LTL Blog – LTL School https://ltl-school.com Learn Chinese in China. Experience Chinese culture with at our first-class Mandarin language school in China. LTL Mandarin School based in Beijing, Shanghai and Taiwan Fri, 21 Feb 2020 00:55:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 https://ltl-school.com/wp-content/sites/16/favicon-64.jpg LTL Blog – LTL School https://ltl-school.com 32 32 Chinese Karaoke : KTV – The Guide to China’s Famous Pastime https://ltl-school.com/chinese-karaoke/ Mon, 10 Feb 2020 04:42:40 +0000 https://ltl-school.com/?p=27219 KTV / Chinese Karaoke – Discover One of China’s Most Popular Pastimes Karaoke, or KTV as it’s called here in China, is a very popular activity. Although it originated in Japan, China now has over 100,000 karaoke bars (1). There are many KTV companies. One of the biggest, Haoledi, has over 30 locations in the […]

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KTV / Chinese Karaoke – Discover One of China’s Most Popular Pastimes

Karaoke, or KTV as it’s called here in China, is a very popular activity.

Although it originated in Japan, China now has over 100,000 karaoke bars (1).

There are many KTV companies. One of the biggest, Haoledi, has over 30 locations in the city (2).

KTV is especially popular in the evenings and on the weekends.

Chinese KTV – Going to karaoke is a great way to spend a few hours with friends!

There are even small KTV booths in malls or other public places, made for only 2-3 people. You can pay a few RMB for 15 minutes (or longer, if you’d like), put on the headphones, and sing along to your favorite songs.

Unlike Western-style karaoke, which often involves singing with a mic in front of a big group of people, KTV here involves booking a personal room for you and your friends.

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Not only does the room generally have a stand mic where one person can sing in front of the others, it also has a couple of handheld mics, as well as a booth with a table and seats.

The difference here is that you don’t necessarily have to sing in front of everyone, and nobody really cares if you can’t carry a tune!

You can sing along without the mic or share the mic with the friends sitting next to you.

Chinese Karaoke – History of Karaoke

Chinese Karaoke – Booking a Room

Chinese Karaoke – Inside a KTV Bar

Chinese Karaoke – Picking Songs

Chinese Karaoke – Food and Drinks

Chinese Karaoke – My Personal Experience

Chinese Karaoke – History of Karaoke

Karaoke was invented in 1971, in Kobe, Japan, by a Japanese musician, Daisuke Inoue.

Inoue and his band recorded some of his music for a business man, who wanted to sing along to the music for clients.

When Inoue realized how successful this could be, he created a machine that would play music for people to sing along to (3).

Chinese KTV – Daisuke Inoue with his 8-Juke machine
Image courtesy of CBS News

He and his friends made eleven of these homemade machines, which he then started leasing to bars in Kobe.

The machine was called the 8-Juke. It was a TV-sized machine that would play sound tracks when money was inserted.

From there it was introduced into bars in the Osaka-Kobe area.

Other larger companies eventually took over Inoue’s invention, and because he never patented his machine, Inoue didn’t end up making much money from it (4).

Karaoke was introduced to China in the 1980s, and it has been extremely popular.

However, only a couple of years ago, the China Audio-Video Copyright Association, which authorizes songs on KTV machines, ordered businesses to remove over 6000 songs due to copyright infringements.

This has negatively impacted the KTV industry. However, despite the decline, KTV remains popular in China, as evidenced by the number of KTV bars (5).

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Chinese Karaoke – Booking a Room

I’ve been to KTV several times, and our group has always booked the room in advance. Reserving ahead of time ensures that there will be a room for you and your friends.

You can use a helpful app called 大众点评 (Dazhong Dianping) to find a KTV place near you and book a room. The app makes it easy to see what rooms are available and at which times. Depending on how many people are going, you can book a small, medium, or large room.

A small room might fit 3 to 5 people, while a large might go up to 10 or 12. The app also makes it easy to find opening and closing hours and read reviews (a good way to practice Chinese!)

To find out more about Chinese apps you can’t live without, check out these blog posts!

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Generally, reserving on a weekend evening will be more expensive than during the day or on a weekday. Prices also depend on how long you want the room for. In my experience, three hours is generally enough time. Any longer would start to get boring.

A room on a weekend evening might cost a few hundred RMB, but split between the number of people who go, it can be fairly affordable.

The past few times I’ve gone, I’ve paid between 80 and 100 RMB just for myself.

Chinese Karaoke – Inside a KTV Bar

KTV places are decorated to be fancy, glitzy, and over the top! The atmosphere is meant to get you excited to sing, usually with lights and decor everywhere.

Chinese KTV – This is one of example of room you might find in a KTV bar
Image courtesy of zswcn.com

Inside your personal KTV room, there is a big TV screen (or two) with the lyrics to the songs as well as the music video (for more popular songs).

There’s also a smaller screen on the wall for you to pick your songs, and put them in queue.

From this smaller screen, you can also control things like the temperature in the room, the lights (you should be able to turn on multi-coloured, flashing lights), queue order, skipping songs, etc.

At one of the KTV places I visited, each personal KTV room had a bathroom right next door! At nicer KTV places, you might have bathrooms with regular toilets, but others only having squatting toilets, which is very commonplace in China.

Chinese Karaoke – Picking Songs

If you’re worried about the song selection being too small, there’s no need! KTV places should have a wide selection of both Chinese and international songs.

Knowing a little Chinese is helpful for navigating the song menu, but you should be able to select international songs and find well-known songs in English. One of my personal favourites is the classic Bohemian Rhapsody!

Finding an easy Chinese song might also be a good way to practice your Chinese! For more tips on how to maximize your studying, check out this blog post!

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Chinese Karaoke – Food and Drinks

KTV places always have food and drinks for you to order! Some places have a mini store inside, where you can get snacks and alcohol.

At other places, you can order from a menu and have the food and drinks brought directly into your room.

These places have staff members who occasionally come in and out to check on you and serve the food and drinks.

Chinese KTV – It’s easy to get drinks in a KTV bar
Image Courtesy of Running Biji

However, food can be a little pricier in these places.

They’re not extremely expensive, (especially since, compared to America, food prices in China are very low to begin with!), but you might want to pick a different option.

If the KTV place doesn’t mind, you can bring your own food and drinks.

I can’t say it’s true for every place, but the past couple of times I went, the KTV bar was located in a mall with a food court.

We went downstairs, bought food to-go, and brought our food containers up to the KTV room.

In the past, we’ve even bought drinks from the nearby Family Mart, a common convenience store here in Shanghai, to bring up to the room. None of the KTV staff members seemed to mind! But take this advice with a grain of salt, as I’m not sure all KTV places are this relaxed.

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Chinese Karaoke – My Personal Experience

In my personal experience, I have gone to KTV with friends and enjoyed it thoroughly every time.

One of my tips would be to max out the number of people in the room. If, for example, the room allows 7-10 people, get 10 people to come!

Not only does it decrease the price per person, but having more people singing together can make it less intimidating for someone who’s a little shy about singing.

It’s also the most fun when you pick songs that everyone (or almost everyone) knows.

Chinese KTV – The decor in this KTV room is over the top!
Image courtesy of Quora

Fast, upbeat songs work better for KTV, while slower songs can also slow down the mood. Of course, it depends on each group and the songs they prefer.

Let everyone have a chance to sing into the mic (unless they really don’t want to!), and be aware that it usually takes at least a good half hour for people to really start getting into the music. Don’t play all the best songs at the beginning! Save some for the end!

Make sure to add a long queue of songs. Last time I went, we didn’t add enough songs and ran out with only a few minutes left before our time was up.

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I had to scramble to find songs that everyone liked so we could finish out strong. Also, don’t be afraid to just pick songs.

Indecisiveness is the enemy of KTV! Better to just pick a song and skip it if people aren’t into it, than wait for 10 minutes to find the perfect song.

Meanwhile, you’ll be hearing the boring default track that plays between songs.

For more fun facts and information about KTV, check out the links below!

  1. https://www.tbae.co.za/blog/fun-and-interesting-facts-about-karaoke/
  2. https://theculturetrip.com/asia/china/articles/the-best-karaoke-bars-in-shanghai/
  3. https://northeastofnorth.com/neon-karaoke/
  4. http://factsanddetails.com/japan/cat20/sub130/item700.html
  5. http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-02/08/c_137806245.htm

Have you been to KTV in China? What did you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Chinese Karaoke – FAQ’s

What is KTV?

KTV are bars where people gather to enjoy karaoke. THey are hugely popular in China and attract local and foreign crowds due to the fact you can eat and drink whilst enjoying your favourite international and Chinese songs.

How do you say Karaoke in Chinese?

Karaoke in Chinese is remarkably similar to English : 卡拉OK
Kǎlā OK
.

Does China have a lot of KTV’s?

Yes, every city and town in China boasts a huge number of KTV’s, you will never be far from one.

What is the general decor of a KTV like?

KTV places are decorated to be fancy, glitzy, and over the top! The atmosphere is meant to get you excited to sing, usually with lights and decor everywhere.

Does KTV in China only have Chinese songs?

No, there are many international songs as well as Chinese songs at KTV in China.

Want more from LTL?

If you wish to hear more from LTL Mandarin School why not join our mailing list. We give plenty of handy information on learning Chinese, useful apps to learn the language and everything going on at our LTL schools! Sign up below and become part of our ever growing community!

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The Complete Guide to Handling Lactose Intolerance in China https://ltl-school.com/lactose-intolerance-in-china/ Wed, 22 Jan 2020 17:14:51 +0000 https://ltl-school.com/?p=27054 Lactose Intolerance in China – What’s the Story? Interested in studying abroad or traveling in China but worried about dealing with lactose intolerance in China? Never fear, read on to learn why it is not only possible but actually quite easy to avoid gut-irritating dairy while living in China! How is it traveling with lactose […]

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Lactose Intolerance in China – What’s the Story?

Interested in studying abroad or traveling in China but worried about dealing with lactose intolerance in China?

Never fear, read on to learn why it is not only possible but actually quite easy to avoid gut-irritating dairy while living in China!

How is it traveling with lactose intolerance in China?

Traveling with food allergies can be hard.

Whether it is gluten, peanuts, or milk that you are avoiding, language barriers mixed with food allergies or sensitivities can make exploring new cuisines a stressful, anxiety-provoking experience.

Whether you are lactose intolerant and your body doesn’t produce enough of the enzyme that breaks down lactose, or you have a milk allergy and are allergic to the proteins in milk, one’s ability to avoid dairy products can be the difference between a night spent in the hotel bathroom or a night spent exploring all that Shanghai has to offer.

Does this mean you should just play it safe and eat Skittles and hamburgers your entire trip in China? Of course not!

Chinese food is famous for its varied and delicious cuisine.

The key is to be informed, so that you can try new foods without regrets.

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The Good News

So first, how hard is handling lactose intolerance in China?

For those who are either lactose intolerant or allergic, the good news is that you will be hard-pressed to find a country better for the milk-averse.

There is very little milk or dairy in most traditional Chinese cuisines.

Did you know?
Those crispy, cream-cheese stuffed crab rangoon that diary eaters love ordering at your local Chinese restaurant? They were actually invented in San Francisco.

Pork, after all, is the most commonly eaten meat in China. Milk-producing animals just did not play the same role in traditional east Asian society that they did in other societies.

Soy milk and tofu have always played far more important roles in most Chinese cuisines.

Even today, you will be hard-pressed to find even a slice of cheese in most Chinese refrigerators.

map of lactose intolerant people in world
Lactose Intolerance in China – World Map

In fact, four out of five Chinese people report having digestive problems after eating dairy products.

So, not only is China a lactose intolerant-friendly place, but 80% of adults share in your inability to process milk sugars.

So China does not have milk?

China’s dairy sector has exploded in recent years and is now the world’s third largest, behind the US and India. 

While cheese still is largely confined to a pizza-topping, yoghurt and milk can be commonly found in homes across China.

Many Chinese families and preschools, under the influence of Western nutrition and dietary norms, now encourage their children to drink cows milk regularly and consume yoghurt frequently.

That being said, dairy products are still largely consumed separately from food. 

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Unless you are regularly eating Western food, dairy will rarely make an appearance on a restaurant table. 

Dairy products are largely only available as bottled yoghurt and milk in the refrigerated section of convenience stores and supermarkets, which makes them easy to avoid.

Image result for youtiao doujiang
Fried savory dough and soy milk is a traditional, lactose-free breakfast pairing

The rise of milk also does not mean that soy milk is less important or that soy milk has somehow been replaced by cow milk. 

Soy milk is still an important feature in many traditional breakfasts, such as the traditional fried savoury dough and soy milk (油条豆浆, yóutiáo dòujiāng) breakfast. 

Other plant-based milks such as oat milk (燕麦奶 yànmài nǎi) or almond milk (杏仁奶 xìngrén nǎi) can also be found in import shops in bigger cities.

Danger Zones

With the growing influence of foreign foods, you will encounter lactose-filled foods in China. 

Luckily, they’re fairly obvious. 

Here are a few of the extremely self-evident danger zones and some tips about what to order instead.

Pizza

Image result for pizza hut china
Lactose intolerance in China – Pizza Hut

Unsurprisingly, pizza in China, just like pizza in most of the world, has cheese on it. 

If you are trying to avoid the cheese, you can either order cheese-less pizza, or you can peruse their extensive, surprisingly classy menu and order something else from the menu. 

Check out the Pizza Hut Chinese menu here, it’s a good way to practice your menu reading skills and, when you see the entire section offering steak(牛排,niúpái), your worries about lactose in China should go away in no time.

Milk tea

Milk tea is on every visitor’s China bucket list! Alas, milk tea has milk in it (duh) and thus the milk averse should not consume it. 

Does this mean you need to stay at home crying while your fellow study abroad classmates go and order their boba tea? No!

Milk tea chains generally have a variety of fruit tea options. Just look for the character pair for fruit tea, 果茶(guǒchá).

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Bakeries

An array of desserts from 85C Bakery Cafe
Beware: Just like at home, bakeries in China commonly use milk.

Just like in your home country, bakeries in China also frequently use dairy in their food preparations. 

Some baked goods have visible cheese and cream – these are obviously off limits. 

Depending on the severity of your lactose intolerance or milk allergy, you will need to be careful even with the less obvious baked goods. 

Many will have been made with milk.

Luckily, some of the bigger bakery chains, such as 85°C, list common allergens on each of their bread labels. 

Just learn the word for cow’s milk (牛奶,niúnǎi) and you should be able to identify that character in the list of allergens.

Lactose Intolerance in China – The Key Vocabulary

Luckily, lactose intolerance in China is no big deal. 

Dairy products are not a large part of Chinese cuisine. 

That being said, the best way to arm yourself against unwelcome dairy is to improve your speaking and listening in Chinese.

I have my own experience of traveling in China with my mom, who is allergic to peanuts. 

When I was really bad at Chinese, she visited me, drank a black sesame soy milk that turned out to have peanuts in it, and spent a miserable day that nearly ended in a trip to the hospital.

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The next time she visited me though, my Chinese had improved. I was far more capable of advocating for her dietary restrictions in restaurants, reading labels, and generally working with the world to make sure she did not eat any peanuts. 

Even though allergy-awareness is not as high in China as it is in other countries, most restaurants are more than willing to help you out, but only if you can effectively communicate what you need!

As you look through this list, notice how commonly  奶 (nǎi) appears in these words. 

If you are skimming an ingredient list and come across this character in an unknown word, your best bet is to play it safe and not eat it! There’s a high chance it is milk powder or some other milk derivative.

English Character & Pinyin
The character for milk (can be used in soy milk, almond milk, cow’s milk) 奶 nǎi
Cow’s milk 牛奶 niúnǎi
Cheese 奶酪 nǎilào
or 芝士 zhīshì
Yoghurt 酸奶 suānnǎi
Soy milk 豆浆 dòujiāng
Lactose intolerance 乳糖不耐症 rǔtángbúnàizhèng
I am lactose intolerant. 我有乳糖不耐症 wǒ yǒu rǔtángbúnàizhèng
Allergy 过敏 guòmǐn
I can’t eat… 我不能吃。。。wǒ bùnéng chī

Conclusion

In conclusion, if you are worried about living with lactose intolerance in China – don’t be!

Chinese food barely uses dairy products, so you will have even fewer dietary limitations that you probably have in your home country. 

Nevertheless, preparing by educating yourself, learning a few dairy-related vocabulary words, and familiarising yourself with Chinese food, culture and language, are all good steps to make sure that your stay in China goes exactly according to plan!

Lactose intolerance in China – FAQ’s

How do you say “I am lactose intolerant” in Chinese?

I am lactose intolerant in Chinese is 我有乳糖不耐症 wǒ yǒu rǔtángbúnàizhèng.

How do you say “I cannot eat…” in Chinese?

I cannot eat… in Chinese is 我不能吃。。。wǒ bùnéng chī.

Is it hard to live in China being lactose intolerant?

For those who are either lactose intolerant or allergic, the good news is that you will be hard-pressed to find a country better for the milk-averse.

There is very little milk or dairy in most traditional Chinese cuisines.

How do you say Allergy in Chinese?

Allergy in Chinese is 过敏 guòmǐn.

Want more from LTL?

If you wish to hear more from LTL Mandarin School why not join our mailing list. We give plenty of handy information on learning Chinese, useful apps to learn the language and everything going on at our LTL schools!

Sign up below and become part of our ever growing community!

The post The Complete Guide to Handling Lactose Intolerance in China appeared first on LTL School.

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12 Untranslatable Words in Chinese https://ltl-school.com/untranslatable-words/ Sun, 05 Jan 2020 04:40:14 +0000 https://ltl-school.com/?p=26900 12 Useful Chinese Words With No English Equivalent Learning Chinese is often quite challenging. But those who have reached fluency in the language can confirm that it’s totally worth it. 16% of the global population speaks a variety of Chinese, with Mandarin Chinese being the most spoken language on earth. Untranslatable Word #1 – 香Untranslatable […]

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12 Useful Chinese Words With No English Equivalent

Learning Chinese is often quite challenging. But those who have reached fluency in the language can confirm that it’s totally worth it.

16% of the global population speaks a variety of Chinese, with Mandarin Chinese being the most spoken language on earth.

Untranslatable Word #1 – 香

Untranslatable Word #2 – 孝順

Untranslatable Word #3 – 面子

Untranslatable Word #4 – 脸

Untranslatable Word #5 – 下台阶

Untranslatable Word #6 – 见外

Untranslatable Word #7 – 冤枉

Untranslatable Word #8 – 关系

Untranslatable Word #9 – 撒娇

Untranslatable Word #10 – 辛苦

Untranslatable Word #11 – 失恋

Untranslatable Word #12 – 傾聽

Untranslatable Chinese Words

When we learn Chinese, we’re opening ourselves to a whole new culture, to new ways of thinking, and to numberless professional opportunities; whether we’re interested in tech, manufacturing, or Chinese translation.

The way a language works is tightly related to the worldview of its speakers.

There’s no better example than the existence of untranslatable words in any language.

Some words, like “Sobremesa” in Spanish, are linked to certain traditions. Others, like “Backpfeifengesicht” in German, or “Toska” in Russian are about ways we relate to others (and to ourselves) and the way we see the world.

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The feelings that these words encapsulate might be common to the human experience (“Backpfeifengesicht” is the feeling that someone should be slapped while “Toska” designates a sense of vague melancholy or anguish), but it’s worth wondering why these languages have specific words for them.

In the case of Chinese, there are many words that have no precise English translation.

Some refer to customs and traditions, like the aforementioned “Sobremesa” in Spanish — which designates the time one spends around the table after a meal, chatting with friends and family — while others are as abstract and precise as “Backpfeifengesicht”.

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Let’s take a look at 12 words in the Chinese language that have no English translation:

Untranslatable Word #1 is 香 :  xiāng

While 香 could be translated as “fragrant”, when we’re referring to food, this term alludes to a rich, strong food smell that opens up your appetite.

You’ll often hear this used to describe food at the table so keep an ear out. That said though, there isn’t really a like-minded word in English

Untranslatable Word #2 is 孝順  :  xiào​ shùn

Untranslatable Chinese Words

孝順 is a term inspired by Confucian philosophy. It might be translated as “filial piety”.

It’s a sense of obedience and duty to one’s parents.

In youth, 孝順 is about listening to one’s parents and doing as they say.

In adulthood, it’s about one’s obligation to take care of them.

Untranslatable Word #3 is 面子 :  miàn zi

Understanding the concept of “face” (or 面子), also translated as “honor”, “reputation” or “self-respect” is key to understanding the way social relations form in China.

While Westerners might want to be perceived as noble but flawed, and one builds closeness and respect by recognising mistakes and being able to laugh at oneself, Chinese people tend to have incredibly strict behavioural standards and gravitate towards solemnity.

For instance, in China, it’s not uncommon for the CEO of a bankrupt company to commit suicide, due to the loss of 面子 that failure represents. Pretty intense right!

The concept of “face” is “untranslatable” because it is, at heart, characteristically Chinese.

It’s also one of the greatest causes of misunderstandings between Chinese people and foreigners.

So, for foreign business people building relationships in China, it’s essential that all documents go through a certified translation service provider and that all interactions are mediated by a culturally-sensitive interpreter or cross-cultural consultant.

Untranslatable Word #4 is 脸  :  liǎn

脸 is often translated as “a sense of shame and deep care about socially-established standards in morality and behavior”. It’s the foundation of 面子.

Untranslatable Word #5 is下台阶  :  xià táijiē

This concept is best understood through an anecdote that corporate trainer Rupert Munton once shared.

Two friends of his, a British Engineer and a China-based British Engineer collaborated with the development of a pipeline, providing the gas meters it needed.

When the Chinese engineers found themselves unable to get the gas to pump through the pipeline, they arranged a meeting with their British counterparts.

Upon revising the project documents, the engineer that had little experience working in China noted that his Chinese counterpart was using local measurement units, instead of the global standard.

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This was probably why the meters were failing.

The British engineer had a heated discussion with his Chinese counterpart, yelling at him, being aggressive, infantilising and sarcastic.

Eventually, his more experienced countryman kindly put him aside and explained the situation to him. They soon noticed that the Chinese engineer disappeared.

He returned with a book, which he showed to his foreign but culturally-sensitive colleague.

The Chinese professional had scratched off a figure and quickly replaced it with the wrong number: He wanted to make believe that the book had given him the wrong answer.

His counterpart pretended not to notice and accepted it, “understanding” that the book had given his colleague the wrong answer.

When the China-based British engineer pretended to not notice his Chinese counterpart’s lie, he gave him a chance to 下台阶. He gave him a chance “to save face”.

Untranslatable Word #6 is 见外 :  jiàn wài

Untranslatable Chinese Words

见外 means to be unnecessarily polite with someone you are closed to.

The literal translation, “to look outside”.

While etiquette is crucial in Chinese society, just like “saving face”, Chinese people tend to relax their manners when they’re with close friends or family.

Useful to know if you have a Chinese partner!

Saying “thank you” to a friend for a favour, for instance, is seen as 见外.

Untranslatable Word #7 is 冤枉  :  yuān wǎng

Untranslatable Chinese Words

冤枉 could be translated as “judging someone unjustly for a crime that they didn’t commit”. 

One of the most amazing traits of the Chinese language is that such situations can be synthesised in one or two logograms.

The term’s literal translation is “to wrongfully accuse”

Untranslatable Word #8 is 关系 :  guān xì

关系 is a mutually beneficial relationship that is not based on manipulation or mere interest, but that can open doors for both parties.

This “connection” (another literal translation of the term) can be thought of as “networking”, but it’s not limited to professional or business settings, and it involves a deeper sense of friendship.

Untranslatable Word #9 is 撒娇  : sā jiāo

撒娇 means “acting like a spoiled child” in a cute way.

This behavior is very common in couples, when one of the partners is jokingly acting pouty or exaggerating their reaction to a certain situation in a cute and childish way.

Chinese-English dictionaries tend to define 撒娇 as “to act like a spoiled child”, “to throw a tantrum” and “to act coquettishly”.

Untranslatable Word #10 is 辛苦  : xīn kǔ

The term 辛苦, literally translated as “hard”, “exhausting” or “with much toil”, is used to communicate that one recognises someone’s hard work and thanks them for it.

Untranslatable Word #11 is 失恋 :  shī liàn

Untranslatable Chinese Words

When a couple has split and ex-partners feel disappointed about love in general, one could say they are 失恋.

It could be translated as “heartbroken after the end of a relationship”, or “experiencing disappointment in love after a breakup”.

Not one you want to be using, but a good one to understand regardless!

Untranslatable Word #12 is 傾聽  :  qīng ​tīng

When a teacher you greatly respect is giving you advice, you 傾聽: You listen attentively and respectfully.

It basically means when you are listening out of respect and courtesy.

Chinese Tongue Twisters 绕口令(rào kǒu lìng) Thumbnail

Chinese Tongue Twisters 绕口令(rào kǒu lìng)

Where to search for Chinese Tongue Twisters One of the best ways to practice your Chinese pronunciation is to learn some Chinese tongue twisters. Learn the Chinese Alphabet… Not only will it help you to pronounce individual words, it will…

So there we have it…!

As a student of the Chinese language:

  • Were you aware of these terms?
  • Have you ever used them?
  • Are they really “untranslatable”?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

A huge thanks to Sean Hopwood for this wonderful guest blog post.

Sean Patrick Hopwood is a language polyglot and can speak 7 languages. He is also the President of Day Translations, a certified translation company.

Want more from LTL?

If you wish to hear more from LTL Mandarin School why not join our mailing list. We give plenty of handy information on learning Chinese, useful apps to learn the language and everything going on at our LTL schools! Sign up below and become part of our ever growing community!

The post 12 Untranslatable Words in Chinese appeared first on LTL School.

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Best VPN into China (2020): The Best VPN’s To Use In China https://ltl-school.com/best-vpn-china/ Wed, 01 Jan 2020 07:00:00 +0000 https://school.ltl-beijing.com/?p=17683 Best VPN to use in China: The Best VPN services for 2020 So what’s the best VPN into China? With the sheer amount of different VPNs available, it is hard to know which is the best VPN to use in China this 2020 that still work. Fear not, that’s where we come in! What is […]

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Best VPN to use in China: The Best VPN services for 2020

So what’s the best VPN into China?

With the sheer amount of different VPNs available, it is hard to know which is the best VPN to use in China this 2020 that still work.

Fear not, that’s where we come in!

What is a VPN and why do I need it in China?

Nord VPN - You can download it here

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) conceals a user’s IP address and therefore allows private internet surfing from wherever you are.

Because it conceals your location, you can surf freely without being discovered.

This means that you can access censored or blocked websites and services.

Thanks to the infamous Great Firewall of China, many popular social media websites in China are blocked.

This, as well as Netflix, Google, and Youtube services, are all blocked. You will need a VPN in China to access any of these websites.

You can find out more about what exactly a VPN is, as well as how to download a VPN if you’re already in China by visiting our other related VPN blog posts.

If you’re not yet in China and looking to get yourself a VPN before you get here, you’re in the right place! We’ve put together a list that will help you pick the best VPN into China for your needs.

This selection of VPNs for use in China all offer paid subscriptions.

If you’re after a free VPN you can check out our blog on the 5 best FREE VPNs for use in China.

Best VPN China #1 – Express VPN 

Best VPN China #2 – Nord VPN

Best VPN China #3 – TunnelBear VPN

Best VPN China #4 – Astrill VPN 

Best VPN China #5 – HideMyAss! VPN

Best VPN China #6 – Ivacy

Best VPN into China:

1. Express VPN

Best VPN into China - Express VPN

  • Very trusted service
  • 24/7 Support Online
  • Constantly voted as a top choice for the best VPN into China

One of the better VPN's into China
One of the better VPN’s into China

Express VPN is one of the most downloaded VPN’s and commonly used in China and with good reason.

Express consistently provide a wide number of locations to connect to, and this seems to grow by the year. Currently they lie on about 150 locations from 100 countries, not a bad portfolio by any stretch.

The customer service is also 24/7 and generally of great help.

If you are hoping to watch some home comforts on Netflix or iPlayer (BBC) then you have the chance to connect to your own countries VPN location and enjoy everything you would from back home.

Express can be downloaded onto a number of devices and used simultaneously if you so wish.

In terms of the full package of speed, efficiency, reliability and user satisfaction, we think there is no better VPN into China than Express.

The only real drawback is the fact it’s a little more expensive than competitor VPN’s.

It then comes down to the old adage, “you get what you pay for”. In reality, providing you are in China for the foreseeable future, it’s an investment well worth making. And they’re currently offering customers who sign up for a 12 month subscription 35% off!

Sign Up

Feb 2020 UPDATE – It’s worth nothing as of June 2019 Express have had a few connectivity issues especially if not connected to WiFi. In truth, this isn’t exclusive to Express. China and censorship has long been changing and a tightened grip on this has made it harder for VPN’s to ensure full and smooth service. Therefore, it’s worth making sure you use WiFi to connect to VPN’s as you may be waiting around on 4G for a connection.

2. Nord VPN

Best VPN into China - NordVPN

  • User-friendly
  • Good privacy – no logging policy

Nord VPN - You can download it here
Nord VPN – You can download it here

If privacy is a top concern, Nord VPN is perhaps the one for you.

They have a no-log policy so your browsing data is kept safe. On top of this, they also utilize military-grade security protocols.

What’s more, is that you can use this VPN on multiple devices at once time. Six, to be exact!

It can be used on a variety of platforms such as Windows, Apple, Android… And is good for all of your devices (PC, laptop, mobile etc.)

The only downside to this VPN? It’s perhaps not as user intuitive as Express if a fancy look is something you care about.

Due to the huge number of security features that come with Nord, it can be known to have an impact on the speed of connection from time to time also.

Sign up for Nord VPN below and get some rather sizeable discounts.

 Sign Up

3. TunnelBear VPN

Best VPN into China - Tunnelbear

  • Blocks Adverts
  • Great for first-time users

This VPN is also on our list for best FREE VPNs.

VPN into China - Tunnellbear
VPN into China – Tunnellbear

It offers a free package which reaps all of the basic benefits of this VPN, such as the clear, user-friendly interface making it great for first-time VPN users.

Plus, there are bears everywhere which makes it somewhat joyful to use.

The free version, however, will limit you to a very small 500mb per month – so you’re probably going to want to upgrade if you want to, well, do anything really.

Thankfully, the slightly below-average price means that it is affordable. Despite it being cheaper than others, it doesn’t compromise on its product quality or security either!

Again, you get what you pay for. If you are on a tighter budget, and opt for the cheaper Tunnel Bear, be prepared for the occasional problem here and there.

 Sign Up

4.  Astrill 

Best VPN into China - Astrill

  • A favourite for use in China
  • Highest number of usable IP addresses available (89,000+)

Astrill offers a secure and quick connection.

Astrill VPN - A fans favourite in China
Astrill VPN – A fans favourite in China

It is a very user-friendly VPN that offers the ability to switch between locations quickly and efficiently without having to turn the VPN on and off or restart the VPN.

It shows the internet speed in a small convenient box to help you choose the quickest VPN for you.

There are also multiple VPN server options for several countries – most of them being for USA. This allows you to try multiple servers in one location and find the quickest one.

It is also optimized for use in China, making this arguably near the top in terms of best VPN into China.

It offers several services that use USA based servers that are ‘China optimized’, and recently it just added a new ‘China Supercharged’ VPN server option. We can vouch for the fact that it is, indeed, ‘supercharged’.

Astrill has always been a popular choice of VPN in China. It offers less server locations than Express VPN, but its subscription packages are cheaper:

Sign Up

NOTE – If you want to connect on Xbox, be aware Astrill does not offer this facility. 

5. HideMyAss!

bestvpnintochina

  • Servers all over the world
  • Great app interface

This makes our list as one of the best VPNs into China for its huge number of servers based all over the world, and their contact helplines available in different locations should you have any problems.

Their contact details are clearly displayed and have good customer service.

Plus, they do a free 7-day trial! Not too shabby!

Sign Up

6. Ivacy

ivacy-vpn-review

  • Five log-in’s at once
  • Cheaper due to being less well known
  • Multiple Servers

The inclusion of Ivacy might turn a few heads given the fact it doesn’t make many Top 10 VPN lists but we believe otherwise given position student feedback.

See Astrill above which is not compatible with Xbox? No such problem with Ivacy who are compatible on anything Windows, MXQ Pro, X Box, PlayStation, Android, and Kodi to name a few.

Ivacy also boasts a strong pricing structure which come up cheaper than some of the bigger names in the market… so what’s the catch you ask…

It doesn’t work with Netflix.

VPN Reviews - Ivacy VPN Thumbnail

VPN Reviews – Ivacy VPN

IVACY VPN REVIEW So is Ivacy VPN worth the download? Let’s take a look… As you’ve probably seen, we’ve extensively covered VPN’s over the last few months, from best paid VPNs, best free VPNs, best free VPN trials in China….

This is a game changer for foreigners in China who enjoy home comforts. Sure you can find movies and series online elsewhere but Netflix is often the go to choice.

Unfortunately with Ivacy it’s not possible.

Ivacy is an “under the radar” option not many VPN review sites choose but we think, bar a few clear flaws it’s actually really strong value for money and has a lot of positives.

We actually had a student write a really tidy in-depth review on Ivacy so for more about it see below:

Sign Up

And the Winner is…

One of the better VPN's into China

Each VPN has something different to offer, but all of the above VPNs are very well-known and renowned VPNs – perfect for a trip to China or staying in China long term.

Pick your VPN according to what factors are important to you, and you’ll be surfing your favourite sites in China in no time!

If we are hard pressed to offer an all round, full-package winner it’s EXPRESS VPN.

Want more from LTL?

If you wish to hear more from LTL Mandarin School why not join our mailing list. We give plenty of handy information on learning Chinese, useful apps to learn the language and everything going on at our LTL schools! Sign up below and become part of our ever-growing community!

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Chinese New Year – The Complete Guide To China’s Biggest and Most Important Holiday https://ltl-school.com/chinese-new-year/ https://ltl-school.com/chinese-new-year/#comments Tue, 10 Dec 2019 09:00:00 +0000 http://school.ltl-beijing.com/?p=8107 Discover Chinese New Year – Chinese New Year Traditions and Superstitions Chinese New Year, the biggest moment of the year in China! Families all across China will celebrate in their own traditional ways. Many will make Chinese dumplings (jiăozi – 饺子) as a family and hand out red envelopes (hóngbāo – 紅包) of money to their nearest and […]

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Discover Chinese New Year – Chinese New Year Traditions and Superstitions

Chinese New Year, the biggest moment of the year in China!

Families all across China will celebrate in their own traditional ways. Many will make Chinese dumplings (jiăozi – 饺子) as a family and hand out red envelopes (hóngbāo – 紅包) of money to their nearest and dearest.

Chinese New Year - Red Envelope

However, these local traditions go much further than gifts of money and eating dumplings and vary greatly from region to region.

China is a vast place with a huge population and contains many different ethnic minorities.

Traditions not only vary from region to region but also from family to family.

Chinese New Year Traditions – Thomas

Chinese New Year Traditions – Emma

Chinese New Year Traditions – Cynthia

Chinese New Year Superstitions

New Year Resolutions in Chinese

In order to introduce you to different local Chinese New Year Traditions from different parts of China, we asked 3 of our teachers at LTL Mandarin School to tell us all about their own regional traditions and family traditions.

Chinese Hongbao: All You Must Know About The Lucky Red Envelope Thumbnail

Chinese Hongbao: All You Must Know About The Lucky Red Envelope

The Best Things Come In a Big Red Envelope The Red Envelope or Hong Bao, in Chinese Chinese New Year is upon us. And that means, red envelopes, so called 红包hongbao (红=red, 包=envelope, packet), are about to make a major…

After this, we’ll take a look at some superstitions that are observed during Chinese New Year and teach you some common New Year resolutions, so buckle up, we’re about to give you the true insiders guide to Chinese New Year in China.

Before that though, let’s take a look at foreigners in action in a Chinese kitchen. Here’s Daniel making some Dumplings!

Watch Daniel make Dumplings, Chinese style

Chinese New Year Traditions

Chinese New Year Traditions #1 – Thomas from Beijing

My name is Tongda (Thomas), a Chinese teacher from LTL.

I’m an “old” Beijinger, generations of my family have lived here. I grew up in the Tian’anmen area, in a Hutong house.

Different places have different culture and I would like to share with you some traditional culture of Beijing for celebrating the Chinese New Year.

Before Spring Festival’s Eve, people who live in the Hutongs put couplets with blessings on each side of the gate to their courtyard and also put one on the top of gate.

For example: Welcome the New Year, Happy Year of Sheep, all the best and luck in the New Year and so on.

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The Great Race: Ultimate Guide to Chinese Zodiacs

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We also put The Door God on the gate of courtyard, which is used to scare away evil spirits.

We eat dumplings together with the family on New Year’s Eve, watch the Spring Festival TV gala and then watch fireworks through the window.

We also eat New Year’s cake, which in Chinese is called “nian gao” (nian – year, gao – high). Eating this ensures everything will get better and better, year after year.

On the first day of the New Year, we start to visit relatives. However, girls can’t visit relatives on the first day, they normally start on the second day.

We don’t sweep the floor, throw out the rubbish, take a shower or have our hair cut on the first day of New Year.

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How to get a Haircut in China

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Instead we normally buy fruit as presents to give to relatives. Different fruits bring different wishes, for instance:

  •  Apples : which stand for safety, sound and peace.
  •  Tangerines: which bring big luck.
  •  Oranges: stand for dreams coming true.
  •  Peaches: stand for long life.

DID YOU KNOW – In Chinese culture, we have 12 signs of the zodiac – mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, chicken, dog and pig.

On the second day of New Year, Beijingers like to pray to the Cai Shen Deity, the god of prosperity. They teach us that kind and devotional prayers will result in abundant financial resources and people should make these fortunes based on kindheartedness and justice.

During the holiday, we also like to visit Temple Fairs, and pray in Buddhist and Daoist temples for a healthy and bright New Year.

On the 5th day of New Year, we eat dumplings again. On the 15th day of lunar calendar, we eat Yuan Xiao (sweet dumplings made of glutinous rice flour) for the Lantern Festival.

In the evening of Lantern Festival, people like to go for a walk outside which brings them good health and signifies the end of the Spring festival. These are the traditions for celebrating New Year as a Beijinger. Happy Spring Festival!

Tongda (Thomas), LTL Teacher

Chinese New Year Traditions #2 – Emma from Fuzhou

My hometown is in a county town called Yongtai which belongs to Fuzhou city in southern China. 

The days before Chinese New Year’s Eve, every family starts to prepare for the celebration. First of all, we do the spring-cleaning to embrace a new and clean year. The next step is to prepare food for the New Year’s Eve feast.

Emma Teacher LTL Beijing
Emma Teacher LTL Beijing

We don’t have dumplings but Tangyuan (汤圆) which is a kind of round and white food indicating Tuanyuan (团圆, the family reunion).

We also eat another white and round dish but this one is a flat cake made of rice called Niangao (年糕).

A fish dish is a necessity on the table every year, because fish(鱼yu) indicates 年年有余(nian nian you yu)which means every year we will have plenty of food.

Every year, we also enjoy a kind of traditional noodle made from eggs and a kind of sweet potato which is called Longyan (蛋燕).

Before we start the dinner of the New Year’s Eve, we offer some sacrifices to the Goddess of kitchen.

We believe she will bless and protect us. Every year I enjoy the food on the table and I know my mother has already kept half of the delicious food in the kitchen which we will enjoy again on the first day of the New Year. To eat the food that is kept from the last day of last year is another way to improve nian nian you yu.

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Traditional Food in China – What are the Top Traditional Chinese Dishes?

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After the spring-cleaning, every family starts to decorate their house, like posting new year’s scrolls and the Fu 福 character which normally should be upside and down to show that Fu is arriving.

When it comes to the evening of New Year’s Eve, the children will be very excited as they get the “lucky money” from the senior members of the family and they love the fireworks display.

On the first day of the new year, fathers will set off fireworks to “wake up the New Year”.

Meanwhile mothers start to prepare the big breakfast. Every one should wake up by themselves and appear at the table with their new dresses. We cannot knock at other people’s door to wake them up as it will bring bad luck to them.

On the first day just family members spend time together. From the second day onwards, every family will start to welcome the visitors and they can enjoy the get-together time which is really nice.

These are the things my spring festival consists of.

Emma Chen, LTL teacher.

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My First Chinese New Year in China

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Chinese New Year Traditions #3 – Cynthia from Liaocheng

My name is Zhang Xin (my English name is Cynthia), I come from Liaocheng city of Shandong province, east of China.

Because Shandong province is the hometown of the Confucius, the spring festival customs are very important for us.

Spring Festival runs from Laba Festival (the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month) to Lantern Festival (the fifteenth day of the first lunar moon). On Laba Festival, people like to eat Laba rice porridge which is rice porridge with nuts and dried fruit.

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From that day on, people start to clean and clear out their house, buy new clothes and delicious food to prepare for Spring Festival.

Happy New Year in Chinese

On the “small new year” (the twenty third day of the twelfth lunar moon), people need to eat dumplings and “free the kitchen god” who, according to myth, goes to visit the Jade Emperor and reports on the family’s performance in the last year.

The most important day of Spring Festival is New Year’s Eve.

This day of the year is also known as the “big thirty”.

After noon, people will paste couplets and paste the character of “Fortune” upside down as this means fortune will arrive in the future.

In the evening, there will be the family reunion dinner and afterwards the custom of giving gifts of money. When it is 12:00am, every family will light fireworks.

The first day of the new year is also very important. People should get up early in the morning to visit relatives, pay a new year call, and adults need to give children “Ya sui” money for a gift.

From now on, people would visit relatives until Lantern Festival, especially the married women who visit parents on the second day.

On Lantern Festival (the fifteenth day of the first lunar moon), we will eat Yuanxiao (rice glue ball) and appreciate all the beautiful lanterns.

Cynthia, LTL teacher

From all of the teachers and staff here at LTL, 新年快乐

Chinese New Year Superstitions – A Survival Guide

So, we’ve learnt about what Chinese do with their Chinese New Year, but the festival runs much deeper than this.

They say to understand a language you must also understand the culture so we want to dig deeper into Chinese New Year and study some of the superstitions that Chinese deal with during the holidays.

SO let’s get stuck into some rather wacky Chinese New Year superstitions starting with…

The Chinese believe it’s crucial to start the year on the right foot because whatever you do on the first day, week, even month, of the lunar New Year will affect how your year will turn out.

With that said, there are many Chinese New Year superstitions that the Chinese follow to have a lucky and auspicious start to the year.

Waking Up On the Right Side of the Bed

On the morning of Chinese New Year, members of a Chinese family usually wake up by themselves naturally.

You should not tell someone to wake up or visit someone who has not woken up.

Open the windows in the morning of Chinese New Year to allow good luck to come in - Chinese New Year Superstitions
Open the windows in the morning of Chinese New Year to allow good luck to come in – Chinese New Year Superstitions

This is bad luck for the person still in bed. If you go to wake someone up, then they will be rushed and bossed around for the year.

If you visit someone who has not woken up, they will be bed-ridden for the entire year. So it’s better to let everyone wake up on their own schedule. What a perfect opportunity to catch up on some snooze!

Once you do wake up, remind yourself to open the windows, and doors. Not only will the fresh air help you wake up, leaving the doors and windows open on the first day of Chinese New Year, or 初一 (Chū  Yī), allows good fortune and prosperity to enter the house.

The Chinese refers to the first day of a lunar month as 初一 (Chū  Yī), and the second day as 初二 (Chū  èr), so on and so forth until 初十 (Chū  Shí), after which the days are simply referred to as numbers.

Chinese New Year - 初一

What’s For Breakfast?

When the family is ready for breakfast, they should find the rice jar, or 米缸 (Mǐ Gāng) filled.

The rice jar should not be allowed to be empty during Chinese New Year.

An empty rice jar causes anxiety in the family because it’s a bad omen that the family will starve in the year. So if you have a rice jar, remember to fill it up before the Chinese New Year!

Serving congee for breakfast is a taboo on Chinese New Year - Chinese New Year Superstition
Serving congee for breakfast is a taboo on Chinese New Year – Chinese New Year Superstition

While congee, also known as porridge, is a common breakfast in China; the porridge should not be served for breakfast on Chinese New Year.

This is because in the past, porridge were usually consumed by the poor. Having it for breakfast on Chinese New Year means that you will be poor and hungry the whole year.

Maybe you want to have your usual bacon and eggs. Not today.

One should not eat meat for breakfast on Chinese New Year. There are two possible explanations for this taboo. One explanation has its root in Buddhism.

Many religious families believe that not having meat for breakfast on the morning of CNY will help you accumulate good virtue, or 积德 (Jī  Dé); and doing so will bring good karma for the entire year.

Another explanation to not eat meat is a reminder for the family to not be wasteful.

So what can you eat?

汤圆(Tāng  Yuán), or sticky rice balls, and 饺子 (Jiǎo  Zi), or dumplings, are some popular choices. Vegetarian rice buns, or 菜包 (Cài Bāo) with soy milk are also okay.

When you’re done with breakfast, be careful while you put the dishes away. Breaking dishes on Chinese New Year is bad luck. Because broken, or 碎 (Suì) is a negative word and therefore breaking dishes is a bad omen for the rest of the year.

If someone does accidentally drop a bowl or a plate, immediately wrap it with red paper and say a few lucky phrases to make amends. You can say phrases such as 岁岁平安 (Suì Suì Píng Ān), which means peace and security every year, or 大发 (Dà Fā), meaning great wealth.

Dressing For Success, And Luck

Red is the go-to color for Chinese New Year - Chinese New Year Superstition
Red is the go-to color for Chinese New Year – Chinese New Year Superstition

After breakfast, it’s time to change out of your pajamas and get dressed for the day.

Oh the struggle! Before you throw in the towel and put on your usual black skinny jeans and a black sweater again, think again.

Black and white clothes should be avoided on Chinese New Year; because those colors are associated with mourning and death in Chinese culture.

Instead, opt for something more colorful. If you can’t decide on what to wear, you can never go wrong with red, an auspicious and festive, or喜庆 (Xǐ Qìng) color, and the perfect one to ring in the lunar New Year.  

To Clean or Not to Clean

While you have some free time, you might think it’s a good idea to do some cleaning. Stop! You should not sweep or take out the rubbish until the 5th day of the New Year.

The Chinese believe any waste we produce from the first till the fourth day of the New Year is 财气 (Cái Qì),or money luck; whereas those produced from 5th day on is 穷气 (Qióng Qì), which is “poor luck” that causes you to lose money.

So by not taking out the trash or doing any cleaning until the 5th day, you are actually accumulating wealth, or 聚财 (Jù Cái). Yes please!

No cleaning is allowed until the 5th day of Chinese New Year - Chinese New Year Superstition
No cleaning is allowed until the 5th day of Chinese New Year – Chinese New Year Superstition

Speaking of cleaning, you also should not wash any clothes on the first and second day of Chinese New Year.

It’s believed that the first two days of CNY are the celebrations for the birthday of Water God, 水神 (Shuǐ Shén). And doing your laundry might offend the deity.

So if you don’t want to risk catching bad luck as a result, better wait a few more days. What is there to complain?

When to Make Visits

Traditionally, the first day of the New Year is when we start to visit relatives to send them good wishes, or 拜年 (Bài Nián). For the kiddos, this is their annual chance to collect red packets from the adults. The visiting of the relatives usually start on the first day of CNY.

Visiting the homes of relatives is a tradition on Chinese New Year - Chinese New Year Superstition
Visiting the homes of relatives is a tradition on Chinese New Year – Chinese New Year Superstition

However, women are not allowed to visit the relatives until the second day. Women should especially avoid visiting their parent’s family 娘家 (Niáng Jiā) on the first, fourth, or the fifth days of the New Year. Doing so will bring bad fortune to their parent’s family.

Before you go knocking on the doors of your relatives, bear in mind that you should not make visits on the third day of Chinese New Year.

Because it’s the day of the Red Dog, or 赤狗日 (Chì Gǒu Rì). The Red Dog is the God of Blazing Wrath. Visiting on this day is believed to bring quarrel and fights.

To avoid the Red Dog and maintain harmony, the Chinese usually refrain from making visits to the relatives on the third day of the CNY.

Speaking of fights, avoid any arguments during Chinese New year, especially on the first day.

According to Chinese folk tale, the first day of CNY is when the deities makes visits to the families on Earth to delivery good wishes and lucks. If they hear arguments from a household, they will deem this family to be ill-mannered, undeserving of any good wishes, and leave with disdain.

The family would then miss out on their yearly portion of good luck from the deities. What a pity!

Not all CNY visits are created the same. While it’s perfectly okay to visit relatives in their homes, avoid visits to the hospital unless absolutely necessary; visits to the hospital during the CNY can bring illness for the year ahead.

You should also avoid taking medication if you can. Taking medicine on CNY can mean that you will be ill and be needing of medication for the entire year. Perhaps drink more hot water instead?

The Art of Gifting

Not all gifts are acceptable during Chinese New Year - Chinese New Year Superstitions
Not all gifts are acceptable during Chinese New Year – Chinese New Year Superstitions

Let’s say you decide to visit the relatives on the second day of the New Year, or 初二 (Chū èr) with the whole family. You’ve wrapped all the gifts with bright red gift wraps and stashed enough cash in the Red Envelopes for the children.

Do a last minute check to make sure you won’t inadvertently offend your relatives with an inappropriate gift.

You should avoid gifting clocks or watches, sandals, pears, umbrellas, mirrors, as well as things that are white and black.

Listen to our Podcast about gift giving culture in China

Because all of them either sound negative or have a negative omen. For example, clock, 钟 (Zhōng), sounds like the word 终 (Zhōng), which means the end.

So when you’re gifting someone a clock, it seems like you bidding them farewell from this earth, 送终 (Sòng  Zhōng). Another common gift you should avoid is pear, 梨 (Lí),which sounds like 离 (Lí),to separate. You certainly do not want to wish your relatives any kind of separation.

Avoid giving out red packets in odd numbers - Chinese New Year Superstition
Avoid giving out red packets in odd numbers – Chinese New Year Superstition

However, do educate yourself on local taboos. For example, in Mandarin, apple, 苹果 is pronounced Píng Guǒ. But in Shanghainese, it is Bīng Gu, which sounds like passed away from sickness. If you’re in Shanghai, best avoid gifting apples.

Most other fruits are general okay and some are favored for their auspicious sounding names.

For example, apple, 苹果 (Píng Guǒ), sounds like safety, sound and peace, or 平安 (Píng Ān); tangerine sounds like good luck, 吉 (Jí); orange, 橙 (Chéng), sounds like dreams come true, or 成 (Chéng) and peaches 桃 (Táo) stand for long life.

Check also the amount of money you put in the red packets. Generally speaking, all even numbers are acceptable, except those with the number 4 of course. Avoid giving out red packets in odd numbers.

Watch What You Say

Okay so you’re now at your relatives’ house. The spirit is high and everyone is sharing stories, laughing, cracking a joke or two occasionally. Be careful not to get too carried away with what you say.

While wishes are generally safe, you should avoid saying inauspicious, and negative words. Words like 破 (Pò),坏 (Huài),没 (Méi),死 (Sǐ),光 (Guāng),鬼 (Guǐ),杀 (Shā), 病 (Bìng),穷 (Qióng) etc. are taboos during Chinese New Year.

They certainly do not go with the festive occasion. Best to save that really good dark joke for next time.

Secret Learning Tool: Chinese Jokes Thumbnail

Secret Learning Tool: Chinese Jokes

Chinese Jokes: A Secret Learning Tool Can you really learn Mandarin through Chinese jokes? Sure you can Humour is a cross-cultural way to make friends and have a good time with the people around you. Unfortunately, it is often one…

Usually during these visits, multiple generations gather under one roof. Try your best to make sure the children don’t cry. Crying on CNY can bring back luck to the family.

Even if the child caused trouble, the adults should avoid reprimanding him/her to prevent he/she from crying and attracting bad luck to the family.

While at the relatives’ place, you suddenly remember that your cousin still hasn’t paid you back for the hot pot dinner last week.

Think twice before you ask him for your money back; because lending or borrowing money on CNY is bad luck for both of you, especially your cousin. Paying back debt on CNY will bring him economics losses all year. Let him celebrate in peace, you can ask him after the celebration is over.

You Are What You Eat

It’s finally dinner time.

The most important dinner in a year to the Chinese is without a doubt the reunion dinner, 年夜饭 (Nián Yè Fàn) on the eve of Chinese New Year.

Chinese families usually prepare a lot of food during CNY, because the abundance of food on the table signifies abundance in the New Year.

You will notice that most of the meat or seafood ingredients used for to prepare for dinner on Chinese New Year were killed a day or days in advance.

This is because no killing of animals is allowed on Chinese New Year.

Animals in Chinese: LTL's Ultimate 动物 Encyclopedia   Thumbnail

Animals in Chinese: LTL’s Ultimate 动物 Encyclopedia  

Learn the names of all the Animals in Chinese Do you know your animals in Chinese?! Well if you can’t answer yes with confidence you’re in the right place. FIND OUT FIRST – How to say these Animals in Chinese…

The Chinese consider killing and the sight of blood on CNY to be an ill omen.

It will bring bloody misfortunes such as a knife wound, car accident etc. To avoid them, all of the animals were killed beforehand.

Besides meat and seafood, other ingredients may also likely to be prepared ahead of time. This is to avoid using knives, scissors or other sharp objects in Chinese New Year. These things will cut your luck for the next year.

You will likely see fish being served often in the first few weeks of the Chinese New Year.

Fish is served during Chinese New Year for abundance - Chinese New Year Superstitions
Fish is served during Chinese New Year for abundance – Chinese New Year Superstitions

This is because fish, 鱼( (Yú), sounds similar to “left over”; and serving fish signifies the family will 年年有余 (Nián Nián Yǒu Yú), meaning having leftovers every year, which basically also means abundance.

However, don’t eat the head and the tail of the fish from the first till the fifth day of the Chinese New Year. You gotta leave some extra to have leftovers every year!

Another taboo on the dinner table is to avoid cutting 常年菜 (Cháng Nián Cài), which is a popular vegetable to serve during Chinese New Year because of its long stem and leaves, signifying longevity.

Cutting the vegetable will cut the length of your life. For the sake of living a long life, the Chinese always cook the vegetable whole for Chinese New Year.

Getting Ready for Bed

It’s been a long day. You are ready to take a hot shower then jump into bed. Not so fast.

You should not cut or wash your hair during Chinese New Year in order to preserve your wealth - Chinese New Year Superstitions
You should not cut or wash your hair during Chinese New Year in order to preserve your wealth – Chinese New Year Superstitions

You have been accumulating luck all day, showering might just wash all that luck away! In fact, you might want to skip your daily personal hygiene routine for today.

Chinese New Year - Become Wealthy

Not only are you not allowed to shower, you are also not allowed to wash your hair on Chinese New Year.

This is because hair, 发 (Fā) has the same pronunciation and character as ‘Fā ‘ in 发财 (Fā Cái), which means ‘to become wealthy’.

Washing your hair might wash away all your wealth.

On the same note, you should not cut your hair during Chinese New Year either; you don’t want to to cut your wealth! Hair cutting is taboo and forbidden until Lunar February 2, when all festivities are over.

What a day!

Despite all the taboos, you still had a great day with delicious food and fun times with the fam. Best all of, you might even managed to collect some red packets! Not a bad start to the lunar New Year!

New Year Resolutions in Chinese

So to finish, let’s teach you some popular and common New Year resolutions which we can all use to turn over a new leaf!

The beginning of a New Year is a time when, after days of excessive food intake and alcohol consumption, we turn our attentions on our true goals and life purpose with New Year resolutions.

Putting aside the fact they don’t have a good reputation and that we make them know they’re likely to fail, every year, the New Year inspires us to become better versions of ourselves…!

So let’s start our New Year by learning something new with our Top 10 list of New Year’s Resolutions in Mandarin!

  • What’s your New Year’s Resolution?
    • 你的新年新希望是什么呢?(Nǐ de xīnnián xīn xīwàng shì shénme ne?)
  • I hope this year I can
    • 我希望今年可以。。。 (Wǒ xīwàng jīnnián kěyǐ)
  • Lose weight – 减肥 (jiǎnféi)
  • Quit smoking – 戒烟 (jièyān)
  • Join a gym – 加入健身房会员 (jiārù jiànshēnfáng huìyuán)
  • Finish your studies – 完成学业 (wánchéng xuéyè)
  • Get a boyfriend or a girlfriend – 交男/女朋友 ( jiāo nán/nǚ péngyǒu)
  • Travel More – 多多出外旅游 (duōduō chūwài lǚyóu)
  • Stop eating junk food – 不要再吃垃圾食物 (bùyào zài chī lājī shíwù)
  • Spend less time on social media – 少花时间在社会媒体上 (shǎo huā shíjiān zài shèhuì méitǐ shàng)
  • Get a good (better) job – 找一个(更)好的工作 (Zhǎo yī fèn hǎo de gōngzuò)
  • Go to more concerts – 多听些音乐会 (duō tīng xiē yīnyuè huì)

Now that your New Year’s Resolutions list is ready to go, all that’s left to do is to pick one (or more) and stick with it.

We have a good feeling about the coming year, but if anything goes wrong with the pursuit of your goals, at least you will be able to say you know how to lie in Chinese!

We hope you enjoyed learning about Chinese New Year traditions, superstitions and resolutions with us today!

Want more from LTL?

If you wish to hear more from LTL Mandarin School why not join our mailing list. We give plenty of handy information on learning Chinese, useful apps to learn the language and everything going on at our LTL schools! Sign up below and become part of our ever growing community!

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HSK Online App Review https://ltl-school.com/hsk-online/ Tue, 03 Dec 2019 02:06:46 +0000 https://ltl-school.com/?p=26141 HSK Online App Review – The Complete Guide: To Download or Not To Download Time for another App review, this week the spotlight is on HSK Online. HSK Online is an app, as you’d expect, driven solely towards your HSK Exam success. However… DON’T STOP THERE – You DO NOT have to be studying the […]

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HSK Online App Review – The Complete Guide: To Download or Not To Download

Time for another App review, this week the spotlight is on HSK Online.

HSK Online is an app, as you’d expect, driven solely towards your HSK Exam success.

However…

HSK Levels - Let's help you pass HSK

DON’T STOP THERE – You DO NOT have to be studying the HSK Exam to benefit from this app. That said, if speaking or writing characters is more your thing, it’s probably best you don’t invest anymore time here and focus on some of our other app reviews.

ALSO – If you don’t know what the HSK Exam is, take a quick look at our complete guide. In a nutshell though, it’s the exam foreigners take to determine their level of Chinese. It’s also the only official one.

Where HSK Online immediately stand out is that there is simply no competition.

Despite the plethora of Chinese language learning apps on the market, no one seems to have sided with HSK based material.

So thus far, HSK Online has the monopoly of HSK language learners with their app. Nice start!

HSK Online Review – Chapter 1 : What Should I Know? Is it For Me?

HSK Online Review – Chapter 2 : How To Use It

HSK Online Review – Chapter 3 : Other Features

HSK Online Review – Chapter 4 : Should I Download?

Before getting stuck into the app we want to quickly share a little success story from one of our previous students, a German lady named Anthea.

Anthea came to LTL with no Chinese knowledge whatsoever, after a year, she pass the hardest HSK exam, HSK 6. This is no mean feat, in fact it’s quite a magnificent achievement. Check out her story here.

Anthea scored 201 out of 300, a score she admits to us she wants to improve in the future! Wow!

HSK Online App Review – What Should I Know? Is It For Me?

So as stated this app is solely driven towards the HSK but that does not mean you should only be using this app if HSK is your goal.

Take myself as a personal example:

I am a full-time worker in China, I have no desire, or need to take the HSK Exam, yet this is currently the app I use the most on a day to day basis (alongside Du Chinese).

WHY?

Because the HSK Online app helps me improve my vocabulary, which is perhaps one of my weakest areas, by my own personal admission. It also allows me to read passages of text which expose me to formal grammar/words.

Du Chinese - Rated and Reviewed Thumbnail

Du Chinese – Rated and Reviewed

Du Chinese Rated and Reviewed Review – The Definitive Guide to Du Chinese Du Chinese (which translates to Read Chinese) does exactly what it says on the tin. The app’s name is read Chinese and that’s exactly what you get….

So the key point to take here, is that you DO NOT have to be a “HSK-er” to take use and benefit from this app. I have broadened my knowledge on Hanzi and reading immensely by going through this app steadily, each day.

HSK Online App Review – How To Use It?

When you sign up and get going the HSK Online App is clearly laid out and allows you to focus on whatever area you chose which consist of:

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing (only for HSK 3 and higher)
  • Vocab Training
  • Past Exams
  • Mock Exams
  • Incorrect Answers

All these sections are relatively self-explanatory but nonetheless, I want to show you the features that are included.

Everything is driven towards the sorts of exercises you’d expect to come across in the HSK exam, with many questions from past papers or mock exams, so you immediately get a feel with what you are playing with.

Again, for myself, I just use this as a way to improve my listening, which it has done a lot using this as you become exposed to various key sentence structures.

Let’s break them down one by one

Listening

NOTE – The sections will depend on what level you are studying, in this article I am following my experiences in which I have used the app from HSK 3 onwards. For HSK 1 and 2 Listening includes True or False, Match dialogues with pictures, short dialogue questions and dialogue questions. All are relatively self-explanatory, so I will go on with the sections from HSK 4 and higher, as these are the sections I am familiar with

In the listening section (from HSK 4 onwards) you have a few sections you can practice which are:

  • True or False
  • Short Dialogue Questions
  • Dialogue Questions
  • Short Passage Questions

HSK Online – Listening Exercise (Short Dialogue Answers)

TRUE OR FALSE – Pretty simple section. You listen to a short dialogue and you have to decide whether the questions (stated at the end of the passage) are true or false.

SHORT DIALOGUE ANSWERS – These are short passages which you listen to, roughly 30 seconds long. You are given four options below and you have to select the correct answer.

A simple, quickfire way to improve you Chinese listening skills whether you wish to sit the HSK or not.

DIALOGUE QUESTIONS – Similar to the above but a slightly longer passage to listen to and anything between 1-2 questions to answer below.

The concept is the same as the above however.

SHORT PASSAGE QUESTIONS – Again exactly the same concept, but a slightly longer passage to digest and anything between 3-4 questions to answer.

It’s also worth noting that you can listen to the passages and questions as many times as you want but there is a time limit bar which appears at the tope of the screen.

USEFUL TIP – There is also an option to listen to questions and passages in a slower format if you hit the little tortoise button, useful if there are a couple of sections where they speak a little too fast for you.

As with all of the sections you get a breakdown on your score progress on the Listening home-screen.

It’s broken down with questions answered, how many of those are correct, your overall progress and overall time spent studying this section.

More useful metrics to find out where your weaknesses really lie.

ChineseSkill App - Rated and Reviewed Thumbnail

ChineseSkill App – Rated and Reviewed

ChineseSkill – A Chinese Learning App that passed us by ChineseSkill was an app that passed us by at LTL Mandarin School before, perhaps drawn to the bigger hitters like Duolingo and Hello Chinese. How wrong…

Reading

The Reading section is split into three parts also, these are:

HSK Online – Reading Homepage

  • Fill in the Gap
  • Arrange sentence order
  • Choose the right answer/sentence
  • Reading Comprehension

FILL IN THE GAP – A section I find very useful myself. You are given a list of 5 sentences and 5 answers, you have to match the correct sentence with the correct blank.

Often, you can solve this with trial and error if you aren’t 100% sure so it’s certainly worth making an educated guess if you don’t quite have it.

Remember, use radicals and try to figure out which character COULD be related to that sentence.

ARRANGE SENTENCE ORDER – Another very handy section which can really help with your grammar, because that’s what you need to know to succeed in this section.

A sentence (or two) is broken down into three sections, you have to put it in the right order.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT ANSWER/SENTENCE – The exercise will depend on what level you are studying but the concept is the same.

You read a short passage of text (longer the harder your level) and you have to select the answer that is most relevant to the text

READING COMPREHENSION – Same concept as the above, but longer passages and more questions to answer, again it will vary depending on your level.

Writing

As writing is not a part of the HSK 1 or 2 Exam this only applies from HSK 3 onwards.

As with every other section, it will depend on your level what the tasks are but you’ll come across:

HSK Online – Arrange Word Order

  • Arrange Word Order
  • Write the Character
  • Make Sentences according to the picture
  • Write Passage
  • Summarize the Text

ARRANGE WORD ORDER – You will be faced with a sentence broken down into lots of small chunks, your job is to rearrange it into the correct order.

If you get it wrong, you receive the analysis which is particularly useful for ironing out those mistakes.

WRITE THE CHARACTER – Only in HSK 3, this is quite useful to get used to stroke order and familiarising yourself with how characters are built.

In terms of the exam, if you are taking the computer exam, it doesn’t hold much benefit.

MAKE SENTENCES ACCORDING TO THE PICTURE – You are faced with a picture, or scenario, and your job is to write a short passage based on that picture.

It will tell you how many characters it expects you to write in each situation, and will depend on your level.

WRITE PASSAGE – You will be given some buzzwords, and you have to create a passage based around these words. Again, there is a number of minimum characters you should write, which is stated (for example in HSK 5 you should write 80 characters in total)

SUMMARIZE THE TEXT – Only in HSK 6, there is a long passage which you have to digest. After reading it, your job is to write a passage.

There are conditions which are listed in the exercise which tells you number of characters and roughly how many minutes you should spend on this section. Good luck!!

Vocab Training

MY FAVOURITE SECTION!

This is where I think this app excels the most because it is not just relevant to HSK, but anyone who wants to expand their vocabulary, which lets face it, should be all of us!

Each level of HSK has its own total number of characters you should know.

For example – HSK 4 requires about 600 words. The app breaks these down into lessons of 10 giving you roughly 60 bitesized lessons to go through.

In each lesson, you are faced with the new word, its pinyin, and an example sentence.

You can listen to the word spoken itself, and the whole sentence, which give you some context relating to the new word.

Also, below this, you will see examples of this word being used in an official test environment which is priceless practice, if you are preparing for the exam itself.

Once you’ve taken in those characters, you have to do a review at the end, which involves you filling in the missing gap, or remembering the translation, from 4 different options each time.

Learning Chinese on your Phone - Duolingo Review Thumbnail

Learning Chinese on your Phone – Duolingo Review

In our never ending quest for the best Chinese learning apps our journey takes us to Duolingo. One of the biggest names around in language learning. With most of our other apps we’ve reviewed, they specifically teach Chinese. Duolingo on…

Past Exams

HSK Online – Post exam Analysis

Excellent for helping you prepare for the HSK Exam. It’s often said with exams that the best way to get yourself prepared is to practice past papers over and over.

The same applies for HSK.

What better way is there honestly to prepare for an exam than getting stuck into the format and style of the paper itself.

No one wants to be surprised by the content or structure of an exam, so if you are close to taking an exam, or preparing for one, do yourself a favour and invest some time in these past papers.

A great benefit of this is you get your results immediately, and you can see exactly where you succeeded and where you perhaps struggled.

This way you know exactly what you need to improve on before the exam itself.

You can also dig into the analysis for every question you took and find out what the correct answer was if you were wrong.

Very useful practice indeed.

Mock Exams

Pretty much exactly the same as past exams.

Incorrect Answers

A useful section which collates all of the answers you have gotten wrong.

I recommend coming back to this often to iron out those weaker areas as this is where you will see the most personal improvement.

HSK Online App Review – Other Features

You can also test your current level of HSK which can give you a rough estimate on where you are at right now, if you are unsure. It’s always useful to know.

I also really like the analysis section after each exam you take.

You get a genuine idea where you need to improve and this is so key in exam situations. Focus on those sections and you’ll be flying.

From 0 to HSK 5 in a Year Thumbnail

From 0 to HSK 5 in a Year

How to Pass HSK 5 in a year – Karim’s Story I did not know a single word in Chinese when I first came to Beijing in July 2013 to study Mandarin. After finishing high school I decided to spend…

HSK Online App Review – Should I Download?

The app goes much further than just a HSK app.

Although it covers the exam extensively I’ve found it a very useful tool for improving my vocabulary, which, according to this app at least, is my weakest area.

You can never know too many words either, so I think it’s an app everyone can benefit from in truth.

If you wish to download HSK Online, visit this link.

OVERALL RATING – 8/10

HSK Online App – FAQ’s

Is HSK Online only useful for HSK Exam students?

You DO NOT have to be studying the HSK Exam to benefit from this app, however… if speaking or writing characters is more your thing, it’s probably best you don’t invest anymore time here and focus on some other apps.

Does HSK Online have past papers for me to practice?

Yes it does, it also boasts a number of mock exams with extensive post-exam analysis.

Can I book a HSK Exam through the app?

No you cannot. As we are an accredited HSK test centre, you can book through LTL Mandarin School.

Does HSK Online cover every character in the HSK?

Yes HSK Online has analysis on every character of the HSK from HSK 1 up to HSK 6.

Want more from LTL?

If you wish to hear more from LTL Mandarin School why not join our mailing list. We give plenty of handy information on learning Chinese, useful apps to learn the language and everything going on at our LTL schools! Sign up below and become part of our ever growing community!

The post HSK Online App Review appeared first on LTL School.

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Chinese Swear Words – Curse Words in Mandarin You Should Know https://ltl-school.com/chinese-swear-words/ https://ltl-school.com/chinese-swear-words/#comments Thu, 21 Nov 2019 00:00:00 +0000 https://school.ltl-beijing.com/?p=13517 Bad Words in Chinese – Let’s Learn Chinese! Here at LTL we strongly believe in the power of full immersion in China and, of course, when you’re learning a language, you don’t just need to learn how to talk about the weather and how to describe your outfit. You also need juicy content that will […]

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Bad Words in Chinese – Let’s Learn Chinese!

Here at LTL we strongly believe in the power of full immersion in China and, of course, when you’re learning a language, you don’t just need to learn how to talk about the weather and how to describe your outfit.

You also need juicy content that will make you feel an active listener and speaker… even when the conversation goes too far!

Chinese Swearing – Commonly Used

Chinese Swearing – Stupidity and Insanity

Chinese Swearing – Loose Sexual Morals

Chinese Swearing – FAQ’s

For example, if you hear someone say “patting a horse’s butt”, and you are left dumbfounded, we don’t blame you. But we (or Alex in this video) are here to help!

So because of this, we collected for you the most common swear words in Mandarin!

Is Learning Mandarin Hard? Thumbnail

Is Learning Mandarin Hard?

Four Reasons Why Learning Chinese is Not Difficult Is learning Mandarin Hard? – NO IT’S NOT! Starting to learn a new language can appear daunting. Especially when that language bares absolutely zero resemblance to your current language. For many people that…

Chinese Swear Words – Commonly Used

Here are some Chinese Swear words you’ll hear more than most others!

他妈的 (tā mā de) 

In a nutshell this is f*ck*ng sh!t in English!

The literal translation is “his mother’s.” Used day-to-day by most, you’ll hear this, even more so in the big cities

傻屄 (shǎ bī)

Swearing in Chinese - Be careful what you say!
Swearing in Chinese – Be careful what you say!

Calling someone a “stupid female reproduction system” is a very impolite way to describe a mean or disagreeable person.

This is one of the most commonly used curse words in China and it can be translated as “stupid c*nt”.

NOTE – If you go to a football match in China, be prepared for thousands of angry Chinese shouting 傻屄 (shǎ bī) when something goes against their side!

If the ref makes a bad call, why not join in yourself!? Might get some approving looks off some fellow angry locals and make a friend or two!!

If you like learning funny things about China, you should definitely check out our Chinglish blog too:

Chinese + English = Chinglish : You Must See To Believe Thumbnail

Chinese + English = Chinglish : You Must See To Believe

Chinglish – The Ones You Have to See to Believe The equation is simple : Chinese + English = Chinglish But what is Chinglish? Let’s get a dictionary definition: Chinglish – A Dictionary Definition In a nutshell it’s a form…

二百五 (Èr bǎi wǔ)

Quite a funny one this. It’s the number 250, but be careful, it has a darker meaning!

Calling someone “250” basically means they are stupid, useless, good for nothing, etc.

You’ll notice in China, the number 250 is avoided at all costs. No prices will be 250CNY for example. By simply using the phrase 二百五 (Èr bǎi wǔ) as a foreigner will probably see a few laughs from the locals!

Whilst we are on the topic of numbers…

肏你妈 (cào nǐ mā)

Not a particularly nice one, but then are any of these?!

This means “f*ck your mother”

Oddly, in English one of the worse insults you can give anyone is uttering the word c*nt, yet in Chinese 傻屄 (shǎ bī) is much lighter than this one.

Call someone a 傻屄 (shǎ bī) and it ain’t nice, but say 肏你妈 (cào nǐ mā), and you could start a riot!

APPROACH WITH CAUTION!!

Chinese Alphabet - What is it? Does it Exist? A Definitive Guide Thumbnail

Chinese Alphabet – What is it? Does it Exist? A Definitive Guide

The Ultimate Guide to the “Chinese Alphabet”  Chapter 1 – The History of Chinese Characters/AlphabetChapter 2 – How to learn the Chinese Alphabet?Chapter 3 – How logical is Chinese?Chapter 4 – “How many letters in the Chinese Alphabet?”Chapter 5 -…

贱女人 (jiàn nǚ rén)

This translates to b!tch and should be used with absolute caution.

Caught saying this in the wrong situation, and you could be in quite the situation yourself. Chinese girls can be known to get, let’s say, rather rowdy in public situations!

拍马屁 (pāi mǎ pì)

See the video above for some good real-life usage for this.

拍马屁 means to brown-nose or suck up to someone. The literal translation of patting a horses backside is a rather funny one.

See if you notice this in the workplace with any Chinese colleagues you may have.

Chinese Swear Words – Stupidity and Insanity

When you want to tell someone he’s not the smartest or he’s a little out of his mind it might be useful for you to learn these few expressions …

Chinese Swear Words - Learn How to Swear in Chinese
FIND OUT FIRST – Learn more Chinese Slang here

As you will see, a lot of negative meaning words consists of eggs in Chinese such as:

笨蛋 (bèn dàn)

Being a “stupid egg,” this term is used to call someone a fool, an idiot, a moron etc.

坏蛋 (huài dàn)

Being a “bad egg” This is adjective is usually used to call someone unscrupulous or with reference to a “bad person”.

混蛋 (hún dàn)

Means being a “mixed egg”. As you can probably guess, calling someone a “mixed egg” has something to do with his uncertain origin.

This word is, in fact, is used to call a person who is a b*stard, hoodlum or scoundrel.

变态 (biàn tài)

Pervert.

This word is used both to define someone really suffering from a mental illness, or to someone who has an ambiguous manner and an equivocal attitude.

DID YOU KNOW – You may often hear this as a level of spice at certain restaurants.

As you can imagine biǎn tài lā (which directly translate to pervertedly hot) means the hottest thing you could possibly ask for!

Chinese Swear Words - Who knows the alternate meaning to the word for Public Bus?
Chinese Swear Words – Who knows the alternate meaning to the word for Public Bus?

Chinese Swear Words – Loose Sexual Morals

打飞机 (dǎ fēi jī)

Literally translated this means “to hit the aeroplane”.

So how does that relate to a sexual swear word. Have a think…?

Yep, it means to masturbate! Makes sense now, right?!

小三 (xiǎo sān)

Literally “little three”, it refers to someone who’s being the third person/third wheel in a relationship, another name for a kept woman, mistress.

贱人 (jiàn rén) and 贱货 (jiàn huò)

Both of the expressions include the word 贱 Jiàn “cheap” and they refer to an easy woman or a cheap person. The former is followed by 人 rén “person”, the latter is followed by the word 货 “goods”.

小姐 (xiǎo jiě)

If you are in Taiwan and Hong Kong, you can call a young lady 小姐 “Miss”, but when in Mainland China, it would be better for you to just say “美女” pretty girl, because 小姐 became a synonym for “prostitute”.

卖豆腐 (mài dòu fu)

This has a funny literal translation that appears to make not much sense!

“Selling tofu” literally! It is used as a euphemism for prostitution.

If you are a veggie or a vegan in China, and you like Tofu, go steady when enquiring at local markets and restaurants!

吃豆腐 (chī dòu fu)

Stinky Tofu
Do you like eating Tofu? BE VERY CAREFUL!!

Another Tofu related swear word? Odd right?!

This literal translation is “eating tofu”

It is used to describe a man who is a pervert.

Be careful when asked by a Chinese friend 你喜欢吃豆腐吗? (Do you like eating Tofu?)… if they are a good/close friend they probably aren’t asking you what you think…! Note Tofu’s soft and rather bouncy like texture…

We’ll leave the rest to the imagination!

PSST – Want to learn how to read a Chinese menu in minutes?

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公共汽车 (gōng gòng qì chē)

As you probably already know, this word means “public bus”, but sometimes it can be used to someone who is easy to engage sexual activity on a regular basis, just like the English expression “village bicycle”.

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Bad Chinese Words – FAQ’s

Is 250 avoided in China?

Yes. 二百五 (Èr bǎi wǔ), despite meaning 250 (the number) is an insult in Chinese. Nothing will ever be priced up as 250CNY in Chinese.

Avoid it at all costs!

Does “eating tofu” have an alternate meaning?

Yes. It is used to describe a man who is a pervert.

Be careful when asked by a Chinese friend 你喜欢吃豆腐吗? (Do you like eating Tofu?)… if they are a good/close friend they probably aren’t asking you what you think…!

What is “brown nose” in Chinese

Brown nose in Chinese is 拍马屁 (pāi mǎ pì) which has a literal meaning of “patting the horses backside”.

Can I call someone a 小姐 in Mainland China?

Whereas in Taiwan and Hong Kong 小姐 (xiǎo jiě) is accepted (it’s meaning is little sister/young lady), in Mainland China this is an offensive term.

It would be better for you to just say “美女” pretty girl, because 小姐 became a synonym for “prostitute”.

Want more from LTL?

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Sign up below and become part of our ever growing community!

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4 Of The Best Chinese Novels You Must Discover https://ltl-school.com/chinese-novels/ Tue, 19 Nov 2019 07:56:12 +0000 https://ltl-school.com/?p=25809 The Best Chinese Novels – Chinese Literature You Must Discover When we speak of Chinese literature or Chinese novels we cannot help but refer to the great classics. … and there are many by the way! The great classics of Chinese literature are those that, in ancient China laid the foundations for the Modern Chinese […]

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The Best Chinese Novels – Chinese Literature You Must Discover

When we speak of Chinese literature or Chinese novels we cannot help but refer to the great classics.

… and there are many by the way!

The great classics of Chinese literature are those that, in ancient China laid the foundations for the Modern Chinese Culture.

So how can we not mention the Classical Chinese novels?

Today we want to introduce you to four of the best Chinese novels you can find. There are many to choose from, so hopefully our list makes your lives easier!

Chinese Literature Classic #1THE NOVEL OF THE THREE KINGDOMS 三国演义 Sānguó Yǎnyì

Chinese Literature Classic #2JOURNEY TO THE WEST – 西游记 Xī Yóu Jì

Chinese Literature Classic #3 – DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER – 红楼梦 Hónglóu Mèng

Chinese Literature Classic #4 – WATER MARGIN – 水浒传 Shuǐhǔ Zhuàn

For those of you who are not aware… the great classics actually have a grouped name which is known as the Four Great Classic Novels 四大名著.

In reality, however, two more can be added to them, thus forming the Six Classic Novels: Rulin Waishi and Jin Ping Mei.

Chengyu Stories: Why Does

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Chengyu Stories: Why does 马马虎虎 (mǎmǎhūhū) mean “so-so” in Mandarin? OK let’s reveal all… While studying Chinese, you will learn a lot of 4 character based idiomatic expressions, alluding to a story or historical quote. These set phrases are called 成语…

Let’s look at them a little more in detail…

THE NOVEL OF THE THREE KINGDOMS 三国演义 Sānguó Yǎnyì

Luo Guanzhong’s (罗贯中) novel beautifully narrates the events at the end of the Han Dynasty and immediately prior to the Three Kingdoms period in imperial China.

It discusses real events that occurred during the history of China in the historical moment called the “period of the three kingdoms” since the Chinese territory was divided between the kingdoms of Cao Wei, Shu Han and Wu.

In China, children read the novel a bit like they do with fairy tales, while politicians use it as a vademecum (a handbook or guide that is kept constantly at hand for consultation) for strategies and scholars as a stimulus to wisdom.

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The novel has had a great influence in Chinese literature and in society.

In the past, many of the anecdotes were represented in dramas and nowadays in TV series, films and video games.

If you are interested in the story told in this Chinese novel but think you are a little too lazy to read the book which is divided into 120 chapters (with about 800,000 characters) we recommend at least giving the film a watch to get an idea of this great story!!

MOVIES: Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon (2008) – The Red Cliff (2008)

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JOURNEY TO THE WEST – 西游记 Xī Yóu Jì

Journey to the West – Wu Cheng’en

This is Wu Cheng’en’s novel also knows as MONKEY.

It deals with the adventures of a rebellious monkey, the famous Sun Wukong, and his companions in search of the sacred scriptures, well known to the Chinese people.

As a reader, you find yourself holding a Chinese novel that surpasses thousands of pages.

Fairytale stories, which ignore the border between men and animals, and in which strange characters are meet every step.

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Many of the chapters have a protagonist. The monkey king Sun Wukong, was born from a mysterious golden egg, formed spontaneously from the top of a mountain.

A flash struck the egg giving life not only to the creature but also giving the start to a thousand adventures.

After declaring himself king of the monkeys, frightened that one day his happiness could end, he goes to meet a Sage.

The Sage will teach him the way that will make him immortal and endowed with enormous strength, plus the ability to fly on a cloud with his long magic stick.

Let’s talk about this great and important Chinese novel …. does it remind you of anything in particular?

THE MONKEY gave inspiration to many dramas, it has been represented in the Beijing Opera but not just that…

What comes to your mind if I mention the Dragon Ball?

The figure of the famous Son Goku or better said – Sun Wukong – comes right from here!?

MOVIES: Journey to the West (1986) – Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons (2013) – Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back (2017) – The Monkey King 1/2/3 (2014)

DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER – 红楼梦 Hónglóu Mèng

Cao Xueqin’s masterpiece revolves around the love story lived by Pao Yu.

The Chinese novel illustrates two important families in the capital (also sounds familiar, right)?!

A Chinese love novel, celebrated for its realism, psychological depth and the richness of the plot.

The novel tells a story of the history and decline of a rich and powerful family at the time of the Manchu imperial dynasty.

Among the topics include, the contrast between dream and reality, fiction and real life, appearance and truth, man and woman, femininity and masculinity, joy and pain.

Deep, huh?!

The novel is written in a lively and simple language, with some dialectal connotations and is actually very close to the modern spoken language.

MOVIES: Dream of the Red Chamber (1944) – A Dream of Red Mansions (1988) – The Dream of Red Mansions (2010)

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WATER MARGIN – 水浒传 Shuǐhǔ Zhuàn

Written by Shi Nai’an, this Chinese novel tells of how a band of 108 brigands from Mount Liang, rebels against justice until they succeed in challenging the emperor.

The Water Margin has many names, it is also known as Outlaws of The Marsh, Tale of the Marshes, All Men Are Brothers, Men of the Marshes or The Marshes of Mount Liang.

The story which is set in the Song dynasty, tells of how a group of 108 outlaws gather at Mount Liang.

Upon gathering they formed a large army before they are eventually granted amnesty by the government.

From here they are sent on campaigns to resist foreign invaders and also given the responsibility of suppressing rebel forces.

The Chinese novel has been widely credited for introducing readers to many of the best-known characters in Chinese literature. These names include Wu Song, Lin Chong and Lu Zhishen.

MOVIE: The Water Margin (1972) – All Men Are Brothers (2011) – Just Another Margin (2014)

These are the great classics of ancient Chinese literature … I advise you to give them a look to better understand the history and culture of China … and for other great classics, but more modern, I suggest you keep a further eye on our blog!

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If you wish to hear more from LTL Mandarin School why not join our mailing list. We give plenty of handy information on learning Chinese, useful apps to learn the language and everything going on at our LTL schools! Sign up below and become part of our ever-growing community!

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Chinese Alphabet – What is it? Does it Exist? A Definitive Guide https://ltl-school.com/chinese-alphabet/ Sun, 17 Nov 2019 10:00:00 +0000 https://ltl-school.com/?p=20755 The Ultimate Guide to the “Chinese Alphabet”  Chapter 1 – The History of Chinese Characters/AlphabetChapter 2 – How to learn the Chinese Alphabet?Chapter 3 – How logical is Chinese?Chapter 4 – “How many letters in the Chinese Alphabet?”Chapter 5 – Radicals in ChineseChapter 6 – The closest thing to a Chinese Alphabet – PinyinChapter 7 […]

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The Ultimate Guide to the “Chinese Alphabet” 

Chapter 1 – The History of Chinese Characters/Alphabet

Chapter 2 – How to learn the Chinese Alphabet?

Chapter 3 – How logical is Chinese?

Chapter 4 – “How many letters in the Chinese Alphabet?”

Chapter 5 – Radicals in Chinese

Chapter 6 – The closest thing to a Chinese Alphabet – Pinyin

Chapter 7 – More Examples of the Chinese Alphabet

Chapter 8 – The Top 10 Most Common Chinese Characters

Chapter 9 – THE EXPERTS: What they said

Chapter 10 – Further Reading?

Chapter 11 – What About Chinese Numbers?

Chapter 12 – Chinese Alphabet FAQ’s

OK first and foremost let’s set the record straight.

我 - Refers to I, my or me in Chinese
我 – Refers to I, my or me in Chinese

In English we have 26 letters in the alphabet, in Russian we have 33 in the Cyrillic alphabet, but…

There is no such thing as the Chinese Alphabet.

Chinese is all about characters and we don’t put them together like we do with letters in our alphabets to make a word because these characters actually make up words themselves.

Each character is one syllable. One character on its own can be a word, but many words are made up of two, three or even more characters put together. 

There is no Chinese Alphabet – just thousands upon thousands of characters. Some of the characters look remarkably similar also! Check it out below.

Before getting into the juicy stuff, it’s worth taking a step back and looking at the history of Chinese. After all, the country oozes history and culture and the Chinese characters and language plays a huge role in that.

Chapter 1 – The History of Chinese Characters/Chinese Alphabet

Chinese Characters - There is no Chinese Alphabet, but see how characters have evolved over time
Chinese Characters – There is no Chinese Alphabet, but see how characters have evolved over time

The Chinese language is one of the oldest in the world.

Unlike many languages, Chinese doesn’t have an alphabet and it’s not written as a series of letters, but rather as a series of pictures that have meaning and sounds.

DID YOU KNOW – Historians have found ancient Chinese alphabet writing script that dates back over 3000 years, however the modern writing script we recognize today, is around 2000 years old and was developed during the Han Dynasty.

Of course, like all languages, “Chinese alphabet” has evolved in the 2000 years since the ‘clerical script’ was first created.

The written characters have evolved into the written script for many different modern languages such as Cantonese (mother tongue in Hong Kong and Guangdong, China) and Kanji (Japanese characters).

Within mainland China these characters continued to develop until 1950 when simplified Mandarin characters were introduced to reduce China’s illiteracy rates.

These simplified characters are the most commonly used in China today, although the traditional characters are still used in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Chapter 2 – So if there is no Chinese Alphabet, how do we start learning Chinese?

Student Maggie shows off her Hanzi
Student Maggie shows off her Hanzi

Good question and the answer is simple (in theory anyway)… we start learning the characters from the very beginning.

As you start to take in your first 10, 20 Chinese characters you’ll start to realise these characters appear in many words, and some characters even have exactly the same sound.

How can that be?

Let’s try and explain without giving you too much of a 头疼 (tóu téng) that’s headache in Chinese by the way!

Let’s take the most basic Chinese character: 一 (Yī – this means one)

Great, we’ve learnt our first Chinese character. That means every time I see 一 it means that it’s one of something, right? Wrong.

As there is no Chinese alphabet, characters can be joined together to make another word. The saving grace is that this does follow a logic generally. Let us explain:

This is the character meaning common or general: 共 Gòng

So we’ve now learnt two Chinese characters but we are about to learn our third word, and that is simply by putting these two characters together to make…

 一共 (Yī Gòng)

Anyone take a guess at the meaning of 一共? It means altogether.

一共: The Chinese word for Altogether

Kind of logical. This is the case in point for pretty much all of your Chinese studies, you put characters together that you have already learnt to make new words.

So far we have learnt two characters but actually know a total of three words.

As you build your knowledge of Chinese characters you’ll see characters come together to make new vocabulary and you’ll get to the stage where you can make a strong educated guess as to what a word means even if you don’t know for sure.

Let’s try and give another example:

Two more new characters for you: 时 (Shí means time) and 区 (Qū means Area)

So we have two characters with their own meaning individually, time and area.

But what happens when we put these two characters together?

What could the word 时区 mean?

时区: Shí Qū means Time Zone

Time and area together, means time zone in Chinese. So, despite the lack of a physical Chinese alphabet there is a large element of consistent thinking when it comes to learning Mandarin.

The Complete Guide to Time in China Thumbnail

The Complete Guide to Time in China

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Chapter 3 – How logical can Chinese characters be?

It’s easy to stare at a Chinese article, newspaper or even a sentence and say “Nope, that language is not for me”, but hear us out.

Despite the enormous number of characters there are so many great examples of how clever the “Chinese alphabet” can be…

Computer - Learn Mandarin
Computer – Learn Mandarin

Let’s take the word for Electric – 电 diàn

Now let’s take these words:

  • Vision – 视 shì
  • Brain – 脑 nǎo
  • Shadow – 影 yǐng

OK, we’ve picked up four new words.

Now for each of these three words we are going to place the word for electric in front of it to make a new word, which you may be able to guess from the English literals

  • Electric + Vision = TV 电视 (diànshì)
  • Electric + Brain = Computer 电脑 (diànnǎo)
  • Electric + Shadow = Cinema 电影(diànyǐng)

It doesn’t really get much more rational than that! So although Chinese doesn’t have an alphabet where you put letters together to make words, instead they have a number of characters you do the same with.

Some words are made up of just one character, others from two or three (maybe even four or five in rarer cases).

There may be no Chinese Alphabet but learning Chinese can be easier than you think
There may be no Chinese Alphabet but learning Chinese can be easier than you think

Chapter 4 – “How many letters in the Chinese alphabet?”

This is a question many people ask before starting out their Chinese studies. If you’ve read this far you’ll know that this question doesn’t have an answer due to the lack of a Chinese alphabet.

Chinese Characters that look similar
Chinese Characters that look similar

That, however, doesn’t stop us getting stuck into some numbers to see how broad and in depth the Chinese language can go. Don’t let that put you off though…

To speak day to day Chinese you can cope quite comfortably with roughly 500-750 Chinese characters to your name.

  • 2,000 Chinese characters – the number you need to read a newspaper
  • 2,633 Chinese characters – the number of characters you should know to pass the HSK 6 exam
  • 8,000 Chinese characters – the number an educated Chinese person will know
  • 20,000 Chinese characters – the number a modern day Chinese dictionary would use

But how many Chinese characters are there in total? These numbers above are large but they seem minute when we quote you these two figures:

Let’s start with the Great Compendium of Chinese Characters, in Chinese the Hànyǔ dà zìdiǎn (汉语大字典). They quote that the number of existing Chinese characters is actually 54,648.

Hold on. We aren’t finished there!

The Dictionary of Chinese Variant Form, in Chinese the Zhōnghuá zì hǎi (中华字海) takes things to another level, however. This rather tame dictionary includes definitions for a mere 106,230 characters!

So if you are ever asked how many letters in the Chinese alphabet you can not only claim that question is factually incorrect, but you can fire some huge numbers at them, at get them well and truly intimidated!

Oh and whilst we are onto numbers, let’s quickly digress – check out this video on how easy it is to learn BIG Chinese Numbers!

back to the alphabet…

In terms of learning Chinese the numbers aren’t so daunting, let’s paint a picture…

There are 6 HSK Exams for foreigners. HSK 1 being the most basic, HSK 6 the most challenging. Here are the general requirements for each. You can find out more about the HSK Exam by visiting our dedicated HSK page.

HSK Level LTL Course Name Characters and Words Known Language Ability Upon Completion
HSK 1 A1 Characters – 178
Words – 150
Can understand and use familiar Chinese everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
HSK 2 A2 Characters – 349
Words – 300
Can understand sentences and frequently used Chinese expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
HSK 2-3 B1 Characters – 485
Words – 450
Can understand and express basic life topics clearly and understands sentence patterns, like forming a question, comparing things or describing objects.
HSK 3 B1+ Characters – 623
Words – 600
Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
HSK 4 B2 to B2++ Characters – 1071
Words – 1200
Can understand the main ideas of complex Chinese text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
HSK 5 C1 to C1+++ Characters – 1709
Words – 2500
Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer mandarin texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.
HSK 6 C2 to C2+++++ Characters – 2633
Words – 5000
Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources of Chinese language, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.

As you’ll see above – when it comes to learning Chinese, once you’ve got a few hundred under your belt, you’ll have a decent working day to day knowledge and that will increase steadily.

You’ll get used to seeing how the structure of the characters are built and gain clues from the strokes that are included and that leads us onto our next topic of discussion…

Chapter 5 – Radicals: What are radicals in Chinese?

Radicals are a great way to figure out what a character is if you aren’t quite familiar with it but before we get into that let’s give you the definition of a radical when it comes to studying Chinese characters:

This is taken from Wikipedia’s article about Chinese radicals

A Chinese radical (Chinese: 部首; pinyin: bùshǒu; literally: “section header”) is a graphical component of a Chinese character under which the character is traditionally listed in a Chinese dictionary. This component is often a semantic indicator (that is, an indicator of the meaning of the character), though in some cases the original semantic connection has become obscure, owing to changes in character meaning over time.

Let’s give you some examples:

The Water Radical

Here you’ll see three strokes. This is a radical in Chinese and it refers to Water.

This means that any character you see with these three strokes on the left side of the character has a relation in one way or another to water.

This is great because even if the character is unrecognisable to you, as you learn more and more you’ll understand that because the water radical is included you can narrow down the options on what the character might be.

Here are some examples of the water radical in action

  • Liquid: 液 – yè
  • River: 河 – hé
  • Foam or Bubble: 泡 – pào

So now you want to know how many radicals are there in the Chinese language, right?

In total there are 214 in the traditional Kangxi 康熙 radical system.

Some appear on the left side of a character, some on top, underneath, or on the right and some are much more frequently seen than others.

Some radicals aren’t quite as obvious or as clear as water (excuse the pun) but have some form of underlying meaning.

Here are some more examples of the more obvious radicals:

  • The radical for person is 亻(rén)
    • An example of that radical in action is the character 你 which means you (nǐ)
  • The radical for ice is 冫(bīng)
    • An example of that radical in action is the character 冻 which means freeze (dòng)
  • The radical for door is 门 (mén)
    • An example of that radical in action is the character 间 which means room (jiān)

LOOK AGAIN – Notice how the third radical 门 surrounds the character to make 间 rather than appearing on the left side. Radicals come in all shapes and size but can often give clues as to the meaning of the character upon first glance.

If you want to get to know more about radicals in Chinese, we’ve prepared this great starter guide for you.

Chapter 6 – The closest thing to a Chinese Alphabet – Introducing Pinyin

So although there isn’t a Chinese alphabet, the introduction of pinyin is a saving grace for foreigners learning to speak Chinese.

So what exactly is pinyin? Our old friend Wikipedia will help explain again:

Hanyu Pinyin (simplified Chinese: 汉语拼音), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The pinyin system was developed in the 1950s.

You’ll have noticed above each time we introduce a Chinese character there is a word next to it which tells us how to pronounce the character. That is in fact Pinyin.

  •  mén
  • 影 yǐng
  • 视 shì

The character is shown on the left and next to it is the Pinyin. This tells us how to pronounce the character along with the tone above. Chinese Tones is a whole other topic which we won’t get into now but we do have a handy Chinese Tones infographic and a video below on learning Chinese tones which will give you an introduction into the four Chinese tones used.

Words in Chinese are split into two parts of Pinyin, initials and finals.

As the names suggest, the initials are the first part of the word and the finals proceed them. For example:

  • fēn 分 can be split into initial (f) and final (ēn)
  • shuō 说 can be split into initial (sh) and final (uō)
  • shàng 上 can be split into initial (sh) and final (àng)

Every single word in Chinese will be made up of an initial and a final (with the tone showing on the final).

In total there are 21 initials and 37 finals.

Pinyin is a great way to ease a new Chinese language student into learning Mandarin. The first step will be to learn the tones and the sounds of the initials and finals. Before too long you’ll be able to read pinyin and then you’ll start to match the characters to the pinyin. Easy as that!

It’s worth noting some of the initials and finals have similars sounds to that of English but some do not. Certain sounds also sound very similar. This takes time and practice to understand.

Some examples of these are:

  • shàng (as in Shanghai) – the sound is as you’d expect and sounds as you’d expect to pronounce in English.
  • fēn – likewise above. The sound is as it looks in English.
  • C – This is one to be aware of. The C is actually a “ts” sound, very much like the latter part of the word “bits”
  • Q – Also one to watch. Q is pronounced with a “chee” like sound
  • Zh – A sound we aren’t used to seeing in English. The Zh sounds like a “J”, for example the Chinese word Zhang comes out almost exactly like “Jang”

So you’ll see, whereas some of the initials and finals will follow the pattern of sound in English, some certainly do not.

The best bit of advice to give here is get the English sounds out of your mind when learning Chinese. Easier said than done for sure, but don’t try and make it sound English, because in many instances it’ll make no sense to a native Chinese speaker!

Chapter 7 – The Chinese Alphabet: More Examples

Wade-Giles

The Wade Giles System - Chinese Alphabet
The Wade Giles System – Chinese Alphabet

Before the pinyin system came into common use in mainland China there were several systems used to write Mandarin phonetically. One of the main romanisation systems used was the Wade-Giles system.

It was initially developed by a British ambassador to China, Thomas Francis Wade.

He became the first professor of Chinese at Cambridge university and published his first textbook on Mandarin in 1867.

He created his own phonetic system for the pronunciation of Chinese characters. This system was then later polished by Herbert Allen Giles and his son Lion Giles, a British diplomat in China and a curator at the British museum respectively.

It logically became known as the Wade-Giles system.

This system shares some similarities with pinyin but there are significant variations with the pronunciation of consonants and vowels.

Today it has entirely been replaced by pinyin both inside of mainland China.

Though in Taiwan Wade-Giles is still used for some things such as geographical names. For example in pinyin Taipei is written instead as Táiběi (台北) and Kaohsuiung is Gāoxióng (高雄).

Zhuyin Fuhao/Bopofomo

Zhuyin fuhao (注音符號) also known as Bopofomo is another system mainly used for writing Taiwanese Mandarin phonetically. It uses 37 symbols and 4 tone marks to transcribe all of the sounds in mandarin.

The first four symbols are ‘bo’ ‘po’ ‘fo’ and  ‘mo’  (ㄅㄆㄇㄈ), which is where the alternative name comes from.

Bopomofo Zhuyin Fuhao

Unlike Pinyin and Wade-Giles Zhuyin Fuhao is an independent phonetic system; it doesn’t use Roman alphabet letters.

In some cases this is an advantage, as the symbols are not easily confused with other pronunciations.

The system was developed in the early 1900s during the Republic of China Era. A commission was led by a man named Wu Zhihui to unify Chinese pronunciation.

The symbols are based on Chinese philosopher and writer Zhang Binglin’s shorthand characters.

Zhuyin Fuhao is still used extensively in Taiwan, particularly in primary and middle schools to teach children the phonetic sounds. It is common to see it in textbooks alongside Chinese characters, as well as in dictionaries.

Ok so now we know all about Chinese characters, their history and variations of the Chinese alphabet let’s learn more about the most common Chinese characters…

Chapter 8 – The Top 10 Most Common Chinese Characters

Yes, learning written Chinese is largely about your ability to retain character knowledge but you’d be surprised how often the most common Chinese characters appear in day to day life.

Let’s go through the list of most popular Chinese characters one by one and give some examples of them in action. These appear in everyday Chinese everywhere you go

1st

de

(A grammatical particle) – Usage = 95.6

2nd

one or a little – Usage = 94.3

3rd

shì

to be – Usage = 93.0

4th

not – Usage = 91.8

5th

le

(a verb particle used for a change or completed action) – Usage = 90.7

6th

rén

person – Usage = 89.7

7th

I, my or me – Usage = 88.7

8th

zài

located at, at – Usage = 87.8

9th

yǒu

have, there is – Usage = 87.8

10th

he, him, his – Usage = 86.9

的 (de – A grammatical particle)

Introducing to you the most used character in the “Chinese alphabet”, 的. Funnily enough this word does not have a specific meaning or translation. “的” is one of three “de particles” in Chinese and is used to indicate possession.  Let’s show you some examples:

我的手机
wǒ de shǒujī
My mobile phone

我们的老师
wǒmen de lǎoshī
Our teacher

你的猫
nǐ de māo
Your cat

的 - The most used Chinese character of all
的 – The most used Chinese character of all

The “的” would also replace an apostrophe in English, “My Dad’s car” for example would translate to:

我爸爸的车
Wǒ bàba de chē
My Dad’s car

一 (yī – one or a little)

The Chinese character for the number one is the most simple of them all, written with just a single stroke.

The numbers two and three also follow a very similar logic (二, 三) making these three Chinese characters very simple to remember.

The character 一 has a number of meanings making it the second most popular Chinese character. These include first, best, once, only and so forth. Here are some examples of 一 in action:

Dì yī - Most common Chinese characters
Dì yī – Most common Chinese characters

一瓶牛奶
Yī píng niúnǎi
One bottle of milk

第一名
Dì yī míng
First place

我们看起来一样
Wǒmen kàn qǐlái yīyàng
We both look the same

As you can see there are many potential different uses for 一, hence why it is the second most used in Mandarin.

是 (shì – to be)

是 is generally used to link two nouns together and will be a character you see and hear every single day without fail.

The pinyin for shì is seen a lot so be careful when listening.

For example the pinyin for the number ten is Shí, with the rising tone. Be careful not to get these confused. There is a famous Chinese tongue twister that only includes the pinyin ‘shi’, which we wrote a blog about it not so far back. It’s worth a read!

是 links nouns - A useful point to remember when learning Chinese
是 links nouns – A useful point to remember when learning Chinese

我是学生。
Wǒ shì xuésheng
I am a student

你是老板吗?
Nǐ shì lǎobǎn ma?
Are you the boss?

你是英国人吗
Nǐ shì yīngguó rén ma?
Are you English?

A common mistake when learning Chinese many make is to use 是 to link a subject with an adjective. This is incorrect. As our graphic above illustrates, batman does not approve!

For example, to say I am English you use 是 to link I and English. To say I am happy you omit the 是 and instead you can say 我很开心. 我是开心 is incorrect.

不 (bù – not)

This is a negative and means either no or something/someone is not. It’s commonly found with the above character 是. Whereas 是 alone means something IS, 不是 means IS NOT. Here are some examples:

不 - The 4th most common Chinese character
不 – The 4th most common Chinese character

我是学生。
Wǒ shì xuésheng
I am a student

我不是学生。
Wǒ bù shì xuésheng
I am not a student

我是澳大利亚人
Wǒ shì àodàlìyǎ rén
I am Australian

我不是澳大利亚人
Wǒ bù shì àodàlìyǎ rén
I am not Australian

(le – A verb particle)

了 is a character that has given many foreigners a headache when trying to figure out exactly when and where to use it. There is no real equivalent in the English language but it has no need to be feared.

In a nutshell 了 is used to signify the completion of an activity or the change in a situation. As these are things that often come up in conversation 了 is rightly one of the more common characters in Mandarin.

There are many other grammar points regarding 了 but that’s for another day.

Download our Le Infographic here

了 - One of the most used characters you'll see when learning Mandarin
了 – One of the most used characters you’ll see when learning Mandarin

现在太晚了 。
Xiànzài tài wǎn le.
Now it’s too late

他太帅了 。
Tā tài shuài le.
He is very handsome

他买了一个新手机。
Tā mǎi le yī gè xīn shǒujī.
He bought a new mobile phone

我们看过了。
Wǒmen kàn guo le.
We have seen it (already)

人 (rén – person)

A nice simple character to remember which is a good thing considering it’s one of the most used characters in Chinese! 

人 refers to a person or people and has the resemblance of a person walking, which can be illustrated further by Chineasy’s simple but effective flashcard below.

人 - A simple Chinese character to learn
人 – A simple Chinese character to learn

三个人
Sān gè rén
Three people

别人
Bié rén
Other people

工人
Gōng rén
Worker

As you can see, the character is brought to life with Chineasy’s flashcard for the character 人.

We actually wrote a Tinycards app review not so long back. Tinycards uses a fairly similar way of learning to Chineasy (flashcards) and it’s worth a read if this is the sort of way you like to learn Chinese characters.

我 (wǒ – I, my or me)

A character that, considering its meaning, you might expect to be higher up the list. 我 refers to I, my or me but actually the character will also be seen when the plural is used. For example “we” translates to 我们 (Wǒmen) with the “men” referring to the plural.

我 - Refers to I, my or me in Chinese
我 – Refers to I, my or me in Chinese

我很好
Wǒ hěn hǎo
I am good

我们是意大利人
Wǒmen shì yìdàlì rén
We are Italian

我34岁
Wǒ 34 suì
I am 34 years old

我喜欢吃比萨
Wǒ xǐhuān chī bǐsà
I like to eat Pizza

我爱你
Wǒ ài nǐ

I love you

在 (zài – located at, at)

在 is a verb which is used to confirm the location or presence of something. It translates to “be in” or “be at”. It is different in the sense that English does not have a word directly related to this.

As with the above example, a common error when learning Chinese is to include 是 when using 在. This is not correct. For example saying 我是在上海 is not grammatically correct. Instead, see the examples below:

在- Number 8 on the most common Chinese character list
在- Number 8 on the most common Chinese character list

我在上海。
Wǒ zài Shànghǎi.
I’m in Shanghai.

他们在英国。
Tāmen zài Yīngguó.
They’re in England.

谁在楼上?
Shéi zài lóushàng?
Who is upstairs?

你住在哪里?
nǐ zhù zài nǎ lǐ
Where do you live?

有 (yǒu – have, there is)

有 is very commonly seen in Chinese and has many uses. The most basic of these is “to have”, therefore indicating possession. To turn 有 into a negative you simply add 没 (méi) before it. This 没有 translates to “don’t have”. Both examples, to have and not have are shown below:

有- Chinese character to state "you have"
有- Chinese character to state “you have”

今天你有课吗?
Jīntiān nǐ yǒu kè ma?
Do you have classes today?

我们有三个女儿 。
Wǒmen yǒu sān gè nǚ’ér.
We have three daughters.

我没有钱。
wǒ méi yǒu qián
I don’t have money.

日本有很多中国人。
Rìběn yǒu hěn duō Zhōngguó rén.
There are many Chinese people in Japan.

他 (tā – he, him, his)

The concept of tā is actually a great example of why learning Chinese is not so difficult.

Whereas in English we have separate words for him, her, he, she and it; Chinese uses the same pinyin (albeit a different male and female Hanzi).

This is a common reason as to why many Chinese people learning and speaking English get he and she mixed up when speaking.

他 is the hanzi for the male version (he, him, his) whereas 她 is the female equivalent.

Thankfully, there is no difference when speaking, you just need to recognise the difference when writing and reading. Here are some examples of how tā can be used in a sentence in Chinese. There is also a third, 它, which refers to “it”.

Learning Chinese with 他 tā
Learning Chinese with 他 tā

他们
tāmen
They

他几岁了
tā jĭ suì le
How old is he?

他的书
Tā de shū
His book

他上周去了上海
Tā shàng zhōu qùle shànghǎi
He went to Shanghai last week

If you want to get to know the most common 100 Chinese characters, check out our post!

Chapter 9 – THE EXPERTS: What they said

So we’ve covered a large number of aspects based on the Chinese Alphabet and Chinese Characters but what about the evidence? We’ve talked the talk, but can we walk the walk?

Luckily for you we’ve spoke to two fluent non-native Chinese speakers. Each have given their thoughts and tips on what it’s like to learn Chinese from the beginning and how to overcome those inevitable hurdles.

Simon from Omniglot

First up is SIMON AGER, who is the founder of the website omniglot.com

Simon has a BA in Modern Chinese and Japanese Studies from the University of Leeds, studied Japanese at Kansai University of Foreign Languages in Osaka, and modern and classical Chinese literature at National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei.

He currently runs Omnglot.com, an online encyclopedia of writing systems and languages.

He speaks Mandarin fluently, Japanese fairly well, and has a basic knowledge of Cantonese and Taiwanese. He also speaks a few other languages.

“I studied Chinese, and Japanese, at universities in the UK, Taiwan and Japan, so have some experience of learning Chinese characters. I learnt both simplified and traditional characters, as well as Japanese kanji. It took a lot of time and effort, but was interesting and rewarding, and helped my get jobs in Taiwan and the UK. I found that learning the correct stroke order and writing characters by hand many times helped them stick in my memory. I also used flash cards, and connected the shapes of the characters, and the thing they represent, with their sounds by making mental pictures. The more characters I learnt, the easier it became, as I could see the connections between them and recognise patterns.”

You can follow Simon’s Omniglot blog, YouTube account, Instagram page, and many more of his Social Media handles. Well worth a follow.

Should I Learn Simplified or Traditional Chinese? Thumbnail

Should I Learn Simplified or Traditional Chinese?

Simplified Chinese vs Traditional Chinese – What’s Best For Me? Thinking about learning Chinese?Confused between Simplified Chinese vs Traditional Chinese?No idea where to study? Don’t worry, you are in the same boat as virtually every Chinese learner at some stage!…

Lindsay from Lindsay does Languages

Lindsay Does Languages
Lindsay Does Languages

Next up we have language specialist Lindsay Williams who runs the website lindsaydoeslanguages.com.

Interestingly via her website she states that learning languages wasn’t a thing until she stumbled across GCSE Spanish in order to translate Shakira’s songs!

There’s a smart way to start learning a new language!

Lindsay does Languages started as a hobby and has grown into a full blown business where she teachers online as well as school groups and corporate groups.

Go Lindsay!

Lindsay kindly took time out of her busy schedule by contacting us and handing out this advice to our readers…

“When I’ve studied Chinese in the past, the characters always make for an interesting new layer to the language that you don’t get learning a language that uses a script you’re more familiar with. It might seem scary at first but when you change your mindset, treat it with a positive outlook, and find a way to learn and remember them that works for you, it’ll likely become one of your favourite things about learning Chinese!”

Olly from I Will Teach You A Language

Last but certainly not least we introduce to you, I Will Teach You A Language. This website a great online resource for learning languages run by Olly Richards.

We are delighted Olly reached out to us to give you, our valued readers, some further useful information when it comes to learning Chinese

“Learning to read Chinese is a big task, and it can be tempting to put off the task until later! In fact, I made that mistake myself in Japanese and Chinese, choosing to focus on speaking instead. Never again. If you truly wish to become fluent one day, you have to be literate in the language. And that starts with learning to read! When you can read, it unlocks an infinite amount of content, and that content will become your best teacher!”

If you wish to hear more from Olly (we’d recommend it!!) then give his YouTube and Instagram a lot. Lots of useful resources every week!

Chapter 10 – Further Reading?

Got a thirst for more? Can’t blame you! Chinese is a fascinating subject that knows no boundaries. Luckily our blog is the perfect place to cover endless topics relating to China. Here’s some more we think you’ll be interested in:

  • Learn Chinese on your Phone – There’s a tonne of mobile apps to learn Chinese these days but which are the best?
  • Dating in China – Chinese culture is deep as we’ve touch on above but it doesn’t just relate to education! What’s it like to date someone in China? Not what your used to that’s for sure!
  • Slang in China – Learning from the textbook is all good and well but what about those new phrases everyone seems to be using? Time to learn some alternate Chinese!
  • Chinese Proverbs – Get to know some great bites of wisdom from traditional Chinese culture, while picking up some interesting new Chinese words and phrases.
  • Chinese Menus – You learn some key characters relating to food and you think you are ready for the local Chinese restaurants, then BAM. 241089 characters you never knew existed! Follow our guide on how to become an expert when ordering from a purely Hanzi based menu.

chinese dating

We also have a great little free resource if you want to find out more from expert Chinese language speakers. Our free Learn Chinese PDF is available to download. Well worth heading over and saving a copy to your computer.

Chapter 11 – What About Chinese Numbers?

DID YOU KNOW – Numbers in Chinese likewise have their own characters.

We’ve provided another separate blog on Chinese Numbers, but we’ve also spent some time making some useful videos for you also to given you a quick guide to Chinese numbers!

Thank you so much for reading/watching!

Chapter 12 – Chinese Character FAQ’s

Is there a Chinese Alphabet?

No there isn’t. In English we learn the 26 letters, but in Chinese there is no alphabet. You learn the characters which make words. Words are made up of 1, 2 or 3 characters in most cases. Therefore, Chinese is very much about memorizing the characters. It gets easier as you go on!

How many Chinese Characters are there?

According to the Hànyǔ dà zìdiǎn (汉语大字典) they say the number of existing Chinese characters is actually 54,648. Don’t worry though, if you know anything around 2,500 you will be reading newspapers and magazines with absolutely no problem.
If you want to crank it up further, The Dictionary of Chinese Variant Form, Zhōnghuá zì hǎi (中华字海) includes definitions for a mere 106,230 characters.
A good start is to learn the most common 100 Chinese Characters. You’ll see these everywhere.

How many Chinese Characters should I learn?

A very broad question but let’s try and break it down for you. To read a book, magazine or newspaper you need to master over 2,000 Chinese characters. If you can read 1,000-1,500 you’ll be able to get the jist of the article/story but getting towards 2,000 and beyond will make your life much easier.
500 Chinese Characters – get the basics nailed
2,000 Chinese characters – the number you need to read a newspaper
2,633 Chinese characters – the number of characters you should know to pass the HSK 6 exam
8,000 Chinese characters – the number an educated Chinese person will know
20,000 Chinese characters – the number a modern day Chinese dictionary would use

Are some Chinese characters the same?

Yes some Chinese characters can have more than one meaning and be pronounced in different ways. Generally the context of the sentence gives this away. For example 行 (xíng or háng, hàng, héng, hèng) has different meanings and different pronunciations, but if you saw 银行 the first character gives the meaning away (bank).

Is there a specific stroke order to writing Chinese characters?

There are 11 basic strokes that make up all Chinese characters. Although learning to write Chinese today doesn’t hold the same weight as previous years, it’s still a useful skill to know when learning Chinese.
For example, using the wrong stroke order means the ink lands differently on the page, and can prove your character to be incorrect.

Are Simplified Characters and Traditional Characters all different?

Actually some are the same or have very subtle differences. It entirely depends on the character. Some are very different though and appear much more complex.

Should I learn Simplified or Traditional Mandarin?

It’s entirely up to you. It may also be dependant on your location. In mainland Chinese, it’s probably best to learn Simplified Chinese given that Simplified is far more common.
That said, a visit to Taiwan might mean it’s a better move to take up Traditional Chinese due to the fact Taiwan uses solely traditional characters.

Want more from LTL?

If you wish to hear more from LTL Mandarin School why not join our mailing list. We give plenty of handy information on learning Chinese, useful apps to learn the language and everything going on at our LTL schools! Sign up below and become part of our ever growing community!

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Christmas in China – Do Chinese People Celebrate Christmas? https://ltl-school.com/christmas-in-china/ https://ltl-school.com/christmas-in-china/#comments Sun, 10 Nov 2019 01:00:38 +0000 https://ltl-school.com/?p=14921 Christmas in China – The Complete Guide to Chinese Christmas + Christmas Vocabulary The question on your lips… Do Chinese people celebrate Christmas? A few years ago, the answer to this question was a definite no, but in the last few years, probably due to its consumerist vocation, Christmas in China has become as popular […]

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Christmas in China – The Complete Guide to Chinese Christmas + Christmas Vocabulary

The question on your lips… Do Chinese people celebrate Christmas?

A few years ago, the answer to this question was a definite no, but in the last few years, probably due to its consumerist vocation, Christmas in China has become as popular as Halloween in China!

Christmas in China – How to say Merry Christmas in Chinese

Christmas in China – Why celebrate it?

Christmas in China – The build-up

Christmas in China – The Vocab

Christmas in China – The Carols



Episode 5 of the LTL Podcast.

In this week we talk about what it’s like in China during Christmas.

How to say Merry Christmas in Chinese?

Before getting stuck into stories of Christmas in China it’s probably a good idea to teach you some useful Christmas vocabulary in Chinese…

So, here is our selection of 10 Unique Ways to Wish A Merry Christmas in Chinese you can use for your family and friends.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
圣诞快乐,恭贺新禧!
Shèngdàn kuàilè, gōnghè xīnxǐ!

Merry Christmas in Cinese

Wishing you and your family a very merry Christmas.
祝福你及全家圣诞快乐。
Zhùfú nín jí quánjiā shèngdàn kuàilè.

Wishing you peace, joy, and happiness through Christmas and the coming year.
在圣诞和新年来临之际,祝福你平安、快乐、幸福!
Zài shèngdàn hé xīnnián láilín zhī jì, zhùfú nǐ píng’ān, kuàilè, xìngfú!

May you have the best Christmas ever.
愿你度过最美好的圣诞节!
Yuàn nǐ dùguò zuì měihǎo de shèngdàn jié!

May the joy of Christmas be with you throughout the year.
愿圣诞的快乐一年四季常在。
Yuàn shèngdàn de kuàilè yī nián sìjì cháng zài.

Merry Christmas in Cinese

Christmas time is here. I hope you have a wonderful New Year. May you always be happy!
圣诞来临,祝新年快乐,愿你时时刻刻幸福欢乐!
Shèngdàn láilín, zhù xīnnián kuàilè, yuàn nǐ shí shíkè kè xìngfú huānlè!

Warm greetings and best wishes for happiness and good luck in the coming year.
衷心祝福来年快乐、幸运!
Zhōngxīn zhùfú láinián kuàilè, xìngyùn!

How Do You Say Happy New Year in Chinese? Thumbnail

How Do You Say Happy New Year in Chinese?

Happy New Year in Chinese: The Many Ways of Wishing Your Friends a Happy Spring Festival How do say Happy New Year in Chinese? That time of the Lunar Year has rolled around again, and we’re about to step out…

May the beauty and joy of Christmas remain with you throughout the new year!
愿圣诞美景与欢乐常伴随你!
Yuàn shèngdàn měijǐng yǔ huānlè cháng bànsuí nǐ!

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year full of surprises
祝圣诞平安,新年中有意想不到的收获!
Zhù shèngdàn píng’ān, xīnnián zhōng yǒuyì xiǎngbùdào de shōuhuò!

May your Christmas be full of warmth, peace, and the joy of being reunited with your loved ones.
愿你的圣诞充满温馨,祥和,与亲人团聚的快乐,祝圣诞乐陶陶,新年乐无限。
Yuàn nǐ de shèngdàn chōngmǎn wēnxīn, xiánghé, yǔ qīnrén tuánjù de kuàilè, zhù shèngdàn lè táotáo, xīnnián lè wúxiàn.

Great – some really useful sentences there to wish your Chinese friends a Merry Christmas in Chinese. Now let’s move onto Christmas in China, and what it’s all about.

Why celebrate Christmas in China?

Obviously, the people who celebrate Christmas in China has nothing to do with whether they are religious or not, in most instances anyway.

It is in fact seen as another great opportunity for celebrations and shopping time coming from western capitalism.

It’s obviously a huge opportunity for high street retailers to take advantage of the generosity of people around this time of year, and they’d be foolish not to jump on board.

Christmas in China - Christmas lights in Chaoyang, Beijing
Christmas in China – Christmas lights in Chaoyang, Beijing

Therefore, for people living in China’s biggest cities, it has become more frequent to come across huge Christmas trees and Christmas fairs.

A decade or two ago this certainly wouldn’t have been the case even in Beijing or Shanghai.

Also seeing a western Santa Claus giving presents to Chinese kids while parents taste the typical food people eat in the West for Christmas has become a a very familiar scene in these kind of events.

As each year goes on this becomes more and more common even if the religious element of the festival doesn’t apply to many in China.

Conversely, life is harder for the ones that really want to celebrate Christmas in China as a religious holiday.

Chinese Holidays Explained - How Do Chinese Public Holidays Work? Thumbnail

Chinese Holidays Explained – How Do Chinese Public Holidays Work?

Chinese Holidays: Chinese Public Holidays 2019/2020 Happy Spring Festival in Chinese: 春节快乐 Chinese National Holidays can be very complicated and unpredictable, since a lot of them depend on the dates of the Lunar calendar which changes every year. There are…

In the last years, according to the Associated Press, “many Christians say their faith has been singled out because authorities, wary of its rapid growth, are seeking to curb its spread in a campaign that has targeted China’s most thriving Christian communities”.

These kind of actions have been particularly harsh towards believers of Zhejiang province.

Zhejiang, in effect, has one of the largest Protestant populations of China and it seems that Government authorities are worried about the “possibility that Christians may rival in size the 85 million members of the ruling Communist Party”.

The build up to Christmas in China

Here’s the deal:

Despite the obstacles and difficulties, this magical holiday with its lights, colours and gifts attracts a lot of Chinese people that take part to Christmas themed events more than westerners do.

Impressive and picturesque displays of lights can be seen outside pretty much every large shopping mall in China’s major cities, sometimes up to a month before Christmas Day itself.

Turkey - Christmas Vocabulary in Mandarin
Find out more Christmas Vocab in Chinese with our Blog about Christmas Words in Mandarin

From a western point of view, seeing Chinese people getting closer to Christmas traditions is like watching Jack Skeleton from The Nightmare Before Christmas trying to introduce the mysterious and attractive holiday in “Halloween Town”.

Just as all the characters in the movie, when Chinese people see Christmas trees, sparkling lights and shining bows, they seem to wonder “What’s this, what’s this?!”.

Unable to resist the lure of the atmosphere, they are magnetically attracted to it.

Merry Christmas in Chinese – Chinese Christmas Vocabulary

Hoping that the consequences of this unnatural introduction of the holiday will not be negative as the ones in Burton’s movie, I leave wishing you a Merry Christmas in Mandarin 圣诞节快乐 (Shèngdàn jié kuàilè), not forgetting a Happy New Year 新年快乐 (Xīnnián kuàilè) also!

Chinese Christmas Vocabulary

We have decided to give you some new Chinese Christmas vocabulary.

It’ll be perfect for making conversation around the dinner table, especially if you’re planning on spending your holiday here in China with Chinese friends or a host family.

You’ll be able to talk about your own traditions in Chinese and help your Chinese friends to learn about Christmas.

First and foremost, let’s learn some of the most important phrases!

How to say Merry Christmas in Chinese?

Merry Christmas in Chinese
Merry Christmas in Chinese

Why are you here?

Of course, you want to know how to wish someone a Merry Christmas, so here it is:

We wish you a Merry Christmas
Wǒmen zhù nǐ shèngdàn kuàilè (我们祝你圣诞快乐).

The literal breakdown of this sentence is:

We Wish You Christmas Happy

Not so difficult to remember. Make sure to memorize these two characters 圣诞 (shèngdàn) “Holy + birth”, cause they are often used in Christmas related expressions.

NOTE – You can use the Wǒmen zhù nǐ for most happy occasions (although note this is the plural form).

How to say Happy New Year in Chinese?

Happy New Year in Chinese
Happy New Year in Chinese

So, Christmas has passed and it’s a week later, we enter a New Year so what do you say?

Happy New Year!
Xīnnián kuàilè! (新年快乐)

Remember, if you want to add “We wish you” before, then just add Wǒmen zhù nǐ before.

Despite the fact the Chinese New Year is celebrated at a different time, the turn of the New Year is still widely celebrated in China and you’ll be hard pressed to avoid any parties or get togethers.

TAKE CARE – You’ll also notice the structure is quite easy to remember. Just be aware the HAPPY part of the phrase (kuàilè) goes on the end of the phrase, not at the start like in English.

Chinese Christmas Traditions

OK, time for the best of the rest, and there’s plenty of them too.

Christmas Present - Chinese Christmas Words
Christmas Present – Chinese Christmas Words

Christmas Day – Shèngdàn jié (圣诞节)

Presents – Lǐwù (礼物)

Present Exchange – lǐwù jiāohuàn (礼物交换)

Advent Calendar – Jiànglín jié rìlì (降临节日历)

Christmas Carols –Shèngdàn sònggē (圣诞颂歌)

Snowman – Xuěrén (雪人)

Christmas Card – Shèngdàn hèkǎ (圣诞贺卡)

Chinese Gift Giving Etiquette: Top 5 Must Follow Rules Thumbnail

Chinese Gift Giving Etiquette: Top 5 Must Follow Rules

Chinese Gift Giving Etiquette – What to do, what to avoid Regarding Chinese Gift Giving… these pointers are seriously important! As a country with a millenary history, China boasts an ancient culture largely based on respect, relationships, and rituals which maintain…

Christmas Tree in Chinese and more Decorations!

Christmas Tree in Chinese and more!
Mistletoe in Chinese

Christmas Tree – Shèngdànshù (圣诞树)

Tinsel – Shèngdàn zhuāngshì pǐn (圣诞装饰品)

Christmas Lights – Shèngdàn dēngshì (圣诞灯饰)

Christmas Wreath – Shèngdàn huāhuán (圣诞花环)

Baubles – Shèngdàn cǎi qiú (圣诞彩球)

Mistletoe –Hú jìshēng (槲寄生)

Snowflake – Xuěhuā (雪花)

Chinese Christmas Food

Champagne - Christmas Words in Chinese
Champagne – Christmas Words in Chinese

Turkey –Huǒ jī (火鸡)

Panettone – Yìdàlì jiérì gāodiǎn (意大利节日糕点)

Nougat – Niú gá táng (牛轧糖)

Mulled Wine – Rè pútáojiǔ (热葡萄酒)

Champagne – Xiāngbīnjiǔ (香槟酒)

Christmas Crackers – Shèngdàn lā pào (圣诞拉炮)

Christmas Pudding – Shèngdàn bùdīng (圣诞布丁)

Chinese Christmas Story

The Chinese Christmas Story
The Chinese Christmas Story – Nativity

Nativity – Yēsū dànshēng (耶稣诞生)

Crib – Tóng chuáng (童床)

The three wise men – Sān wèi zhìzhě (三位智者)

Frankincense – Rǔxiāng (乳香)

Gold – Jīn (金)

Myrrh – Mò yào (没药)

Donkey – Lǘzi (驴子)

Ox – Niú (牛)

Santa in Chinese

Santa in Chinese and his Reindeer
Santa in Chinese and his Reindeer

Father Christmas / Santa Claus –Shèngdàn lǎorén (圣诞老人 literally ‘Christmas Old Man’)

Chimney / Yāncōng  (烟囱)

Stockings – Cháng tǒng wà (长筒袜)

Reindeer – Xùnlù (驯鹿)

Elfs – Jīnglíng (精灵)

Toys – wánjù (玩具)

Santa’s Workshop – shèngdàn lǎorén gōngchǎng (圣诞老人工厂)

Lapland – Lā pǔlán (拉普兰)

Sleigh –Xuěqiāo (雪橇)

Christmas Song in Chinese

In the spirit of Christmas, here is a (very simple) Shèngdàn sònggē just for you.

Christmas time is all about spreading happiness and good wishes so if there is one thing that you remember from this blog, it should be ‘shèngdàn kuàilè‘, which means Merry Christmas. Enjoy the festivities, from all of us at LTL!

Turkey - Christmas Vocabulary in Mandarin
Turkey – Christmas Vocabulary in Mandarin

We wish you a Merry Christmas
Wǒmen zhù nǐ shèngdàn kuàilè (我们祝你圣诞快乐)

We wish you a Merry Christmas
Wǒmen zhù nǐ shèngdàn kuàilè (我们祝你圣诞快乐)

We wish you a Merry Christmas
Wǒmen zhù nǐ shèngdàn kuàilè (我们祝你圣诞快乐)

And a happy New Year!
Xīnnián kuàilè! (新年快乐)

Good tidings we bring
Wǒmen dài láile hǎo xiāoxī (我们带来了好消息)

To you and your kin
Gěi nǐ hé nǐ de jiārén (给你和你的家人)

We wish you a Merry Christmas
Wǒmen zhù nǐ shèngdàn kuàilè (我们祝你圣诞快乐)

And a happy New Year!
Xīnnián kuàilè! (新年快乐)

Let’s Learn some Christmas Carols in Chinese

So we know about Christmas in China and the vocab, now let’s learn how to sing some Christmas songs…

Santa Claus is Coming to Town in Chinese – 圣诞老人进城了

嘿 小朋友 你不要怕, 圣诞老人进城了
Hēi xiǎopéngyǒu nǐ bùyào pà, shèngdàn lǎorén jìn chéngle

带来礼物带来欢笑, 分送给小朋友
dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào, fēn sòng gěi xiǎopéngyǒu

看谁是乖宝宝, 礼物给他一大包 礼物给他一大包
kàn shéi shì guāi bǎobǎo, lǐwù gěi tā yī dà bāo lǐwù gěi tā yī dà bāo

嘿 小朋友 你不要怕, 圣诞老人进城了
hēi xiǎopéngyǒu nǐ bùyào pà, shèngdàn lǎorén jìn chéngle

带来礼物带来欢笑.
dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào.

嘿 小朋友 你不要怕, 圣诞老人进城了
hēi xiǎopéngyǒu nǐ bùyào pà, shèngdàn lǎorén jìn chéngle

Santa Claus in Chinese
Santa Claus in Chinese

带来礼物带来欢笑, 分送给小朋友
dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào, fēn sòng gěi xiǎopéngyǒu

看谁是乖宝宝, 礼物给他一大包 礼物给他一大包
kàn shéi shì guāi bǎobǎo, lǐwù gěi tā yī dà bāo lǐwù gěi tā yī dà bāo

嘿 小朋友 你不要怕, 圣诞老人进城了
hēi xiǎopéngyǒu nǐ bùyào pà, shèngdàn lǎorén jìn chéngle

带来礼物带来欢笑.
dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào.

嘿 小朋友 你不要怕, 圣诞老人进城了
hēi xiǎopéngyǒu nǐ bùyào pà, shèngdàn lǎorén jìn chéngle

带来礼物带来欢笑, 带来礼物带来欢笑
dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào, dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào

带来礼物带来欢笑, 带来礼物带来欢笑
dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào, dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào

带来礼物带来欢笑, 分送给小朋友
dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào, fēn sòng gěi xiǎopéngyǒu

看谁是乖宝宝, 礼物给他一大包 礼物给他一大包
kàn shéi shì guāi bǎobǎo, lǐwù gěi tā yī dà bāo lǐwù gěi tā yī dà bāo

嘿 小朋友 你不要怕, 圣诞老人进城了
hēi xiǎopéngyǒu nǐ bùyào pà, shèngdàn lǎorén jìn chéngle

带来礼物带来欢笑.
dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào.

嘿 小朋友 你不要怕, 圣诞老人进城了
hēi xiǎopéngyǒu nǐ bùyào pà, shèngdàn lǎorén jìn chéngle

带来礼物带来欢笑, 带来礼物带来欢笑
dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào, dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào

带来礼物带来欢笑, 带来礼物带来欢笑
dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào, dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào

Silent Night in Chinese – 平安夜

平安夜, 圣善夜! 万暗中, 光华射,
Píng’ān yè, shèng shàn yè! Wàn ànzhōng, guānghuá shè,

照着圣母, 照着圣嬰, 多少慈祥, 多少天真,
zhàozhe shèngmǔ, zhàozhe shèng yīng, duōshǎo cíxiáng, duōshǎo tiānzhēn,

静享天赐安眠, 静享天赐安眠.
jìng xiǎng tiāncì ānmián, jìng xiǎng tiāncì ānmián.

平安夜, 圣善夜, 牧羊人, 在旷野
Píng’ān yè, shèng shàn yè, mùyáng rén, zài kuàngyě,

忽然看见了天上光华, 听见天军唱哈利路亚
hūrán kànjiànle tiānshàng guānghuá, tīngjiàn tiān jūn chàng hā lì lù yà,

Silent Night in Chinese
Silent Night in Chinese

救主今夜降生, 救主今夜降生! 平安夜, 圣善夜!
jiù zhǔ jīnyè jiàngshēng, jiù zhǔ jīnyè jiàngshēng! Píng’ān yè, shèng shàn yè!

神子爱, 光皎洁, 救赎宏恩的黎明来到
Shénzi ài, guāng jiǎojié, jiùshú hóng ēn dí límíng lái dào,

圣容发出来荣光普照, 耶稣我主降生, 耶稣我主降生!
shèng róng fà chūlái róngguāng pǔzhào, yēsū wǒ zhǔ jiàngshēng, yēsū wǒ zhǔ jiàngshēng!

Jingle Bells in Chinese – 铃儿响叮当 

叮叮当叮叮当铃儿响叮当,
Dīng dīng dāng dīng dīng dāng líng ér xiǎng dīng dāng

我们滑雪多快乐我们坐在雪橇上
Wǒmen huá xuě duō kuài lè wǒmen zuò zài xuě qiāo shàng

冲过大风雪, ,
Chōng guò dà fēng xuě ,

他们坐在雪橇上
tāmen zuò zài xuěqiāo shàng

奔驰过田野,
bēn chí guò tiányě,

欢笑又歌唱
huān xiào yòu gē chàng.

铃声响叮当
Língshēng xiǎng dīngdāng

Jingle Bells in Chinese
Jingle Bells in Chinese

你的精神多欢畅
nǐ de jīngshén duō huānchàng

今晚滑雪真快乐把滑雪歌儿唱, 嘿
Jīn wǎn huá xuě zhēn kuàilè,bǎ huá xuě gē ér chàng – hēi.

叮叮当叮叮当铃儿响叮当,
Dīng dīng dāng dīng dīng dāng líng ér xiǎng dīng dāng

我们滑雪多快乐我们坐在雪橇上
Wǒmen huá xuě duō kuài lè wǒ men zuò zài xuě qiāo shàng

在一两天之前
Zài yī liǎng tiān zhī qián

大雪出外去游荡
dà xuě chū wài qù yóu dàng

打扮美丽小姑娘,她坐在我身旁
dǎbàn měilì xiǎo gūniang ,tā zuò zài wǒ shēnpáng .

那马儿瘦又老
Nà mǎ ér shòu yòu lǎo

它的命运多灾难
tā de mìngyùn duō zāinán

Christmas Carols in Chinese

把雪橇装进你旁边害的我们遭了殃
bǎ xuěqiāo zhuāng jìn nǐ pángbian hài de wǒmen zāo le yāng.

叮叮当叮叮当铃儿响叮当
Dīng dīng dāng dīng dīng dāng líng ér xiǎng dīng dāng

我们滑雪多快乐我们坐在雪橇上
Wǒmen huá xuě duō kuài lè wǒ men zuò zài xuě qiāo shàng

那里白雪闪银光
Nàlǐ báixuě shǎn yínguāng

趁着年轻好时光
chèn zhe niánqīng hǎo shíguāng

带着心爱的姑娘 把滑雪歌儿唱
dài zhe xīnài de gūniang bǎ huá xuě gē ér chàng

她有一匹栗色马
Tā yǒu yī pǐ lìsè mǎ

它一日行千里
tā yī rì xíng qiān lǐ

我们把它套在雪橇上,就飞奔向前方
wǒmen bǎ tā tào zài xuěqiāo shàng jiù fēi bēn xiàng qián fāng.

叮叮当叮叮当铃儿响叮当,
Dīng dīng dāng dīng dīng dāng líng ér xiǎng dīng dāng

我们滑雪多快乐我们坐在雪橇上
Wǒ men huá xuě duō kuài lè wǒ men zuò zài xuě qiāo shàng

叮叮当 嘿
Dīng dīng dāng – hēi

There we have it, a complete guide to Christmas in China. Songs, vocabulary and everything else in between!

Now you know about Christmas in China, do you have anymore questions? What about any experiences of your own?

Share them below in our comment section!

Christmas in China – FAQ’s

Do Chinese people celebrate Christmas?

A few years ago, the answer to this question was a definite no, but in the last few years, probably due to its consumerist vocation, Christmas in China has become as popular as Halloween in China!

Is December 25th a working day in China?

Yes it is.

If I work as an English teacher in China, do I get Christmas Day off?

Christmas Day is, in theory, just another day in China, but it will depend on your situation. Are you are a private learning centre (if so then you will probably be working), or at a public school with set holidays (if so then you are probably off).

Do you notice it’s Christmas in China?

It would depend on the size of the city. Any cities outside the top tiered ones, probably not.

However, despite the obstacles and difficulties, this magical holiday with its lights, colours and gifts attracts a lot of Chinese people that take part in Christmas themed events more than westerners do. Consumerism and a fascination with western culture therefore means the bigger cities show off big Christmas trees and lights moreso than ever before.

How do you say Merry Christmas in Chinese?

Merry Christmas in Mandarin 圣诞节快乐 (Shèngdàn jié kuàilè).

How do you say Christmas Day in Chinese?

Christmas Day in Chinese is Shèngdàn jié (圣诞节)

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