Listening and speaking

The “Listening and speaking” category features media with Chinese audio and posts related to tones, transliteration systems, etc.
Since it is impossible to know for sure how to pronounce a character just by looking at it, there are a number of ways to represent the pronunciation. The most popular transliteration system now for non-native learners is 汉语 hànyǔ pīnyīn, or pinyin, for short, although zhuyin is common among heritage learners.

Jan 232012
Nian again

If the Rye Studio version of the story of Nian discussed in the last post was a little advanced for you, try the iOS app by 5QChannel, Nian is Coming 年来了. This one has a fully animated version as well as an illustrated storybook. The 5QChannel apps have a few other nice features: Choice of hanzi or hanzi with pinyin. For English speakers, there is a vocabulary list in the app. There is also a transcript with paragraph-by-paragraph hanzi and and English translation. The reading is more dramatized, with different voices for different characters. There is an icon that lets you choose pages by thumbnail (rather like the new navigation feature in iBooks textbooks). Export individual pages to e-mail and Facebook. The text size on the page seems designed for children to read themselves, whereas the text in the Rye Studio apps seemed meant for an adult to read. Cons: … [read more]

Jan 212012
Chinese New Year and the beast Nian

春乐节快!/ 春樂節快! Chūnjié kuàilè! 新年快乐!/ 新年快樂! Xīnnián kuàilè! It’s nearly Chinese New Year (Spring Festival). The word 年 nián ‘year’ is said to be the name of a legendary monster who used to terrorize people at this time of year. You can hear or read the story in any number of places, but a cute version is the iOS app The Beast Nian by Rye Studio. Here are a few useful vocabulary items for the story:   繁 简 pinyin English 除夕 chúxī (New Year’s) Eve 獸 兽 shòu beast 凶猛 xiōngměng ferocious 躲避 duǒbì hide, avoid 鞭炮 biānpào firecrackers 驅逐 驱逐 qūzhú drive out This is a good opportunity to review the Rye Studio apps. Rye Studio has released a few dozen RyeBooks on the App Store. The ones that I’ve seen are all children’s picture books with text and optional audio storytelling (both in a choice of languages). … [read more]

Jan 162012
Huntsman's Chinese jab at Romney

Zhongweb is apolitical, but earlier this month, while disagreeing over trade policy with China, Jon Huntsman claimed in Chinese that Mitt Romney  did “not quite understand the situation.” CBS has a good clip of this, but they seem to have something against embedding of their YouTube videos, so you’ll have to click: Here’s a transcription: 他不太了解这个情形。 Tā bù tài liǎojiě zhè ge qíngxing. You can hear the quote in context courtesy of The Washington Post (apologies for the Flash).

Dec 042011
Free iOS app: Laokang Tone Test

As you might expect, the Laokang® Tone Test 老康®考你声调 is an iOS app that tests your recognition of the tones of spoken Chinese. Each complete test consists of 20 questions in random order. For each question, you hear a two-syllable word, so the maximum score is 40. You just tap a diagram for each syllable to indicate which tone you heard; the circle in the middle of the diagram for the second syllable is for a “neutral” (aka “fifth” or “light”) tone. You can change your responses simply by tapping different tones on the diagrams. Once you’re ready to commit, you tap the green checkmark to proceed to the next pair of syllables. You are not given detailed feedback immediately, but a running tally of correct answers is displayed at the upper right of the screen. Your final score, with a detailed breakdown and an answer key, is given at … [read more]

Nov 202011
Song lyrics with pinyin

There are any number of sources of Chinese pop music to integrate into your studies (for example, see the post on Chinese radio iOS apps), but unless you are quite advanced, it will probably be difficult to make out most of the lyrics 歌词. Here are some sites with a selection of lyrics in pinyin and hanzi. Each takes a different approach to the display of the lyrics and how English is incorporated, if at all. The website has a selection of songs with lyrics displayed in simplified characters with interlinear pinyin. This arrangement is like ruby annotation and let’s you easily follow both hanzi and pinyin while listening. It utilizes tool-tip type pop-ups to let you see English translations of individual words (although some words seem not to be linked). Audio files (mp3 and/or wav) are available for download (legally, I hope); YouTube videos are embedded at the … [read more]