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The most convenient way to learn Chinese the way it is actually spoken and used. Start with our basic lessons, and in no time you'll be listening to music, watching films and television and engaging in the actual language. With free daily podcasts, a vibrant community, online study tools and much more, PopupChinese is the most powerful and personal way to learn mandarin.
Updated: 3 hours 40 min ago

Intermediate - The Secret Room in the Attic

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 01:00

Something was hidden in the attic. That much was certain, yet how could Mark and Susan find out the secret of the orphanage? Any passage leading to the upper crawlspace was well cloaked, perhaps even sealed off years ago in the renovations that followed the death of the last schoolmaster. And with Miss Gruntle known to prowl the school grounds at night, their only opportunity to truly explore opened them to the risk of a lifetime of lashings.

Sinica - American Football in China

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 01:00

"American football in China" is a sport/location combo that at first sounds like a joke, like “Jamaican bobsled team.” But according to the rule that, in a country of 1.3 billion people, everything is happening somewhere, the existence of Chinese football should come as no surprise....

This week we're delighted to be joined by Christopher Beam, author of the passage quoted above, which we unceremoniously filched from his fantastic New Republic essay about his year with the Chongqing Dockers, one of the many new amateur football teams that has sprung up in China as of late. And if you haven't read the piece, you should stop what you're doing and check it out now.

If you like this show, be sure to check out Christopher's other excellent essay on tackling 12 year old ping pong players in Shichahai. And also be sure to subscribe through iTunes to get notified of new episodes of Sinica as we release them. Our custom feed address is http://popupchinese.com/feeds/custom/sinica. And if you have questions or suggestions for the show, please feel welcome to reach out to us anytime by email at sinica@popupchinese.com too. [standalone mp3 file]

Quiz Night - Return of the Quiz Show

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 01:00

After a lengthy hiatus, we're pleased to release another episode of our Chinese Quiz Night. Joining new hosts Joakeem and Grace in our studio are two contestants known and feared by the other residents of Beijing: Martin the Destroyer, famous around Beijing for his mastery on the pub quiz circuit, as well as Ban "the terror from Qinghai" Yan, who is admittedly less intimidating in person that we were expecting.

Not sure what this show is doing in your iTunes feed? Our Chinese Quiz Show at Popup Chinese is a mixed English-Chinese concept show we're developing for upper-intermediate students: a quiz game that mixes Chinese questions with just enough English to keep things intelligible. We're still tweaking the balance, but if you're stretching past the intermediate level and looking for fun listening materials we think you'll like it -- our topics today range from general China knowledge to popular and not-so-popular singers, as well as a final category with language we hope none of us ever to have to use. Listen up and find out why.

Elementary - Office Romance

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 01:00

We strive to make Popup Towers the sort of freewheeling love nest where interoffice relationships are highly encouraged, but sometimes struggle with the consequences. After Lily's break-up with Luo Hao, we took her aside and said "relax baby, there are plenty more fish in the sea for a hot cat like you." But she kept moping about, so we had to move her desk near the elevator.

Absolute Beginners - Assault, Battery and the Future

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 01:00

Just getting started learning Chinese? Today we offer you a lesson containing assault, battery, and just a touch of the future tense. Not that Chinese really has a future tense, but if you want to talk about things that haven't happened yet, we have everything you need to get started in a dialogue that's so simple even an absolute beginner can handle it.

Assault, Battary and the Future

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 01:00

Just getting started learning Chinese? Today we offer you a lesson containing assault, battary, and just a touch of the future tense. Not that Chinese really has a future tense, but if you want to talk about things that haven't happened yet, we have everything you need to get started in a dialogue that's so simple even an absolute beginner can handle it.

Sinica - Live at the Association for Asian Studies

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 01:00

This week Sinica presents a special live recording from the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) which convened last week in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Listen to the show right through your browser using our online player, or download it to share or save as a standalone mp3 file.

Regular listeners please note that the audio quality here isn't up to our usual standards: we didn't have professional audio equipment on hand during the meeting, but tried our best given the opportunity to trap both Jeffrey Wasserstrom and Pankaj Mishra in live conversation. As Sinica regulars may know, Jeffrey Wasserstrom is a Professor of History at UC Irvine and publisher of the Journal of Asian Studies, while Pankaj Mishra is author of "From the Ruins of Empire" and "Temptations of the West".

Sinica - In Conversation with Timothy Garton Ash

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 01:00

This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn are pleased to host a conversation with Timothy Garton Ash, professor of history at Oxford University, and recent participant in the Capital M Literary Festival in Beijing. We warmly invite you to listen to this podcast on our site, or download the show as a standalone mp3 file.

As one the world's leading historians of the end of the Cold War, Ash joins us for a conversation about history and revolutions: both in China and abroad. In this week's episode, we talk to him about China's model of authoritarian capitalism, whether moral values are universal, recent developments with Russia and Crimea, as well as his own experiences uncovering a personal Stasi file after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Elementary - Return of the Chinese Tutor

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 01:00

Teaching Chinese may have been Xiao Wang's first love, but diversifying into English just made business sense. Not only were there a lot more English learners than foreigners in Beijing, but the students she picked up seemed more appreciative of her talents and receptive to her teaching methods. Sure, every now and then someone would come along who thought they knew better, but had they lived in London for four months?

Learning Chinese? In this show, the second time our Chinese tutor has surfaced, we cover some essential classroom vocabulary you may have missed: words and phrases like "say it again" and "what fresh hell is this". So if you can't yet understand Chinese spoken at natural speed but are getting there, give this show a listen and let us know what you think in the comments section.

Sinica - The Chinese Labour Corps in World War One

Fri, 03/28/2014 - 01:00

This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo and David Moser are delighted to host Mark O'Neill, author of the The Chinese Labour Corps, for a discussion of the Chinese contribution to World War One. As a comprehensive look into China's role in The Great War, Mark's book concerns the history of the roughly 135,000 workers from Shandong who worked on the battlefields of Europe where they handled everything from digging trenches to building munitions even under the threat of regular bombing.

Enjoy Sinica? While we encourage you to listen through our onsite MP3 player, if you have trouble please feel welcome to download this show as a standalone mp3 file. You can also get your computer or mp3 player to download new episodes of Sinica automatically by subscribing to our custom RSS feed using iTunes.Inquiries and suggestions for future show topics or guests are also welcome by email at sinica@popupchinese.com.

Intermediate - Rotten from the Head Down

Mon, 03/24/2014 - 01:00

The board had taken quick action when rumours of accounting irregularities had hit the local papers, commissioning Detective Zhen to investigate the allegations. But once he had uncovered evidence of embezzlement at the local subdivision, something had compelled him to keep digging. And the further he dug, the less regular overall corporate finances seemed, and what he found pointed to much deeper problems than a single corrupt staffer....

This week on Popup Chinese, the fish rots from the head down in a show that features bribery, embezzlement, kickbacks and more. Join us as we explore the darker side of corporate malfeasance, and teach you the language you'll need to know to navigate your way through blackmail and corruption in the Middle Kingdom.

Sinica - We will make you learn to love Baijiu

Fri, 03/21/2014 - 01:00

Forget our complaints about the pollution, China has an even more intractable public relations problem that has everything to do with the country's favorite hard liquor. And yes, we are talking about baijiu. In 1854, French Catholic missionary Régis Huc introduced the drink to Western civilization as "absolutely like liquid fire," while Dan Rather -- covering Nixon's seminal 1972 trip to China -- compared it to "liquid razor blades."

Given that we have had similar experiences ourselves, and given the pervasiveness of this attitude, Jeremy Goldkorn is delighted to host David Moser and Derek Sandhaus for a discussion of the history, craft and business of traditional Chinese liquors. David is of course an old Sinica hand. Derek is an American writer, baijiu convert and most recently the author of Baijiu: The Essential Guide to Chinese Spirits, an encyclopedic compendium that includes not only details on some of the best drinks in China, but also -- stunningly -- some great cocktail recipes for putting that bottle of Erguotou to good use at your next dinner party.

Enjoy Sinica? While everyone is welcome to download and share this week's show as a standalone mp3 file, remember you are welcome to subscribe to our entire archive of lessons either by signing up for an account on Popup Chinese, or subscribing to our custom Sinica RSS feed. And don't forget to check us out on Facebook once you've got your VPN setup properly.

Sinica - Will China Dominate the 21st Century

Fri, 03/14/2014 - 01:00

This week on Sinica, we are pleased to present a live show recorded earlier this week at The Bookworm, where Kaiser Kuo interviewed Jonathan Fenby, author of the book Will China Dominate the 21st Century. Listen to the show live on our site, or download it and share it as a standalone mp3 file.

If you haven't heard of Jonathan Fenby, you should know him as a former editor of the Observer and the South China Morning Post and a founding partner and Managing Director of Trusted Sources Research Service. He is the author of several popular books on China, including the acclaimed Tiger Head, Snake Tails (2013) and The Penguin History of Modern China (2009) and was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2000 New Year Honours List for his services to journalism.

Intermediate - Awake, Masters of Darkness!

Mon, 03/10/2014 - 01:00

The good news about living in China is that you're unlikely to get abducted and forced into a satanic ritual. Part of this may be a lack of personal experience with raising the dead, but part is also a lack of the basic linguistic tools necessary for communing with the masters of darkness. Which is really a cultural issue, because it took us about five minutes to explain what a pentagram was to our confused voice actors....

Sinica - Wealth and Power: Intellectuals in China

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 01:00

This week Kaiser and Jeremy are joined by David Moser and Orville Schell. While long-time listeners will of course know of David Moser as one of our favorite resident sinologists, if you haven't also heard of Orville Schell we think you should have. Currently director of the Center on US-China Relations at the Asia Society, and previously an academic sinologist with an outstanding list of publications on Chinese politics and society, Orville has most recently authored Wealth and Power: China's Long March to the Twenty-first Century.

Up for discussion: recent developments at ChinaFile (what the site has been doing and where we expect it to go), the state of modern academic and intellectual discourse in China as part of a broader look at Orville's new book, and finally a closer look at the terror attacks in Kunming last week which have seized the global presses.

Like Sinica? If you'd like Kaiser and crew to show up automatically in your podcast collection whenever a new episode is published, subscribe to the show by creating an account on Popup Chinese and selecting Sinica as one of your feeds, or adding the feed URL http://popupchinese.com/feeds/custom/sinica into iTunes under the "Subscribe to Podcast" option in the File menu. You are also welcome to download this mp3 directly from Popup Chinese as a standalone mp3 file and share it with friends. Enjoy!

Short Stories - San Mao - The Trash Collectors

Mon, 03/03/2014 - 01:00

Have we mentioned that we love San Mao? A precocious child who read Dream of the Red Chamber at age five, San Mao grew into one of the best and most widely-traveled writers of her generation, attending university in Germany, living for a long time in the Western Sahara with her Spanish husband, and eventually traveling as far as Chile while publishing travel journals, autobiographical essays and reflective letters which remain some of the most charming pieces of writing produced by anyone in her generation.

And this selection? What we have for you today is an excerpt from the book 背影, a collection of reminisces in which San Mao looks back at her experiences as a child in Nanjing. This particular essay concerns a run-in she had with a teacher in China's traditional education system....

Sinica - In Line Behind a Billion People

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 01:00

This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy are joined by Damien Ma, author of In Line Behind a Billion People, a new book for China-watchers by Ma and William Adams, looking at how China's lack of affordable housing, its food and air pollution, the country's poor education system as well as its pervasive "moral scarcity" are going to affect global politics as well as China's own modernization drive over the next twenty years.

For those who haven't heard of our guest yet, Damien Ma is a Fellow at The Paulson Institute and previously a lead China analyst at the Eurasia Group, where he specialized in China's energy and commodities markets, industrial policy, relations with America, and social and Internet policies. Before joining the Eurasia Group, Ma managed publications for the US-China Business Council in Washington. He has written for The Atlantic Monthly online and has been published in a number of prominent journals including Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, Slate, and Foreign Policy.

Enjoy Sinica? If you'd like Kaiser and crew to show up automatically in iTunes or on your phone whenever we publish a new episode of Sinica, you can subscribe to Sinica manually by selecting the option "Subscribe to Podcast" from the File menu in iTunes and providing the URL http://popupchinese.com/feeds/custom/sinica when prompted. Or you can download this show directly from our server as a standalone mp3 file for listening yourself or sharing with friends. Enjoy!

Absolute Beginners - Adventures on WeChat

Wed, 02/26/2014 - 12:52

Facebook spent 16 billion dollars on some kind of mobile phone app? We heard something about that, but we're not really sure what you guys are doing outside China. Because we have our own thing going on in the mobile chat space, and pretty much everyone in this country of 1.3 billion mobile users is on it. So you should get on it too.

Learning Chinese? In today's show, we feature two dialogues about asking someone for their Wechat/Weixin number. This is a useful way of hooking up with new friends, and a non-threatening way to meet new people -- it's not as aggressive as asking someone for their phone number, and it lets you find out more about them through an entirely new and innovative method of digital stalking. Needless to say, we highly recommend it.

Sinica - The Disabled in China

Sat, 02/22/2014 - 05:14

This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy are joined by James Palmer and John Giszczack for a discussion of the disabled in China. Join us as we discuss how the Chinese language defines the concept of disability, what public attitudes are prevalent about the disabled, and what resources the Chinese government makes -- and doesn't make -- available to help those with disabilities integrate themselves into society.

As a quick introduction to our guests, James Palmer is making his second appearance here on Sinica today, and is well-known for his excellent pieces on China, including this favourite of ours on the 1980s generation in Aeon Magazine. John Giszczack is the co-founder of Abled Lives, a med-tech company focused on improving the quality of life for disabled people in China.

Enjoy Sinica? Let us remind you as always that you can use iTunes to download new episodes of Sinica as they get released. To do this, click on the File menu and select "Subscribe to Podcast" from the available choices. Your computer will prompt you to enter a URL, so give it http://popupchinese.com/feeds/custom/sinica. Please also consider yourself welcome to download this and all of our other shows as a standalone mp3 file. We hope you like it.

Elementary - We Love You, Fridtjof and Ragnvald

Tue, 02/18/2014 - 10:09

"I can't believe you still haven't covered Sweden!" Living on the front lines of our ongoing battle to disregard user feedback, and particularly feedback that requires expending effort, Gail was upset about our prolonged disregard of the requests of not just one but two of her more Nordic students. But while the wheel of podcast production may grind slowly, it grinds very fine indeed. So here you go Sweden. And here you go Ikea. And here you go Fridtjof and Ragnvald....

And how about you? Do you have any ideas for a topic we haven't covered yet? While we don't suggest getting your hopes up in the short-term, let this episode stand as testament that not only will we do our best to eventually and somewhat laggardly produce stuff that people keep harassing us about, but that we will also somewhat concomitantly find world experts on the topic to help make the materials stick. So don't be afraid to email us, or - better yet - praise us online somewhere in an authentic but perhaps marginally spammy way, mentioning almost in passing that if only (if only!) we also had a lesson on __________ then there wouldn't be any reason for any sane person not to listen.