Unlocking Chinese in 28 days is out!

Hey guys, today I want to introduce myself a little and share my story with you. You may have heard I've released a Chinese learning book "Unlocking Chinese in 28 Days", so let me share with you how I came to learn Chinese. But first…

"What were you  doing in Taiwan?" is a question I have heard countless times, but not one I enjoy answering, because it's hard to do it justice without a long, drawn-out answer.


I first moved to Taiwan shortly after graduating from college, and at that time I really had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I had a bachelors in education, and I had always loved traveling and learning about foreign cultures and languages. So I decided to spend a year abroad. But not in Taiwan.

Originally I had looked into living abroad in Ireland, but that was a no-go since I lacked a European passport. Oh well. Then I started talking with a friend who also wanted to live abroad and teach English for a year, and we settled on Japan. But after interviewing for a job, my friend was accepted into the program, and I wasn't! Curses, foiled again!

So after getting turned down for the second time, I got up, dusted off my jacket and applied to another recruitment agency called Reach To Teach. This time I wanted to get a job teaching in China. But when the first few schools that I had offers from didn't pan out, eventually the agent I was working with told me of a school in Keelung, Taiwan that wanted to hire me. I decided that it sounded like a great place to spend a year abroad, I was emailed a contract, read it over, signed it and faxed it back. And my life was forever changed.

That, in a shell(tried to keep it very brief for you guys since I've written on the subject on my blog) is what I was doing in Taiwan. I was there to travel, work and learn Chinese. And I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. It was in Taiwan that I discovered my passion for Chinese food, culture and language…oh, and did I mention that it's where I met my wife? Talk about an awesome souvenir!

That's it for today, we'll continue tomorrow with more information on how I learned Chinese in Taiwan, and what my philosophy is on language learning. As always, let me know if you have any questions. See you soon!


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Exciting News For All of You Chinese Learners!!!

Hey guys, how was your Labor Day weekend? Did you go anywhere, or do anything exciting? I went on a road trip with my family. We got up bright and early Friday morning and piled in the car, where we would stay for the next 8 hours! My legs were cramping big-time by the time we arrived, but it was all worth it though, as we found Hotsprings, Arkansas to be a really interesting place. In fact, it may sound weird, but my wife and I both felt like it was almost like we were back in Taiwan! Well, not really, but the similarities were there: mountain views, tightly packed streets with plenty of store-front shops, and even hotsprings! It was a lot of fun, and I recommend you go there and check it out for yourselves!

Anyway, on to business! 

The biggest factor in sucessfully learning a language is whether or not you actually spend an adequate time speaking it. You could memorize vocabulary flashcards until your blue in the face, but it won't really help you in the long-run. You need to engage other people in real-life conversation if you want to achieve any level of proficiency. Period.

Well, that might be a problem. You might find yourself without anyone to practice with, and while talking to yourself is usually discouraged in most circles, it can help…to an extent! So with that in mind, I have decided to provide a new service to you, my loyal readers, as I want nothing more than for you to succeed in learning Chinese, which is why I have decided to host weekly webinars(1-1.5 hrs in duration) at various pre-set times(feel free to attend as often as you like, the more frequently you do, the faster your Chinese will improve!) to give you all the chance to come together as a community and speak Chinese. During this time, I'll be offering some instruction, but the overall focus will be on conversation, as the only way to get better at something is to do it…a lot.

Stay tuned for more updates on the webinar sessions, the first of which will be taking place later on in the month.

I really and truly aim to get you speaking Chinese, not just learning it, using it! So let me know what you think, and let's get a conversation going! 




7 Reasons to Learn Chinese

There's no doubt about it, Chinese is the biggest "fad" language around. Everyone wants to learn it(or should!), and for good reason. In today's article, I'm going to break it down for you and give you my top seven reasons to start learning Chinese today!


1. More people speak it than any other language:


China is the most densely populated country in the world. Seriously, there's over a billion people in China. That's around a fifth of the world's population. Granted, not all of them speak Mandarin(there are soon many dialects of Chinese, almost as many as there are people!) but more and more do, and eventually they all will. Take Hong Kong for example. In the past, people from, say Taiwan, would be unable to communicate with Hong Kongers. Now, more and more of them are learning Mandarin(since being reunited with China), enough so that when my wife and I run-into them here in Texas, we can communicate with them. Mandarin is growing like crazy, and there's never been a better time to learn it.


2. Those billion people make up a huge market for any corporation:


Chinese people love everything and anything having to do with the West. Just take a look at how many Taiwanese kids spend their life savings on a pair of Timberlands and you'll start to see, that these people want what you have to sell. Really, anything with ties to America, be it McDonald's, KFC, PizzaHut, Levi's, Nike, Apple is extremely desirable to the Chinese youth, and the list just goes on and on and on.


3. Business opportunities abound:


I mentioned previously that the Chinese present a huge market for international sales. China/Taiwan also presents a lot of opportunities to the business-savy entrepreneur looking to make some money. There are so many Chinese companies that would love to have a presence in the American market, or to otherwise cooperate with American businesses in joint-ventures. Many of the CEOs of these companies will be versed in at least rudimentary English, but learning Chinese will deepen your relationship with them, and enable you to get the most out of your investment.


4. Learning Chinese will make you smarter:


Without a doubt, learning Chinese, especially to read and write it, will make you smarter. Written Chinese consists of characters, each of which can have many different meanings and, more often than not, alternate pronunciations. While this makes learning Chinese difficult for foreigners, it also forges a powerful mind capable of processing logic/puzzle based information much more efficiently than the average mind. Ever hear the stereotype that Chinese people are good at math? Well, not all are, but there is some truth to this statement. Studies have been done linking the ability of Chinese speakers to process mathematical problems, and they have been shown to have an aptitude  for it. Learning Chinese also gives you a sharp memory, as you need it to correctly recall all of the characters when reading/writing. Of course, that is assuming that you went about learning it the right way.


5. Two is better than one:


Being able to speak two languages is becoming more and more essential in today's world. Consider the following scenario: Two otherwise equally qualified  applicants applied for a job, one was bilingual, the other only spoke their mother tongue. Who do you think got the job?


6. Your own secret language:


No doubt about it, being able to speak Chinese with my wife in "public-privacy" has been extremely useful since we moved back to America. We call Chinese our 秘密,or "secret language". It allows us to discus things that we'd rather not have other people overhear, whether unintentionally or otherwise. It allows us to say things to eachother that would otherwise be embarrassing in public, such a "your fly is own" etc.


7. It's just plain fun!:


Chinese is a beautiful language, with an unbelievable amount of depth; I myself am "fluent", but I'm still constantly learning(hey, I don't even know every word in English, my native tongue!). Furthermore, learning Chinese will help you to understand Chinese culture, something that is completely impossible to learn otherwise, and will allow you to befriend Chinese people, and really get to know them. I could go on, but I think you get the point!


There you have it, my top 7 reasons for you to start learning Chinese today, NO, immediately! It doesn't matter which reason on this list got you to commit to learning, it just matters that you get to it!


If you liked this article, checkout these related articles HERE and HERE!!!


Also, don't forget to join my mail-list and get started with our free Chinese lessons NOW!


Lesson 13: I like to…


In today's lesson, you will be learning how to answer one very important question: What do you like to do? So next time you're speaking with some of your Chinese friends, try out some of these phrases. Who knows? Maybe you'll share similar interests! Although some of the material in today's lesson has been covered in previous lessons, I still think that it is always great to review, and who knows? You'll most likely learn something new too!  Enjoy!



nǐ xǐ huān zuò shé me ?

What do you like to do?



kàn diàn yǐng

Watch movies



nǐ xǐ huān kàn shí me diàn yǐng ?

What kind of movies do you like to watch?



wǒ xǐ huān kàn dòng zuò piàn hé ài qíng piàn

I like to watch action and romance movies.



shōu jí màn huà

Collect comic books



wǒ tīng shuō xiǎo jié shōu jí hěn duō biān fú xiá de màn huà yē

I heard that Jie collects a lot of Batman comics.



ō !nà wǒ péng yǒu Patrick gēn tā dāng péng yǒu

Oh! Then my friend Patrick should be friends with him.



zuò yùn dòng




hēi !nǐ xǐ huān zuò zěn yàng de yùn dòng ya ?

Hey! What kind of exercise do you like to do?



nǐ kāi wán xiào de ma ?wǒ zuì ài de yùn dòng jiù shì jǔ zhòng

Are you joking? My favorite exercise is lifting weights.



huà huà

Draw pictures



hēi !Ruby zhè shì nǐ huà de ma ?

Hey! Ruby, I'd you draw this?



duì ya !yīn wéi wǒ hěn xǐ huān huà dòng wù

Right! Because I love to draw animals.



nà shì bān mǎ ma ?

Is that a zebra?



shì wǒ men jiā de nán guā .

It's our cat, Pumpkin(Note: our cat is named Pumpkin, lol!)



hǎo diū liǎn ya !

How embarrassing!



qù KTVchàng gē

Go to the KTV and sing



Ruby nǐ zhī dào ma ?wǒ zhù tái wān wǔ nián ,yě méi yī cì qù KTVchàng gē guò 。

Ruby, do you know? I lived in Taiwan for five years, and I never once went to a KTV to sing.



nà tài kě xī le ,nà xià cì wǒ men yī dìng yào qù

What a shame, then next time we definitely have to go.



duì ya !nà xià cì qǐng wǒ qù chàng gē

Yeas! So next time invite me to go singing.



hǎo !méi wèn tí !

Okay! No problem!


That's it for today! Practice, practice, practice and I'll see you next time!





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 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)