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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: 6 min 12 sec ago

Sinica - Dissecting the 2014 Spring Festival Gala

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 01:00

A casual survey suggests that 98 percent of Sinica listeners have at some point joined Chinese friends or family in watching the annual television spectacular known as the Spring Festival Gala. Sadly, whether from excessive pork consumption or the mildly sedative effects of baijiu, the same percentage report occasional difficulties making it through the entire show....

That's excuse enough for Sinica to take a look back this week, asking not only whether this year's show was any good, but how we think the show will last and what its change in direction this year under filmmaker Feng Xiaogang tells us about the priorities of the new administration. Joining Kaiser for this discussion is Alice Xin Liu from the Chinese translation magazine Pathlight as well as David Moser, who shares insider knowledge of how the gala works gleaned from a previous appearance on the show.

Enjoy Sinica? If you'd like to download the show without playing it through our on-site player, please feel free to grab the standalone mp3 file. You can also use any RSS feed reader to subscribe to this podcast and get updates automatically: just use our dedicated feed which can be found on http://popupchinese.com/feeds/custom/sinica here at Popup Chinese.

Intermediate - Dancing to the Stars at Lincoln High

Mon, 02/10/2014 - 03:53

Xiao Ming would always remember her first day at Lincoln High, if only because the Chinese student's shock at the reality of an inner-city American school almost drove her to tears. Little did she know that she would be a celebrity within the year. But even when her peers started giving her high-fives walking down the hallway, Xiao Ming didn't let the attention go to her head. Because none of this was about her: it was about the dance team, and about saving their school.

Learning Chinese? This intermediate show has two separate dialogues that tell the story of Lincoln High, and what Xiao Ming did there. In addition to some new vocabulary and a few interesting patterns, this lesson also features a common northern expression we encourage you to drop into conversation with your friends, especially if you are nowhere near Heilongjiang and feel like pulling one up on the locals....

Elementary - Where are the Car Keys?

Mon, 02/03/2014 - 01:00

Every other industrial operation in China may have shutdown now that it's Chinese New Years, but fortunately we've managed to keep our lesson-producing slavemill podcast studio open during the break, all the better to continue delivering the sort of fresh and interesting Chinese learning shows that will help you join our ranks as oppressors of the working classes and partisans strictly opposed to things like compulsory holidays.

On a pedagogical note, our recent lessons at this level have climbed up the difficulty gradient to the point they're almost intermediate-level shows. If you've found them a bit challenging don't worry -- in this show, Brendan and Echo take a step back from the brink, with a simpler dialogue that reveals a charming technique you can use to imply that you're stating the obvious, or what should be the obvious at least.

Intermediate - Like Father, Like Son

Thu, 01/30/2014 - 01:00

When the doctor entered the room, the boy was sitting motionless on the floor where he had been several minutes before, still staring intently at a crack in the nearby wall, as if there was some secret in the darkness beyond which promised some profound revelation. Yet the doctor's attention was not on his young patient, but rather the father who stood anxiously several feet away. For how could he break the news?

In this intermediate lesson, we cover two relatively advanced ways of making comparisons. First with a structure that is used to compare things which are quite alike, and then with a more tricky pattern that can be used to make percentage comparisons. This is a tricky point, wrapped in a very colloquial lesson, so if you're working towards fluency, give us a listen and see what you think. Feedback and thoughts welcome below as always!

KTV Wednesday - Zhang Xuan - How

Wed, 01/29/2014 - 01:00

What a phenomenal song we have this week! The last time we featured Zhang Xuan on Popup Chinese, the Taiwanese songwriter had just come out with her wonderful lullaby. This second song shows how much she has changed as an artist in such a short few years, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we all do.

Sinica - Talking about Taiwan

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 01:00

This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo is joined by David Moser and Paul Mozur for an in-depth discussion about everyone's favorite renegade province. This is a lively conversation that stretches from questions of personal identity in Taiwan to the island's media sensationalism, close ties with the United States, and obviously political relations with the mainland as well.

Enjoy Sinica? As always, before you listen let us remind you that suggestions, questions and comments are always welcome in our comments section below. We also welcome correspondence by email at sinica@popupchinese.com. So enjoy the show, and let us know what you think. (Note: standalone mp3 download)

Elementary - Not a Big Deal

Thu, 01/16/2014 - 01:00

William had been home a mere two hours before his father sequestered him in the living room with a suggestion they sit down and insinuation of a serious conversation to come. This was followed at first by a general humming and hawing, and a few pregnant pauses, and William began to wonder what could be of such obvious concern? What had happened while he was away at university?

Learning Chinese? Our intermediate lesson for today is at the more difficult end of the difficulty spectrum at the Elementary level. But we still felt it was worth publishing, for it focuses on a rarely-taught but incredibly useful expression for telling other people that something isn't a big deal. If this is too difficult for you don't worry though, most of the material at this level is a bit easier to understand, so just check our archives for a show that's closer to your level.

Advanced - The Perils of Philately

Wed, 01/08/2014 - 01:00

We don't really know what it is about China and stamp collecting. In most countries the activity exists as a sort of underground movement, and no-one admits lightly to philately. But here in China things are different. Very different.

Sinica - Birds of Beijing and the Air They Fly In

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 01:00

This week Sinica responds to the fevered requests of the Azure-Winged Magpie society with a show all about birding in Beijing. And why not? Because despite the air pollution that wracks our fair city, Beijing remains one of the best places in the world for serious bird-watching. Join us as we explain the why and how of this ornithological mystery, before moving on to complaining about the various other things that are in the air....

Joining Jeremy Goldkorn for this discussion are two guests we are delighted to feature on the show: avid birder Terry Townshend from the blog Birding Beijing, as well as Jonathan Kaimen, a journalist for The Guardian in Beijing who has covered China's environmental problems and reported most recently on the country's estimated 176 billion USD bill for cleaning up its air pollution issues.

Enjoy Sinica? Even if birding isn't your thing, the lesson to take away from this show is that we do requests. So if there's a topic you'd like to hear us cover, send us an email at sinica@popupchinese.com and let us know. And please also feel welcome to download this show as a standalone mp3 file, or subscribe to our list of shows using our custom RSS feed.

Birdwatching in Beijing

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 01:00

This week Sinica responds to the fevered requests of the Azure-Winged Magpie society with a show all about birding in Beijing. And why not? Because despite the air pollution that wracks our fair city, Beijing remains one of the best places in the world for serious bird-watching. Join us as we explain the why and how of this ornithological mystery, before moving on to complaining about the various other things that are in the air....

Joining Jeremy Goldkorn for this discussion are two guests we are delighted to feature on the show: avid birder Terry Townshend from the blog Birding Beijing, as well as Jonathan Kaimen, a journalist for The Guardian in Beijing who has covered China's environmental problems and reported most recently on the country's estimated 176 billion USD bill for cleaning up its air pollution issues.

Enjoy Sinica? Even if birding isn't your thing, the lesson to take away from this show is that we do requests. So if there's a topic you'd like to hear us cover, send us an email at sinica@popupchinese.com and let us know. And please also feel welcome to download this show as a standalone mp3 file, or subscribe to our list of shows using our custom RSS feed.

Sinica - Sinica goes to the Movies

Sat, 12/28/2013 - 09:20

As much as expats in China like to complain about the state of Chinese film and television, this week Kaiser and Jeremy remind of that there is a lot of great art out there too, in a show that asks the critical question of what is worth our collective time? Joining to give their takes on this question are guests Raymond Zhou, film reviewer for China's biggest film magazine and columnist for the China Daily, as well as the ever-brilliant David Moser, director of the CET immersion program in Beijing.

Like Sinica? Remember that if you find listening to the show through our online flash player discomfiting, you are always welcome to download this show and all of our others as a standalone mp3 file. Alternately, you can subscribe to all of our shows by RSS using our public feed at http://popupchinese.com/feeds/custom/sinica or send feedback or suggestions for future show topics to us by email at sinica@popupchinese.com.

Intermediate - Flow My Tears

Wed, 12/25/2013 - 01:00

Save for his passing look of furtive intelligence, the police would hardly had given the beggar a second glance, for even if loitering on public property was technically a crime, it hardly served anyone's interests to harass those without even the limited means of paying the necessary fines to secure due process. And so the truly poor and desperate were permitted to exist on the margins of society, secure in their poverty from unreasonable search and seizure.

Sinica - Rectifying Chinese Names

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 01:00

Living in a community of China watchers, we are unceasingly assaulted by words and phrases for which definitions are unclear, or ambiguous, or over which there is controversy or disagreement. And so bearing Confucius' admonition that the most important thing for understanding China is "to call things by their right names," Kaiser and Jeremy set out this week to do exactly that with a show all about rectifying names in Chinese.

With this aim in mind, we solicited a list of words and phrases needing such rectification (everything from "50 center" to "middle class"), and found two great guests at whom we could throw the pressing questions of what on earth do these words actually mean? Putting themselves in the difficult position of answering are thus Rogier Creemers, creator of the China Copyright and Media blog, and David Moser, who is not only director of the CET immersion program in Beijing but also a mean jazz pianist to boot.

Like Sinica? If you enjoy this podcast, be sure to give us your take on things in the comment section below, or by writing us at sinica@popupchinese.com. And remember that you can also subscribe to the Sinica show through RSS. To do so just open up iTunes, click on the "File" menu and select the option "Subscribe to Podcast" and copy the URL http://popupchinese.com/feeds/custom/sinica into the box when prompted. Those of you who'd like to download this mp3 directly from our site can also grab it as a standalone mp3 file. Enjoy!

Elementary - Comparative Workplace Efficiency

Tue, 12/17/2013 - 01:00

Stephen hit the refresh button without much expectation, his mind preoccupied with the question of whether now might afford a good opportunity for another visit to Starbucks. After all, no serious market analyst could be expected to write a report like his without the most up-to-date sales data from finance, and who could fault him for being securely caffeinated when those all-important documents finally did arrive?

Learning Chinese? Or just a slacker seeking that ever-elusive job that combines maximum pay with minimum expectations? Whatever the reason you've come to Popup Chinese, join Brendan and Echo in our studio today as we talk about how to use directional verb complements to send email to colleagues and resuscitate the near-dead.

Sinica - From the underground to the Internet - contemporary art in China

Fri, 12/13/2013 - 01:00

In the late 1990s, the visual arts in China operated on the fringes of society, and those who dared to flirt with public prominence risked finding themselves on the disapproving end of a government clampdown. And yet how different things seem today, with tens of thousands of artists struggling on the fringes while a small minority enjoy what can seem to be fairly stable and even politically protected positions within the arts establishment... provided that they keep a healthy sense of their own career trajectory.

In this episode of Sinica, Jeremy Goldkorn is delighted to welcome two Beijing-based artists and critics to our studio for a discussion of the arts scene in China. In particular, we are delighted to be joined by Matthew Niederhauser, the artist and photojournalist responsible for the wonderful exhibit Counterfeit Paradises, as well as Philip Tinari, Director of the Ullen Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing and founding editor of the Leap bilingual magazine about contemporary art in China.

Enjoy Sinica? If you'd like to keep abreast of new shows as soon as they are released, be sure to subscribe to our free RSS feed. And please also feel welcome to download this show as a standalone mp3 file and write us at sinica@popupchinese.com with suggestions on shows and guests you'd like to see in conversation on our show.

Sinica - Joe Biden and the Air Defense Identification Fracas

Fri, 12/06/2013 - 01:00

On the weekend of November 23, Beijing announced the establishment of a new Air Defense Identification Zone. Covering a large swath of the East China Sea, the move was intended to assert China's control over disputed islands in the region, and predictably antagonized Beijing's relations with Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. The move also prompted escalated tensions with the United States, which sent an unannounced flight of B-52 bombers through the airspace on Monday.

Coming immediately before a lengthy visit to Beijing by US Vice President Joe Biden, the fracas has raised tensions between China and the United States, while prompting questions over what could possibly come from Biden's trip to China, where the American politician spent at least 5 hours in conversation with Xi Jinping and apparently did not ask China to nullify or retract its claim for air-sovereignty.

Joining Kaiser to talk about these issues and more are two excellent Beijing-based China watchers: Jane Perlez, Chief diplomatic correspondent for the New York Times, as well as Peter Ford, Bureau Chief of the Christian Science Monitor. We are delighted to have both of them on the show and hope you enjoy listening to their thoughts and more. Also, if you'd like to download a standalone copy of this podcast, please feel free to do so and share it around.

Advanced - A Matter of Philosophy

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 01:00

In recent news, Beijing University has disbanded its Chinese philosophy department. "We listened to the latest advanced show from Popup Chinese," department chairman Wang Xiaoming stated, "and realized that they nailed it... wrapping up essentially all outstanding academic disputes in a mere fifteen minutes." With no research remaining to be done and no need for further books on the matter, the professoriat is disbanding to focus on university administration.

Learning Chinese? There are a couple of philosophical debates in mandarin that form such a core part of the language that it's impossible to be a well-rounded Chinese speaker without being aware of them. The question of "original sin" is exactly one such issue: is evil inherent to the nature of man, or a product of social upbringing? We were curious how everyone at Popup Towers came down on this, which is why we invited Sylvia, Echo and David into our studio for a debate over 性本善 or 性本恶. Why not take a listen and let us know what you think?

Sinica - One Journalist's Journey through China

Fri, 11/29/2013 - 01:00

This week, Kaiser and Jeremy are pleased to be joined by Isabel Hilton, a longstanding British journalist whose youthful interest in China got her blacklisted by the British security services and the British Broadcasting Corporation and redirected into a career in journalism in Latin America and China, where she has covered the country for publications including the Daily Express, Sunday Times, The Independent and The Guardian among others.

In addition to talking about what China was like for a junior reporter back in the 1980s, we move on to talk about Daniel Ortega and the Falklands Wars, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Gere, water and air pollution, and of course Isabel's work promoting greater knowledge of China abroad first as editor-in-chief of Open Democracy as well as China Dialogue, one of the most longstanding bilingual journals online.

Enjoy Sinica? In addition to listening to our show online, or grabbing it as a standalone mp3 file, please feel yourself warmly welcome to visit the Sinica Facebook page, as well as hooking up iTunes to our dedicated RSS feed. And if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to write us at sinica@popupchinese.com as well.

Sinica - Doubling Down on Dengism

Fri, 11/22/2013 - 01:00

It's an all-American (and all-star) lineup of guests this week, as Bill Bishop, Gady Epstein and James Fallows join Kaiser for an in-depth discussion of the Third Plenary Session, the outcome of which has produced a rare consensus among China-watchers — and an even rarer consensus among guests and host at Sinica. Trust us on this: this one is actually interesting.

So tune in for the latest political gossip from the dusty hutongs of the Capital, for the view on things from Washington these days courtesy of Jim Fallows, and for everyone's take on the troubles a certain financial news organization has been facing in recent weeks. And remember, in addition to listening online, you are also warmly invited to download this episode as a standalone mp3 file. Enjoy!

Sinica - Partners and Rivals

Sat, 11/16/2013 - 04:46

Few will dispute that the Sino-American relationship constitute the most important bilateral relationship of our time, shedding a sort of lunar influence on international politics which helps shape not only the dynamic of global tensions, but also the course of domestic politics in both superpowers. And while the United States may look uneasily on China as both partner and potential threat, there is no question that China harbors aspirations for a more important role in global politics.

With this in mind, Jeremy and Kaiser are delighted to be joined by Wendy Dobson to discuss the state of US-Chinese relations in our show today. For those who may not know her, Wendy is the Former Associate Deputy Minister of Canada and now Adjunct Professor and Co-Director of the Rotman Institute of International Business at the University of Toronto, where she has recently published the book Partners and Rivals: the Uneasy Future of China's Relations with the United States.

Note: if you'd prefer to download this show for listening later, please feel free to grab it as a standalone mp3 file.