Feed of posts from useful sites

New Design

Chinese Learn Online - Fri, 06/12/2015 - 04:14

If you haven’t noticed, the entire site has been recently updated with a brand new design.

It was a bit of a rocky start at first, with lots of small features not working.

Most have now been fixed though, and early reviews seem to be good.

The biggest benefit of the new site is that it is completely mobile optimized. Most activities should work on your phone or tablet.

The only thing that doesn’t work on phones / tablets are tools for recording your voice, such as Test your Pronunciation and the ability to record voice responses to exercises. These can be done from the desktop / laptop version however.

Other improvements include:

  • Design improvements to the flashcards and word bank pages.
  • New progress bar that shows up on the Course Outline page for each level. Complete all the activities in each level to reach 100%
  • Persistent audio player and mode switch on the Complete transcript page let you pause the audio and switch between characters, from anywhere on the page.

Please send me feedback on things you like or don’t like about this new design, as it’s an evolving process.

Sinica - Writers: Heroes in China?

Popup Chinese Lessons - Sun, 06/07/2015 - 19:39

If you happen to live in the anglophone world and aren't closely tied to China by blood or professional ties, chances are that what you believe to be true about this country is heavily influenced by the opinions of perhaps one hundred other people, the reporters who cover China for the world's leading media outlets and the writers who build a narrative to encompass it beyond the frenetic drumbeat of current affairs.

This week, Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn and David Moser are joined by accomplished writer Ian Johnson to talk about this phenomenon at first generally, but then specifically with regards to a piece Ian recently authored in the New York Review of Books called An American Hero in China, a look into the way China has embraced Peter Hessler and his writings on the country. We try to make sense of how exactly reporting is done here, what sorts of editorial decisions are made that affect coverage, and how the voice of the author struggle to make China intelligible to the outside world.

Like Sinica? Don't forget that you can subscribe to our iTunes podcast feed by using our custom RSS feed for the show. And please feel free to download this show as a standalone mp3 file and share with anyone you think might also like hearing the show. Thanks!

Sinica - Earthquake in Nepal!

Popup Chinese Lessons - Sun, 05/31/2015 - 04:50

On April 25, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the Katmandu Valley in Nepal, causing over 8000 deaths, countless more injuries, and triggering mountain avalanches which sent snow careening down the slopes of Mount Everest and burying the human settlements below. The days that followed Nepal would see a disjointed international rescue force arrive in the country as global geopolitical tensions spilled into the politics of local disaster relief.

This week on Sinica, we take a look back at the Nepalese earthquake through the perspective of two foreign correspondents who traveled to Nepal and reported on the disaster first hand: Julie Makinen, reporter for the Los Angeles Times' Beijing bureau, and Tomasz Sajewicz, head of the Beijing Bureau for Polish Public Radio. Our two guests are joined for this discussion by Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn and David Moser. Listen online, or download this show as a standalone mp3 file.

Sinica - Identity, Race and Civilization

Popup Chinese Lessons - Sun, 05/24/2015 - 09:27

It doesn't take much exposure to China to realize the pervasiveness of identity politics here. Indeed, whether in the Chinese government's occasionally hamfisted efforts to micromanage ethnic minority cultures or the Foreign Ministry's soft-power promotion efforts abroad, it seems that barely a day goes by without someone in the Chinese government confusing the idea of China (the state) with the Han ethnic diaspora.

This week, Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn are delighted to be joined by David Moser, director of the CET immersion program in Beijing, and Jeremiah Jenne, renegade Qing historian and director of The Hutong. We chat about what it means to be Chinese, where these ideas came from and whether anything is likely to change them in the future. So check out the show online, or download and share it here as a standalone mp3 file.

Sinica - Leonard Bernstein and China

Popup Chinese Lessons - Sun, 05/17/2015 - 05:10

This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo and David Moser are delighted to host Alexander Bernstein, son of Leonard Berstein and director of the Bernstein Family Foundation, and now also in China on part of a cultural tour. Accompanied by Alison Friedman of Ping Pong Productions and mezzo soprano Carla Dirlikov, Alexander joins us for a discussion on music, Broadway, the strengths and weaknesses of musical theater in China, and of course Bernstein's impressions of China itself.

Like Sinica? Write us anytime at sinica@popupchinese.com with complaints, feedback and suggestions for show topics you'd like to hear covered in the future. And if you know someone you think might make a good guest, why don't you drop a line to let us know as well. Also, feel free to subscribe to our dedicated RSS feed if you want to grab new shows as soon as they are released. [standalone mp3 file]

Sinica - India comes to China

Popup Chinese Lessons - Fri, 05/08/2015 - 01:00

Today we're going to talk about the upcoming visit to China of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who served from 2001 to 2014 as chief minister of Gujarat and was sworn into office almost one year ago this month. Modi's visit comes at an interesting time in Sino-Indian relations, following closely on the heels of recent Chinese summitry with India's arch-rival Pakistan and the closing of roughly 46 billion dollars in investment deals in the region.

Joining Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn for this discussion are two friends and experts on Sino-Indian relations: Ananth Krishnan of the India Today Group, and Sutirtho Patranobis of the Hindustan Times. This is a fun show and we're delighted to have such insightful guests. Join us as we get the background politics on Modi's visit, make occasional side-forays into Bollywood, and even discuss Modi's strange and celebrity happenings on Twitter.

New to Sinica? If you'd like to get notified when new episodes are available, subscribe to our private RSS feed using iTunes or your preferred RSS reader. All listeners are more than welcome to download our show as a standalone mp3 file directly from the site for saving or sharing with friends. Enjoy!

Sinica - The Furor and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

Popup Chinese Lessons - Fri, 05/01/2015 - 01:00

A total of fifty-seven countries have now joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China's newly-launched competitor to the Asian Development Bank that has sparked a flurry of objections from the United States, even culminating in a failed diplomatic campaign by the superpower to lobby allies including the United Kingdom and Australia to abandon the organization, whose stated mission is funding infrastructure projects in underdeveloped parts of Asia.

Although the news has passed mostly unnoticed in the American media, the political furor has raised questions about the future of the Bretton Woods system and China's place in it: what are the American concerns over the AIIB and is there any validity to them? Why is China attempting to setup a development bank outside the Bretton Woods framework, and what actions may have triggered the Chinese move? And quite specifically, how does the AIIB compare to its competitors both in capitalization as well as its power in the region.

Joining Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn for this discussion are two guests who are plugged into the financial gossip mill. They are Trey McArver, creator of China Politics Weekly, a newsletter which aims to keep business leaders, diplomats, and scholars abreast of developments in Chinese politics, as well as Simon Rabinovitch, former FT correspondent now working for The Economist out of Shanghai. [standalone mp3 file]

Cool World Language Stats Graphics

Laowai Chinese - Wed, 04/29/2015 - 22:08

(I… can’t… quite… remember how to use my blog… Oh yes. It’s coming back to me now. I type here, right?)

I saw this fun article “The world’s languages, in 7 maps and charts” from the Washington Post today and wanted to mention it. Notice where Chinese shows up in each graphic, for example:

It was also fun to be reminded (read: actually know for the first time) how many people are in the world (7.2 billion) and how many languages there are in the world (7102).

Absolute Beginners - Let me do it, myself

Popup Chinese Lessons - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 01:00

One of the things we're proud of at Popup Towers is our hard-fought ability to wring natural dialogues out of less-than-natural voice-actors, a skill that usually involves unleashing Grace at them in varying degrees of rage. And since recording a dialogue this way can take up a bit of time, the result is that we usually end up with a number of variants for each one, usually getting more and more natural as we go along.

If you're totally new to Chinese we suggest coming back to this show later -- the lesson is a bit tricky for the Absolute Beginner level -- but we wanted to showcase it here for two reasons. The first is that this show features not one but two dialogues. The interesting thing is that the first dialogue sounds a bit stilted while the second sounds extremely natural. And since they basically saying the same thing, we wanted to contrast and compare them, to learn what it is that makes mandarin sound forced and what makes it more colloquial.

Sinica - Nationalism and Censorship

Popup Chinese Lessons - Mon, 04/27/2015 - 02:36

This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo, David Moser and Jeremy Goldkorn pull Christopher Cairns into the studio for a discussion of an upcoming paper the Cornell graduate student has scheduled for publication in the China Quarterly. Why are we so interested in this topic? Because Cairns and his colleagues at Cornell have actually found a way to measure the extent of government censorship over time, and their research has unearthed some particularly interesting ideas about the relationship between anti-Japanese nationalism and the extent of censorship on Weibo. So saddle-up your VPNs and get listening!

Enjoy Sinica? Be sure to add us on iTunes to get notified automatically whenever a new episode is released. The address of our feed is http://popupchinese.com/feeds/custom/sinica -- and, yes, the address will work with any RSS feed reader, including non-iTunes software as well. Also, if you have comments, feedback or suggestions on guests we should have on the show, give us a shout at sinica@popupchinese.com. [standalone mp3 download]

Sinica - China's Ideological Spectrum

Popup Chinese Lessons - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 01:00

Last week Harvard doctoral student Jennifer Pan and MIT graduate student Yiqing Xu co-released a paper on "China's Ideological Spectrum" that has garnered a tremendous amount of attention in China-watching circles. And the reason for the fracas? Their paper uses data from the Chinese Political Compass to try and map out Chinese ideological tendencies and surprisingly discovers that China's ideological spectrum may be more uni-dimensional than it seems.

Joining Kaiser Kuo and David Moser to discuss this study and the question of what - if anything - Pan and Xu missed is Trey McArver, founder of China Insight and author of the China Politics Weekly newsletter. This is a fun show that veers from George Lakoff to Confucianism to Chinese patriotism and the anti-corruption crackdown. Join us and let us know what you think. [standalone mp3 file]

Sinica - Styling it in China

Popup Chinese Lessons - Sat, 04/11/2015 - 17:19

If you've been reading the Chinese blogosphere for a few years, you might remember our guest from a series of blog posts he wrote in 2007 while working as the only foreign "hair-washing trainee" in a Fuzhou hair salon. Sociologist Ben Ross has since moved on to become a doctoral student at the University of Chicago, where he focuses on Chinese labor migration and related issues.

Like Sinica? If you'd like to know when we release new shows, please feel welcome to subscribe to our dedicated Sinica RSS feed. And if you have any suggestions on topics you'd like to hear covered or guests you think would do well on the show, email us anytime at sinica@popupchinese.com. [standalone mp3 file]

Sinica - Cyber Leninism and the political culture of the Chinese Internet

Popup Chinese Lessons - Tue, 04/07/2015 - 10:03

Yesterday evening, Kaiser Kuo and David Moser were delighted to be joined in Popup Towers by Rogier Creemers, post-doctoral fellow at Oxford, author of the fantastic China copyright and media blog, and one of the most informed academics working on Chinese Internet governance. We've always enjoyed our previous chances to grill Rogier on his thoughts, and our discussion this week didn't disappoint either.

Enjoy Sinica? This month marks the fifth anniversary of our show, which means that we have an enormous archive of materials covering most of the significant political and economic developments in China over the past five years. If you're interested in checking them out, please feel welcome to grab them from our dedicated Sinica RSS feed. Suggestions about future show guests or topics you'd like to hear covered are also always welcome by email at sinica@popupchinese.com. [standalone mp3 file]

US grad-level enrollments in Japanese continue long decline

Pīnyīn News - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 11:33

Fewer and fewer people are taking graduate-level Japanese classes in U.S. universities, according to data recently released by the MLA.

Graduate-level enrollments in Japanese classes are at their lowest level since 1983 and have declined to less than half of their peak level, which was reached in 1995.

Here are a few more years. When looking at the earlier peaks, it’s worth remember that there are a lot more people in graduate school now than there were several decades ago, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of the population. So the recent figures are even more bleak than they might appear at first glance.

U.S. graduate-level enrollments in Japanese, 1960–2013

You might be wondering how Japanese stacks up against another Asian language. Here’s a comparison with graduate enrollments in Chinese (in blue). Again, the situation isn’t looking good for Japanese.

Graduate enrollments in Japanese vs. graduate enrollments in Chinese, 1986–2013

And here’s a look at the number of undergraduate enrollments in Japanese (green) and Chinese (blue) per enrollment in a graduate course in the same respective language.

Number of undergraduate enrollments in Japanese and Chinese per enrollment in a graduate course for the same language

Even so, boosters of Japanese may take heart that there are still more post-secondary enrollments in Japanese than in Mandarin. But more on that in a later post.

(For those of you who are wondering, no, this blog isn’t really back just yet. But I think these numbers are interesting. Also, my MLA-related posts don’t need Hanzi or Pinyin diacritics, which would only get messed up anyway. Thus, I might as well post the information for others to see.)

Sinica - Comfort Women and the Struggle for Reparations

Popup Chinese Lessons - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 01:00

This week on Sinica, we are delighted to be joined by Lucy Hornby, China correspondent for the Financial Times, and author of this phenomenal piece on China's last surviving Chinese comfort women, and their longstanding and often futile attempt to seek reparations in both China and Japan. Join us today as we talk about this piece, but also other stories of reparations and post-war politics that may leave you - like us - somewhat less cynical going out than coming in.

Enjoy Sinica? If you want iTunes to download new episodes of Sinica automatically as we publish them, feel welcome to subscribe to our Sinica RSS feed. You can also find Kaiser on Twitter at @KaiserKuo and Jeremy at @danwei. And here is the standalone MP3 file too. We hope you enjoy the show.

Sinica - In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland

Popup Chinese Lessons - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 01:00

This week, Kaiser Kuo and David Moser are delighted to be joined by Michael Meyer, the author of The Last Days of Old Beijing and now In Manchuria, a part literary travelogue and part journalistic account of three years spent living with family in rural Jilin.

Starting with stories of crime and punishment on the rural bus network and the ever-delicate question of where rice tastes best, our podcast moves on from the personal towards the broader subject of how Jilin's agricultural economy is transforming in the face of market pressures. And we also talk about the past, in the area's Manchu footprint and its continuing legacy from its period of Japanese occupation, both of which can still be seen as much from the people themselves as well as the monuments and cemeteries in the region.

Note: care to get notified when new episodes of Sinica are released? If you use podcast software like iTunes, try subscribing to our free Sinica RSS feed. We welcome everyone to listen to the show online, but if you'd like to download this show to share or just save for later, go for it: here is the standalone mp3 file.

Advanced - From the Archives of the CBC

Popup Chinese Lessons - Wed, 03/11/2015 - 01:00

Classical pianist Glenn Gould, the most improbable sex symbol in Canadian music history, set the world ablaze in the 1960s and 1970s with his emotional reinterpretations of Bach's keyboard repertoire. But what really distinguishes Gould from his contemporaries is the sheer volume of experimental recordings he bequeathed the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on his death, recordings made at home during his final years in recluse and only now available to the public for the first time....

Note to Listeners: we tried to keep this show focused on classical music, but then Grace kept mentioning how much she doesn't like Taylor Swift, and David felt forced to wave his populist flag, and that is how our podcast descended into nonsense shortly after our two hosts offhandedly diagnosed the vast majority of the Chinese population with obsessive compulsive disorder.

Sinica - Under the Dome

Popup Chinese Lessons - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 04:01

"Under the Dome," Chai Jing's breakout documentary on China's catastrophic air pollution problem, finally hit insurmountable political opposition last Friday after seven days in which the video racked up over 200 million views. The eventual clampdown raised many questions about the extent of internal support for the documentary.

In this episode of Sinica, Kaiser Kuo and David Moser interview Calvin Quek of Greenpeace, who works on pollution problems and has significant experience lobbying the private sector to curtail investments into the worst-offending, environmentally unsustainable technologies. We are also joined by Peggy Liu, chairperson of JUCCCE (Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy), a non-profit organization focused on Chinese government training and other green initiatives.

Enjoy Sinica? Get notified when new episodes are published by subscribing to our dedicated RSS feed. You are also welcome to download this show as a standalone mp3 file. Thanks for listening and please send us comments and feedback by email at sinica@popupchinese.com.

Sinica - Keep in Touch, Nightman

Popup Chinese Lessons - Sat, 02/28/2015 - 06:45

"What have I done, and what am I doing here?"

In 1997, Beijing was smaller city, and Keep in Touch, Jamhouse and Nightman were the hippest venues around. There was no traffic on the ring roads, and if you got tired of Chinese food you might take a trip to Fangzhuang to visit this Italian restaurant that had suddenly appeared (should we go to Fangzhuang tonight, honey)? And the really plugged-in? They might even heard of this new district called "Sanlitun" that had a couple of upcoming bars like Poachers....

This week on Sinica, Jeremy and Kaiser are joined by two old friends from the 1990s, Jessica Meider (now a professional musician) and Jonathan Ansfield (now a professional journalist). We don't chat much about, but if you're a long-timer in Beijing, or just curious what it used to be like, join us as we look back at youth, music and share tips on how to do a backflip in a PLA-owned bars.

Syndicate content