CHINESE LANGUAGE AND CULTURE LEARNING RESOURCES

Chinese Graded Readers 分级阅读

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 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…
HSK 4 | China’s Ethnic Minorities: The Bai and the Naxi People
There are 56 ethnic groups in China. Aside from the Han, all of the other 55 officially recognized groups are considered ethnic minority groups. With the exception of the Hui, who all speak Mandarin, the members…
HSK 4 | The Origin of the 12 Chinese Zodiac Animals
The 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Each zodiac animal has its own personality and is associated with certain characteristics. For example, the rat represents…
CONTINUE THE LANGUAGE LEARNING JOURNEY

Learn Chinese 学中文

Welcome to the Future: Finding the Right Online Chinese Teacher in 2021
Luckily for Chinese language learners worldwide, geographic location is no longer an obstacle to gaining useful language practice. No matter your physical location, your language skills can still 突飞猛进 (tūfēiměngjìn, improve by leaps and bounds)! All you need is the…
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…
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The HSK 汉语水平考试

The Newly Revised HSK (2021): 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
Are you wondering how on earth you will 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 entry into an academic…

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Chinese Culture 中国文化

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…
Religion in Ancient China: A Melting Pot of Beliefs
Most people have a basic understanding of the role that religions and belief systems like Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism played in ancient China. What’s less well-known is the fact that, as a major trading power for much of its history,…
What is Feng Shui: A Brief Guide
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…
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The Chinese Zodiac 中国十二生肖

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. The rich cultural symbolism associated with this animal has been passed on to its namesake in the Chinese zodiac.…
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 traditional 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…
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…
What is the Chinese Calendar?
Modern China, like the vast majority of countries in the world, utilizes the Gregorian calendar—our standard solar-based calendar—as its primary means of tracking time throughout the year. That means January 1 in Paris is also January 1 in Beijing. Yet…
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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…
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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,…
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Chinese Holidays 中国传统节日

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…
The Ins and Outs of China’s Army Day
Curious about the origins of China’s Army Day? Unsure exactly how this holiday works or what precisely is being celebrated? Eager to learn more about the parades, military bands, speeches, and flag raising events that are held to mark this…
China’s Lantern Festival: What it is and how it’s celebrated
The Lantern Festival (元宵节 or Yuánxiāojié in pinyin) is a Chinese holiday that traditionally marks the end of the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) celebrations. Chinese people celebrate this holiday by enjoying...
What is Chinese Valentine's Day and how is it celebrated?
Chinese Valentine’s Day (七夕节 Qīxì Jié) is celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th month of the Chinese lunar calendar. Also called Qixi Festival (literally: “Evening of Sevens Festival”), this unique...
TIPS AND INSIGHTS

Traveling in China 环游中国

Wuzhen Water Town Guide
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, rich Chinese culture, and mouthwatering local cuisine.…
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...
A Definitive Travel Guide to All Things Shenyang, China
Shenyang (沈阳 Shěnyáng), formerly known as Mukden, is a city located in northeastern China’s Liaoning Province (辽宁省 Liáoníng Shěng). This bustling Chinese provincial capital with a complex past is a great destination for Qing dynasty history buffs. CLI’s Shenyang Travel…
Your Guide to Taking the Shanghai-Beijing Bullet Train
Shanghai (上海 Shànghǎi) and Beijing (北京 Běijīng) are the two biggest cities in China, and as such, they’re highly connected. Whether you’re visiting for business, to pursue your studies, or just to get to know the country better, knowing how…
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Guilin 桂林

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 (2021)
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…
Learn About Guilin Rice Noodles
Guilin rice noodles, or 桂林米粉 (Guìlín mǐfěn), is the ultimate dish to try in CLI’s beautiful home city of Guilin. These straightforward yet filling noodles are served in a variety of ways. To enjoy the complete gastronomic experience, you’ll need…
TIPS AND INSIGHTS

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 (2021)
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.