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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: 19 min 58 sec ago

Absolute Beginners - The Art of Email

Mon, 08/12/2013 - 01:00

Xiao Luo stared at the business card with the patience and intensity of an archeologist exhuming an ancient Pharoh. Unexpectedly, the combination of her own sweat and the Shanghai summer heat had given the once cream-colored paper a greyish-blue tint, and smudged the delicate combination of numbers and letters which had previously been the email address of the most important businessman in her field. Could she reconstruct it from memory?

Learning Chinese? This lesson has one of our more difficult dialogues at the Absolute Beginner level, although we try to work you up to it slowly. Nonetheless, if you are a total beginning to mandarin, you'll probably want to start with an easier show from our beginner lesson archive. If you've already got a few under your belt though, join us for this show and learn all the Chinese you need to ask for someone's email address. If you're new to China, you'll find this is oddly more difficult than it is abroad.

Sinica - Alison Friedman on China and the Arts

Fri, 08/09/2013 - 01:00

The last ten years have seen a genuine transformation in China's arts world, as a large sector that used to be dependent almost exclusively on government funding has been downsized into the maelstrom of the market, leaving survivors to navigate not only China's rapidly changing market forces but also the vagaries of state preferences and political vacillations.

This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy take a closer look at what these changes have done to both larger and smaller arts studios, in conversation with Alison Friedman. As the founder of Ping Pong Productions, an organization at the crossroads of the Western and Chinese art worlds, Alison has spent the last several years helping Chinese performers find work outside China while also setting up tours and collaborations for performers visiting the country from abroad. She has an insider's view on the arts scene here that has made her one of the only foreigners regularly consulted by the Chinese Ministry of Culture for her expertise in China's contemporary performing arts. We are delighted to have her in our studio.

Enjoy Sinica? As always, let us remind you that if you'd care to subscribe to Sinica via iTunes, you can do this by clicking on the "Advanced" file menu and selecting the option "Subscribe to Podcast". iTunes will show a popup prompting you to enter the URL of your desired podcast, at which point you should enter http://popupchinese.com/feeds/custom/sinica. We also encourage all listeners to download the Sinica show as a standalone mp3 file for listening or sharing with friends. Enjoy!

Intermediate - Sheep Disappointment

Mon, 08/05/2013 - 01:00

The first month after the apocalypse was the worst, as China struggled not only with efforts to fend off its relentless onslaught of undead, but also to keep its survivors motivated and well-fed as food supplies ran low and major cities found themselves cut-off from more well-stocked regional outposts. Fortunately, it was not long before Chinese ingenuity offered a solution to the nation's predicament.

Learning Chinese? In today's show we cover a pretty strange grammar pattern that appears twice in our dialogue. And it's strange not only because it fails to obey common grammar conventions, but also because we can't really explain what is happening ourselves on a fundamental level. If you think you can do better, take a listen and share your thoughts in the comments section below. We'd be curious if anyone can give us a good systematic explanation for what is going on.

Sinica - Shop Talk with Phonemica

Fri, 08/02/2013 - 01:00

Feeling crowded out by all the laowai speaking putonghua these days? Fortunately for the more adventurous among us, China has no shortage of other dialects, which is why we're delighted to host the creators of Phonemica, a crowd-sourced project to build a digital map of Chinese languages. In our studio to talk about their project and how it's being received in China are the two founders: Kellen Parker, a linguistics graduate student at National Tsinghua University in Taiwan, and Steve Hansen, a university professor and long-time resident in Beijing.

Enjoy Sinica? If you find listening to the show through our online flash player inconvenient, remember that you are warmly invited to download this show 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. Inquiries and suggestions for future show topics are also always welcome by email at sinica@popupchinese.com.

New HSK Level 5 - Writing Exercise #6

Wed, 07/31/2013 - 01:00

In this sample HSK test we simulate a writing exercise typically found at level five of the new HSK test. In these fifteen questions, you will be presented with a list of scrambled Chinese words or phrases and expected to rearrange them into a proper sentence. On a real exam this requires physically re-writing the characters. To simulate that with our online test system, simply click-and-drag the words and phrases into the correct order. When you get the answer right our system will let you know.

Chinese Commercials - The Legendary K-Touch

Mon, 07/29/2013 - 01:00

We've never heard of this phone, and don't feel particularly inclined to buy it, especially after seeing this video associating the device with daytime soap Chinese operas. We state this merely as evidence that not all viral videos are equal, and that a strategy of making the audience want to gun down your cast is perhaps not the best sales approach.

Chinese Food - The Podcast

Fri, 07/26/2013 - 11:09

After almost three years of podcasting, this week on Sinica we face the inevitable with a show about Chinese food, and in particular the strange history of pasta in China. Joining us for this journey is Jen Lin-Liu, author of On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome, with Love and Pasta. Jen Lin-Liu worked as a journalist in Beijing for many years, and opened one of the first cooking schools in Beijing for expats.

Sinica also welcomes back the sagacious David Moser, academic director of CET Beijing who’s filling in while Jeremy is away this week. Starting with a short brief of Jen’s food adventure, the discussion turns to the subject of China’s incredibly rich culinary culture.

Enjoy Sinica? Remember that you can download this show as a standalone mp3 file. If you want to subscribe to this and future shows by RSS to automate the downloading via iTunes, please remember that you can subscribe to our public feed at http://popupchinese.com/feeds/custom/sinica. Inquiries and suggestions for future show topics are always welcome by email at sinica@popupchinese.com.

Sinica - The Strange History of Pasta in China

Fri, 07/26/2013 - 01:00

After almost three years of podcasting, this week on Sinica we bow to the inevitable with a show about Chinese cuisine, and in particular the strange history of pasta in China. Joining us for this journey is Jen Lin-Liu, author of On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome, with Love and Pasta. Joining her in our studio is Sinica regular David Moser, academic director of CET Beijing and our go-to man for restaurant recommendations in Beijing.

Enjoy Sinica? Remember that you can download this show as a standalone mp3 file. If you want to subscribe to this and future shows by RSS to automate the downloading via iTunes, please remember that you can subscribe to our public feed at http://popupchinese.com/feeds/custom/sinica. Inquiries and suggestions for future show topics are also always welcome by email at sinica@popupchinese.com.

Elementary - The General Relativity Ultimatum

Mon, 07/22/2013 - 01:00

It was at precisely the moment Xiao Zhang was supposed to be mulling over his options and trying to find an escape from his predicament, that his mind somehow veered back to Einstein's theory of General Relativity and the conceptual experiment of the accelerating elevator. Because if gravity was the same thing as constant acceleration, then what exactly was five minutes anyway? Wasn't time relative? And if it was, then how could it ever come to an end? The thought seemed oddly comforting.

Learning Chinese? Rather than assault you with more , today we're pleased to present a simpler lesson intended to help you practice all the Chinese you need to deal with time, whether it involves procrastinating at work or hectoring the overattentive wait staff at your favorite Chinese restaurant. We hope you enjoy it, and if you have suggestions on future topics you'd like to hear covered, let us know anytime at service@popupchinese.com.

Advanced - Flight Delays of the Gods

Wed, 07/17/2013 - 01:00

The Beijing Capital Airport is not only the busiest airport in the world by traffic volume, but it's apparently also the most vindictive and spiteful when it comes to the treatment of non-national airlines. Or that's the most likely explanation we can think of for how a four hour flight to Beijing transformed into a thirty hour Odyssey that included a two day layover in Taiyuan while our plane was cleared for "permission to land" in the capital.

Admittedly, the delay could have been an accident. Or it could have involved mechanical difficulties. But we're leaning towards corruption as the most likely answer, and if you're interested in the reasons why, Echo and Sylvia in our advanced show for today as they talk about this epic flight delay, and share some local gossip about the airline industry in China. And with that in mind, we'd be interested to hear if anyone has similar stories, so please feel invited to leave a comment in the discussion section below, or write Echo directly with your experiences at echo@popupchinese.com.

Intermediate - Brownie Cake, Part II

Mon, 07/15/2013 - 01:00

Deep within the bowels of his Shanxi fortress, lungs safely ensconced behind an industrial breathing apparatus, Gao opened his oven to gaze inside with paternal pride. Thick, rich and spewing forth unquestionably carcinogenic vapour, his second generation of brownies looked deliciously irresistible. In fact, it if weren't for his intimate knowledge of the physical agony awaiting anyone who sampled even a single bite, Gao would have been tempted to try one himself.

Learning Chinese? Newcomers to Popup Towers might wonder why our staff seem so intent on killing each other using homemade imitations of popular Western desserts. We worry less about the homicidal impulses of our voice actors and more about providing interesting Chinese learning materials that also feature Chinese the way it is actually spoken here in China. So we hope you enjoy this lesson. And if you're still confused by the story, be sure to check out this lesson which outlines the background to Gao and 9527's epic Popup rivalry.

Sinica - Ripples from the Egyptian Revolution

Fri, 07/12/2013 - 01:00

In Egypt in 2011, what was by all accounts a free and fair democratic election resulted in the victory of Mohammed Morsi, a controversial figure whose brief rule ended last week after being overthrown by the Egyptian military. With Western media outlets largely stepping in to support this coup d'etat, the events have raised questions about popular commitment to democratic reforms worldwide, and raised questions about what this implies for the future of even gradualist democratic reforms in China.

This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn are delighted to be joined by Anthony Kuhn, longtime China correspondent for NPR who has recently reported on developments throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Joining him is Sinica stalwart David Moser, the most renaissance of renaissance men in Beijing, and director of the CET immersion program at Capital Normal University.

Enjoy Sinica? If you've been listening for a while, you should know that you can always download the latest episodes of Sinica either from our custom Sinica RSS feed or individually from our site as standalone mp3 files like this one. And if you have any suggestions or comments, write us anytime at sinica@popupchinese.com.

Elementary - In the Army (Huang Xiaoming edition)

Tue, 07/09/2013 - 01:00

As the most handsome member of his squadron, Huang Xiaoming was routinely tasked with the more photogenic military duties: fielding media interviews, organizing photo shoots for recruiting purposes and posing as "Mr. December" for the division's annual charity calendar. Content with their second-tier status in the world of masculine beauty, Huang's squadmates would drift into supporting roles on these projects: lifting heavy items, cleaning weapons, or playing with animals for b-roll.

Learning Chinese? Our dialogue today is a bit of a mix of more formal public speech, as well as the sort of casual mandarin that you'll hear people speak in more unguarded moments. And what are we learning? Beyond the listening practice, what we hope you take away from this is that Chinese speakers regularly make exactly the sort of mistakes that Chinese learners do as well. So don't worry too much about getting your speaking habits perfect, although we'll tell you how to do that too.

Sinica - Myanmar's Uncertain Glasnost

Fri, 07/05/2013 - 01:00

Buddhist terrorists, military juntas, resource clashes and pro-Western democracy movements? If China has lulled you into thinking that Southeast Asia is predictable and boring, join us for this week's discussion of Myanmar, the former client state of China which has undergone a remarkable transformation in the past five years, launching itself into an uncertain Glasnost that has opened the country to democracy internally as well as set it on course for a foreign policy that is more skeptical of China and sympathetic to the west.

Joining Jeremy Goldkorn for this closer look at China's southern neighbor are guests Simon Montlake and Josh Gordon. The Beijing Bureau Chief for Forbes Magazine, Simon has been a frequent visitor to Burma since 1998, and is the recent author of a piece on General Electric and their Burmese dreams. Coming from a more academic background, Josh is an expert on Burmese-Chinese relations. We are lucky to have them both on our show.

Like Sinica? As usual, let us take a minute to remind you that it is possible to subscribe to Sinica by RSS. We are also pleased to make each episode available as a standalone mp3 file for you to download and share as you please. And if you have any questions, contact us anytime at service@popupchinese.com.

Myanmar's Uncertain Glastnost

Fri, 07/05/2013 - 01:00

Buddhist terrorists, military juntas, resource clashes and pro-Western democracy movements? If China has lulled you into thinking that Southeast Asia is predictable and boring, join us for this week's discussion of Myanmar, the former client state of China which has undergone a remarkable transformation in the past five years, launching itself into an uncertain Glastnost that has opened the country to democracy internally as well as set it on course for a foreign policy that is more skeptical of China and sympathetic to the west.

Joining Jeremy Goldkorn for this closer look at China's southern neighbor are guests Simon Montlake and Josh Gordon. The Beijing Bureau Chief for Forbes Magazine, Simon has been a frequent visitor to Burma since 1998, and is the recent author of a piece on General Electric and their Burmese dreams. Coming from a more academic background, Josh is an expert on Burmese-Chinese relations. We are lucky to have them both on our show.

Like Sinica? As usual, let us take a minute to remind you that it is possible to subscribe to Sinica by RSS. We are also pleased to make each episode available as a standalone mp3 file for you to download and share as you please. And if you have any questions, contact us anytime at service@popupchinese.com.

Advanced - If You Are the One

Mon, 07/01/2013 - 01:00

On our advanced show this week, Echo and Sylvia go head-to-head on the topic of modern dating, with a conversation specifically about 非诚勿扰, the most popular dating show on Chinese television. Sylvia isn't a big fan of the show, but Echo wishes she could take part. If you're looking for native-level conversation to practice your listening skills, join us for this show and learn why.

Sinica - The Fate of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Sat, 06/29/2013 - 01:00

Bill Bishop swears by part of it. Jeremy Goldkorn swears regularly at it. Chances are you've got strong opinions on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) yourself, which is why we're delighted to be joined by James Palmer this week, author of The Death of Mao, and the mind behind two phenomenal China pieces in Aeon Magazine, one on the 1980s generation, and the most recent on the fate of TCM in modern China.

Enjoy Sinica? Please remember that in addition to listening online or downloading this show as a standalone MP3 file, you can also subscribe to Sinica through iTunes using our free podcast feed. Just head to the iTunes store and search for Sinica and you'll be steps away from downloading our entire archive of audio shows for free.

Chinese Commercials - The Spirit of Revolution

Fri, 06/28/2013 - 01:00

Wang Daqiang's arrest - the third in as many months - had thrown the revolutionary leadership into panic. The police dragnet was tightening, and with Zhang Xiaoming the agent of their betrayal, it was clear their entire movement was compromised. The foreign concessions could provide only temporary safeguard: it would be necessary to flee Shanghai at once....

Quiz Night - Battle of the Antipodes

Tue, 06/25/2013 - 01:00

In our fourth episode of Quiz Night, Tony from New Zealand matches matches his wits against Will from Australia in a battle that covers everything from T.S. Eliot's favorite detective novel, to horrific industrial accidents in Russia. Also up for your enjoyment? David repeatedly mispronounces the word "nuclear" and we learn the best place in Beijing for volleying ammunition into the Forbidden City.

Learning Chinese? Our quiz show is geared for anyone with good listening comprehension also looking for a fun way to expand their vocabulary. This show is a bit heavy on English and we're likely to push back towards a more Chinese-intensive show in future episodes, but even so there is still a decent amount of upper-level mandarin here. So join us for a fun romp through history, pop culture and modern China, and let us know what you think.

Elementary - The Duel

Mon, 06/24/2013 - 01:00

Knowing he might never see her again, Nevis had stood in the snow outside her window all night. And now he stood, hands trembling slightly in the morning breeze, fingers wrapped tightly around a thin grip of steel, prepared to face the worst if so he must. And it would be worth it. It would be worth all of it.

Learning Chinese? We have an interesting sentence in our dialogue for today, because it is completely time-agnostic. Put it into the past, and it doesn't change. Use it to refer to ongoing conditions, and it doesn't change. And stick it into the future? Yup - no change at all. So join us in out studio today as we take a look at this great sentence pattern and teach you how to use it like a native.