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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Languages go after the money

Languages go after the money - interesting letter to the editor.

It's in response to this article - The lure of overseas opportunity

My opinion, since my wife is an accountant (auditor CPA type) is it helps a lot to know the local language. Sometimes you are lucky and everyone knows English, but sometimes that is not true.

A good friend of hers got a job as a CFO in China because of her knowledge of Chinese. Husband who speaks some Chinese is happy teaching at the local American School. They have a chauffeur, etc. Nice step up from the cubicle she used to work in at a major firm in the US.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Chinese Moon Festival Updates

Moon Festival section has been updated, including a new section of Chinese Moon Festival Coloring Pictures. I copied them from Coloring Pages & Pictures of Chinese Kids, Animals, Festivals, etc. I also updated the section about the Chinese Moon Festival Background. A confusing part was the differences in the legends of the Moon Maiden. The Chinese Moon Festival Calendar of Events for the United States and Canada has also been updated. The section is an improvement from last year when I created it, and every year it's getting better and better.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Importer Mistake - So Make Lemonade

I thought I would be clever and order a bunch of the a soft cover book of the Monkey King in traditional characters that comes with a CD, part of a series that is a great value.. The problem is everyone just buys their favorite one (I started with 30 of each).

So I got 20 of them today...

Only one minor problem. Any guesses?

No CD. And the books have the same ISBN number, so time to make some lemonade and sell the book without CD for a bit less. I need to set up some new part numbers, soon as that is done I"ll link to it here. I have re-ordered them and hopefully this time they will show up with a CD. The wonders of importing, you are never 100% sure what you will get in a shipment :-)


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Traditional Characters - Chinese Made Easyhttp://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=7315029490266806661

I am not sure why, but Traditional Characters - Chinese Made Easy textbooks are super popular. Everyone is out. I have a huge order coming in 4 weeks for both Chinese Made Easy for Kids traditional character textbook and Chinese Made Easy Level 1, Traditional Character textbook. In the year of the Olympics, you would think people would be ordering lots of Simplified Chinese Made Easy.

Stuff like this is what makes running a business so exciting!


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Learning Chinese Textbooks - How to find them

Navigation on my site is interesting.

So if you were looking for Learning Chinese Textbooks, how would you get there from the main page?

There are actually three ways:

1. Under Books, Chinese Language on the main menu, there is a link to textbooks after you choose Simplified Chinese Character books or Traditional Chinese Character books for kids
(I got tired of people asking me how I they know which one they are buying, so I separated them). which then takes them to this wonderful chart Textbooks, Learning Chinese Traditional Characters that goes here http://www.childbook.com/Learning-Chinese-Textbooks-s/164.htm

http://www.childbook.com/Learning-Chinese-Textbooks-s/164.htm has a chart showing the differences between the Chinese Made Easy, Practical Chinese , and Kuaile Hanyu (Happy Chinese)

2. Under 4-14 Children/Kids Learning Chinese Products on the main menu has a sub-category Chinese Curriculum Text Books, CD, Workbooks, and Software for Learning & Teaching Chinese that goes http://www.childbook.com/Learning-Chinese-Curriculumn-Textbooks-CD-s-Software-s/244.htmthat has a nicer looking table, obviously a later version that showing the differences between the Chinese Made Easy, Practical Chinese , and Kuaile Hanyu (Happy Chinese).

3.. Under Teaching and Home Schooling Resources for Learning Chinese & China's Culture from the main menu has a sub-category that links to http://www.childbook.com/Learning-Chinese-Curriculumn-Textbooks-CD-s-Software-s/244.htm


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chinese Moon Festival

I have created a section that has everything you need for the Moon Festival! I do need to copy some Moon Festival coloring pictures over...

Chinese Moon Festival Calendar of Events for the United States and Canada Chinese Moon Background
Chinese Moon Calendar of Events for the United States and Canada
Chinese Moon Background including on the Moon Goddess, Jade Rabbit, Traditional Foods, and Moon Cakes.
Moon Festival Lesson Plan Chinese Moon Festival Books and Stories
Moon Festival Lesson Plan for grades K-4
Chinese Moon Festival Books including stories about Moon Cakes and the origin of the Autumn Festival that is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th Lunar Month.
Chinese Moon Festival Links Moon Cakes - Where to Buy/Purchase
Chinese Moon Festival Links
Moon Cakes are available from Chinese Bakeries and Chinese Markets. Some Moon Cakes are imported from Taiwan and China, and others are made fresh locally. There are also a few sites that sell them on the Internet.


Monday, August 25, 2008

China's areas to work on

Areas China should work on:

1. Increasing the value of schooling (the quality varies).
2. Handling the increased urbanization of the population.
3. Environmental issues
4. The demographic imbalance that is coming due to the one child policy.
5. Implementing intellectual property protection (needed to move up the value food chain).
6. Reducing corruption.
7. Some type of Social Security for the coming wave of retirees.
8. Rule of law (property rights are a big issue).
9. Protecting the made in China Brand
10. Energy Savings
11. Making investment more productive overall, instead of based on relations and politics.
12. Work on the Rich/Poor divide that has been increasing. Investments in poorer regions is already happening.
13. Health care - ties with issue of corruption. Quality varies tremendously.
14. Investing in the right industries that will help China in the future. This is a tricky one that most countries have done a poor job at.
15. Reducing the use of Nationalism to keep the ruling party in power. This is such a tricky balancing act since the wide spread use of texting allows feedback from the overall country.


Olympics are done - now what?

My last post for a while on the Olympics, I thought yesterday was but this article came up. What Next for China?

There are two schools of thought.

1 - The Olympics were so positive for China recognizing that China is now a major world power economically and this was evident to the major world leaders who attended, as well as the Chinese people. This helps sustain the legitimacy of the ruling communist party and their policies. With this the Chinese government will open up more since they feel less threatened.

2 - The Olympics were so successful because of the huge amount of state control from the huge police presence to keeping out potentially pesky foreigners to China's Gold Medal results to the amazing images shown world wide and to the Chinese people. This will actually result in keeping the increased tighter control of the media in order to move China forward economically.

I am not sure. China has a lot of challenges in the years ahead, and the Olympics are done and can no longer be used as a justification. I wonder if China's government is going to look for some other justification to use in making decisions.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Olympics - Success for China?

Were the Olympics a success for China?

Will they help the self confidence of China overall, and reduce the worrisome extreme nationalism that pops up from time to time? Christian Monitor seems to think so. Using this measurement it seems a success. Only cost was $40 Billion.

For those attending from the West, the degree of choreography also made an impression.

For those who watched the opening ceremonies that was just amazing, the goose stepping soldiers were a low point. My Grandmother who I was sitting next to and built Liberty Ships during the war did not like the image at all. A few negatives also came to light, such as the lip syncing.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Passion, Integrity, and Knowledge

A friend of mine gave a talk today about what it requires a successful business, and he mentioned three key factors:
  • Passion
  • Integrity
  • Knowledge
I have known him since the dot com boom and bust of 10 years ago, and of a group of people I was in a group with, I am the only person still running an Internet based business. I like the definition of Integrity he got from the audience - keeping your word. It's so important to do this.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Chinese Made Easy as a Textbook

A Chinese Teacher I am working with for Chinese Made Easy Textbooks has found that a combination of Chinese Made Easy Level 1 and Chinese Made Easy for Kids Level 1 is working best for her class. She wishes the Chinese Made Easy for Kids has the for kids removed, since it is for a Middle School Chinese Class. She finds the Chinese Made Easy for Kids is better for activities and speaking that are fun (and learning Chinese should be fun), and the Chinese Made Easy is better for the class work.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Best Asian breakfast restaurants in Los Angeles

Best Asian breakfast restaurants in Los Angeles from the LA Times. Yes, this morning I had a Fan Twan with cold soy bean milk (traditionally should be hot) for breakfast. My bribe to get my daughter out of bed to keep her on a regular schedule since school starts this morning.

A Fan Twan is sticky rice, with a Chinese Donut inside, along with some dried pork and often Chinese pickles.

The list in the LA Times is around San Gabriel area, which is about 20 minutes from my house in good traffic. The place I went to was around 5 minutes, in the Hong Kong Plaza near Fullerton and Colima. On weekends the service is horrible, but the food is good. No competition in the area, unfortunately. I do want to convince my favorite Chinese bakery to start selling Soy Bean Milk, it would go great with the rolls and pastries they sell. They sell Coke and 7 Up, but not Soy Bean Milk? Hello, what is your customer more likely to buy? I also have a dream of convincing them to make and sell Fan Twans, there service is a lot nicer. Nei Nei Bakery on Colima in Rowland Heights is our neighborhood Chinese Bakery with a good selection, wonderful service, and nice people.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Humbling Day

A humbling day, I really dislike when I make mistakes. I find whenever I make a mistake, it's time to slow down and re-work the processes so this type of mistake does not happen again. Sometimes it's as simple as just adding a sign. My belief is if you make the process correctly, it is almost impossible to create an error. This week has been humbling and a learning experience. And on what to do as a business, do what you promise, so I do offer and back my 100% money back guarantee. My goal is a satisfied customer, and if that is not happening something needs to be improved.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Chinese Language Textbooks

Many schools seem to be using Chinese Made Easy for their textbooks. Chinese Made Easy Simplified Chinese is more popular than Chinese Made Easy Traditional Chinese Textbooks.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Free Textbooks for Colleges

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Good Article on complexity of China

Should we give China a break - from the Washington Post.

The article discusses a lot of the stereotypes of China. I liked the one he punctured of the group style of the Chinese, and then asking if you had ever been run over getting off a plane with Chinese on it scrambling to disembark.

My daughter, who can be pretty sarcastic, picked up a stereotype I had never heard during the opening ceremonies was how per NBC, even the Chinese behind the counters in McDonalds were so precise. My daughter's comment was so you want fry's with that?

My 2 cents, in China in everyday life being super precise, not really. I have worked with ones who are super detailed through training (like my wife's accounting training), and others who are so sloppy and make so many mistakes it's hard to be around. Now in Japan I still remember a noodle shop, a hole in the wall, where the cook/server/probably owner reminded me of my Karate teacher with his beautiful, graceful, perfect movements that was just so Zen.


Olympics - My mixed feelings

I am glad that China is getting a chance to show off to the world how far it has come in the world. And they have done an amazing job with world class sporting facilities, an amazing opening ceremony, and Chinese athletes winning a huge amount of Gold Medals.

Some areas that I feel are hurting China's reputation that were avoidable:


Saturday, August 16, 2008

HomeSchooling in CA

Recently a CA court overturned their ruling against Home Schooling in California. Court reverses, declares home schooling legal in Calif. This is great news! The initial ruling was you had to have a teaching credential in order to home school. And my guess is the next step would have been requiring a teaching credential in each area.

The school my daughter went to for Kindergarten was a Christian School that had heavy involvement with a lot of home schoolers whom we met at the yearly talent show. I also got a nice order for some Learning Chinese Textbooks from a Home Schooling family. I also have a section that is focused on Home Schooling Learning Chinese Resources including lots of free stuff.

And I do have a teaching credential in two areas (Business and Social Studies for grades 7-12) in California. My opinion is there is so much unnecessary junk in the teaching curriculum that is there to look good, but does not really teach you how to teach. Teach for America is an example of what can be done without going through a teaching credential program and get amazing results.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Olympic Bubble in Learning Chinese

I am curious if the HUGE amount of publicity for the Olympics in Beijing is causing a spike in Learning Chinese, and that the interest in Learning Chinese will go down after the Olympics is over.

I have seen an increased interest in Learning Chinese at my site, but this may be due to other reasons than the Olympics. Or perhaps it's this wonderful blog - or may be something else that makes up for my blog :-)


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Chinese Autism Program in the US

California Learning Center Offers Autism Programs Tailored for Chinese press release and an article from the San Jose Mercury News Autistic Asians get a window of opportunity

There is often a big shame issue and cultural issue with Chinese parents trying their best to help their kids. And some school districts focus on what is politically expedient, instead of what a child really needs. This is a sore point with me, for a class I was tutoring one summer had a child who was in a special needs class, and he had a balance issue but it was easier to just keep him in the class rather than challenge him. And the Father did not understand the school system so he could not effectively get what his son deserved.

If I went back into Teaching, I would probably get a certificate in Special Ed. I always enjoyed the classes I subbed in and I felt I made a difference with the students I worked with. I had a couple of Special Ed. teachers who insisted on me for their sub.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

English in China History

Beijing pushes for language victory from the guardian.co.uk that gives some tidbits about how English was taught in China in the past. After the revolution English was seen as the language of the imperialists. Before that there were a lot of American business people and missionaries (Roosevelts were merchants in China).

An interesting quote:

You still find people, in their late 50s, who know the English words for "hammer" and "sickle" but very little else.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Milli Vanilli at the Beijing Olympics

Unfortunately, some official (politburo) decided that the 7 year old, Yang Peiyi, who really sang for a lip syncing 9 year old had teeth that were too crooked, so she was pulled at the last moment. And now the Chinese government is using the great firewall of China to remove all mention of this faux pa from the Chinese Internet, blogs, and web pages. Shades of Milli Vanilli.

Quote that justified this...

"We have a responsibility to face the audience of the whole country, and to be open with this explanation. We should all understand it is like this: it is a question of the national interest. It is a question of the image of our national music, our national culture. Especially at the entrance of our national flag, this is an extremely important, an extremely serious matter."—Chen Qigang, musical designer

On the fireworks, I blame NBC for not making it clearer these were faked. I watched the broadcast and I did not pick up from the wording it was faked.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Chinese Learning Materials - Making it easy to find

An article that is thought provoking and is more aimed at Software than a web site such as ChildBook.com Ten guiding principles for interface design and some questions in the comments that are thought provoking:
  • Are we making someone’s job easier?
  • Letting them have more fun?
  • Helping them learn?
My problem:
  • Huge amount of Learning Chinese Products, over 100o live products. From DVD's to books to Music to Software. And then the sub-categories. And the textbooks.
  • And then lots of free stuff from listings of events, articles, coloring pictures, and crafts.
  • And somehow making all this content easy to find for my customer.
What I have done currently is:
  • Create separate main pages for each area such as DVD's, CD's, Software, and Music.
  • Create pages that list items by age.
  • Lots of links on the side for all the extra content.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

French vs. Chinese vs. Spanish

French is a beautiful language that reflects the culture that gave birth to it. From fashion to food to culture, there is a lot of great things about France. Unfortunately from a business prospective, unless doing business in some African nations I don't see a huge reason to learn French, when compared with the potential of China, or even doing business with the huge Hispanic Markets of North and South America. I took German in High School, and the one time I tried to use it in Germany the shop keeper spoke better English than my German! When I visited France we had no problems communicating, and in doing business with people from France I have had no challenges.

Here is my list of reasons on Why to Learn Chinese.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Texas Two Step - Olympics

I am glad President Bush made it to the Olympics, and also opened a bigger embassy in China for the US. This will have a lasting impact to improve US China relations.

Some of the actions the last couple of days were interesting.

President Bush in China makes speech in Thailand in areas China needs to improve.
Arrives in Beijing and aides and reporters on jet were delayed 3 hours.
Another speech in Beijing much nicer.
Grand opening of new embassy.
Great appearance at the Olympics, all smiles.

My opinion, the speech in Thailand was to give political cover for having a pleasant trip in Beijing, and the 3 hours delay was China's quiet way of saying they did not appreciate the speech right before the Olympics.


Friday, August 8, 2008

opening ceremony - wow!

Amazing spectacle that was very well done.

What was your favorite part?

Mine was when the printing blocks were revealed to be controlled by people!


China's Role in Spreading Ideas

The 2008 Olympics opening ceremony was a fascinating showcase of China’s culture. The thematic unity of the program featured on China’s biggest contributions to human kind. But for this post, since we are a bookstore, we remember China’s monumental contributions to the development of books.

In 105 AD, Tsai Lun invented paper as we know it. However, there are archaeological excavations in China that prove paper was already used in the 2nd century BC. These papers were mostly used to wrap or pad items. It was only in the 3rd century that paper was accepted as a main and convenient medium to write on.

In 305 AD the first wooden printing press was invented. The symbols were carved on wooden blocks. The earliest woodblock prints that survived are of silk printed with flowers in three colours from the Han dynasty (before 220 CE).

In 1049, printing technology was further advanced when alchemist Pi Sheng invented the movable type using clay blocks. Later on, in 1313, a magistrate named Wang Chen commissioned the carving of 60,000 movable type blocks to print a treatise on Chinese technology.

Both kinds of printing technology were not followed up in China. It could be because there are thousands of Chinese characters needed to print a material. Western alphabet, on the other hand, uses about 26.

It was Johannes Gutenberg who would later revolutionize printing in the Western World. The deluge of printed materials that followed thereafter opened pathways of ideas from diverse peoples of different places.

Also, we can't deny that the ChildBook products we enjoy today can be attributed to the genius of Chinese visionaries who lived long ago.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Learning Chinese & the Olympics

There has been a huge amount of attention on China, and in the next couple of days it's going to get even worse. Cute article - Olympics make this year a good time to learn Chinese about learning Chinese with a neat quote:

In the future, children will have to know foreign languages to be competitive in the job market, and “Chinese should be at the top of the list to learn


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Olympic - Is China trying to hard?

Sometimes when you try to hard you can actually fail because of that. I have that feeling that China is trying so hard to have the perfect Olympics, that has resulted in negative publicity.

Sometimes the best action is not to react, and just let people vent/protest. But by bringing attention to a protect, such as Mr. Cheek the head of Team Darfur and former Olympian, by taking away his visa, they have instantly given him a huge amount of free publicity. It's like with children, by giving attention to certain behavior, you are actually rewarding it.

Some examples:
And don't even get me started on the bugging of taxis and installing spy gear in hotels. Is it really necessary? I can understand the need to avoid another Munich, but the cost is showing a negative image of China.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Chinese vs. Spanish - Which to Learn?

There are a lot of reasons why to learn Chinese and I thought I would do a comparison with Spanish. In my opinion, the two languages you should consider learning are either Spanish or Chinese. Or you can be like my Brother-in-law and speak both!

In Southern California, knowing Spanish can be an asset. It allows you better communication with many workers if you are running a small manufacturer or other type of small business. There is also the fact that maquiladoras on the Mexican US border do a lot of manufacturing. There was until recently a lot of movement to cheaper labor sources, but with the increase in fuel some businesses are moving operations closer to reduce the shipping cost. NY Times article - Shipping Costs Start to Crimp Globalization. And there is a huge market in Central and South America. A challenge for South America is a lot of their production is still in raw materials, being sent to China for processing.

Major areas that Mexico and South America will need to work on is infrastructure (without good roads it's hard to do effective manufacturing) and education. An advantage that Mexico has is being close to the US, that can lower transportation costs. The challenge in Central and South America is often because of the ruling class controls everything and it's hard to make changes, the best and brightest often go to the US. I have known quite a few Chinese who are now in the US, who came originally from Costa Rica, Brazil, or Argentina. Yes, I admit Brazil is doing much better now days.

China for better and worse, is putting a lot of emphasis on their infrastructure. Education is another area that China is also working on. China is also emphasizing moving up the value chain for manufactured goods. Currently, China is the factory of the world. Items that require lower cost labor are moving to Vietnam and other countries. As well as moving into other areas of China that have lower cost labor. There is also a huge developing market within China, so China has both the opportunity of exporting items, as well as a potential market. The government of China is very pro-growth (good and bad). There is also a lot of entrepreneurial and can do spirit in China.

Truthfully, there is opportunity in both the Chinese and South American markets. I see the Chinese market as more exciting and going through more growth than the overall South American market due to education and infrastructure issues. And for this reason I have a preference for Learning Chinese vs. Spanish.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Chinese Tutors - How to find one!

I had a good conversation with a customer about finding a tutor to teach her Chinese.

Some of the ideas I gave her:
  1. Many Chinese speakers want to improve their English, so do a trade. I would place an advertisement in the Local Chinese Newspaper, since she lives near Rowland Heights that would be Chinese Daily News. Look for the page that had the classified adv., and call up the number. No Chinese needed (trust me, I have done it when my wife is busy).
  2. Place a free adv. in the local colleges. There are lots of Master and PhD candidates who are open to extra money, and some willing to trade teaching Chinese for Learning English.
  3. ESL Schools - Always full of Chinese Speakers wanting to learn English.
  4. One I did not mention was to find another Mother who wants to improve their English. Chinese Daily News is probably the best for this one.
  5. Try Craig's list.

She also had excellent taste in her purchases. She bought Land of the Dragon - A Documentary of China - DVD , a great documentary on China and the Lady White Snake Book and DVD Bundle.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Learning Chinese one tone at a time

Learning Chinese one tone at a time - nice story about a Learning Chinese class in San Diego, that mentions Pacific Ridge School, a private school, that requires all students to Learn Chinese.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Olympics & The Internet

China originally promised free Internet access to the Press in Beijing, then certain sites were not allowed including the BBC and Amnesty International, and then fewer sites were censored. And if your staying in a hotel in Beijing, your Internet is being monitored.

And this blog post from the LA Times (not very nice) about the Olympics President - IOC president: No Regret, no apology


Friday, August 1, 2008

Test if a site is banned in China


Neat tool! For fun, I tested childbook.com and it is accessible from China!


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