Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ting -- Chinese English Study Center

Thank you University of Maine at Farmington for what must have been a great deal of work on your Ting website. I found it and think it is useful enough to post about. It is useful to have organized vocabulary lists by topic and it also useful to have that vocabulary to listen to as pronounced by multiple speakers.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Character Pop!

Character Pop is a place/app for folks to share mnemonic stories for hanzi. The site/app is well executed and very cute, I wish I had thought of it.

Random Web Surfing 结果: and "Carols Crazy Chinese"

So yesterday, thanks to my old chinese professor I saw this post at about different chinese greetings. is a much more professional blog than this one, I must say, and from cursory surfing at that blog I found this series of videos: Carols Crazy Chinese.  Anyway I note them here because although these both appear to be interesting resources for chinese learners, I just don't have time to explore them right this second.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Chinese Radio + VLC

One thing that is going for Chinese learners who live in the Bay Area is the possibility to listen to radio broadcasts in Mandarin.  KSQQ 96.1 is *mostly* broadcast in Mandarin (except on weekends and from 2:00 to 4:00 PM weekdays when it is in Portuguese) This station's format is mostly talk which is perfect for learners.  Many of the shows are topical (so today sadly there was a lot of discussion about Robin Williams.)  And there is also news, weather, traffic and financial market reporting.  I am not entirely sure what the listening area is for the station but it definitely comes in all around the SiliconValley just fine.  And if you are not in your car (Nowadays, who has any radio at home but a clock radio?)  it is also streaming (either iTunes or VLC should be able to open this link) on the internet.
So that is cool; you can listen to mandarin news/talk while doing chores around the house.  But here's the thing, at least if your mandarin is as lame as mine, a lot of the time, you are going hear a lot that you do not understand.  And I often hear some word over and over and wonder what it means but find that just from the tones/pinyin but no context it is hard to look up a word on your own. And when that happens you wish that you had a native speaker handy to help translate. :-)
Now for the cool geeky bit that you might not know: Using VLC you can record the audio stream while you listen to it!  This way you can possibly send the audio to your tutor/buddy to give you that little bit of help.
Anyway here is how to record the stream using VLC: first, from the File menu select "Streaming/Exporting Wizard...". Now just work through the screens as follow.
(Hmmm, so today, 8/13, I began having problems doing transcoding using VLC (on my macbook).  I do not yet know what is going on though it seems to be a VLC transcoding bug.
One thing that I have tried with some success is using a different URL for the KSQQ stream: Sigh, anyway, until further notice, when using this technique, your mileage may vary.)

Friday, August 1, 2014

怎么 vs. 怎样 (or this is where my time goes)

Yesterday and today I have been going through a chinese pod lesson (#2290) about Chinese Class Placement.  It covers all sorts of good chinese learner vocabulary (比如:水平,口语,发音,声调,什么的)Besides listening to the dialogue (对话!)It also has accompanying expansion materials to help you really use your new words and patterns.  Anyway one of the expansion sentences is "How can I improve my chinese skill level quickly?") My first stab at 翻译 was:
Wǒ zěnme kuài dì tígāo wǒ de zhōngwén shuǐpíng.

However, to my surprise the their answer was

Zěnyàng cáinéng hěn kuài dì tígāo wǒ de zhōngwén shuǐpíng?

Besides my use of an extra 我, I immediately wondered about 怎样 (Zěnyàng) since this is the first time I have seen this word in three years of study.  Why that instead of good ole 怎么?
I was able to look up the word in NCIKU but that did not help much.  Then I tried in the chinese grammar wiki and got no love.  Finally I just google searched on "怎么 vs. 怎样 " and found this discussion.  And then I thought "Hey this would make a nice blog post..."
P.S. I was also curious about the "才能" in the chinese pod translation.  So I went looking for explanation and found some here. It seems that 才 is just adding emphasis to 能.  So perhaps this sentence in english would read, "How *can* I improve my chinese skill level quickly."

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Today's Learning Activity: A Bite of China

I did not have a lot of energy to put in to studying today so I watched an episode of 舌尖上的中国 (A Bite of China) from CCTV.  I could understand 20 to 30 percent of it.  But after 45 minutes I got bored - you can only watch food porn for so long (even if it is absolutely beautifully produced).  It looks like there are two seasons of this series to watch when I have the energy and time.
I wonder if this show is more for foreigners because it seems to really be telling stories around the food that I can not imagine natives of china would find interesting.  For example one of the "subplots" to this episode was about preparing a good breakfast (the theme of this show was breakfast) for a high school student on the day of the 高考.  But hey, I am a 外国人, so thank you CCTV.
PS: And speaking of food and china... (I noticed this NYT article seconds after I hit publish on this blog entry)