Category: language stuff

  • Learning Chinese: The Structure Of A Sentence

    Learning Chinese: The Structure Of A Sentence

    Learning just the vocabulary of a language is not enough.  We have to be able to put the words we learned together to form coherent sentences. Knowing the correct word order is an important milestone on a student’s way to language fluency.  Indeed, it is one of the last pieces of the puzzle that, when […]

  • Learning Chinese: Things You Shouldn’t Say In Polite Company

    Learning Chinese: Things You Shouldn’t Say In Polite Company

    Did you know you should not say the phrase “chuī xiāo” (吹箫 – literally “blow flute”), even though you really mean to express the act of flute playing?  I learned this, embarrassingly, during one of our content design sessions, in which I was tasked with designing the lessons teaching musical instruments to our users.  When […]

  • Learning Chinese: The Importance of Tones

    Learning Chinese: The Importance of Tones

    The word for “mom” in Mandarin is mā, in the first tone (high pitch). And the word for “horse” is mǎ, in the 3rd tone (falling-rising pitch). An American friend of mine once tried to insult someone in Mandarin by suggesting inappropriate behaviors to another guy’s mom. But he inadvertently proclaimed himself to be a […]

  • So You Want to Learn Chinese

    So You Want to Learn Chinese

    As kids, my brother, sister and I knew how to speak both Vietnamese and Cantonese growing up in Vietnam as Chinese immigrants. And instinctively we always knew they were separate languages, without having anyone really explained to us the intricacies of being bilingual. When we moved to the U.S., we picked up English easily, and were […]

  • Teaching English, part 2, tips and tricks

    Teaching English, part 2, tips and tricks

    < Read part 1 of my teaching adventures Kids are harder to teach than adults.  Their attention spans are shorter, they are not very obedient, and often times they’re forced to be there by their parents to sit in a dreary classroom instead of playing outside with their friends.  It is one of the toughest […]

  • Teaching English to Chinese kids

    Teaching English to Chinese kids

    I thought teaching English would be easy. Holy Cheesestick it’s harder than trying to put a sweater on a wild panda! At least that’s how I feel after the recent stint at the J Plus English school and the tutoring lessons I’ve done here in Xi’an. Kids are like monsters on little legs! Granted, I’ve […]

  • Language Exchange Meetup

    Language Exchange Meetup

    Recently I joined an online community (talkxian.com) that is geared toward English speakers living in Xi’an.   There are both expats and locals visiting the site, bantering and helping each other out on the online forum.   For the most part it is a fun and friendly community. One of the things I missed from […]