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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mastering the Finer Points of American Slang

Slang in English is a pain, and it keeps on changing. Sometimes I have had to use an online slang urban dictionary to figure out some terms mean.

Mastering the Finer Points of American Slang - WSJ


Most Difficult Languages To Learn

I agree, tones is for me what makes for me, Learning Chinese hard

Most Difficult Languages to Learn per Literacy News:

#1 Arabic
#2 Japanese
#3 Russian
#4 Chinese
As with Japanese, difficulties also arise in terms of speaking Chinese, with different tones creating different meanings.

#9 English

Maybe a surprising choice given its ubiquity, and the popularity of english language course types around the world, English is difficult because of the lack of hard and fast grammatical rules and local variations that emerge the longer you learn the language.

Labels: ,

Kids Skyping to Learn Mandarin

It's great a school is doing this. I am guessing you can also find parents with kids in China who want to Learn English, and may be can trade lessons with your kids for Learning Chinese.

The question is how to find? My first thought is Craig's List.  Another one is through the Skype Community. Conversation Exchange (free) is another.

Other programs can be used besides Skype for doing a video chat.

 Students trade discoveries with kids half a world away - Chicago Tribune


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Turn on the Music, and Let Learning Begin

Have you every noticed how well you know the word to every song that played on the radio, but can’t recall items from the chart of elements? Or why we sing the alphabet to our children? Or how teens can pick up songs and long monologue-like raps in a heartbeat?

Two Tigers, 40 Chinese Songs CD and Book #1, Hardcover - Children's Picture Book and CD in Mandarin and Traditional Characters with Bo Po Mo
Two Tigers, 40 Chinese Children Songs CD and Book #1, Hardcover
Our Price: $19.99  
(4 reviews)

40 Chinese Songs with book, hardcover - cute picture book with CD for young Children learning Bo Po Mo/Traditional Chinese Characters with a CD in Mandarin.  Lyrics on one page with a picture on the other 

There is a reason why teachers use music and songs to teach foreign language. Studies show that people relate better to music. Its tunes and beats set an atmosphere of learning that is fun and relaxed. It is at this setting that learning begins.

Children Songs, Pull Turnip - Songs in Mandarin. CD
Children Songs, Pull Turnip - Songs in Mandarin. CD
Our Price: $12.99  

Children Songs, Pull Turnip - Songs in Mandarin. CD 

Foreign language classes are using music to stimulate learning. The language used in songs is also representative of the current language of the culture. Plus, a catchy tune will make students want to listen and understand the true meaning of the song.

Music Toy House #1 - music CD
Music Toy House #1 - music CD
Our Price: $9.99 
Sale Price: $7.95 
You save $2.04!  

Music Toy House #1 - music CD 

Over the years, two problems were pointed out in relying on music for learning. First, teachers noted the incorrect use of grammar in some songs. Second, they worried that the non-serious tone of the songs will actually deter learning. Actual results over the years have refuted the two points. Non-standard grammar helps students learn how a language is actually spoken outside the walls of their classroom. Research has also shown that students learned just the same amount as the traditional method.

If learning a new language is in your bucket list, crank up your radio, and let the learning begin.

39th Congressional Primary

Due to redistricting the local congressional primary is more exciting than normal.

Royce, Chen and Mulattieri vie in 39th Congressional primary  - SG Tribune

Monday, May 28, 2012

China Wages even more at Foxconn

China's factory wages keep on increasing, and with every increase China risks becoming less competitive. And FoxConn is investing a lot in automation (1 Million Robots to be purchased by 2014).

Foxconn to create workers' paradise? - The Register
Report suggests 144 per cent pay rise on the way


China's Huawei hopes to make a name for itself

Nice puff piece.

China's Huawei hopes to make a name for itself - Mercury News

And another view:
EU set to smack Chinese telcos over state subsidies - The Register
Getting money off gov is not playing fair, kettle tells pot

A great quote that captures so much:
"The consequences can be serious for companies that export to or invest in the country in question."

Translation - if you complain about China, you will have a hard time doing business there ever again.

Gary Locke Interview - Newsweek

Nice soft ball interview with Gary Locke, a good read.

It would be interesting to find out more details about what Wang Lijun told the US. It seems he is going to face charges of treason (a case of shooting the messenger).

I am surprised by this part:
In 2003, after Locke gave the Democratic rejoinder to President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address, he got threatening emails and the FBI uncovered a plot to assassinate him. (A member of a white supremacist group had gotten so far as the reception at his government office.)

Valley Boulevard: A window into the 'new Chinatown'

Garvey vs. Valley for the New Chinatown?  Hmm..  Of course Valley Blvd goes all the way out past Rowland Heights.

Good article, and I agree, I prefer to go to Alhambra than the LA Chinatown.

Valley Boulevard: A window into the 'new Chinatown'  - SG Tribune

Confucius Institute and US State Department

Short sighted, I hope something gets worked out.

Basically the US state department alleges that Chinese teachers from the Confucious Institute may be violating their visas if they are teaching K-12, and need to leave by the end of the June.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chinatown Food Tour - LA

I would love to go someday to one of their tours. They also have a tour in Arcadia. Unfortunately this one I have already visited all the restaurants.

Six Taste's New Chinatown Food Tour: The San Gabriel Valley - Gold Star has a deal for $33, regular price $55.

The restaurants include:  
  • - 8 Tastings at New Capital Dim Sum (been at another branch)
  • - Assortment of BBQ at Sam Woo BBQ (been there)
  • - Fresh pastry from Kee Wah Bakery (been at another branch)
  • - Tastings at Happy Kitchen Restaurant (been at another branch)
My 2 cents: They should have included a Vegetarian Restaurant (there used to be one in that plaza), and a Boba place. And Van's Bakery is near there, but I guess it's Vietnamese so it does not count (amazing flan).

Chinese Tour of Los Angeles

A teacher from Ohio asked me what I would recommend for a Chinese Tour of LA.

My quick 2 cents:

My 2 cents on what to visit for a Chinese Themed visit to LA:

1. Chinese Temple in Hacienda Heights
2. Din Tai Fung Dumplings in Arcadia
3. Dim Sum place (look on yelp and look at your schedule to choose a good one). Located through out the San Gabriel Valley. For Rowland Heights I like Hong Kong Palace for a true dim sum experience. Happy Harbor Restaurant if your into the food. I have not tried
New Capital Seafood Restaurant (used to be called something else).
4. Quick drive through the LA Chinatown, a historical Chinatown.
5. Quick trip through Monterey Park, may be stop at the Chinese Mall at Del Mar and Valley.
6. One of the Chinese museums in Chinatown. Both if you have the time.
7. Visit a Chinese bakery for a snack.

8. Chinese Gardens at Huntingon Library

For a tour company:

Kim Cooper - tours@esotouric.com
Kim and Richard are amazingly knowledgeable on LA anything related to history. I have gone on two of their tours.

Six Taste
I have been wanting to do a tour by them - I get a weekly deal e-mail from Goldstar and they mention an Eating Tour of San Gabriel Chinese suburbs, but my wife (from Taiwan) looks at me as if I am crazy.
Great reviews on yelp!

LA Conservancy
They also have tours and they may know someone.

I just found this on the Internet, looks like a Chinese Tour company:

There are two Chinese museums I know of in LA. They may be able to refer someone:

Monday, May 21, 2012

‘Princelings’ in China Use Family Ties to Gain Riches

I knew it was bad, but not this bad. 

‘Princelings’ in China Use Family Ties to Gain Riches - NY Times

And yes, the US has the Bush and Kennedy families in politics, but that is small potatoes compared to this.  When you look at the children of US Presidents and political figures, for the most part they are not movers and shakers of our society.

China set to take Asian IT spending crown

The estimate from IDC is in 2013 Chinese will be the biggest spender in Asia with $173 Billion in purchases for IT equipment.

Hey big spender: China set to take Asian IT spending crown - The Register

Online Play Dates Online for Learning Chinese

A Mother called me today and wanted my advice about helping her kids, who are learning Chinese, with their accents. They have a Chinese tutor.

My first question was where is their tutor from? The answer was Shanghai.  Shanghai has a beautiful accent, but for teaching Chinese this means a Mainland Chinese accent (and yes, I can tell the difference from somebody from Northern Chinese, Southern China, HK, and Taiwan usually, unless they are like my wife, and change their accent depending on who they are speaking to).

Next question was what Chinese Curriculumn are they using? My First Chinese Reader by Better Chinese was the answer.  Better Chinese has a huge amount of extra material available. We also talked about the headache of different material having different accents (the three I see in materials are an American, Beijing, and Taiwananese accent - American accent is the one I would avoid if there is a choice. I have a slight preference for Taiwanese - my wife is from Taiwan, but I understand the Beijing accent is the one in demand.

Another suggestion I gave her was see about Chinese programming online, especially cartoons from Taiwan. In Southern California there is a cable channel that has some.

I also suggested look into online play dates, with kids from China who want to Learn English. This could be a win win arrangement, at no cost to either side. They kids in China get practice with English, and her kids get practice with English. I suggested she check out Craig's List, since this is world wide. For adults I know there are some free web sites that help arrange trades, but I am not sure about kids.

Should China’s University English Programs Drop Shakespeare?

Good question, and my answer would be it depends on the goal. To just learn Business English, my answer would be no. If your goal is to be an English major, you need to have some acquantance with the bard.

And if your in the LA area, you should go see Pulp Shakespeare - you will never look at Pulp Fiction the same way :-) And visiting the Rennaisance Faire is a good way to help your English.

Should China’s University English Programs Drop Shakespeare? - Business Insider

I would compare studying Shakespeare, to studying Chinese classics. For those advanced enough, its a must to truly understand the culture.

My favorite book on Chinese poems, with a great study guide:

A Thousand Peaks: Poems from China A Thousand Peaks: Poems from China
Our Price: $19.95

(4 reviews)

Chinese Poetry Anthology

Spans 2,000 years--from the Han Dynasty to the 20th century

  • Rhythmic translations capture astonishing beauty of original Chinese poem and history
  • Stories that describe the culture and history that inspired the poet
  • Pinyin and Chinese translations
  • With illustrations

America Jealous of China?

I have noticed in a lot of comments as I read article's on China, about how the US is jealous of China's success.  I even got a comment like that on my blog post on Resource-Rich Canada Looks to China for Growth.

Americans always clamor about how great and beneficial competition is for the world, just as long as they win and are on top. But when China is catching up fast and Americans cannot compete as well, Americans then whine about unfair competition, illegal dumping, and so on.

My opinion:
  1. The US government and people, usually just wants a level playing field and countries to play by the rules. Yes, I acknowledge how some special interest groups from time to time have twisted rules to their advantage in the US (sugar, textiles, etc), but this is usually much smaller than what many other countries have done. The goal is a system that is win win, and not a win lose. The US has a history of helping other countries get richer. Japan and Germany are examples of this.
  2. Canada is their own country, and they can do what ever they want. The Canadian government needs to do what is best for their country, and they should not ignor the potential market of China. 
  3. The US Government should not take Canada for granted.
A good article to read:

Ezra Klein Explains the Fallacy of American Decline - The American Interest

LA's Old Chinatown ponders a future with Wal-Mart

Good article that has a great description of some of the contradictions of Chinatown. 

LA's Old Chinatown ponders a future with Wal-Mart - Associated Press

I met the Esotouric Tour Bus at Nick's Cafe that is across the street from the new park in Chinatown at the Corn Field. The park did not have a lot of Chinese in it, which surprised me. My guess was a lot of the people who live in downtown in lofts and such, that are re-making the area.

Language Acquisition & Feral Children

I went on an interesting tour by Esotouric called Blood and Dumplings on Sunday. The tour company has the tag line, Bus Adventures into the secret heart of Los Angeles. If you want to find out about old crime stories, this is the tour company for you. My first job was in the area delivering flowers, so I thought I new a bit about the area.

I also went on their Route 66 tour that was focused more on architecture and history including Azusa, Duarte, Monrovia, and Sierra Madre. I grew up in Monrovia, and even I learned a something new. For example, I did not know about E. Wald Ward Farm - neat little citrus farm with a store in the middle of Sierra Madre.

One of the cases mentioned was Susan Wiley "Genie the Wild Child" Child of Arcadia. This poor girl was imprisoned in here bed room until age 12 in 1970, and nobody spoke to her.  Because of that, she never learned to talk. To me this proves the point that language is important to learn as a child.

Reviews Are Easy And You May Win $100

Have you bought a book or dvd from us recently? Or have you bought from us before? Old and new customers are encouraged to join our monthly Childbook.com's Photo and Review Contest. You may never know, you might take home the $100 prize. Contest is open to all current and previous customers of ChildBook.com

You can join two ways:
  • Go to the product page of the product you bought and write a review 
        If you bought more than one product, you can submit multiple entries, one review for each product you bought. All reviews submitted will be moderated.  Positive and negative reviews will be judged equally.
  • Submit a photo of yourself or of your child while using a Child Book product. (Please be sure the product is clearly shown in the photo)
        Send the photos to  sales@childbook.com. Each photo submitted (as long as it has a different product on it) is 1 entry. You may also submit many photos featuring the same product, but this will only be counted as 1 entry.
         A winner  will be picked through a true random number service and awarded $100. We need at least 10 entries before we can draw a winner. If in case the reviews were less than 10 for a certain month, no winner will be drawn instead the entries will be carried over to the next month. Deadline for submission of entries is on the last day of the month at 12:00 AM PST. 

         We will announce the winners every first Wednesday of the month and will be posted in the ChildBook newsletter, blog, Twitter and Facebook Page. For more information, please head over to our Contest Site.

         So why not write a review or submit a photo to us. You might be our next $100 winner!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Parents Of Slain Students File Wrongful Death Suit Against USC

Colleges do whitewash any negative issues. and USC is not located in the best area of town. My guess is the university will settle to avoid the bad publicity, and the parent's attorney seems to be aiming for that.

Parents Of Slain Students File Wrongful Death Suit Against USC - Neon Tommy

Related Posts:
USC shooting: Campus stunned
USC enrolls the most international students in the nation     

Disclaimers & Biases:

1. My car was broken in the USC area
2. My Father is a USC graduate
3. After I took a law class, I became a bit cynical about lawyers. The class was taught by a lawyer and it was eye opening.

U.S. imposes tariffs on Chinese solar panels

It's an election year!

U.S. imposes tariffs on Chinese solar panels - Washington Post

As China Cools, Foreign Profits Shift

I am surprised by the growth of some consumer brands in China, such as Apple and Starbucks. Apple's sales tripled to $7.9 Billion last quarter (20% of the company's total revenue), which led to a 94% increase in profit.

Industrial companies are seeig less sales in China.

As China Cools, Foreign Profits Shift - WSJ

Thursday, May 17, 2012

School and District Deferrals in California

California has serious budget issues.  Here is a tool to find out how much is being deffered per school district. The school district my daughter went to is owed for 2011-2012 $1200 per student, or $17 Million.

School and District Deferrals - Edvoice

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

User Reviews as Good as Professional Reviews?

Make sense to me, of course I am a big champion of reviews. ChildBook has over 1000 reviews of our learning Chinese materials.

Key Points:
  1. Overall expert ratings correlate to customer ratings on Amazon. And yes, I know about the reviews of classics that are negative, such as 1 star reviews of the Catcher in the Rye.
  2. Customer reviews are better for new authors. Professional reviews have a biase against new authors.
  3. Professional reviews are influenced by gotten attention in the press. Customer reviews are not.

Professional Book Reviews vs. Amazon Book Reviews from a research paper from Harvard- The Passive Voice

Resource-Rich Canada Looks to China for Growth

Shows the growing importance of exports to China from Canada. A good read that does mention 67.7% of Canada exports are to the US, down from 80% 10 years ago.  Last year China was 7.2% of Canadian exports.

Resource-Rich Canada Looks to China for Growth - Wall Street Journal

Cybersecurity forms ID build profile of attackers

Amazing, the cyber defense forms have identified 20 main groups and their characteristics, this way they can customize their defenses. Sad that most of the groups are Chinese per the article. The article title it mis-leading, its more about identification, rather than hunting.

Cybersecurity Firms Ditch Defense, Learn To 'Hunt' - NPR

Chinese studying in Australia

And yes, I know about what happened at USC to two Chinese students.

We came here to learn, but we live in fear - Sydney Morning Herald

What Israel Can Teach China

Good article that asks the question, can creativity be taught in China? Can China become a start up nation as Isreal is?

What Israel Can Teach China - The Diplomat

China's Relations with Neighbors

Great video at the bottom of this blog post. A post writes about the current challenges with China and the Philiphines.

China Threatens War With Philippines - Via Media

A nice update about what is going on with other neigbors of China.

Game of Thrones: China Pushes Back

Textbook Season is here!

I did not expect it so early in the year, but I am getting some large school orders for Chinese Textbooks.

I am not sure if for summer school, spending money before year end budget, or ?

Please note, I am not complaining! Large orders are always appreciated! Yes, they can be a headache since you never seem to have in stock exactly what is needed (we want 200 of the book that nobody has ordered in 5 years, and we want it yesterday), but I am very good on getting product ASAP.

US textbooks will be the new digital battlefield

A bit scary as a Chinese Textbook seller.

US textbooks will be the new digital battlefield - The Telegraph

Great comments on the article at a site for authors called The Passive Voice. If your a book author, this is a must read site.

The article explains why Microsoft made the deal for B&N's Nook. It was about content for Tablets running Windows 8. I am amazed how much market share the iPad has, compared to any other tablets out there. Last I read 64% of Tablets were iPad's, Amazon's Fire started out strong, but has weakened. And Android's are still going. Amazon's tablets run a version of Android, but its hidden in the background. Per the MIT Technology Review, smart phones are spreading faster than any other technology, and tablets are not far behind.

I have noticed a lot of customers using iPad's to place their orders on childbook.com

My First Chinese Words Learning Chinese Curriculum by Better Chinese

I am a big fan of reading as a way both for learning, teaching, and working with your young child. Even for a child who does not how to read yet, I believe its helpful to read to them. They can see the pictures and its a great way to interact with your child. My favorite is My First Chinese Words that comes with 36 books and a CD.

My First Chinese WordsThe book are nice and simple, which is great for short attention spans. At the kindergarten age, you don't want anything too long.

The box that contains the 36 books and CD to give you an idea of the size

Open Box for sizing information. .

Each page has a picture as well as a simple s on each page have a sentence in Chinese Characters and Pinyin. There is an English translation at the end of each book.

The sets are available in both Simplified and Traditional Characters.

My First Chinese Words Set (36 Books + Audio CD), Simplified Chinese

My First Chinese Words Set (36 Books + Audio CD), Traditional Chinese

AP Chinese Level Textbooks

A customer contacted me asking about about a curriculumn that was AP Chinese Level.

First I suggested, since I assumed the students had some Chinese:
Magical Tour of China by Better Chinese
And then they mentioned they wanted a beginner package, and I suggested these:

Kuaile Hanyu (Happy Chinese)

Discovering Chinese - Learn Chinese through Stories By Better Chinese

Discovering Chinese and Magical Tour are both story based which is an approach I like. I am big into reading as a way to learn.  What I like about  Kuaile Hanyu is its made for teenagers, since teenagers can be challenging to teach and keep their attention. I suggested she look at the sample pages for each and see which book matches here teaching style and will work best with her students. I have found there is not one best textbook, but it varies. I have found some teachers love textbook A Series, but hate  B Series And then I have another teacher who is the exact oppositie, and loves textbook series B, but hates B.

The emperor does know

This makes a lot of sense. The issue is the measurement.

The emperor does know - The Economist
How the system rewards repression, in the name of maintaining stability

Key Points:
  • The most important measures are maintaining social stability, achieving economic growth and, in many areas, enforcing population controls.
  • Cadres sign contracts that spell out their responsibilities. Failure to meet targets can end a cadre’s career.
  • Fulfilling them, even if it means trampling laws to do so, can mean career advancement and financial bonuses.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tips in Learning Chinese

So, you've decided to learn Chinese? Don't be so eager and rush in "head first", you might get discouraged and "burn out". Before you can say, "my first Chinese words are..." here are three simple tips to get you going:

Teach Me Chinese! - CDL001, Children Songs in English and Chinese - Mandarin
Teach Me Everyday Mandarin Chinese Vol. 1, CD and Hardcover Book
Our Price: $19.95  

CD & Book

  • Very popular Songs in English and Chinese with a great booklet
  • Extremely popular

You must be dedicated, you must persevere

Dedication and perseverance is the key to succeed in anything. Learning a new skill, learning how to play the piano or even learning a new language, you need to be dedicated in what you are doing. Try devoting one or two hours each day in learning and be consistent.

Pinyin for everyone
Pinyin For Everyone: Learning Chinese Through Stories, Book, Simplified Chinese
Our Price: $25.95  

  • Great book for Learning Pinyin!  Contains 30 lessons.
  • Lesson text, songs, rhymes and listening exercises accompanied by a beautifully recorded audio CD makes mastering Chinese tones and pronunciation fun and easy.
  • 2 CD's included.

Be Realistic

Don't rush in. Take your time. Set realistic goals and keep it simple like, "In three days time I will learn ten new Chinese words" or "I will memorize a Chinese poem in a month".

Early Start Mandarin Chinese with Bao Bei the Panda #3, DVD
Early Start Mandarin Chinese with Bao Bei the Panda #3 DVD
Our Price: $19.95  
(4 reviews)

Bao Bei and the kids have a wonderful day! 

Learn basic Chinese words as they

  • Dress up
  • Have breakfast
  • Go to the beach
Bilingual - English with Chinese words and phrases 

Immerse yourself in the Chinese Culture

Surround yourself with everything Chinese. Talk to people who speak Chinese fluently. Read children's books or comic books in Chinese. Watch Chinese TV shows or movies in Chinese, most of the have english subtitles for you to understand easily. 

With these simple tips, you will be speaking Chinese in no time. You will be able to say "my first chinese words are..."
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