Lesson 066: Hints and Tips


Use the Premium podcast reviews to reinforce what was taught in the lesson. The difficulty level is slightly higher since no explanations are provided and it is assumed you recognize vocabulary from earlier lessons. If you find them difficult, try to review them several times. They are short enough so that you should be able to do so easily.

The Premium podcast reviews are meant to be reviewed several times. Over time you may find yourself memorizing the answers. This is fine since you’re still practicing your pronunciation as well as learning the rhythm and flow of the language. This will help you when creating your own sentences, when it comes down to that.

Lesson 059: Hints and Tips


The review dialogues being used try to use vocabulary you have learned in different ways. Take a look at the word order being used. That’s crucial in Chinese, since many words can be interpreted in different ways, based on where in a sentence they are placed. Also note what words are left out. Words, especially pronouns, are commonly left out in speech when they are thought to be “understood.” With enough examples, you will soon see yourself automatically constructing new sentences using the proper format.

There were more than 40 questions asked in today’s review lesson (plus another 15 in the last lesson). How many were you able to answer correctly? Strive to be able to answer 80%+ correct. If you are currently less than that, try and look up the words you missed in the course outline and review the lessons they were first introduced in. As mentioned previously, this approach will be used more frequently in upcoming lessons to help you keep up.

Lesson 060: Hints and Tips


By getting this far, you are obviously comfortable with the podcast format and its ability to teach you. We are therefore going to continue our focus on this format for the Premium section as well. In Level Two of our series, a premium podcast will be added to the Premium section to allow you to review and expand upon each lesson in a similar manner to the format used in the last three review lessons. So this way, you have an automatic review tool to use on your days off, to help you study in the exact same way you are already accustomed to listening to the regular lesson.

This marks the last lesson in level One of our podcast series. Congratulations if you were able to make it this far. Level Two will up the stakes from here on by assuming you understand all the material from Level One. Rest assured that all the material from the first sixty lessons will still be available for your reference if you ever need it.

Lesson 058: Hints and Tips


If you look at how people learn their native language, the order goes listening first, then speaking, then reading and lastly writing. This course tries to follow this same principle. You first listen to a dialogue which introduces words that you may never have heard before. You are then given the opportunity to practice speaking these new words. After you are confident, you can refer to the website to read these words in their Pinyin and Chinese character representations. You are then free to practice writing these words if you wish to do so. This approach differs from those found in classrooms where teachers write down a list of vocabulary on the board and then get the students to write them down even before they are pronounced or understood. This goes against the natural form of language acquisition that we are used to learning our own native language.

Today’s lesson used a slightly different approach than we’ve used before. The idea follows the natural learning method explained in today’s language learning tip. Expect to see this approach developed in the level two edition of our series. The idea is to get you focused on listening and learning how words are pronounced in the regular lessons and then get you speaking in these review lessons. By following natural language acquisition methods that you are already used to, your Chinese learning should vastly improve.

Lesson 057: Hints and Tips


One of the features in this course is the use of speakers from various parts. The Chinese-speaking community covers vast areas, and so there will be differences in the way things are said. In this lesson’s example you will notice how Kirin pronounces kàn kan differently from Ray and Heidi. Many learners end up learning most of their Chinese in one particular style, which is commonly used in particular area. However, the moment they step into a different area, they find themselves lost when hearing different accents or a different way of speaking what they have been taught previously. By getting used to hearing both Kirin speak as well as Ray and Heidi, we hope to provide you with a more general outlook on the language, which should broaden your scope of usage.

Because Chinese is very context sensitive, there are certain expressions that can be used in a variety of ways. Some words like “ba” in today’s lesson will be commonly heard in day-to-day speech, yet it may be difficult to understand the actual nuances without practice. One way to get this practice is to come up with a simple question that you can ask several Chinese speakers. Take note of their answers (record them if you can). Which parts of the answers are similar from speaker to speaker? Which parts are different? By doing this with several questions and several speakers you will start to discover these nuances yourself, allowing you to instinctively come up with the right expressions and words to use when you are asked a similar question in the future.

Lesson 056: Hints and Tips


The Flashcard tool can be used in multiple ways to test your understanding. If you’re interested in learning characters, see how well you can recognize the characters in the lessons text. You can also choose to test your listening only or choose to work backwards from English back to Chinese. What you may find is that while you may be very good in one method, a different method may challenge you. Find your weakness and challenge yourself to improve in this area.

In the early stages of learning Chinese, tones represent one of the biggest problems with non native Chinese speakers. However, with practice and lots of exposure, you will soon find yourself naturally being able to absorb them. At some point, you won’t consciously find yourself having to remember what tone a word is. When you first hear it, your brain will automatically associate it with the right tone. This is similar to how expert wine tasters can taste the fine nuances between different wines that regular lay people can’t. So if you are still having problems with tones, it just means that your brain isn’t familiar with them. Keep working on them, knowing well that one day you’ll be able to “get it” and move on to other aspects of learning the language.

Lesson 055: Hints and Tips


The music videos available in the Premium section can be a great resource to practice your listening and reading skills. What words or phrases do you recognize? Observe the tones of the various words in the lyrics and how the tones are being pronounced “in tune.” Try to pronounce the Pinyin lyrics and see how they are pronounced within the music. Do note that since they are “in tune” they might be pronounced differently than in regular conversation. You can also use this section to test your recognition of Chinese characters. Try and pick out the most common characters first before moving to the more difficult ones.

For most people, tones represents one of the hardest aspects of learning Chinese. Indeed in rapid speech it can be very difficult to make out one tone from another. However, like anything else, this is a skill that can be acquired with enough practice. You may not realize it, but you already have experience in this area through your perception of various forms of intonation in English. The entire meaning of a sentence can be changed with the slightest change in intonation, which doesn’t cause any problems in understanding between native English speakers (indeed this process is mostly performed unconsciously). For an added challenge try and practice intonation in Chinese to express different emotions. Make sure you don’t change the tones in the process.

Lesson 054: Hints and Tips


This tip continues where the last one from lesson 53 left off. Your ratio of input to output (listening to speaking) should be as high as possible. Think about children learning to utter their first words. Note how much more they are listening than talking. When they do learn to talk, they pick up grammar, idioms, phrases and such with ease and without having to study textbooks just because their listening skills are so developed. As they say “it has to go in, before it can come out.” By following this same principle you too can accelerate your learning.

If you have access to observing Chinese people on a daily basis, take a note of their reaction phrases. These are the phrases they use to exclaim excitement or frustration. Take a note of when and how they are being used. It may be interesting to find out the translation of these phrases as their usage may not be apparent unless you actually witness them being used on a regular basis. Take the phrase zāo gāo. The literal translation is “rotten cakes” but the idiomatic meaning is “how terrible.” Knowing the expression in English, however, does not guarantee proper usage in Chinese since the usage of such phrases tends to overlap between languages. The only real way to learn how to use it is to take note when you hear it being used. This is how kids learn expressions like “wow” – just by hearing when and how the adults around them use it. Being able to use such phrases properly is a key step in achieving fluency.

Lesson 053: Hints and Tips


You may notice the addition of “input” resources in this course being added, such as Chinese music and videos. At first glance you may be tempted to stay away from material that is “above your level”; however, these resources are being added for a reason. It’s to get your mind used to the flow of the Chinese language. So even if you just decide to listen to the music and do nothing else, your mind is unconsciously piecing together what Chinese sounds like. This means that down the road, when you are in a conversation with someone in Chinese and need to blurt out a response, your mind will choose what sounds right to it, based on all the input you gave it during your learning! So embrace Chinese input in all forms, even if it seems like you don’t understand it, since you can still learn at this “higher” level.

It is important to learn your own rhythm for maximum learning efficiency. We purposely try to limit how much new vocabulary is introduced in each lesson to allow your mind enough time to absorb it. Cramming too much in a short period of time can be hazardous to your language learning health. Use the breaks we give you in the course to take your mind away from learning Chinese. This tends to clear the mind of confusion and should result in your being more receptive to learning when you resume your studies.

Lesson 052: Hints and Tips


Learn to mimic intonation used by native Chinese speakers. Just like in English, changing the tone used can change the meanings. However, this is more difficult to accomplish in Chinese since you have two levels of tones to deal with it (the basic tone each word has plus the intonation you want to use to add emphasis). The best way to master this skill is by noting what expressions native speakers use in what situations and try to use the exactly same intonation when you need to say them. If you do this enough times, you will find yourself unconsciously producing the right expressions at the right times just like children growing up, learning their native languages.

Try and learn some jokes or stories in Chinese that you can use when the opportunity rises. Initially you may have to memorize them word for word. Doing so will let you store the sentence patterns involved. The more such examples your mind has, the easier it will be for you to construct future sentences in the proper way.

Lesson 051: Hints and Tips


If you’ve living in a Chinese speaking community, you may find it beneficial to learn the names of famous brands. You may think that anyone around the world would recognize famous brand names like McDonalds or Coca-cola that you may be likely to encounter in day-to-day living. However, you will find that while their symbols may be recognized by anyone, their actual names have Chinese equivalents that you will need to learn. For example, McDonalds in Chinese is Màidāngláo. Coca-Cola is Kěkǒu Kělè. You will be doing yourself a great service if you find out how to say the popular brand names you expect to encounter in day-to-day living since you will have plenty of opportunity to practice this vocabulary each time you see the brand, thereby helping you remember it.

This tip is again for people living in Chinese speaking communities. Find situations that you’re likely to be in often where you can use Chinese to accomplish a goal. Perhaps you find yourself often ordering the same item from the same restaurant. Or maybe there’s a drycleaner you visit regularly. Even though you may be able to accomplish the task without using Chinese (or only using minimal Chinese), why not create a goal of learning how to conduct the situation exactly how a native Chinese speaker would. There’s no need to memorize an entire passage as you could expand your use of Chinese a few words at a time each time you find yourself in the situation. Once you’re comfortable at that level, find out how to add a few more Chinese words to what you need to say. Again, practice till you’re comfortable and then expand further. Now imagine if you had several situations like this on the go how quickly you could expand your Chinese usage (not to mention your confidence!).

Lesson 050: Hints and Tips


Chinese DVD movies are a great source of learning in many aspects. Watch scenes without subtitles and see how far you can get in your understanding. Then watch the scene again with English subtitles and see how well you did. They are also a great way to learn Chinese characters. Try to match up the characters with the speech. If the movie is interesting enough and you’re able to watch scenes enough times, you may even be able to memorize entire dialogues, in which case you can work on perfecting your pronunciation.

If you’re living in a Chinese-speaking community where you speak to people on the phone, here’s an interesting exercise. Practice your telephone voice. See if you can answer the phone with the perfect accent to fool callers into thinking you are a native Chinese speaker. This is hard to do in real life situations where people draw immediate perceptions by looking at you. Here, however, it’s easy to recognize if callers are “fooled” by whether they start speaking to you in Chinese. If they do, you did it – they think you are a genuine Chinese speaker!

Lesson 049: Hints and Tips


Today’s tip has to do with how we remember things. As you know, in this course, vocabulary and sentence patterns are constantly being repeated from older lessons. The first time your mind encounters something, it puts it in short-term memory long enough to see if it’s important. If you don’t encounter it again, the mind assumes it isn’t important and the item is then forgotten. However, if you come across the same item again, the mind assumes it is important and stores it back in memory for a little longer. This process continues until you’ve seen it enough times that your mind figures it is important enough to commit to your long-term memory. This same approach can be used if you are living in a Chinese-speaking community. Rather than trying to understand everything around you, try to pick up words and phrases that you hear constantly. Study these first, since as you encounter them repeatedly, you will be more likely to remember them in the future.

Struggle against the path of least resistance. If you see an opportunity to use the Chinese you’ve learned, then use it. Sure, it may be easier to express yourself in English, but try to do so in Chinese where possible. The more you do so, the easier it will become. This, after all, is the goal of this course – to get you comfortable communicating in Chinese.

Lesson 048: Hints and Tips


Many people get discouraged when learning Chinese because it seems that no matter how hard they try, they can’t mimic native Chinese speakers exactly. The trick is to not focus on this area too much. The main goal should be being understood, and having a “pleasant” sound, even if you have a “foreign” accent all your life. If you consider the examples of famous stars like Enrique Iglesias and Antonio Banderas, they have used their accents when they speak English as an asset not a liability!

There are different types of compliments that you will encounter when learning Chinese. The first stage is the “you speak Chinese very well” that you’ll hear when uttering your first “Nǐ hǎo.” You will then get to a level where people stop complimenting you. This signifies that you’re no longer a beginner and so the typical “your Chinese is great” is no longer required. You will then notice that people automatically reply to you in Chinese since they assume you can speak it. You may also notice them speaking quicker and not slowing down as they normally would for “beginners.” You can also look for the genuine surprise from a person not expecting you to understand or be able to speak Chinese. Also look for people talking behind your back about how great your Chinese is. These are all signs that your Chinese is improving; so realize that sometimes such indirect compliments are more powerful than direct ones!

Lesson 047: Hints and Tips


It is very easy to get into a comfort zone where you’re happy with your Chinese ability as it allows you to communicate in the situations around you. However, be careful not to get too complacent. At times you may need to force yourself to be curious and move yourself into new situations that force you to learn new Chinese or new ways to adapt. Develop a healthy interest in moving outside your current circle of influence, so that your Chinese is constantly being developed and constantly improving.

When you give yourself a challenge such as learning Chinese, there are two approaches you can take towards achieving your goal. One is to “shrink” the challenge. The easiest way to do this is to break down the challenge into manageable bits such as how much time you want to spend on this course per day or setting a date to achieve a certain level and focus on getting to that point. The other approach is to “grow” the challenge. This could be for example moving to a place where you are surrounded by Chinese people (or moving away from the English speaking crowd). You are now forced to tackle the challenge face to face and can’t shy away from it. Or you could offer to take someone out to dinner who only spoke Chinese and no English. Both approaches have their merits so look at your own situation and your own goals and decide what approach you are going to take.

Lesson 046: Hints and Tips


If you happen to live in a Chinese speaking community and you find that a dialect of Chinese other than Mandarin is prevalent in your area, it may be in your interest to learn a few words and phrases. Learning how to say the same words or phrases in a different dialect of Chinese will help you solidify your understanding of Mandarin. If you thought learning the four tones in Mandarin was hard, what would learning the six tones of Cantonese be like? If you could master those six tones, then think how easy the four tones of Mandarin would be. This also provides another context in learning since by comparing Mandarin with these other dialects, you are reinforcing material you have already learned which helps you better commit it to memory.

If you live in China or Taiwan, it may be in your interest to learn more about the different types of ethnicities within that region. While foreigners may regard all Chinese as being “Chinese,” various ethnicities exist that further differentiate them. Examples include the Hakka in Taiwan and the Hui in China (traditionally Muslim). Learning what differentiates them such as language, customs, clothes etc. will win you respect from these local groups. It will also help solidify your knowledge of Chinese culture which will provide context to your learning of the language.

Lesson 045: Hints and Tips


If you happen to live in a Chinese speaking community, some of your electronics can be a great source for learning Chinese characters. While living in Taiwan, I had a clock that spoke the time in Chinese. Remote controls also tend to have a lot of Chinese characters on them. Try to learn to recognize the characters that you’re likely to see regularly around you. Cell phones and computers are also a great source of learning. If you’re feeling adventurous you can try using them in Chinese mode which will force you to learn what some of the characters means so as help you navigate your way around the system. As well, modern technology allows you to use Pinyin to enter Chinese characters on a computer or cell phone which offers an easy way to utilize them without having to manually type them in.

Try to set functional goals for yourself. Our course is set in its own levels. However, as learners we each have our own set of circumstances. For example, in Taiwan one of my goals was to be able to order a pizza over the phone. At first, I wasn’t confident enough in being able to order for delivery so I would stick to ordering for pick-up. I would have all the key vocabulary items written out in front of me that I would use on the phone. Eventually though, after doing it a few times, I didn’t need that piece of paper in front of me anymore and could then work on getting them to understand what my address was for delivery. Like this, find your own challenge and see if you can figure out the steps to achieve it. It helps if it involves a task that you are likely to repeat in the future and so will aid in retention.

Lesson 044: Hints and Tips


In tip#34, I recommended you try and record yourself speaking as listening to yourself will help improve your pronunciation. Well, to help you out in this regard I have added a “test your pronunciation” tool to the Tone and Pinyin Practice exercises in the Premium section. Use this tool to compare your sound to that of the native speakers. Being able to pronounce the words there perfectly will improve your pronunciation for new words. It will also help you learn how to pronounce new words in Pinyin without having to listen to native speaker first.

A lot of the problems people have learning languages are psychological barriers. People create mental blocks in their mind that limit their ability to improve. Examples of this can include believing your pronunciation will never be as good as a native speaker or that Chinese characters are too difficult for you to learn. Getting rid of these stumbling blocks is the key to improvement. There are stories of people suddenly being able to speak great Chinese after drinking a few beers, as the alcohol removed their previous inhibitions. While I don’t recommend you follow this approach, it can be used as an example of how your mind can help you or inhibit you.

Lesson 043: Hints and Tips


The Chinese language has an inherent vagueness in it. Many sentences can have ambiguous meanings that vary based on context. For example, you can use the same sentence to say “I want to go” or “I am going.” Similarly, in this lesson’s notes, you will see that the same sentence can mean “Go with him” or “Follow him.” This differs from other languages that require very specific grammar usage to convey very precise meaning. This quality extends into Chinese culture as well. When you ask someone how they are doing, you will usually get a “so-so” mid level answer as they are not used to conveying specifics.

China being the huge country it is, has many regional dialects of Chinese. To unify the language element, Mandarin Chinese was declared as the “standard” language that should be taught in schools. As a result, those with the best knowledge of Mandarin tend to be the most educated. So the next time someone wants to comment on your Chinese speaking ability, don’t be surprised if they literally say “Your Chinese is very standard.” While that may seem like a strange comment in English, it’s indeed a compliment in Chinese!

Lesson 042: Hints and Tips


Our course philosophy is to increase the level of difficulty slightly every 30 lessons or so. We will be doing this by increasing the amount used within the lesson to teach the language. Initially, this may seem overwhelming. However, use the translations in the Word for Word transcripts to keep up. The same words and phrases will be used again and again until they should eventually sink in. At that point you will be ready for another batch of new vocabulary to be introduced. This is similar to how children learn their native language (constant repetition of commands) and is based on the active listening theory introduced in tip #39.

When speaking Chinese with native Chinese speakers, you may find them responding to you in English. When this happened, initially I took it as an insult. Perhaps my Chinese wasn’t good enough so they were resorting to using English. However, later I found that in many cases, they were using English for the same reason that I was using Chinese! They were as excited to practice their English with me as I was to practice my Chinese with them! So don’t be insulted. Just keep looking for opportunities to practice what you’re learning with people that you meet.

Lesson 041: Hints and Tips


It is very important to discover your own learning style as each person’s optimal language learning settings may be different. Know when to give yourself a break. Know when to push yourself further. The key is to not push yourself further than you’re capable, while still finding enough material to continually stimulate your brain to keep learning. Determining these settings will help you determine the pace you wish to follow for this course; so feel free to experiment and find out what works best for you.

If you live in a Chinese speaking community or plan to travel to one, try to travel away from the big cities, if the opportunity is available. In smaller towns, you are more likely to find non-English speakers who can give you a taste of real Chinese culture, as opposed to the larger centers catered towards English speaking tourists. On a side note, these smaller towns also tend to be a LOT cheaper than their urban counterparts.

Lesson 040: Hints and Tips


When listening to speakers from different parts of China, expect to hear differences in accents. For example you hear Kirin pronounce Ránhòu starting with the “r” sound (as it’s spelled). However, in other regions you may hear versions like Lánhòu as some speakers alternate “l” and “r” sounds. To keep things simple and consistent we recommend you pronounce it as its spelled and as Kirin pronounces it. However, it is important to recognize the regional differences that you may encounter when other people speak Chinese to you.

Our last lesson’s motivation tip also extends to Chinese characters. Many people are turned off from learning Chinese characters just because of the sheer number of them that would need to be learned. However, while there are over 15 000 Chinese characters out there (even more if you count ancient characters that aren’t in use today), learning the most frequent 2000 is enough to allow you to read more than 80% of a Chinese newspaper. Use the tools we have provided in the Premium section to test your recognition of the Chinese characters used in our lessons. You will find many of them repeated from lesson to lesson which should aid in recognition.

Lesson 039: Hints and Tips


There is a theory proposed by some that people should focus a lot more of their attention on listening skills than on speaking. The theory follows that people learn their native language by listening and not speaking for the first two years of their life, and therefore we should use the same approach when learning a new language. Our podcasts leave room for you to repeat after the speakers but there is still value to focusing just on listening and leaving the speaking till later. Use the approach that works best for your own personal learning style.

The vocabulary we teach in lessons is taken from experience of the highest used vocabulary in the Chinese language. You will find in almost any language that 20% of the vocabulary is used 80% of the time. This means that by focusing your study on that 20%, you can potentially be able to understand 80% of what is out there! Keep in mind, this can vary based on contexts. The vocabulary used in movies, will be different from that used on streets which would be different from that used in newspapers. So by determining which area you want to focus on, you can choose to focus on the high frequency words that will get you to that 80% comprehension level. This is a much more efficient method than studying lists of vocabulary that you may never encounter in day to day life.

Lesson 038: Hints and Tips


If you have the opportunity to practice with a native Chinese speaker, try doing so on the telephone and see if your comprehension level changes. Many times, when speaking to someone face to face we pick up meaning from non-verbal signals such as body language. During a telephone conversation, however, a lot of these external cues aren’t available for you to pick up on, meaning you have to rely solely on your language ability! Don’t focus solely on this method though, since there is value in being able to understand body language, but it is a great test of your comprehension ability from time to time.

As your Chinese improves, try to get away from ‘beginner’ mistakes. There are some syllables in Chinese that don’t have English equivalents. Beginners usually use the closest English equivalent, but at some point you have to realize that there isn’t such an equivalent, which means you may need to twist your tongue in an unfamiliar manner to produce some of the sounds. As your Chinese vocabulary increases, take the time to master these subtle differences to round out your learning.

Lesson 037: Hints and Tips


Lately we have been teaching you common phrases to help you clarify meaning such as “Please repeat that” or “What does that mean?” This should help you out of tight spots when you are speaking to someone and need to clarify meaning. It should also give you enough confidence to put you into these situations to begin with, now that you know how to bail yourself out. So use them often!

Continuing on with the tip from lesson 36, you should attempt to study how Chinese speakers convey emotion. It can be done through intonation but in a much subtler degree than we are used to in English. We have to be especially careful here, since speakers of new languages sometimes tend to mask their lack of vocabulary through exaggerating their intonation.

Lesson 036: Hints and Tips


Although we try to classify new vocabulary for you into nouns, adjectives and verbs, be aware that these classifiers aren’t used the same way in Chinese. Many words can function in multiple ways depending on usage and context. Keeping an open mind towards this concept will help you understand new words and make the learning more intuitive.

Did you know that mastering the Chinese language also means mastering your own emotions? Crazy as that may sound, it’s true in the sense that you can’t alter tones the way you do in English. In English, emotion is expressed through modifying voice pitchs. Any sentence can become a question by modifying the tone at the end. Additionally, feelings of surprise, disappointment, anger etc. can all be added just by modifying the tone. In Chinese though, making these modifications would change the meaning altogether! So who knew that becoming a great Chinese speaker could also result in a new kinder and more gentle you!

Lesson 035: Hints and Tips


You should have enough vocabulary in your head now to be able to make up sentences on your own. The next time you’re out and about, try and make up sentences in Chinese about the situations around you. Use the words and phrases that you have learned so far in the course. If possible, even say them out aloud. If you get enough practice doing this, it will be much easier for you to come up with sentences when you are actually in a real dialogue, and don’t have the luxury time to think.

Having gotten this far, you are aware of how easy (or how difficult) it is to pick up Chinese. However, Chinese is regarded by most as being one of the most difficult languages for English speakers to learn, mainly because it is so foreign with barely any crossover vocabulary between English and Chinese. In our last tip, we talked about the respect you will receive from Chinese speakers hearing you speak their language. Now imagine the respect you will get from English speakers hearing you speak one of the most difficult languages out there to learn!

Lesson 034: Hints and Tips


One way to improve pronunciation is to try recording yourself speak. There are plenty of dialogues on the website for you to download. Compare your sound with that of the native speakers. This is a good way to track your progress and identify your weaknesses. Some sounds will be a lot harder to imitate. Listen to how different speakers say the same sound. If you take the time to perfect your pronunciation at this stage, you will come out sounding much more natural in later stages when you are speaking more quickly with less time to think.

We each have our different reason for learning Chinese. However, you are conveying a great sign of respect to Chinese people by attempting to learn their language. It is understandable for many speakers of foreign languages to want to learn English as it’s considered the International language. However, it isn’t as common for an English speaker to take the trouble to learn their language. Even while living in Taiwan and meeting foreigners living in China, I noticed that many didn’t take the time to learn the culture and local language as it wasn’t really required for their stay. So expect to be in the minority and to be commended for your pursuit in learning Chinese.

Lesson 030: Hints and Tips


Try and find a partner to do the dialogues with. Ideally, a native Chinese speaker can help you with your pronunciation. If not however, a non-native speaker will also do. Try and come up with the responses without looking at the transcript. Quiz each other on the English translations without looking at the notes. Alternate roles and try again.

We are entering a new phase of our podcast course. Starting with today’s lesson, there will be more Chinese spoken within the lesson. You have picked up a solid base of vocabulary and this base can slowly be used to get you to think in Chinese. Ideally, you should strive to get to a level where new vocabulary can be defined using existing vocabulary. Once you get to that level, you will be comfortable in a Chinese environment where Chinese speakers can help you improve your vocabulary without you always having to resort to a dictionary. Congratulations on your progress!

Lesson 029: Hints and Tips


If you can, try and listen to the review audio summaries just before you go to sleep. They are short enough that you should be able to hear them through before falling asleep. Some studies have shown that reviewing in this manner just before you go to sleep enhances memory.

Many people shy away from learning Chinese because of the complexity of the writing system. While this is true, most don’t realize that the Pinyin system developed by the Chinese government is very effective in transcribing Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet. It is important to note that Pinyin is not English, so many letters don’t have the same sounds that they would in English. However, it is worth it to spend time learning how the Pinyin alphabet works and the sounds associated with them. The best way to do this is by following the transcripts included with each podcast lessons. Listen to the speakers and follow along with the Pinyin transcripts. Later, try and read the Pinyin first before playing the audio to see if you are correct. With practice, you should be able to correctly identify the pronunciation of new words just by reading the Pinyin alone!