Chinese Corner: 1/17/2014 – Introduction

January 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

Welcome to my first feature: Chinese Corner!  Chinese Corner will be posted on Fridays!  I was inspired by the various ‘English Corner’s that I was often invited to during the course of my stay in China (and the fact that I am the new Coordinator of Chinese Corner at my University every Friday!).  It always amazed me how many students on GZNU’s campus wanted to practice English in more of an informal setting.  Everyone was welcome, from all majors, but it was normally students who were majoring in tourism or English (obviously).  Though I’m going to modify it for my own Internet-purposes, the theory was just to go and talk in the target language with peers, no judgment, mistakes welcome.  Sometimes teachers and native speakers were there to assist and answer questions.  To be honest, I think I learned more about English in these informal speaking sessions than any formal English class I’ve ever attended!  And that was just from answering questions!

So, for my purposes here, I’m going to modify that a little bit and this is where I’m going to teach some basic Chinese!  My theory is that those of you interested in learning the language can use this as a springboard, fostering a desire to learn more.  Of course, I can’t teach you everything, but I would encourage those interested into looking into taking some formal classes and exploring some other options.  There are some online programs available to use, but be warned that they can only take you so far.  I truly and honestly believe that immersion is the key to learning and retaining a language.  In an immersion environment, you can adapt better to the speed at which native speakers will speak.  That being said, I know that not everyone has the opportunity to find a full-immersion program.  But there are always other options available.  Check and see if your community has center for people of Chinese and Chinese-American descent.  One thing that I learned and experienced wholeheartedly was the desire for Chinese people to help increase my Chinese speaking level.  Most of them were impressed that I even wanted to learn Chinese and jumped on board to answer any questions that I had.  Try it yourself and see!

So, without further ado, let’s talk about Chinese as a language.  (I think that’s all we’ll do today.  The introduction is quite lengthy!)

  1. When people talk about ‘Chinese’ they are normally talking about Mandarin Chinese.  There are two major Chinese languages: Mandarin and Cantonese.  Mandarin is spoken by about 90% of the population, while Cantonese is spoken almost exclusively in Guangdong Province, the eastern part of Guangxi Province, Hong Kong, and Macau.  Fun fact: Cantonese is the 3rd most spoken language in the United States.
  2. In addition to the two major languages spoken in China, there are countless dialects!  Each city has its own special brand of spoken Chinese.  Standard Mandarin is spoken predominantly in Northern China.  The farther you get, the more different it will sound!  Here’s an example.  In Beijing, “go” is spoken as [“qu”] (pronounced kind of like chew, but is a little different.  We’ll cover more of this next time!), but in Guizhou, “qù” is commonly said as “kei” (pronounced keh).  For simplicity’s sake, we’ll just be doing Standard Mandarin, or “Putonghua”.
  3. Chinese is not a phonetic language.  It is a pictographic language, which means that instead of letters forming words (phonetic), each word is depicted in symbols (called characters), normally one or two.
  4. Chinese can be broken down into three distinct parts.  Speaking/listening, reading, and writing.  Spoken Chinese is a tonal language (we’ll go over this next week).  This means that every “qù” is not pronounced exactly the same.  Speaking and reading are linked through a system called pinyin, which is the romanization of characters.  To use the example from above, “qù” is the pinyin for the character 去 which means “go”.  Most Chinese texts nowadays read from left-to-right, but ancient Chinese texts were either written right-to-left or top-to-bottom, right-to-left.  Reading and writing are linked obviously by the characters.  Written Chinese follows a specific stroke order, which we will also cover in one of the following lessons.

TL;DR?  When learning Chinese, you have to remember five things about a specific word/character: the pinyin (how it’s pronounced), the tone (which is indicated within the pinyin), what the character looks like, the stroke order (i.e: how to write it), and, most importantly, what it means.  I’m not going to lie.  It’s difficult at first.  But keep at it!  We’ll have our first (in)formal lesson next Friday!

Next Friday: Spoken Chinese – Initials, Finals, and Tones

PS: This feature was supposed to go up on Friday, but real life happened, sorry!  This feature will normally post on Fridays.



Introduction pt. 2

January 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

I am back from the land of the hammer and sickle.  China was absolutely amazing and I am going to document as much as I can here as well as try something new.  For those of my old followers (not that there are many) I have taken down most of my old posts.  I am turning this into a more direction orientated blog based on my experiences in China and with the Chinese language.  I am hope that you’ll find it interesting, if not, no skin off my back.

So I guess I’ll start with an introduction…again.  My name is Liv, I have recently returned from a ten month internship in Guiyang, Guizhou, China where I taught English at an after school center for students aged 6-13.  When I wasn’t teaching, I was attending Language classes specifically for foreigners at Guizhou Normal University.  I am 22 years old, attending university to get a degree in Biochemistry with a minor in Chinese Language and Civilization.  China has been my passion since I was a little kid and having this opportunity to study and intern abroad was one of the greatest experiences of my life.  I learned a lot about myself and I want to share my experiences with the world wide interwebz.  I am still an avid gaming and science nerd – that much hasn’t changed, but I’ll try to keep rants and things to a minimum. ^____^

So, what can you expect from me?  I am going to try my damndest to update at least three times a week, MWF if I’m lucky.  I am still in school, though, and have a pretty tough semester ahead of me.  But I will do my best.

My expectations of you, the reader?  Please be kind, courteous, and open-minded!  This is supposed to be a fun, learning experience!  If you have any questions, or want more information, please feel free to drop a comment.  Your thoughts and feelings are important and I’d love to hear from you!

For now, I think that’s about it.  Thanks for dropping by!

All Up In This Tea

December 7, 2012 § 1 Comment

So I’m sitting here writing this with a cup of Dan-cha close at hand.  I went to a Korean tea tasting at a local tea shop yesterday and fell in love.  Though it amazes me how I can never make tea at home as good as it is when it’s made at the tea house.  Even made by my poor, distracted mind (which often causes me to oversteep, which may or may not be why it never tastes as good), the taste warms my soul.  It’s a pretty powerful tasting tea with a nice bitter aftertaste.  A little like a strong black tea and a pu’er mixed.  Fruity though.  It’s definitely an interesting tasting tea.  Definitely one of my favorites.

I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but I am obsessed with tea.  The tea house in my hometown (我的家乡) is really good and opened almost 4 years ago.  A friend of mine dragged me in and I’ve been in love with loose leaf tea ever since.  The first tea I ever tried was called Goldscrew Jasmine and I was positively addicted to that one tea for a long time.  I loved it so much I hated osmanthus oolong the first time I tried it, just because I had grown used to the ultra sweetness of jasmine tea.

Since then, I’ve tried 80% of the teas on their menu and I try to go to any tea tastings that they offer.  The atmosphere itself is really incredible too.  It’s got some serious ambiance going on there.  I can sit there for hours, just hanging out, drinking tea and just feeling the energy of the place.  Lord I sound like a hippie.

So, knowing that I am a bona fide tea lover, it will come as no surprise that I about flew over the moon when my professor that’s sending me to China says that I will be able to go to a tea farm and HELP pick the tea!  I am so excited to bring it home and enjoy it forever!

Well, that’s it for now!



November 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

I found my passport!  Whoo!  No one can understand how happy this makes me.  Although, looking at my passport picture is kind of frightening considering I took it when I was 16.  I feel so much more grownup now.  Gah, it’s only been about five years.  I have a lot more to be excited about too.  As it turns out, I don’t know how my math was so bad, but I have 85 days until I leave for China.  I honestly don’t know what I did wrong there.  85.  I leave on February 23rd if all goes according to plan.  And right now, I’m not seeing anything that may come in the way of this, now that I’ve located my passport.

I started playing Mugen Souls today!  Whoo!  Super excited.  I’m not that far into it, but I like it so far.  It’s definitely a different style of gameplay than I’m used, even for JRPGs.  There are times when it’s kind of confusing, but I think I’ll really like delving deeper into the game.  Gotta love my NIS games.  Gamespot didn’t give it a very good review, but I’m trying to stay positive about it.  After all Hyperdimension didn’t get a very good review either, but I still LOVED that game.  We’ll see how it goes.  Keep in touch for a more detailed review as time passes!

In other news, I am almost done with my last semester of college before embarking on my fabulous journey!  Three finals and then I’m done.  And I have recently received news that my biochem final will be all multiple choice and it’s going to pull questions from the previous three exams.  Hello A?  I think so!  My analytical exam will be a cinch, as will my Chinese exam.  I’m so confident about my Chinese exam that I’m taking it early.  Mwahaha.  This semester will be victorious.

Well, I think that’s all of my news!



November 27, 2012 § 2 Comments

That is the number of days I have until I leave for what could be the greatest adventure I will ever have in my life.  79 days from now, I will be landing in Shanghai, China about to transfer onto a flight to what will be my new home for 10 months.  80 some days from now I will be starting a semester at a school where I am a minority.  And a year from now, I will be planning my return trip to the United States.

Everything is happening so fast and I’m getting caught up in time.  I have finals in two weeks.  Two weeks and then I am done with American schooling for a year.  It’s exciting, but very overbearing.  There’s so much I have left to do.  I’m way under 100 days at this point.  I have just over two months to get everything in order.  It’s…amazing.

Well, sorry to get all existential.  I’ll try and check in more often for those of you still out there.  I have a new idea for a novel.  Not sure if I’ll ever get around to writing it, but I think it’s a good idea.  Maybe I’ll elaborate later.

Good night!


October 8, 2012 § 3 Comments

So I decided to start a blog.  Most of this will probably be really random and probably no one will read it, but that’s totally okay.

So, a little about myself.  My name is Liv, I am in the 18-24 age demographic, an avid reader and writer and I have accepted the fact that I will never be famous.  I am a total videogame and science nerd, and am currently obsessed with Guild Wars 2.  It has consumed my life…or most of it.

I decided to make this on a spur of the moment thing, I’m going to try to keep up with it, but I’m not sure how well that will go, considering wordpress is banned in China and I will be living there for a year come this February.  We shall certainly see how this goes.

I hope I didn’t bore you too much and maybe I’ll come up with something more interesting as the day goes on.

Happy blogging,