December 1, 2012 | Mandarin

Chinese Grammar from a Beginner’s Book

Lessons learned, through baby steps.

I began reading Beginner’s Chinese by Yong Ho on November 11, but quickly decided I needed to do more Pimsleur first. I do like the book, which was recommended by one of my readers, but it is…

December 2, 2012 | Mandarin

I Can’t Say No in Chinese

Literally. There is no simple translation of that word!

Since I began studying Chinese a month ago, I have marveled at the complexity involved in refusing or denying something. Simple negatives do not work the way they work in English or, as far as I can remember right now,…

December 3, 2012 | Mandarin

Sunset Park: The Third NYC Chinatown

One of my favorite field trips to date.

Yesterday I went to Brooklyn’s Chinatown, which is in Sunset Park, well into Brooklyn and just north of Bay Ridge. 8th Avenue Stop, New York City Subway I took the N train to the 8th Avenue stop and started…

December 22, 2012 | Mandarin

Kung Fu and Chinese Tones

I try to kick and I try to speak, and I do neither well.

I have continued along, slowly, with my Pimsleur lessons. The four tones of Mandarin are not quite as scary as I had expected, but then again, I’m not sure how well I’m replicating them. Pacific College of Oriental…

January 9, 2013 | Mandarin

What I Did Over My Christmas Vacation

I visited a museum in Chinatown.

Among other things, over my Christmas vacation I went to the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), located at 215 Centre Street in Chinatown. MOCA! If you haven’t been there, I recommend it. I spent my time there in an…

January 17, 2013 | Mandarin

Small(er)-Town Language Learners

What to do when you want to learn a language and don't have a city like New York in your backyard.

Recently I have received fascinating e-mails from people who live in rural parts of the United States with much less diversity than, say, New York City, but who are nonetheless highly dedicated language learners with ambitious self-study programs. New York…

January 21, 2013 | Mandarin

Caffeination and Language-Learning

In which I return to old habits and am amazed.

Recently I had jury duty. I seem to have jury duty more than anyone I know. If you have jury duty in Manhattan, you end up on the western edge of Chinatown. I was kind of happy about it, because…

January 24, 2013 | Mandarin

Fifty, or Cincuenta, or Cinquanta, Shades of Grey

A new language-learning strategy?

Today I was on the website of a Portuguese bookseller, Atlantico Books, when I noticed a Portuguese-language edition of Fifty Shades of Grey. This got me thinking. It is sometimes hard to keep people motivated to pursue language…

January 30, 2013 | Mandarin

A Massage, with Chinese

In which I speak some Chinese face down on a table with an elbow in my back.

Today I got a Chinese massage. The woman who gave it to me is from Beijing, and she has given me a massage before. Unlike some of her co-workers, she knows quite a bit of English. I like to demonstrate…

February 8, 2013 | Mandarin

Fluenz Mandarin

In which I try out some new software.

I have been meaning to try out Fluenz, a multimedia language-learning product, for ages. Tonight I finally sat down and did it. This Is My Fluenz Chinese Teacher As regular readers may know, I am not keen on being tied…