Lesson 10: At the Post Office

Hey guys, long time no see! I apologize for taking such a long hiatus fom blogging, but life has been chaotic of late! My wife and I have relocated to the USA and have been working very hard to get re-established here, and so I have had little time or motivation to blog. But I know you all would be lost without me, so I'm back!
The format for my blog is now going to be a little different from the way it was before. From now on, since I am no longer in Taiwan, I will not be writing as many posts on exploring the island. I already have a fair amount of content on the subject, and I am always willing to answer any of your questions, but for now I am shifting my focus to Chinese. My posts will now be mainly Chinese lessons, with anecdotes of my time in Taiwan strewn in when appropriate. Please let me know what you think of this format, and as always, thank you for reading!
So you're in the post office, waiting in line to send a care package back home. The guy in front of you is playing on his iPhone, and the guy behind you is stamping his feet, looking at his watch and visibly annoyed. He's obviously in a hurry and doesn't want to end up being held up by the foreigner taking forever to get walked through the process by the friendly, though somewhat lingually challenged clerk…or are you? Let's show that guy that he picked the wrong laowai!
Ten essential phrases:
1. Letter 一封信 yīfēngxìn
2. Stamp 郵票 yóupiào
3. Package 包裹 bāoguǒ
4. Express delivery 快遞 kuàidì
5. Registered 掛號 guàhào
6. Standard shipping 平信 píngxìn
7. mailbox 信箱 xìnxiāng
8. PO box 郵政信箱 yóuzhèng xìnxiāng
9. envelope 信封 xìnfēng
10. postage fee 郵資 yóuzī
In context:
1. I would like to send a package overseas. 
2. How much is express delivery? 
3. I want to send this letter as registered mail.
4. I would like to buy some stamps and envelopes.
5. When will my letter arrive?
That's it for today, practice and we'll see you next time!

Lesson 7: Hobbies

Before continuing with this week's lesson, check out Lesson 6: Discussing Likes and Dislikes.
Everyone has something special that they love to do, even if it is something that they are embarrassed to share with the world. It could be anything from dressing-up as Yoda and heading to a Star Wars convention, sitting on the couch with a game on, painting toy models or fishing. The possibilities are endless. Personally, I love martial arts, pretty much anything outdoors and of course, video games! What's your secret passion that eats-up all of your free time? But first, a quick question. How do you say "I like reading novels" in Chinese? What's 我不喜歡塞車 mean?
Common Hobbies:

1. hiking 爬山 pá shān
2. rafting 泛舟 fàn zhōu
3. blogging 寫部落格 xiĕ bù luò gé
4. making DIY crafts 做DIY/做手工東西 zuò DIY/zuò shŏu gōng dōng xī
5. learning martial arts 學無術 xué wú shù
6. doing yoga 做瑜伽 zuò yú jiā
7. playing music 玩音樂 wán yīny uè
8. collecting comic books 收集漫畫書 shōu jí màn huà shū
9. cooking 做飯 zuò fàn
10. drawing 畫畫 huà huà
Listen to the attached video file and practice repeating each phrase until you feel confident enough to move on to the next part.
Grammar Note: In Mandarin, verbs are often paired with nouns like seen above. In English we say "eat", in Chinese we say 吃飯 chī fàn or "eat rice" unless a specific food is being talked about (which, shows how important rice was and is to the Chinese). You don't always have to use a noun alongside a verb when speaking, as it can often be an understood, but when we are learning our vocabulary, verbs will generally be paired with nouns. As we progress, I will explain in more detail if necessary, but for now, let's keep it simple, okay?
Useful Adjectives: The following list of words are useful when talking about the hobbies listed above.
1. fun 好玩(的) hăo wán de
2. useful 有用(的) yŏu yòng de
3. interesting 有興趣(的) yŏu xìng qù de
4. relaxing 輕鬆(的) qīng sōng de
5. healthy 健康(的) jiàn kāng de
Listen to the attached video file and practice repeating each phrase until you feel confident enough to move on to the next part.
Grammar Note: The character 的 is often used after an adjective to indicate a particular characteristic of something, for example, in the sentence: 蔬菜是健康的 shū cài shì jiàn kāng de "vegetables are healthy", we are saying that a trait of vegetables is that they are healthy. This is indicated by the 的. We could also express this by saying 蔬菜很健康 shū cài hĕn jiàn kāng. More on that in the future as well as other uses of 的.
Story: Read and listen to the following story, then answer the questions below.
I have a lot of hobbies. Every morning I do yoga and I take my dog for a walk every night. I like to go hiking and rafting on the weekend. I love to see beautiful scenery and be alone in nature. But if we have rainy weather, that's okay. I can stay indoors and read my comic book collection, play video games or watch a movie with my family. Wherever I am, I dont have to worry about getting bored!
wŏ de xìng qù hĕn duō. mĕi tiān zăo shàng wŏ zuò yú jiā hé mĕi wăn shàng wŏ dài wŏ de gŏu gŏu qù săn bù. zhōu mò wŏ xĭ huān qù pá shān hé fàn zhōu. wŏ ài kàn dà zì rán de piāo liàng fēng jĭng. yào shì yŏu xià yŭ tiān, méi guān xì wŏ kĕ yĭ liú zài jiā lĭ kàn wŏ màn huà shū de shōu cáng pĭn, wán diàn dòng yóu xì huò shì gēn wŏ de jiā rén kàn diàn yĭng. bù guăn wŏ zài nă lĭ, wŏ bù huì dān xīn wŏ huì wú liáo!
Comprehension Questions: I'm not going to give you an English translation for the following questions, I want to see how much you can intuitively figure out from what we have already learned. Take a minute to email me you answers and I will let you know how you did! Consider it "homework".

1. 我的興趣很多嗎?
wŏ de xìng qù hĕn duō ma?
2. 我每天晚上做瑜伽嗎?
wŏ mĕi tiān wăn shàng zuò yú jiā ma?
3. 我什麼時候喜歡去爬山?
wŏ shén me shí hòu xĭ huān qù pá shān ?
4. 我下雨天喜歡做什麼?
wŏ xià yŭ tiān xĭ huān zuò shén me ?
5. 我怕無聊嗎?
wŏ pà wú liáo ma?
Essential Vocabulary: Here's a list of some of the most useful phrases that we learned in this lesson. Practice them and record yourself and compare your pronunciation to mine.
1. 興趣= interests/hobbies
2. 很多= very many
3. 每天早上= every morning
4. 晚上= night
5. 或是= or
6. 帶狗狗去散步= take the dog for a walk
7. 漂亮的風景= beautiful scenery
8. 大自然= nature
9. 留在家裡= stay at home
10. 漫畫書的收藏品= comic book collection
11. 玩電動遊戲= play video games
12. 看電影= watch movies
13. 不管= it doesn't matter
14. 擔心= worry
15. 無聊= bored

Lesson 6: Discussing Likes and Dislikes


Before continuing, make sure to review and practice the previous week's lesson here.

We all have something that we just love to do. Personally, I love nothing more than relaxing on the couch with a good book, going to the movies, or if the weather is nice, spending a day outdoors and going for a hike in the mountains. But I don't love everything. I'm not particularly fond of waiting in lines(kinda ironic, as I live in Taiwan) and I'm not the biggest fan of traffic jams, but then, who is? In today's lesson, you are going to be learning how to talk about your likes and dislikes in Mandarin Chinese.

Expressing likes: In Mandarin, we say "我喜歡…", which means "I like…", we can use this as a general phrase to talk about things we like, or we can use it to form more specific sentences. For example, I can say 我喜歡蘋果 I like apples, or I could be more specific and tell you that 我喜歡吃蘋果 I like to eat apples. So let's take a look at the following sentences, and repeat along with me to check your pronunciation.

1. I like to play basketball.
wŏ xĭ huān dă lán qiú.

2. I like to watch movies.
wŏ xĭ huān kàn diàn yĭng .

3. I like to go hiking.
wŏ xĭ huān pá shān.

4. I like reading novels.
wŏ xĭ huān kàn xiăo shuō.

5. I like listening to music.
wŏ xĭ huān tīng yīn yuè.

Watch the attached video file and practice repeating each phrase until you feel confident enough to move on to the next part.


Expressing dislikes: Okay, so now you have the basics down, let's talk about dislikes. To make a negative statement in Mandarin Chinese, we usually add a 不 in front of the firs verb in a statement. This is not always the case, the negative form of the word "to have" 有, is 沒有. Note that a 沒 has been added in front of 有, not a 不, so saying 不有 would be incorrect. Just as when we were talking about likes, we can express dislikes in a general or more specific manner. So let's take our earlier example with the apples, 我喜歡吃蘋果, we can make this into a negative statement by adding a 不 before 喜歡, to indicate that we "don't like…" and it would look like his 我不喜歡吃蘋果, I don't like to eat apples. So let's take a closer look at how this is applied.


1. I don't like waking up early.
wŏ bù xĭ huān zăo qĭ chuáng .

2. I don't like rainy weather.
wŏ bù xĭ huān xià yŭ tiān.

3. I don't like scary movies.
wŏ bù xĭ huān kŏng bù piàn.

4. I don't like traffic jams.
wŏ bù xĭ huān sāi chē .

5. I don't like to wait in lines.
wŏ bù xĭ huān pài duì.

Watch  the attached video file and practice repeating each phrase until you feel confident enough to move on to the next part.

Note, when answering a question, answers are are often cut short, as the topic of the sentence is understood. So, going back to our apple analogy, if someone asks you 你喜歡吃蘋果嗎?It's acceptable to answer 我喜歡吃 or 我不喜歡吃, or just simply say 喜歡(吃) or 不喜歡(吃), rather than a full statement 我喜歡吃蘋果 or 我不喜歡吃蘋果. Don't worry about remembering all of that now, the important point is that you realize Mandarin is a flexible language.

Dialogue: Read and listen to the following dialogue, then answer the questions below.

A: Sara! Where are going?
莎拉! 你去哪裡?
shā lā !nĭ qù nă lĭ ?

B: Oh, hi Thom! You scared me!
喔,你好湯拇 !你嚇我一跳!
ō, nĭ hăo tāng mŭ !nĭ xià wŏ yī tiào !

A: Sorry! I just saw you walking and wanted to see what you were doing.
對不起! 我剛看到你走路,想要知道你在幹嘛。
duì bù qĭ !wŏ gāng kàn dào nĭ zŏu lù, xiăng yào zhī dào nĭ zài gàn ma.

B: It's okay, I'm fine! I'm going hiking with some friends.
沒關係,我沒事! 我要跟一些朋友一起去爬山。
méi guān xì, wŏ méi shì !wŏ yào gēn yī xiē péng yŏu yī qĭ qù pá shān.

A: I can't stand hiking, it's exhausting!
wŏ shòu bù liǎo pá shān, tài lèi le!

B: I like it a lot! I think it's really fun!
我很喜歡! 我覺得很好玩!
wŏ hĕn xĭ huān !wŏ jué de hĕn hăo wán !

A: I like swimming! It feels great on a hot day like this!
我喜歡游泳! 天氣像今天怎麼熱,就很舒服!
wŏ xĭ huān yóu yŏng !tiān qì xiàng jīn tiān zĕn me rè, jiù hĕn shū fú !

B: I like swimming a lot too!
wŏ yĕ hĕn xĭ huān yóu yŏng !

A: Then let's go swimming together next weekend.
nà me, wŏ men xià gè zhōu mò yī qĭ qù yóu yŏng ba.

B: Only if you come hiking with us today!
jīn tiān gēn wŏ men yī qĭ lái, wŏ cái gēn nĭ qù a !

A: Okay okay, it's a deal!
hăo le hăo le, wŏ tóng yì le !

Notes: In Chinese, nouns have a special measure word. The most common one is 個, when in doubt just say 個 and you'll probably be right! I'll be introducing more of these to you in later lessons. Also, the character 了 is used to show a change of state or that something has taken place, such as past action. There are other ways to speak about the past in Chinese, and other ways to use 了, so more on this in the future. 吧 is usually used to indicate a suggestion.

Comprehension Questions: I'm not going to give you an English translation for the following questions, I want to see how much you can intuitively figure out from what we have already learned. Take a minute to email me you answers and I will let you know how you did! Consider it "homework".

1. 誰被嚇到了?
shéi bèi xià dào le?

2. 湯拇喜歡爬山嗎?

tāng mŭ xĭ huān pá shān ma?

3. 誰喜歡游泳?
shéi xĭ huān yóu yŏng?

4. 他們要一起去幹嘛?
tā men yào yī qĭ qù gàn ma?

5. 湯拇同意了嗎?
tāng mŭ  tóng yì le ma?

Essential Vocabulary: Here's a list of some of the most useful phrases that we learned in this lesson. Practice them and record yourself and compare your pronunciation to mine.

1. 你嚇我一跳= you scared me
2. 剛= just
3. 看到= see
4. 走路= walk
5. 知道= know
6. 在幹嘛= doing(what?)
7. 我沒事= I'm fine
8. 一些= a few
9. 朋友= friend(s)
10. 我受不了= I can't stand…
11. 太累了= tiring
12. 覺得= think
13. 游泳= swimming
14. 天氣= weather
15. 像= to be like (something)
16. 今天= today
17. 熱= hot
18. 就= in that case/then
19. 很= very
20. 舒服= comfortable
21. 我們= we/us
22. 下個周末= next weekend
23. 同意= agree


Lesson 5: Languages


Languages: I saved this section for after we had gotten to be familiar with different countries of the world and their nationalities in Chinese, as it is a little more complex to form languages. Now don't go getting discouraged on me, you can do it, it just may take you a little more practice. The reason being, there are multiple ways to form the name of a language in Chinese. Just as we added 人 to 英國 to get 英國人, there are also several building blocks for "converting" a country to a language. The basic pieces are the country(minus the character 國 if present in the country's name), 文, 語 and 話. But they aren't one size fits all, unlike 人. For example, I could translate English as 英文 (note that the 國 gets cut off) or 英語, but I couldn't say 英國話.

To sum it up, the formula is:

country(-國) + 文/語 = language

Or, sometimes…

country + 話 = language

So lets take a look at the languages spoken in each of the countries we've learned, and the different ways we can say them. Lets also take this opportunity to practice making sentences with 講 jiǎng, which means to speak.

1. 美國人講英文。
2. 加拿大人講英語。
3. 墨西哥人講西班牙話。
4. 巴西人講葡萄牙文。
5. 英國人講英文。
6. 西班牙人講西班牙話。
7. 法國人講法文。
8. 義大利人講義大利文。
9. 德國人講德國話。
10. 希臘人講希臘話。
11. 俄羅斯人講俄語。
12. 土耳其人講土耳文。
13. 菲律賓人講講菲語。
14. 印度人講印度話。
15. 馬來西亞人講馬來西亞文。
16. 日本人講日語。
17. 泰國人講泰語。
18. 新加坡人講中文。
19. 中國人講中國話。
20. 台(臺)灣人講華語。

Story: Now read along with and listen to the following story. Use the vocabulary along with the grammar you just learned to answer the "homework" questions below.

Last year, William went traveling in China. He met a lot of friendly Chinese people and ate a lot of Chinese food…he even learned how
to use chopsticks! He also met people from many different countries. He made a Japanese friend named Takashi. Takashi couldn't speak English, so they used Chinese to communicate! William had fun in China, but he's glad to be back in America with his family.

去年,威廉去中國旅行. 他有認識很多好的中國人和吃了很多中國菜。。。甚至他學會用筷子!他有認識過一位日本的朋友叫Takashi。Takashi不會講英文,所以他們用中文溝通了!威廉在中國的時候過的很快樂,但是他現在很開心回來美國跟他家人在一起。

qù nián wēi lián qù zhōng guó lǚ xíng. tā yŏu rèn shí hĕn duō hăo de zhōng guó rén hé chī le hĕn duō zhōng guó cài…shèn zhì tā xué huì yòng kuài zi!tā yŏu rèn shí guò yī wèi rì bĕn de péng yŏu jiào Takashi. Takashi bù huì jiăng yīng wén suŏ yĭ tā men yòng zhōng wén gōu tōng le!wēi lián zài zhōng guó de shí hòu guò de hĕn kuài lè dàn shì tā xiàn zài hĕn kāi xīn huí lái mĕi guó gēn tā jiā rén zài yī qĭ.

Comprehension Questions:

1. 威廉現在在中國嗎?
wēi lián xiàn zài zài zhōng guó ma?

2. 威廉有吃了很多日本的菜嗎?
wēi lián yŏu chī le hĕn duō rì bĕn de cài ma?

3. Takashi 是德國人嗎?
Takashi shì dé guó rén ma?

4. Takashi 會講英文嗎?
Takashi huì jiăng yīng wén ma?

5. 威廉現在為什麼快樂?
wēi lián xiàn zài wéi shén me kuài lè?


Essential Vocabulary: Here's a list of some of the most useful phrases that we learned in this lesson. Practice them and record yourself and compare your pronunciation to mine.

1. 去年= last year

2. 旅行= travel

3. 很多= many

4. 認識= meet/know someone

5. 中國菜= Chinese food

6. 甚至= even

7. 學會= learn to do something

8. 朋友= friend

9. 所以= so

10. 用= use

11. 但是= but

12. 也= also

13. 時候= a point in time

14. 回來= return

15. 跟…在一起= be with (someone)

Lesson 4: Countries and Nationalities


Where are you from? Where are going? Where would you like to visit? These are all questions you need to be able to answer! So today's lesson is going to focus on introducing you to a base of countries you can speak about in Chinese. Of course this list is not exhaustive(I don't even know EVERY country in the world's English name for crying out loud!), but this is a good place to start. If you are interested in learning the names of any specific countries that aren't in the list (not because I don't like them, just because my fingers hurt from all the typing, lol!), then please feel free to send me an email and I'll add it to the list right away, boss! It is also helpful to know what people from different countries are called and what languages they speak, so I will teach you each respective country on the list below's nationality in this lesson. Check out the next lesson in this series to learn about talking about languages in Mandarin. Remember to review last week's lesson if you haven't already.

It's easy, and I know you will get it down fast. So without further delay…
1. America 美國 mĕi guó
2. Canada 加拿大 jiā ná dà
3. Mexico 墨西哥 mòxīgē
4. Brazil 巴西 bāxī
5. England 英國 yīng guó
6. Spain 西班牙 xī bān yá
7. France 法國 fă guó
8. Italy 義大利 yì dà lì
9. Germany 德國 dé guó
10. Greece 希臘 xī là
11. Russia 俄羅斯 é luó sī
12. Turkey 土耳其 tǔ' ěr qí
13. The Philippines 菲律賓 fēi lǜ bīn
14. India 印度 yìn dù
15. Malaysia 馬來西亞 mǎ lái xī yà
16. Japan 日本 rìběn
17. Thailand 泰國 tài guó
18. Singapore 新加坡 xīn jiā pō
19. China 中國 zhōng guó
20. Taiwan 台(臺)灣 tái wān
Practice the above list until you are fairly familiar with it, then proceed to the next part.
Nationalities: if you know the above list of countries, then you practically already know the nationalities too! Good job! See? It's easy to learn a new language! And doesn't it feel good? Now all you need is one additional word to fit into the "equation"…and the missing piece to the puzzle is the word 人 rén, which means person or people(Mandarin Chinese doesn't differentiate between singular and plural noun forms, instead the number is determined by context…but we're getting ahead of ourselves, so back up a step!). So all you do intake one of the countries from the list above and add 人 behind it. So, I am American would be: 我是美國人
To sum it up, the formula is:

country + 人 = nationality

So let's practice saying the nationalities together (this will really help to reinforce your previous learning).
1. American 美國人
2. Canadian 加拿大人
3. Mexican  墨西哥人
4. BrazilIan 巴西人
5. English 英國人
6. Spanish 西班牙人
7. French 法國人
8. Italian 義大利人
9. German 德國人
10. Greek 希臘人
11. Russian 俄羅斯人
12. Turkish 土耳其人
13. Filipino 菲律賓人
14. Indian 印度人
15. Malaysian 馬來西亞人
16. Japanese 日本人
17. Thai 泰國人
18. Singaporean 新加坡人
19. Chinese 中國人
20. Taiwanese 台(臺)灣人
Review: This is a cumulative review of lessons 1-4.  For questions 1-5, please listen to the audio file and answer the questions correctly in Chinese. For questions 6-10 please translate the English phrases into the correct Chinese phrases. As usual, please feel free to make a recording and submit it for "grading". This should be easy for you guys!
1. 你叫什麼名字?
2. 你是從哪裡來的?
3. 你幾歲?
4. 你吃飽了嗎?
5. 你是哪國人?
6. Good morning
7. Long time no see
8. Not yet
9. Immediately
10. Goodbye
Make sure you are familiar with the above vocabulary before proceeding to the next lesson, because, while the next portion builds on the last few sections, it is also more complicated. You want to Learn Chinese, right? So get to it!

Lesson 2: Greetings

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How many times do you say hello to someone on any given day? Unless you're a hermit, or just plain rude, chances are a few times at the very least, and most likely more often than that. No matter where you are in the world, or what language is being spoken, people are saying hello to each other. They just might have different ways to do it. In the first part of this lesson, I will teach you several common Chinese greetings. Later on in part two you will be reading and listening to a dialogue in Mandarin and learning how to put these greetings into practical use. But first, let me see how much you remember from our last lesson. What is the correct English translation of 你好? A. Goodbye, B. See you later, C. Hello, D. Good luck. Everyone answered A. Goodbye, right?!? I certainly hope not. If you answered anything besides C. Hello, then you should practice lesson one for a few more days before proceeding. Have no fear! Rome wasn't built in a day (or at least that's what I hear, anyway) and Taipei 101 wasn't either!

Now let's get started!

Five Essential Greetings:

1. 早安 zăo ān = good morning
Note: 早安 is more often than not shorted to just 早, Taiwanese people especially like to cut out a lot of characters that are considered as understood in a sentence, though it's not a bad idea to practice the full phrases in the beginning.
2. 午安 wŭ ān= good afternoon
3. 吃飽了嗎? chī băo le ma?= Have you eaten?
Note: You can either answer 有, which means "have", but in this case means "yes", followed by 吃飽了(to show that you "have" eaten) or 還沒, "not yet".
4. 好久不見 hăo jiŭ bù jiàn= long time no see
5. 您好 nín hăo(formal version of 你好)= hello (formal)

Listen to the attached audio file and practice repeating each phrase until you feel confident enough to move on to the next part.

Dialogue: Read and listen to the following dialogue, then answer the questions below.

A: Young Chen, hello!
xiăo chén nĭ hăo!

B: Hello Mrs. Wang. Have you eaten yet?
王太太, 你好。你吃飽了嗎?
wáng tài tài, nĭ hăo. nĭ chī băo le ma?

A:Not yet! I am going to buy dinner now.
hái méi a! wŏ xiàn zài qù măi wăn cān

B: Do you mind if I join you?
nà me wŏ gēn nĭ yī qĭ qù chī, hăo ma?

A: Of course!
dāng rán hăo a!

B: Awesome! In that case, what do you want to eat?
tài bàng le! nà me nĭ xiăng yào chī shén me ne?

A: I want to eat beef noodle soup.
wŏ yào chī niú ròu miàn.

B: Me too! Ahh!
wŏ yĕ shì! āi yō!

A: What's wrong?
zĕn me le?

B: I didn't bring money!
wŏ méi dài qián!

A: No problem, I'll treat you.
méi guān xi, wŏ lái qĭng kè.

B: Thank you! Next time it's my turn to treat!
謝謝你的! 下一次換我來請!
xiè xiè nĭ de! xià yī cì huàn wŏ lái qĭng!

Culture Note: in Chinese, nick names for younger people are often formed by adding 小 in front of a surname, i.e. 小陳 for small(or young) Chen.

Comprehension Questions: I'm not going to give you an English translation for the following questions, I want to see how much you can intuitively figure out from what we have already learned. Take a minute to email me you answers and I will let you know how you did! Consider it "homework".

1. 誰要去買晚餐?
shéi yào qù măi wăn cān?

2. 王太太吃飽了嗎?
wáng tài tài chī băo le ma?

3. 他們很喜歡吃牛肉麵嗎?
tā men hĕn xĭ huān chī niú ròu miàn ma?

4. 誰沒帶錢?
shéi méi dài qián?

5. 小陳要請客嗎?
xiăo chén yào qĭng kè ma?

Essential Vocabulary: Here's a list of some of the most useful phrases that we learned in this lesson. Practice them and record yourself and compare your pronunciation to mine.

1. 還沒= not yet
2. 現在= now
3. 那麼= then/in that case
4. 跟你一起…= Do…with you
5. 好嗎?= Okay?
6. 當然= of course
7. 太棒了= Awesome!
8. 想要= want
9. 什麼?= what?
10. 我也是= me too
11. 怎麼了?= What's wrong?
12. 沒關係= no problem
13. 謝謝= thank you/thanks

Mandarin Primer: Are you ready?

First off, Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language, which means that the tone in which you speak has an impact on the meaning of the words. There are four primary tones and a fifth softer tone. Below is a description of the tones with an audio file attached. In it you will be learning an old exercise that I first learned when I began learning Chinese. So what are you waiting for?

The Tones:

First tone(一聲)

Second tone(二聲)

Third tone(三聲)

Fourth tone(四聲)

Fifth tone(輕聲)=literally translates as "light tone"

After practicing along with the audio above, you can start to string all of the tones together in order, practicing each In turn. This can be done with any phonetic sounds in the language. So the above exercise could be practiced like this: mā má mǎ mà ma. It may be difficult for you to differentiate between the tones at first, but as with anything, practice makes perfect. So go do it!
As a written language, Chinese is, in my opinion one of the most beautiful, as well as misunderstood in the West. When we first start to learn a new language, it is only natural to work from the foundation we have already formed in our own native tongue; it is comfortable, it's what we know and how we relate to the world…but it's wrong. I encourage you all to learn Mandarin in the context of Mandarin. Because when we try to fit a new language into the framework of our own, it becomes something unnatural. People often want a word-to-word translation for everything, but quite frankly, this is something that doesn't exist. Many people are under the false assumption that Chinese characters are pictographs or symbols and that they each represent one idea or word, but this couldn't be farther from the truth. Most Chinese characters can have many meanings, which are dictated by the manner in which they are used. Not to mention many characters have several alternative pronunciations. I want you to learn to speak and read mandarin, and I'm not trying to make you feel overwhelmed, I just want to introduce the broad idea of the subject as I see it. We will work on refining each stage along the way, so when you get to the more advanced stuff it'll be a piece of cake!
Pinyin: Pinyin is an invaluable tool for the Chinese language learner. It is a romanization of traditional Chinese characters, and it offers Westerners a much more reader-friendly take on written Chinese. I personally feel that Pinyin is a great stepping stone, and I still use it all the time when I am typing Chinese or if I come across an unfamiliar Character in my own studies, though I feel that you should ultimately aim at learning the traditional written Characters (at least well enough to read) if you are really committed to learning Chinese. I have included both pinyin and traditional Chinese characters alongside the English translations in each of my lessons, but in order to encourage you to learn the characters, there are also times when I have intentionally omitted the pinyin as a "test", but of you need it, you can always back-track and double-check. I'm not going to include too much information about how to read pinyin, as others have already written about it much better than I could hope to. I think that by listening to the audio files and reading along, you should be able to pick it up pretty quickly. If enough people want it, i may do a video blog on the topic in the future. For further reading on how to read pinyin, please check out the links below:
Resources: in this section, I will tell you about some of my favorite resources(apps, websites, etc.) that have really aided me in learning Chinese.
1. MacBooks, iPads, iPhones and androids all have international keyboards with pinyin input functions that makes typing Chinese really easy.
2. iPads, iPhones and androids have a handwriting function, so you can write Chinese characters if you don't know how to type them. It is a really useful function for learning new vocabulary.
3. Pleco is my personal favorite app. It's available on Apple and android devices and is the best FREE Chinese dictionary app with a few premium paid upgrades that are well worth the money.
4. The website http://chinesebay.com/chinesetools/ has a lot of really useful programs for Chinese learning, and I especially love their Chinese character to pinyin text converter.
That's about it for now, i hope you found this article informative and stay tuned for my free language course starting in just under two weeks from now!