Archive for the ‘Chinese Class’ Category

Studying Chinese Year 1: Character Practice, Consistently Wrong

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Book 1 Lesson 1 Xian

I studied Chinese at UMASS/Boston under some great teachers and I saved all my material, quizzes and tests and character practice pages.  So starting today we’ll be posting them up every once in a while to show all of you out there that studying Chinese is hard but fun.  In this first installment you can see that I had consistent problems in some of my characters.  Thankfully I only got .5 points off which isn’t so bad.

More Studying Chinese Comics here 学中文 | and here 学中文, Study Chinese |

Studying Chinese Year 1: Character Practice, Consistently Wrong again

Friday, June 15th, 2012

book 1 Lesson 1 Jia

I remember attempting to write this before I started formally studying Chinese.  It was a mess let me tell you.  Actually the first book that I studied back in Zhengzhou taught me this character without the 宝盖头 Bǎo gàitou or the first 3 strokes.  The teachers were confused as to what the character was without the top part.  The book I was studying said it meant “pig” which now MX confirms as true but an old way of writing it, and nobody would ever say that.  Anyway, the way I learned this was that a pig under a roof is your house or your family.  The question is: Who’s the pig?

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Studying Chinese Year 1: Character Practice, Practice and more Practice

Friday, June 29th, 2012

book 1 lesson 1 random characters

When studying Chinese at UMASS/Boston I convinced myself that I should fill in all the empty space.  I was only working at a coffee shop at the time so I had time.  The picture above is my practice of the characters from that lesson above and beyond the call of duty.  I didn’t need to do this but I felt that I was paying for the class, I didn’t want to go the easy way and plus the only way to learn Chinese characters is to write them over and over again.  If you notice the last 6 boxes on the bottom right I wrote “I (scribble) am Middle Country person!!!!” or “I am a Chinese!”  I wonder if my teacher noticed.

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Studying Chinese Year 1: What every boy should know

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Book 1 lesson 4 Dialogue 1 ball

From the earliest memory of any boy and sometimes every girl, they are given a ball and they throw it.  If it’s such an important toy and word to know, why is “Ball” in Chinese so stinking hard to write?  As you can see above I had consistent difficulties with one of the strokes.  Now that’s it’s been almost 10 years since I studied this, the Chinese for ball “qiu” can’t be anything else.  It’s been ingrained in my head, ingrained in my brain and ingrained in my long term memory.  I might not be able to write it perfectly now every time but I can certainly recognize it and pronounce it with the second tone.

Chinese Study Tools:

We actually own this book (it’s a long story how we got it) and A Handbook for Analyzing Chinese Characters (Chinese Edition) is actually really useful.  Coming in just over 1000 pages this exhaustive book is perfect for any hardcore Chinese learner.  Right away in each entry you are faced with a number 1-5 which tells you the frequency that you’ll see the word (1 being super high frequency and 5 being rare but you’ll see it) and each entry also has not only sample sentences but the pinyin of each.  The cost will freak you out but it’s well worth it because it was a labor of love for the author.  Highly recommended for the serious student!


Studying Chinese Year 1: Confessions of a class doodler

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Book 1 lesson 4 Dialogue 1 Weekend

Early on we learned the word for weekend.  This was vital in our studies because “What are you doing on the weekend?” is a perfectly legitimate question to ask students learning a second language.  I’ve posted the first part of the word weekend which consists of 2 characters.  I wanted to show you the lack of concentration I had when I was in school.  You see, I’m a doodler (if you couldn’t figure that out already…)  My class notes were one doodle after the other.  I justify my doodling saying that each one has to do with something that we’re learning.  Just like this one.  The sign says “WEEKEND” and the guy is rushing to it.  Perfect.  If you noticed the last number of “Studying Chinese Year 1″ posts, they’ve been very tame when it comes to doodling.  Now you’ll see from this post on pretty much each one has a doodle.  It’s just the way I learn!

We have tons of Chinese Character comics that we’ve done previously.  Check them out and tell us which one you like the most!

Studying Chinese Year 1: Singing a new song

Friday, August 10th, 2012

book 1 lesson 5 chang ge

Singing is a big part of my life.  Little known fact: I (Magnus) actually sang in Carnegie Hall NYC.  Perhaps I’ll tell you that story sometime.  But I’ve been singing all my life whether it was at camp or at church or in the shower.  I don’t have a great voice, but as long as a better singer is next to me then I can just copy them.  When I went to China the first time I was so surprised to see a culture that loved singing.  Who knew?  From KTV to random times when people pressure foreigners to sing, it’s a singing culture.  When I learned the words to “To sing a song” it needed a doodle.  One of the best parts about this word or group of words is that you can say it with the Beijing accent or not.

Dialogue: The guy on the left is singing “SING A SONG!” and the guy on the left holding his ears is saying in poor Chinese “I don’t like him sing song.”

You can see our 4 year old and his cousins singing a cool Chinese children song from back in 2009!

Studying Chinese Year 1: Watching TV

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Book 1 lesson 5 dianshi

Ah yes, TV.  We wouldn’t have learned the word for Boob Toob, idiot box or a big waste of time right?  No just TV.  Literally, the Chinese is “Electric to look at” which is similar to computer (electric brain) and telephone (electric voices).  TV in China is almost as ubiquitous as hamburgers in America.  Everyone has at least one.  Which is funny because when I was growing up, TV was not something that was central in our lives.  I mean Sunday evenings we watched some nature programs and then the incessant “tick tock tick tock” of 60 Minutes came on which I always thought was boring at the time.  Heck, I can still recite the names they would say at the beginning of “I’m Harry Reasoner, I’m Ed Bradley, I’m Mike Wallace, those stories and Andy Rooney…” which is becoming a shorter list since one by one they are dying.  But my mother strongly controlled our TV watching when I was young and I remember sneaking down when they were at Bible study to watch MacGyver and Quantum Leap!  Anyway, TV is really big in China and continues to be.  Living rooms are centrally arranged to worship the almighty entertainment bringer.  The TVs that I saw in China are bigger than any TV we ever had in our home.  The doodle that I drew says “I watch TV.”

You can see a cheesy Chinese TV drama here!  You can see an amazing Chinese food TV Documentary here.

What 8 US Middle Schoolers Think About China Ruling the World.

Friday, November 16th, 2012

From Materialism to Nukes, My Students Have a Fascinating View of China’s Ever Expanding Growth and Power
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Recently on a test I asked my students an opinion question.  Most of them have their own opinion about many things: sneakers, Nikki Minaj, the 2012 election results and a plethora of other pressing issues of today.  But some of their answers to the opinion question I posed were too priceless to pass up.  The names have been changed to protect the ignorant or innocent.  But the answers do reflect education or lack thereof and it’s interesting to get a real middle school response from American kids who have lived their entire life post 9/11 not knowing the whole story of 9/11.  Not that I’m into conspiracies (I’m not) but children today post 9/11 still have a similar view of American strength as I did growing up pre-9/11.   Here is the question and some answers:

China will one day rule the world!  Do you agree or disagree?

1.  “Yes, I agree because China makes most of the stuff we buy.”
Susan’s answer is the cynical American’s view.  China rules us because they make everything that we use.  Besides the inherent untruth to that, imagine if that were actually true!  Take a second today and count just how many things you buy on a daily basis that are “Made in China” and you’d be surprised how few there are.

2.  “I disagree with this statement.  I disagree because I believe in my country.”
Sam’s answer begs the question, “Does America rule the world?”  To which I would surmise his answer to be yes.  Another further question should be posited to be “what exactly do you believe your country should be able to do?”

3.  “No, I disagree because China and USA have gone to war before and USA has won.”

So true, Greg.  But that resulted in the creation of North and South Korea, and too many deaths on both sides.  We don’t want that to happen again right?

4.  “No, every country and state has its own rights.  One place can’t control the whole world.  There are many differences between everyone’s religion.”
Arianna has the jack of all trades answer.  It tries to be everything to everybody.  Yes, there are rights and yes, not one place can control the whole world, but why was religion brought into the picture?
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5.  “Agree. China is our enemy and lots of people to kill us! Shiver Shiver.”
Perhaps it’s a good reason why this student forgot his name on the test.  Mx and I had a good laugh at this one.  Especially the “shiver shiver” part.

6.  “I don’t agree because in America we have more stuff than China and China’s technology is not as fast as our technology in America.  I don’t even think they have cellphones.”
Interesting Gary.  Very interesting.  So materialism will save America, right?  And what exactly do you mean by China’s tech isn’t as fast as US tech?  Are we talking fast computers or the rate of growth?  But you’re 100% wrong about the whole cellphone thing.

7.  “I disagree because so we’ll all have peace.”
Well, Justin, just because you disagree that China will rule us all one day, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be peace.  I guess one could look at the Cold War as a period of peace but what a tenuous peace.

8.  “I disagree because we will nuke them if they try to take over because they will try to eliminate us.”
Manuel’s answer might take the “video game answer award!”  We’ll just nuke ‘em!  Nice.  Too bad China’s a nuclear power too (since the 60s) and they won’t take it so lightly that we’ve fired a nuke at them and most likely they’ll retaliate.  Nice. Back to the Cold War.
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For more experiences in Teaching Chinese in America go here.