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Friday, February 29, 2008

Chinese Learning Community

Nice E-Mail asking for an intro... Web site looks interesting.

I saw your blog and website, and I just wanted to introduce you to italki.com. It is in some respects, similar to livemocha.com. We are a social network that is trying to harness the web for social language learning. We have lots of language partners that are interested in language exchanges, tutoring, and simply making friends. We also have functions like social questions and answers (ask any question about learning Chinese and get an answer from a Chinese person), shared files (downloading of open source textbooks), and more.

I just thought I'd make the introduction. Especially in the case of Chinese, we have a huge amount of Chinese users that are really interested in meeting English speakers. It's worth checking out just to see the effect. I thought it might be worth mentioning for your users.

Thanks for taking the time to read this,

Kevin Chen


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Warrior Mulan Costume

One of the adoption bulletin boards was asking where to get a Warrior Mulan Costume, since her daughter did not like the Princess one. Disney discontinued it along with most of their Mulan merchandise (which I don't agree with).

Mulan Warrior Pattern I just found:

This brings back memories! My daughter was lucky enough 8 years ago to get the cool Warrior Mulan. Everyone else had the Princess one. We even got a great picture of her on top of my Aunt's Black Horse in her Mulan outfit.

Mulan books and other information on my site:

Fa Mulan, Herione of China information about including Mulan Books in English and Chinese, and a bit on the Disney DVD


Chinese Color Symbology and more!

At EliteDresses.com, my wife has been super busy and has put together some excellent information. Feedback is appreciated!
  • Chinese Color Symbolism - Chinese Color Symbolism and meanings focusing on QiPao's including Holidays, Religious, and cultural beliefs.
  • Chinese Symbol Meanings - Chinese Symbol Meanings for Dresses and Cultural References
  • Chinese QiPao Cheongsam Dress History - History of the Chinese QiPao Cheongsam Dress and symbolism of colors.
  • Dress Terms - Guide to dress guide to terms, definitions, and cultural references including holidays. Solves the mystery of what's Organza, a Pastel, and more!


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

VCD's - What are they?

I just put up on www.childbook.com a bunch (50 or so) of Chinese VCD's for kids. Children songs with kids dancing, some animation, some series, etc. Some as low as $2.99.

So a customer asks - What's a VCD? Is that a new technology?

VCD or Video Compact Disk is video stored on a compact disk. They never took off in the US, but were very popular in China and Taiwan. They can be played on a computer, and some DVD players.

My favorite VCD's (limited to stock on hand):

Great Chinese Archaeological Discovery.  33 VCD set.  Mandarin with Traditional Chinese subtitles.
Great Chinese Archaeological Discovery. 33 VCD set. Mandarin with Traditional Chinese subtitles.
Our Price: $89.99

Great Chinese Archaeological Discovery. 33 VCD set. Mandarin with Traditional Chinese subtitles.

Three Kingdoms, 24 VCD set in Mandarin with Chinese subtitles.
Three Kingdoms, 24 VCD set. Animated. Mandarin with Chinese subtitles.
Our Price: $77.99

Three Kingdoms, 24 VCD set in Mandarin with traditional Chinese subtitles. Animated based on the historical novel, Romance Of The Three Kingdoms. Bonus: 20 music CDs of Taiwanese, Japanese, and English songs.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Teaching Chinese using Skype

Skype, and other VOIP Technology is being used to teach Chinese and other foreign languages over the Internet. This way a native language speaker can teach a student at less of a cost. Win win for both parties involved.

For both sides it's important to get the right headset. I suggest Plantronics and look into noise cancellation (this way the person you are calling hears you, and not all the background noise around you). Plantronics makes headsets for call centers for people who are on the phone all the time. Their are even wireless headsets.

Some articles that cover teaching Chinese using VOIP:
If your interested in Learning Chinese via a tutor using Skype send me an E-Mail, I know a Chinese teacher who is interested in teaching using Skype. She documented a project for me (that I need to post) and I feel I owe her (but she says all the free stuff she got off my site is payment enough).

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Olympics in China

Article from the SF Chronicle - Will a changed China emerge from the Olympics?

China's government is doing their 110% to give the best impression to the world of China. Airline tickets are super expensive around the time of the Olympics. I hope the Olympics there go well. The Wall Street Journal had an editorial about the Olympics by Mia Farrow. Another article explains China's relationship with Sudan and Darfur.

Related Posts:


Huntington Library - Chinese Gardens Open

The Chinese Gardens at the Huntington Library is now open!

There is an old connection between the Huntington Library and Chinese. Any guesses? Huntington 's fortune came from the building of the Transcontinental Railroad that many Chinese worked on. Huntington, along with Stanford (University), Crocker (Bank) and another made up the big four that made such an impact on California.

Older post on Chinese Gardens in the US

Related Item:
Ten Mile Day - Railroad that linked the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Over 6000 Chinese worked on it at one point. Building of the Transcontinental Railroad. From the tunnels through the Sierra Nevada's to the final joining in Utah of the two railroads.

All text, without the pictures for middle school is:

Dragon's Gate by Laurence Yep.  English.  Paperback.
Dragon's Gate by Laurence Yep. English. Paperback.
Our Price: $6.99

Dragon's Gate by Laurence Yep. Sailing to California in 1865, fourteen-year-old Otter leaves China to meet his father and legendary uncle on the transcontinental railroad, an adventure that challenges his survival on the mountains of the Sierras. English.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Buying a Piano - New Chinatown

We just finished the Grand Piano Search. My daughter has been playing for 10 years, and her piano teacher suggested it's time to upgrade the piano.

The piano industry seems to be a boom and bust industry. Right now, it's in a bust. There are also a lot of Chinese made pianos, some of them have become pretty good. The challenge is many made in China pianos have fancy European names on them. Such as Vienna. If you get serious about Pianos, the book to get is The Piano Book - Brookside Press. For finding out the age of piano, the site Bluebook of Pianos has a lot of good information. Next project is to sell our console/upright (if your in the Los Angeles area and need a good starter piano...

We visited 10+ piano stores. The Chinese focused ones were two in Arcadia focused more on Chinese, one in West Covina, and another in Rowland Heights. We had a great experience at
www.pianogallerie.com in Arcadia, the owner came across as among the most truthful of everyone we spoke to. Most experiences were not that great on going to a piano store, especially how many of them knocked the competition. Amazing the amount of people who claim how great their piano is! And why this brand is so great! If you talk to enough sales people, read The Piano Book and get the supplement, you get pretty educated. For a high end piano, the Chinese made ones are not there yet. Some of the Chinese made ones are very good, but it's hard to tell which ones are great and which ones are not. Steinway is nice, but at a price! The German made ones are amazing, but even more than Steinway. Yamaha and Kawai are good, safe piano's. We ended up with a Kawai. Our old piano is an American made Schafer and Son which is a great starter piano.

Piano Claims that are suspect:

1. Grey market Kawai and Yamaha are not made for the US market and have a problem of cracking (huge source of controversy in the industry). There was a problem with early Kawai and Yamaha's imported into the US back in the late 60's and early 70's.

2. This Chinese made piano is made to German design, which makes it excellent. Maybe... Hard to tell without a track record of a couple years.

3. This Chinese piano is better because it is all wood. Kawai's use plastic in them, so are not as good. The right type plastic in the right location is not an issue.

4. You should always buy new for Pianos (not true, if a good brand name piano it's not an issue. But it's always a good idea to pay for a Piano technician to look at it before purchase. New pianos have a 30-40% premium. Plus piano's take time to season. You can also take out the action and look at the hammers to see how heavily used the piano has been. The major worry is cracks in the soundboard (expensive to fix).

Cute book about music:
Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear by Lensey Namioka
Our Price: $4.50

Nine-year-old Yang and his family have immigrated from China to Seattle and the father is a professional Violin Play. He has been giving Yang Violin lessons for years, and Yang hates the Violin. Yang discovers Baseball! A great story about fitting in and getting used to a new country and culture.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

China and a faked photo

This article says a lot about China, but not directly. China Eats Crow Over Faked Photo Of Rare Antelope Wall Street Journal -Feb 21, 2008. The photo was of a herd of antelope running under a bridge with the new Tibet/China high speed train on it.

Important Points:
1. Bloggers have a huge amount of power in China. China has 210 Million Internet users, 3X that of India, and 86% of them have a blog.
2. The Chinese Government is open to admitting mistakes.
3. The fake photo was discovered by Chinese.
4. The photo was heavily used in China, including in subways and won the CCTV prize for best photo. This indicates a sensitivity to the Environment.
5. The photographer/reporter has been blacklisted from further work. Translation - don't embarrass China.

I believe some good will actually come out of this, even with the photographer making a bad choice photo shopping the picture.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Table Tennis in the US

NY Times story - A Table Tennis Star in China Now Uses Her Paddle for the U.S.
Forest Gump gave the impression the US had a pretty good table tennis team. Guess not :-)When I was in China on the All-American Ping Pong team, I just loved playing ping-pong with my Flexolite ping pong paddle.

My wife and her brother are so much better than I am at Ping Pong. When ChildBook expands, we need to get a Ping Pong table for the break room!


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why Learn Chinese

Michigan's former State Education Superintendant blogging from Tibet on Why Learn Chinese. A Small World indeed! TOM WATKINS: It's a small world after all

Key Points:

1. More people are know English in China than in the US.
2. Learning another language gives you another viewpoint. The word he uses, that is full of meaning, is
3. Learning Chinese will give a student a competitive advantage.
4. Mandarin Chinese is the most used language on the Internet.
5. 1/5th of the world's population lives in China.
6. China is determined to be a world super power again.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

50th Anniversary of Pinyin

Feb. 10, 2008 was the 50th Anniversary of Pinyin. Pinyin. Wade Giles is the other method that is used for romanitizing Chinese. Here is a conversion table of Wade Giles to Zhuyin to Pinyin. Zhuyin is symbols that are phonic that were used to teach Chinese Characters. Zhuyin, also called Bo Po Mo, is still used in Taiwan. The advantage of Pinyin is if you know English, it's easy to read. The problem is the pronunciation of some letters and combinations is different, where Wade-Giles is closer on the pronunciation. Due to politics, you still don't see a lot of products from Taiwan using Pinyin. Luckily, I do have one that is selling well the 10 Level Learning Chinese System also called Practical Chinese that includes books, Cd, and Workbooks.

Currently I have 90 products that use Pinyin, and 120 Bo Po Mo

On which one is best to use for
Learning Chinese, Zhuyin Bo Po Mo vs. Pinyin. The argument for Zhuyin Bo Po Mo is the pronunciation is better. The argument for Pinyinis it's easier. The problem I have seen is there is no good material in English for Learning Chinese I have yet that uses Zhuyin Bo Po Mo. Schools in the US that are run by Taiwanese (most Chinese Schools) use Zhuyin Bo Po Mo.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Canadian Chinese New Year Stamps

Canada has some cute stamps for the Lunar New Year with a cute mouse on them. The book, A Mouse Bride is very popular since it's the year of the Mouse (or some say Rat). Disney says Mouse. Canada has some cute stamps for the Chinese New Year!

The Mouse Bride - bilingual children's book in English and Chinese Traditional Characters
The Mouse Bride
Our Price: $16.95
Sale Price: $15.99
You Save $0.96!

The Mouse Bride. The mouse leader is searching for the mightiest husband for his daughter, someone strong enough to protect her and the village from the cat. Story characters are illustrated in Chinese clothings. Fun book to read. Award winning illustrations. Bilingual in English & Traditional Chinese. Hard Cover.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Irritating Education Expert

Article I enjoyed from the Washington Post - The Most Irritating Education Expert on Chester E. "Checker" Finn Jr. who's new book, "Troublemaker: A Personal History of School Reform Since Sputnik," just came out.

Key Points:

1. No Child Left Behind should have focused on getting nationwide standard results. Instead of letting each state set their own standards (rewarding the states with low standards, since more students would meet them).

2. Great Quote: "Republicans say they care about standards and choices, but their own constituents are at best smug about today's schools and, at worst, hostile to reform that might help poor and minority kids to enter their suburban enclaves. Both parties have screwy ideas about how to balance freedom and regulation in the K-12 domain, with Republicans shunning uniform standards but tolerating government micro-management while Democrats seem to care more about where the money goes than whether kids are learning."

My 2 cents. There are schools that have a 60% drop out rate in the US. There are other schools in K-12 that are world class in the US. As a society, it's important to give all children a chance, and school is a great tool for doing that. Many parents do a lot of extra study work with their kids, paying after school, getting books to improve Grades Study Skills. Even College Admission Books with advice into getting into the best colleges, including Harvard.


China's College Degree Challenge

LA Times Article - Degree no Job Guarantee in China.

The complaint is many colleges in China do not do a great job of educating. Same issue in India. So of the mass of Engineers that are graduated from a Chinese univeristy, per a McKinsey report, only 10% would be suitable to work in a multi-national.

Education is extremely important in the Chinese culture, including going to the right university. In the US, that has built a booming industry for study aids, academic advice, and college admissions.

A huge interest in China is getting into Harvard. A book about how one parents got their Child into Harvard became a best seller. I don't carry that book, but one I do in English is 50 Successful Harvard Application Essays that is a a great read. So is How They Got Into Harvard by The Staff Of The Harvard Crimson. Softcover. My daughter dreams of going to Harvard , and if she gets in her Grandmother has promised to pay the tuition. She has been on the Harvard campus tour twice.

50 Successful Harvard Application Essays.  English. Paperback.
50 Successful Harvard Application Essays
Our Price: $12.95

50 Successful Harvard Application Essays. What worked for them can help you get into the college of your choice. A compilation of fifty effective and diverse college application essays that offer students insights into what makes an essay compelling. English. Paperback. 180 Pages.

How They Got Into Harvard by The Staff Of The Harvard Crimson.  Softcover
How They Got Into Harvard by The Staff Of The Harvard Crimson. Softcover
Our Price: $12.95

How They Got Into Harvard by The Staff Of The Harvard Crimson. 50 successful applicants share 8 key strategies for getting into the college of your choice. Softcover

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