Monday, June 18, 2012

你 好!

OK, so this is probably a bit random for a library blog, except we're also about sharing resources, right?

I don't think I've mentioned here that I'm leaving Mongolia this year and have accepted a position at a great school in Beijing for next year.

In my various travels around the globe, I've been pretty pathetic about actually learning the language where I'm living.  Once I accepted the position in Beijing, I decided it was long past time to put in some serious language-acquisition effort.  If learning Chinese/Mandarin isn't worth one's time, what is?

I know there's also a huge rise in Chinese lessons in schools in the States, so here are a collection of resources I've found useful.

CHINESEPOD: I've had some private lessons with our Chinese teacher here in Mongolia, but I've also been using ChinesePod, which is great and  the lessons are a lot more practical!  You need to pay for full access to all the lessons, but they do have some free podcasts on iTunes.  And the paid subscription  gives access to one of the best, Flash-based, pinyin/tone charts I've ever seen. It's worth paying $29 for a month's subscription just to grab that.  Our Chinese teacher here loved it.

BBC Chinese:  If you just need some survival Chinese for a holiday,  the BBC offers 10 video lessons that would be useful.  Each lessons contains a user guide, pronunciation tips and a short video.

Serge Melnyk offers well-reviewed, free weekly lessons via iTunes.

The Asia Society offers a collection of resources for educators.

One Minute Mandarin:  The very basics!

Pop-Up Chinese:  Free iTunes podcasts for beginning and intermediate learners. They also offer annotated short stories as well as listening exercises.

Radicals:  I've been struggling most with writing the characters. Unlike every other language I've ever studied, Chinese characters have nothing to do with how the word is pronounced.  You just have to memorize the shapes and what they mean. My aging brain rebels!  What they DO have are radicals, basic characters that appear over and over in different combinations, and Emory University has a podcast that will help you learn them.

Basic Chinese:  A set of 10 lessons from the Peace Corps. Also lessons in Arabic, French and more.

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