right-most icon on the editor toolbar - feel free to make a few test posts to test it out, we can always look at more pictures of food...
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    I think this essentially does explain it. If you want to have a "rule" for everything then you will be sorely disappointed. The site you quoted seems like a good guideline. In general, I would not say 我有點高興, but what do you say to 我有點餓 and 我有點飽? You could try to say that being hungry is a "negative" (in the sense of bad negative) thing and then that when saying 有點飽 it expresses a similar negative feeling in that you can't eat more even if you want to, but honestly that feels like unnecessary stretching. I don't doubt that there is a semantic restriction, but I think it's more like a restriction against clearly positive (both positive as in "good" and positive as in "additive") adjectives vs a restriction to only negative adjectives. However the point about Verb vs Adjective also makes it clear that there is no restriction on verbs: 我有點想吃冰淇淋,我有點感興趣 etc.