March 4, 2013 | Mandarin

A Pimsleur Nightmare!

In which everyone but me remembered everything they learned.

Last night I had a Pimsleur nightmare. It began benignly enough, with the discovery that my New York City cab driver and then also his fellow cab driver friend, who materialized in my dream without logical explanation, were totally familiar…

March 10, 2013 | Mandarin

A Website Renovation, with a New Directory of Reviews

I have consolidated my opinions on language-learning resources in a searchable database.

Dear Readers, I am still working on Chinese, and my silence on the subject is not in any way an indicator of indifference to the marvels of the language. The time I would usually allocate to blog-writing has, however,…

March 17, 2013 | Mandarin

Chinese Word-Combining

Chinese constructs words in ways that are sometimes logical, sometimes creative, and sometimes just plain fun.

Mandarin is full of such interesting combinations of words into new words. The word for “thing” or “things”—dōngxi—is a combination of the words for “east” (dōng) and “west” (xī<…

March 21, 2013 | Mandarin

How Do You Say Chinese in Chinese?

Seemingly simple things can become complicated when more than a billion people are involved.

In Pimsleur I learned two ways to say “Mandarin.” The main one was Pǔtōnghuà, which I have seen translated variously as “common speech,” “common tongue,” and “common language”—and which is, I have been…

March 26, 2013 | Mandarin

Hot Water in China, Cold for the U.S.

Our languages are very different, and so, apparently, are our drinking-water temperatures.

Sonia Gil, my guide through Fluenz Mandarin’s interactive language-learning product, just taught me in lesson 39 that if I order water in China, I should ask for bīng shuĭ. Bīng means “ice,”…

March 27, 2013 | Mandarin

More Than One One in Chinese

Tones for this basic number are all over the place.

As I go through my Fluenz lessons, over and over I have been getting the word for “one” wrong when I type it in pinyin. Not the letters—which are just y plus i, so…

April 17, 2013 | Mandarin

Trying Out Fluenz Mandarin 3

Which is different in some ways from Fluenz 1+2.

I admit it: I have the language-learning adult version of senioritis. Just a little bit. It is growing harder to buckle down on Chinese and I am kind of daydreaming about what comes next. These Irish and Yiddish Books Have…

April 23, 2013 | Mandarin

On Chinese Time

Do Americans think differently about time than Chinese people do?

Today in a discussion of time in Beginner’s Chinese by Yong Ho (second edition), I read: When asked to visualize the movement of time from past to present and then to future, most American students would…

April 27, 2013 | Mandarin

Fun with Fluenz Mandarin 3

Unexpected salaciousness in my language studies.

I have only a few days left for Mandarin, and I am trying to finish up several Chinese language-learning products by May 1, when I start Irish. It is not looking good for Fluenz, since I still have 19 lessons left of…

April 30, 2013 | Mandarin

A Chinese Class for Small Children

Mandarin in New York City public schools!

In honor of my last day of Chinese (for now), today I visited a Mandarin class for second-graders at P.S. 368, a public elementary school at Amsterdam and 146th Street in Harlem. Approaching P.S. 368 The class is part of…