Posts Tagged ‘study Chinese’

Interview with the creator of the SLOW-CHINESE podcast

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

A while back I was able to have a conversation with Xinyu from the Slow-Chinese podcast. (Not to be mistaken with a similar sounding site  He’s really cool and quite an interesting guy. If you don’t know about the SLOW CHINESE podcast we both highly recommend it.  Mx actually really enjoys it.   Not for the slow part, which is probably as annoying to her as VOA slow English is to me, but she likes the podcast for the culture, his own experiences and the fact that it doesn’t sound like some boring language monologue.  She even learns a few things from each one!  (and she’s from China!)

Difficulty level
We both agree that the podcast is on the intermediate level.  There are many new words here and there but he provides a transcript for a low price on the site so you can follow along.  For beginners, it’s always good to try and immerse yourself in the language, get the pronunciation, and his is good, and the inflection and the tones and the general feel for Chinese.  Elementary learners try and pick out a few words that you might know here and there.  Advanced, um… well, you can listen to it sped up to a Mickey Mouse voice and see if you understand it!

But it’s SLOW…
Some out there say that SLOW CHINESE might not be a good idea.   The rationale is that “Slow Chinese isn’t natural.”  Totally understood and totally agree.  But one of the most common complaints about learning Chinese is that those Chinese people just speak so darn fast! Well, now they don’t.  I just chock it up to the plethora of amazing resources that all of us Chinese learners have out there on the world wide web.

Now the interview…

1. Where are you from?
Taizhou, a seaside city in Zhejiang Province.

2. Can you tell us your favorite thing about your hometown.
We have a kind of noodle with ginger juice in the soup and more than half of the bow is filled with sea food, like crabs, schrimps and clams. It’s my favourite food, and is definitely nowhere to find outside my hometown. Another exciting thing is, when you have normal meals (rice with dishes) in my hometown, to have 2/3 of the dishes sea food is quite normal, we have the greatest sea food production in Zhejiang.

3. Are you in school or are you working?
I’ve just finished my bachelor study in Beijing and am going to study industrial design in Germany in October.

3a. Will you continue your SLOW CHINESE PODCAST while in Germany?
Yes, of course.

4. What are you studying? Where do you work?
Germanistics. I don’t work, I’m in Beijing at the moment, but will go home soon, to stay with my family before I leave for Germany.

5. What do your parents do?
They are workers.

6. What caused you to start the website and podcast?
I know Slow German and have heard of Special English from VOA, they’ve helped me quite a lot during my language study, but then I realized there’s no Slow Chinese, I thought it should be quite easy and fun to do in my spare time, so I wanted to do it. I have experience in running websites and am not bad at graphic design, and by recording my songs I’ve learned how to make midi melodies and mix tracks.

6a. Will you do a podcast about your hometown of Taizhou?
It sound like a good idea.

7. Do you have a lot of visitors to your site?
Yes I think so, but not enough. I have never advertised for it, there’re still great numbers of Chinese learners who don’t know Slow Chinese. Most of my visitors are itunes users so they may not need to visit my page but subscribe the podcasts.

8. There are many people studying Chinese but your podcasts are for people who are somewhat advanced in Chinese. Why did you choose to do more advanced level?
First, I have seen or read some Chinese-learning materials, they’re always so funny and affected, always starting from Ni Hao and Xie Xie. So I think there should have been many people who are waiting for materials of some higher levels. Second, I haven’t studied teaching Chinese. What I can do is write how I normally write and write what I think may be interesting.

9. Where do you come up with the topics for your shows?
Since opening the website, I began to observe everything around me. What we do and say in daily life may be interesting for Chinese leaners. Readers also write to me and tell me what they want to know, and these topics are always prior to mine.

10. Do you think of yourself as a kind of ambassador for China to people learning Chinese in other countries?
No. When I’m writing and recording podcasts, I may be like an ambassador, introducing China. But I actually do it like I’m simply telling friends about my life in China and share interesting things with them. I talk about everything, likes and dislikes. An ambassador say only good things about his country.

11. If you could tell North Americans or European or Australians ONE THING about China that they should know, what would it be?
Not every Chinese is totally satisfied with his country but everyone does want it to be better.

12. Tell me one hero that you have.
No, at the moment. But I quite admire those people who stick to their dreams and never give up under the pressure of life.

13. What kind of music do you like?
Rock and classical.

14. What kind of books do you like to read?
All kinds of books except those teaching people to achieve quick success.

15. Where do you want to be in 10 years? What do you want to be doing in 10 years?
I want to be a designer. I want to have my own studio and do design for myself. Of course I will keep adding contribution to exchanges between China and the world.

16. What advice would you give to people studying Chinese?
Come to China, but don’t have to stay in Beijing, learn Chinese calligraphy and make a Chinese girlfriend. If your love of China is based on ancient China, then you may be disappointed because you can only experience it in classrooms and books. But anyway, modern China is very fascinating. A good way to understand China and learn Chinese is traveling through it.

17. What will you miss most in China while living and studying in Germany?
My family and girlfriend, and Chinese food.

Go check out his website today!

Interview with Mike from!

Friday, May 20th, 2011
It’s amazing sometimes how you surf the web and then find something that you’ve never heard of even though it’s super popular already.  That’s what happened when I posted a comment, I think it was on ChineseHacks, and then looked around at some of the other commenters.  One was named Mike and he had a website listed with his comment so I clicked on it and the rest is history.  That day I discovered Chinese with Mike and have been going back ever since.  Mx and I liked is so much we even put together a comic about it so that people can know what it’s all about!  I was able to have a conversation with Mike of fame and we wanted to share it with you all!
MandMX: Where did you learn Chinese?

Mike: I learned Chinese first through a university class and then by living in Taiwan for 2 years. I have been married to a Taiwanese woman for the past five years, and we often congregate with other Chinese speakers.

MandMX: Hmmm. I wonder what your wife thinks of your classes?  Does she help?

Mike: My wife thinks my classes are funny, but she thinks I spend too much time working on the project.

MandMX: Mx (my wife) didn’t notice a Taiwan accent in your voice so we’re impressed.  So you learn a bit from her but not her accent, right?

Mike: I’m doing my best to keep a standard Chinese accent. Beijing accents are too strong, and Taiwanese accents are too soft. I’m shooting for somewhere in the middle. I admit that sometimes it’s hard not slipping into Taiwan guoyu. :)

MandMX: Do you know Characters as well?

Mike: I do. I originally learned to write traditional characters, so making the adjustment to simplified is a chore, especially since I prefer traditional characters.

MandMX: Obviously you’ve been to Taiwan, but have you been to China?

Mike: Yes.

MandMX: Why “Chinese with Mike” ?  What are your goals?

Mike: When people hear I speak Chinese, I invariably get this response: “Aww, no way. I heard Chinese is like the hardest language in the world!” I’m out to prove them wrong. With the right teacher (namely, one who can explain in a way the learner can understand) Chinese is not hard at all. There are many myths about Chinese that I’m out to debunk.

MandMX: How has the response been?  What are people saying?

Mike: People write daily with complimentary remarks about how Chinese with Mike is working for them. We have newcomers on an almost daily basis, and I couldn’t be more gratified.

MandMX: Do you have a lot of interested viewers?

Mike: In our first six months, we had about 33,000 site views, and we have viewers in over forty countries. I have to imagine that most are actually learning.

MandMX: Why do you do the videos in the basement in your parent’s house?

Mike: We shoot in a garage. We did a few in my producer’s basement when the weather in Chicago was very cold. Basically, this is the only location I have to shoot, and I like how it adds to the character I play.

MandMX: Do you do live appearances?

Mike: I teach face-to-face Chinese classes once in a while in the Chicago area. I volunteer at my local libraries by teaching free Mom-and-Tot classes, too. My friends and I were planning on staging an autograph signing for me and inviting the local media. I expect we will do it someday, complete with bodyguards and a limousine.

MandMX: What is your favorite China book?  or book about China?

Mike: I read a lot of poetry from the Tang Dynasty.

MandMX: What are your thoughts on the interest in Western countries with learning Chinese?

Mike: There is no overemphasizing China’s role in the future of the global economy. I think we’ll see more and more Western countries teaching Chinese along with English as a second or third language.

Thanks MIKE!  Check out his site and watch some of his lessons!  These lessons are great for kids (my 3 year old loves Chinese with Mike!) and anyone learning Chinese no matter what the age!

Chinese with Mike on Facebook!

Chinese with Mike on Twitter!

Chinese with Mike on YouTube! (for those outside of China!)

Chinese with Mike on Tudou! (for those inside China!)

Now as a bonus for all of our readers and new Chinese with Mike readers… we’re going to put our comic below and the pinyin romanization of the Chinese!  Hope it helps!

If you can’t read it you can click on it and go directly to the comic!

Panel 1: hei, wǒ shuō guò le bù xǔ zài wǎngshàng kàn shìpín.

māma, dànshì zhè shì “gēn màikèxué Zhōngwén

Panel 2: shénme? gēn màikèxué Zhōngwén shì shénme?

wǒmen gēn shì cóng tā de shìpín shàngxué Zhōngwén de

Panel 3: yī ge xiǎoshí zhīhòu

nǐ māma zhè shì zài gànmá?

tā yǐjīng kàn le yī ge xiǎoshí le.

zàiláikàn yī ge.

wǒ hǎo è ā

Interview with the Author of “Survival Chinese Lessons 生存汉语” @jkpittman

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

We’ve done a bunch of interviews here on (Slow Chinese, Chinese with Mike, China Daily Cartoonist, Learn Chinese Everyday) but I think this non Chinese person has the most experience living and working in China that I’ve ever seen.  I met Joanne Pittman years ago when I first began teaching English in China.  She taught all of us teachers a bit about China and the Chinese language and I’ll never forget some of her stories.  She urged us as we live in China to study the language because nothing is more fun than chatting up a taxi driver in Beijing about politics!  That became my goal in life.  So I was surprised when I saw that she put a book together from all her lessons to help those who are just starting Chinese.  Her classes those many years ago were memorable and I’m sure these lessons will give you a great foundation in Mandarin Chinese.

Don’t forget to check out her site here.  And follow her on Twitter which she is very active on!  Here’s a post where she mentions her book!

Now, to the interview:
MandMx: How long have you lived in China?

Joanne Pittman: That depends on how you count. I taught English in Zhengzhou, Henan from 1984 to 1986. Then, from 1990 to present, I have worked here most of the time, with a few periods of time out of the country for further education or family. So from start to present, it’s 27 years!

MandMx: Where did you learn Chinese?

Joanne Pittman: I studied Chinese full time for a year (90-91) at Northeast Normal University in Changchun, Jilin Province. After that I worked with a tutor ten hours per week for 4-5 years while directing a program for North Americans studying Chinese.

MandMx: Do you know Characters as well?

Joanne Pittman: My character reading is OK, but unfortunately my character writing is very 差 (lacking).

MandMx: Why did you write your book? What were your goals?

Joanne Pittman:I originally put the material together back in the 1990’s for a summer language program that I directed for English Language Institute/China (ELIC). It has since been used by ELIC’s incoming teachers. The response internally has been very positive, so last fall I decided to publish the material. I know that survival-type Chinese language books are a dime-a-dozen, but my ‘beef’ with them is that they often try to teach too much at the ‘super-beginning’ level.  The result is that learners often get discouraged and give up. My goal with this book was to produce something that would keep learners going by teaching small, bite-sized chunks in each chapter, with very simple explanations. And because I believe that listening is the foundation to second lounge learning, the book includes an audio (mp3) CD that includes the Pinyin Sound Chart, and vocabulary and dialogs from each of the chapters.

MandMx: How has the response been to the book? What are people saying?

Joanne Pittman: Better than I expected, to be honest.  It has sold really well among folks travelling to China as tourists and those going to China on sort-term volunteer projects. It’s also been well-received among newly arrived expats in China, who want something simple to help them get started.

MandMx: What do you think about more Westerners studying Chinese today?

Joanne Pittman: The more the better. Given China’s emergence onto the world stage, I think it’s important that there be more westerners who are proficient in not only the Chinese language, but also Chinese culture.

MandMx: If you didn’t come to China, what do you think you would’ve done all your life?

Joanne Pittman: I probably would have gone to grad school and ended up teaching a a college somewhere.

MandMx: What is your favorite China website? China Newsite?

Joanne Pittman: Well, I enjoy YOUR website! For China news and analysis, I like China Digital Times (, BBC, and The China Beat ( As for general information/blogs, I like World of Chinese (, Danwei (, and China Media Project (

MandMx: What is your favorite Chinese movie?

Joanne Pittman: Shower.  It’s ten years old now, but it’s a great about generational relationships in a changing Beijing.

MandMx: What is your favorite China book? or book about China?

Joanne Pittman: My current favorite China book is China Road by Rob Gifford.  I also like River Town and Country Driving by Peter Hessler. And To Change China by Jonathan Spence.

MandMx: What’s your favorite motivational saying in Chinese?

Joanne Pittman: I’m not sure how motivational this saying is, but it’s one of the most useful ones in helping us foreigners make our way in Chinese society:  jihua meiyou bianhua kuai.  Plans can’t keep up with changes.  计划没有变化快。

MandMx: In only three words each please tell us what comes to your mind when I say:

(Example: I say Baseball: you say “Boston Red Sox.” OR “Boring but fun.” see only 3 words.)

MandMx: Bejing                            Joanne Pittman: my adopted hometown
MandMx: Shanghai                      Joanne Pittman: Different from 1984
MandMx: Chopsticks                  Joanne Pittman: What’s so difficult?
MandMx: Chinese food              Joanne Pittman: rice and peanuts
MandMx: Chinese literature    Joanne Pittman: Over my head
MandMx: Sina Weibo                  Joanne Pittman: an alternate universe
MandMx: Twitter                          Joanne Pittman: bursts of communication
MandMx: Sand storms               Joanne Pittman: Spring is here!
MandMx: Summer                       Joanne Pittman: Drip, drip, drip
MandMx: Great Wall                  Joanne Pittman:  What’s the point?
MandMx: winter                          Joanne Pittman:  Where’s the humidity?


Don’t forget to check out her site here.  And follow her on Twitter which she is very active on!

Also we did a comic of one of her tweets last year which was fun!