Popup Chinese Lessons

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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: 4 min 25 sec ago

Announcements - A New Launch

Tue, 05/19/2009 - 07:00

Today's an exciting day for all of us here, as we get to announce the official launch of ChineseClass101.com. This is a joint project between all of us at Popup Chinese and the folks at Innovative Language Learning, who run nine of the world's best language learning companies teaching everything from Japanese and Korean to Arabic and French.

If you're familiar with the Innovative Languages approach to teaching, you'll know the strength of their materials has always been tight, step-by-step progressive lessons for beginners. At Popup Chinese we've historically geared towards more advanced students, so when the opportunity arose to cooperate with the Innovative team and work together to build something we leapt at the chance, and began work designing a focused and stepwise program for Mandarin instruction. The format and focus of the resulting materials are slightly different than what we have here, and we suspect will attract a different kind of student. The content is still excellent though.

Although a few hints leaked out (*ahem*), for the past few months we've worked somewhat stealthily to build the best team possible for the task. You'll find our progressive beginner lessons hosted by none other than the famous Frank Fradella. Our roster also includes the always-fantastic Amber Scorah and of course Echo Yao, Brendan O'Kane and myself. This is a great team and I can say with confidence I've never worked with a stronger one. With more than 100 lessons for beginners on the new site, our content is off to a good start. We're still squashing bugs post launch, but as Frank said once after a marathon recording session, "our first twenty lessons here teach more than I learned in a whole year studying elsewhere."

Sounds great, you say, but what does this mean for Popup Chinese? The shortest answer: a brighter future. We've just had our best month ever are continuing to grow as more people find out about us. In the coming weeks and months we're going to be continuing to push the boundaries of what it means to learn mandarin online, and release some exciting features and programs that aren't available anywhere else. We're going to continue to push our platform in new directions, and are excited at the opportunity this partnership gives us to take more risks and be bolder in what we do. I hope you'll stick around for the ride.

We think this is a great step forward and look forward to hearing your feedback and thoughts. It is definitely a major step forward for Chinese language education online: there's never been a better time to learn Chinese or a better way to learn it online. For everyone who has helped us come this far, we're grateful for your support and won't let you down.

Best from Beijing,

The Popup Team

Listening Exercise #4

Tue, 05/19/2009 - 01:00

The general sentiment among the crew was turning sour as the HSK infestation wormed its way into the Enterprise's fourth warp engine. The latest estimates predicted the starship's last containment field would breach within the hour, an engineering failure which promised to expose the ship's increasingly sullen crew to an unpleasant dose of rapid decompression.

Had their years of adventuring truly come down to this, this quiet death by ideograph? Spock stared glumly at the ceiling trying to recall the difference between an aspectual and modal particle. After his attempts to find a Chinese speaking member of the crew had failed, the Vulcan had turned philosophical. Others were less complacent. "We need to prepare a solid defense to this blood-sucking test," Kirk muttered, firing up his laptop.

A New Launch

Mon, 05/18/2009 - 16:00

Today's an exciting day for all of us here, as we get to announce the official launch of ChineseClass101.com. This is a joint project between all of us at Popup Chinese and the folks at Innovative Language Learning, who run nine of the world's best language learning companies teaching everything from Japanese and Korean to Arabic and French.

If you're familiar with the Innovative Languages approach to teaching, you'll know the strength of their materials has always been tight, step-by-step progressive lessons for beginners. At Popup Chinese we've historically geared towards more advanced students, so when the opportunity arose to cooperate with the Innovative team and work together to build something we leapt at the chance, and began work designing a focused and stepwise program for Mandarin instruction. The format and focus of the resulting materials are slightly different than what we have here, and we suspect will attract a different kind of student. The content is still excellent though.

Although a few hints leaked out (*ahem*), for the past few months we've worked somewhat stealthily to build the best team possible for the task. You'll find our progressive beginner lessons hosted by none other than the famous Frank Fradella. Our roster also includes the always-fantastic Amber Scorah and of course Echo Yao, Brendan O'Kane and myself. This is a great team and I can say with confidence I've never worked with a stronger one. With more than 100 lessons for beginners on the new site, our content is off to a good start. We're still squashing bugs post launch, but as Frank said once after a marathon recording session, "our first twenty lessons here teach more than I learned in a whole year studying elsewhere."

Sounds great, you say, but what does this mean for Popup Chinese? The shortest answer: a brighter future. We've just had our best month ever are continuing to grow as more people find out about us. In the coming weeks and months we're going to be continuing to push the boundaries of what it means to learn mandarin online, and release some exciting features and programs that aren't available anywhere else. We're going to continue to push our platform in new directions, and are excited at the opportunity this partnership gives us to take more risks and be bolder in what we do. I hope you'll stick around for the ride.

We think this is a great step forward and look forward to hearing your feedback and thoughts. It is definitely a major step forward for Chinese language education online: there's never been a better time to learn Chinese or a better way to learn it online. For everyone who has helped us come this far, we're grateful for your support and won't let you down.

Best from Beijing,

The Popup Team

Absolute Beginners - Pinyin Practice: zi

Mon, 05/18/2009 - 07:00

Our podcast for today is our second show in a new series we're launching to teach proper Chinese pronunciation. Our focus today is on a common problem a lot of learners have when they're new to mandarin: differentiating the sound "zi" from its aspirated rival "ci". Today we're going to clear this up once and for all.

And attention listeners: management is fully aware that Brendan's pronunciation of the letter zed in this podcast does not conform to international Canadian phonetic standards. We apologize for this oversight, and wish to assure you we have already commenced mandatory remedial training. Even if the continued references to "zee" (zed) may confuse, we hope you still find this a useful podcast for mastering proper pronunciation in Chinese.

Absolute Beginners - Pinyin Practice: zi

Sun, 05/17/2009 - 16:00

Our podcast for today is our second show in a new series we're launching to teach proper Chinese pronunciation. Our focus today is on a common problem a lot of learners have when they're new to mandarin: differentiating the sound "zi" from its aspirated rival "ci". Today we're going to clear this up once and for all.

And attention listeners: management is fully aware that Brendan's pronunciation of the letter zed in this podcast does not conform to international Canadian phonetic standards. We apologize for this oversight, and wish to assure you we have already commenced mandatory remedial training. Even if the continued references to "zee" (zed) may confuse, we hope you still find this a useful podcast for mastering proper pronunciation in Chinese.

Advanced - The Band's Perspective

Sat, 05/16/2009 - 16:00

Today we bring you yet another overlooked perspective on a great historical event. We don't want to say too much more because this is a listening test and part of the goal here is for you to figure out what is going on yourself. So give this podcast a listen and then click through to our online quiz to test your listening comprehension. It may not be as easy as you think.

Advanced - The Band's Perspective

Sat, 05/16/2009 - 01:00

Today we bring you yet another overlooked perspective on a great historical event. We don't want to say too much more because this is a listening test and part of the goal here is for you to figure out what is going on yourself. So give this podcast a listen and then click through to our online quiz to test your listening comprehension. It may not be as easy as you think.

Intermediate - A New Home

Thu, 05/14/2009 - 16:00

In this age of Global Warming, our imperiled avian friends from the deep south are crying out for succor. And no-where is their plight getting a warmer reception than with our very own Tiansen.

If you're an old hand at Popup Chinese, you might consider this dialogue simpler than our usual intermediate fare. But it really isn't. What you should be listening for are the departures we take from technically correct pronunciation and grammar. You may not have internalized or even noticed these tricks to date, but if you start using them you'll come across as much more fluent than your peers. Because part of sounding like a native speaker is knowing exactly when and how to bend the rules....

Intermediate - A New Home

Thu, 05/14/2009 - 01:00

In this age of Global Warming, our imperiled avian friends from the deep south are crying out for succor. And no-where is their plight getting a warmer reception than with our very own Tiansen.

If you're an old hand at Popup Chinese, you might consider this dialogue simpler than our usual intermediate fare. But it really isn't. What you should be listening for are the departures we take from technically correct pronunciation and grammar. You may not have internalized or even noticed these tricks to date, but if you start using them you'll come across as much more fluent than your peers. Because part of sounding like a native speaker is knowing exactly when and how to bend the rules....

HSK Intermediate - Fill-in-the-Blanks Exercise #17

Wed, 05/13/2009 - 16:00

As the remains of the German tank division exploded in the canyon below, Indiana hauled himself back over the precipice. Despite his close brush with death, the aging archeologist couldn't help but grin: there on the sand before him lay the famed Sceptre of Huapu, the most renowned of the lost Oriental antiquities. Muscles aching, he collected his fedora from where it had fallen and mopped his brow with dusty sleeve. "Compared to the HSK, that was a piece of cake."

Fill-in-the-Blanks Exercise #17

Wed, 05/13/2009 - 01:00

As the remains of the German tank division exploded in the canyon below, Indiana hauled himself back over the precipice. Despite his close brush with death, the aging archeologist couldn't help but grin: there on the sand before him lay the famed Sceptre of Huapu, the most renowned of the lost Oriental antiquities. Muscles aching, he collected his fedora from where it had fallen and mopped his brow with dusty sleeve. "Compared to the HSK, that was a piece of cake."

Intermediate - The Advertising Age

Tue, 05/12/2009 - 16:00

While the usual suspects spend billions on branding campaigns in China, it's often smaller companies with more forceful sales messages that capture our hard-earned yuan. In our lesson for today Popup Chinese is proud to present a short advert for no-name cola that mascarades as instructional dialogue. And for extra inundate-the-listener goodness, we're pleased to introduce our latest jingle too. We hope you like them both.

Intermediate - The Advertising Age

Tue, 05/12/2009 - 01:00

While the usual suspects spend billions on branding campaigns in China, it's often smaller companies with more forceful sales messages that capture our hard-earned yuan. In our lesson for today Popup Chinese is proud to present a short advert for no-name cola that mascarades as instructional dialogue. And for extra inundate-the-listener goodness, we're pleased to introduce our latest jingle too. We hope you like them both.

Elementary - Mother's Day

Mon, 05/11/2009 - 07:00

Assuming your mother doesn't speak mandarin, our podcast is not going to help you cope with the fallout of having forgotten to call her yesterday. But maybe you also forgot to say something nice to your mother-in-law and your significant other is busy doing damage control. So bear with us here. In this podcast we teach you the easiest way to tell someone you simply forgot. And since that's pretty easy, we also cover the basics of using Chinese prepositions.

Elementary - Mother's Day

Sun, 05/10/2009 - 16:00

Assuming your mother doesn't speak mandarin, our podcast is not going to help you cope with the fallout of having forgotten to call her yesterday. But maybe you also forgot to say something nice to your mother-in-law and your significant other is busy doing damage control. So bear with us here. In this podcast we teach you the easiest way to tell someone you simply forgot. And since that's pretty easy, we also cover the basics of using Chinese prepositions.

Film Friday - Radio Communications

Fri, 05/08/2009 - 07:00

After a couple of you commented that our previous graphic for Film Friday looked unintelligible, we've swapped it out for our sexy new graphic. And with it we have a sexy new film as well. The language here is a bit more technical than usual, but if you understand it we think you've got an excellent shot at guessing the film. Get your answers in to echo@popupchinese.com as usual for a chance to win big.

On a side note, if you're in Beijing this Sunday afternoon and are looking for some conversational practice, we'll be hosting a free practice session at the Three Trees cafe on Nanluoguxiang from 1:00pm to 3:00pm starting this Sunday. You are cordially invited to drop by. For questions or to get more specific directions, email Echo or call us at 13581709309.

Radio Communications

Thu, 05/07/2009 - 16:00

After a couple of you commented that our previous graphic for Film Friday looked unintelligible, we've swapped it out for our sexy new graphic. And with it we have a sexy new film as well. The language here is a bit more technical than usual, but if you understand it we think you've got an excellent shot at guessing the film. Get your answers in to echo@popupchinese.com as usual for a chance to win big.

On a side note, if you're in Beijing this Sunday afternoon and are looking for some conversational practice, we'll be hosting a free practice session at the Three Trees cafe on Nanluoguxiang from 1:00pm to 3:00pm starting this Sunday. You are cordially invited to drop by. For questions or to get more specific directions, email Echo or call us at 13581709309.

HSK Beginner - Reading Comprehension Exercise #8

Thu, 05/07/2009 - 16:00

The questions in our Beginner HSK exam for today fall at the upper end of the difficulty spectrum for this level. If you don't find these questions particularly challenging we'd recommend you consider taking the Intermediate exam instead. As with all exercises of this type, the challenge here is simple: the correct answer is the option which best approximates the meaning of the word selected from the sentence provided. Good luck!

Reading Comprehension Exercise #8

Thu, 05/07/2009 - 01:00

The questions in our Beginner HSK exam for today fall at the upper end of the difficulty spectrum for this level. If you don't find these questions particularly challenging we'd recommend you consider taking the Intermediate exam instead. As with all exercises of this type, the challenge here is simple: the correct answer is the option which best approximates the meaning of the word selected from the sentence provided. Good luck!