"Anki is a program which makes remembering things easy. Because it's a lot more efficient than traditional study methods, you can greatly decrease your time spent studying and greatly increase the amount you learn." - anki.net For decades studies have shown that...
“People who have international experience or identify with more than one nationality are better problem solvers and display more creativity, our research suggests. What’s more, we found that people with this international experience are more likely to create new...
This blog post kicks off a new series of educational videos created by CLI. In this series we will explore and learn Chinese culture and vocabulary by speaking to local Chinese experts in a variety of fields. Each installment focuses on a single topic, shares an...
Over the coming weeks and months, CLI will post our favorite Mandarin learning YouTube videos here on our blog. This installment includes our top 5 favorite videos teaching 成语 (chéngyǔ) from ChinesePod TV. “Chéngyǔ is a four character idiom. They are stories and...
Anyone who has searched "learn Mandarin" on YouTube might agree that the sheer number of results are overwhelming. In recent years CLI has noticed a handful of channels consistently deliver high quality, engaging educational content. This is our tip of the hat to the...
CLI has churned through hundreds of videos by ChineseClass101.com to compile this list of 25 videos covering must-know Mandarin vocabulary. We’ve extracted all of the vocabulary into simple lists of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and phrases at the end of this post — click here to jump to the lists. You can also use this link to download a PDF containing the complete 222 word vocabulary list. Enjoy!
#1 Learn 25 Must-Know Chinese Nouns
People, places, things, and ideas — nouns are an elemental part of speech and this video covers 25 essentials.
#2 Learn 25 Must-Know Chinese Verbs
We look to action words (a.k.a. verbs) to keep this Chinese lesson moving.
#3 Learn 25 Chinese Adjectives
Learning Mandarin adjectives is a fast way to spice up your ability. This video covers basics like 大 and 小 or 热 and 冷 while also adding some off-beat flare with words like 恶心 and 臭。
#4 Learn 5 Mandarin Words Pertaining to Studying a Language
It’s crucial to learn verbs and nouns but how do you say ‘verb’ or ‘noun’? What about ‘to study’? This video covers 5 rudimentary words related to studying a language.
#5 Learn 15 Favorite Chinese Words
In this upbeat video with Yuting you’ll review 15 useful words like 喜欢， 对不起，and 尊敬。
#6 Learn 25 Chinese Phrases to Improve Your Fluency
In just under 7 minutes this video covers 25 very practical phrase from how to receive a compliment—哪有，哪有—to “don’t worry, I’ve got it”—放心吧，包在我身上。
#7 Learn 5 Life Events in Mandarin
This short video teaches us the vocabulary for 5 basic life events: to be born, graduation, to work, to get engaged, and the final act—to die.
#8 Learn 5 Subjects of Study in Mandarin
This quick 2 minute video favors history and the sciences. Watch it and learn how to say history, science, physics, biology, and chemistry in Mandarin.
#9 Learn 5 Vegetables in Mandarin
Help prepare yourself for Chinese cuisine by reviewing 5 vegetables in this short 2 minute video.
#10 Learn 5 Mandarin Words Related to Cooking
This video covers 5 words you should know like stir-fry and barbecue.
#11 Learn 5 Flavors in Mandarin
It’s no secret, authentic Chinese food is delicious. This brief 2 minute video covers the 5 main flavors of Chinese cuisine. Dig in.
#12 Learn 5 Tableware Words in Mandarin
Sticking with the theme of food, this next 2 minute video teaches us a few staple tableware items you’ll find at a Chinese meal.
#13 Learn 5 Words Related to Cleaning Using Mandarin
Now that we’ve learned words related to cooking, it’s time to clean up. Learn 5 easy words having to do with cleaning.
#14 Learn 5 Articles of Clothing in Mandarin
Get your outfit ready by learning a few simple words like 帽子，裤子，and the loanword T恤衫。
#15 Learn 5 Clothing Accessories in Mandarin
Now it’s time to accessorize your outfit by using words like 皮带，手表， and 太阳镜。
#16 Learn 5 Mammals in Mandarin
What does the fox say? Who knows, but after watching this video at least you’ll be able to say 狐狸。
#17 Learn 5 Geographic Terms in Mandarin
Desert, lake, river, island, ocean — take 2 minutes and learn them all here.
#18 Learn 5 Mandarin Words You’ll Need When Crossing Borders
Crossing the border is official business and knowing your vocabulary can expedite the process.
#19 Learn 5 Words Related to Tourism in Mandarin
Saying tourism is a major industry in China is a vast understatement. Saying the word 游客, yóukè, is simple.
#20 Learn 5 Words Related to Currency Exchange in Mandarin
Being a 游客 means you’ll need to exchange your local currency for RMB. In this video you will learn some necessary terms to do just that.
#21 Learn 5 Mandarin Words You May Need in a Hotel
With this video in less than 2 minutes you can learn some very practical words you’ll need in a hotel.
#22 Learn 5 Words Describing Personalities in Mandarin
Describing a person’s personality is a common occurrence in any language. This video teaches us 5 useful Mandarin words for describing a person’s disposition.
#23 Learn 5 Mandarin Words Regarding Health Concerns
Health vocabulary is an important set of words to study. This video has 5 simple words to learn.
#24 Learn to Say 5 Difference Sports Using Mandarin
Sports are very popular in China. 足球 and 篮球 are among the most popular. It’s time to get your game on.
#25 Learn How to Say 5 Kinds of Furniture in Mandarin
Pull up a 椅子 and learn 5 pieces of furniture in less than 2 minutes.
old man or woman; the elderly
rù jìng kǎ
to have a rash
football / soccer
to be born
to give up; abandon
to put things away
to be willing to
to be engaged (to be married); engagement
good; kind; nice
I’m sorry (casual)
wǒ ài nǐ
I love you
zhè shì zhēnde ma?
Is that true?
It’s not alright.
Give me a hug.
That’s not true.
Go for it! (lit. add oil)
It’s up to you.
It’s nothing; it doesn’t matter
It doesn’t matter; no problem
How about it?
méi wán méi liáo.
There’s no end to this.
wǒde mā ya!
Oh my gosh!
So interesting; very interesting.
dùzi è le
(I’m) so stuffed.
I like it.
Learn Chinese Now has been posting excellent Mandarin language learning videos to YouTube for over three years. We’ve compiled our 10 favorite videos spanning from beginner- to expert-level.
#1 How to Count to 10 in Mandarin
Counting is an essential milestone in learning any language, including Mandarin. This video takes us through the first ten digits. 一二三开始!
#2 How to Count from 11 to 100 in Mandarin
If you can count to 10 in Mandarin, then you have all of the vocabulary you need to count to 99.
#3 Basic Mandarin Grammar Guide
Time, subject, verb, object, asking questions and answering them, — arranging your vocabulary is critical to speaking coherently. This video guides you through the basics of Chinese grammar.
#4 Days, Months and Dates in Chinese
Could you keep a schedule without days, months, and years? This video teaches us the days of the week, months of the year, and how to grammatically arrange them.
#5 Big Numbers
1,000… 10,000… 100,000… In this video we learn how to say numbers all the way to a billion in Mandarin.
#6 Photography in Chinese
This video shoots through the practical vocabulary related to taking photos and sheds light on some of the cultural aspects of taking photos in China.
#7 Chinese Tea Etiquette
How do you say “thank you” in Chinese without saying anything at all? Watch this video and learn how.
#8 “Speak of the Devil” in Chinese
It happens all of the time, you mention someone’s name and they appear. So how does the Mandarin language address this social phenomenon?
#9 Responding to Compliments in Chinese
Responding to a compliment in Mandarin is not as simple as just saying “thanks”. In this video we learn both what to say and what not to say.
#10 Clichés within Kung Fu Movies
In this Mandarin-only video Ben Hedges explains several clichés he’s seen repeatedly in Kung Fu classics.
Not only was Jack Ma, 马云 Mǎ Yún, rejected from Harvard when he first applied, the university rejected his nine subsequent application submissions. In his enlightening interview with Charlie Rose, Jack speaks about failures and successes, his world-view, women in the workplace, harmony and balance, the value of introspection, and many other meaningful topics.
Jack Ma is the founder of Alibaba, an online megastore similar to amazon, and is now the executive chairman of the Alibaba Group, a holding company with nine major subsidiaries including Alibaba.com, Taobao, Tmall, AliExpress.com and Alipay*. He is the first entrepreneur from mainland Chinese to appear on the cover of Forbes*.
*Sourced from wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Ma
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 quality of life has changed for the better.
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.
Spring Festival Interview Transcript
Dayong (00:03 – 00:11)
Hello Uncle Ye! First off, can you offer a basic self-introduction?
Uncle Ye (00:11 – 00:21)
I’ll start from the beginning? I was born in 1953, so I’m 63 years old now.
Dayong (00:22 – 00:23)
What is your zodiac sign?
Uncle Ye (00:23 – 00:33)
The Snake. My son is also the Year of the Snake. And my grandson! We all happen to be the Year of the Snake.
Dayong (00:35 – 00:51)
So, I want to ask, if you could find a word, or find a feeling to describe the emotion you feel toward Spring Festival, what word would you choose?
Uncle Ye (00:52 – 01:43)
Well, I choose “truly happy.” When I was young, I always looked forward to this
time of year because it meant we could eat well. Just that simple. Life was hard. Throughout the year I’d always hope to eat a little pork, or even a chicken leg. But when we got those red envelopes with 0.2 RMB inside, it was overwhelming joy. Now, you can eat whatever you want. There’s so much good food to eat these days. The quality of life has improved drastically, no more worrying about whether we can eat. Spring Festival is now about being with your friends and your family, talking about your experiences with work, and just interacting and socializing.
Dayong (01:44 – 01:47)
How many brothers and sisters do you have?
Uncle Ye (01:47 – 01:57)
Our family has three siblings, I’m the second-oldest brother. Above me is my older brother, and below me is my younger sister.
Dayong (01:58 – 02:01)
Are your siblings both in Guilin?
Uncle Ye (02:02 – 03:03)
Yes, they’re both in Guilin.
Dayong (02:03 – 02:04)
So, when you celebrate the New Year…
Uncle Ye (02:04 – 02:30)
We spend the Spring Festival together. On the first day, we go to my older brother’s house. On the second day the family all comes to my house. And on the third day we go to my younger sister’s house. We go here and there eating at each other’s houses, talking about our previous year’s experiences and work. Usually we don’t have the time to be with each other and communicate like we do when celebrating the New Year.
Dayong (02:31 – 02:36)
So your brother and sister are both retired? Or…
Uncle Ye (02:36 – 02:39)
They’re both retired.
Dayong (02:40 – 02:47)
So, 20-30 years ago, when you and your siblings were young, how did you celebrate the Spring Festival?
Uncle Ye (02:47 – 03:06)
When we were young, we always looked forward to the morning of the first day, or even the night before, when our parents used to give us “lucky money”.
Dayong (03:06 – 03:08)
0.2 RMB was the most you received!?
Uncle Ye (03:08 – 03:25)
We were very poor back then. Our parents weren’t government officials. They didn’t work in some government office. They relied on honest manual labor to earn a living. Life was harder.
|Hànzì||Pīnyīn||Definition||Part of Speech|
|1.||春节快乐||chūnjié kuàilè||Happy Spring Festival|
|2.||盼（着）||pàn (zhe)||to hope for||v.|
|3.||欢天喜地||huāntiānxǐdì||with boundless joy; overjoyed||adv.|
|4.||钻来转去||zhuàn lái zhuàn qù||to come and go; go back and forth||idiom|
|10.||年三十晚上||nián sānshí wǎnshàng||Chinese New Years Eve night||n.|
Want to study in China for free? The Institute of International Education (IIE) is offering three generous scholarships with quickly approaching deadlines:
Application deadline February 15th, 2016:
1)The Research Ph.D. Fellowship
The Research Ph.D. Fellowship ranges from six months to two years, provides funding to U.S.-based students who wish to pursue doctoral research in China. Apply here.
2)The Ph.D. in China Fellowship
The Ph.D. in China Fellowship ranges from three to four years, provides funding to students holding master’s degrees who wish to pursue their Ph.D. degree in China. Apply here
Application deadline March 11th, 2016:
3)Freeman-ASIA Scholarships for Undergraduate Study Abroad in East and Southeast Asia
The Freeman Foundation’s generous support for the relaunch of Freeman-ASIA builds on prior grants to IIE that funded more than 4,500 American undergraduates in Asia from 2001 to 2014. The newly available awards will advance IIE’s Generation Study Abroad, a five-year initiative aiming to double the number of U.S. students abroad by the end of the decade by mobilizing resources and commitments across the higher education, philanthropy and corporate sectors.Apply here.
Current grantees of the Research Ph.D. Fellowship represent a broad range of academic and research interests from across the arts, education, humanities, and social sciences. Take a look at what some recipients are doing on the Current Grantees section of CCSP’s website.
#1 Deborah Fallows
Debirah Fallows is certain that adults can learn foreign languages. In this speech she talks about “how you can use your very powerful adult brain to learn something that is pretty difficult and also quite amazing, a foreign language, and especially Chinese.”
#2 Benny Lewis
Today Benny Lewis speaks over 10 languages. At age twenty-one he knew just one, English, but not for lack of trying. Benny had spent six months abroad in Spain yet learned nothing. He says he had to change his attitude and approach before he could learn a second language, let alone become a polyglot. Benny says the key was having passion for exploring a given language. Here’s a list of his key points:
- Be passionate about the target language and connecting with the people who speak it
- Use spaced repetition and image association techniques like the memory palace
- Make 200 mistakes a day, go out there and embarrass yourself
- Don’t wait until you speak the language perfectly to get out there and use what you know
#3 Sid Efromoivh
Sid Efromoivh shares his love for language learning plus five techniques he uses to study a language including making mistakes, finding a ‘stickler’, and using what he calls “shower conversations.”
#4 Dr. Conor Quinn
Dr. Quinn’s advice on language acquisition is simple:
- Aim for effectiveness vs perfection
- Check your shame at the door and learn linguistic coping skills like talking around words you don’t yet know
- Learn the mechanics of the mouth in a given language vs the sound itself
- Study rhythm, melody and cadence of a language – internalize the cadence
- Start learning from the egocentric experience of the body – for example, “my eyes they see and look, my ears they listen they hear, my hands they pick up they put down, my mind it feels it loves it thinks”
#5 Josh Kaufman
In this speech Josh explains how 20 hours of study can yield impressive results.
- Deconstruct the skill to the core parts that interest you
- Get resources that help you self-correct
- Remove distractions and give yourself time to do this one learning task for 45-90min
- Stick it out for at least 20 hours even if you feel like you are getting nowhere
Did you find these videos helpful? Do you have any questions you’d like clarified? Leave your thoughts and questions in the Comment section on this page and we’ll reply.
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“I have seldom been taught the most important thing of all: how to learn a language.”
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 acquisition from a different stance; he focuses on “how to learn.” We at CLI respect the wisdom that Mr. Linge has accumulated and made accessible to the public since 2010.
This blog post focuses on CLI’s top 3 most powerful learning techniques which Olle discusses in-depth on hackingchinese.com. We encourage you to use these strategies on your personal journey to learn Mandarin.
#1 Spaced repetition software – a.k.a. SRS
Olle makes a simple and strong case explaining why he believes in the power of spaced repetition. Here’s what he has to say about his experience with the spaced repetition software Anki:
“At the moment, I’ve studied >20,000 Chinese words and if you gave me a test on all of them, I would score 90-95%. More amazing still, I only spend about 30 minutes a day maintaining vocabulary.”
If you are not familiar with spaced repetition software we recommend that you check out our recent post “What is Anki?”
Wikipedia defines spaced repetition as “a learning technique that incorporates increasing intervals of time between subsequent review of previously learned material in order to exploit the psychological spacing effect.”
There are several articles at Hacking Chinese about SRS. This one is a great starting point.
Timeboxing simply means setting a limited duration of time to focus on a single task. Olle states that “timeboxing works best for tasks that are continuous.” He suggests targeting durations between 10 and 15 minutes. Olle also emphasizes the importance of “creating for yourself a task you are 100% sure that you will be able to complete.”
“It means that rather than saying that you’re going to review vocabulary using spaced repetition software until you’re done, you say that you’re going to work hard on reviewing characters for exactly ten minutes.”
Olle provides an example for applying the timeboxing technique using Anki. If you are not yet familiar with Anki, we highly suggest you download and use it (it’s free). “I start Anki and use the built-in timeboxing settings. I think I can concentrate for fifteen minutes and I set the timer. Fifteen minutes later, I have reviewed eighty words. Then I feel happy for having achieved something, but I don’t review more words right now. Instead, I spend ten minutes to look up some characters that have been confusing me. Then I move back to Anki. Another fifteen minutes and eighty words pass by. I take a break, brew some tea, look out through the window for a while. Then I do another fifteen minutes. Then, seeing that I’ve already gotten through a substantial amount, I decide to play some Starcraft. In total, I complete around 200 words, feeling happy and satisfied with every step along the way.”
“Without breaking a major goal like learning Chinese into several smaller parts, it will feel overwhelming, but if you break it down to bite-sized pieces, it suddenly doesn’t look all that scary.”
Read Olle’s full article on timeboxing.
#3 Memory aids and mnemonics
Properly using memory aids and mnemonics will increase one’s ability for memorization.
Hacking Chinese has many great articles elaborating on the various methods one can apply, including Remembering is a skill you can learn and Memory aids and mnemonics to enhance learning.
“The most common mistake people make when it comes to memory is to treat it as being something fixed; either you’re born with a brilliant memory or you’re not.”
We hope you apply these learning techniques to your own journey of Chinese learning and we look forward to studying with you in China! Please leave any questions or comments in the ‘Comments’ section of this posting.
Despite how often pop culture references the wisdom of Confucius, history records almost no indisputable facts about the man himself. Watch the following video then dig deeper into the subject by investigating this recent TED-Ed Lesson.
“Most of the quotations you hear attributed to Confucius are made up. Consequently, if you want to know what Confucius actually said, read him yourself. One of the most influential translations of the Analects was by the Victorian-era missionary James Legge. You can read Legge’s translation alongside the original Chinese text online.”
#1 Everything/Nothing, Everywhere/Nowhere & Everybody/Nobody in Mandarin
#2 How to Add Emphasis to Your Chinese
#3 6 Must Know Measure Words in Chinese
#4 Time Word Tips in Chinese: 上 and 下
#5 Different ways of saying “otherwise” and what they each imply
Check out this flattering feature explaining why CLI is such a powerful means to learning Chinese language and culture.