Learning Chinese


Chinese movies: Free and Easy (汉语拼音)

I spend quite a bit of time on flights to and from China and I always watch a Chinese movie. Partly to practise, partly to learn about Chinese culture. And hey, in an airplane, I am your captive audience!

Some of these movies I’ve loved. Some not so much. Let me start with my favourite so far: Free and Easy, or ‘Relaxed and Happy’ in the Chinese title. Nobody is relaxed or happy in this very funny, dark comedy by director Jun Geng. In a snowy dismall little nowhere town somewhere in China a soap salesman comes to to town to stir up trouble with his very special soaps.

I really enjoyed the view it gave me of more or less normal Chinese life: most movies they show in the airplane are either period dramas featuring concubines stabbing each other in the back in endless squabbles or romantic comedies where everybody does something in advertising and lives in fabulous appartments right in the middle of Shanghai. So yay, can’t wait to see more of Geng Jun’s work!


Learning Chinese: 3 best apps

I have been dabbling in learning Chinese, or Putongua, the Common Language, for about two years now and it is HARD. I speak six other languages with ease, but Chinese has me working hard. Very, very hard.

I am getting somewhere though! WHere a year ago I couldn’t even order tea in a tea shop – true story! Extremely frustrating! – I can now explain that I don’t eat meat, that I like my tea hot, not cold, that I am looking for milk/the toilet/dumplings.
So as with most things worth doing it just takes some determination and with these tips you should be on your way as well!

My apps:
Chinese Skill
Very helpful, and the Panda gets so happy when you are doing well it really lifts my spirits every time he says ‘you rock’.
Great: it also helps you write Chinese characters and practise your vocabulary.
Highly recommended!




Gotta love ‘m, I used them to improve my Spanish and I am now trying Chinese as well. I actually prefer ChineseSkill, because for example when you are learning a new character DuoLingo doesn’t tell you what it means. ChineseSkill does. Also, DuoLingo is a lot harder. Really, I feel like I have missed a step or two every time I move to the next subject. The little owl does occasionally pop up to say I am doing well, bless him.

It’s more gamified, you get a card, and you have to memorise it. I really like what they do visually, the way they try and help you remember by working the Chinese chaqracter into the picture: well done guys!!!

And it’s quite fun.

Which is the best? If you are going to do only one, I’d go with ChineseSkills. But ideally: use all of them, and podcasts and tvseries and music as well. It takes time to learn a language, find the way that works for you!

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