Guilin is beautiful! Her rivers, lakes, and mountains are only a portion of that beauty — it's also her people and their culture which help make Guilin such a marvelous city. We spent countless hours curating Flickr's best images to bring you this inside look at...
What can we glean from looking through the eyes of someone else's world travel? In the case of Peter Stewart, perhaps it's as simple as the inspiration to travel. In June of 2015 CLI first featured the photographic work of Peter Stewart. His images from China and...
In our Spring Festival video, we invite you to peer into the life of a Guilin resident who walked the same arduous path traveled by so many in China from poverty to prosperity. Join Dayong, a CLI team member since 2009, as he converses with 叶叔叔，Uncle Ye，about how the...
We've gathered 5 TEDx Talks that cover a variety of techniques you can apply to your own language learning journey. Browse through the videos and our summaries to extract the techniques that speak to you. Please note: our fifth talk is a speech by Josh Kaufman and his...
"I have seldom been taught the most important thing of all: how to learn a language." - Olle Linge A lot of emphasis is placed on "what to learn" throughout one's journey to acquire Chinese language ability. Olle Linge, founder of Hacking Chinese, approaches language...
At CLI we’ve always known that Guilin is beautiful and we’ve been on a mission to share the beauty since our founding in 2009. So it was a welcomed surprise when we learned that The New York Times sent staff photographer, Josh Haner, to capture some of Guilin, China’s beauty. Enjoy the view. We hope it inspires you to study Mandarin with CLI in Guilin!
In addition to winning the USA Memory Championship, CLI Online student, Alex Mullen just set a new World Record in Speed Cards (memorizing the order of one shuffled deck of 52 playing cards as fast as possible). He completed this feat in a mere 18.65 seconds!! What’s more? Alex also won the 2015 World Memory Championship.
Alex has a passion for teaching other the techniques he uses in memory sport competition. Dive into his website and start applying the methods of a World Champion to your language learning journey. As a sample, below we’ve included Alex’s 20 Words Challenge.
Watch Alex move through a shuffled deck of cards while setting a World Record speed that would intimidate Johnny 5:
And here’s the moment Alex Mullen was announced USA Memory Champion:
We had the privilege of sitting down with Ben Hedges, founder of Learn Chinese Now, and discussing a variety of topics including his personal journey into the Mandarin language. Ben shared such incredible language learning insights and wisdom during our chat that we’ve decided to release the entire interview in three installments. While watching this first installment, follow along in the below transcript for the Chinese characters, pinyin, and English translation. You can also use this link to download a PDF containing the interview transcript and vocabulary list.
Jump to the vocabulary list.
Ben Hedges Interview Transcript
Dayong (00:04 – 00:07)
Can you please briefly introduce yourself?
Ben (00:07 – 01:32)
大家好，我是 Ben Hedges，中文名字叫郝义博。我是英国伦敦大学亚非学院的毕业生。我也在台湾留学了一年，在那边学了一年的中文。毕业之后，我就开始拍网络视频，主要是讨论一些中国的时事、电视剧、新闻、什么电影啊。后来这些视频就在台湾爆红了。所以我们就现在是每一周拍一个新的网络节目，后来我有很多机会跟一些公司合作拍一些影片，比如说我们跟Seven Eleven合作过拍台湾的环岛影片。2013年我也开始拍一个教中文的节目叫 “Learn Chinese Now”。我们每个星期出一个新的视频。这是针对外国人，正在学中文的外国人。帮他们学一点简单的中文，或 是把比较复杂的中文给他们解释一下。这个节目也是用一个幽默的方式，用一个幽默的方式来教中文。观众的反馈是很好的。
Hello everyone, my name is Ben Hedges and my Chinese name is Hao Yibo. I graduated from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the University of London. I also studied Chinese in Taiwan for one year. After I graduated, I started making online videos, discussing current affairs, TV dramas, news and movies in China. The videos became a hit in Taiwan, so now we release a new video online every week. We started to get a lot of opportunities to collaborate with companies and create more videos. For example, we worked with 7-Eleven to film a video about traveling around Taiwan. In 2013, I started a new program called “Learn Chinese Now”. It is a program developed for foreigners learning Chinese, and we release weekly videos. The program’s goal is to teach foreigners some simple Chinese, or explain the use of complicated Chinese words, and we try to do it in a humorous way. The program is well received by its audience.
Dayong (01:33 – 01:40)
通过制作Learn Chinese Now对您更好的理解文化差异有什么影响吗？
How has building Learn Chinese Now impacted your own journey toward greater fluency and cultural understanding?
Ben (01:40 – 02:36)
Making these videos gave me a chance to review what I have learned, for example, idioms in college. Teaching people what I have learned really allows me to have a deeper understanding of the idioms. For instance, we made a video introducing the idiom “Misfortune may actually be a blessing”, and I read the original story in classical Chinese. The story was really interesting and meaningful, and teaching it to the students allows me to discover more meaning behind the idioms.
Dayong (02:37 – 02:40)
您希望Learn Chinese Now对观众有什么影响？
What impact do you hope Learn Chinese Now has on your audience?
Ben (02:41 – 03:30)
Nowadays, a lot of students are learning modern Chinese, so they can go to China for business. However, I feel that learning a bit of ancient Chinese and classical Chinese allows you to understand modern Chinese better, as modern Chinese evolved from ancient Chinese. There is a story behind most of the Chinese phrases and idioms, and it is not as simple as English.
|Hànzì||Pīnyīn||Definition||Part of Speech|
|1.||网络视频||wǎngluò shìpín||online video||n.|
|2.||环岛影片||huándǎo yǐngpiān||around the island videos||n.|
|7.||文化差异||wénhuà chàyì||cultural difference||n.|
|8.||古代汉语||gǔdài hànyǔ||ancient Chinese (language)||n.|
|10.||探索||tànsuǒ||explore / probe||v.|
Shh! Don’t share your goals. Derek Sivers, former CLI student, provides a compelling argument as to why we should keep our goals quiet and the science behind this unconventional thought.
Join Dayong, a CLI team member since 2009, as he learns about Master Huang’s journey into tàijíquán. While watching the video, follow along in the below transcript for the Chinese characters, pinyin, and English translation. You can also use this link to download a PDF containing the interview transcript and vocabulary list.
Jump to the vocabulary list.
Taijiquan Interview Transcript
Dayong (00:05 – 00:11)
Can you please briefly introduce yourself?
黄师傅 (00:12 – 00:24)
Hello everyone! My name is Huang Jian, I’m from Guilin, a learner of the thirteenth generation Chen-style Tai Chi, and am thirty-seven now. Thank you!
Dayong (00:26 – 00:35)
Master Huang, when did you begin learning Taiji?
黄师傅 (00:36 – 01:01)
I began learning Taiji around 1995, at that time CCTV broadcasted a simplified Chen-style taijiquan instructional video. I was instantly taken from the moment I saw that video. From then until 2000 I was officially looking for a Chen-style Tai Chi teacher.
Dayong (01:03 – 01:21)
China has it’s own Kung Fu culture, for example Shaolin Kung Fu, ChangQuan, and others like Wing Chun. Have you ever wondered why you didn’t choose Wing Chun, Kung Fu, or another form of martial arts?
黄师傅 (01:22 – 02:22)
I’ve been asked this question many times in the past. Personally, I believe my personality best pairs with Taiji. I enjoy it because the art of Taiji holds a great amount of Chinese culture. The components of Taiji Yin and Yang, folding, tenderness phase, rigidness, all this together with an ancient Chinese philosophy. Of course, for me personally, I prefer the slow, gentle, and full art of dance actions in Taiji. In the beginning, I was only a little interested in the art, but after a while I was hooked. It may have been because the Taiji Master series playing on TV moved me. At that moment, it was just like falling in love with a new woman, and I can’t stop practicing Taiji for a second.
Dayong (02:24 – 02:31)
Do you remember how you met your first Taiji teacher?
黄师傅 (02:32 – 03:32)
Oh, it was like this… Because of the CCTV broadcast, I began going to the library and Xinhua bookstore to take a brief look at related books. But it was much less effective for me to learn without the guidance of a teacher. So, one day on the way to work I saw an elderly person practicing Taiji in a small pavilion. I knew that it may have not been the style I was interested in, but I went over to talk with him, show him a few moves. The old man told me that my moves are from Chen-style Taiji. The old man told me there is a teacher named Liu in Guilin Xishan Park who teaches Chen-style Tai Chi, I could go learn from him. The next day I went directly to Guilin Xishan park to see this man. From then on, with the help of this new teacher, I slowly and gradually went from zero to where I am now.
Dayong (03:33 – 03:38)
Oh, how many years has it been since you began to learn Taiji?
黄师傅 (03:39 – 03:43)
It’s been almost sixteen years, from 2000 until now.
Dayong (03:45 – 04:01)
So, you met your first teacher in Xishan park. Has he had any influence on your life or your attitude?
黄师傅 (04:03 – 06:40)
This is a great question. I was very young at the time and just entering the real world. The Taiji philosophy has definitely affected the path of my life, as well as improved the way I interact with others in my professional and personal life. Before practicing Taiji, I was short-tempered and careless. But since then, my character has changed. Now, I always think twice before doing something, I am calm, I give people a very gentle feeling, one that is easy to connect with. Taiji has had a direct impact on my life. Regarding the effects to my body, I remember when I was young I didn’t focus on any of my life’s habits. At the time, I actually had a few small problems, but am a little afraid you may laugh at it … constipation. I remember my father telling me my temperature was always relatively high during the summer months. But, when I began practicing Taiji, I began sweating a lot during the summer and my stamina improved. I started to feel the improvement when I was climbing up stairs, running and hiking. I am in good condition now. After doing some research regarding Taiji, by reading related books, I found out that practicing Taiji is good for the Gastrointestinal system. The health benefits boosted my interests in Taiji, and gradually I got to where I am today.
Dayong (06:42 – 06:46)
Listening to you is really like listening to a story, I really can picture it with my own eyes.
黄师傅 (06:46 – 06:54)
This is my personal experience, there is nothing similar, nor is it fictional.
Dayong (06:54 – 07:17)
You are a teacher now. This morning you had mentioned how concentrated you were. After this video is published many people will see you practicing Taiji on the internet. What are you thinking of when you practice?
黄师傅 (07:17 – 08:57)
When you are practicing Taiji, you are also practicing inner peace. You just mentioned being concentrated. What we are really searching for is absolute silence, to have not one thought on our minds. This kind of feeling, absolute silence, is very difficult to obtain. But, we can start by thinking of just one thing, Taiji, and block out everything else. You just need to think about perfectly executing the entire Taiji routine. By keeping your thoughts on this complicated and arduous process, you can find clarity. Wholeheartedly thinking about the next move and consciously preventing mistakes, you can find clarity. Chen-style Taiji is comprised of 83 movements, in fact you really need to distinguish between around six to seven hundreds of unique movements. So, within all these movements and situations, you really need to remain focused in order to prevent from making mistakes. Staying focused is having your mindset fully on the movements, not allowing small mistakes to slip in.
In the early morning, when the air is especially clear, you can peacefully practice the Taiji movements once, twice, or even three times. This practice helps to clear your mind, gives you spirit throughout the day, and brings calm and clarity to your work.
Dayong (08:58 – 09:00)
黄师傅 (09:01 – 09:05)
Not much, this is just one small part of the benefits.
Dayong (09:07 – 09:27)
You currently practice Taiji everyday, even when the weather is bad and it’s raining, you keep the momentum up. What kind of advice would you give to elders who want to practice Taiji?
黄师傅 (09:27 – 11:04)
For elderly people who practice Taiji, most of them have different levels of Osteoporosis, their physical health is certainly poorer than the younger people who practice. But, Taiji is a traditional exercise. What are the benefits of being traditional? It won’t leave from convention. When practicing, you can act according to your personal situation. We can have people practicing in novice, intermediate, and advance levels. For example, if you are younger you may be practicing Taiji as a means of exercise, or to build strength. In this style you can squat lower, with more power. However, if you are an older person, you need to protect your knees and stand taller. You need to not get too excited and control your breathing. In this form you will still sweat and get the results you want. However, the most important thing for elderly people to be reminded of when practicing Taiji is that they should squat in proper form in order to protect their knees. They should always keep their knees from going out past their toes.
In Taiji, the form is only one part of the martial art. There are also many static movements, single static movements, that are not usually preferable. But, when the weather is poor we can stand on the sundeck and practice static movements like “Shou Jing”, “Standing like a Post (Hun Yuan Zhuang)”, clear our minds. When you are performing these movements, it can also be an extraordinary experience. There are many ways to practice Taiji.
Dayong (11:04 – 11:12)
That’s great. I know what you mean. Thank you.
黄师傅 (11:12 – 11:18)
You’re welcome. I’m very glad to speak with you about Taiji.
Dayong (11:18 – 11:19)
|Hànzì||Pīnyīn||Definition||Part of Speech|
|1.||陈氏太极拳||chén shì tàijíquán||Chen Style Tai Chi||n.|
|2.||接触||jiēchù||come into contact with; get in touch with||v.|
|4.||产生||chǎnshēng||to give rise to; bring about;||v.|
|5.||少林的功夫||Shàolín gōngfū||Shaolin Martial Art||n.|
|6.||长拳||zhǎng quán||Longfist Martial Art||n.|
|7.||咏春||yǒng chūn||Wing Chun Martial Art||n.|
|8.||太极阴阳||tàijí yīnyáng||two opposing principles in nature, positive & negative||n.|
|9.||缓慢柔美||huǎnmàn róuměi||slow, soft and graceful||adj.|
|10.||一瞬间||yí shùn jiān||a split second||n.|
|11.||一发不可收拾||yī fà bùkě shōushí||things that have happened can hardly be controlled||expression|
|12.||事半功倍||shìbàngōngbèi||get twice the result with half the effort||idiom|
|13.||初出茅庐||chūchūmáolú||to venture out into society for first time||idiom|
|14.||人生的轨迹||rénshēng de guǐjī||life’s path||n.|
|15.||处世哲学||chǔshì zhéxué||one’s life philosophy||n.|
|16.||为人处世||wéirén chǔshì||one’s attitude towards life||expression|
|17.||打交道||dǎjiāodào||come into contact with; have dealings with||v.|
|18.||毛毛躁躁||máo mao zào zào||imprudently; obtrusively||adv.|
|19.||三思而后行||sānsī érhòu xíng||think thrice before you act; look before you leap||expression|
|20.||不怕你见笑||bùpà nǐ jiànxiào||not afraid of making a fool of oneself||expression|
At the Chinese Language Institute we understand and hold a deep respect for the process of gaining fluency in Mandarin. Learning Chinese requires practice and commitment, amongst many elements. While the most direct route to Chinese fluency is arguably studying in China (at the CLI Center) the memorization of vocabulary and characters are a necessity on the path to fluency — thus making self-study integral to language learning.
Guilin is beautiful! Her rivers, lakes, and mountains are only a portion of that beauty — it’s also her people and their culture which help make Guilin such a marvelous city. We spent countless hours curating Flickr’s best images to bring you this inside look at the magic of Guilin. Enjoy!
The Best 30 Flickr Photos from Guilin
三十 A View of Guilin at Night
二十九 River-crossing with Bicycle
二十八 Sidewalk Calligraphy
“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”
– Ibn Battuta
二十七 Biker with Umbrella
二十六 Viewpoint Over the City of Guilin
二十五 Sun & Moon Pagodas
二十四 Bamboo Boats in Guilin, China
二十三 Yangshuo Intersection
二十二 Rainy Day in Guilin
“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.”
– Oprah Winfrey
二十一 Reed Flute Cave, Guilin
二十 River’s Bend a.k.a. Horseshoe Bend
十九 On Jiefang Qiao Overlooking the Li River
十八 Karst Window
“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”
– Mary Anne Radmacher
十七 Beautiful Sky in Guilin, China
十六 View of Guilin from Fubo Hill
十五 Portrait of a Guilin Local Man
十四 Cormorant Fisherman Stands Tall
十三 Reflections in Still Water Inside the Reed Flute Cave
“The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.”
– Henry David Thoreau
十二 Li River Fisherman
十一 Downtown Intersection at Night
十 Expert Cobbler
九 Cormorant Fishing on the Li River, China
八 Reflecting Sun Pagoda in Downtown Guilin
七 Cormorant Fisherman with Lamp
六 Sun & Moon Pagodas
五 Guilin Cormorant Fisherman Takes a Smoking Break
四 Early Morning Cormorant Fisherman in Guilin
“People don’t take trips, trips take people.”
– John Steinbeck
三 Awe-inspiring Campsite
二 Portrait of a Guilin Local Woman
一 Sunset at Longsheng Rice Terrace
Opening image by Andy Beales
What can we glean from looking through the eyes of someone else’s world travel? In the case of Peter Stewart, perhaps it’s as simple as the inspiration to travel.
In June of 2015 CLI first featured the photographic work of Peter Stewart. His images from China and throughout Asia inspired us so much that we could not resist another post. We hope this selection of Peter’s photography evokes your adventuresome spirit.
“One’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things.”
– Henry Miller
“I have wandered all my life, and I have also traveled; the difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.”
– Hilaire Belloc
“There is a kind of magicness about going far away and then coming back all changed.”
– Kate Douglas Wiggin
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
– Joseph Campbell
Learning Mandarin is a journey in which a student’s evolution continually occurs across a spectrum of skills — e.g. listening, speaking, reading, writing, cultural understanding, etc. This post is focused on two of those skills: speaking and listening. We have compiled a list of 12 videos from Mandarin HQ (an excellent, free resource for Mandarin videos) designed to draw attention to the unique sounds and accents of Mandarin while also providing a study resource containing the vocabulary and phrases of many common daily activities. So warm up some tea, put on your headphones and enjoy ever step of your Mandarin learning journey.