Chinese Language and Culture

Resource Library

Learn Chinese

Essential Things to Know Before You Begin Learning Chinese

Top 5 Reasons to Learn Chinese

A Brief Introduction to Chinese Grammar

Complete Introduction to Chinese Measure Words

Guide to Tone Changes in Mandarin Chinese

A Beginner's Guide to Chinese Idioms

12 Chinese Proverbs and Idioms About Family

Chinese Proverbs and Idioms on Learning and Education

The Chinese Family Tree, Explained

12 Common Ways to Say “Hi” in Chinese

A Brief Guide to Expressing Birthday Wishes in Chinese

How Do You Say “Yes” in Chinese?

How Do You Say “No” in Chinese?

How Do I Say My Name in Chinese?

What Chinese TV shows should I watch to learn Chinese?

Great Chinese Songs for Learning Chinese

CLI’s Top Five Recommended Chinese Textbooks

CLI's Top Recommended Chinese Flashcards for Learning Chinese in 2021

Which Online Chinese Dictionary Should I Use?

Top 10 Chinese Podcasts for Language Learners

3 Helpful Learning Techniques from Hacking Chinese

How to Improve Your Chinese Listening Comprehension

Improve Your Pronunciation with Chinese Tongue Twisters

The Chinese Internet Slang You Need to Know in 2021

Chinese Games: 十五十五二十! a.k.a. 15-15-20!

10 Chinese Travel Phrases For Your Journey to The Middle Kingdom

What is Pinyin?

History of the Chinese Language

What’s the Difference Between Mandarin and Cantonese?

What is Putonghua?

What Languages are Spoken in China?

Guilin

The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Guilin (2021)

Guide to Guilin’s Elephant Trunk Hill

The Li River: One of Earth’s Most Beautiful Wonders

王城, Guilin's "Princes' City"

Learn About Guilin Rice Noodles

A Brief Overview of the History of Guilin

Guilin's Flying Tigers

"Guilin's Scenery is the Best under Heaven"

The Best 30 Flickr Photos from Guilin

Photographs of Guilin's Beauty

Beautiful Photos from Guilin

Photos of Guilin Locals

Guangxi Normal University: A Guide for International Students

What Does Guilin Mean?

Chinese Zodiac

What is the Chinese Zodiac?

What is the Chinese Calendar?

Your Guide to the Year of the Ox (2021)

Taming the Year of the Tiger

Year of the Dragon: The Complete Guide

The Year of the Snake at CLI

Your Guide to the Year of the Monkey

Things to know about the year of the Rooster

Understanding the Chinese Zodiac: Year of the Dog

Chinese Culture

Chinese Dragons: Their Types, History, and Significance

Chinese Lanterns: Their History and Modern Uses

The Culture and History of Chinese Bamboo

Journey into the World of Chinese Tea

A Brief Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Chinese Taiji

The Guilin Opera: A Storied Chinese Tradition

Chinese Traditional Shadow Plays

An Introduction to Chinese Numerology

Gift Ideas for Your Chinese Friends, Colleagues and Family

What Languages are Spoken in China?

What is Putonghua?

The Culture of Chinese Chess

The Rise of Soccer in China

A Fun Chinese Game

China Loves Chili Peppers

Ultimate Guide to Social Media in China

Standards of Beauty in China

Ultimate Guide to Chinese Names

What does China's version of the world map look like?

An Introduction to Traditional Chinese Clothing

Chinese History

History of the Great Wall of China

The Tang Dynasty: China’s Golden Age

The Qing Dynasty: China’s Last Imperial Age

Chinese Holidays

A Brief Guide to China's Seven Major Holidays

A Brief Guide to the Chinese New Year (春节 Chūnjié)

China’s Lantern Festival: What it is and how it’s celebrated

China’s Qingming Festival, Explained

The History and Modern Practice of the Dragon Boat Festival

What is Chinese Valentine's Day and how is it celebrated?

What is China's Mid-Autumn Festival and How Is It Celebrated?

Introduction to China’s National Day Holiday

What is Singles' Day and how is it celebrated?

A Chinese Thanksgiving

The History and Modern Practice of Christmas in China

The 2022 Chinese Holidays Calendar

汉字 Characters

Are Hanzi Important?

The Anatomy of Chinese Characters

The Fundamentals of Chinese Stroke Order

Introduction to Traditional Chinese Characters

Introduction to Simplified Chinese Characters

How Many Characters are There in Chinese?

How Many Chinese Characters Do I Actually Need to Know?

The 100 Most Common Chinese Characters

How do you type Chinese characters?

HSK 1 | My Dad Loves Drinking Tea
My dad is a doctor and this year, he’s 60 years old. He doesn’t like drinking water, but he loves drinking tea. He drinks tea when the weather is hot and he drinks tea when the weather is cold.
HSK 1 | My Family's Dog
My family has a three-year-old dog named Rice. In the afternoon on Monday, August 6, 2018, my mom and I caught sight of Rice in front of a shop. The weather was quite hot that day and he looked like…
HSK 2 | My Bus Driver, Mr. Liu
Every day when I take the bus to school, I always see Mr. Liu. Mr. Liu is my bus driver. This year, he’s 50 years old and he has a big face, small eyes and a loud voice. Today, he…
HSK 2 | My Chinese Homestay Family
After a long flight, I finally arrived at the airport. As I began searching for my Chinese homestay family, I felt tired and also a little nervous. I didn’t know what to expect.
HSK 3 | Moving from Southern to Northern China
It was a Friday night and Wang Jia Li was feeling uncomfortable and anxious. She had recently moved to Beijing for work and her colleagues had invited her to a party. But she didn’t know anyone!
HSK 3 | My Neighbor Little Xia
The first time I ever saw my neighbor, Little Xia, was on a hot summer day. Although the hallway of our apartment building was full of people, I noticed him because he was so tall and skinny. It was a…

On the Chinese Language 论中文

Welcome to the Future: Finding the Right Online Chinese Teacher in 2022
Luckily for Chinese language learners worldwide, location is no longer an obstacle to gaining useful language practice. No matter where you are, your language skills can 突飞猛进 (tūfēiměngjìn, improve by leaps and bounds)! All you need is the right online…
No Meat, No Problem: How to Survive as a Vegetarian in China
Knowing what to look for and how to order meals as a vegetarian in China is crucial for a deliciously smooth travel experience. Read on for CLI’s veggie-friendly guidebook, designed for your feasting pleasure! Can I survive as a vegetarian…
What’s the Difference Between Mandarin and Cantonese?
Curious about the difference between Mandarin and Cantonese? Trying to decide which one to learn? Read on to answer these questions and more!  Mandarin vs Cantonese: What's the Difference? At first glance, Cantonese (粤语 Yuèyǔ or 广东话 Guǎngdōnghuà) and Mandarin…
How do I prepare for a job interview in Chinese?
What is feng shui? In this article, we are going to learn about the principles of feng shui, its history and its role in modern Chinese culture. What is feng shui? The word “feng shui” is a combination of the…
How do you talk about the weather in Chinese?
The weather has the power to impact almost every aspect of daily life and shared experiences with various meteorological events are common topics of conversation. Read this article to discover all of the vocabulary and grammar you need to talk...
The Chinese Family Tree, Explained
China is one of the most family-centric societies on earth. This belief in the importance of family is clearly reflected in the Chinese language, which contains diverse terms of address for family members depending on their age, gender, and other…

HSK Resources 汉语水平考试

The Newly Revised HSK (2022): What You Need to Know
The HSK exam is an important benchmark for Chinese language learners around the world and it’s about to undergo major updates for the first time in over a decade. Read this article to learn everything...
How to Pass HSK 6: Efficient Strategies for Mastering the Exam
The HSK 6 is the highest level in the series of Chinese proficiency tests known as the 汉语水平考试 (Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì). Notoriously tricky and requiring focused preparation, the exam is a worthwhile challenge for anyone who’d like to prove...
A Brief Introduction to the HSK
If you’ve ever taken a Chinese class, you’ve probably already heard of the HSK. But what is the HSK, exactly? In this article, we’ll take you through the history of this popular Chinese proficiency exam, help you decide whether this…
How to Pass HSK 4: Efficient Strategies for Mastering the Exam
It's Time to Pass HSK 4! Are you planning your strategy to pass HSK 4? Perhaps you need an HSK 4 score to demonstrate your Chinese level to prospective employers, add points to your Chinese work visa application, or gain…

On Chinese Culture 中国文化

China Time Zones: Times Are a-Changin'
China spans more than 3,250 miles (5,250 km) from east to west and shares borders with 14 countries means. You may wonder, then, how China possibly only has one official time zone. Confused? Read on! What time is it, anyway?…
Hongbao: The who, how and what of Chinese red envelopes
Hongbao are ubiquitous across China—and even throughout much of Asia! But what are these little red envelopes stuffed with money actually for, and what do they mean? Never fear, CLI is here. In this article, we’ll give you a rundown…
Work in China: A Comprehensive Guide to Working in the Middle Kingdom
Thinking about building a career in China? There are tons of compelling reasons why working in the Middle Kingdom might be one of the wisest decisions you ever make. There are also plenty of important factors to consider before making…
Chinese Literature from Ancient Times to the Present Day
How many Chinese novels have you read? If the answer is still none, you’re in for a treat! Exploring the exciting world of Chinese literature is not only great fun; it’s also an ideal way to expand your knowledge of…
The Who, What and Why of Chinese Martial Arts
Chinese martial arts are arguably some of China’s most popular and successful cultural exports. Despite their widespread and enduring popularity, most people’s understanding of the Chinese martial arts is limited. Join us as we explore the history and culture behind…
Chinese Society: A Study in Contrasts
Chinese society is often thought of as being somewhat homogenous, but in reality it’s actually quite diverse. From ancient times to the present day, there have been big differences between urban and rural and northern and southern China, as well…

The Chinese Zodiac 中国十二生肖

Dancing in the Moonlight with the Year of the Rabbit
This article explores the fourth year in the 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle: The Year of the Rabbit. We invite you to leap in and discover this important zodiac sign that embodies elegance, peace, and a dash of luck. What is…
Taming the Year of the Tiger
An ancient, cross-cultural symbol of ferocity, bravery, and intelligence, the tiger occupies a unique position in traditional Chinese mythology and culture. Join us as we take a winding journey into this astrological world of legend and luck, and get to…
Year of the Dragon: The Complete Guide
The Year of the Dragon... even the name exudes a certain mystique. Dragons, the mythological creatures of Chinese folklore, are one of the 12 types of animal represented in the Chinese zodiac. Join us as we explore the roots of…
Your Guide to the Year of the Monkey
The Chinese zodiac and its 12 associated zodiac animals are an important aspect of Chinese traditional culture. Even if you weren’t born in the Year of the Monkey yourself, chances are that you know at least one person who was.…
Understanding the Chinese Zodiac: Year of the Dog
In Chinese culture, each lunar year is associated with an animal that represents an astrological sign. Known for being loyal and honest, the dog is associated with year 11 in the cyclic 12-year Chinese zodiac calendar. Read on to learn…
Your Guide to the Year of the Ox (2021)
According to the Chinese zodiac, every year has an animal associated with it. There are 12 different zodiac animals in total, and the Year of the Ox is the second animal in this 12-year rotation. People in China believe that…

On Chinese Characters 汉字

Chinese Etymology and the Origins of Chinese Characters
Chinese etymology is actually easier to grasp than it might first appear. Learning the origins of Chinese characters is arguably one of the best ways to gain further mastery of the language. Join us as we tackle the meaning of…
The Six Types of Chinese Characters
At first glance, Chinese characters can seem like a bunch of random and confusing symbols. But did you know there are actually six distinct types of Chinese characters which are formed and used according to a meticulous set of rules…
The 100 Most Common Chinese Characters
Have you ever wondered what the most common Chinese characters are? In a language of approximately 50,000 individual characters, mastering the most commonly used Chinese characters—and knowing their order of frequency—will benefit you along your path to language greatness. Whether…
The Fundamentals of Chinese Stroke Order
Many people are often fascinated and attracted by Chinese characters. At first glance, characters may look like bizarre pictograms, randomly drawn at will. But did you know that Chinese characters all consist of different stroke orders and follow a specific…
How Many Chinese Characters Do I Actually Need to Know?
​If you are studying Chinese or planning to and wondering how many characters you need to learn, here are some numbers that will give you an idea of what your goals should be. In 2013, the Chinese government published a…
How do you type Chinese characters?
Given that the Chinese language (汉语, hànyǔ) contains over 3,000 Chinese characters in daily use, you might wonder how Chinese speakers are able to type and use the language digitally.You may have noticed that in the above paragraph, the word…

CLI Student Blog 学生博客

CLI Perspectives: Of Mountains and Mifen
In this July 2021 installment of CLI Perspectives, Immersion Program student Isabel Floyd takes us on an educational journey from the skyscrapers of Shanghai to the comfortable living of Guilin, China. Of Mountains and Mifen By Isabel Floyd, CLI Immersion…
Student Spotlight: Daniel Del Bosque
There are lots of good places to eat in Guilin, but the place I have been to the most is the Lanzhou hand-pulled noodle restaurant on the Cultural Walking Street (Lanzhou is in the west of China and its cuisine…
Student Spotlight: Harry Mattison
I have studied Mandarin every summer for 4 weeks for the last 7 years. As a high school student I had a teacher who had studied with Edwin Reischauer at Harvard and introduced us to Confucius, Mencius and Lao Tze.…
CLI Perspectives: From China to America and back again
After being adopted from China at the age of eight and moving to America with my new family, I forgot all of my Chinese. You might wonder how this is possible, but being immersed into a new language environment, with...
Banter & Basketball: My story to conversational Chinese
This week’s CLI Perspectives is brought to you by Avi Patchava, one of CLI’s summer Immersion Program students. Avi completed six weeks of intensive Chinese language immersion at CLI and was surprised by how much he...
Tailor-made Learning: CLI Students suit up
Have you ever wondered where your clothes were made? You've probably noticed the tags on your clothing often say "Made in China". While many Westerners have an image of industrial China churning out massive quantities of clothing in big factories,…

Chinese Holidays 中国传统节日

What is Chinese Labor Day (劳动节 Láodòngjié) and how is it celebrated?
Have you ever wondered how Labor Day is celebrated in China, or wanted to learn more about the modern pressures of Chinese work culture? In this article, we explore common celebratory practices for this national holiday and explore the state…
What is International Women's Day and how is it celebrated in China?
As the name suggests, International Women's day is an international holiday that is celebrated in many countries around the globe. In China, this holiday has its own special significance and is associated with its own set of traditions. Read on…
What is the Chinese Winter Solstice Festival (冬至) and how is it celebrated?
The winter solstice, returning each year between December 20-22 in the Northern Hemisphere and June 20-22 in the Southern, has been a highly meaningful recurring natural event in human societies for millenia. In this article, we'll explore the origins of…
What is the Chinese summer solstice (夏至) and how is it celebrated?
How much do you know about the Chinese summer solstice holiday? In this article, we explore Chinese summer solstice traditions and common celebratory customs in China today.  What is the Chinese summer solstice? The Chinese summer solstice (夏至 Xiàzhì) refers…
China's Mid-Autumn Festival: A Celebration of Family, Friends, and the Coming Harvest
The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most important holidays in China and is recognized and celebrated by ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese around the world. The festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month of the...
Thank You, Teacher: Celebrating Teachers’ Day in China
Teachers’ Day is a day to recognize and thank teachers for their hard work throughout the year. In China, this holiday falls on September 10th each year and involves celebrating the contributions made by teachers by giving them gifts and…

Traveling in China 环游中国

Hangzhou Travel Guide: Key Attractions, History, and Travel Tips
Located in Zhejiang Province, Hangzhou is a world-renowned travel destination, harboring several of China's most impressive history museums and world heritage sites. Home to the tech giant Alibaba, Hangzhou allows visitors to sample the best Chinese cuisine, learn about local…
The Shanghai Bund Travel Guide: What to See, Do and Know
The Bund—Shanghai’s prominent waterfront promenade—is a must-see for travelers to China’s most dynamic metropolis. Visiting the Bund is an unforgettable experience that provides a window into the history and modern ascension of the world’s third largest city. Read on to…
Wuzhen Water Town Travel Guide: An Insider’s Look at Wuzhen, China
Called the Venice of the East due to its historic canals, Wuzhen Water Town (乌镇 Wūzhèn) is an amazing Chinese travel destination known for its unique Chinese architectural masterpieces, scenic rivers, colorful festivals, and mouthwatering local cuisine. There is so…
CLI Coronavirus Updates
Due to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many students may find their study plans affected. While CLI is currently open and the situation in China has stabilized, other countries may be experiencing surges. To help students understand their…
Beijing Summer Palace: The Essential Travel Guide
Beijing. When most people think of this city, they immediately think of the Forbidden City or Tiananmen Square. While these places are certainly worth your time, your trip won’t be complete unless you also visit the slightly less well-known Summer…
Suzhou Travel Guide: A Tour of the Canals, Streets, and Eats of Suzhou
"The City of Canals," "the Venice of China," "a World of Gardens...", and all this a mere 25-minute train ride from Shanghai? Welcome to this most atmospherically seductive of Chinese cities: Suzhou! Delve into must-see gardens and pagodas, find out...

Guilin 桂林

Discovering the Dragon’s Backbone: Your Guide to the Longsheng Rice Terraces
You may have heard of the Yellow Mountains of Anhui and the stone columns of Hunan, but what about the Longsheng Rice Terraces of Guangxi? Located just northeast of Guilin, the Dragon's Backbone Terraces of Longsheng are among China’s most…
Guilin’s Seven Star Park: Everything You Need to Know
Sprawling across almost 300 acres, Seven Star Park is the perfect spot to discover the natural landscape and distinct culture of Guilin. This urban park is home to an array of hikeable karst mountains, imperial era antiquities, and ethereal limestone…
Guide to Guilin’s Elephant Trunk Hill
CLI’s home city of Guilin boasts some of the most spectacular scenic attractions in China, and Elephant Trunk Hill is ranked high among them. Nestled on the banks of the Li River, this charming hill deserves a place on your…
Guangxi Normal University: A Guide for International Students
Guangxi Normal University (GXNU), located in the beautiful city of Guilin, is a leading research university in China with a total student population of around 30,000. In addition to educating thousands of outstanding Chinese undergraduate and...
A Brief Overview of the History of Guilin
China is well known for its long and complex history. Looking at this history from the perspective of one city or region can not only make it more accessible, but can also provide valuable insight into China's overall development. Guilin…
The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Guilin (2022)
Nestled along the banks of the Li River, speckled with tens of thousands of individual karst peaks, and bustling with the arts, customs, and songs of southern China’s thriving ethnic minority groups, Guilin is a destination like no other. Read…

Learning Chinese Online 在线学汉语

Learn Chinese on Zoom
It’s the twenty-first century and the era of online learning has arrived. Thanks to Zoom and similar video conferencing platforms, advancing your education from anywhere in the world is easier than ever. Among other subjects, foreign languages, particularly Chinese, are…
Top 8 Ways to Learn Chinese Online
Although ideal, it’s not always possible to learn Chinese in China. While complete Chinese immersion is the best way to go, it’s amazing how much Chinese you can learn online. The internet connects us! Here are CLI’s top 8 methods…
Top 5 YouTube Channels for Studying Mandarin
Anyone who has searched “learn Mandarin” on YouTube might agree that the sheer number of results is overwhelming. We have good news for you: it is possible to learn Chinese on YouTube! A handful of channels consistently deliver...
Top 10 WeChat Accounts To Follow
WeChat Official Accounts are worth your while. We’ve come up with a list of our favorite WeChat official accounts and provided a brief description of what you can expect from each. We've also added quick "how-to follow a WeChat Official…
A Brief Overview of Yoyo Chinese (2022)
Have you heard of Yoyo Chinese, a popular online platform for learning Mandarin? Established in 2012 by native Chinese speaker and expert teacher Yangyang Cheng, the Yoyo Chinese curriculum utilizes videos, flashcards and an extensive range of...
What is Skritter?
Skritter is a fresh, inventive way to master Chinese characters. If you’re not a current user, take the following steps to get hooked up immediately—trust us, your Chinese skills will thank you. Because each platform offers its own study mode,…
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At CLI, we’ve dedicated ourselves to helping students discover China and learn Chinese. Please feel free to reach out to us anytime, day or night, and we’ll respond to your inquiry within two work days.