In mid-March, 2009, I started my lifelong journey of learning the Mandarin Chinese language. Unlike many Chinese students, I started this journey with no formal credentials, no formal tuition structure, no money and according to some people who taught me at the time; no hope. However there were a few things that I did have: will, desire, passion, and a thirst for success that is never satiated.
Now I have been self-studying Chinese for over five years. In 2009 my circumstances permitted me to study almost full time for about 8 months; by myself, with friends, with my small whiteboard. I had voice recordings, I had friends willing to sit on the grass and teach me, I had all of the frustrations, discouragement, and joy that anyone with a serious undertaking of learning a foreign language would have. I felt the ecstasy of success, and the vexation of failure.
I don’t pretend to be a Chinese speaking expert. There are many more successful foreign Chinese learning students in the world than me, and I’ve had the privilege of meeting some and having a chat in Chinese with them. I do, however, have confidence in my ability to identify mistakes and improve them, along with having a learning methodology that I’d wager is better than almost any other; not some kind of “learn Chinese in 10 days” quick fix that doesn’t actually work, but a deep, long term immersion method with thousands of hours of real practice.
I’ve had the privilege of teaching Chinese to several foreign language learning students; but unfortunately, as of writing this — so far, not one has persisted to fluency. Chinese is not something that you “learn sometime” (like learning “how to play chess sometime”) — it is a journey of thousands of hours of practice, dedication, and love.
This section of my blog is dedicated to discussing and teaching Chinese, but not the kind that you will find elsewhere. This is not “five quick greetings in Chinese” or “how to say the colours in Chinese”, this is where I showcase the best of the best that I can produce in Chinese in terms of education and discussion; the deepest phrases, the most complex grammatical principles (like the counterfactual / subjunctive) and the most fascinating mappings of meanings between English and Chinese.
I hope you enjoy.
Recent articles I’ve written about Chinese are shown below:
Chinese poem -- 悯农 (mǐn nóng)
One of the most famous and meaningful poems in Chinese is called 悯农 (mǐn nóng). Most young children in China, even from the age of three or four know this poem. It traces its origins to ancient Chines…
Chinese four character idiom 入乡随俗 (Rù xiāng suí sú)
“When in Rome, do as the Romans do” Occasionally there is a Chinese phrase which translates very neatly into English through an equivalent phrase, this is one of those cases, you already know what …
Verb – Noun (object) combinations in Chinese (动宾 Dòng bīn)
In Mandarin Chinese you will frequently encounter situations where verbs are not used alone but accompanied with a specific noun. In English this is called "collocation", defined as a juxtaposition of…
The three “can” words in Chinese (会, 能, 可以)
In English, the word "can" has several senses, in Chinese some of those senses have actually been "mapped" into separate words. This article and video explain the three senses in Chinese and shows exa…
“Yes” and “No” in Mandarin Chinese
It's a simple question right? How do you say "yes" or "no" in Mandarin Chinese? Unfortunately sometimes simple questions have complex answers, and in this case something as simple as "yes" and "no" ha…
Chinese four character idiom 守株待兔 (Shǒu zhū dài tù)
"To guard a tree-stump waiting for rabbits" One of the nicest and most meaningful four character phrases in Mandarin Chinese is the phrase 守株待兔 (Shǒu zhū dài tù), -- because it's about the need to go…
Chinese Four Character Idiom: 忠言逆耳 (Zhōng yán nì ěr)
"Loyal advice jars on the ears" Another great four character phrase in Mandarin Chinese is 忠言逆耳 (Zhōng yán nì ěr) which could be translated to "Loyal advice jars on the ears" [embed]https://www.yout…
Chinese Four Character Idiom: 死灰复燃 (Sǐ huī fù rán)
“Resurgence” A very nice four character phrase in Chinese is 死灰复燃 (Sǐ huī fù rán), which is roughly translated to describe a "resurgence", it describes a situation where something that previously "di…
The Chinese counterfactual (subjunctive, and irrealis mood)
"The Chinese subjunctive" is quite an specific and advanced topic in Chinese grammar, thus information about it is hard to find online. This article about the Chinese subjunctive and the comparisons b…
Chinese Learning Technique
So what's the most effective way we can learn Chinese? The kung-fu jacket story Have you ever watched the Karate Kid movie with Jaden Smith? In the movie the kung-fu master Mr Han is training the yo…