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Showing content with the highest reputation since 04/05/2019 in all areas

  1. 29 points
    We got back to the UK And it was a crazy journey. First off, massive respect to the UK foreign office and local constituents for representing us, they managed to get a coach arranged only one day before the last flight out of Wuhan, which drove around 700km to pick up 4 British nationals in the far reaches of Hubei province and take us to the airport in time for the flight. I had completely given up hope, but was amazed to receive a phonecall only days ago saying there was a chance they had found a government driver that would be able to come find us. And he did. sort of. as is always the case in China, the smaller the town, the less contact with state and central government there is, and this was no different. when the coach arrived at the exit to come into our town, the police refused the driver entry point blank, saying he didn't have the right papers to enter the town. If we wanted to get on the coach, we had to come to them and walk across the ETC area by foot. okay. how do we get to him? there were three police checkpoints to get through, and the only thing the police would accept was their 枝江通行證 (turned out to be a torn in half A4 sheet with the above characters on it and a stamp…). I showed them all the embassy papers, the official notices from the provincial and city governments, but they just weren't good enough. I even called the foreign office, and was again told 'don't you have any guanxi?' In the end, it took over 2 hours, 5 pages of forms, 9 official stamps, a visit to the hospital and two government bureaus and a long argument between a yichang official and a zhijiang official who refused to stamp the final form (even though zhijiang falls under the jurisdiction of yichang). Seemed like noone wanted to be held responsible for letting us go... But more interestingly, this ordeal required us to run all across town to different departments, and it was our first time out of the house in three weeks. Cant really describe how eerie and quite frankly scary the place looked: familiar busy streets completely deserted, police cars driving around slowly, blaring messages to cover your face and stay indoors at all times, the hospital had people screaming hysterically at the entrances and (not even joking) doctors running inside with boxes with blood slopping down the side (i can only hope it was emergency blood transfusions). Nobody about except police and military, and the occasional government car. No word of a lie, it looked and felt like something straight out of I Am Legend or 28 Days Later. I really wanted to take pictures and videos, but all the police were not looking like they were in the mood for such antics. Once we finally left the city it was as expected: completely empty motorway for 3 hours. Only one month ago I day on the very same stretch of road in gridlock. Empty fields too. The whole province really is a ghost town. And it was so sad to see, because for me, Hubei is China. We made it to the airport after many police checkpoints and temperature checks, to find hundreds of passengers from a number of countries all trying to get onto three different flights leaving at the same time. It was one massive queue that lead into a single health check area. If your temperature didn't make the cut you couldn't get on the plane - found out later two of the Brits on our flight weren't allowed on and were sent back to Wuhan because their temperatures were checked five times and 1/5 times their readings were slightly above average. Terrible feeling. All in all, queued in a room full of facemasks and hazmats for about 7 hours. But thankfully for us we made it out, through the storm in the uk at the moment and landed in galeforce headwinds at a military base in the uk (scariest landing of my life). We are now in quarantine. Phew, cant believe it. As for family back in Zhijiang, we are happy we managed to get out for our own sakes, but also as it is two less mouths to feed over the next few weeks, which will make things a bit easier for the rest (still six mouths to feed all in one house now we've gone). The hoarding has already begun in many cities, and I know rations-style food distribution started in some of the 小區 near us started today. The local university has been converted into a quarantine centre, where student bunks are now hospital beds. Online classes also began today. A friend can't return home, as while they were outing buying food, someone in their building got diagnosed with the virus and now the whole block has been quarantined. People are saying infection rates are dropping, but at street level, I can say from first hand witness, the state of things near the centre of the outbreak is pretty dire to say the least… Cant believe I'm in the UK writing this right now, surreal. Just been swabbed for the virus, have to wait 48 hours for the result. Wish me luck!
  2. 22 points
    Over the last two years I have been at East China Normal University in Shanghai studying International Chinese Education. A lot of people on these forums recently have started coming with questions regarding whether or not it is worthwhile to get a master’s degree in China and what are the pros/cons. If there are any topics that you wish I'd have included, please let me know and I'll add it. I hope others will also follow suite and share their experiences of getting a master’s degree from Chinese universities. Two years is a lot of time and I’ve experienced a lot while I’ve been here. It’s not all been good but I’ve also achieve the goals I had originally set out to achieve. Before starting my degree I had one primary goal: improve my Chinese language ability. Next to that, and the reason I decided on the degree I did (汉语国际教育) is it meant staying in the field of education. I was hoping that even if I didn’t end up teaching Chinese, the knowledge I learned and the skills I gained would stick with me in teaching English. OVERVIEW The degree itself is interesting. It is not Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, but rather aims to prepare Chinese students to go to Confucius institutes and teach Chinese. As such, all of my Chinese classmates are currently working at CI’s all around the world teaching Chinese. The course work is a hybrid of language teaching and culture classes, with the idea that “International Chinese Education” (as opposed to TECL/TECL/TCSOL) has culture as a more core component. For non-Chinese people, it is a two-year (专术) degree. The first year is classes, while the second year is internship, research, and thesis writing. Chinese students and non-Chinese students are divided into separate classes, while a few (think 2 or 3) of the classes are taken together. This is in large part because the needs are very different. Many of the Chinese student’s classes focus on English language learning and understanding the process of learning Chinese whereas the non-Chinese students’ classes focus on Chinese language learning as much as language teaching. Chinese students are expected to already have a solid foundation of linguistics and Chinese language and culture knowledge before beginning. This degree is not focused on research or academics. It is a degree specifically geared toward preparing students to enter the classroom and teach Chinese. COURSEWORK Courses are all condensed into the first year. There were roughly 10 classes per semester. Each class had its homework and the whole year was very intense. The full list of courses is: 1. 论文写作 (focused on how to format a Chinese thesis as well as how to decide on a research topic) 2. 汉语国际教育导论 (nothing worthwhile to say about this one) 3. 当代中国 (Chinese language class focusing on Chinese history and news) 4. 教学设计 (how to plan a class) 5. 跨文化交际与文化传播 (how culture is disseminated) 6. 文化项目 (how to plan a cultural event and assess its success) 7. 汉语语言学 (basic linguistics with a focus on Chinese) 8. 课堂管理 (classroom management which involved a lot of case studies) 9. 跨文化交际 (theories behind cultural communication) 10. 高级汉语 (two semesters, normal Chinese class) 11. 中国民俗 (Chinese traditions and holidays and things like that) 12. 口才艺术 (pronunciation class taught by a 播音员) 13. 教学技术 (teaching skills which broke up the process of teaching a class into very clear segments and talked about how to plan a class to account for all components) 14. 汉语教学教材与资源 (how to design your own textbooks) 15. 教学要素 (looked at commonly taught things like how to teach 把字句 or stroke order) 16. 汉字文化 (the history of Chinese characters) 17. 文化课(太极拳、油画、书法、民族舞)(two semesters) Overall, I felt that a lot of the content was redundant or not well covered. The earlier problems were discussed with the teachers and they made a very strong effort to better communicate with each other and make sure classes didn’t repeat the same information. It got better and props to the department for taking the constructive criticism so well. The latter problem, with material not being covered very well, was largely a consequence of how little basic knowledge most students in the class had about teaching methodology or grammar or etc. The bar to get in was just too low in my opinion, and as a result, it felt more like a year of undergrad coursework. This was utterly disappointing to me. If you are considering this degree to better prepare you to teach Chinese, I would recommend going someplace else. At the very least, do not do this degree at ECNU but rather do the linguistics degree which will not separate out Chinese and non-Chinese students, and as a result demand much more from the students. TEACHING As for the teachers themselves. It was a mixed bag. There were no teachers that everyone was agreement as a bad teacher. So it is important to recognize the below as my opinion. Some teachers knew there content extremely well and were able to pair it up with successful teaching methods. In other words, they practiced what they preached. Unfortunately, this was the minority. I found most teachers taught in stark contrast to the dos and don’ts being taught. Some of the classes had great content but it was delivered very poorly, and I got far more from just ignoring the teaching and reading on my own. Still yet other classes were an utter waste of time. Classes were mostly taught in the teacher-speaks-you-listen way, despite a constant drilling from various classes that teaching this way is ineffective. This was paired with many homework assignments that seems to do little from an education standpoint. What I did like was that few classes used paper tests and most all required papers. This was good practice for writing a thesis and altogether I wrote something like 10 papers, each in excess of 2000 characters, some longer that 5000 characters. THESIS The most fruitful part of this whole process was writing my own thesis in Chinese. The thesis has a 30000-character requirement. Mine ended up at 35,000 which, included the appendix, graphs and everything, amounted to 80 pages. The process was: During the first semester all students determine which direction they want to study (culture or language) and were randomly assigned a thesis advisor (Not according to your area of interest, which meant even if your area of interest was exactly what one teacher is researching, you were still very unlikely to get paired. Very frustrating.). During the second semester, most thesis advisors had some way of encouraging students to deepen their understanding of their chosen direction. Some had bi-weekly study groups in which students choose papers to read and analyze together, while others require you to collect a list of all relevant papers to your topic. Each advisor had their own method, while some were completely hands-off. Those students all struggled. Some students, despite immense effort, only managed to get a few phrases of feedback during the whole one-and-a-half-year process from their “advisor.” My personal experience was that when I asked another advisor a question since a paper they wrote was part of my thesis, my thesis advisor at the time got furious (apparently she had beef with the other advisor) and demanded I change thesis advisors. It was all a very childish affair. Once your topic was clarified and before the end of the second semester, all students had to present their topic to a panel that would decide whether or not it was do-able. This involved explaining how you would go about your research and why it was of value to pursue. If your idea passed the panel, the next step was to begin research. All students were expected to find an internship for their third semester (no formal help was provided from the school in finding these internships) during which all were expected to do their research. My research focused on vocabulary acquisition and several motivational factors and their effect on vocabulary retention over several time periods. It’s worth noting that at this point, we still had no idea what the precise timeline was for when we turned in our thesis. In, roughly, late December, it was announced we needed to turn in our first full draft by the end of January. This was in stark contrast to the estimated early-March deadline. Many students resorted to less-than-kosher methods (directly paying someone to write their whole thesis, plagiarism, and what-not) to deal with the short deadline as many could not begin writing until they had collected their data from their internship or were too busy with the internship to have any time to write. I literally spent one month at my apartment writing and adopted a cat to cope with the stress. Great decision. My orange tabby Charlie is an angel. After turning in the first draft, each new deadline was announced in bit by bit: second draft with all parts completed, then a final draft which was used for the pre-defense in early March, and a week after the pre-defense all were to turn in their final draft. The final draft went through a “复制比检测” to check to make sure <10% of all content was similar to any other document in their system. It seems to work as at least one student who succumbed to easier options had a copy rate in excess of 30%. That student now has three months to re-write their thesis. Lastly, student draw lots for 盲审 in which papers are given to a blind-panel for review (though your status as an overseas student is noted). The last part, and the part I have not yet taken part in, is the proper defense of the thesis in May. However, I have been told that should the department let you pass the pre-defense, you are most likely going to pass the actual defense. My understanding is also that since our thesis is not uploaded to 知网, which is to say it is not to be seen by any outside of the school, standards are much lower than for, say, a student in the linguistics program. MISC Students in the master’s degree program stay with the other international students in the same dorms which have two students per dorm with a shared bathroom on each floor. The rooms are simple though quite big as they are designed for Chinese-style dorms with two sets of bunks per room. The services provided from the International Student Services office were top notch. Every step of the way, from registering to moving of campus, was well explained. They provided plenty of help and were always available to answer questions of WeChat. Big props to that whole team. If you like taking part in school events like fashion shows and singing competitions, they organize plenty of these as well. University life is great since ECNU is next to the biggest shopping mall in Shanghai as well as a massive park with a large pond (though many call it a lake). There is no shortage of food options with plenty of restaurants and three separate canteens on campus, which also include halal areas, western-style areas, and a slightly fancier area outside of the normal Chinese canteens. The campus itself is also comfortable (Zhongshan campus) with plenty of nature and a little steam running through the middle. CONCLUSION Simply put, if your goal is to improve your Chinese language ability, this is a really good degree to go for at ECNU. Your coursework will demand reading increasing amounts of Chinese content and climax in writing 30,000 Chinese characters. However, the burden of improving your Chinese is on you (be prepared to include 300 RMB/week for a tutor in your budget). On the other hand, if you sincerely want to become a great Chinese teacher, this program is not for you. It falls short it two major ways: 1) bar of entry is too low and as such content difficult is reduced to match the needs of most students. 2) Academic rigor is desperately lacking. Students often get away with plagiarism and very low-quality work. The result is a degree that doesn’t hold much credibility. If you are looking to teach Chinese, make sure to enroll in a program that does not separate out the international students and applies the same standards to all students. Chinese students were all held to a much high standard and I think that is better. If you do this, then make sure you are already at a “strong” HSK 6 before entering the program, otherwise you’ll be spending too much time on language learning and not enough time on mastering the content that will enable you to become a great Chinese teacher.
  3. 18 points
    Hey ABC, if you don't know yet, there is a chance of snow in Dallas for the next couple of days. The TV weather report is saying travel is not recommended. (Just what you want to hear...) Yes, you are right, that's not what I was hoping to hear. Got to DFW (Dallas) last night from Los Angeles. Good flight. But this pilgrim is weary. Feels like I've been on the road forever. Lost my large checked suitcase somewhere along the way. Filed a "lost baggage" report. Chances are it's back in Hong Kong. Have rented a car, and in a couple hours will drive home. Should be able to lay my head on my own pillow tonight. A big thank you to all of you here on the forum who have been pulling for me to make it!
  4. 15 points
    It was all because I, out of curiosity, downloaded @imron's Chinese Text Analyzer. I just wanted to get a rough idea on how different Chinese writers compare with each other in terms of accessibility for foreign language learners. As a native speaker, I'm not in a good position to assess the relative ease or difficulty of a book. Of course I know 《道德经》 is more difficult than 《小布头奇遇记》. But what about normal books that normal people read? I wanted a more objective criterion. And I think I've found one – the number of unique characters in a book. (Total characters and unique words are also useful – Chinese word segmentation is not a perfect science but the number still means something when comparing different texts.) After running a dozen of .txt files through CTA, I have some interesting findings: 1) 余华 really is easy. He is like the Chinese Hemingway. You can't get any easier, really. 余华's 《活着》 is a favorite among Chinese learners for good reason. It has 1865 unique characters, significantly lower than 2619, the number of unique characters in 曹文轩's 《草房子》, a children's novel suitable for 4-6th graders. 2) For advanced readers like imron, who knows 4400 characters and has quite a few 金庸s under his belt, the Four Classic Novels or 四大名著 should be theoretically within reach. (《水浒传》 was among the first novels I read. I was in 初一 and I don't think I knew that many characters. I didn't understand everything of course, but understanding everything isn't the point.) So it was a dark and stormy night. I ran a dozen of .txt files through CTA. And the perfectionist in me wasn't happy. As anyone who has used these "free" e-books knows, they're a very mixed bag. Typos, OCR errors, bad formatting, and no way to know which version/edition they are based on. When all the texts you pull from the internet give you 身后“”的马蹄声, you know something is missing. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I bought some 300 yuan's worth of books and was proofreading e-books... That's when it struck me: We have a First Episode Project, why not a First Chapter Project? Thus here I am, presenting you with 第一弹 of the First Chapter Project! biu~biu~ The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. The reason I chose it is because: 1) It's popular. It's one of the bestselling books on JD.com, Dangdang, and Amazon.cn. 2) It's a contemporary work, not too easy, not too difficult, and rather heavy on dialogue. A major obstacle may be technical vocabulary. But the Chinese technical words are mostly compounds and relatively transparent compared to English. And you don't need to be a scientist to read science fictions. From what I gathered from JD.com reviews, children as young as 10 are able to enjoy this book. How much do you reckon they know about particle physics or radio cosmology? Not much. It's just a fun escapist adventure. Don't take it too seriously. 3) It has two different versions of the first chapter. The novel was first serialized in Science Fiction World in 2006, because the opening scene (China at the height of the Cultural Revolution) was deemed too sensitive for the year 2006 – the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the said revolution. In the book version published in 2008, the story begins instead in present-day Beijing – the original Chapter 1 was tone down a bit and became Chapter 7. The English translation from 2014, which went on to win the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel, was based on the serialized version. Personally, I like the book narrative better. Science fiction with no sign of science in the first 30 pages is, frustrating. Although admittedly, had it not been for the Cultural Revolution theme, it wouldn't have won the Hugo Award and I wouldn't have read it in the first place. All right, enough third conditionals. Let's get to the main course. 《三体》,刘慈欣,重庆出版社,2008年1月第1版,2017年8月第7次印刷,ISBN 978-7-5366-9293-0 Difficulty: medium; Total characters: 162,680; Unique characters: 2,817; Unique words: 10,228 (not counting preface, epilogue and the like) First chapter (6,897 characters): (I made two corrections: 不、不→不,不 and 看去很小很小→看上去很小很小) Characters: 汪淼 Wāng Miǎo – Nanomaterials researcher (淼,大水也。 Personal names are the best opportunity to get acquainted with some rare characters, e.g., 金鑫, 牛犇, 朴文垚.) 史强 Shǐ Qiáng – Police detective and counter-terrorism specialist, nicknamed 大史 Dà Shǐ 常伟思 Cháng Wěisī – Major general of the People's Liberation Army 杨冬 Yáng Dōng – String theorist, recently committed suicide 丁仪 Dīng Yí – Theoretical physicist, Yang Dong's boyfriend 申玉菲 Shēn Yùfēi – Chinese-Japanese physicist and member of the Frontiers of Science Other names: 科学边界 Kēxué Biānjiè – Frontiers of Science, a fictional international academic group 吉普赛人 Jípǔsàirén – Gypsy 北约 Běiyuē (abbr. for 北大西洋公约组织) – NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) 中央情报局 Zhōngyāng Qíngbào Jú (中情局) – Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) 罗非鱼 Luófēiyú – tilapia 良湘 Liángxiāng – Fictional place name, site of China's new high-energy particle accelerator 钱钟书 Qián Zhōngshū (1910.11.21–1998.12.19) – Chinese literary scholar and writer 白桦树 Báihuàshù – Siberian silver birch (Betula platyphylla) 联合国教科文组织 Liánhéguó Jiào Kē Wén Zǔzhī – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 三菱电机 Sānlíng Diànjī – Mitsubishi Electric 石器时代 Shíqì Shídài – Stone Age Vocabulary (explanations in Chinese, taken from 《现代汉语词典》第7版 and 教育部《重編國語辭典修訂本》): (A bit long, so I'll just fold it into a spoiler tag) ==================== P.S. If you're planning to buy the book, don't buy the hard copy, at least not until there's a revision. They made 200+ changes to the original text, ranging from unnecessary (它几乎完全被野草埋没/它几乎被野草完全埋没) to awkward (扩大搜索目标、频率及范围/扩大搜索目标和频率和范围) to stupid (夕阳、晚霞/朝阳、朝霞). The handling of 了 and measure words makes one wonder whether the editors are native speakers. And I'm not even talking about typographical errors that can throw a reader completely off the planet (一颗恒星/一个颗状星). The electronic version restored most of the original text while keeping the rearranged chapter order. It is the version I recommend.
  5. 15 points
    As promised, here is the second installment of my blog following the second term of teaching in a one year Masters program in interpreting and translation at Bath University in the UK. The structure and content of teaching in the second term has been very different to the first term, so if you are interested in comparing, please take a look at my first blog entry. The second term put A LOT more emphasis on live interpreting practice, pressure has been a lot higher, and the requirements for specialized vocabulary has been noticeably greater than the first term. I will break down the different classes over a few blog entries, in the hope its more palatable for reading. I will assess my own performance vs my Chinese classmates, as well as reflect on Chinese-English interpreting from a native English speakers perspective whenever it might be useful. Firstly I’ll start with Simultaneous Interpreting. Simultaneous Interpreting and using Glossaries So, our SI (Simultaneous Interpreting) class has been every Monday at 11:15. The course works both directions C-E and E-C, and we have alternated direction from week to week. We mostly work inside professional interpreting booths for the first hour, doing live interpreting of videos that vary from 10 mins in length to half an hour using headphones and microphones that record live. The second hour is largely dedicated to feedback and guidance for improvement. We are told the broad topic of the class via email around Thursday the week before, for example, “next weeks SI will be on ‘fracking’” and that’s it. We are then expected to prepare a glossary of specialized terms, usually that can fit on one A4 page, which we can then bring to class and place next to our microphones as we interpret, for reference. The point of this is not to actually collect huge lists of words (although this inevitably happens), but rather, read widely and educate ourselves on different subjects in both English and Chinese, as well as learn how to ‘prep’ for real life interpreting jobs. Many students seemed to have no issue with this set up, as many already have rich active vocabularies and encyclopedic knowledge. (side note: Seriously, I have never met such widely read people in my life. And that really goes for every single one of my classmates; they can talk through macro and microeconomics with ease, go to a doctors ward and discuss the treatment regimen for obscure diseases, explain in depth how neural networking is changing media reporting; all in both Chinese AND English. Quite amazing and very motivating for study). One downside of this set up for me has been that I have spent almost all my free time building glossaries and learning vocabulary, whereas my classmates have had time to practice the actual skill of interpreting in out-of-class hours. That being said, if I had known this before starting the course I probably would have been scared away and never even started. It is an inevitability for many of us coming from a background of only starting learning Chinese at university, there is simply not enough time to consolidate the vast amounts of knowledge required for professional level interpreting. Getting back on topic: everyone seemed to have their own method to putting together specialized glossaries, for SI classes some even came with entire prepared folders with concise glossaries on pretty much every entry to an encyclopedia (I later learnt that in some cases these glossaries had already been used for many years and were very familiar to their users). I have spent the better part of every week this year picking out key terminology for Monday’s SI class (and Thursday’s Consecutive Interpreting class), that is, terms that would require thinking time over and above the constraints of simultaneous interpreting. The reaction time to a speaker usually needs to be kept within 2 seconds; if terminology comes up that is not in your active vocabulary, it will almost certainly stretch you to around 5-10 seconds before you get it out in the target language, by which time the entire thread of the speakers argument has been missed. Evidently, glossaries are incredibly important to successful simultaneous interpreting. In almost all cases I short-term memorised every item on each glossary; heres a look at my anki: Vocabulary requirements In the last 3 months alone I have accumulated 1610 specialised vocabulary terms in my anki. This in fact EXCLUDES my cards from Supermemo (another well-know srs system which I both love and hate at the same time) which has another 2733 cards added since early March (see attached images). I use Supermemo for reading, so many of these cards aren’t vocabulary items, but clozed passages from Wikipedia/academic articles. Nonetheless, the mental strain for getting up to the standard required for SI is frankly unhealthy: it is simply not doable in the time frame that the course allows. Many of my classmates have already taken courses in interpreting prior to this course, and so managed to keep up with the pace, but lets just say there were tears in class from some a number of times. Left: Anki deck specifically for interpreting glossaries. Right: excel files for glossaries Regarding the workload and how I coped. I estimate (stressing estimate, based on a pleco deck I have added to over the last five years to track my vocab progress) my passive vocabulary is now around 15-20,000, but active is to be honest probably only around 10-15,000 (again, hard to really know). Which is certainly not good enough to do professional interpreting with. For anyone considering doing a course like this, you should know that you are aiming for ‘near-native’ level size of active vocabulary, what I have been working with seemed like an impressive vocabulary size when I started the course, but now it seems laughable. Some of my classmates are far better read than me in English, 30k+ I reckon. a deck I have added any word I think 'useful' to over the years. I review these words in anki. an example of what my supermemo decks for reading Chinese/English articles looks like. As you can see, the requirements for vocabulary appear very scary. That being said, to someone that has learnt Chinese or English seriously for 10+ years, this is quite reasonable and achievable. I first went to China in 2008, and didn’t properly start learning until 2013/14, so I still have many years to go! I’m sure some of the longer-standing members of these forums must be nodding with a wry smile right now - been there done that! That’s it for now, next entry I’ll go through my thoughts on the CI class. Sorry if this is a bit of a ramble, very hard to try and structure all that has happened over the last few months.
  6. 14 points
    update from quarantine here: - first lab test results are back, and the whole group has tested negative, which is obviously great news. - were going to be tested again this saturday, then again two days before the 14 day period is up, because apparently some symptomless carriers don't show up on early tests. - i am closing in on completing my written memorisation of 千字文, I have written it out so much now I am starting to really hate it…which is always a good sign, shows I'm definitely reciting it enough - hit the 30 mark for classical poems learnt by heart… - so bored ive ordered a neo geo to the quarantine centre so i can play metal slug. I literally never get bored of studying, but damnit if my brain doesn't need to unwind sometimes
  7. 14 points
    Im certainly no expert, but seeing as the title reads "what do you believe", I will share my opinion based on what I saw in Hubei in the last few days. Ive never seen anything like the level to which the cities have been locked down before, it was very extreme to the point where I was wondering, why are there so many roadblocks everywhere, when nobody even wants to go outside? People have been saying a lot about how the amount of flu deaths far exceeds this virus, even if it is super contagious, no need to panic blah blah. But we all know the Chinese govt puts economic development before pretty much everything, so shutting down a whole province all the way down to the movement of people out of their neighbourhood streets onto the main streets, which will inevitably have a deep impact on the economy long term, surely indicates that this is not only a serious problem, but the govt knows just how much more serious it might become if it doesn't put measures in place. But they can't really state this outright, otherwise the whole place will go into panic mode. So yes, I personally think numbers are being underreported and downplayed, judging from the actions bring taken at street level, and to me it makes logical sense as to why.
  8. 14 points
    I’m bailing out. Bought a ticket late last night that has me leaving this Friday, 31 Jan. Will fly via Hong Kong. Flights via Beijing and Shanghai are subject to long delays or cancellations. "Hub" traffic jammed up, especially in Beijing, where they are “breaking in” a new airport. In Hong Kong I will remain air-side if possible. I will have completed exit formalities at passport control prior to boarding in Kunming. I should be in Dallas by the afternoon of Saturday 1 Feb. Lock-downs and travel bans are becoming more widespread. Inter-city bus routes have been suspended, as has all group holiday touring. Most points of interest all over China are closed. The government has officially extended the holiday, so people don't need to be in a panic to get back home to their place of employment. Once people reach their actual homes, where they have jobs, I wouldn't be surprised if all (or most) domestic travel is halted. When no one is sure how much is enough, official over-reaction becomes the norm. Schools are suspended, all gathering places are sealed. Even the movie theaters have shut down. People are stockpiling groceries, especially non-perishables like rice and cooking oil. Canned goods were flying off the shelves when I was at WalMart this morning. If I were not to act now, I would face a real risk of being stranded here 3 or 4 more months before being allowed to exit the country. At least that is my main concern. Of course, nobody has a crystal ball. A second concern is that even though I am healthy, were I to get a benign ten-cent winter cold, the cough, runny nose, and slight fever from that would wind me up in some mandatory locked isolation ward, shoulder to shoulder with people who are "really" sick. I see that as a recipe for disaster; my policy is to stay far away from hospitals at times like this unless I’m on the caregiver end of the equation. So it's bye bye Kunming. I will definitely miss you. Promise to return as soon as it's safe.
  9. 14 points
    This is my last entry for this blog now that my course has finished (for those asking how the second year is going, it is only a one-year MA at Bath). I’ve been meaning to update for a while, just not had the time to sit down and write. Anyway, here it is: last thoughts on exams, dissertation, outcomes and achievements and of course what the future holds: Final exams As said in previous blog entries, translation and interpretation are totally different in terms of the skillset and workload requirements, and the same was true during exams. I got fairly good marks in my translation exams, which took the form of two unseen English articles to be translated into Chinese, and vice versa. The content for the E-C was fairly technical stuff on windfarms and medicine, the C-E was a clinical trial and an art exhibition (I’m working on some pretty hazy memory tbh, it might have been slightly different, but roughly in these areas). In E-C the biggest challenge was trying to keep up pace with the writing speed of my Chinese classmates. I didn’t finish the exam as a result, I translated the first article in full, but only 80% of the second (bad exam tactic: I drafted my translation in Chinese then wrote out in full in clear kaishu…then ran out of time…yeah). The C-E was a different story, I finished the paper with an hour to spare and walked out just after the amazing Taiwanese/American guy, which was a massive feeling of accomplishment for me. The mark I got was better than I had hoped for too, so that was a big plus. Interpretation was of course another story. Consecutive exams went okayish, I scraped through and got mediocre marks. My simultaneous exams all went terrible, I got so nervous I just froze up and stopped speaking in some of them, it really was awful. My marks were naturally very bad, surely the worst in the class I would imagine. Thankfully my average dragged me up overall, and all that really came of the experience was a harsh reminder that I am not able (nor do I ever hope to) do interpreting professionally. My own personal opinion is that interpreting really is for people who have lived in a bilingual environment for at least 10 years from a young age (starting from teen years at the very latest). I first started dabbling in Chinese when I was 20, and I think I am borderline. I believe I would be able to get to a professional level if I put in another 5-10 years from now (I am 31 as of writing). And I don’t really think I’m willing or able to give that time unfortunately. Dissertation I managed to make contact with a famous Taiwanese author and got the translation copyright for a final dissertation translation of a book on the history of Chinese calligraphy. It was an amazing project to work on, I learned a lot of in depth specialist knowledge, and has given me a lot of ideas for the future. I am very happy to say I got a distinction for the translation, and hope to get an English translation of the full book published at some point in the future. The future If I learned from my exams that interpreting wasn’t for me, I learned from my dissertation that translation…is! That being said, while the money is fairly decent, the way in which projects come at you randomly as a freelancer is not so much fun (sure many here can relate). As a result, I’m hoping to now go into education as a Chinese teacher here in the UK, with translation as a supporting income. The dissertation project has also thrown me in a new direction, with a current cooperative currently being set up with a group of fantastic artists and calligraphers I know from Hubei. I’m sure there will be more to come from this in the coming years too. Final thoughts For me – this was the hardest, most challenging year of my life. Regarding the change in my Chinese abilities over the last year: Pros - Speaking has become a lot more formal and adult like, less ‘cute’ and childlike. - Writing has become a lot quicker and again more formal in style, less ‘wechatty’ - Reading is rapid, I can now do sentence reading in 2-3 chunks rather than word by word now, and reading out loud with proper emphasis is much, much better now. Cons - Listening has become more difficult, as my brain gets frustrated when I am not 100% about every single word, tone, sentence level implication, etc. Although this might be a good thing in the long run. - I hesitate and stutter a lot more when speaking, as I am so much more aware of when word order/grammar/word choice is slightly off during the mental preparation of a sentence. I have learned too many new words over the last year, and not absorbed deep enough – as a result it causes me to stop for recall quite a lot now. If you are a native English speaker interested in doing a Chinese/English interpreting-translation qualification, I say be sure you know why you want to do the course. I was very clear that I wanted to do the course to see whether or not becoming an ‘English’ Chinese interpreter was possible for me or not. I found out it was not. But I met a few people along the way for whom it was, and that’s great! However, some people were doing the course to improve their language skills, and this kind of course will not necessarily do that – in fact it will require you to sacrifice language ability for codeswitching ability, particularly in the case of interpreting. Codeswitching is a skill that requires you to rewire the way in which your brain wants to access information – great for being ‘in the booth’, but not so much for playing mah-jong and general chitchat over some baijiu. I think quite a few students struggled to come to terms with the fact that they were being outperformed by students with worse English but better T/I skills. But as long as you are clear what your goals are before you start, a course like this can only be an asset to your Chinese in the long term. It will weed out every single one of your weaknesses and cracks in your knowledge and remind you of them all day every day until you tackle them. Its been a painful medicine to take, but I certainly don't regret it at all. Good luck to future translators and interpreters reading this!
  10. 14 points
    A few days ago, I finished reading the short story collection 《樱海集》 by 老舍. This brought my reading total above one million characters, completing my goal for the year. 《樱海集》 was first published in 1935. The collection contains a funny and self-effacing preface plus ten short stories of varying lengths (from six to forty-two pages). The stories deal with classical human failings—hypocrisy, pride, envy, bitterness, cowardice, lust, revenge, greed, anger—and the consequences that arise from such failings. Though the stories are thematically related, they differ considerably in their characters, plots, point of views, and settings. Below is a brief synopsis of each story, along with some amplifying details and concluding thoughts. The first story in the collection, 《上任》, is about a recently promoted government official named 尤老二 and the opium-smoking thugs he employs. Much of the story is concerned with 尤老二’s inability to pay for his thugs, who show up at odd times asking for money for travel and other expenses. This story was difficult for me to get into. I found the details of the plot hard to follow and the language more challenging than any other story in the collection. 《牺牲》 is a character sketch of 毛博士, a bizarre 崇洋媚外 teacher educated in the United States. 《柳屯的》 is about a small village, a powerful Christian family, and an unrestrained woman who tries to take over them both. 《末一块钱》 is about a young dissatisfied college student who yearns for the kind of life enjoyed by his more affluent classmates. 《老年的浪漫》 is about an old man who, cursed with greedy former colleagues and a foolish son, decides to settle old scores. 《毛毛虫》 is a very short story that asks the question: What does a community think about that unenviable husband and wife who live down the street, and that husband’s former wife, and their new children? 《善人》 is about a well-to-do woman who sees herself as generous but is oblivious to the suffering of those around her. This story was my favorite story of the collection. 《邻居们》 is about the tensions that flare up between two neighboring families after one receives the other’s mail by mistake. The 明 family and the 杨 family are neighbors. 明家 is selfish and uncivilized. 杨家 is altruistic and lettered. The husband and father in the 杨 family, 杨先生, is described as a “最新式的中国人.” One day, 杨先生 receives a letter addressed to 明先生. 杨太太 attempts to deliver the letter, but 明太太 misunderstands her neighbor’s intentions and rebuffs her. 杨先生 then writes his own letter explaining the situation. 明太太 refuses this letter, too. Tensions between the two families escalate. 杨先生 believes that he and 明先生 can resolve their differences like rational gentlemen, and continues to write his neighbor letters. 明先生 sees 杨先生 as a weak man and despises him for his bookishness and inaction. Eventually… 《月牙儿》 is a longer story about a girl and her hard life after her father dies and her mother is forced out of exigence into prostitution. 《阳光》 is about the life of a beautiful, proud, and dissolute woman from a rich family. Her eventual arranged marriage to a prominent morality-promoting Daoist is comfortable, but stifling. 《樱海集》 is the second work I’ve read by 老舍; the first was his delightful science fiction satire 《猫城记》. There is something irreverent about 老舍’s style in these two works. 老舍’s stories foreground the character defects of early 20th-century Chinese people, whatever their station in life. Opioid-addicted menial laborers, wives of rich businessmen, the orphaned, the educated, the religious and the ideologically possessed—none are spared. By pointing out character defects in such a wide-ranging way, 老舍 advances a kind of criticism of the Chinese society of his day. But 《樱海集》 is not a “critical” work, at least not in the sense that modern people use the term. It isn’t a systematic, theory-driven critique of Chinese society; nor is it especially tragic or concerned with issues of justice. Rather, 《樱海集》 is a moral work. The stories in 《樱海集》 are cautionary tales filled with negative moral examples. They are the modern literary equivalents of fables. The stories paint a pessimistic and probably unbalanced picture of Chinese life. Readers interested in positive moral examples—the righteous government official or revolutionary, the loving and longsuffering mother, the diligent young student who succeeds in life despite enormous opposition—will not find them here. Some of 老舍’s negative moral examples are also offensive to contemporary Western sensibilities. His portraits of women are pretty unflattering. 老舍’s women are ostentatious, stubborn, and quick to anger. (To be fair, the men don’t come off much better. Most of 老舍’s male protagonists are feckless hypocrites.) Others will find 老舍’s portrayal of poor people unsympathetic. The peasants in 《樱海集》 are lazy and spend what little money they find on drugs: It is interesting to consider 老舍’s portrayals of Chinese people in 《樱海集》 in light of then-upcoming theories about politics and art in China. In his lectures at Yan'an in 1942, Mao advocated a new pro-proletariat literature and denounced “petit bourgeois writers” that write “pessimistic literature” and “harm the people.” Were 老舍’s mid-1930’s stories compatible with the new Chinese literature Mao would soon advocate? Was 老舍’s literature “pessimistic”? [For the curious, I blogged about Mao’s Yan'an literature lectures in an earlier post on this blog.] The Chinese language in 《樱海集》 is not especially difficult. The vocabulary is more challenging than contemporary Chinese fiction writers like 余华 and 韩寒, but far easier than writers like 张爱玲 and 莫言. 老舍’s word choices are frequently different from those found in contemporary fiction. This may confuse language learners unfamiliar with early 20th-century Chinese literature. For the uninitiated, try reading other authors from the same period. (I read short stories by 丁玲, 沈从文, and 施蛰存 before. That helped.) My new year’s resolution was to read one million characters in books and articles in 2019. I have now reached that goal with a little over a month to spare. This year I read mostly fiction. I also read Mao’s literature lectures, an article by IBM, a undergraduate thesis on the music of American saxophonist Sonny Stitt, and a third of the Bible. It’s been a great and rewarding experience. From time to time, people ask about the value of studying Chinese language given recent political and economic changes in China. It’s a fair question; there are many reasons to study Chinese and people differ in their motivations and goals. For me, the desire to engage in the cultural and literary traditions of a large and important foreign world was and is a main driver of my Chinese study. This desire was sustained and strengthened this year. I intend to keep reading in Chinese, both fiction and non-fiction. For literature, my near-term goals for the next couple years are to continue with works at or slightly above my current reading level; to move on to major works by 张爱玲, 莫言, and 阎连科; and to tackle tougher early 20th-century works by authors like 鲁迅. I’d like to wade into 文言 someday too, though that day is still a long way off. I had a lot of fun writing these posts and interacting with all of you. In the future, I may continue writing posts here. For now, however, because of many pressing demands on my time, I will put this blog on hiatus and return to posting intermittently in the excellent and underutilized “What are you reading?” thread. Thank you to everyone who read or commented on this blog this year. Link to《樱海集》: https://www.aixdzs.com/d/117/117466/ Some statistics: Characters read this year: 1,000,931 Characters left to read this year: 0 Percent of goal completed: 100% List of things read: 《三八节有感》by 丁玲 (2,370 characters) 《我在霞村的时候》by 丁玲 (10,754 characters) 《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》by 毛泽东 (18,276 characters) 《自杀日记》by 丁玲 (4,567 characters) 《我没有自己的名字》by 余华 (8,416 characters) 《手》by 萧红 (7,477 characters) 《牛》by 沈从文 (8,097 characters) 《彭德怀速写》by 丁玲 (693 characters) 《我怎样飞向了自由的天地》by 丁玲 (2,176 characters) 《IBM Cloud文档:Personality Insights》 by IBM (25,098 characters) 《夜》by 丁玲 (4,218 characters) 《虎雏》by 沈从文 (46,945 characters) 《在巴黎大戏院》 by 施蛰存 (6,181 characters) 《分析Sonny Stitt即兴与演奏特点——以专辑《Only the Blues》中曲目 《Blues for Bags》为例》 (5,483 characters) 《一个女剧院的生活》 by 沈从文 (61,154 characters) 《致银河》 by 王小波 (17,715 characters) 《在细雨中呼喊》 by 余华 (132,769 characters) 《熊猫》 by 棉棉 (53,129 characters) 《1988:我想和这个世界谈谈》 by 韩寒 (81,547 characters) 《偶然事件》 by 余华 (20,226 characters) 《第七天》 by 余华 (84,847 characters) 《圣经》 (新译本) (1,055,606 characters; 315,144 read in 2019) 《樱海集》 by 老舍 (83,649 characters)
  11. 13 points
    This resource is probably more intended for intermediate to advanced learners. I've personally been studying for about 9 years and work in translation full-time now, and I've always used Zhihu as a tool for studying Chinese and staying abreast of the current Chinese zeitgeist. On Zhihu Digest, each week I take a look at the top 10 questions and analyze the language involved (from a Chinese learner's perspective) as well as any relevant cultural aspects. Some of the interesting tidbits from this week include what exactly it means for a person to 废掉, different ways of talking about steroids, and what grade levels 中小学 comprises. https://www.zhihudigest.com/ All feedback, whether regarding content or the site itself, is welcome. Cheers.
  12. 13 points
    Graded Watching is a website I've created to make watching Chinese TV series more approachable for Chinese learners. It offers mainly two things: a ranking based on the number of words, to find TV series at your level a list of words for each show that you can import into Pleco for studying Currently there are around 60 shows listed. I hope I can add more shows in the future, but since the analysis is done based on soft subs the selection is limited. I selected two easier shows for myself to start with, "On Children", a show on Netflix which reminds me of Black Mirror, and "Memory Love", which I use for practicing listening comprehension together with the Chrome extension Language Learning with Netflix. It will stop after each subtitle and I can check whether I understood everything. Before watching an episode I study all the words using Pleco flashcards, so I hardly need to look up anything while watching, which is very motivating. If you have soft subs for more shows I'd be happy to include them.
  13. 13 points
    Haha, with families and couples suddenly forced to spend a lot more time together than they are used to, I'm sure China will see a spike in both births and divorces in the coming months (just a general comment, not talking about your personal situation) The situation in Harbin escalated a notch overnight, and I'd say we're at DEFCON 3 now. Apparently, there have been a few infections around my area (within 1-2 km), so the situation feels a lot closer to home, rather than just being something on the news. It also seems that many residential apartment complexes have begun requiring permission slips in order to leave, including mine: I used one of the three slips issued to me for this week to go to the local supermarket to stock up. I pretty much bought a weeks worth of supplies, so I suppose I could now sell the other two slips on the (probably already thriving) exit slip black market. Surprisingly, the two guys who run a nut and seed street stall just outside the supermarket decided to open today. Just as I was walking past and thinking about whether or not to buy something, one of the men let out a massive sneeze. While I appreciated the effort he made to turn his head to face slightly back over his shoulder as he did it, it was far from the recommended "sneeze into the inner elbow" technique, and I decided to carry on walking. At the entrance to the shopping mall was a man taking everyone's temperature. He said something to me as he was aiming the small thermometer gun at my wrist, but I was daydreaming and didn't hear what he said, so I just smiled and asked ”正常吗?“, to which he replied ”零“ and showed me the result. He had a slightly confused look on his face, as if unsure as to whether those strange 老外 just naturally had a much lower body temperature to normal folk, and that maybe he should just let me pass anyway. Fortunately, I already had already experienced this issue a couple of days before and therefore knew what to do. I said to him “零?怎么可能, 我还没死呢!” and pulled my jumper and jacket down a bit from my neck so that he could take the measure again, this time around my collar bone area. This time I got a ”正常“ reading, and could continue on downstairs to the supermarket. Everyone seems pretty calm around here, in spite of the new measures. Even the people taking temperatures and controlling the flow of people are generally in good humour. The only nervousness I've encountered was when I was walking around my 小区 a little earlier today. My apartment area is criss-crossed with walking paths, and as I was walking towards a small crossroads, a woman a little ahead and to my right suddenly shouted “别动!”. As I looked to my left I could see who she was telling to stop - a 10/11 year old boy who had seemingly fallen behind his parents at the other side. The boy stood perfectly still with a scared expression on his face, as if he had just been told by Dr Grant to freeze so that a nearby T-Rex wouldn't be able to see him. I carried on walking and the boy ran to join his parents as soon as I had passed the little cross-section. This afternoon I decided to take a leaf out of @abcdefg's book and actually try my hand at making some Chinese food. I generally like cooking, but the food is so cheap that I tend to eat out most days, and when I do cook at home I usually make western food. I decided to make a Dongbei favourite of mine, 锅包肉, but realised when I go home that I had forgotten to buy any Chinese onion. It's at this point that I had to decide whether or not buying it would be worth using one of my two remaining exit permission slips for (#justcoronavirusthings, as @vellocet might say). I decided that I could make do with the western onion already in my fridge instead. The dish turned out ok, but I couldn't quite get the water to 淀粉 ratio right, so the batter didn't turn out as well as it could have. I was satisfied how the sauce turned out though (a delicate balance between the sugar, vinegar, ginger and onion). Oh well, I'm going to have plenty of time to perfect the recipe over the coming days anyway.
  14. 13 points
    http://www.bilibili.com/video/av85901845?share_medium=android&share_source=more&bbid=XYFB5CAF698EEE335B6147082A959F8C857D9&ts=1580454870665 started a video diary for anyone thats interested in getting a realistic perspective of what things are like here at the moment. as you can see, things are calm and quiet. the sun is out, everyone is going about on the street as normal, feeling happy. but tbh it does feel like a calm before the storm kind of atmosphere here, little bit eerie, this street is usually buzzing with neighbours washing clothes, smoking meat, chatting and playing cards and chess
  15. 13 points
    Hey guys, I can comment on this because I know a lot of people who have been in the China Horizons program and I am familiar with the program over my time in China. They are unaffiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints although they are members of the church and primarily recruit students from BYU. Basically, they have been breaking the law in China for a decade or so. They are being accused of human trafficking which, while I think does not exactly capture what has happened, does have a case as a legal charge. Here is what CH has been doing. They offer a program to primarily undergraduate students to go to China to teach English for 2-3 month stints. The students pay CH a fee to go to China and the students pay for their own flights to China. The students are placed in a small town with largely private English schools in the area, primarily teaching young kids. The students go to China on a tourist visa. During their time in China, the school provides accommodations and a small stipend of around 500 RMB per month. The students then return back to America after their time is up. There are legal problems with this situation as well as some ethical issues I have always had with it. First, the students are working in China illegally. To legally work, in China, you must have a work permit. It's a lengthy and sometimes costly process which would not justify just a 2-3 month employment. The students largely would be unqualified to receive work permits anyways because they do not have a college degree. China Horizons is "double dipping" on both sides: they receive a payment from the students AND they receive money from the school employing the students. This seems supremely unfair the first time I ever heard of it and I've always felt the students are being taken advantage of it. The students have no idea how much of a risky situation they have been placed into. With the stricter enforcement that the Chinese government has enacted over the last few years, they could easily be jailed and deported if they were found to be working without proper documentation. I've heard a lot of people rally for Jacob Harlan and his associates indicating that they are victims of Chinese government oppression, but this is just not the case. While I feel for Jacob and his family (his family being the real victims of his crimes), he has been breaking the law and arguably exploiting students for a very long time and the chickens have proverbially come home to roost. I have been in touch with some of the representatives about this and I have expressed my opinion about all of this but they didn't seem to want any of this information spread around because it is damaging to his case. However, it is my prediction that he will not be coming home till he finishes a jail sentence complete with an apology and possibly fine. I will say that despite what I have said, I have known a number of the students who went through the CH program and had a very good experience and some even went back to China under more legitimate circumstances. I am really happy for them and I am glad that they did have this experience. However, I have always harbored big reservations about the CH program and it appears that things have finally caught up to them. I hope this sheds some light on the issue for anyone interested.
  16. 13 points
    Just a small reflection I wanted to share here on my improvements with tv comprehension. I can vividly remember feeling so frustratated with how impossible and stressful watching the 'fun' Chinese tv recommended here on the forums used to be. But now watching tv is so easy and fun, I wanted to share my 'yeah you can do it' moment So, I watched 琅琊榜 when it came out, which was what about 3-4 years ago now. I loved it, but it was such hard work, I remember spending about a week working through the first episode alone. The visual aids made it watcheable and fun, but I was well aware of the fact that I was only really able to grasp the bare bones of the plot, and struggled a lot with even trying to pick out names from regular vocabulary. After that, I watched similar kinds of tv shows non stop, for years, with depressingly low success rates. But it did seem to be getting easier. Just that progress was painfully slow. But I figured, what else was I going to do with my evenings? So I kept watching, and pausing, and then watching...and then pausing...etc Flash forward to earlier this year, I finished the fantastic 武林外传 (highly recommended), but after having such an annoying time with what you might call 方言-interference in my everyday Chinese tones (from the non-standard accents in the show), I then switched to something more 'clear' - the classic 甄嬛传 (avoided for years because sadly I thought it was too 'girly' - imo this show is actually a legit classic and must watch for intermediate-advanced Chinese learners). It was still pretty tough going, but by the end I would say I felt 'relaxed' and enjoyed it without any language stress - ie. minimal pausing, I would guess maybe around 98^% listening comprehension. Recently I took a break to read 左傳 in the evening instead of TV. This evening I sat down feeling pretty tired (dissertation translation submitted...finally!) and thought, hey, why not give 琅琊榜 a try again, would be good to rewatch it. I was shocked to find I could understand everything, the plot, the subplot, insinuations, jokes, you name it. Must have been 99.5^% comprehension or something. I just sat and watched five episodes straight without a hitch. In fact the language is actually easier than 甄嬛传, and obviously way way way easier than 左傳. I almost cried it felt so good. So thats all I really wanted to say really, in a really long-winded way... Hopefully some will read this and remember what the struggle was like, others might realise, it will come, don't give up.
  17. 13 points
    Recently I did an interview with @Phil Crimmins, the co-founder of Mandarin Blueprint. Phil is an old friend and drummer I used to perform with around Sichuan. He invited me on his podcast to speak about my experience learning Mandarin and making music in China. The podcast covers many topics, including: definitions of language fluency and proficiency; reasons to learn (and not to learn) a foreign language; similarities between language and music; the benefits of patience; moving past the “intermediate plateau”; immersion/environmental factors; language learning and empathy; my experience teaching at a Chinese music conservatory; aural reading and reading speed; reading Chinese literature; concision as an indicator of language ability; my upcoming role at NYU Shanghai; and more. Chinese Forums gets mentioned a few times as well! The podcast can be watched/listened to on the Mandarin Blueprint website: https://www.mandarinblueprint.com/podcast/35-mastering-mandarin-music-with-murray-james/ It’s also on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0mg2sBhEtA
  18. 12 points
    Update: Made it as far as Hong Kong. Flew out of Kunming yesterday afternoon (Friday 31 Jan.) It was an on-time departure with arrival in Hong Kong about 6 pm. Good flight, even had food and beverage service. As you know, China is taking this epidemic very seriously. Everyone wearing a face mask, wiping down surfaces, using hand sanitizer and such. Compliance was 100% at the airport, complete with temperature checks. Still, I was not prepared for lots of passengers on my flight to be wearing those cheap plastic raincoats with hoods. They had the peaked tops pulled up over their heads in addition to face masks. Odd sight. Reminiscent of a KKK rally, since most were light colors, pastels and off-white. (I have only seen these in movies.) The young lady sitting next to me was additionally decked out with disposable vinyl gloves and eye goggles as though she was preparing to do battle in the ICU. She was exquisitely well informed on the subject of this health crisis, and in fact would not shut up about it. My flight out to the US, scheduled for this afternoon (Saturday 1 Feb) was delayed a couple times and ultimately cancelled. Am now re-booked on another flight leaving Monday 3 Feb. Nothing was available tomorrow. The flight from Kunming to Hong Kong was on Cathay Pacific, but now I am at the mercy of American Airlines, and they are a less stable player. I've read that their pilot's union is suing the carrier over assorted grievances, real and imagined and this has further compromised their performance, their ability to deliver the goods, which is getting passengers and freight from point A to point B. I don't really know or care whether their cause is just. I just want them to take me home. Not a big deal. I'm in a good hotel, healthy, well fed and watered, and was able to simply extend my stay by two nights. Have adjusted reservations on the Dallas end of the trip and notified friends and family. Beats the hell out of being locked up in some quarantine gymnasium or warehouse, eating instant noodles 方便面 and sleeping on a straw mat.
  19. 12 points
    This entry has been delayed a bit for a variety of reasons, mainly due to lack of time, as I've got so much to say on this topic, but also because this is my most dreaded class. For more context on what I'm talking about, skip back and check earlier entries. For clarity, I am a native English speaker that is on the Chinese-English Interpreting and Translating masters course at Bath University, UK. We work in both directions, and I am the only 'foreigner' on the course. This last point is of crucial importance, as it has naturally set me apart from everyone else on the course. Just not always in the ways I was expecting before beginning this process. One of the most noticeable areas in which my background, different from my Chinese peers, impacted my performance was in the consecutive interpreting class. Unlike translating, which can be done at the safety of your own home, or simultaneous interpreting (aka 'SI') where mistakes can be forgiven due to time constraints and the high-pressure environment, consecutive interpreting (CI) is the most unforgiving and most difficult part of the job, as it requires high quality intepreting of complex topics. This of course runs counter to what most people believe, and when one of the course instructors said this at the beginning of the course, I found it difficult to believe him. But he was right. And there are two main reasons: 1. You must understand everything. 1-2% non-comprehension is natural, 3-5% is acceptable, 5-10% is just about workable, but anything more and you lose the ability to accurately infer (yes these are arbritrary numbers, but I'm basing such estimates off my own experience this year). If you don't understand, you can ask the speaker. But 9/10 they will just repeat the phrase you didnt understand word for word, or if they are kind enough to rephrase, the chance you will still not understand a concept you don't even know in your native tongue is 'too damn high'. And I'm the kind of person that goes red in the face when they dont get it. The speaker will also think that your job is easy, as they have to stop for you and 'wait' for you to catch up. As a result, the speaker often speaks much quicker than normal, use more complex terms, and will sometimes even forget to stop for you in the bits they consider 'easy'. 2. You must use a notetaking system. If someone says you dont need symbols or shorthand, just write down the main details and youll be fine...you know they are almost certainly a bad consecutive interpreter. There are simply too many details to remember in a live speech. You must find a way to take down more information than you can possibly remember. In our final exam this was 8 minutes of speech without any break. We then had to deliver the speech in the target language, hoping to also reach an ideal length of 7-8 minutes in our own delivery. This skill was the largest hurdle for me to get over (and I still havent to be honest), and it was the biggest difference between me and my peers. Nearly all the other students were coming into the course with a knowledge of a notetaking system, having taken courses in it back in China in order to prepare for the MA in Bath, or having previous undergrad experience in interpreting. Either way, from day one the teachers were calling us up to the whiteboard to 'show off' our own personalised notetaking (with each student having their own unique ways of taking down 5 solid minutes of statistics speeches, or symbols for taking notes on sustainable energy sources...). Consequently, I never had the chance to formally study this skill on the course, and this is the only area where I felt short-changed in my training on this MA. The first point was manageable, I just had to improve my listening comprehension. I have watched A LOT of news and public speeches in the last year to improve this. While I am watching, I actively ask my brain at the end of each sentence 'can you repeat that sentence back in Chinese? Are you hypothetically able to tell the person next to you what it means in English?' If the answer was 'yes' or 'pretty much' then I keep watching, keep listening. If the answer is no, I pause, search and take down all the words, listen again, add the words to a 'new words' deck in anki, then continue. Rinse and repeat for the rest of eternity. But the second point has been so difficult to deal with. While I was able to understand 99% of an English speech, there was too much information and too little time to write everything down. And yet, the person next to me was drawing pictures of little people and arrows everywhere, intermixed with shorthand chinese characters all over the place, then would stand up and deliver a near identical speech in English, far better than my own English! What do you do in a situation like that? Well I sat down with a friend and we ran through a basic set of maybe 150 or so 'concepts' that could be given symbols (see below), and began to learn them by heart. Gradually my notetaking did get better. But then I came across an additional third reason for why CI is so difficult: 3. Our course is bidirectional, so I was not only required to interpret from Chinese into English (based on scruffy, incomplete notes), but also from English into Chinese. It was at this point where I realised why symbols were so useful. They sit in between the solid words and grammar of language, they represent the ideas and concepts that have yet to be given body by a particular language. So you can use one system to take notes from two (or more) different source languages. For example, if I write the words 'your country' down, when it comes to referring to my notes during speech delivery, I will naturally look down at this and blurt out '你的國家‘. But what if it should have been '貴國'? What if the original English sentence was 'the development of your country is important for the global economy' and thus the use of 'your' in the Chinese is totally redundant? Using notetaking, you dont need to worry about the difference between expression in different languages. You can take the concept of 國/country and write it as 囗 (a commonly used shorthand symbol in notetaking). Once conceptualised, you can look at it and express the idea naturally and uninhibited in either language. A symbol's usage can be expanded across your whole system, eg. I can write the phrase "the development of your country" as "囗'dev". By extension, the whole sentence becomes something like: "囗'dev=!>O" (where ! is important, > is 'to, affect, influence' and O represents global, all over the world). 囗 can be used not just for country, but also - 囗° =...國人(°=person), 囗al (national), 囗ty (nationality), 囗z (nationalize). etc. To get a real flavour of what CI notetaking looks like, I've posted some pics of my own (bad examples) below. In this way, you can write down more information at higher speeds, with higher clarity and accuracy, all while avoiding 'Chinglish' (or 'Englese'...?) pitfalls. So, now we know that notetaking systems can dramatically increase the amount and the accuracy of information one can take down at the speed of natural speech delivery. And we also know that it can reduce the amount of Chinglish one might otherwise say when reading notes written in longhand in the source language. And so that leads me to my last area I wanted to mention. The required quality of output in the target language. Unlike SI, the quality of CI sits closer to written translation in terms of quality. One must be able to understand the original speakers intentions, 'translate' it into notes, then produce a coherent stream of thoughts and ideas based on the notes, where the original speech is often reordered and reworded (like in written translation) in order to better mimick the ways of speaking in the target language. Some students were AMAZING at this. In fact I was in awe on an almost daily basis. That being said, I don't believe the ability to do this is something 'innate'. It obviously requires significant cognizant ability, but these skills have clearly been trained for years and years...and years. Although I am still yet to be able to perform at a professional ability in this area, I have seen myself make positive progress and believe if I really dedicated maybe another 5 years to this I could reach a very high standard. That being said. As it stands, my ability in notetaking is still rudimentary. In the end, it didnt matter how good my comprehension was, or even how good my actual oral language abilities were, the notation 'filter' in the middle of the CI process consistently stopped me from producing good output language. I mean, I've never heard myself speak such strange English before! We're talking saying things like 'this food good eat' if I wasnt paying 100% attention to the notes I was reading. And at this point I would like to say, I strongly, strongly recommend the course at Bath, as the course instructors are fantastic, and surely among the highest qualified in the world to teach such skills. A caveat should be noted for native English speakers: a prerequisite for the course should be a prep course in notetaking for native English speakers, and this should be explicitly stated on all interpreting course details (as all the Chinese speakers had all done this in China, without me knowning until after the course had started...). The course instructor of the MATBI course, Miguel Fialho, has absolutely blown everyone on the course away. His 普通話 is phenomenal, perfect tones, better spoken than any of the Chinese students in the class, and most importantly he is incredibly humble and understanding. You will see him on CCTV whenever there are meetings between the Chinese and Portuguese governments (he is half British, half Portuguese, and also does Chinese-Portuguese interpreting......). He. Knows. Everything. Pretty sure he has learnt an entire encyclopedia off by heart in three different languages. Jane is his equivalent for the Chinese students, and her English is far more eloquent than my, often ending up in me taking notes on how to speak better English after listening to her speeches! Dr Kumar is highly knowledgeable in economics and politics, is ultimately responsible for the excellent course structure and content, and most importantly, is really funny, so that really made things a lot easier when you're in high stress environments. what my notes at the beginning of the year looked like. I was using a pencil, writing everything down longhand, and getting totally confused. I often ended up giving up and just trying to recite everything I'd just heard in one language in the other. What my notes looked like by the end. You can see that for complex terminology, you can write down the word, assign it a number, then just write the number when the term is used. The red is for marking mistakes when going back and comparing notes to the original speech. Practicing symbols. good god. OK I'm done for today, next blog entry will probably be more geared towards some thoughts on written translation. I'm just beginning to write my dissertation, which is a written translation, so will share anything interesting I come across.
  20. 12 points
    Half year update time for me too: Goal 1: Watch 新聞聯播 every single day of 2019. To date, 100% on this goal, but I after day 74 of 新聞聯播 I was really not learning much beyond 一帶一路 every. single. day. So I switched to 國際財經報道 (also part of CCTV news), the content is much more varied and more importantly faaar more interesting. I've been watching this every day for the last few months. Listening ability has improved massively. Very happy! Goal 2: 30 mins Chinese cursive practice every day. Also 100%. But 30 mins has turned into a good 1 1/2 hours every evening before bed now. This has unexpectedly become my obsessive hobby, love it so much. I've learnt so much in researching and compiling information, images, books, databases, you name it. I can now read a lot of inscriptions on painting, and can now read pretty much the whole of 書譜 in its original form. Again, really happy! (stats from my anki deck for learning 草書, it says 60 hours, 24.5mins/day, but thats a bit of an understatement, as it sits on the edit screen for another additional hour or so as I edit each entry. Im using the Heisig order for learning characters, as it nicely builds up your knowledge of shortcuts, so that by the time you reach complex characters, 7 or 8 times out of 10 you can guess how to write it correctly even if you've never seen the supercursive form before) (^ regular handwriting, speed fairly average, this is a page of me writing out an essay from 思想與社會 that I've learnt by heart. Not pretty, just trying to build speed.) (^ what learning how to write looks like, slow speed, again, very ugly to look at, but its not about looks, its about getting that muscle memory drilled in) (^ the latest entry from today. You can see in the middle some Hiragana. Yes, Im finally beginning to learn some basic Japanese in order to access some great resources on 草書 and 書法 in general. Luckily the Hiragana forms are proving pretty easy to learn, as theyre all based on 草書 anyway. Thanks to @Gharial for recommending some great books on this!) All in all, my two goals have served me well. Cant wait for what the next six months may bring!
  21. 11 points
    Hi Guys, I just got my HSK 4 and 5 exam results back results posted to HSK results thread here The 2019 thread and previous threads have been a source of inspiration for me and I hope no one minds that I get the 2020 thread started a little early. While I failed HSK5 fairly hard, I was happy that I did most of what I had set out to do in 2019 with massive amounts of listening practise and watching of TV shows - I saw a big improvement in general communication. 2020 I'd like to pass HSK5 with a 200+ Get into structured classes again. At some point during 2020 - turn off the subtitles on the tv shows. Thanks !
  22. 11 points
    Hello, I created a podcast series aimed at intermediate to advanced learners who want to listen to more spoken Chinese to improve or become more used to pronunciation and sentence structures. Along with each podcast episode, I also set out the script (in simplified Chinese and pinyin) for that episode on my website (https://chinesecolloquialised.com/). The podcast episodes are under the name "Chinese Colloquialised", which can be found on most major podcast platforms (e.g. Apple Podcast / Google Podcast / Spotify / Overcast/ etc). If there are any intermediate to advanced learners, I would be keen to hear your thoughts on the podcast. Particularly: Is it helpful? Is it too easy or too difficult? Do you find the episodes interesting? Any other thoughts, whether it's positive compliments or constructive criticism. Thank you and best wishes, Kaycee
  23. 11 points
    Hi everyone, As we begin a new month I have decided to share some words of encouragement to all who are awaiting response of their scholarship application. Without this forum I myself don't know how I would have kept sane. Regardless of the outcome ,I wish you all the best in whatever path you may choose to embark on. “Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think, not wonder, not imagine, not obsess. Just breathe and have faith that everything will work out for the best.”
  24. 11 points
    I will get round to writing part 2 of my write up of the university course: in the meantime heres a brief thought I ended up writing out in full. Would be interested to hear others thoughts: Recently I have noticed I am stuttering a lot more when just regularly chatting to friends in Chinese; my brain appears to constantly be asking itself, 'is this really the most appropriate word?' Perhaps this is a result of moving back to the UK and being away from the total immersion of China, but I feel like its more likely a result of learning how to work between two languages when on the mic in interpreting situations... Take the various concepts of 'collapse' in Chinese as an example. There's 垮, it denotes the idea of collapsing inwards on itself. then there's 崩潰, the idea of something or someone collapsing from the cause of not being able to bear a load. what about 瓦解, collapse due to internal disintegration, figuratively as well as literally, or even 塌縮, the idea of, say, a star collapsing inwards on itself to eventually become a black hole. All these different concepts of collapsing will almost always be translated into English simply as 'collapse'. Whilst this makes for very easy interpreting, it actually makes your Chinese worse, as you are constantly drawing together these distinct meanings into one basket named 'collapse', not allowing your brain to understand the finesse in their differences. What one is constantly striving towards in learning another language is to rewire the brain in order to divide and distinguish concepts that are different from one's mother tongue. Not only does learning the skill of interpreting not tolerate such rewiring, it actually bundles all the wires together in a big tangled mess. The brain is told to forget the small but important differences between words and instead group words into easy to manage target language categories. As a result, I find I question my word choice a lot more often than I once did. I find I can no longer simply rely on feeling, or make choices as easily simply based on a gut feeling. So it would seem, while my Chinese has improved a lot in the last year, learning to interpret has perhaps had a negative effect on my "語感", or my ability to simply 'feel' what the right word should be. Hopefully this is just temporary.
  25. 11 points
    I wonder if any of the people who posted in this originally are still active in the forum? I completely forgot I had an account here, then re-signed up and found my old account history. Thought it would be interesting to give a catch up to what happened to the eager 16 year old that posted on here all this time ago back in 2007! Well turns out most of the advice was the perfect advice to give! I took a break from my school but still became a professional dancer, now at the age of 27 I finally started to achieve my dream of getting a degree in Chinese, however I decided to be 'sensible' and enrolled in a uk university at the age of 25 in a Chinese and business management degree programme. I got a 1:1 in each year and am now about to go on my 'official year abroad' to China! Thought it might be a fun post to show that even though it may take years, some things can finally happen!
  26. 10 points
    we're basically screwed - FCO called this morning to say last flight out is this Sunday, again from Wuhan. Again, no way for us to get to the plane. There are no cars to rent, or buy, yet to find a driver willing to do a 500k round trip to the centre of the epidemic. FCO are not able to guarantee the driver will be able to return after dropping us at the airport. Helpless, govt telling us to get out asap, but when I asked how, I was told, you should use your 'connections'. I dont live in China anymore, and even when I did I didnt live here, and the people here are old just old farmer folk, what connections are we meant to have? Currently speaking with a bbc reporter, see if they can put some pressure on, raise some awareness… At least im in a great place with great family.
  27. 10 points
    Things are fine here in Harbin. The streets are a lot quieter, there are very few cars driving about and many shops are closed, but the supermarkets and 便利店s are all open and full of food, and the air is clear and the sky is blue (probably due in no small part to the lack of traffic). I managed to buy three tubs of fresh fruit for just 10 yuan this afternoon. I've just come off a 3 and a half day water fast, so I dread to think what all that fruit will do to my digestive system! We had our first lesson today via wechat. Luckily there are only 3 students in our class, so we can make it work. All things considered life is pretty good here at the moment - it's all quiet on the Dongbei front. Now I have to send an email to my family to stop them from panicking (I hate the sensationalist news sometimes)
  28. 10 points
    This is an Unfinished List (will update later as per contributions) This list of resources is meant for anyone that aims to improve their Chinese proficiency past the HSK benchmark. While the obvious course would be to consume whatever Chinese media you can get your hands on, I still believe that having a few resources on hand to kick-start the process can't hurt. Heck, it might even provide some well-needed structure. 📱 Pleco 🆓 (Apple / Google / APK) [forums] ↓*↓ • Most comprehensive database of Chinese dictionaries. • Flashcard system optimized with dictionary entries. • OCR (Optical Character Recognition). • Native pronunciation to a range of words. ... 📱 有道语文达人 💯(Xiaomi) • Lightweight Chinese to Chinese dictionary. • Shows synonyms and antonyms. ... 📱 微信读书 👥🆓(Apple / Google / Xiaomi) • Most popular reading app in China. • Contents far-ranging. ... 📱 天天作文精选💯(Xiaomi) • Reading materials sorted by Chinese school grade all the way to 高考. • Short stories from 200 characters to 2000 characters. ... 📱 观止 💯(Apple / Xiaomi) • Don’t like the abundance of choice? Here is one short-story per day. • Short stories by critically acclaimed writers (cross-strait) • Want to read more? Randomly receive any of the previously posted stories. ... 📱🔗人民日标 👥 (Apple / Xiaomi)[Website Version] • “The Party’s Daily” ... 📱🔗纽约时报(Apple / Google)[Website Version] • NYTimes – Chinese Edition ... 📱 喜马拉雅FM 🆓(Apple / Xiaomi / APK)↓*↓ • Large collection of podcasts, comedy, eBooks, history and more. • Largest broadcasting “network” on the web. ... 📱 每天读点故事 ⚡👥 (Apple / Xiaomi / APK) • Stories by (I assume) amateur writers. • Spoken in by storytellers with the original text available • Non-Audio stories also available. ... 📱 得到 ⚡👥🈸 (Apple / Xiaomi / APK) • Collection of University level “classes” or rather thought provoking discussions. • Listen to books. ... 📱 普通话学习 📞⚡(Apple / Xiaomi) • 15k+ words, tongue twisters, and more with standard pronunciation. • Ability to test your own pronunciation, graded by PC. • Personal tutors available. • [More information in another thread + translated word sheets] ... 🔗 普通话学习网 💯 [website address] • Similar and sometimes overlapping content with above, but free. • Audio fragments downloadable • Want to learn 儿化音? Here is all the 儿化! ... 🔗 范文等等 [Many Links > Here is one (Just Google 范文大全 or similar) • These are model essays, speeches, letters, and above all CONTRACTS. • Want to avoid getting scammed in a contract? Why not read some examples beforehand? • Need some flowery language for a love-letter? Here are 1000 examples. • Do you want to join the Communist Party? ... Probably not, but reading other model essays won’t hurt! ... 🔗 草书字体转换器 [Placeholder Website] • Website that allows you to type in text and get it in cursive. • Though only a placeholder, I wish I could find a teaching resource for 草书 ... 🔗📱 📚 "国考" China's Civil Service Exam Study Materials [LINK TO THREAD] • A myriad of topis/questions that test whether the examinee's reading comprehension is up to standard. • Tests whether the examinee's language logic and if they can make direct connections between words and definitions. • Dubbed "HSK's Reading Exam on STEROIDS" ... I really can't recommend it often enough. [... I will keep updating this post in the foreseeable future. Please share anything you have. ..] → Pleco: By now you should have gotten used to using CN-CN dictionaries. Pleco offers both “Xiandai Hanyu Dacidian” ($50) and “Xiandai Hanyu Guifan Cidian” ($20). Also, as a bonus, there is the “Duogongneng Chengyu Cidian” ($20) which offers a wealth of knowledge on Chinese idioms. → 喜马拉雅 FM: “Free” is only true for parts of certain broadcasts. While you don’t need to register, you will still need a Chinese phone number to buy courses and even link your WeChat to the app. 【Meaning behind the emoticons】 ↓*↓ Check bottom of post for extra comments. 📱 App on phone. 📚 Physical book. 📺 Television series. 🔗 Website address. 📞 Registering requires Chinese phone number. 👥 Registering requires WeChat authentication 🈸 Registering is possible with just an e-mail. ❔ [IF BLANK] Then just downloading is enough. 🔒 Region-Locked to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao. 💯 Even if you wanted to pay they wouldn’t let you. 🆓 Standard (functional) version is free. Buying more content is optional. ⚡ Some free. You can slowly unlock content through use, but prohibitive. 💲 Requires an up-front purchase or monthly fee. Sometimes a demo is available. 🌄 Traditional Characters only AKA Taiwan or Hong Kong based.
  29. 10 points
    Just got my HSK 6 test results back. Up to 248 from 212 the first time I took it one year ago. Pretty proud since I spent close to zero time preparing for the test itself which surprising shows non-test language learning does transfer over to the test. Good to know. My writing was the lowest at 72, which, while disappointing, isn't much of a surprise. I don't use a lot of "fancy" chengyus and the like that tend to bump up the score. Mostly just happy I got a 90 on the listening which was previously a weaker skill for me. My reading of 86 is hard to assess because I never do the bingju and don't know how many I randomly got right. Still would rather invest time in consuming native content rather than just studying test content, however, I do think I would benefit from a more structured course in writing in Chinese for a variety of different specific situation and practicing adjusting tone/formality to the occasion.
  30. 9 points
    Sharing some 中国QT Photos... I know someone on their 14 day QT right now. They picked a hotel at the 400rmb per room price and this includes breakfast. They can order food and drink into the hotel. The food is actually from a different hotel where 3 meals were provided due to having no option to order in. Overall they’re very happy with how they’ve been treated and the experience in general. Someone regularly checks in on them (phone calls) and in English. The people on site also speak some English. If they have any issues there’s always someone available to ask. They also got a negative test result back so just doing their 14 and then can go home.
  31. 9 points
    You can have Kung Pao Chicken 宫保鸡丁at the all-you-can eat Chinese buffet in the strip mall on the outskirts of Smalltown, Texas, USA. I know because I’ve eaten it there. Panda Express also dishes up a ton of it at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Concourse B. You can always count on it to form the cornerstone of an honest, solid meal. East or West. But if you start chasing it around Mainland China, you will quickly find that the name is the same wherever you go, but what the waitress delivers to your table definitely won’t be what you remembered having last week down the road a piece. It varies all over the map. More so than most popular dishes. Why is that? Gongbao jiding originated in Shandong during the latter Qing. Chicken and peanuts were both staples of Shandong Cuisine, which is also know as 鲁菜 lu cai. The Governor of Shandong Province 山东省 was a real aficionado of that particular taste combination; anecdote has it that he would even occasionally fiddle around with cooking it himself instead of just relegating the task to his staff. We are talking about Ding Baozhen 丁宝桢(1820年-1886年.) Shandong Governor Ding was originally from Guizhou 贵州省 and that is where he began his political career. When his relatives and friends from back home visited him at the Governor’s Mansion, he couldn’t wait to introduce them to his Shandong “find.” They were suitably impressed and carried the word back to Guizhou. The dish was quickly adapted to the local palate, and soon became a staple of Guizhou Cuisine 黔菜 (Qian Cai) as well. Guizhou loves hot food, so the fire quotient was ramped up. Guizhou also insists that sour be part of the flavor mix. That was accomplished by including pickled vegetables 泡菜。 In his later years, Ding was appointed governor of Sichuan. Not surprisingly, he took his culinary discovery with him. Once again it was modified for local tastes and to make use of prized local ingredients such as Sichuan peppercorns, also known as prickly ash, a mouth-numbing member of the citrus family 花椒 huajiao. Today Gongbao jiding 宫保鸡丁 definitely belongs to the cannon of best-loved Sichuan Cuisine 川菜 chuancai. Ding continued to attract favorable national attention by revising the salt tax codes and by refurbishing the famous Dujiangyan Water Conservation System 都江堰水利工。In the course of his long career, Governor Ding caught the eye of the Qing Emperor in a positive way, and before long his favorite dish got picked up by the power elite in the northern capital city. It earned a proud place in Beijing Cuisine. So today your order of Gongbao Jiding 宫保鸡丁 can have many faces. Not to worry; they are all pretty darned good. I’ll show you one very decent recipe that’s not difficult to cook up at home, but I make no extravagant claims to it being the “one true way” or the “gold standard.” (Please click the photos to enlarge them.) The finished product and the vegetables. Start with the meat. Use two large chicken breasts if you plan to make enough for 3 or 4 people to share as part of a Chinese meal. I suggest buying fresh chicken, instead of frozen chicken breasts since they have more taste. The two I had today weighed 0.549 kg (a little over a pound.) I sliced them open first off so they wouldn’t be quite so thick, then proceeded to cut the meat into roughly one-inch cubes. 鸡丁 Safety tip: Put a folded piece of damp paper kitchen towel under the cutting board so it won’t scoot around. Marinate the cut chicken in a mixture of 1 beaten egg white 蛋清, ½ teaspoon cooking salt 食用盐, ½ teaspoon ground white pepper 白胡椒粉, 1 tablespoon of yellow cooking wine 料酒, and a heaping teaspoon of corn starch 玉米淀粉。Put on a disposable glove 一次性手套 and massage the seasonings into the meat. Let it marinate 腌制 in the fridge about 15 minutes. Notice that the marinade isn’t “soupy.” It coats the meat without much excess. Wipe a small amount of cooking oil around the inside of your wok and heat it with low flame. Put in a heaping teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorns 花椒 and stir them until you start to smell their lemon-zest aroma. Take them out and let them cool. Meanwhile, cook a handful of peanuts 花生米 the same way. You want them to slowly toast, but not scorch or burn. Keep them moving over low flame for a couple minutes. They become crunchy as they cool, not while they are still hot. Crush the toasted Sichuan peppercorns in a mortar and pestle or in a bowl with the back of a stout soup spoon. Toasting and crushing them like this greatly increases their flavor. Set them and the roasted peanuts aside, turning your attention to the vegetables. Cut the red bell pepper 红甜椒 into thumb-sized pieces and chop a cucumber 黄瓜 into cubes 丁that are about the same size as the chicken. If you are using long Chinese cucumbers as shown, no need to peel them. Cut the spring onion into rounds, using only the white part. Mince 切碎 a thumb of ginger 生姜 and a clove or two of garlic 大蒜。 Prepare a thickening sauce 勾芡酱 by putting a heaping teaspoon of corn starch and a half cup of water into a bowl. Stir well to dissolve. Stir in a tablespoon of sugar 白砂糖。Add a tablespoon of cooking wine 黄酒, a tablespoon of dark vinegar 老陈醋, a tablespoon of light soy sauce 生抽 and about a third as much dark soy sauce 老抽。Set aside. Prep finished, time now to cook. Get the chicken from the fridge, stir it up. I always like to lay out the ingredients and mentally rehearse what goes in first, what follows, and so on. I suppose you could even arrange all your “mis en place” dishes in time-sequence order if you were of a mind to. “Hot wok, cold oil” 热锅粮油。I realize you knew that. Preheat it before adding two or three tablespoons of cooking oil. I used corn oil today. Flame on medium 中火 instead of high. Chicken requires a different approach from pork or beef. Add the chicken in one layer, spreading it quickly with your chopsticks (not all mounded up in the center of the wok.) Leave it alone for a minute or so, allowing it to sear. Carefully scrape it up and turn it over, trying to minimize surface tearing. It should mostly have changed color from pink to white by now and have a little bit of golden crust. The goal for this first stage is to only cook it two-thirds or so; not completely done. Only takes two minutes max. Add the crushed Sichuan peppercorns and 4 or 5 dry red peppers 干辣椒。I usually just tear these peppers in half as I add them. Some people cut them into smaller bits with scissors. Stir everything well and then add the chopped cucumbers and red bell peppers. Add new ingredients to the center of the wok; that’s the hottest part. Then stir it all together. Give it a minute or so, allowing flavors to blend, stirring and flipping all the while 煸炒,翻炒。 Now the thickening sauce goes in, mixing it well because the solids will have settled in the bowl. Stir everything well for a minute or so until you see the chicken and vegetables developing an attractive sheen. Last of all, add the peanuts and incorporate them more or less evenly 拌均匀。You want the peanuts to have a very short cooking time so they will retain their crispy texture. Plate it up 装盘。Admire your handiwork. Snap a photo with your phone. Set it on the table. Call the team to come dig in. Gongbao jiding and steamed rice 蒸饭 are just about inseparable, so plan ahead and have some rice ready when the chicken comes off the stove. Took a little over half an hour today, maybe 45 minutes including clean up. I listened to the Sutherland - Pavarotti Turandot while working. London Philharmonic/Zubin Mehta. Although this is fun to make at home, it’s also an easy thing to order in a simple restaurant. Any random six-table Mom and Pop joint will be able to turn it out. I often supplement it with a clear green-leafy vegetable soup. 苦菜汤 kucai tang, for example, is easy to find and serves the purpose of turning this into a real meal: veggie, meat, and soup. Tasty and won’t break the bank. Try it soon and see what you think! Here's the recipe all in one place to make it easier to use: (Click "reveal hidden contents."
  32. 9 points
    Err...No thanks! Flight out of Hong Kong on JAL was on time, as was the flight onward from Narita (NRT) on JAL to LAX was also on time and without drama. Both were full planes. Just arrived Los Angeles LAX this morning. Took 2 hours to accomplish entry screenings. Hugely disorganized. It was like they were inventing the process as they were going along. No supervisors in sight. Just the foot soldiers trying their best to kind of play it by ear and figure things out. "Hey Bertha, why don't we screen families over here, and people with connecting flights over there." "Sounds like a good idea, Chester. Lets separate out the US citizens from the non-citizens." "OK, that makes sense to me." At first they just had us all sit in a large room. Everyone who had passed through China. Only when the chairs all got full did we begin to form lines, queues. Very few face masks in use here. It's like America thinks the whole thing is some kind of a Chinese joke. Most staff members wore masks at the airport, but less than half of the passengers. Nobody at my hotel is wearing a mask, not even the check-in clerks. Very casual.
  33. 9 points
    I"m prepared for a 2 week quarantine: I have a change of underwear and my Kindle. If the health authorities don't impose one, I will impose my own self-quarantine for 2 weeks. Only go out for essentials. Wear mask, wash hands, etc. Keep a contact diary. My plane leaves in a few hours. Will let you all know how it shakes out. Thanks for your support and suggestions.
  34. 9 points
    Yes, I fully agree and plan to do that. When I go back to Texas for my annual visit, I usually hit the ground running, trying to get lots of things done in a short time. Dentist appointment, new eyeglasses, get new supplies of prescription meds, stop by and chat with the folks at the bank, and so on. Visits with friends and relatives to catch up on news, renew interpersonal ties. Take this old pal out for dinner and that old pal out for a drink. This year I will take it slow and easy. Will play the "masked bandit" when out of the house. Maybe I can finally get my Chinese recipes all pulled together into a small but usable cookbook. That would give me a welcome sense of satisfaction.
  35. 9 points
    Well here it is folks: Yichang has been shut, Zhijiang has been shut. In fact it appears that every road, train station and airport out of Hubei accessible from where we are is now closed. So not going to be able to make the flight out from Chongqing by the looks of things. Seems I'm in this for the long haul... on the plus side my fangyan is gonna get a lot of practice. Not even joking, this year is the first year Ive ever been able to hold conversations with my parents in law (was shocked when we got in last week and I could somehow...understand what they were saying! My wife speaks in fangyan at home all the time when were in the UK, and it has clearly had some deeper passive effect on my listening abilities). Its honestly the best feeling to be able to keep up with jokes in the local dialect, feel like I'm finally a part of the family.
  36. 9 points
    Incidentally, friends don't let friends get Chinese character tattoos.
  37. 9 points
    I have been studying Chinese for just over 3 years now, while also being a college student. I have just passed HSK5 a few months ago, but I feel like my progress is the greatest while I have more time to myself, during summer and winter break. I just graduated 3 days ago, and have a job in America set up to start in mid-September. As such, I will be following my dream and living in China from December 31 to August 31. During this time period, I will be spending 14 weeks doing 1 on 1 lessons for 16 hours a week in Chengdu. I am hoping for some major improvements, and will be working hard to reach my goals. I will first break down my goals by each ability, then summarize with some general goals. Speaking: Current Level: Currently, I can speak to people, but it sounds awful, and I am not comfortable doing it. I can speak about simple topics with bad grammar, and greatly struggle to say anything remotely advanced. Goal: By the time I return from China I hope to develop a sort of confidence in my spoken chinese. I want to be able to much more comfortably talk about simple to medium topics, and be able to converse about complex topics, albeit perhaps a bit slower, or with some grammar problems. I believe this goal is fairly achievable, since my passive vocabulary is far greater than my active vocabulary thanks to way too much time on anki. I have honestly had very little practice with speaking in comparison to reading, so I hope that being put in a Chinese-speaking environment will finally allow my speaking to "catch up" in a sense. Method: Daily conversation with my teacher. Hanging out with friends that don't know any English as much as possible. Speaking to as many people as possible. My goal is to spend at least an hour every day speaking to someone in Chinese. This shouldn't be too hard to achieve considering I don't know any other foreigners there, and the Chinese friends I do know there all don't know English. Listening: Current Level: Similar to speaking, I feel that I have most of the necessary vocabulary, I just lack the practice. I have the knowledge vs proficiency problem that I sometimes hear about. Goal: I hope that living in China and talking to many people will give me the listening practice I need to allow me to understand the same amount of speech that I can understand while reading. Currently, my listening is a sort of embarrassing point for me, as I struggle to understand some fairly basic sentences unless the person repeats it or speaks slowly, I also am entirely incapable of understanding speech from people with any sort of an accent. I hope to reach a level where minor accent differences (sh->s, n->l f->h etc) won't throw me off, and I can comfortably understand pretty much everything spoken to me in conversation. I don't expect to be able to fully understand things like TV shows and the news quite yet. Since I will be living in Chengdu, I hope to reach a full level of comprehension for people with sichuan-accented mandarin( 川普), and perhaps understand a little 四川话. Method: Same as speaking, lots of conversation. I will also try to get into Chinese TV shows, movies, music, and podcasts as much as I can, and listen to some kind of Chinese audio (a podcast or the news) while getting ready in the morning. Reading: Reading has always been my strongest skill. I really enjoy reading Chinese, and I review vocabulary in anki on a daily basis, which has brought my passive vocabulary up to an unproportionally high level, and I can read simple novels (余华), even though I wouldn't be able to understand a single sentence if it was read aloud to me. Since I enjoy reading, and it is much easier for me to practice outside of China, I think I should definitely put it on the back-burner while in China, in order to focus on my speaking and listening. That said, I plan to read a lot of Chinese social media and news on a casual basis. Writing: In terms of handwriting, I enjoy writing characters, and practice it with my anki deck daily. I will keep this up every day just so I am good at writing characters. I know many people argue that being able to hand-write characters is pretty useless nowadays, and I totally agree. That said, it is something I enjoy doing, so I will not give up on it. As for actual writing, I will tell my teacher to have me write an essay every once in a while, or perhaps some kind of small paper every few days. Although I don't enjoy writing, I think it is pretty helpful for improving grammar, especially if I have a teacher to look at my writing and go over all the mistakes with me. General Goals To Reach By December 31, 2020: Can comfortably converse in Chinese - be able to put any idea into speech, and understand nearly everything spoken to me by another person. Read 5 novels (These can mostly be done after my return from China, in September - December) Have decent comprehension of some simpler Chinese podcasts and shows During China (January - August): Spend an hour conversing in Chinese every day. After China (September - December): Every day: spend a half hour watching a TV show, or listening to a podcast. Every week: Spend an hour either talking to a friend over wechat, or an italki teacher if that is not possible.
  38. 9 points
    These are my goals for 2020, as of now... Daily: 30 minutes reading time Deeply focus on at least 5 unknown new words 30 minutes active listening (active TV watching, LCTS, etc) Diary entry "Teach" my wife for 15 minutes per day (as long as she stays interested... this can just be a basic conversation together based on her vocabulary) Weekly: Continue at least 1 hour formal tutoring (online) Write a 500-1000 word essay At least two 30-minute conversations with language partners Yearly Read 6 novels At some point, begin a more serious study of Classical and Literary Chinese Thoughts?
  39. 9 points
    Hi @重大雷雨 , you bring up some valid concerns. Perhaps this might help. I have lived in Shanghai for 8 years. I had worked for 3 Chinese companies, 2 who had never before hired foreigners and I had to handle most of the work permit and residence permit process myself. I have renewed my own work permit and residence permit for myself and my family over the course of the 8 years in China. I have personally accidentally made a mistake on the renewal date of my own work permit and residence permit and was able to get things pushed through faster and negotiate a special arrangement. My wife has had 2 babies in China and we have had to apply for US citizenship, passports, and then take those documents and get residence permits for them, a process that is muddy and ill-defined. I have helped dozens of friends with work permit and residence permit issues, including people who have been denied. I have friends whose companies have illegally employed people (in Shanghai), were checked by the gov, and received heavy fines. I started and still own my own company incorporated in Jingan District of Shanghai (a WFOE - Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise) of which I am the 法人 I have used my own company to sponsor my own work permit and residence permit I have previously met the qualifications for a 5 yr work permit and 2 year residence permit. On top of all of this, my wife and I have personally gotten to know over 30 students involved in the China Horizons programs over the years. On one occasion in 2016, my wife personally made arrangement for 3 China Horizons female teachers to have places to stay in Shanghai the night before they were to fly out of Shanghai and back to America. It was an emergency situation, we never got the details, all we knew is that they had to get out now. To be clear, there is no "work visa". A person must first obtain a work permit with Labor Dept that handles foreign affairs (located at 梅园路77号, 5th floor). It's a separate dark red book, not something that goes into your passport, and it allows you to work in China. However, this allows you to work in China but not live there. Once you have a work permit, you can take that to the Entry-Exit Bureau and you can apply for a Residence Permit 居留许可在 that allows you to live in China. This is an actual sticker that goes in your passport. Once you've got that, you're good until it needs to be renewed. That is a basic overview of it and it ignores the many documents and new verifications required. If you want to see the full details on the process, I recommend this article from the China Law Blog: "The ABCs on China’s New Work Permit System for Foreigners". It may be of help to you if you are thinking of taking a job in China. I hope that sheds some light on the matter. All the best!
  40. 9 points
    This happened yesterday at a branch of Bank of China in Kunming, where I live. Same thing occurred once before in another city, a long time ago. Thought it might be a useful review for people new to China. The transaction I was attempting (a cash deposit) didn't work, for whatever unknown reason. My card just disappeared. I pushed the button on the speaker box beside the ATM and told the lady who answered. She told me to just walk inside the bank and get one of the employees to help since it was still during business hours. I'm not sure whether they would have been able to respond if I had spoken English; I didn't try that. My guess is that it might have involved a delay, but that an English-speaking employee would have eventually become available. So I walked inside and got one of the "rent-a-cop" bank guards 保安 who stroll around with a long billy club, plastic helmet liner, and what looks like an imitation bullet-proof vest. Told him my situation. I didn't want to get too far from the ATM in case it suddenly spit out my card when the next person walked up to it and attempted a new transaction. I wanted to keep an eye on the ATM. He fetched an actual bank employee who told me to go sit down. I explained my concern about someone else making off with my card and she told me that would not happen. I took a deep breath and did as instructed. They gave me a number from the 挂号 machine. The branch manager came out in a couple minutes and asked if I had my 身份证。I told her I had my 护照 (passport.) She asked if the card was a BOC card or another kind (from another bank.) I told her it was one of theirs and that I was a regular customer. Waited ten or fifteen minutes, seated in the lobby. She walked by again and flashed a card, asked if it looked like mine. It was a gold card 金卡 and I told her that was the kind I had lost, although I couldn't see the number to confirm. She did not want to let go of it; could not hand it to me to check. Had to follow procedure. The card does not bear my name, though it does have my signature on the back. Waited another ten or fifteen minutes and my number was called to go to Window Three. The teller asked for my passport and made copies. A supervisor came over, looked at the passport, looked at me, and signed off on the form that I looked pretty much like the guy in the photo. Teller kept on working; had to make a phone call. I was guessing that the call was to the bank's Kunming home office. (Cannot confirm.) Then she used a machine on my side of the window to ask me to verify my account number. I didn't remember the number (many digits) and she still had the card. I told her that and she called the teller supervisor to come over again. They asked my approximate balance and they asked the approximate date of my last transaction before today. I remembered those and told them. Then I recalled that I had the account number in my phone, encrypted in a "password manager" vault app that I use. I looked it up and verified it for them. I signed a form attesting that it was my card. That took another couple minutes. Then they gave my card back. I told her I'd like to go ahead and complete my transaction, a cash deposit 存款 or 存款钱。I handed over the cash and they generated another form. I had to sign the form and input my PIN number into the verification machine on my side of the glass partition. Finished. Took between 30 and 45 minutes during mid-afternoon on a weekday. Not bad. Seemed to be off peak, judging by how many customers were in the lobby waiting for service. Told a local friend about it later. He said I had not used the most 地道 (native) term. Should say "ATM 呑了我的卡“。That means "swallow" (tun1). I had used a different verb: "ate" (ATM 吃了我的卡.) Doubt it really matters much; they seemed to understand what I meant. If I had not just happened to have my passport with me, I would have had to go home and get it, then return. Could have easily been the next day. My friend says he has had to wait several days to get his card back when it got "swallowed" at a bank which was different from the issuing bank. (Like using a Merchant's Bank card at an ICBC ATM. He remembered a friend who had a card "swallowed" by a machine that was in front of a store, instead of attached to a bank, and that took nearly a week to get straightened out. Staff was polite and efficient. It just took some time. Could put a big crimp in travel plans if one were a tourist using a card from back home while just passing through. One of several reasons to always travel with more than one bank card.
  41. 9 points
    To Chinese Forums, I have been intensely studying Mandarin on my own for the past 2 years, and since October 2017 have lived in Beijing. I am now reaching the stage where I mostly use native materials to read and listen extensively and intensively. The purpose of this post is to make a list of native listening resources which can be used by upper intermediate or advanced language learners to practice their listening ability., sorted by availability of transcripts and availability to download the audio. It seems to me that language learner material for beginners is pretty well-documented on many sites different sites, but I myself had to find most of the advanced materials through my own effort, scrounging through many different places in order to find them. Over the past year, I have spent many days scouring around both the English and Chinese web to compile this list. This list began as my own pet project, and I now wish to share it with you guys. I owe much to the good advice and tips from the online language learning community, and perhaps this Hopefully it will decrease the time you need to spend preparing to practice a language, and increase the time you can spend actually practicing. Allow me to clarify a few notes on the layouts, offer you some important tips to help increase your efficient use of these resources, and admit some caveats before I list out all the resources. Notes on the Layout After compiling all of the resources for the list, I then divided all content based on the answers to two very important questions. 1st Question: Is a written form of what is said available? 2nd Question: Can I download the audio directly from the site? After asking the first question I had four categories of content, three of which I then split into can be downloaded and cannot be downloaded categories. So you have this: (1) 有实录 (Has a transcript of embedded text) ① 能下载 ② 本能下载 (2) 有字幕 (Has subtitles) ① 能下载 ② 本能下载 (3) 有书 (Audiobooks) - All sites here allow you to download the audio. (4) 没有实录、字幕、书 (Does not have a written form available) ① 能下载 ② 本能下载 If any one folder still had a lot of items in it (10+ items), I further subdivided the folders based on content type (i.e. TV show, podcast, radio broadcast, etc.). In an effort to save time for those of you who want to quickly get in and start using the best of these resources without sifting through a swamp, I created a fifth category, simply labeled 快点儿/ Top 12 , wherein I list what I consider to be the top 12 coolest resources, based on content and lack of awareness alone. That is to say, the criteria I asked to include the resources in this list was first to ask Is the content here very interesting, of high production quality, and regularly pumped out? followed immediately by the question Does this resource seem to be overlooked by many learners? For this section alone, I also wrote a short description for each resource included. For the sake of convenience I list the Youtube link for video series that cannot be download directly from its website, and the Player FM link for audio series that cannot be download directly from their website. The rationale for this being that Player FM always you to directly download an MP3 file from its website, and that most people will find it very easy to convert Youtube videos into MP3 files if they have an inclination to do so. I tried only to include material which is free to view and or listen to. In the rare cases where the content requires payment, I will list a $$$ (price of subscription) to the side of the name. Each entry includes a direct link to the website. In the future, if anybody notices any broken links, update the community quickly and we can try to find the new location For the websites whose content hasn’t been updated in sometime, I would highly encourage you guys to save the content to your own hard drives, if possible. The list is written in 汉字. If you are wanting to use these resources, a fine prerequisite would be that you are able to read the list in characters without aid. If you wish to inform many of any resources that we could add into here, please let me know. Important Tips All entries in the list are native resources, that is to say, they are content produced for native speakers. I did not include in materials made for language learners which can still be used at advanced levels (i.e ChinePod Advanced lessons, Mandarin Corner, Learning Chinese Through Stories, etc.) I would suggest that any learner interested in using these materials listed below for intensive study should already have reached a B1 level, and for extensive use a B2 level. For the materials which do not either transcript or subtitles, a fellow member of this forum has alerted me to the presence of a website which is an absolute godsend. It’s a transcription website, ostensibly meant to be used by native speaking professionals like IT, medical, law, etc. But the uses of this for us language learners are obvious. The service is not free,. but for machine transcription the rates around 0.33Y per spoken minute of audio. That equals out to about 10Y per half-hour and 20Y per hour. I have already had it transcribe four different podcasts. Obviously, the more standard the accent the better transcription, but all of the podcasts that I had transcribed featured non-standard accents (from Taiwan, Shandong, Wuhan, and Beijing respectively) and the machine still was hitting 95% - 99% accuracy on all of them. The biggest glitch actually was that on one of the shows (马丽欧陪你喝一杯) the two people were throwing in a lot of one-off English words and acronyms, which the machine mistook as mandarin syllables. Anyways, website is a highly recommended cheap way to get transcripts of any of the resources I list under 没有实录、字幕、书。 Website Name: 讯飞听见 Website Address: https://www.iflyrec.com/ For the few websites which do not allow downloads directly from the website and do not have their content available on another compendium podcast or video website for free download, the easiest route to obtaining an mp3 is to record the audio you want to download while it is playing on your device, using either a built in recorder (must smart phones have these) or a free program like Audacity. If you wan to use the above-mentioned transcription, strive to obtain as clean sounding a recording as you can. Caveats There do exist other websites which have attempted to compile lists of learner resources, to varying degrees of comprehensiveness (most notably Hacking Chinese Resources, Ling Ling Chinese, Chinese Podcasts and Mandarin Society, and a few forum posts on Chinese Forums), but all of these have failed to meet my needs;mostly due because they either haven’t been updated for a while, fail to separate resources based on if the content has a transcript or not, and I myself have found several very cool resources not listed on any of those sites. As the list was already getting very long at near 125 items, I did not include many so called podcasts who appeared to have stopped producing content and/or who had only produced a few episodes (less than 20) and then stopped broadcasting. I specifically tried not to include too load the list with too many TV shows or movies on this list, because I have seen these well documented in these forums. Furthermore, if you are living in the mainland I can heartily recommend that you just download and buy a year’s subscription to 优酷 and/or 腾讯 and just browse around until you find what you like. I specifically was trying to avoid short form content (defined here as an average episode length runs below 15 minute). While there are some producers of this type of content mixed in here, the majority of these shows are long form. Special thanks to Imron Alston, whose writes very concisely and with a inclination for the truth, a trait which I admire greatly in today’s world. If you have not, I highly suggest reading his articles on Chinese the Hard Way. Warmest, 孙博运 P.S. As this is my first time posting on here, I was unfamiliar with the posting interface. It seems that if I copy and paste the list directly into the posting box, I will lose the formatting of Word Document. So in an effort to avoid that, I am just going to post the Top 12 list into the forum, and attach the complete list of 125 - 150 links (or thereabouts) as a Word Document here. 高级听力材料的列举.docx
  42. 9 points
    快点儿 / Top 12 ① 一席 The best Chinese version of TED Talks out there, by a long shot.Very interesting topics, updated bi-weekly, sporting a clean interface, painless to download, and contains transcripts for all shows. I cannot believe I never heard about this from other learners. https://yixi.tv/ ② 163 Courses Tons of free courses spanning a range of subjects, all of them (that I have seen) with subtitles。 No registration needed. Tip, in some of the videos there is actually a built in (very basic) pop-dictionary within the video player. https://open.163.com/cuvocw/ ③ 希望之声 Non-profit Chinese news broadcasting company. A whole lot of articles here, the majority with transcripts and able to be downloaded. https://www.soundofhope.org/gb/2019/08/01/n3076028.html ④ 华语环球 Like the Mainland version of NPR podcasts. Check out 非常记录 and 会客厅 for starters. Currently only 3 or 4 are producing new episodes, but the backlog here is quite extensive. http://chinese.cri.cn/media/index.html ⑤ 故事FM Each episode tells a different story of an ordinary person from the Mainland. Some of the stories themselves are ordinary, some are extraordinary, and all are interesting. Very good production value here. https://player.fm/series/1496859 ⑥ 臺灣故事島 Same as 故事FM above, but from Taiwan. https://storytaiwan.tw/default.html ⑦ 中央广播电台 This is the single best producer of Mandarin speaking radio content, bar none. No download or transcripts however. https://cn.rti.tw/radio/programList/program_category_id/1 ⑧ 玛丽欧陪你喝一杯 Very nice host who drinks and converses about a smorgasbord of topics with a different guess every episode. Very informal, great for getting used to Taiwanese accents. https://player.fm/series/series-1920692 ⑨ 观点 Some people in a studio giving opinions on topics, usually big, sometimes small. Again, production quality here is very weel done. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeQNWQtmrc98TFUJNrFOdfQ/playlists ⑩ 狗熊有话说 Very relaxed dude, very relaxed podcast. http://voice.beartalking.com/ ⑪ 文昭谈古论今 One guy - who I believe is a professor - giving his take on current events, politics and life. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtAIPjABiQD3qjlEl1T5VpA ⑫ 圆桌派 Perhaps not as good as 锵锵三人行 but still very interesting. If you haven;t noticed, I tend to like barebone productions such as this - a few people, some microphones, and ideas. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xmIquqwnBQ&list=PLwmPBqRou8APdG6K-Ks0lV2yL0yqCFHOu
  43. 9 points
    Forget Chinese for a minute, what are other things that you like to do? There are almost certainly Chinese people who like to do that too. Go and find people local to your area who also do that thing and hang out with them to do that thing. Probably many of them don't speak English or don't speak it very well, and they will speak to you in Chinese in order to be able to do that thing with you. Western type hotels and restaurants are likely going to have trained staff to try and interact in English. They are bad places to practice Chinese, because if your Chinese isn't better than their English they are going to want to use the simplest, easiest way to communicate and that will be English. It will also be their default for all foreigners - don't take it personally. You are not being robbed of this experience. This is the normal experience, even for Chinese people. Your life will be a lot less infuriating if you stop assuming negative intent. You are taking them showing you a calculator as a slight against your Chinese and then getting upset at that perceived slight. In reality, the shopkeeper doesn't know you from the next random foreigner to walk in their shop. If they are showing you a calculator as a first response they have probably had many other foreigners come in to their shop who didn't speak Chinese and this was simply the easiest way for them to facilitate the transaction. And that's what their intention is - to try and make things as smooth as possible for both of you. Based on experience and/or stereotypes, they are not expecting to have a chat with a foreigner who walks in to their shop, they are instead expecting to make a transaction. Once again, don't take it personally, in fact you could use them showing you a calculator as a conversation opener - ask them if they think you can't speak Chinese, ask them if all the other foreigners that come in can't speak Chinese, make a joke saying you can't read "Chinese numbers" (yes I know the numbers aren't "Chinese", that's the joke). There are dozens of responses you could go to instead of "I'm infuriated that this shopkeeper is showing me a calculator", and every single one of them is within your control (including feeling infuriated or not). In general, assume positive intent (until proven otherwise) and don't take things personally. Finally, there is also the possibility that your pronunciation is horrible and people can't understand you. You could visit this thread and upload a recording of you saying the phrases you mentioned in your OP and maybe people will be able to tell you if there are any problems. If nothing else, you'll get some honest feedback about whether the problem is your pronunciation or the people/situations you are trying to speak Chinese with.
  44. 8 points
    I’m in Texas now, but my thoughts are still with my friends in China, many of whom can’t leave the house freely to have a big bowl of noodles at Mister Wang’s and can’t count on the Meituan delivery guy to bring a hot box of fried chicken and corn on the cob. What to do? In thinking over my days in Kunming, when I really didn’t want to fuss with making a conventional meal, had limited ingredients, and wanted easy cleanup, I turned to the rice cooker. What a good friend the rice cooker is. No surprise that it's the first electric appliance most young Chinese buy after getting out from under Mom's wing. A one-dish meal like this is usually called 菜饭 caifan, or more specifically 电饭煲菜饭。The beauty of it is that you cook a meat and a vegetable together with the rice. Seasoning can range from minimal to exotic. Let me show you a “template” recipe today, one showing a method you can easily adapt to what you have available. Please excuse me for using photos shot when I was back in Kunming. 1. The rice I use ordinary medium-grain white rice 大米。Start by washing it gently three times, until the rinse water runs off mostly clear (no longer milky.) Cover the rice with water and let it stand most of an hour (minimum 30 or 40 minutes.) This lets the individual grains of rice swell with water and “plump up” so as to cook without falling apart. Use less water than you normally would, because the meat and vegetables contain some water that they will release while cooking. I cannot tell you exactly how much to water to use, but you won’t go far wrong if you start with about ¾ of your usual amount. 2. The meat My first choice for meat is a high-quality sausage 香肠。I avoid the stuff selling for 25 or 30 Yuan per kilo, and spring for the top of the line sausage that goes for three times that much instead. The stores I use always have at least two kinds. If you like it spicy, choose the 麻辣 mala version; if you like it gentle with a slightly sweet note, chose the 广味 guangwei (Guangdong style.) You can also use smoked sausage 熏腊肠。 Slice the sausage into thin rounds. I usually cut them on a bias, so the pieces have an oval shape with greater surface area than if they were cut straight across like a stack of coins. If you can’t get sausage, you can use Chinese ham 火腿肠 huotui chang. It’s a processed meat product, tubular like hot dogs, and quality can vary. Easy to find. Buy the good stuff. 3. The vegetable Nearly any green vegetable will do. Ask for 青菜 qingcai when shopping. It can be a leafy or non-leafy green vegetable. I often use 苦菜 kucai (slightly bitter leaf) or small cabbage 小白菜。Sometimes I use 儿菜 ercai, which works very well. Ercai is in season now, and it is what I have shown in these photos. 4. The extras I add a couple of spring onions if available, sliced fine. Use the white parts only, not the green tops. I don’t add ginger, since it won’t cook thoroughly and can give you an unpleasant surprise if you bite into a chunk of it. Finely minced garlic is optional. 5. The process Lay the thin slices of sausage on top of the rice. As the sausage cooks, the fat will drip down, seasoning the rice. My rice cooker takes 30 minutes to make plain rice. After 20 minutes, I open the lid and add the vegetables plus spring onions. Don’t need to stir them in; just lay them on top of the sausage and rice. Sprinkle some salt onto the vegetables. Close and continue cooking. It will take longer than the normal time for plain rice; usually an extra 5 to 10 minutes because the meat and vegetables have introduced extra water. When the rice signals that it is done (the rice cooker beeps) open the lid and stir it all up with chopsticks. If it still looks too wet, let it cook another 2 or 3 minutes with the lid open. A golden crust will have formed in the base of the rice cooker. This part is extra delicious. As the cook, I try to sneak a mouthful of it before serving the rest of the dish to my friends. I don’t always get away with it anymore; they watch me like a hawk. 6. Cook's tip (小提示) The most frequent place where people go wrong when making this is not letting the rice soak long enough before turning on the heat. 7. Residuals If there is any left over, it keeps well overnight in the fridge and will make a tasty lunch tomorrow. 剩菜。Just nuke it in the microwave for a short time. Nothing much to clean up afterwards. Just the rice cooker and a couple of serving bowls. It’s easy to vary a recipe like this to suit individual preferences. Hope you will try it and see what you think. Would be interested in hearing your individual variations. Also, if you have other ideas on simple meals for good home-made eats during quarantine, or semi-quarantine, please pitch in. If there are enough, we can start a new thread.
  45. 8 points
    I really wish I had been a bit braver and subtley taken some videos, because it really was so surreal. When we were indoors for those few weeks, despite reading all the shocking social media posts, I really didnt expect anything once we were outside, and tbh once we were off our little alley and onto the main road, it really wasnt anything remarkable, just an empty street (although that is fairly remarkable in china i guess). It all got all bizarre and apocalyptic-like once we had to go to the centre of town, where all the govt buildings and hospitals are. As long as you were on foot and passed the temp check, police were letting anyone walk in and out of the areas cordoned off to cars in the city centre. In two hours we must have seen around 20 people in total, mostly queueing up to scream at govt officials who were locked in rooms with an open window to talk to people about whatever problems they were having. We had to go into the hospital body check area, and thats when it got scary, bad timing on our part I suppose: we were being tested by a guy in a hazmat in one of those outside tents when a man started hysterically screaming at a doctor across the road from us. Then an ambulance pulled up and a bunch of doctors jumped out in a panic and started unpacking coolers and boxes with blood on them. We immediately jogged off without trying to look in a panic ourselves. It was one of those moments where you just kind of look at everything as if you arent really there, almost like it was too weird to really be happening. Presumably large parts of Wuhan, Yichang, Huanggang, Jingzhou etc. are the same right now, ie. understaffed and overinfected. I would hazard I guess that many people living in Hubei dont know what its like outside because they haven't been outside nor do they want to. The only people that are outside are those who absolutely have to be out for some emergency reason, causing a concentration of panicked people to all be congregating in one place. edit: added a photo I took of one of the 'windows' where people were shouting, this one was for applying for the 通行证 permit that would get you out of town. Also added one of the many signs up at the entrance to every road
  46. 8 points
    I'm still in Hong Kong as of this morning, Sunday 2 February. My flights have been delayed and then cancelled so many times that I'm beginning to lose track. Am currently confirmed on a JAL (Japan Airlines) flight tomorrow, Monday 3 February, to Tokyo NRT. Am also confirmed onward from there, connecting with another JAL flight to LAX (Los Angeles.) Gave up on trying to get straight from Hong Kong to Dallas. Will spend a night in Los Angeles and fly out to Dallas on American Airlines Tuesday 4 February if all goes according to plan. Found some flights leaving today. Tickets were selling for over $8,000 each in business class, over $2,000 in coach. That's US Dollars, by the way. This is about 4 times the normal rate. Too rich for my blood. It seems the airlines believe strongly in the rules of supply and demand, about like the guy selling face masks from the back of his car for a price that's as high as the traffic will bear. My credit card companies are raising red flags and questioning my purchases because I have had as many transactions in the last week or so as I usually do in a whole year. I have so far convinced them that these charges are legitimate. Hope they don't freeze my accounts. Have an alternative plan in my back pocket in case Tokyo falls through. Fly Hong Kong to Vancouver and to the US from there. My brother was in Europe on a business trip right when 911 happened. They locked down the US, but he was able to get back home via Canada. So, I am borrowing a page from his play book. It has been an adventure, not the kind I would seek. (And I'm not home yet.) Have wasted lots of time on the computer making and changing reservations. Each time the airline announces flight alterations, I must change hotel reservations and rental car arrangements, and so on. But at least I've had comfortable accommodations at Hong Kong's Sky City Marriott. It's a very good place to be marooned.
  47. 8 points
    I feel good. My general reading ability has improved. Compared with a couple years ago—when I started with Chinese literature—I read faster and refer to dictionaries less than before. I understand more of what I read and can engage with literary works critically (e.g., get a feel for differences in style and tone, assess their merits and weaknesses, etc.). I am starting to enjoy Chinese literature as literature, rather than as a series of difficult foreign texts. This is very satisfying and rewarding, and was in fact my primary goal. Reading millions of characters in a non-native language is a useful motivational frame, but of secondary importance. I am also more confident that I will read very difficult Chinese literature that not-to-long-ago seemed far beyond my abilities. I want to (eventually) read works like 《倾城之恋》, 《狂人日记》, and 《红楼梦》. I believe that someday I can and will. Many years ago, I read David Foster Wallace’s magnum opus Infinite Jest. Working through and completing this massive work was a formative experience in my twenties; it made me think about and appreciate our world differently, and in (I hope) a fuller and more nuanced and empathetic and emotionally available way. Reading a million characters of mostly beautifully written Chinese feels kinda like that. Life is precious and short and brutal and lovely and much more. At their best, literature and the arts capture and represent these aspects of life in ways that more mundane day-to-day experience often hides or obscures. Our world is vast and complex. Artists in different cultures get a handle on this vastness and complexity differently. This difference is really what I’m after, and it’s why I read in Chinese.
  48. 8 points
    That's a dirty game creating a quote I didn't say. Do you really belong on this board? If so, clean up that quote and apologize for the lie that I said it.
  49. 8 points
    A few problems here. For one, these aren't pictograms. They're Chinese characters, and they're a fully fledged writing system by the time they were using these tortoise plastrons for divination. You can't try to interpret them like pictograms (men standing on land, "I think mountain fits better," etc.). If 火 is what's written (and it is), it doesn't make sense to call it 山. The two forms are quite distinct (edit: actually, that's not always the case; they often do look almost identical). Also, in this context, "mountain" wouldn't really make sense. "Men standing on land" is 並, meaning "together with," or perhaps in this context "next to/near." Another issue is that you can't really read this stuff without a lot of specialized knowledge. The best you can do is read what actual specialists say about it. I can read most of the characters, but I'm not an oracle bone script specialist by any means. These inscriptions have their own grammar, they're highly formalized because they're used for divination, and a correct interpretation requires a massive amount of knowledge about Shang culture, astronomy and how the Shang talked about it, etc. The best I can do is read what actual specialists say, keeping in mind what each scholar's particular strengths and weaknesses are, and try to arrive at an interpretation that seems reasonable. And related to that issue is the fact that this particular inscription is quite controversial. There seem to be a lot of different interpretations out there, and I can't really hope to add anything meaningful to the discussion because this isn't my specialty. Another issue is that two people may read it the same way but transcribe it differently. There are a lot of different ways to transcribe this stuff. Do you stay as close as possible to the form of the original? Do you transcribe it using modern characters? The character that looks like three circles is 晶, but 晶 is the original form of 星, so which should I transcribe it with? Some scholars prefer one, some prefer the other, and some will write 晶(星), and any of those three ways would be fine, but to a layman they may seem completely different. And just keep in mind that things aren't nearly as cut and dry when reading these texts as we're used to them being in modern writing. Part of that is due to the limited evidence we have available, part of it is due to differences in thinking, and part is due to the fact that many texts (including this one) are fragments. With all those things in mind, here's what I think is the most likely transcription, using modern characters. 七日己已夕(?)...有新大星並火,咎其有來艱...不吉 Not sure what the character I transcribed with a question mark is. One interpretation I saw is that it means 曀, or cloudy skies. That makes sense in context, but I'm not sure. On the seventh day, 己已, in the evening (it was cloudy), there was a large new star near Antares (or Mars?). Something about calamity and bringing hardship (not really sure how to read this phrase)....Inauspicious. Don't quote me on that though! That's just the best I'm able to do with my limited knowledge and time. Much better would be to read the published research (most of which will be in Chinese, of course) on this particular inscription.
  50. 8 points
    No pencil, no mouth, no food, no drawing a straight line. I'm not sure where that explanation came from, but it's simply not accurate. I'm going to oversimplify a bit here, but this is essentially what happened. There were originally two characters: and The one on the left is zuǒ (left hand), while the one on the right is yòu (right hand; now written 又). They look exactly alike, except for the direction they face. Over time, they started to resemble each other: (that's zuǒ, but you wouldn't know to look at it). So you have 𠂇 zuǒ and 𠂇 yòu. They look identical, but one is "left" and the other is "right." So how do you know which one you're looking at? You add a mark to distinguish them. Now you have 𠂇 zuǒ and 右 yòu. Note that in 右, 口 isn't "a mouth," but a distinguishing mark. But since 𠂇 can be "left" or "right," it's still a bit ambiguous. So it's really best to have a character used exclusively for "left," don't you think? Enter 左. It already existed, as a depiction of a "left" hand holding a tool (not a ruler, but a shovel-like tool of some sort), and it meant "to assist." They borrowed it to mean "left," and that's how we got to where we are today. All of this happened pretty early in the history of the writing system. Interesting tidbit: in Japanese and in traditional (not 繁體 but 傳統) stroke order rules, the 𠂇 in 左 and the 𠂇 in 右 are written with different stroke orders. That's due to the fact that they were originally different hands.
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