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Thursday, September 30, 2010

iPhone Crippled in China?

China iPhone 'crippled' by Google, maps - Global Times

Sounds like iPhone 4's from outside China will still be a popular item...

I wonder how much the premium will be. Or will this just lead to mass unlocking of phones in China?


Postal Rate hike denied

That's a relief, I was worried there would be another increase. It seems like there was just one.

Currently for shipping ChildBook uses the US Postal Service 100% because for what we sell, it's the lowest cost. And I try very hard to keep costs down.

Postal rate hike request denied - Washington Post


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Massive Water Projects in China

I live in Los Angeles that relies on water to be brought in. Some where I heard the comment we stole it fair and square. Mono Lake, Owens Water, Colorado River, San Joaquin Delta, etc. are all sources for Southern California water.

And Beijing also has a water crises, and is creating an even bigger network to bring in water at twice the cost of the 3 Gorges Dam. 330,000 people moved. And fears it may not work due to water pollution.

China moving heaven and Earth to bring water to Beijing - LA Times


Monday, September 27, 2010

Chinese Made Easy

To help you know more about Chinese Made Easy textbook, I've created a simple video explaining important points from the textbook.

Learning Chinese is not easy as it seems so books and guides like Chinese Made Easy textbooks/series truly helps.

Have fun viewing the video and comments are also welcome!


Dragons in the bay

Great pictures at the 15th annual Dragon Boat Festival

Dragons in the bay - SF Gate.

A nice compliment to my Dragon Boat Coloring Pages, etc...

Dragon Boat Festival Event Calendar and Information


In the footsteps of the Kaiser?

Interesting read. The title is provocative. Missing from the article is they why of the recent Chinese response. My understanding is in 2012 there will be a major leadership change so everyone is jockying for position. The growth of internet usage in China has led to an increase of nationalistic awareness that is a double edged sword. One of the Chinese communist party pillars of power is being more nationalistic than anyone else. What is missing is the interests of other nations in the area, who are frankly are alarmed by how China is being aggressive in areas of territory.

In the Footsteps of the Kaiser: China Boosts US Power in Asia - American Interest.


Friday, September 24, 2010

From brain to language to accent

Good article behind the science of accents.

The research was comparing the brains of native English, Chinese, and Bilingual speakers.

Good quote:

And it pays to start early. Research suggests that true native fluency in any language can only be gained in early childhood; some studies found that sensitivity to foreign accent goes down after age 1! It's not impossible to learn a new language late in life, but it does get more difficult: a 40-year-old will have a harder time than a 20-year-old, says Grant Goodall of the University of California, San Diego

From brain to language to accent - CNN

And our selection of Learning Chinese Materials for kids


iPhones for China

Underground trade in iPhones to China. Or should I say air trade :-)

Coming to an end soon since the iPhone 4 is going on sale in China soon.

Buyers Send iPhones on a Long Relay to China - NY Times

And yes, the number 4 is unlucky in China. And my wife is waiting for the new version that should go on sale on the 27th that we hope will fix the antenna issue. But of course, no free case then.


China's 'green economy' will have to wait

New term of the day - fragmented authoritarianism.

National government is focused on the environment, and the local is focused on jobs. And the local is being measured on jobs.

Good article - China's 'green economy' will have to wait - LA Times

Which is a contrast to another article that is also right: Too Many Hamburgers? by Thomas Friedman

The trick for any country is to balance both jobs and the environment in a win win manner. WalMart for example is doing an amazing job environmentally, because it makes business sense. Reducing waste and increasing efficiency is a win win way to help the environment.


China Japan Spat Conclusion

Japan let the Chinese captain go.

Theoretically its a loss for Japan, but I feel that China actually lost more. Japan stood up much more than it ever has and is increasing their defence budget. China used the weapon of rare earth exports which will work once, but I am sure that many other sources outside of China will be available in the near future. . On the domestic side within China, it is a positive outcome where China stood up to foreign powers. But, China has damaged their image internationally.

References - Out, but not over - The Economist

Previous post - Japan China Spat


My Top 10 Favorite Learning Chinese Language and Culture Websites

Hi, all. I've been looking around the other Chinese language and culture websites, and I compiled the top 10 nicest ones you might be able to use. The first ones are about learning the Chinese language and the latter part are resources that may be used to help kids learn the Chinese culture.

Memorize Chinese words for kids - with pictures and exercises
This web site tackles 4 languages and Chinese is only one part of it.  But I love how it helps students to memorize vocabulary with pictures, sounds and games. They say the vocabulary games are like eating chocolate.  First there is a review of words.  Pictures are labelled with Chinese characters, then the correct pronunciation is provided with audio.  Then you match audio with the character, the correct label of chinese character with pictures, etc.  There is also a timer provided for the games.

History of China for Kids
This site tells about the different Chinese dynasties.  Nice for middle school students, or parents with small kids can get info there and explain to them.

China pictures from ChinaStock - Historical and Contemporary
ChinaStock is owned by Dennis Cox.  Images are copyrighted so take care in using the photos. 
But for viewing at home and sharing with your children, it is a treasury of Chinese-related pictures you all will surely enjoy.

More about chinese art
Learn about Chinese music, science, architecture and more! 
Features:  China Travel, History, Art, Food and Drink, Architecture, Symbols, Festivals, Science, Religions, Medicine, Books, Links

Common conversational phrases in Chinese in one site
For those who want to self-study, the site already compiled the top conversational phrases that will be very handy.  There are lots of text explanations and also MP3 audio of the phrases. Yay!

15 units of free, easy to use Chinese lessons
The studied phrases here are also useful, such as "If (someone) speaks fast, then I don't understand."
The pages are also clean and easy to follow, so it is nice to use for your initial lessons.
I also like the exercises at the end of each unit. In the first part, English phrases will be given then you translate.  In the second part, Chinese questions are asked then you answer in Chinese.  Nice.

Learn one Chinese word a day
For intermediate or advanced Chinese students who already know the basic conversations, this website is great because you can learn one word and its usage everyday.  Each word has an audio of pronunciation, an animation of how to write the chinese character correctly, plus lots of examples of word and sentence usage.  Explanations and notes also in English.

Videos of Basic Chinese Phrases
I also like askbenny from Youtube because he teaches Chinese sentences of stuff you actually use in daily conversations.  He's been around for a while now and last time I checked has 599 videos of Chinese phrases and sentences you can actually use.

Basic info about reading and typing Chinese in the computer

And of course, not to forget our own:

Chinese language and culture resources

Thursday, September 23, 2010

China Japan Spat

The immediate spat is over the Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

China is the major producer of rare earths in the world. The US had a rare earth mine, but closed it due to environmental and cost issues. Work on this mine and others outside of China are now being done.

I fear China by blocking the export of rare earths is shooting itself in the foot. And right before the US mid-term elections. Poor timing with the Yuan issue.

And other nations in Asia are frustrated with China's claims and actions recently including:

Philippines - South China Sea
Vietnam - Various islands and South China Sea.
Korea - Sinking of ship

China is trying to negotiate with each country directly, while the other countries are trying to work as a group and get US involved.

Amid Tension, China Blocks Rare Earth Exports to Japan - NY Times


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Moon Festival Dice Game in the Philippines

My friend from the Philippines, Ed  (a Chinese-Filipino), had an advanced Mid-Autumn celebration with family and friends last week-end.  In the Philippines, the Moon Festival is celebrated with the Dice Game.  The Moon Fest Dice Game is a fun game where each person throws several dice.  For every total number gotten from the throw, the person gets an equivalent prize. It is a Moon Fest custom of Cantonese origin, that is why it is not usually practiced by the Chinese-American community.

Usually, the prizes are moon cakes, chips or candy bars (but if people are tired of moon cakes, then snacks it is), little cute trinkets, etc.  Depending on the organizers of the activity, and the people who are going to play, some prizes can really be over-the-top. I've seen some blogs where the top prizes are gadgets, cash, etc.  But then again, the main purpose of the game is to have some rollicking fun with loved ones, so spending time with them is enough, the items are just a bonus.

I've been bugging Ed to share some pictures so we can see how the Moon Fest Dice Game looks like. He has been kind enough to share pictures from several years of mid-autumn celebrations.

If you are interested to do a belated game for your friends and family, we have the Moon Festival Dice Game instructions over at the ChildBook resources.

Let's roll!

Loot from Moon Fest Dice Game 2009

Moon Fest is about getting together with family and friends.

Teaching how to throw the dice
(As you can see, anyone regardless of age can join...)

I hope he got the zhuang yuan (or first prize)!  

Thanks to Ed for the pictures!

And I hope all our readers had a great Moon Festival with family :-))

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Happy Moon Festival from ChildBook

May your family have well-being and joy 
this Moon Festival and everyday.


China has world's largest 'SeafoodPrint'

China has world's largest 'SeafoodPrint'; U.S. ranks third - Washington Post

China is growing in wealth, which means more meat and fish will be consumed within China.


Only in America

And of course there was also a counter demonstration.

A celebration of China in the San Gabriel Valley - LA Times
Hundreds of residents and community gather in Monterey Park to mark the 61st anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Its interesting to see the changes in the ethnic composition of the Chinese community in the US. It's a mixture of families who have been here since the Gold Rush (1849), as well as other ethnic Chinese immigrants from Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, etc. and later immigrants before the big change with the 1965 act (more Hong Kong and Taiwanese), and now mainland Chinese.


Illegal Immigrants in China?

Something I was not aware of outside of North Koreans in Northern China. China shares a border with 14 countries, and soe of them are poorer than China. And there is no great wall surrounding China.

Illegal immigrants pour across border seeking work - LA Times


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Question: "Do you think I can get High Scores with the Chinese SAT 2?

We speak Chinese at home and I can understand Pinyin, but reading Simplified Characters is quite challenging for me.  I understand a lot of kids like me with Chinese parents have the situation as I do.  We can listen and speak it but it's not as easy as everyone else thinks, since we're working just as hard as everyone else with our Characters.

What do you think, should I take the Chinese SAT 2?

-  Name withheld upon Request

Thanks for dropping us a line. 

You are lucky, you have been exposed to speaking and listening Chinese ever since.   But to really know the language you should be very comfortable with the writing and reading system. 

Ah, and since you have Chinese parents, there's the pressure you SHOULD get a score of 800 since you speak it at home.

If you take the Chinese SAT 2, there are 3 parts:  listening comprehension, grammar and reading comprehension.  I'm sure you will have no problem with the listening comprehension. 

For grammar, do review.  Sometimes, the conversations we hear are so familiar we ignore whether grammar is correct or not.  But then, if you do remember the Chinese you hear in formal language like news reports, or grammar used in books, then you will have an easier time.  So do practice.

As for reading comprehension,  again, practice is what's needed.  You mentioned you have been working at it like everyone else.  Just practice for Chinese SAT 2, and I think you'll be okay.  There are a lot of practice tests for Chinese SAT 2, so I'm sure you will get a perfect score if you refresh and practice a lot.

Good luck!  Your hard work will surely pay off.  Please write us again after the test how you did.


Chinese SAT II Test Format Quick Guide

There are total of 85 questions for the Chinese SAT II test and you have one hour to finish the entire test.

The test is divided to 3 sections
  • listening comprehension (30 question) with 20 minutes allotted time to finish the section
  • grammar (25 questions) with 40 minutes allotted time to finish the section
  • reading comprehension (30 questions) with 40 minutes allotted time to finish the section
All test questions are in multiple choice format. Keep in mind that you're given a negative point in every wrong answer you choose.

Lastly, you are allowed to bring your own CD player and earphones for the listening test. This way you're more comfortable and it would be easier to adjust the volume. Make sure that your CD player's batteries are fresh and working because once inside the testing room, you're not allowed to go out. Come prepared during your testing day armed with a solid knowledge from Chinese SAT II reviewers and online Chinese SAT II practice tests.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Chinese SAT II - To Take, or not to Take?

Should you take the Chinese SAT 2?

Three typical cases:

The Native Speaker

Yes, adding an SAT II that is relatively easy to your college application is always a good idea. You can miss 1 question and still get an 800, so its important to take a couple of Chinese SAT II practice tests before the real test.

The Ethnic Chinese ABC

Perhaps your family speaks another dialect at home such as Cantonese, or even English. The key to a good score is practice, practice, and practice.

Non Native Speaker
Even if you don't get an 800 score, you are still showing colleges you are willing to take a challenging language. Again, practice, practice, and practice is the key



Chinese SAT 2 Record Shipping Week

I don't know why, but last week for the Chinese SAT 2 was a record shipping week May be the start of school? The Chinese SAT II Test including the verbal section is November 2nd, so now is the time to buy and start.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Top 10 Reasons to buy My First Chinese Words

I recoomend My First Chinese Words a lot...

Top 10 Reasons to use My First Chinese Words

  1. Available in both Simplified and Traditional Chinese
  2. It's designed for short attention spans! 36 tiny books that is just perfect for those 2-7.
  3. I like the concept of reading to small kids. I did this for my daughter and its great to provide an enriching environment. Kids are like sponges and they soak up so much.
  4. Amazing Customer Testimonials like this: My daughter is 3.5 years old and she already remember the characters... And the audio helped!... Overall, very please!!!" - From Jeanne, of Orlando, Fla.
  5. A+ Quality!
  6. Thick Teachers Guides available in Simplified, Traditional, and English.
  7. CD Rom available!
  8. Flash Cards Available!
  9. Exercise Books available!
  10. Easy to use! Great for non Chinese speaking familes, as well as native born speakers. I have had both types of parents buy this with excellent feedback. 4 1/2 stars with 19 reviews so far for the Simplified Version of the 36 books.

Most people just buy the My First Chinese Words Set (36 Books + Audio CD), Simplified Chinese or My First Chinese Words Set (36 Books + Audio CD), Traditional Chinese.

Customer for My First Chinese Words range from schools to home schoolers to Chinese tutors. From Chinese to Taiwanese to 3rd generation Chinese to non Chinese.


Learn Pinyin - Which Product?

I would go with Pinyin for Everyone. I have heard a lot of positive feedback on it such as an E-Mail today from a customer:

Hi, Ray,

I love the "
Pinyin for Everyone." It is very well done, easy to follow, very clear.



Discovering Chinese vs. Chinese Made Easy

Which one Learning Chinese Textbook is best for teenagers?

Discovering Chinese or Chinese Made Easy?

Discovering Chinese has four levels of textbooks, workbooks, teacher editions, cd roms, cd, assessments, and worksheets available. And it's all integrated. And yes, there is more. The Teacher Editions are available in English, Simplified, and Traditional. And the quality is A+.

If you have the budget, I would go with Discovering Chinese.

Chinese Made Easy is a great product, but it does not have all the support material that Discovering Chinese does. Its very popular with schools and I recommend it when you have a native Chinese speaker as a teacher. It has a textbook, workbook and a Teacher's Edition that is more of an answer key. For the price it's a great value.

Of course, the best way is look at the sample pages for Chinese Made Easy and Discovering Chinese and see which one best fits your Teaching Style.

For a down to earth teaching style for Chinese for a native speaker, I would go with Practical Chinese. It's by a Mom who wrote it to teacher her kids. I wish I had known about this one when my daughter was younger!

For Teenagers and with a native speaker, Kuaile Hanyu (Happy Chinese) is very popular. Its especially designed for teaching Teenagers (who can be a handful to teach - many teachers either love or hate teaching them).

For those learning Bo Po Mo, Champion Chinese is a great product.

Bottom line on which one is best, it depends.


$100 Bills in ChinaTown

I see an lot of people where I live using $100 bills in our new Chinatown. My guess is many people don't have credit cards and just find it easier to use cash. May be it's a Chinese cultural issue. Or perhaps there is a bit of income that is not being reported through use of cash. The positive and negative about credit cards is its easy to track your expenses. My guess is more of the older generation is into cash, instead of using credit cards. My Father-in-law I don't think even has a credit card for example. His kids on the other hand... :-)

If you get a fake $100 bill. Basically the last person holding it is stuck with it just like the game of hot potato. One good thing about running an online Chinese bookstore is no cash. And sometimes even the $100 bill you get from a bank may be fake. In our area many of the businesses have some type of fake bill checker I have heard.

I try to avoid $100 bills, so I don't have this issue. For some reason in our area Asian's using $100 bills have no problem. For a White guy like me it feels like I am getting the third degree when ever I try to use one.

Bank tries to pass the (fake) buck back to customer - LA Times


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Even Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland Celebrates Moon Festival

This one is nice...

Kids love animals and teaching them something about Chinese culture while looking at animals is better!

Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland is giving 10 free classes for Moon Festival.  Kids can come to the zoo for a lesson about animals from China and Scotland.  After that there are some activities about the Moon Festival. Follow-up resource packs will be provided.

Only one class per school can be accommodated, but it's still a neat and generous offer.

Click for more details about the Edinburgh Zoo Moon Festival Celebration.

For teachers in the US, this is a neat idea and can be patterned as a lesson plan for future use.  What do you think?

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Top 10 To-Dos in the Family to Get Your Child Used to being Chinese Bilingual

Here are some simple steps you can do everyday so that your child gets used to the idea of  using Chinese as a second language and become bilingual.  With consistent use, the years suddenly pass and you will find your child has somehow learned Chinese already. 

1.  Be consistent
Choosing Mandarin Chinese as your child's secondary language will prove to be a handy language in the near future.  Stick with it and introduce materials little by little but consistent through time.

2.  Be insistent, but be gentle
Remind your child often that knowing more than 1 language is especially cool.  Picking Chinese as the 2nd language makes it way cooler than usual.

3.  Make Chinese rewarding, fun and something nice to remember through the years
When the kids are little, it is easy to make Chinese fun with songs and fun movements.  As they grow, it will get a bit more challenging but it is doable.  Look for ways based on what they think is happy and fun, not what you think is fun for them.

4.  Beware of being punitive.
For some families, gentle threats work.  But don't overdo it to the point of making Chinese a punishment.  The more they perceive speaking Chinese a pain, the less interested they will get and maybe completely try to shut it out in the later years.  (What's the use of letting them learn it if they'll shut it out anyway.)

5.  Use different kinds of materials
Textbooks, CDs, DVDs, books, magazines, cards, websites... learning chinese today is so much easier with all the goodies easily available now compared to a few years back.  Make learning Chinese delicious with different ways.

6.  Direct experience is the best way to learn Chinese. 
Chinese textbooks and exercise books are half the endeavor.  Talking and listening to people in the market, reading signs, writing greeting cards in Chinese, chatting in Chinese, joking with Grandma and Grandpa plus more are the big deal situations that make Chinese stick to the brain and be remembered for years to come.

7.  Don't make fun of mistakes.
You may think your child making mistakes to speak Chinese is cute, and you laugh and show people (or maybe even post in Youtube), but you may be making your child miserable and you just don't know it.  After a mistake, gently correct then move on.

8.  Chinese is for learning and communicating, not for performing.
Bilinguals report "performing" or showing they know a language for parents' friends is the least favorite part of being bilingual.  If you are so excited to let others know your child can speak Chinese, you can be a little more creative in asking, or maybe just a little more sensitive.  For example, before our Chinese-speaking grandma visits, you can recall how much it means to Gran when a cousin talks to Gran in Chinese.  You can say Grandma was so happy then, do you think you can help out and make her comfortable by speaking to her in Chinese for basic things like asking how she is?, etc.  Our kids like making adults happy even if it doesn't show.  A little considerate prodding always does the trick, compared to "Come here, show your gran what you can say in Chinese."  Yikes.  Don't forget, be nice :-)

9.  Be firm but gentle when correcting.
Correct errors but don't be mean and scary in doing it.  As a parent, I know it's easy to be impatient when there are errors.  But it can be done.

10. Ask for help from Chinese -speaking family friends to also talk to your child in Chinese.  Most likely, they'll be happy to help.

Adapted from:  Raising a Bilingual Child by Barbara Zurer

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Testing - the Chinese Way

I view testing as a great way to get students going.

Testing, the Chinese Way - NY Times


How eBay Failed in China

Trying to do in China as done in the rest of the world.

Basic marketing - all marketing is local...

How eBay failed in China - Forbes


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Latest Chinese Jewelry Scare

WalMart, McDonalds, and Claire so far.

For the lead scare 45 Million pieces were removed from retail shelves in 2007.

Cadmium in Chinese jewelry raises alarms - LA Times

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Solar plan in China's Inner Mongolia highlights pitfalls for U.S. firms

Photo Ops happen...

Solar plan in China's Inner Mongolia highlights pitfalls for U.S. firms - Washington Post

What First Solar could have done to increase the chance of success:
  1. Keep the signing in the news in China.
  2. Get US politicians to back it up with reciprocity on Chinese energy deals.
  3. Look for concrete actions. The signing was done Sept. 8, 2009. With China speed and their stimulus, the project should have been done by now.
  4. Figure out who the Chinese powers who matter are for the project. Local, state, and National and work with them.
  5. Get a local Chinese partner if needed who has the right connections, without giving away anything technical.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Confucius Class Continued

Surprising Ending...

Hacienda La Puente Unified School District denies money for 'Confucius Classroom', will proceed with program - SG Tribune.

It's a loss of $30,000 a year in funding from the Chinese government.

The original issue even made the Jon Stewart show.

References: Even More Socialism Studies!

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Video of Parade during Monkey King Festival

This video was taken during the Monkey King Parade in Fuyang, Chouzhou, China (in March though, not September). 

It is not owned by ChildBook, just sharing so that people can see how the Monkey King festival is celebrated.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Monkey King

Monkey King is a Chinese "superhero" long before the likes of Superman and Batman surfaced our imaginations.  Monkey is a character from the tale Journey to the West.  In this classic Chinese story, Monkey accompanies the Tang Monk and Pigsy to fetch the Buddhist Sutras from India (or the West, from where they're at).

Monkey is quite a mythical creature.  It was born from a stone surrounded by Chaos.  Monkey can fly, leaps tall mountains in a single bound, transform into 72 creatures except for people (it can't transform out its tail), has superb fighting skills, knows his spells very well, can command natural elements and freeze creatures.

Yep, Monkey can stand among the characters of the TV show Hero.  Xylar of the Hero show would have a field day grabbing all its powers.

Interestingly, Monkey is no saint, but it's not a bad guy either.  It can be naughty and stubborn but caring as well (he watches out for the welfare of the Monkey folk too, even if Monkey can get quite naughty or irksome to other creatures.)

If you are interested to read more on Monkey King, we have a Monkey King Weekly Sale.because Monkey King Festival is on Sept.22.  We have a lot of amusing Monkey King tales on discounted books and videos.  Special prices are on only for this week so don't miss out, drop by today.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hostility to Chinese Overseas

China also exporting entrepreneurs around the world as well as businesses. Usually with good relations with the local governments (bribes, oops I mean money talks). But there is push back from local people as imports from China displace local manufacturers.

The article discusses Kyrgyzstan, but the same thing has happened in Africa.

As China finds bigger place in world affairs, its wealth breeds hostility - Washington Post

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State Aid in China

Nice details on how China helps targeted conpanies.

China Takes Lead in Clean Energy, With Aggressive State Aid - NY Times

Key Points:
  1. Land provided at severely discounted rates (90% or even free) to select companies in China.
  2. The land can then be used at full face value for loans.
  3. Discounted loans
  4. Chinese intervention on currency markets to keep the Yuan low.
  5. Limits on exports of rare earths used in clean energy technology (DC Motors).
  6. Many countries are subsidizing China's exports with green energy requirements.
  7. Solar prices have fallen 50% in the last two years.
  8. China will make 50% of all Wind Turbines this year.
  9. China will make 50% of all Solar Cells this year.
  10. Expedited permit approval process in China (3 months vs. years in the US).

I found it interesting that it was easier for a US clean energy company to get financing in China than in the US.


Packaging Rage

I totally understand about Packaging Rage. Scissors are a fact of life for so many items I receive. Even from Amazon opening the packing can require scissors, especially when a plastic envelope is used for books. I wish more businesses thought about making it easy to open their packaging. Good article - Packaging Is All the Rage, And Not in a Good Way

For ChildBook, an online Chinese bookstore I have not heard of any complaints on packaging. Sometimes with CD's I do wrap them a bit much in bubble wrap and tape it to make sure there is no damage during shipping. It seems to be working (no customer complaints I can remember about damaged products, but a scissor is required). Even on the returns the boxes (sent back to me) are in good shape. I have seen from other businesses boxes that just fall apart in shipping.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Good Study Habits


Take aways:

1. Vary where you study.
2. Study related material in one sitting. This way the information is enriched.
3. Cramming is not good for longer term learning.
4. Revisiting material helps retention.
5. Testing helps.

Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits - NY Times


Protecting IP in China

Good common sense article...

In China, Western Firms Keep Secrets Close - WSJ

What I have picked up after hearing so many horror stories of doing business in China:

1. Avoid joint ventures. You are training your competition for free. Not to mention mid night shifts that may create perfect counterfeits.

2. Have your own people in the factory monitoring production.

3. If possible, have the high tech part made in your own country. Japan does this and uses China for the assembly.

4. Use several different factories so no one factory has the information necessary to make your product. One firm makes parts in China at several factories, and then assembles them in Mexico.

5. If you have to joint venture, go for majority control.

6. Have the QA People report directly to your own people. QA is key.

7. Evaluate is the cost advantage of China that significant?

8. Don't share the crown jewels of your IP. Ask the question, if we lost this IP could we stay in business?

9. Do joint ventures with companies that are smaller.

10. If possible, do not do joint ventures with potential competitors.


Glass in China - Good Business Lesson

Great article - New Glass Label: Made in China - WSJ.

Things to look for in the article:
  1. Technology sharing (forced)
  2. Joint Ventures
  3. Chinese Government ties


Foreign Vs. Domestic Firms in China

There appears to be a double standard in China. Foreign firms are expected to follow all rules and regulations. And domestic firms are don't. This article is suggesting a 30 to 50% advantage for domestic firms. China's 'foreign friends' must pay the Communist price - Telegraph

In an effort at damage control, the Vice Premier of China has promised the foreign firms will be treated equally with domestic competitors. This is after the EU issued a 650 page paper detailing protectionism within China. Great quote from the article about the paper: The paper found that China was shutting out foreign businesses by flouting WTO rules, employing spurious red tape and regulations while still largely barring foreign companies from government procurement contracts, a key part of China's state-controlled economy.

My opinion is the Government of China is very worried about continued growth of the Chinese economy that includes creating domestic industries that are world class. Part of this effort is requiring foreign firms to share their technology in order to do business in China.


How to Start a Chinese-Speaking Playgroup in Your Area

Have you searched high and low for a Chinese-speaking playgroup for your child but there is none in your area?  Still haven't found one?

If you speak Chinese yourself, and think there are like-minded parents around you who would like their kids to be exposed to Chinese too, why not start your own Chinese-speaking playgroup?

A playgroup doesn't have to be a big group, and it does not have to be fancy.  Your playgroup can meet at a regular time weekly, and you can have the kids sing Chinese songs, have Chinese storytelling, planned activities, free playtime and simple snacks together.  The activities can be an hour per week, but as you all regularly gather, surely the kids will somehow become more familiar with speaking Chinese.

So how to start a play group?  Here are some tips.  Feel free to modify these reminders as you go along, depending on the kids' and parents' needs.  The only 2 sticky rules are to speak in Chinese, and have a great time!

1.  As mentioned, gather Chinese-speaking parents who want their kids to be more exposed to Chinese language.

2.  Post fliers and brochures in community centers to gather more parents. 

Sample text in the flier can be:

Want to gain Chinese-speaking friends for you and your kids?  We are a group of parents looking for families who want to join a Chinese-speaking play program.  We meet every (put day and time) at (put venue) for 1 hour of play, songs and stories in the Chinese language.  If interested, please call _____________.  Hope to meet with you soon!

3.  A good number for a Chinese play group is 7-15.  Not everyone will be present all the time, but anything more can get challenging to manage.

4.  Have  a regular meeting day.

5.  Rotate hosts per session.  It might also be a great idea to rotate organizers for several months at a time.

6.  Try having play sessions in enclosed areas so the kids can focus more and have fun.

7.  Sample play session program:
Welcome song/ activity
Activity or free play
Simple snack
Clean up time
Goodbye song
Only rule is to encourage everyone to speak Chinese. And don't forget when kids have fun, they learn better, so take things easy and be happy.

Ideas from The Bilingual Edge by Kendall King and Alison Mackey.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Top 5 Reasons to Join a Chinese-speaking Playgroup


Playgroups that meet together to expose kids to Chinese are fun. Playgroup meetings build not only the kids' Chinese skills but also social interaction.  In playgroup sessions, kids sing, hear stories, have planned activities in Chinese.   Plus they talk a lot when they play and have simple snacks together so you can be assured your child will understand and get used to speaking Chinese in no time.

Ask around in your area or look through community announcements to see if there are Chinese-speaking playgroups.

Top 5 Reasons to join a Chinese-speaking Playgroup:

1. Playgroups are free/ inexpensive. Parents join up to organize the session so costs are minimal.

2. Playgroup sessions are real-life situations that can practice your child to think, speak, read, write Chinese on your child's feet.

3. Exposure to more common, vernacular Chinese not usually taught in formal classes. Tutorials and schools are all good, but conversations learned there are very formal. When kids learn "You rock!" or learning pet commands in Chinese, they will find it very interesting and motivating.

4. Flexible. Since parents organize these play sessions, time and venue for meet-up can be according to what is suitable for all.

5. Playgroups are also for parents. Here there is an entire group of adults that understand your excitement, doubts and frustrations in having your child learn Chinese. You can ask questions, recommendations and even ask for help from adults that have gone through the intricacies of kids learning another leanguage. You are definitely not alone with play groups.

Interested in participating in a Chinese play group? Ask around your area today or search online. If there are none, why not start your own play group?

Stay tuned for "No Chinese-speaking Playgroup Near You? Start one in your Area." in our next entries (maybe not immediately tomorrow but coming up very soon.)

If you have experiences in your area with a Chinese-speaking play group, please do share your experiences, maybe even pictures and we'll post it here.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Moon Festival Songs

This book has a couple of Moon related songs. New

Chinese and English Nursery Rhymes: Share and Sing in Two Languages,plus CD, Simplified/English Chinese and English Nursery Rhymes: Share and Sing in Two Languages,plus CD, Simplified/English

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Top 10 Moon Festival Sites

Hello, everyone!  Moon Festival is very near (September 22 this 2010), and our teacher-friends here at ChildBook may be starting on discussing the Chinese Moon Festival in their classes.

Besides our Moon Festival lesson plan, worksheets, powerpoint and coloring pictures, the ChildBook staff have put in their favorite sites about the Moon Festival.  We wanted you to have a ready-made list of sites about this Chinese festival so that it will be easier for you to plan your lessons.

Top 10 Sites about the Moon Festival Recommended by ChildBook:

Origin of the Moon Festival. Brought to you by the San Francisco Chinatown

The Legendary Stories of the Chinese Moon Festival

Wikipedia Chinese and Vietnamese Moon Festival

All about moon cakes

Photos of beautiful, modern moon cakes

Moon Poetry (in Chinese Characters)

Links to Poems and Prose about the Moon

MP3 audio of Moon Festival-related Chinese words

Sample class activities for the Moon Festival

Recommended books re: Moon Festival by tjmummy of Associated Content
(Nice thing is we have 4 out of the 5 books :-)

Plus of course, even if I already cited 10 sites, please drop by our Chinese Moon Festival Section.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Decline and Fall of Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble and Blockbuster killed most of the local bookstores and video stores. In my area we never had local bookstores. When I visit the Bay Area I love to stop by Keplers and I wish I had visited Staceys. The rise of Amazon has hurt Barnes & Noble. And now e-Books.

For Blockbuster, I found it to just an annoying experience. First they drove out of business all the small mom & pop video rental places. And then Blockbuster increased prices by requiring so many day rentals minimum. I think it was 3 days for around $5. So we stopped renting videos. My thought process - I had no choice but to rent for how many days for $5. And a new one cost under $20. And I don't like their selection. Hmm... Not worth it.

Decline and fall of book and video retailers provokes no tears - San Jose Mercury News

And of course we are an online Chinese Bookstore


Strange Call of the Day

Can I return the tapes today? And make a delivery later today?

I am going - what tapes? I don't sell video or cassette tapes.

Finally I mention I think she has a wrong number.

She asks if I am a library, and I answer no, and hangs up.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Moon Festival 2010 Events in the US and Canada

Wow, it's September already!  That means Moon Festival is coming up.  Moon Festival 2010 will be held on September 22nd  (that's a Wednesday).

There are lots of festival celebrations happening for this special family event so as we usually do every year, we compiled a Moon Festival 2010 Calendar of Event in the US and Canada so that it's easy for you to see if there are any get-togethers in your area.

We are always looking for new announcements, but if we missed putting in a moon fest celebration in your area, please inform us at sales@childbook.com so we can add it to the calendar.


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