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Sunday, February 28, 2010

55,000 Dinner Guests for Lantern Festival

Guess who came to dinner? Only 55,000 guests...

In Yayang Town in Wenzhou, Zheijiang Province, Lantern Festival was celebrated earlier today by families eating dinner together.

This "Hundred-Family Banquet" during Lantern Festival is a time to unite with family, ask for blessings and pray.

Imagine if your mom prepared a family reunion for this number of guests... I wonder how crazy that would get.

Full story is here .

Happy Lantern Festival, everyone!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Confucius Institute in Hacienda Heights

Wow! 33 comments so far in my local paper on this!

Parents to voice opposition to Hacienda La Puente School District's Confucius Classroom - San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

Hacienda La Puente School District is an interesting school district (my wife graduated from there and I subbed there) that is a mix of Chinese, Hispanic, and some White students.

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Chinese & the Ivy League

I don't like the title of the article, but there is a lot of good content about college admittance for Asians.

Key Points:
  • The area of education, that paramount priority of both communities. The story of parents toiling to create academic opportunity for their offspring (and using guilt, bribery and punishment to ensure that those kids take advantage of it) is the same whether its narrator is named Josh Li or Joshua Leibowitz.
  • Asian Americans are disproportionately harmed by current admissions standards, to the point where an effective quota system exists, capping the number of Asians admitted at a virtually fixed level Ð for private colleges, generally well south of 20 percent of the student body

The Asian-Jewish connection: Is it really kosher to call Asians the "new Jews"? - SF Chronicle.

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WalMart & China's Environment

Wal-Mart compels Chinese vendors to meet higher standards - Washington Post

Key Points:
  • "Wal-Mart says if you're over the compliance level, you're out of business. That will send a powerful signal."
  • If Wal-Mart were a sovereign nation, it would be China's fifth or sixth largest export market.
  • Three-quarters or more of China's wastewater is not treated.
  • Wal-Mart has more than 10,000 suppliers in China. In addition, about a million farmers supply produce to the company's 281 stores in China.
  • Working with the Ministry of Agriculture and large independent cooperatives and distribution companies, Wal-Mart is trying to cultivate healthier farm techniques, with less pesticide, more organic fertilizer and more efficient water use.
On why WalMart is doing this my opinion is it makes business sense. So much of pollution is wasteful that actually costs a company money that is done for short sighted reasons. By increasing the efficiency and reducing waste, WalMart is actually making their suppliers have a lower cost and increases the competitiveness of WalMart. WalMart is doing the same in the US.

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Lantern Festival is also a Day for Lovers

Moms and Dads, did you know that according to old Chinese belief, the Moon Minister of Marriage Yue Lao set you both up to marry many, many first-full-moon-of-the-year years ago?

Yes, it is said that this distinguished deity matches baby boys and girls on the 15th night after the Chinese New Year, when the first full moon of the year is out. He matches pairs by binding a magical red thread around them.

Here is something that describes this bonding found in old Chinese poems:

"An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet,
regardless of time, place, or circumstance.
The thread may stretch or tangle,
but it will never break."

Yue Lao is often depicted as an old man with flowing beard, holding a staff with orbs in one hand, and a scroll tied with red thread on the other. The scroll supposedly contains the names of all the matched pairs who would become husband and wife eventually. In other depictions he holds red thread or a red scarf.

Yue Lao also has temples, and people wishing for relationships and marriage visit his temple to honor him.

You may like to see ChildBook products about Lantern Festival and celebrating the Chinese New Year :

Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes

Lanterns and Firecrackers A Chinese New Year Story by Jonny Zucker, English
Lin Yi's Lantern, A Moon Festival Tale by Brenda Williams, English, Hardcover

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chinese Games for Kids

One of my free hidden gems on ChildBook is my Chinese Games for Kids section that has 10 Games on it. My wife recognized a lot of them from when she was growing up. PDF Format for most of them so you can just print them out and follow the instructions.

Games are a fun activity and should be a core part of Teaching Chinese. It's amazing how much work kids will do for learning Chinese, when they are playing a Chinese Game.

And to keep the site going there are also some Chinese games for sale at the bottom of the page :-)


Kuaile Hanyu or Discovering Chinese?

I just had a chat session where the customer wanted to know which one was better, Kuaile Hanyu or Discovering Chinese.

Hard question! It's like comparing Apples and Oranges.

Discovering Chinese
Kuaile Hanyu
  • Designed especially for Middle School students (it's a challenging age, between being a kid and an adult).
  • Uses very Middle School friendly illustrations, more like a comic book in parts.
  • Story line is of a trip to China, so it comes across as useful.
  • Designed to be fun. Kuaile Hanyu means Happy Chinese.
  • 3 Levels
  • Teacher's Guide Available
  • Designed by UK Schools with the Chinese Government
  • Available in Simplified Chinese
My recommendation:
They are both very good series.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Beautiful Sight on a Lantern Festival

Lantern Festival is this Sunday, Feb.28. The Lantern Festival signals the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations and it is time to face the year with good intentions.

In Taiwan, people write prayers on their lanterns, wishing for good health, love and happiness. Then they let the paper lanterns fly off into the night sky.

Here is a video taken during the Lantern Festival of 2007 in Pingshi, Taiwan by Diagonal View UK.

It's too beautiful to not share!

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Some Legends about the Lantern Festival

When the first full moon of the year goes up 15 days after the Chinese New Year, the Lantern Festival is celebrated. This year, the Lantern Festival is on Feb. 28, 2010.

It is believed that the gods are in full force during this lucky time. It comes as no surprise that there are so many legends about the Lantern Festival.

For now we will look at 3 of the other more active dieties expected to circulate during this special night :

- The God of Destiny, Taiyi, is all set to fulfill desires.
- Mazu, the Goddess of the Sea, is all ready to accept wishes, so families throw offerings to rivers.
- The Moon Minister of Marriages matches baby girls and boys, who will marry who when they grow up.

Taiyi is the god of heaven who controls human destiny. He has 16 dragons who can do his bidding should he wish to inflict drought, storm, famine or pestilence on the human race. During the lantern festival, splendid ceremonies are dedicated to Taiyi in exchange for good health or good weather throughout the year.

Mazu is the Goddess of the Sea and grants wishes to families. Families dedicate lanterns and an assortment of offerings so that their wishes may be granted.

What to toss to the river as offering for wishes to the Goddess of the Sea:

Oranges - Prosperity for husbands
Apples - Luck for Wives
Longan - to have kids
Red Dates - to have all good things in life
Pebbles - to have a coins
Coins - for more prosperity, treasures.

The Lantern Festival is also the time for the Moon Minister of Marriage to pair up baby boys and girls. It is the day marriages are made on the moon. He binds a boy and a girl with a magical red thread. Years later, when they are grown, they will meet on a night of the first full moon. They will feel that they are fated to their heaven-on-earth connection.

Yes, the Lantern Festival is a night of enchantment and happy wishes, indeed.

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China's Wage Increase

Minimum wages have been announced before the Chinese New Year ranging from 10 percent in Beijing to 15 percent in export-oriented Shanghai and Jiangsu.


There does now appear to be a shortage of labor in several areas. Reports in Hong Kong say factory owners in the Pearl River delta, the major export hub, are having difficulty luring workers back to the region.


China's Wage Increase - Asian Sentinel.


China's soil Food Issue

Factory waste, including heavy metals and other toxins, has contaminated more than a tenth of the country's farmland, he said.

I have read about this before. It's a good sign that there is a higher awareness in the Chinese Government of this. I thought I had blogged about this, but can't find a post. Nothing in my posts on Chinese Food Safety.

The article does a good overall job on the issue. It missed that China is buying farmland outside of nearby countries (another blog post I thought I had done, but I guess not).

China's soil deterioration may become growing food crisis, adviser claims - UK Guardian.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Young, educated and jobless in China

Young, educated and jobless in China - LA Times.

An estimated 3 million jobless or underemployed college graduates in China, products of a mass social experiment by central planners to churn out more professionals for China's economic development. Nicknamed the Ant Tribe, after the title of a recent book documenting their struggles, they now constitute a vast army of educated young people whose growing restlessness worries the Chinese government.

There is a limit on what state control and direction can do. My thought what China needs to do is encourage entrepreneurship and increase intellectual property. The current system favors the families and businesses that are well connected.

I just learned about the eight immortals today, who they are, and their descendants. Interesting what this says about China's economy.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chinese Developer Challenges

Working with software developers can be very challenging. And figuring out what a customer wants for software development. There is a saying that a camel is a horse designed by committee. Or another good story is the blind men describing an elephant.

There seems to be a culture clash working with Chinese developers. Of course working with any developer can be challenging. And of course there is the developer stories of crazy customer stories, a developer friend of mine describes a quote he got where the person wanted a site like eBay, and only wanted to pay $100.

Mindset change needed to work with Chinese developers - ZDNET


Friday, February 19, 2010

When Users "Gossip" about Textbook Characters

I like it when users talk about the content of Learning-Chinese textbooks. I learn about how easy or difficult it is to use. Students usually have great comments on what works or don't in using the book.

I am amused however, when users actually talk about the storyline of a textbook. I have noticed this a year or so ago, but ignored it until I recently joined a Chinese forum.

The students were talking about who's the boyfriend of who in the New Practical Chinese Reader.

Now, we were taught gossiping is not a good thing, but if for example, I find my teenage son gossiping about a textbook character, then I think I would be all for it.

This means the textbook is very interesting for the target user. For New Practical Chinese Reader, that would be teen-agers, so it's understandable.

As a parent, I would prefer it that way, because this means my teen-ager will willingly use the higher levels of a learning-Chinese textbook. I think it's a mean feat for a language textbook to attract the attention of a user this way.

I think it was also mentioned in that forum thread that the story line stopped for level 4. The focus of Book 5 was more on classic Chinese materials that the students would need. Yes, I sensed disappointment and somebody mentioned the boyfriend issue should be resolved in Level 6.

I heard Level 6 is out, and ChildBook will surely have it when available, so let's see if it will be resolved.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

China, Silicon Valley, & Solar

Good article from the Mercury News - Silicon Valley faces fierce global competition in cleantech

Key Points:
  • China views cleantech as a gold rush that will propel Chinese companies to world-domineering status.
  • Lawrence Berkeley's Wiser noted that Chinese government policy supports local companies and that it's often cheaper to buy homegrown technology, even though foreign-made products may be more reliable.

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New Practical Chinese Reader User Videos

It's nice that people are using the New Practical Chinese Reader books, and their cameras to practice their own versions of the new Practical Chinese Reader storyline.

I think it is a good idea to video tape yourself if you are studying Chinese. That way you can see how you say things and how you look, and you can assess yourself what can be done to improve your Chinese-speaking skills.

Here are some user-videos made using dialogues of NPCR

School Projects:

Class practice sessions:

For those who are interested to use the New Practical Chinese Reader books, yes, these are available from ChildBook. As you may have seen in the videos, the books are designed for late teens and early 20's students.

Check out the New Practical Chinese Reader items.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Some Notes About Learning-Chinese Curriculum Textbooks

One of the top questions we always get from parents and teachers is about Learning Chinese curriculum textbooks.

The basic information about our curriculum textbooks is at the ChildBook Curriculum Textbooks page, but here are some other points that may help you choose the textbook most suitable for your child or students.

Chinese Made Easy and Chinese Made Easy for Kids are attractive looking and the kids like using it. Parents also like that there is a Parent/ Teacher's Guide in Traditional or Simplified Chinese.

Word of tween caution though: Our bigger kids are not exactly thrilled when they see their book entitled "Chinese Made Easy for Kids", so best use this series for the smaller kids set. For tweens and above, do use the Chinese Made Easy series.

An alternative for tweens/ junior high/ middle school kids is the Kuaile Hanyu series. Lessons are cartoon-ish and the videos and software show young teens (junior high age) on exchange student trips to Beijing.

If you think stories will be more interesting for your child, the Better Chinese books series will be appreciated: These are: My First Chinese Words for small children, My First Chinese Reader for younger elementary grades, then Discovering Chinese and Magical Tour of China for teens and adults. Better Chinese matches the stories to the level of the student. Plus there are optional stories/lessons you can avail if desired.

Practical Chinese by Wendy Lin has a simple-looking layout, but customers with Chinese-speaking parents (especially if from Taiwan) find it very useful. These are also best if you desire for your child to learn Traditional Chinese. Plus there are many levels that the child can use until grown up.
Also good to note that parents also appreciate that the textbook's author, Ms. Wendy Lin, responds to questions about the lessons.

And not to be confused with the series previously mentioned, the New Practical Chinese Reader (NPCR) is a popular textbook series used by late high school and college students. The content is interesting. Chinese words, conversations, the storyline and lessons are specifically for older teens.

These are some of the usual highlights of the text books that parents and teachers like.

If you have more questions about the textbooks, please send us an email.

PS. Oh! Oh! Special mention since we're talking about textbooks, you might want to check out practice tests for Chinese proficiency examiantions.

Our Chinese SAT review books are very popular among high school students.
Plus the AP Chinese Exams is on May. It's not too late to review, we have Barron's and Bih-Hsya Hsieh's practice tests.

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New Chinatown Food Tour

Six Taste's New Chinatown Food Tour: The San Gabriel Valley looks nice.

3 hour tour. Usual price is $55, but you can get it through GoldStar for $33.

It would have been nice if they also included a Chinese Vegetarian and Muslim restaurant to show the great breadth of Chinese food.

Another tour which tries to go through the Historical Prospective of the New Chinatown, but I believe the food is a better one.

Hmm... What would have been more interesting is starting from the American Chinese Restaurants, the Cantonese style ones that were considered Chinese food 30 years ago. And then visit different Chinese restaurants, a Chinese market, Dim Sum, Chinese desert place, and a vegetarian place.

Cute book - Exploring Chinatown: A Children's Guide to Chinese Culture
My listing of Chinatowns of the United States


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chinese Curriculum - Which one?

Chinese Curriculum - Which one to choose?

Unfortunately its complicated because I have had some customers love a certain curriculum for Learning Chinese, and another customer hates it.

Some sugestions and questions to ask:

1. Age of those learning Chinese. In my Learning Chinese Curriculum selection guide, I include suggested ages. For beginner levels they usually have the same contents for vocabulary, but the style they are presented does change.

2. Learning Style of the Student. From story based approach to Bo Po Mo to a down to earth style. It's very helpful to look at the sample pages to see which series is best for you.

3. Is there a native Chinese speaker in the house? If yes this widens your options. Some series have great teacher's guides and other expect the teacher to be fluent in Chinese.

4. Simplified or Traditional Chinese? Their are pros and cons for both. The Chinese SAT II is in both simplified and Traditional Characters. You may also want to check what your local school district is teaching and of course any tutor. If the tutor is from China they will usually prefer simplified and if from Taiwan/HK, Traditional.

6. Tutors - If using a tutor that is not structured, can you introduce structure through a Chinese Curriculum. Many parents have called me out of frustration where their kids can sing some songs in Chinese, but they feel their kids are not advancing. It's helpful to discuss which curriculum with your tutor.

7. Chinese Schools - It's so important to find the right one. A complaint I have heard is all my kid is learning is to write Characters. Chinese School Finder for the US and Canada

8. Learning Chinese Resources area. Lots of great articles and resources.

9. Pinyin Vs. Bo Po Mo - Champion Chinese is great for Teaching Bo Po Mo. This is another sticky issue with pros and cons on each side.

Some observations:

1. If your a non native speaker teaching Chinese to your kids the products from Better Chinese have a great amount of support with teachers guides and more. My First Chinese Words. There are related series for older kids such as My First Chinese Reader for ages 7-11 and Discovering Chinese for ages 12+. The advantage of the Better Chinese products is they have a huge amount of support material.

2. Other parents prefer different styles of Learning Chinese. Practical Chinese is a very down to earth method that I highly recommend for teaching by a native speaker/reader. And since the CD is separate, many native speakers save a bit by not buying the CD.

3. Others prefered a more polished series such as Chinese Made Easy and Chinese Made Easy for kids (color illustrations, graphics are very professional). A complaint of some is the textbooks always include the CD. Another complaint by some teachers is they should remove the word kids, since older students don't like to study textbooks with that in the title. Chinese Made Easy for kids focuses more on the verbal area and has more exercises. Chinese Made Easy includes more of the learning characters.

4. Kuaile Hanyu is great for Middle School students and I have had adults buy it. It's designed for Middle School students and very well done. I especially like the CD Roms (great price) and can be bought separately.

5. New Practical Chinese Reader is very popular for adults Learning Chinese. A new textbook by the author of Practical Chinese is Daily Chinese, aimed at adults learning Chinese.

Note! Always take a look at the sample pages before selecting a Chinese Curriculum. All of the above are very popular, but it's important to get the right textbook for your style.


Learning Chinese with Kids and Parents

It's the theme of this weeks Learning Chinese Sale.

As your kids are learning Chinese so can you! I have many families call me up and plan for everyone, including Mom and Dad to work on their Chinese. It's nice to have a Learning Environment with the whole family working together. And Learning a foreign language needs a lot of support at home to be truly successful. A good start for those familes serious about Learning Chinese is choosing a Chinese Curriculum. This ads a structured approach that is helpful for most people.

Some ideas:

1. Activities for the entire family. Go to some local Chinese New Year Celebrations.

2. Eat lunch at a Chinese Restaurant.

3. Visit a local Chinatown.

4. Reading to your kids. If you have a native Chinese speaker in the family, have them read stories to your kids in Chinese.

5. For everyone a great series that uses a story based approach is My First Chinese Words. There are related series for older kids such as My First Chinese Reader for ages 7-11 and Discovering Chinese for ages 12+. Other parents prefer different styles of Learning Chinese. Practical Chinese is a very down to earth method that I highly recommend for teaching Traditional Characters who is a native speaker/reader. Others prefer a more polished series such as Chinese Made Easy and Chinese Made Easy for kids.

6. Get some CD's with books that are Bilingual Chinese English Songs, where the song is sung and in Chinese and then English! Learning Chinese through songs is a lot of fun and a great family activity. Most of them have a book to help.


Ethnic Chinese Acronymns

ABC - American Born Chinese. Ethnic Chinese born in the US. Often used by Native Born Chinese to describe a person who does not understand Chinese culture.

Astronaut - Chinese living in the US, but flies to

Banana - Yellow on outside White on inside.

Egg - White on outside, yellow on inside

FOB - Fresh off the boat (should be plane). I have seen this used both as a positive and negative.

Sea Turtle - Chinese who return from the US to China

Twinkie - Yellow on outside, white on inside



Monday, February 15, 2010

China's Olympic Bird's Nest On Thin Ice

Beijing's National Stadium is on thin ice - LA Times.

$450 Million cost and it looks like no good way to make money.

An explanation from the WSJ on the Bird's Nest:

The Bird's Nest, for example, has no clearly defined purpose after the Games -- and no roof to protect it during the city's frigid winters and hot, rainy summers.

As a great Los Angeles area resident, I appreciate how the LA Games broke even. From a prestige view point China did an amazing job of hosting the Olympics and showing the world how advanced they are. And a lot of infrastructure was built, but at a cost of $42 Billion Dollars.


Valentine's Day, New Year Clash; Moms' Heartburn

Good Wall Street Journal Article - Valentine's Day, New Year Clash; Moms' Heartburn

A fun to read post - Wanted: Rental Boyfriend for Lunar New Year from the NY Times.

In my family the big dinner is Chinese New Year's Eve, so there was no overlap between Chinese New Years and Valentines Day. But, being a Father took priority over Valentines Day, so my wife and I treated my daughter to a very nice breakfast for a late Birthday Gift. On her actual Birthday we went to Cal Poly's, The Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch. Great restaurant that is student run and lives the educational experience of Cal Poly's learn by doing.

My Chinese New Year Dinner (my Mother in law did an amazing job cooking!

- Fish (2 of them)
- Noodles
- Taiwanese Sausage (she makes it). Beautifully laid out on lettuce leaves.
- Deep Fried Sweet Rice in an egg roll
- Squid
- Beef Ribs (I cooked this with my wife).
- Rice
- Sweet Potato Tempura
- Chicken
- Bok Choi (green vegetable)

I wish I had taken a photo. It was an incredible amount of food that would compare favorably to any Thanksgiving dinner.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

China's Me First Attitude

The danger behind China's 'me first' worldview - Washington Post.

Good article. This is a very good paragraph:

Unlike the isolationist America First movement of the 1930s, China First does not mean global disengagement. It does mean engagement on China's terms. China accepts and supports the existing order when that serves its needs, as when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. Otherwise, it plays by its own rules and norms.

I was just helping my daughter with US history from WWI through the 30's that have shown the isolationism that has been such a part of American history (basically the US wanted to be left alone until WWII showed this was not possible). China on as noted in the article needs to generate massive amounts of jobs. If China does not, there will be a change of government. Basically the bargain of the Chinese government with the people, an updated mandate of heaven, is continue to make our economy and China strong. Economy translates as more exports to generate more jobs in China along with the raw materials needed to produce the goods. China Strong translates as putting China's interests first and being strong with other countries diplomatically.

Chinese public opinion through the Internet has a strong impact and keeps China's government with a me first attitude. As the school system indoctrinates a strong sense of China's historically being taken advantage of by other countries (Opium War, Japanese invasion of China, carving up of China by foreign countries, sack of Beijing etc.). The increased US dependence on China for financing the US deficit has increased the perceived power within the Chinese government itself.

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China's Trains

China's creating a huge network of high speed trains, as France and Japan have. The existing trains are already competing with plains.

  • Create a nationwide network of high speed trains in China.
  • Create a domestic industry for High Speed Rail for exporting.
  • Increase efficiency of China's transportation system. The advantage that by having separate rail lines for passengers this increases the freight capacity of the freight lines. High speed rails may also reduce the need for some roads.
  • High maintenance cost of the rails. Due to the high speed the rails need to be kept in perfect shape.
  • Potential subsidiary issues - The question that I truthfully have not figured out is the cost compared to air planes and cars with the hidden subsidiaries and costs that each have, how do these compare to the cost of a high speed train. For a high speed trains to be successful there needs to be a highly populated urban areas as well as feeder public transportation (translation, most of the US does not have this as compared to Europe and Japan where the economics make more sense).
  • Cost of tickets at the current average wages in China.

China Sees Growth Engine in a Web of Fast Trains - NY Times.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sweets to Ring in the New Year

Good article about sweets and their symbolism for Chinese New Year!

Savoring sweet somethings to ring in new year - SF Chronicle.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Using Videos to Expose Kids to Chinese

ChildBook customers (both parents and teachers) love using videos to help expose kids to native-sounding Mandarin Chinese accents. Interactive videos help kids learn Chinese words, practice reading, listening, pronunciation and even grammar skills.

Another good thing about using video as an exposure medium, whether at school or right at home, is that teachers and parents can readily access it. Videos are available, viewable and downloadable in different file formats.

Videos are nice language study tools to use, but please use the videos as a guide to help you interact with kids. When kids are a little bigger, they can express they want to watch the Chinese videos on their own, but do sit with them as much as possible when they watch. This way your child can listen and watch Chinese, while you get to spend time together as well.

Some more tips when using Chinese videos:

  • Choose videos wisely. Always select videos according to the students’ age, interests and level. Also consider appeal, length, and language objectives. Funny and engaging videos are easier to remember. You can also use videos that promote or introduce Chinese culture e.g., Chinese New Year, Chinese arts and crafts, etc.
  • Keep the video as short as possible. Choose clips that are short but sweet. Young students can easily get bored and switch off if the video is taking forever to finish.
  • Consider subtitled videos. Videos that come with subtitles can help in vocabulary learning. This is a great way to introduce new Chinese words and phrases to learn, especially if the video is rich in vocabulary. Ideally, teachers and parents should use videos with Chinese subtitles, or vice versa.
  • Provide a transcript of the video. If possible, clips or videos that have a lot of details should be accompanied by a viewing guide. If captions/subtitles are not available, it’s best to give bigger students a transcript that will serve as guide so kids can follow easily. Students can easily become frustrated when they don’t understand the main ideas.
  • Play and Pause. Before playing the video, it helps to give the kids a little background of what they are about see. Play the video then watch their reactions. Feel free to pause the video intermittently especially when you need to ask students important questions or when you need to emphasize a key point.
  • Allot time for discussion. After watching, let kids talk about the video. Ask them questions and encourage them to ask questions too. In most cases, questions would be about unfamiliar vocabulary so listing all essential Chinese phrases and words used in the video will prove helpful.
Some Chinese Videos that are Favorites of ChildBook Customers:

Favorites for babies and pre-school -
Baby Learns Chinese, Follow Jade, Bao Bei, Little Pim

For bigger kids:
Discovery Kids (Yes! Science in Mandarin Chinese!), Monkey King and other Chinese Folk Tales,

Series with Videos and textbooks (sold separately):
Kuaile Hanyu, New Practical Chinese Reader


Good News on China's Environment

One of the first steps in dealing with an issue is define the size of the problem.

China releases first national pollution census
- SF Chronicle


Disturbing on Chinese Foreign Relatios

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

New Chinatown Tour

Monterey Park Tour - $29 Dollars (discounted from $58). Looks interesting.

The New Chinatowns: San Gabriel Valley Bus Tour with Tea Tasting
from GoldStar

I am not sure why they are starting from Philippe's - great Beef Dip Sandwiches, cheap coffee a only 9 cents a cup, and the lemonade for us non Coffee drinkers is great, but a little more. Philippe's is located in Chinatown in Los Angeles. It's not the original Chinatown, that got moved after they put in Union Station in the 30's.

Back to the Monterey Park tour. I am trying to think about what would be interesting on the tour, besides great places to eat. The tour does not mention any of the gang killings that have happened. Nor any of the controversy over signs being required to also be in English. And San Gabriel has a good Chinese mall. I am not sure why they are ending the tour at Wing Hop Fung. Probably because the good places to eat are packed on the weekends.

Actually it is more than Monterey Park. The original summary is not that great, here is a better one. At least is includes Alhambra (awesome ice cream at Fosselman's, to bad that is not on the tour). Alhambra originally had a lot of Italians living there.

The official tour site.

My thoughts on an improved tour:
  1. Meet in Monterrey Park - I know about the parking...
  2. Stop by Fosselman's for some great ice cream! They also have more Chinese friendly flavors such as Mango, Guava, Leechee, etc. But I would stay with the Fresh Peach if it's available, if not Dutch Chocolate.
  3. Go by San Marino High School. This brings up the education angle.
  4. Stop by the Chinese Mall in San Gabriel.
  5. Stop by a Chinese Bakery, such as Diamond Bakery. Van's a Vietnamese bakery to show how there are also Vietnamese in the areas.
  6. Go through a Chinese Market where they have the live fish and such.
  7. Include at least one place where a gang shooting happened that was Asian related.
  8. An example house of the mansionization. San Marino should have an example of this. Arcadia would be better, but a bit out of the way.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Tips to Find a Chinese Tutor

Are you looking for a Chinese tutor to teach your child, or do you want to learn Chinese yourself?

Some considerations first in selecting your tutor, besides speaking Chinese fluently:
- up-to-date on the best materials available
- also very familiar about Chinese culture.
- can create a doable plan for the student
- Very encouraging, easily motivates the student.
Please add if I missed any :-)

Now, where can we go to find tutors...

1. Referrals. Perhaps one of the the most convenient ways to find a good tutor is by asking friends and relative for a few recommendations. Ask them about the teaching style and if the tutor is very trustworthy.
2. Chinese Forums. Most people check out the internet when they need anything, including educational services. Simply google "Chinese forums" and once you’re taken to the site of your choice, join up. Or why not start a thread? Post exactly what you need and from what area you are. Many people interested in studying Pinyin or CSL (Chinese as Second Language) frequent these forums to offer tips, make friends, find students and tutors. Chances are they already know the people for the job. Ask them for referrals and some tips as well. However, always exercise caution when dealing online and check references.
3. Flyers. Tutors use flyers to advertise their services at places where they can meet prospective students. They usually leave their flyers in the library, grocers, and supermarkets, so keep your eyes open if there are any posted by a Chinese tutor. When you have the contact numbers, set an interview. Always remember to check the tutor's credentials, and ask for references.
4. Tutorial Centers. Visit these center and request for brochures. Feel free to ask about their Chinese language programs, their Chinese tutors, and of course, their tutorial fee.
5. Exchange tutorial. If you are pretty good in a subject area, why not find someone who can use your help, but also be able to teach you Chinese in return? You will be able to learn Chinese AND help another person out as well. You may also gain a good friend (or more than good) along the way. :-)

Those are just some of the ways to find tutors that can help you learn Mandarin Chinese. If you've done some other way to find a tutor and have had successful results, please do share it so other people may do the same thing too.

I hope you find a great tutor!


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Learning Chinese through Music

Have you ever sung to read-along cassette tapes when you were younger? I used to have several read-along stories, but we also had a multiplication tables cassette. My mom bought it for us to be able to memorize our multiplication facts faster.

Surprise! Now that I’m a parent myself, I still remember the lyrics to that multiplication song. Turns out the part of the brain that processes language, is also the part of the brain that processes music. Therefore, it is easy for us to remember words when learned together with music.

The implication for those of us raising bilingual kids, using music for our kids to learn Chinese words will help them with remembering words better. Childbook has several sing-along cassettes that have simple songs with starter words for small kids. A customer favorite is Teach Me Chinese and Let’s Sing Mandarin. For bigger kids, you can look for Chinese pop songs and ask what sounds catchy to them. It will help a lot with remembering words and understanding phrases.


Learning Chinese SOS : Help! My Child is Mixing Up English and Chinese

A friend of mine expressed concern the other day about her 5 year old child inserting Chinese words into English. Sometimes, the order of her English sentences are topsy-turvy, noticeably the proper order if she was speaking Chinese.
Many parents are concerned that learning 2 languages at the same time may lead to confusion and lack of proficiency. Actually, mixing words and grammar (code mixing) is perfectly normal in the early stages of learning a language. If it says anything, it signals that the child HAS learned something. The child now knows what a certain thing is called in Chinese, or is familiar with the correct order of a sentence.

Anyway, the big picture of learning to become bilingual is that it is a long process. Kids will grow out of code mixing as they become more proficient at the 2 languages.

So I told my friend to not worry about the mix-ups. The important thing is that the child is learning. There are a lot of things that we don’t perfect immediately when we start learning a skill. Languages are the same. What is needed is continuous guidance and validation from parents, so that a child will be inspired to learn through the years.

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Game of Chicken?

Excuse the bad pun, but I feel US China relations is becoming a game of chicken and this not good for either side. Especially if neither side blinks and keeps on escalating, both sides are going to lose.

China to levy anti-dumping duties on U.S. chicken
- Reuters.

This probably has not got much play in the US, but it's even more disturbing in some ways if true:

China removes accreditation from University of Calgary after Dalai Lama Visit

I am becoming worried their may be a backlash against China and it could be a lot stronger than China expects by the US and Europe.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Facing up to China

Facing up to China - The Economist.

Interesting article. I agree with this closing sentence: Nobody will prosper if disagreements become conflicts.


19'th Century China Through Pics

The pictures were taken in 1871/1872 by the renown Scottish photographer John Thompson and there is an exhibition at the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool.

Great photos that remind me of the Chinese Kid's Dresses at my wife's site. It's amazing what you can do with black and white.

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China Milk Scandal Update


China charges tainted milk scandal activist - UK Telegraph.

I translate this as free speech is allowed in China as long as you stay within certain boundaries. IE don't embarrass the government including their image such as having a web site discussing 300,000 children getting poisoned by melamine. And the route cause of this is a feeling of insecurity by the government.

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China Vacation

Interesting about what this says about changes in China's culture/society in the customer service area.

China tourism: the customer is not yet king - UK Telegraph.


China v USA

Good article...

China v USA: more than froth and bother - UK Telegraph.

I am also worried about US China relations.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Chinese Bilingual Education in Canada

Vancouver's own not-so-quiet revolution - The Vancouver Sun.

Good article. I am surprised at the extent of Chinese classes in Edmonton with 13 schools in a 50/50 for Chinese and English instruction. Wow!

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Crank Chats

Both Elitedresses.com and ChildBook.com has a chat feature that give customers a quick way to ask a question online.

I have now had two chats that were a bit crank chats. I hung up on both of them and logged out of the chat. My guess is both were boys wanting to show how smart they are and were bored.

It reminds me of before caller ID, how some kids would also place crank calls. A friend of mine in High School (Eric, the one who now lives in Texas) got a crank call and actually had a good conversation with the boy placing the calls. The crank caller was at a local hotel and was bored. My friend has incredible patience. Unfortunately I don't have that type of patience or time.

What is interesting is one person was from Pakistan and the other was from Canada. My chat software shows where the ISP of a person is giving me some idea of their location.


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