You can Learn Chinese, a podcast by Jared Turner and John Pasden of Mandarin Companion. Hear Chinese learning experts discuss how to learn Mandarin!
Games for learning Chinese
Sometimes we forget how easy it can be to practice Chinese. In this episode, Jared and John talk about everyday games, like Uno and charades, you can use to practice Chinese. Suitable for all ages and learning levels, these are guaranteed to inject some fun into your Chinese learning!
Interview is with Martina Fuchs who started her career as an Arabic-speaking spy for the Swiss government and later became a TV journalist for CCTV, China’s huge state broadcaster.
Links from the episode:Liars Dice – Classic Chinese game of diceCard Games for Language Learning – SinoSpliceMartina Fuchs on InstagramInterview with translator William WhiteEmma 《安末》 – Mandarin Companion Level 1 graded reader
Why typing characters is better than handwriting
Jared and John talk about why typing characters leads to better learning outcomes than handwriting. They dispel conventional wisdom backed by science from an academic research study by Dr. Phyllis Zhang (张霓). You may have an opinion on the matter, but now it’s time to find out what the actual research tells us.
Our interview is with Eileen Wu, a heritage learner who decided to get serious about learning Chinese and did a head-first career dive into China.
Links from the episode:"Typing to Replace Handwriting: Effectiveness of the Typing-Primary Approach for L2 Chinese Beginners" by Phyllis Zhang#05 Writing Characters: Is It Worth Your Time?#64 Tips and tricks for typing Chinese#66 Guest: Matt Coss (8 Tips for Using Your Dictionary)#68 Why Is Chinese So Damn Hard#08 Guest: Dr. David Moser (Tones, Music, and Confidence)In Search of Hua Ma (Mandarin Companion Breakthrough Level book)Dr. Tim Xie (谢天蔚), California State University, Long BeachThe 5 Best Apps for Reading Chinese
Top 10 Stories of 2021
John and Jared have pulled the best stories out of all of the guest interviews of 2021. Get ready to laugh, reflect, and be inspired as we look back on the year.
Links from the episode:#70 Reading the News: Do’s and Don'ts#60 How Chinese Food Can Help Your Chinese#59 Bridging to Breakthrough and Abigail Washburn#55 Flashcards, spaced repetition software, and building proficiency#56 When Should You Start Learning Characters?#69 The rivalry: Beijing vs. Shanghai#74 Improving your listening skills (Part 2 of 2)#73 Improving your listening skills (Part 1 of 2)#65 Going all the way: Graduate studies in Chinese#68 Why is Chinese so damn hard?#72 The Truth about Chinese subtitles
#77 Reading Techniques to Master Chinese
In this episode, John and Jared talk about something close to their hearts: reading in Chinese. They discuss the different types of reading, different techniques for advanced learners, and specifically how you can harness the power of extensive reading to accelerate your Chinese.
Guest interview is with Sebastian Mueller from Germany, who moved to China and, in addition to his day job, is a growing personality on Chinese social media.
Links from the episode:Science of Reading: Simple View (Wikipedia)Winter Cheer Chinese Courses (AllSet Learning)Andrew Methven’s Slow Chinese 每周漫闻Radio.Garden - live radio stations worldwideSebastian Mueller on 小红书Sebastian Mueller on LinkedIn
#76 Cantonese and the uniqueness of Chinese dialects
In this episode, John and Jared respond to a listener question about Cantonese, which leads to a discussion around China’s numerous dialects/languages, which are in fact “topolects.”
Guest interview is with Daniel Pang, who grew up speaking Cantonese at home, became a doctor, then quit his job to learn Chinese.
Links from the episode:Varieties of Chinese (Wikipedia)"A language is a dialect with an army and navy" (Wikipedia)Just Friends? / 我们是朋友吗？ (Mandarin Companion graded reader)Wu Chinese WikipediaDaniel Pang YouTube channel
#75 How to learn similar words the right way
In this episode John and Jared share the proper way to compare similar words, characters, sounds, and grammar points.
Still love this podcast. Not only has it helped me study Mandarin better, it has also helped me teach my students English better. Loved the most recent episode about dialects. I am in 河南 right now and sometimes if older people want to talk to me they only speak 河南话. So hard. My students ask me if I can speak Henan Hua and if I answer using the one or two words I do know, they laugh uproariously. Funny story, right before I came here, I met a Chinese person in the US and I told her I was moving here and wanted to learn Mandarin and she told me do not learn the Henan accent or I would sound like a thug. I don’t know if she meant Henan Hua or just an accent but it’s pretty funny. I don’t know if I sound like a thug or not: since Covid traveling anywhere in or out of China can be difficult so I haven’t asked anyone not from Henan. Have you guys heard of any other associations with other particular accent? The way we might consider a British accent to be more “refined” for some reason?
Truly unique resource
This podcast is unlike any other I’ve found. It doesn’t teach Chinese, it highlights experiences and resources and ideas that help you succeed, however you are learning.
Learning Chinese can feel like training for an ultra marathon; challenging at so many levels, often done largely on your own.
There are points of real struggle that most people experience - whether it’s the first wide eyed look at characters, or the quicksand at the intermediate level.
“You Can Learn Chinese” can help.
Each episode has regular segments, including my favorite part, an interview with someone that brings a new perspective on this endeavor. Hearing how other people have overcome the challenges I’m still facing is priceless.
I often find something new to try, but also I find so much motivation in hearing about the experiences people have had.
The hosts are fantastic - they also produce one of the most helpful Chinese learning resources out there - Mandarin Companion Graded Readers. Jared is great, and John Pasden is, well, John Pasden… (Sinosplice, The Grammar Wiki, years at ChinesePod, etc. He also runs AllSet Learning, an amazing resource for 1 on 1 tutoring and the Grammar Wiki in level - curated book form.)
Few people know more about the many ways to learn Chinese; these guys are fun, motivating and they know their stuff.
Learning Chinese is such a long-term effort that motivation is essential. This podcast provides interesting research, a sense of curiosity and community, and great interviews with people learning and using Chinese in their professional and family lives. When I start losing focus on my daily self studies I know it’s time to binge-listen to a few more episodes.