What is the Chinese Currency Called?

What is the Chinese Currency Called?

The Renminbi 人民币 (rén mín bì) is the official currency of the People’s Republic of China. Often referred to simply as ‘RMB,’ this currency was introduced by the Communist party in 1949 and translates to ‘the People’s Currency.’ To date, the most commonly used RMB...

Things to Know About Christmas in China

Christmas has arrived in China and we're ready to celebrate! Despite not being as popular as traditional Chinese lunar holidays like Mid-Autumn and Spring festival, the storied date of December 25th has come to take on its own special role in the Chinese holiday...

The Anatomy of Chinese Characters

The Anatomy of Chinese Characters

Reading and writing Chinese characters is often considered the most ambitious challenge that language students face in order to achieve fluency. Indeed, the intricacies which have shaped this character system over thousands of years are both complex and vast. However,...

An Overview of the Chinese Zodiac

An Overview of the Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese Zodiac, called 生肖 (shēngxiào) or “birth likeness” in Mandarin, is an ancient belief system considered to be a tool for deciding one’s destiny. Following the traditional lunar calendar, this scheme is based on a 12-year cycle in which one of 12 animals is...

YouTube’s Best Channels for Learning Chinese

YouTube’s Best Channels for Learning Chinese

When learning Chinese, it's important to mix-up your daily study routine. YouTube is a great way to stay sharp when you're not studying in China, and we want to help you stay sharp. We’ve selected and organized a list of our top 8 YouTube channels for learning...

Things to Know About Christmas in China

Christmas has arrived in China
and we’re ready to celebrate! Despite not being as popular as traditional Chinese lunar holidays like Mid-Autumn and Spring festival, the storied date of December 25th has come to take on its own special role in the Chinese holiday calendar. Over the past several decades more and more Chinese have converted to Christianity; this is particularly true among younger Chinese generations eager to get a taste of Western culture. Thus, Christmas has received a warm welcome in the Middle Kingdom.

Chinese people dressed for Christmas

During the days and weeks leading up to Christmas, it’s very common for Chinese students of all ages to exchange Christmas cards, wear costumes and get into the holiday spirit. As a unique Christmas Eve tradition, many young couples present each other with red apples, a custom born out of the Mandarin word for Christmas Eve, which sounds similar to the word for apple. Friends and family members might also take advantage of holiday sales and give each other small gifts, some even purchasing faux Christmas trees to adorn their living rooms. If you find yourself in China during Christmas time, keep your eyes peeled for restaurants offering 八宝鸭 (bā bǎo yā, eight treasures duck), duck stuffed with chicken, ham, shrimp and more — a Chinese-style Christmas dinner!

Chinese people dressed as Santa playing Chinese drums

Chinese people dressed for Christmas

(China Photos — Getty Images — Washington Post)

Here’s what else to expect if you’re in China during the Christmas season:

  • servers, salesclerks, and other attendants may be wearing holiday-themed costumes
  • malls, restaurants, and public places will be playing those oh-so-familiar Christmas tunes — learn how to sing ‘jingle bells’ in Chinese
  • shops of all kinds may be holding special sales, selling winter clothes and seasonal products at massive discount prices
  • public squares and walking streets may be decorated with twinkling lights, red streamers, or even decorated Christmas trees
  • some international restaurants, schools or offices may be closed in observance of Christmas

Chinese woman posing with mechanical Santa while older man sits in nearby oversized ornament

(PhotoThe Atlantic)

Electronic Christmas tree shop in China

(Photo by Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera)

Learn to Sing Jingle Bells in Mandarin

Christmas Themed Chinese Flashcards:

Chinese vocabulary flashcards-Christmas
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-Christmas tree
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-white Christmas
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-candy cane
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-gingerbread man
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-gingerbread house
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-stocking
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-reindeer
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-snowman

Additional Christmas Vocabulary:

Hànzì pīnyīn Definition
1. 圣诞节 shèng dàn jié Christmas
2. 圣诞夜 shèngdàn yè Christmas eve
3. 白色圣诞 bái sè shèng dàn White Christmas
4. 圣诞快乐 shèngdàn kuàilè Merry Christmas
5. 圣诞树 shèngdànshù Christmas tree
6. 拐杖糖 guǎizhàng táng candy cane
7. 礼物 lǐ wù gift/present
8. 圣诞袜 shèngdàn wà stocking
9. 圣诞红 shèngdàn hóng Poinsettia
10. 姜饼屋 jiāng bǐng wū gingerbread house
11. 圣诞卡 shèngdànkǎ Christmas card
12. 圣诞老人 shèngdàn lǎorén Santa Claus
13. 雪橇 xuěqiāo sleigh
14. 麋鹿 mílù reindeer
15. 基督教徒 jī dū jiào tú Christian
16. 雪人 xuě rén snowman
17. 姜饼人 jiāng bǐng rén gingerbread man
18. 报佳音 bàojiāyīn caroling

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The Anatomy of Chinese Characters

The Anatomy of Chinese Characters

Reading and writing Chinese characters
is often considered the most ambitious challenge that language students face in order to achieve fluency. Indeed, the intricacies which have shaped this character system over thousands of years are both complex and vast. However, while they may appear bewildering at first, Chinese characters are actually composed of distinct building blocks that form a straightforward and logical structure. Once you grasp a basic understanding of Chinese character anatomy, you will be reading and writing your way across the Middle Kingdom in no time.

the chinese character for husband has evolved over many centuries
Chinese characters are used to illustrate meaning rather than sound
original images from confuciusmag.com


Unlike the Roman alphabet, Chinese characters are used to illustrate meaning rather than sound. In fact, most characters were originally intended as visual representations of physical elements like trees, houses or humans. Evolving since their earliest forms, simplified versions of these symbols, known as character radicals, serve as the foundation for contemporary written Mandarin. Making up approximately 80% of the language, radicals are an essential starting point for anyone who wants to read or write fluently in Mandarin. Jump to the list of the 40 most used Chinese radicals.

chinese characters are used to illustrate meaning rather than sound
chinese characters evolved from visual representations of physical elements

chinese characters used to be visual representations of physical elements
The evolution of the characters 人, 从, and 众. 人=rén=person 从=cóng=from/follow 众=zhòng=crowd.

When two or more radicals are combined, they work together to create a single character; the radical on the left indicates the character’s category or meaning, while the radical on the right might indicate its pronunciation. The majority of the written Chinese language is comprised of character compounds, in which several characters are combined to make one word. Most Chinese dictionaries include about 20,000 characters, though linguists estimate literate speakers know between 5,000 and 8,000. For language learners, being familiar with just 2,000 to 3,000 characters will give you the tools to read most newspapers and magazines.

An important rule to note is that characters are written according to a standardized stroke order, which typically moves from left to right, top to bottom and outside to inside. Skritter is an excellent APP to help you learn stroke order. Although Chinese characters may seem daunting at first, patterns will quickly emerge once you develop a basic foundation. So, review your radicals, familiarize yourself with the most commonly used Chinese characters, and watch as your Mandarin skills grow exponentially!

An Introduction to Chinese Characters

Having a deeper understanding of Chinese characters will help reveal the language’s logic structure as well as China’s history and culture. Watch the following video to delve deeper into the pictographic and ideographic nature of Chinese characters. You’ll learn the difference between the phonetic alphabet and the Chinese character system.


The 40 Most Common Radicals:

There are over 200 radicals that make up Chinese characters, though only a portion of them are regularly used in simplified Mandarin today. Check out the list below to find out the 40 most common character radicals – you might find that you’ve encountered most of them before! Remember, because they serve as the building blocks of the written character system, radicals are absolutely crucial in helping language learners become literate in Mandarin.


No. Radi­cal pīnyīn Eng­lish
1 rén person
2 dāo knife
3 power
4 yòu right hand; again
5 kǒu mouth
6 wéi enclose
7 earth
8 sunset
9 big
10 woman
11 child
12 cùn inch
13 xiǎo small
14 gōng labor;work
15 yāo tiny; small

No. Radi­cal pīnyīn Eng­lish
16 gōng bow
17 xīn heart box
18 dagger;axe
19 shǒu hand
20 sun
21 yuè moon
22 wood
23 shuǐ water
24 huǒ fire
25 tián field
26 eye
27 shì show
28 fine silk
29 ěr ear
30 clothing
No. Radi­cal pīnyīn Eng­lish
31 yán speech
32 bèi cowrie; shell
33 zǒu walk
34 foot
35 jīn gold
36 mén door
37 zhuī short-tailed bird
38 rain
39 shí eat
40 horse

Additional Chinese Learning Resources:

Review the 100 Most Common Chinese Characters.

An Overview of the Chinese Zodiac

An Overview of the Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese Zodiac,
called 生肖 (shēngxiào) or “birth likeness” in Mandarin, is an ancient belief system considered to be a tool for deciding one’s destiny. Following the traditional lunar calendar, this scheme is based on a 12-year cycle in which one of 12 animals is represented with each new year. Last February, as families across the Middle Kingdom gathered together to celebrate Spring Festival, they also welcomed the 10th animal in the rotation, marking 2017 the “Year of the Rooster”. During next year’s Spring Festival, Chinese people will honor the 11th animal in the zodiac cycle, naming 2018 the “Year of the Dog”.

While western astrology emphasizes the day and month that a person was born, the Chinese system regards one’s birth year as the most important factor in determining their fate. An individual’s personality, as well as dramatic events that occur in their life, may all be influenced by the zodiac animal to which they belong. An equally significant but less widespread theory is that each lunar year is also accompanied by one of the five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. In accordance with the traditional philosophy, these five elements are affected by the delicate balance of Yin and Yang. For example, the lunar year 2018 will be both the “Year of the Dog” and “Yang Earth”, while 2019 will be the “Year of the Pig” and of “Yin Earth”.


There is no single definitive origin story, but rather many legends about how the Chinese Zodiac came to be. In contemporary China, the popular myth goes something like this: The Ruler of Heaven, also called the Jade Emperor, reigned over the universe in pre-historic times. One day, he invited all the animals on Earth to enjoy a banquet in his celestial palace. When they arrived, the Jade Emperor was so thrilled that he decided to gift each animal their own year, based on the order in which they had arrived at his palace that night. Check out the following video for the full story.

The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac

Here’s another very insightful video about the Chinese Zodiac and Chinese culture.



Vocabulary List:

Hànzì pīnyīn Definition
1. shǔ rat
2. niú cow
3. tiger
4. rabbit
5. lóng dragon
6. shé snake
7. 馬 / 马 horse
8. yáng ram
9. 猴子 hóu monkey
10. 雞 / 鸡 chicken
11. gǒu dog
12. 豬 / 猪 zhū pig

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China Loves Chili Peppers

China Loves Chili Peppers

If you have traveled
to the Middle Kingdom or shared a meal with a Chinese family, you’ll know just how important chili peppers are in Chinese cuisine. Whether serving as a dish’s key ingredient or used as a seasoning for a bowl of white rice, spicy flavors are a fixture of the average Chinese palate. In fact, Mandarin even has many different words to describe different spicy flavors and the various sensations that they bring about. Check out our Chinese vocabulary list at the bottom of this page.

Images from Beautiful Guangxi

With all the hype surrounding chili peppers, one would think that these unassuming plants were indigenous to China. In actuality, chili peppers weren’t introduced to Asia until the fifteenth century, when they arrived from the Americas in seed form vis-à-vis trade ports or the silk road. Today, spicy food has become such an important part of local culture that many families grow their own pepper plants and mix up their own spicy sauces at home, to be found on the table at virtually every meal.

Images from Beautiful Guangxi

Two Videos to Change Your View of Chili Peppers

If you want to discover just how important chili peppers are to some Chinese people, be sure to check out this video of China’s “Chili man, ” the Henan-native who claims to eat several kilograms of chili peppers every day!



In the Middle Kingdom, it’s not uncommon to see chili-eating competitions, in which contestants compete to see who can pack the most heat. Watch this short video and let us know if you think you’d have what it takes to be crowned China’s “chili king” (or queen).


Are you ready to add some heat to your Mandarin skills? Check out these spicy-themed vocabulary words!

Vocabulary List:

Hànzì pīnyīn Definition
1. 辣椒 là jiāo hot peppers
2. 酸辣 suān là spicy and sour
3. 麻辣 má là spicy and numbing
4. 微辣 wēi là mildly spicy
5. 胡椒 hú jiāo pepper
6. 晒干 shài gān to dry in the sun
7. 凉快 liáng kuài nice and cool
8. 植物 zhí wù plant
9. 农村 nóng cūn countryside
10. 方法 fāng fǎ method

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YouTube’s Best Channels for Learning Chinese

YouTube’s Best Channels for Learning Chinese

When learning Chinese,
it’s important to mix-up your daily study routine. YouTube is a great way to stay sharp when you’re not studying in China, and we want to help you stay sharp. We’ve selected and organized a list of our top 8 YouTube channels for learning Chinese. You’ll be able to find a healthy ecosystem of Chinese learning resources within this list. From beginner to expert, this list has you covered. Happy studying!

Learn Chinese Now

Learn Chinese Now is a fabulous YouTube channel hosted by Ben Hedges, an ex-pat from England who speaks stellar Mandarin. After studying the language in college, Ben moved to Taiwan where he started his own show about news, art and society in China. These videos were so well received by local netizens that Ben decided to develop his own YouTube channel in order to spread the word about learning Mandarin. From grammar guides to cooking videos, Learn Chinese Now is an excellent source for all things related to Chinese language and culture. Also check out our list of 10 Useful Video from Learn Chinese Now.


CLI team member Dayong was fortunate to meet and interview Ben about his experiences learning Chinese.



For advanced Mandarin speakers or those interested in learning more about Chinese history and current events, check out the official YouTube channel for Ben Hedges’ original show, “A Foreigners View of China and Taiwan.” Unlike videos from Learn Chinese Now, you won’t find grammar or vocabulary lessons when watching “A Foreigners View.” What you will find, however, is a plethora of information regarding Chinese politics and society as told through the insightful lens of experienced foreigner-in-China, Mr. Ben Hedges.


YoYo Chinese

If you are looking to ease into Mandarin by starting with the basics, Yoyo Chinese is the perfect jumping-off point. In each video, teacher Yangyang Cheng delivers concise lessons that emphasize essential aspects of the Mandarin language-learning process, such as pinyin pronunciation, tone-pairs, and everyday phrases. Students who don’t have many opportunities chat in Chinese with native speakers should make sure to follow Yoyo Chinese’s series, “Real Chinese,” for candid interviews with locals as they go about their daily lives. You can also watch CLI’s Top 10 Videos from Yoyo Chinese.


Learn Chinese with Litao

Are you a novice student interested in building a strong and capable foundation in Mandarin? Head over to Learn Chinese with Litao where you can start from scratch under the thorough guidance of instructor Zheng Tao. Begin with the Chinese pronunciation series to get experience with Chinese pinyin, including initials, finals, and tones. Next, move on to the elementary Chinese HSK 1 and elementary Chinese HSK 2 series for practical grammar and vocabulary.


Fiona Tian – MandarinMadeEZ

Fiona Tian is a charming half-British, half-Taiwanese Chinese speaker who has a knack for creating fun, engaging lessons regarding Mandarin and Chinese culture. Her YouTube channel, Mandarin Made EZ, presents a diverse array of easy-to-follow tutorials on vocabulary, study techniques, and cultural customs. Make sure to check out Fiona’s survival Chinese guide and learn everything you need to know before your first trip to China.


Crazy Fresh Chinese

Upgrading your Chinese from 还可以(hái kěyǐ/ so-so) to 厉害 ( lìhài/awesome) has never been easier, thanks to Baijie, an American ex-pat with flawless Mandarin skills who established the YouTube channel Crazy Fresh Chinese. Offering hundreds of original mini-lessons, this channel is perfect for when you need a quick study fix or are reviewing on-the-go. Follow the quirky, fun-loving Baijie to stay up to date on the hottest slang and authentic phrases that you won’t find in your textbook. Dig in to our Top 10 Slang Mandarin Phrase from Crazy Fresh Chinese.



Fiona Tian and her Chinese-speaking team are back with ChinesePodTV, the YouTube channel component of the ground-breaking Mandarin language podcast, ChinesePod. This prominent channel features thousands of self-contained, situational lessons so that viewers can pick and choose the subjects relevant to them. Learn everything from simplified grammar points to survival tips for riding the Chinese subway when you study Mandarin with Fiona and her international crew. Watch CLI’s Top 5 Videos from ChinesePod.


Lost In Translation

Differing slightly from the other channels on our list is Lost in Translation, a fascinating YouTube platform that explores the role of Chinese culture in the western world. Most videos from this channel take a humorous approach in narrating the experiences of Chinese exchange students who attend college abroad. LIT also includes sketches that focus on ABC (American-born-Chinese) individuals as they navigate the (hilariously tricky) intersection of Chinese heritage and western upbringing.


Study Mandarin in China with CLI. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for more learning resources and the occasional discount on Immersion Program tuition.

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Chinese Traditional Shadow Plays

Chinese Traditional Shadow Plays

Have you heard of Chinese shadow plays,
an art considered by many to be the world’s first ever form of puppetry? Traditionally constructed out of natural materials like animal skins and mineral pigments, these marionette-like figurines are painted in order to symbolize archetypal characters from Chinese legends. Placed against translucent cloth screens, puppets are then manipulated by skilled masters to create the illusion of movement which is usually accompanied by song and dance. Through their performances, shadow plays work to pass on historical stories, social morals and cultural myths from generation to generation.

The roots of shadow puppetry in China can be traced back to the early Han Dynasty, where the practice served as a form of entertainment reserved only for nobility. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, shadow puppetry began spreading to the working class where it was embraced as a people’s folk art. In the dynasties that followed, shadow puppetry became a celebratory custom for farming and laboring families, with thousands of specialized troupes traveling and performing across the nation.

During the communist revolution in the mid-twentieth century, shadow puppetry was temporarily banned in provinces where officials viewed it as a negative reminder of feudal tradition. Despite suffering a decline in popularity into the present, shadow puppetry nonetheless remains a significant and fascinating symbol of Chinese cultural history.

Study the following vocabulary words and show off your knowledge of traditional shadow plays to the next Chinese speaker you come across!

Vocabulary List:

Hànzì Pīnyīn Definition
1. 皮影戏 pí yǐng xì shadow play
2. 传说 chuán shuō legend
3. lóng dragon
4. 木偶 mù ǒu puppet
5. 影子 yǐng zi shadow
6. 画师 huà shī artist
7. 脚本 jiǎo běn script
8. 歌曲 gē qū songs
9. 音乐 yīn yuè music
10. 文化 wén huà culture
11. 服装 fú zhuāng costume
12. 表演 biǎo yǎn performance

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Why study abroad in Guilin?

Why study abroad in Guilin?

As if spending a semester abroad
in China wasn’t reason enough, we felt compelled to list 12 reasons (out of countless) why you should study abroad in Guilin. We’ve also included some photos from our Instagram account and we suggest you watch a video called Guilin is Beautiful (between 10 and 11) before returning here to apply to study abroad. 😉

View from a Guilin Mountaintop, Image by @muradosmann

Guilin offers a unique combination of urban and rural lifestyle
Since the economic reform of the 1980’s, towns and cities across China have experienced rapid urbanization, leading to the erasure of traditional farming communities in many areas. As a small city situated within a protected environmental zone, Guilin has been fortunate to maintain it’s countryside charm, untouched scenery and laidback pace of life. At the same time, the city’s status an international tourist destination means that Guilin is home to a
cosmopolitan city center packed with hip cafes, international restaurants, and other modern comforts. This unique combination of urban and rural communities means that on any given day it’s possible to travel from the city’s bustling downtown district to serene natural landscapes within fifteen minutes.

Guilin is an ideal language-learning environment
As is the case in many rural areas of China, Guilin’s education system has improved tremendously over the past several decades, leading to a dramatic rise in English proficiency among younger generations. Nonetheless, the fact remains that most people in Guilin only speak their native tongue. For foreign students, this means that the opportunities to practice Chinese in real-life situations are boundless. Furthermore, while Guilin is home to its own local speech called 桂林话(guìlín huà),the differences between this dialect and standard Mandarin, or 普通话(pǔtōng huà), are minimal compared to dialects spoken in other areas.

On the Li River, Image by @muradosmann

Guilin is home to a remarkably diverse community
The fourth largest city in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin is a heartland for exploring ethnic minority, or 少数民族 (shǎoshù mínzú), culture in China. While most of the population belongs to the Han majority, 90% of the Zhuang Minority, 70% of the Yao Minority, plus large groups of Dong and Miao, also reside in Guangxi. The unique customs of these groups have been preserved into the present and are accessible to travelers interested in exploring the Middle Kingdom’s multifarious traditions.

Guilin’s location is ideal for international travel
Guilin is perfectly situated in sunny south-central China, making for swift and affordable international travel options. Budget flights to Bangkok, Thailand or Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as well as over-night trains to Hanoi, Vietnam are available directly from Guilin city. Additionally, travelers can hop aboard the fast train to Shenzhen, walk across the border to Hongkong, and find themselves in one of the most unique cultural melting pots on the planet for only 30 USD. While in Hongkong, Shenzhen or the neighboring megacity of Guangzhou, it’s easy to catch a flight to anywhere in the world.

Guilin is a very affordable city
The cost of living in Guilin is quite low compared to that of many western countries and larger cities within China. At the time of publishing this article, 1 US Dollar is equal to 6.64 Chinese Yuan. Take a taxi-ride across town for 2 to 3 USD, fill up on a hearty bowl of specialty rice noodles for less than a buck, or treat yourself to a professional massage for only 50 RMB. Such affordable prices at establishments across the board in Guilin will ensure that you’re able to save money and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle during your adventure abroad.

Sun and Moon Pagodas, Image by Peter Stewart

Guilin’s cuisine is fresh & local
As mentioned in reason #1 on our list, Guilin’s close proximity to so many farming communities has major advantages for urban residents, one of which is access to delicious, fresh food. Every morning starting around dawn, merchants from the surrounding countryside travel into the city to peddle produce, herbs and poultry at local wet markets. These ingredients are then purchased by chefs and served up in restaurant kitchens that very same day, creating a sustainable farm-to-table system. Traditional villages located around Guilin are also home to a multitude of organic farms open for guests to pick their own fruits and vegetables.

Guilin Rice Noodles, Image by @studycli

The endless list of beautiful scenic spots
One of China’s most coveted tourist destinations since the 1960’s, Guilin has an array of sprawling urban parks, impressive landmarks and scenic spots tucked around every bend. Spend your afternoon relaxing amidst the Osmanthus trees and wild (but friendly) monkeys of Seven Star Park, hike Tunnel Hill Mountain for an impeccable sunset view, and much, much more.

Take incredible weekend trips
Only have a few days between Chinese classes to go exploring? Luckily, Guilin is located within a mecca of fantastic getaway spots. Take an express bus to the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces for a weekend of hiking between ancient villages and brilliant terraced mountains, or float down the Li River and arrive in the trendy back-packer haven of Yangshuo. Alternatively, a few hours on the fast train will deliver you directly to Hongkong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou or any one of the modern metropolitan cities located near Guilin. No matter what you decide to do this weekend, be inspired knowing that there are endless options for where to go next.

“I often sent pictures of the hills of Guilin which I painted to friends back home, but few believed what they saw.”

– Fan Chengda (Chinese Song Dynasty scholar)

Guilin is an excellent place to develop your career
In recent years, many international companies have opened branches in Guilin, now revered as one of Asia’s most renowned tourist destinations. While the city continues to develop in harmony with the rest of the nation’s rapid globalization, more and more business opportunities are becoming available here, particularly for those individuals with both English and Mandarin proficiency.

Guilin’s scenery is the best under heaven 桂林山水甲天下
Perhaps the most essential reason why our co-founders chose Guilin as CLI’s home-base is the area’s distinctive natural environment. The result of centuries submerged underwater when skeletons of marine animals that gradually formed jagged limestone rocks, striking karst peaks can now be found sprouting up throughout the entire city. Between mountain skylines and tropical rivers, Guilin’s scenery is truly dream-like. See more of Guilin’s environment in this video made by CLI.

十一 Guilin is home to a diverse international community
Guilin’s dazzling nature and relaxed pace of life attract foreign ex-pats, friendly exchange students and interesting families from around the world who come searching for a new home in the land of passion fruits and fragrant Osmanthus trees. Become part of a dynamic international community and meet interesting, like-minded individuals from around the world when you study abroad here.

十二 Guilin lends itself to a healthy lifestyle
Guilin is a haven for athletes, outdoorsy folks, and anyone else interested in cultivating a healthy lifestyle. Students can take advantage of shared public bicycles or the walkable distance between most neighborhoods in the city. Rock climbing is another celebrated pastime on the Li River, all thanks to the abundance of limestone karst peaks and bouldering spots that stretch throughout the region.

Now that you’ve read through our top reasons to study abroad in Guilin, visit our website to start your journey. See you in Guilin!

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10 Reasons to Learn Chinese

10 Reasons to Learn Chinese

Did you know
that approximately 1.2 billion people speak Chinese worldwide? That’s more than any other language on Earth. In fact, Chinese is now the third most commonly spoken language in the United States, with wide populations of native speakers also living in Europe, Africa, and Oceania. You may have noticed that Mandarin courses are popping up at your high school or university, and that more and more friends have skipped out on traditional study abroad destinations in favor of the Middle Kingdom.

Perhaps you’ve been curious about this enigmatic language yourself and wondered, “Should I learn Chinese?” On behalf of all of us at CLI, we are here to guide you towards an answer — yes! Now that we have that settled, read on for our top 10 reasons to learn Mandarin Chinese.

“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.”

– Chinese proverb

Catch On Quickly With Simplified Grammar
Mandarin is a much more logical language than you might initially think. There are no tricky verb conjugations or noun declensions whatsoever. Overall, the basic grammar structure is relatively uncomplicated compared to that of many romance languages. That’s not to say that grasping the entirety of Chinese grammar is effortless, per se, but once you master just a few key points you’ll have the fundamental patterns down in no time.

Improve Yourself Professionally
Because China is currently home to the world’s fastest growing economy, Mandarin is becoming the language of international business and communication. As a result, the demand for Mandarin speakers to fill a wide array of positions is increasing year by year. Being proficient in Mandarin will boost your resume and make you stand out among pools of less qualified applicants.

Gain Insight into Chinese Culture
Those with experience studying Mandarin will have learned that the language itself is an intricate mosaic of history and cultural values. From everyday “chengyu” phrases — Chinese proverbs that reference stories of dynasties past — to the written character system depicting coexistence between humans and nature, the Chinese language is deeply intertwined with the civilization from which it originated. You’ll dive even deeper into the culture when you study Mandarin.

Study and Travel Abroad in China
There are endless opportunities to study abroad and teach English or other subjects in almost every province of China, from the Muslim-majority Xinjiang tucked away in the West to the affluent Jiangsu of the far East. For those looking to explore new parts of the world, learning Chinese can be a wonderful catalyst to begin your journey. Learn more about CLI’s Immersion Program and Teach in China Program in Guilin, and the unique possibilities that await.

Strengthen Your Community
Almost every major Western city has a rapidly growing population of Chinese residents. Being able to communicate with the newly-settled immigrants in your neighborhood and exchange students at your university will help to build bridges in your community, as well as foster lifelong friendships.

Keep Up With Chinese Pop Culture
Open up a new world of music, movies, and television shows when you become familiar with Chinese language and society. With a growing international fanbase, popular culture from the Middle Kingdom is filled with fresh and innovative perspectives on contemporary lifestyles and social issues happening in China and across the globe.

Speak Mandarin Across Asia
Not only is Mandarin the official language of China, but it is also commonly taught and spoken in other countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. Let your newfound language skills grant you access to enchanting places that you may have never dreamed of exploring as your horizons expand infinitely.

Utilize Tons of Great Study Resources That Already Exist
Learning Chinese is more accessible than ever before with thousands of study tools being developed every year. Find a growing database of online flashcards, free iPhone apps, YouTube channels, HSK-based newspapers, and more to help you study anywhere at anytime. With this many resources available, learning Mandarin is virtually right at your fingertips.

Have Fun!
Being able to communicate spontaneously and effectively with people from different backgrounds than your own will greatly enrich your life. Meeting new friends and traveling to exotic destinations are just a few of the highly gratifying effects that learning Chinese can have on your life.

Challenge Yourself
Despite reason #1 on our list, Mandarin still holds a reputation as one of the most difficult languages for Westerners to grasp. In fact, many Chinese are quick to agree that their mother tongue isn’t an easy one to master. Join the thousands of learners that have broken stereotypes by accomplishing what many consider close to impossible.

“He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior.”

― Confucius, founder of Chinese philosophy

Of course, there are plenty more reasons to learn Mandarin Chinese — this list touches on some of our favorites. Have more ideas? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! Remember, an immersive environment and strong support system are key elements of learning any new language. Check out our website to find out why CLI offers a one-of-a-kind experience when it comes to learning Chinese in China. 加油!

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Beautiful Photos from Guilin

Beautiful Photos from Guilin

Guilin is beautiful.
Guilin is a sightseer’s dream, a photographer’s oasis, a nature enthusiast’s playground, and for the language learner’s of the world—Guilin is an unparalleled treasure trove.

This post is a shout-out to a small handful of the many very talented photographers who have enriched the IG-sphere with their #beautiful images from Guilin. Please enjoy 18 of our favorite Instagram photos to use #Guilin and follow us @studycli on Instagram to see plenty more.


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Cover image by @searchingforthespot

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The Most Popular Foodie in China

The Most Popular Foodie in China

Trevor James,
a.k.a. “The Food Ranger”, is hands down the most popular food vlogger and YouTuber to be producing content in China on the Middle Kingdom’s deliciously diverse cuisine. Originally from Canada and currently residing in Chengdu, James has been living in China and exploring the country’s every corner in search of the tastiest treats it has to offer for over 8 years now. A Sichuan chef in training, James believes in the simple philosophy that in order to better understand and appreciate a culture, one needs to get closer to its food, and we certainly agree!

Here, we take a look at some of our absolute favorite Food Ranger adventures:

Top 15 Videos from The Food Ranger


Chinese Street Food Tour in Xi’an, China. Street Food in China BEST Noodles


When it comes to food, few cities compare to Xi’an. Most people visit the former capital for the Terracotta Warriors, but our friend Trevor James was there for all the scrumptious food the city had to offer! To watch the following videos in China, considering downloading one of the best VPNs for China.

This is Rural Chinese Food. Southern Chinese New Year Food FEAST!


Ever wanted to be part of a Chinese New Year feast? Don’t worry; The Food Ranger’s got you covered! From homemade sweet and sour spare ribs to ground pork stuffed shitake mushrooms, this video has it all!

Unheard of Chinese Street Food You MUST Try | Farmers Market in China! China Cuisine


What better way to start your day than taking a morning tour through the crowded alleys of a busy Chinese market? Not only does this video have plenty of food on display, but it also offers unique insight into daily life in many Chinese cities.

Top 5 Durian Varieties | Durian Buffet | Stinky Good


Durian can be a polarizing fruit. Some simply love it, while some absolutely despise it. If you’re like The Food Ranger and just can’t get enough of this “fragrant” fruit, be sure you watch this video about the Durian buffet that exists in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia!

Chinese Street Food Tour Around China | Most Unique Chinese Street Food of 2016


Wondering what the best street food cities in China are? This video breaks down the top 15 most unique street foods the country has to offer and in which cities you can find them!

7 Chinese Foods You MUST Try In Southern China


Food in China varies significantly from the northern part of the country to the southern, and in this video The Food Ranger takes us through his 7 favorite foods in the southern city of Guangzhou.

My First Day at Culinary School in China


Like we mentioned before, James is currently training to be a Sichuan chef. His obsession with food and his love for Sichuan cuisine has led to him enrolling himself in culinary school in Chengdu for the next two years, and he wants to take his viewers along with him for the adventure! This video features some cool behind-the-scenes footage from his first day in culinary school!

Chinese Street Food Tour in Wuhan, China | Street Food in China BEST Noodles


Wuhan is known for its Hot and Dry Noodles, and is located smack in between Sichuan and Shanghai. The capital of Hubei province has a mixture of Hunan, Sichuan, and Shanghai cuisine, and many people would argue that the city has some of the best noodle dishes available in the country! However, there’s a lot more that Wuhan has to offer when it comes to food!

China Bullet Train Full Speed Street Food Noodle Tour | Chinese Noodles Adventure


Fast, clean, convenient, and comfortable – those are some of the best words to describe the train system in China. But is the food on board any good? We take a look at that and James’ first experience with Wuhan cuisine.

Chinese Street Food Tour in Guilin, China | ENTER NOODLE HEAVEN


We couldn’t possibly have a list of all the amazing food cities in China The Food Ranger has visited without including our very own Guilin! We’re glad James decided to visit this beautiful city and its surrounding areas to try everything from Guilin Mifen and oil tea to fried rice noodles 炒粉 and dishes enjoyed by minorities in Longsheng!

十一 Eating A Healthy, Non-Oily Meal in China


Finding a simple and healthy meal in China is easy. They’re inexpensive and delicious and available almost anywhere. In this video, we take a look at James’ favorite healthy, non-oily, snack in Chengdu!

十二 Mouthwatering Muslim Cuisine in Xi’An, China


Home to the famous Rou Jia Mo 肉夹馍 (Chinese hamburger), Xi’an is a meat lover’s paradise. Huimin Street in the Muslim Quarter has way too many options for foodies to choose from, making it one of the most popular food streets on the planet! Whatever it is you’re looking for, this one street has it!

十三 INSANE Durian Chicken Hot Pot in China! Disgusting or Delicious?


Love Hot Pot? Love Durian? What if we told you there’s a restaurant in Guangzhou that makes Durian and Chicken Hot Pot? We can’t decide how we feel about this one, so we’ll just let you watch the video and decide for yourselves!

十四 Chinese Street Food Tour in Guangzhou, China | Exotic Seafood, BBQ Pork, and Street Food in China


Guangzhou’s Dim Sums are world famous, but what other foods can you try there on your next visit? The answer: there’s simply too much! Watch as James tries everything from breakfast favorites like rice noodle rolls 肠粉 to the unique Cantonese way of preparing seafood. Our favorite? Definitely the barbequed pork or 叉燒!

十五 Halal Street Food Journey To Islamic China | Xinjiang HUGE CHICKEN PLATE on the Chinese Silk Road


China is a huge country and the farther west you go, the more prominent is the influence of the Silk Road cultures on the local way of life. This is certainly true of language and food as they’re both very heavily influenced by Central Asia. This is a great video to watch if you’re interested in learning more about food in China’s Far West.

Still want more delicious food? Follow @TheFoodRanger on Instagram to see photos of foods from around the globe filling your feed as he takes you on his next adventure!

CLI’s Top 10 @TheFoodRanger Instagram Posts


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Nothing like friendly locals!

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Residing in China over the last 8 years has even allowed James to explore, and try the starkly different cuisines of, neighboring countries like Malaysia, India, and Sri Lanka, among many others. Do subscribe to his YouTube channel by clicking here, so you don’t miss out on his next adventure!

We hope to study Mandarin in China together some day soon. Don’t forget to follow CLI on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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