Mandarin Weekly #45

大家好! (Hi, everyone!) Welcome to the latest Mandarin Weekly, with yet more links and information for those of us learning Chinese.

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When you don’t understand anything

If you’re learning Chinese, you’ll likely encounter situations in which someone is talking, and you don’t understand them at all. What do you then? Chris from Fluent in Mandarin offers some suggestions for getting through such situations, as well as encouragement, reminding us that this happens to everyone:

Twitter: @FluentInMandarin

Tone strategy

How can you keep the tones straight in your head? Chris, writing at Dig Mandarin, has some suggestions:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Snow White, in Chinese

Love the story of Snow White? Or just looking for some good beginner-level reading material? Here’s Snow White, in simple Chinese:

Twitter: @ECLSchool

Choosing the right font

I have always used the default Chinese fonts on my computers and phones. But in this article from Olle Linge, we see that fonts can affect our reading ability, and reflect different styles and locations:

Twitter: @HackingChinese

Watch TV, and improve your Chinese

If you need listening practice, then watching Chinese television can be helpful. But what shows should you watch? Chris from Fluent in Mandarin offers his suggestions for the most interesting shows, including an indication of the difficulty:

Twitter: @FluentInMandarin

Beijing tourist attractions

Beijing is full of great tourist attractions. How do you say their names in Chinese? This post, from Warp Speed Chinese, will tell you:

Twitter: @WSChinese

Thanksgiving vocabulary

This week is Thanksgiving in the United States. William, from Learn Everyday Chinese, offers a vocabulary list to describe the day, what you’re doing, and what you’re most likely eating:

Twitter: @learnchinese88

Work vocabulary

Decode Mandarin has a short list of words having to do with the workplace:

Twitter: @DecodeChinese

Hair and skin care products

In this video from Emma Xue, she reviews the hair and skin care products she has bought, describing them both in English and in Chinese.

HSK3 to HSK4 in three months

The HSK examinations certify how well you know Chinese. Is it possible to go from HSK3 to HSK4 in just three months? In this blog post on Speak Up Chinese, one student describes his experience trying to do so:

Twitter: @SpeakUpChinese

HSK4 in eight months

Along the same lines as the above link: Timo Horstschaefer, a physics student in Switzerland, managed to do it in only eight months of part-time study. His techniques might help you to achieve a similar goal:


How do you say “brainstorm” in Chinese? Crazy Fresh Chinese has the answer:

Improving your tones

If your tones need improvement, what can you do? Some suggestions on how to make them clearer and more accurate:

Difficult sounds for English speakers

What Chinese sounds are the hardest for English speakers to learn to say?

“Spelling” a character

Chinese doesn’t have an alphabet, and has many homophones. How do native speakers indicate which character was their intended meaning?

Get lost!

How do you say that you’re lost in Chinese? Several words can be used, but they have slightly different meanings and use cases:

Vacant taxi

How do Chinese taxis indicate that they don’t currently have any passengers? (Not that I’ve seen this myself very often, I must admit!) They use the phrase 空车 (kōng chē), as described here. The discussion then continues with the uses and pronunciations of 空:

I’m cold; put on a sweater

How do you tell someone to put on warmer clothes?


How do you say “modest” in Chinese? There are several terms you can use, each with its own connotation:

Multiple adjectives

Is there an easy or accepted way to describe a word with multiple adjectives? Some ideas on the subject:

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