Top 25 Fun Facts About Learning Hanzi Chinese Characters

Why should you learn Chinese characters and Chinese language?

China is the fastest developing nation on Earth and is already the second-largest economy, after the USA. It shows no sign of slowing down and quite the opposite.

As the global economic stage shifts, the Chinese language will play a significant role in shaping its future, and the importance of learning Chinese will grow. Learning Chinese has many benefits across the spectrum of life, from gaining cultural insight to better business opportunities, from making lifelong friendships to traveling. In fact, there has never been a better time to learn Chinese than today!

In this article, we’ve listed 25 fun facts to whet your appetite for learning Chinese characters and master the language!

1. Chinese characters are the world’s oldest written language

Chinese characters, also known as Hanzi (漢字), are one of the earliest forms of written language in the world. Chinese character inscriptions have been discovered in turtle shells dating back to the Shang dynasty, proving the written language existed over 3,000 years ago.

Oracle Turtle Script, the early Chinese written language carved on a turtle shell during Shang Dynasty (1600 BC – 1046 BC).
Source: View of China.

2. Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world

China is a huge country with a population to match. More than 1.4 billion people live there, with many millions more living around the world as expats.

Although English has been the dominant global language for more than a century, when you consider the sheer population size of China and look at the numbers, you’ll see Chinese is by far the most spoken. 

It takes first place with 1.1 billion people speaking Mandarin Chinese, with Spanish coming in second at around 470 million speakers and English third, with only 370 million.

3. The word “Mandarin” originates from Sanskrit

In the 16th century, Portuguese explorers were among the first Europeans to visit China. They called the Ming officials that they met ‘mandarim,’ developed from Sanskrit “mantrin” – meaning counselor.  

The noun was first used in English in 1589, and the adjective followed around 15 years later. Today, you may know “Mandarin” as a word for the main dialect of China or are familiar with the mandarin orange. 

4. Mandarin isn’t the only “Chinese language”

You may often hear these two words interchangeably. However, Chinese is a language, while Mandarin is one of the dialects of Chinese alongside Shanghainese, Cantonese, and many more).

Mandarin is the most spoken form of the Chinese language. It is also the official language of China which is spoken in other expatriate countries such as Hong Kong and Taiwan. 

5. Chinese is a significant language in numerous Southeast Asian countries

Chinese is a popular language among Southeast Asian nations. The demand for Chinese textbooks and teachers is increasing in Bangkok, Manila, Jakarta, and other major Southeast Asian cities. Meanwhile, over 50,000 Southeast Asian students are studying Chinese in China’s various universities, which is expected to grow by 10% annually.

6. The only pictographic language that still exists

Like the hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt, Chinese is also a pictographic language – a language made up of pictures. It is the only pictographic language left in the modern world today. Many Chinese characters are invented to describe subjects by drawing the image of them. 

https://www.china-admissions.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Shan-or-mountain-in-Chinese.jpg
In Chinese, the word mountain or “shan, 山 ” has three points representing the three peaks of a mountain range.

7. Chinese is a tonal language

The pitch of how you say a word in Chinese can change the word’s meaning. Chinese has four tones, each having its pitch:

  • First tone: The first tone is very high and flat. Your voice remains flat during speaking; there will be no rise or slope. When pronouncing the first tone, it is important to keep your voice even (almost monotone) across the whole syllable.
  • Second tone: It is a rising tone. The voice rises from low to middle pitch. It’s the same way of saying “eh?!?” or ‘what?’ in English. 
  • Third tone: The third tone is called the dipping tone. In the third tone, you start with a neutral tone. The pitch will go from middle to low and then to high. 
  • Fourth tone: It is almost a lowering tone in Mandarin Chinese, starts with a slightly higher pitch, and goes strongly downward.
Source: Dig Mandarin.

8. You can pronounce Chinese using the Roman Alphabet

There is another writing system for Chinese using the Roman alphabet. It’s called ‘Pinyin’ and makes learning Chinese pronunciation a lot easier for non-native speakers.

In Chinese, Pinyin literally translates to spell sound. Pinyin is really helpful to understand different tones and pronunciations of Mandarin.

For example, in Hanzi, the word ‘hello’ is written as 你好. Pretty challenging to read for a beginner! But if we write the sound using Roman letters, in ‘Pinyin,’ it becomes easier to say and master the pronunciation. 你好 is Nĭhǎo in Pinyin. Now just read and say as you see! Nĭ hǎo – Hello!

9. There is no Chinese alphabet

Unlike many languages, Chinese doesn’t have an alphabet. So instead of putting letters together to make words, Chinese has many characters you do the same with. Words are made up of one character or more, up to three (maybe even four or five in rarer cases).

You learn Chinese vocabulary by studying different characters. The good thing is, you can use Pinyin to transcribe Chinese characters. Learning Pinyin before learning Chinese characters can easily take out the burden of memorizing thousands of Chinese characters! 

 10. There are over 50,000 distinct Chinese characters

The Chinese language consists of more than 50,000 characters. Some Chinese dictionaries even say that it exceeds 100,000 characters. The good news is you only need to know about 2,500 characters to read a newspaper in Chinese. 

If you learn Chinese and take the Hàny Shupng Kosh (commonly known as the HSK), you will only have to master 2,600 characters to pass the exam at the highest level. 

11. Chinese doesn’t have articles, verb inflections, or plurals

The Chinese language does not use articles (“a,” “an,” and “the”) or plurals. You don’t need to focus on this kind of detailed grammar when learning Chinese. Mandarin Chinese does not have any verb conjugations, either. All verbs have a single form. For example, the verb for “eat” is 吃 (chī), which can be used for past, present continuous, and future tenses. But in English, we’d need to change the word respectively to ‘ate,’ ‘eating,’ and ‘will eat.’

12. There are two types of Hanzi Chinese characters

The Chinese language has two types of Chinese characters: Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese. 

Originally, everything was written in Traditional Chinese. However, Chinese people found Traditional Chinese characters difficult to understand and memorize. Simplified Chinese characters were then created to promote literacy.

Traditional Chinese is used by Chinese speakers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau, as well as the majority of Mandarin and Cantonese speakers who live in other countries. Meanwhile, mainland China, Malaysia, and Singapore use Simplified Chinese.

13. New Chinese terms are being invented every year

With widespread internet access and Western influence, new phrases and figures of speech are constantly being coined to describe new phenomena in society. 

高富帅 (gāo fù shuài), for example, means ‘ used to describe affluent males that are not only rich but who is also tall and handsome; it literally translates as “tall-rich-handsome.” 白富美 (bái fù měi) describes millions all over China who are looking for love and eagerly hoping to get married and settle down.

14. Chinese is an official UN language

In 1946, Chinese became an official United Nations language, meaning it was used in UN meetings, and all official UN documents were also written in Chinese.  Five other official languages of the UN are English, Arabic, French, Russian, and Spanish.

15. It’s challenging but doesn’t need to be hard to learn

Chinese can seem pretty complex to learn for native English speakers. They don’t have many things in common with different writing systems, grammar, pronunciation styles, and sounds.

However, these differences can be an advantage! Chinese grammar, for example, is a lot simpler and easier to learn than European languages. Pronunciation is also made easier by using the ‘Pinyin’ system, where Chinese symbols and words are converted to a ‘Romanized’ English version.

It can be a challenge learning Chinese, but it’s easier than you think, and we’re here to help! 

16. There are five main styles of Chinese calligraphy

There are hundreds of sub-forms of Chinese calligraphy, which can be confusing. However, five main traditional forms are much easier to recognize: Seal Character, Official Script, Formal Script, Running Script, and Cursive Hand. Chinese calligraphy serves the purpose of conveying thought and follows certain rules. For example, there is a definite number of strokes and appointed positions for them with the whole. No stroke may be added or deleted for decorative effect.

17. Chinese is gender-neutral!

In Chinese, the character 他 (pronounced as tā) serves as a gender-neutral pronoun, covering feminine, masculine, and neutral pronouns – the equivalent of ‘he,’ ‘she,’ and ‘it’ in English.

18. Chinese characters can be broken down into simpler components

Chinese characters are mostly made up of building blocks known as radicals, which have 1 to 17 strokes. Radicals and strokes must be written in order: usually left to right and top to bottom. 

For example, the Chinese character for “good” (好) combines the radical for “woman” (女) with the radical for “child” (子), subtly implying that the ideal state for a woman is to be with a child. Or, to take another example, the Chinese character for “country” (国) puts the character for “jade” (玉) inside a “walled enclosure” (囗), meaning that countries have borders to protect their national treasures.

The Chinese government simplified Chinese characters after the foundation of the People’s Republic (1949), lowering strokes per character by an average of about 33%.

19. Ancient Chinese texts were written from top right to bottom left

In ancient times, Chinese was written from top to bottom, then right to the left. Chinese people did not write with pens during those times. Instead, they used brush writing, so writing from top to bottom, right to the left, would have been more convenient. It also prevented smudging.

Most linguists believe that writing vertically was adopted as a direct result of the writing material in ancient China. People used the “Jian” or rolled-up bamboo slips/slats for early writing. The letters also used to be written using a brush. That’s why writing from top to bottom, right to the left, would have been more convenient. It also prevented smudging.

Source: Wikipedia

20. Chinese has borrowed words from English

China and the Chinese language were historically immune to outside influence. But over the last two decades, with exposure to some Western culture, the Chinese have adopted some English words, called ‘loan words.’ For example, coffee. Chinese people say ‘kafei’ (咖啡 /kaa-fay/). Some others include shafa (沙发 /shaa-faa/) for sofa and Bǐsà (比萨/bee-saa) for pizza.

21. Famous celebrities are learning Chinese!

Chinese has become the most popular foreign language to learn in the West today. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, and WWE wrestler John Cena both studied Chinese. Politicians like former president of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, and former Australian Prime minister Kevin Rudd also speak fluent Chinese.

Source: Tempapay Business.

Facebook co-founder, CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks fluent Mandarin at a Q&A session in Beijing.

22. Chinese characters are also used in other languages

Chinese characters have been adapted for other East Asian languages and remain a key component of the Japanese writing system where they are known as Kanji. Around 60% of Korean language and characters also come from Chinese.

23. The Chinese language has special hand gestures

China has various dialects, and it might be difficult for people from different regions to communicate with one another. Also, many terms in Chinese sound extremely similar. For example, the word for four, ‘si,’ sounds extremely close to the word for ten, ‘shi.’ This unique way of expressing numbers helps clear up any confusion or misunderstanding. It’s especially handy when it comes to bargaining in small markets if you don’t speak Chinese.  

Source: Scroller.

24. You can’t say ‘yes’ in Chinese

Simply because the Chinese language has no word meaning ‘yes,’ instead, there are many different ways to say ‘yes’ in Chinese.

For example, when someone asks you, “Nǐ hē kāfēi ma? 你喝咖啡吗?” ( Do you want coffee?), you would say “Hē, xièxie! 喝,谢谢!”(Yes, thank you.) Literally, you’re answering: “Drink, thank you.” In this case, you repeat the verb for affirmation.

Generally speaking, how to express the affirmative in Chinese totally depends on the context. 

25. Learning Chinese makes you smarter!

Chinese has a distinctly different effect on the brain compared to learning other languages. 

The tones, sounds, and script of Chinese require the use of both temporal lobes of the brain. The English language, for example, only uses the left temporal lobe of the brain for language.

Learning to write Chinese also seems to make you smarter by aiding in the development of your motor skills, learning shapes and letters, and the visual identification of graphics. Get smarter today and start learning Chinese with Pandanese!

Chinese needn’t be difficult to learn. In fact, it can be super fun and worth your time! Especially with the help of technology, learning Chinese is easier than ever.

Check out Pandanese to sign up for FREE and start learning Chinese characters and vocabulary today!   

Great 11 Websites To Learn Chinese Through Movies Effectively

To master a language, you should learn it in context. This applies to all languages, including Chinese. One of the easiest ways to do this is to watch Chinese movies, especially when you don’t have a native nearby to talk to.  

This article combines a list of the top 11 best websites to help you learn Chinese through movies efficiently.

How to learn Chinese through movies effectively? 

Learning Chinese through movies/videos means that in the process of enjoying the movie, your mind must not forget your learning task. This will both help you improve your Chinese skills and deepen your understanding of the meaning behind each character’s lines.

Here are the steps that many students take to learn Chinese through movies that we highly recommend you to try out: 

Step 1 – Watch the full movie with bilingual subtitles

Step 2 – Choose your favorite clip (each clip should not be longer than 3 minutes)

Step 3 – Practice with actively selected clips:

  • Watch the video over and over again with Chinese subtitles
  • Look up and save good phrases/sentence patterns
  • Practice listening and spelling
  • Practice speaking, imitating the character’s lines

Step 4 – Watch the movie and review the vocabulary

Why learning Chinese through movie websites?

Before we jump into the list of the top 10 movies/videos, let’s explore the 4 reasons why you should learn Chinese through movies websites. 

First of all, most movie websites are free to watch. In fact, you’d be surprised to find many Chinese movie sites offering most of their movies for free. This is great if your Chinese courses cost you thousands of dollars. 

Secondly, learning Chinese through movies also obviously improves listening and speaking skills. Professional actors often try to speak in the most natural and unscripted way possible. Hence by watching movies, you can’t just really hear Chinese on a daily basis, with a full range of different accents, but also gradually understand how to communicate fluently.

Additionally, movies help expand your vocabulary. The more movie categories you go into, the broader your vocabulary will likely be. 

Finally, movies help broaden your understanding of Chinese culture and society, giving you various topics and ideas to have memorable conversations with locals rather than just saying hello.

Don’t forget that you can check out Pandanese ‘s Mandarin learning platform for free! Pandanese has a learning system that enables you to memorize Hanzi (Chinese characters) really fast with images, flashcards, reminders, and cool examples sentences. 

The top 11 best free websites to learn Chinese through movies

1. Iqiyi.com

Considered the Netflix of China, iQiyi offers a large and diverse range of Chinese movie genres from cartoons, movies, series, documentaries, and more.

Besides Chinese movies, on the iQiyi website, you can also find Hong Kong and Taiwanese movies with interesting content. One good thing about iQiyi is that all the movies on this site come with Simplified Chinese subtitles. So it is very suitable for Chinese learners. Note that this site only allows access to Chinese IP addresses, so you will need a VPN to watch the movie.

2. Youku.com

Youku is one of China’s leading online and video service platforms and is considered the “YouTube of China”. Yoku has an easy-to-use interface, few ads, and especially a video store of all topics as well as a variety of good TV series and movies. The special thing is that all the videos and movies here are completely free. Just like Iqiyi, you need to use a VPN to unlock the site if you are outside of China.

3. Bilibili.com

Founded in 2009, Bilibili is a video-sharing website that builds content about Chinese cartoons, comics, and games. Currently, this website focuses on 9x and 10x audiences with movies and videos of all topics running from music, dance, science, technology, entertainment, movies, drama to fashion. 

In addition, Bilibili also offers Danmu live streaming service, in which the audience can interact with the streamer.

4. 56.com

56 Movie is a leading video-sharing platform in China. On the 56.com movie website, you can find a large number of free copyrighted HD movies and TV series. In addition, this channel also contains more than 80 million videos shared by users. Most movies and videos have Chinese subtitles for your convenience.

The good news is that 56.com has no IP restrictions, so wherever you are, you can enjoy the movies on this site without worrying about being blocked.

5. Kankan.com

Kankan is also a famous movie site in China. Its predecessor was Xunlei Kankan. This site provides high-quality content and attracts a large audience thanks to its emerging dramas and numerous films from Mainland China, Hong Kong and

 Taiwan. 

For now, the movies here are only available to viewers with Chinese IPs addresses. If you want to use this site, you will need to use a VPN to switch the IPs.

6. Video.sina.com.cn

Under the management of Sina – a well-known network media company in China, Video Sina offers a wide range of popular video content, including news videos, TV shows, and movies. 

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7. Pptv.com

PPTV is another great online TV provider that offers both live streaming and video-on-demand services. On PPTV you can find a variety of TV shows, movies, dramas, sports, news and entertainment, and much more. Like other Chinese streaming services, this site requires a Chinese IP address to access all content.

8. M1905.com

M1905.com is the official movie site of China Central Television (CCTV). This site offers a variety of free content such as movies, videos, movie ratings, star worlds, and movie reviews and ratings.

With more than 10000 copyrighted HD movies and 3 more movies updated every day, M1905 is a great source for watching Chinese movies. Rest assured that this site is not IP-restricted, so you can comfortably watch movies wherever you are in the world.

9. V.qq.com

If you are interested in Chinese and know something about China, you must have heard of QQ – China’s second-largest instant chat application (perhaps only after Wechat).

VQQ is a movie site owned by QQ. This is also a popular movie site in China. This site provides TV series, movies, documentaries, animations with rich genres and content. The site also blocks IPs from abroad, so you’ll need a VPN to unlock it.

10. V.baidu.com

Baidu is the most popular and famous search social network in China. Baidu is like a miniature Google used in China. But you may not know, in addition to the search engine, Baidu is also the largest social network in China, and also encroached on the video segment.

The good thing about Baidu is that after typing a keyword into the search section if you click on the video section, you will see a series of videos, movies, TV series, music videos related to that keyword. And you can completely view all content here without logging in to your account.

11. Sohu Movie

Sohu is the leading free movie site in China, with rich content, including the latest genuine classic movies, exclusive TV series, animation, and many other attractive programs.

With huge movie storage, always updated with the latest, Sohu will help satisfy your hobby of watching movies while providing an opportunity for you to practice your Chinese skills. You need a VPN to unblock and watch movies if you are outside of China!

Above is a summary of 11 movie and video channels to help you practice Chinese effectively. The plus point of all these sites is that most of them are free.

What is your favorite website? Share with us in the comments section below!

The Top 10 Chinese Novel Series: Finding the New Awesome Reads

In China, the word comic is translated as (manhua). The word itself originated from 18th-century literary painting. The word can be translated as impromptu sketches. The word and art did not come into popularity until it was re-introduced by the manhua pioneer Feng ZiKai. Nowadays, instead of physical prints, webcomics are much more popular throughout China. Similar to comics, novels were also able to maintain its popularity thanks to technology. The evolution of technology did not kill these literary cultures but instead helped it spread all around the world. Bigger websites for Chinese Manhua include QQ comics and U17, but today we will take a look at a website called wuxia world. 

Wuxia, in mandarin, means martial arts.This website is similar to Wattpad but their contents focus on translating popular comics and novels from Korean or Chinese to English. As their website name suggests, most of their contents have an element of martial arts to their plot. I tried reading the Chinese translation for novels on this website and I can say, it’s like discovering a new possible world to read. I find the use of Chinese terminologies and names made it easier for me to imagine a glimpse of the world the characters were in. I had fun reading some of their stories and I hope that you do too! So here are their top 10 most popular stories on the website

1. Against the Gods

The genres for this novel include action, comedy, fantasy, harem, mature, mystery, romance, and xuan huan. Xuan Huan is a category and the term can be translated into mysterious fantasy. 

The story talks about the main character Yun Che, who is hunted down for possession of a very strong weapon. He tried to escape by jumping off the cliff bringing the weapon with him but ended up reincarnated to a different body. His new body is named Xiao Che. His new body is weak but he has to be able to overcome the challenges he faces with the clan he was reincarnated into, his fiancee, and the adventure that comes with it. 

I find the novel very enjoyable with an interesting plot. Highly recommend it if you like all things related to the Chinese culture of ancient superpower, poison, martial arts, and other similar cultural practices. I love the character growth and overall a very enjoyable novel to read indeed. I have finished reading, but will hopefully do so in the future. 

2. Emperors Domination

The story is about the tale of Li QiYe. He was captured by an evil master and imprisoned in the body of a crow for hundreds of centuries. His fate was doomed until he was saved by an old man after hundreds and centuries of imprisonment. He then became a disciple of the old man starting his journey for revenge, friendship, and to become the next ruler of the heavens. He had one mission on his head, to beat the evil that had held him down, once and for all. 

I love the fact that this story is a fantasy story. If you like to imagine fighting scenes, shapeshifts and other similar stories, this novel will certainly suck you to that imaginative realm. Highly recommend it!

3. Nine Star Hegemon Body Art

This is a story of a merged soul. The confused main character Long Chen woke up from a brawl with his friends. He was often bullied by his peers, but after waking up, he was reminded of another memory where he was strong, arrogant and nothing like the Long Chen he is now. He decided then and there that he will become someone stronger and left his old self there. He started noticing mysteries surrounding him, suggesting to him that trouble is brewing. He is determined to solve it, even if it means going against the fate of the Gods where he is nothing more than just a pawn.

This series had multiple mentions of medicinal herbs and alchemy which I enjoyed reading. The plot was very interesting as you can see the growth of the main character from one chapter to another. You might find this novel series less interesting if you are not too into alchemy but otherwise, it’s a great series to read and very enjoyable. 

4. A Record of A Mortal’s Journey to Immortality

A poor and ordinary boy from a village joins a minor sect in Jiang Hu and becomes an Unofficial Disciple completely by chance. Nicknamed the second fool in his village, this is a story of an ordinary mortal who, against all odds, clashes with devilish demons and ancient celestials to find his path towards immortality.

The novel’s  synopsis above was taken from the website and in my opinion, is a great trailer to the awesome adventures the series holds. The start of the series is a bit slow as the earlier chapters had to explain all the background of the stories. However, despite the progression being a bit slow, it is worth reading, and would strongly urge you to try and read this series. 

5. Keyboard Immortal

Keyboard Immortal is a system-based story where our lead character Zu An is suddenly struck by lightning! He realized soon that he had entered another universe world where people can level up just like game characters. When the lightning struck, he was given a mission to gather 12 secret scrolls from the 12 unknowable regions, just like the f1-f12 keys on the keyboard, and was left on the streets until his WIFE?! Showed up to help him and started his journey. 

I honestly started laughing in the first chapter that I read. Zu An is the epitome of all characters constantly living in the modern world of “last 3 brain cells” working. Very humorous and fun to read. I am not very good with technology but this series is too good to be put down just because of my lack of love for technology. Highly recommend it. 

6. Beastmaster of the Ages

Our main character Li Tianming is on his journey of accession to be the number one beastmaster of the ages. He journeys across many worlds and yet one thing remains the same. No one is ready to face his pets. His pets include a small chicken which is an Eternal Infernal Phoenix that eats suns! His black cat is the Genesis Chaos Thunderfiend that refines worlds with its lightning. And also a cockroach. The Myriad World’s Deathless Beast possesses trillions of undying clones.

I fell in love with the series from reading just the synopsis. If you have not noticed, I love fantasy, and having fantasy pets is one of my favorite things to read. The fight scenes were epic and I fully enjoyed every detail the translation had carefully put in translation.

7. Martial World

In the Divine Realm, countless legends fought over a mysterious cube. After the battle, it disappeared into the void. A young man stumbles upon this mystery object, opening a whole new world to him. His name is Lin Ming, and this is his road of martial arts.

Reading the synopsis at first glance, I thought that the series might be interesting and decided to give it a go from there. Very glad to say that this series does not disappoint me. I’m very impressed with the world-building the novel was able to achieve. Everything is fictional yet felt very real at the same time. The translation team has done an amazing job at using adjectives that help describe and build the story for us readers who just crave all the fantasy that this story pours. I especially recommend this series if you have an interest in martial arts (of course as the title suggests) and love a good game like fight scenes. 

8. Warlock of the Magus World

What happens when a scientist from a futuristic world reincarnates in a world of magic and knights?

An awesome main character– that’s what happens!

A scientist’s goal is to explore the secrets of the universe and this is exactly what Leylin sets out to do when he is reincarnated. Dark, cold, and calculating, he makes use of all his resources as he sets off on his adventure to meet his goal. 

The flow of how the author writes this story still amazed me. It’s very easy to read and you do get a sense of immersion of the universe they had built. I find the new character very interesting and funny especially in the first few chapters when he just arrived at the new game-like world. The translation is high quality in my opinion and did a great job of bringing the world alive while you read. Highly recommend it. 

9. Tales of Demons and Gods

Killed by a sage emperor and reborn as his 13-year-old self, Nie Lu is given a second chance at life. A second chance to change everything, save his loved ones and his beloved city. He shall once again battle with the Sage Emperor to avenge his death. With The vast knowledge he accumulated in his previous life, he shall have a new starting point. Although he starts as the weakest, without a doubt, he will climb the steps towards the strongest. 

Like the many in this list, this series is a reincarnation novel. I find the main character’s growth great and enjoyable to read! More than the main characters, I find the sidekicks of the story’s growth very worth reading. Overall, I would recommend this as a good read. 

10. Necropolis Immortal

A great war raged between cultivators a hundred thousand years ago. Immortals fell by tens of thousands, the path of cultivation itself was severed, and after the dust settled, tombs forested the world. A hundred thousand years after the last legend faded Lu Yun, commandant of the tomb raider descended upon the world. Armed with the Tome of Life and Death, he had some burning questions to answer. 

This series brings a fresh new type of plot into the list, Post-apocalyptic Chinese fantasy. I enjoyed reading the series as it involved communicating with the dead *laughs*. The main character is not strong (just like the several others in this list) but adds depth into the plot making this series an enjoyable one to read. Please do give this one a try. 

Why Not Start Reading?

Surely afterall the reccomendations you may find one of the stories interesting. So why not give the novels a try? If you did try reading the series we mentioned or have read the series, let us know what you think about them in the comments below!

This article is written by Pandanese. Check us out at Pandanese!

How to Maintain A Strong Business Connection with China

China is currently one of the strong players in the business world across several industries. Be it manufacturing, technology, or financial service, China is a powerhouse not to be underestimated. Because their strong success and international power do not lie solely on their industry billionaires or economic policy. The Chinese business culture is said to be one of the deciding factors that strongly influence China’s international economic power. 

In a previous article about money in Chinese culture, we discussed why Chinese culture is obsessed with money. Chinese business flourishes all around the world for similar reasons. Chinese businesses tend to focus on profits and the details of why and how they can earn more of it. Above all that, remains one significant cultural practice that you can still find today, 人际关系 (ren ji guan xi).

Age Old Relationships

photo of man reading newspaper
Photo by Hasan Albari on Pexels.com

人际关系 (ren ji guan xi) is the business culture practice where you build and maintain relationships with clients. Getting to know clients is so important that this is the first thing they teach you from the first day you join the company. The relationship in this contact is more than just the formula contact you do during the period of transactions. This stretches to times outside of the transaction period in which companies try to stay on good terms. Good imagery for this would be maintaining the business relationship like that of family. These relationships can last years and years and are often continued by the generations after.

The question remains, how does this cultural practice affect business in China?

crop payroll clerk counting money while sitting at table
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

In one simple sentence, ren ji guan xi helps build the strength of a company and in certain cases competitive advantage. There have been controversies surrounding the practice as many businesses use it to maintain questionable relationships with government officials. Nevertheless, it is still an important  part of the business culture that helps shape the economy of China. Let’s take a look at one industry example to give us an insight into how this cultural practice takes into effect. 

The Apparel Industry

Take for example the apparel industry of china. China is one of the world’s largest manufacturers for fashion. Be it the fast fashion for american brands like H&M or bigger brands like Chanel. However, the industry is also high in competition. With more and more brands looking to move their production to China to cut costs, manufacturers have to fight for the cost they can offer and the quality they can make.

With so much competition, players turn to information sharing for survival. To survive in this industry, information sharing. A manufacturer or factory owner can own many skills and resources, but information sharing is believed to be the best tools they can own. Without information sharing, you will not be able to meet the right person who can become a client that can support your business. Information sharing does not come easy on a high competition market and so this is where guan xi comes into play.

Making your connections, maintaining them and utilising your ressources well with the gathered information, will give  you a strong competitive advantage to survive in the industry especially if you are a new player in the industry. The key to making sure that your new business last in the long run is long-term relationship. Literally knowing the right person can give you new clients, prepare for what’s to come and build your name in the industry until you become a mature player once you’ve been long enough in the game.

The Important Values in Chinese Business

multiethnic colleagues discussing contract on paper
Photo by Alexander Suhorucov on Pexels.com

Chinese value their relationship with business partners because it is a practice that’s embedded with the Confucian teachings which shaped China’s past and present.

In China, the value of family and collective community is quite strong in both society and business. The three key pillars of Chinese society include family, community, and status. 

Family and community are very important values as you can find them in several Chinese sayings, one of the most renowned being Ka Ki Lang (meaning: our own kind). This phrase is popularized in the film Crazy Rich Asian, a movie based on a book with the same name written by Kevin Kwan. Chinese businesspeople tend to do business with someone they know or are referred to by a trustworthy friend. The more familiar you are with the business owner, the more you are able to gain their trust and have more transactions with them. These relationships last over a long period of time instead of short ones. These relationships are then passed on to the younger generation where they help shape some of China’s businesses today.

The Starbucks Case

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This Chinese culture surprised many foreign brands that open their offices in China including Starbucks. Starbucks is a mega coffee store franchise that originated in the United States. They then spread their business internationally and made their way to open a store in China in 1999. Starbucks in China did not hit success when they first launched until several changes later. They named shareholders and company meetings “Partner Family Forum” where partners were employees and parents were the shareholders. They created large spaces for their stores to welcome crowds of customers. Following the three pillars, Starbucks made great changes and is currently quite successful in China. 

Making or Breaking the Relationship 

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So, how can you start and keep a relationship with a Chinese businessperson? In China, business people maintain their relationship differently than the rest of the world. These differences often went unnoticed by foreign employees. There are several things you can try to start building the relationship and not ruining any chances when you first try. However, keep in mind that these methods will take some time and effort to achieve the desired result. 

Understand The Depth

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Rather than just doing the normal business talk where you make an offer, negotiate the price or do cold calls, try and understand their depth. What are their values? What they look for and try to maintain that relationship for the long-term instead. Understanding your client like you would a friend is key. Similar to the practice of ren ji guan xi, it takes a long time but is very effective and great for the long-term. 

Take for example the trip that president obama took in November 2009 to Shanghai, During his speech with the shanghai youth and members of the Fudan university, he expressed genuine interest in the culture and heritage of ShangHai. He also apologized that “ I’m sorry that my Chinese is not as good as your English”. This simple move of giving consideration and respect is the first step to building a great relationship. Willingness to understand the person’s culture and where they came from will help you build a solid bond that will last a long time. 

Collaborate With a Local

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If you want to start your business in China, it would be better if you have a  local company help you out. The more familiar you “look” familiar to your potential client in China, the more they are willing to do business with you and create that relationship for the long term. Collaborating with locals also go beyond than just achieving “The Familiar” look. Local companies or manufacturers have their own set of connections that they have mastered. This conenctions will give you a great step up compared to starting all the connections from scrath.

Take for example Coca Cola. They decided that they will be collaborating with COFCO corporation back in 2016. The collaboration not only brought efficiencycy, but also created a more market oriented product for Coca Cola in China. Tailoring a product takes a lot of work. Receiving help from an insider who is more familiar with the market is more strategic and efficient than doing it yourself.

Learn the Language

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You can always do it yourself, although it is not the easy way. Putting the effot, gives you off as a person that cares deeper than the transactions. Learning the language can be a great investment for you and your business. This will not only give you a great sense that you respect your partner, but your partners can also have a better sense of trust towards you as a business partner.

Conclusion

Family and community are very important in Chinese culture and also in business. You have to adapt to the environment and make necessary changes to succeed in this market. There are things you can do to start building a business relationship with a Chinese business person. However, keep in mind that it all takes effort and time. The effort and time you put in will definitely carve a path for you to follow.

Why the Chinese LOVE Their Money

People around the world, not just the Chinese, love their money. But the Chinese culture has a stronger fixation on money than perhaps other cultures. This belief is so popular that it is stereotyped in modern culture today. Stereotypes like the frugal Asian parents you see on tv are one of them. Some comedians, like Ronny Chieng, also mentioned money-obsessed practices in his comedy show.

Talking about money may come across as being too bold, intrusive, and even disrespectful in some cultures. Talking about money, however, is very normal and common in Chinese culture. The topic is so normal that the top 3 questions you get asked are always “Where are you from?”, “What do you do?” and “how much you make”. People asking you these questions are not just families and relatives, but can also be strangers you met on the bus. These questions are often used to determine a person’s reputation and credibility.

Cultural practices done during the Chinese New Year are one of the examples of the money-obsessed things you can notice. The simple greeting of 恭喜发财 (gong xi fa cai) is a must said phrase during Chinese New Year. This phrase literally means “I hope you get rich”. Additionally, there are traditions of giving red envelopes filled with money during Chinese New Year. This is to wish the receiver (most of the time kids) good luck at the beginning of the year.

The Mindset of Happiness: Money CAN Buy You Happiness

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I dare say that in Chinese culture money is very important, closely similar to the phrase “Money is everything”. Countering this is the phrase “money can’t buy happiness”. There are many things money can buy but there are also other things that it can’t. Money surely can’t buy happiness but when asking people who were raised in Chinese culture, they would probably disagree. Their thoughts once hearing the statement “Money can’t buy happiness” is that “No! Money CAN buy you happiness!”. 

Money can buy you a fancy house, a car and provide you with luxury vacations all on your single command. You would be happy when you can own the things you want and do the things you want to do! However, they would probably agree that even with all the money in the world, you can never buy true love. Love is another sensitive topic that we can discuss in another article.

Stability is very important in Chinese culture. Having money can buy you certain forms of happiness though not all forms. One should really be thinking at this point, where does such a mindset come from? 

Centuries-Old Cultural Practice

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It is said that this particular obsession with money could be influenced by centuries-old cultural practices. The Buddhism religion that helped build the society in China taught about the concept of karma. Karma means that whatever you do will come back to you. If you do good things, then good things will come back to you. If you do bad things, then bad things will come back to you. If you are born in a rich family, it’s because you were a good person in your previous life. Your good deed in the previous life has rewarded you with good luck and prosperity in this life with karma. Money is a symbol of luck and fortune in the culture. Money is also one of the rewards of Karma you can get in Chinese culture.

The Taoism belief also contributes to the concept of fortune and money in society. Taoism introduces gods and goddesses that can help you if you pray and worship them in return. One of the most worshipped, however, is possibly the god of wealth or money 财神(chai shen). By praying to the god of wealth, it is believed that you can gain more money or luck for your business.

Another cultural practice that you might find most familiar is perhaps the fish tank. In Feng Shui, the Chinese cultural belief of the flow of energy,  fish, and water symbolizes good fortune, prosperity, and wealth. Thus, putting a fish tank in the living room is believed to bring fortune to your house. Chinese restaurants around the world also often did this practice. You can also call a Feng Shui expert to determine the best flow of energy in your house or establishment. He can help you decide in which room should you put the fish tank. This is so you can retrieve the maximum amount of prosperity by putting the fish tank strategically.

Political History

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Another possibility that affects the importance of money in Chinese culture can also be the political history of China. This factor might just be the most important factor to influence the Chinese view of money. During the reign of general Mao, he enforced cultural reform as a means to eradicate capitalism in China. However, this change in system sent the country to the worst poverty recorded in history. During this period ⅓ of the country’s population went below the poverty line and starvation was everywhere. After the death of general Mao in 1976, Deng Xiaoping rose to replace his position. He made reforms to the economy and made China rise to wealth in one generation. One of the quotes he infamously said was, “To be rich is glorious”.  After China rose from the poverty line, they have continued to be one of the strongest economies we see today.

Imagine that when you are 7 years old, your house was small and food was hard to come by. Fast forward to when you were 17, you moved to live in a mansion and live in luxury. You see your family change for the better and gain the connection between money and happiness. The parents can also see that money has brought them better lives for their children and their needs. The things that they cannot do before, they can do now because they have money. The stability and safety that money provides are strongly ingrained in people’s heads during this time. That’s why many Asian parents encourage their children on certain career paths like doctors and lawyers. This is because these jobs are stable with a great reputation and bring great income in the long term. 

China’s Trade History

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The earliest record of trade in China dates back to the Qin dynasty in 2000 BC. China has been handling trade as a business ever since then and created a monetary system to support it. At this point in time, the rest of the world’s civilization is nowhere near what China was doing. Later they created the silk road during the Han dynasty which brought merchants from all around the world. The creation of the Silk road has made China a center for trade centuries before the existence of modern technology. Paper money was later invented along with a system of depositing. This system was very similar to the modern banking system that we know, minus the machines and internet.

For centuries that Chinese culture has understood the concept of doing business, trading, investing, and saving. Talking about money is as common in daily life now as it was 2000 years ago. 

China Now

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China is now the second country in the world with the most number of billionaires. Their average billionaire’s age is 37, one of the youngest averages in the world. However, with such high pressure and competition to make money, it has become unbearable for some. The cities have more job opportunities to make money compared to the rural area. This has made income disparity a problem in China. To make ends meet, many parents left for the city leaving their children and family behind. They had to leave their children behind as moving the whole family to the city would be too expensive. This led to the common situation for many families to only meet once a year during the Chinese New year. They have gone so far from their home country to make ends meet for their families back home.

Despite the crucial importance of money in society, there have been significant cultural shifts that focus more on finding happiness. Money will still remain a crucial part of the Chinese culture, but the growing importance of happiness might just match that of money. How does your culture view money? Let us know in the comments below!

Learning Mandarin: A Hard Must Thing To Do

Today, Chinese Mandarin is spoken by 15 percent of the world population. That is 1.3 billion people worldwide! So if you have 6 friends, know that 1 person in your friend group should speak Mandarin. Although spoken widely, it is undoubtedly one of the hardest languages to learn. The characters, the grammar, and the pronunciations are some of the most difficult aspects to learn. This is because Mandarin is completely different from English,  with different alphabets, grammar structure, and pronunciation. But are these really the only things that make Mandarin hard to learn? 

1. Hanzi

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The thing with the mandarin languages is the use of Hanzi, or simply known as the Chinese characters. They do not use Latin alphabets like English or many other languages, which makes it hard. There are 50,000 recorded Hanzi characters in the Mandarin language. However, only 20,000 out of the 50,00 characters recorded are still used on a  daily basis. Each character has different meanings and is read differently. A character is a combination of several strokes. You would have to remember all those lines, woosh, and slashes that made up the 50,000 characters that existed today. If you want to master Hanzi fast, you might want to consider learning them now 🙂

2. Tones and Pronunciation

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Writing and reading Chinese using Hanzi is one aspect of the language. But speaking it is a whole different spectrum you have to get to. Chinese is a tonal language. This means that all the words are differentiated by the pitch of the sound they make and their pronunciation. Two words can be read the same way but have different tones, which gives them different meanings. Give an example of shu (book) and shu (tree). If you get the tones wrong, people would understand the other meaning instead of the one that you meant. 

There are also challenges in pronunciation. The Mandarin language is a “monosyllabic” language. Each word only has one syllable to its pronunciation. Getting your pronunciation correct and accurate will need a lot of practice. For instance, beginner learners may find the pronunciation for “b” and “p” or “ch” and “zh” similar. Many beginner learners think that these words “sound the same” when in actuality they do not. Pronouncing them correctly just needs extra attention and practice. You need to put the effort into shaping your tongue and the shape of your mouth to get the correct sound. A hard challenge indeed.

3. Dialects and variations

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If you think that being able to speak and read Mandarin can get you everywhere in China, chances are, not really. This is because Mandarin Chinese has dialects and variations! These variations of the language and dialects vary from region to region and have a lot of differences as well as similarities. 

If you visit the Southern parts of the Chinese regions like Hong Kong, you will find that most of their populations do not speak Mandarin Chinese but Cantonese. Cantonese is not considered a dialect but more of a separate language as they are another linguistic form of Mandarin that was developed separately after the fall of the Han dynasty in 220 AD. They have 9 tones instead of the normal 5 tones in the Mandarin language. Additionally, they have different consonants, such as “l”, and different word endings, such as “k”. Cantonese still use the simplified characters of the Hanzi although there are some applications of the traditional mandarin characters in their writing systems. 

A common dialect that is still spoken today includes Hokkien which you can find spoken in mostly easter regions of China like Pu Jian. Hokkien sounds more similar to Cantonese but has 6 tones instead of 9. Their writing is more similar to Mandarin Chinese although they have incorporations of the traditional Chinese characters.

Variation of the Mandarin language, not only include the way they are pronounced but also the way they are written. The most popularly known variations of writing Mandarin are the traditional Chinese characters. Although the traditional characters are older and more complicated, some of these characters are still used in Cantonese and Hokkien as mentioned previously. Traditional Chinese characters are widely used in the region of Taiwan. Taiwanese people still speak Mandarin Chinese but write with traditional characters which makes it, of course, a lot harder than it already is.

4. Practice hours to mastery

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Learning Mandarin takes time. Learning it takes A LOT of time. One of the most time-consuming parts of learning the language starts with the Hanzi characters. Earliest records of Hanzi date back to the bronze age. Currently, there are 50,000 Hanzi characters on record with 20,000 used daily.  To read these characters, you have to learn them ONE BY ONE. You can’t expect yourself to automatically guess the reading of the characters. When learning how to read the Hanzi, you might find yourself learning simple Hanzi characters. Another method to learn the Hanzi characters is to learn starting with the radicals and their meanings. Learning the Hanzi in this way will create a great base to essentially create a guessing sense to know the meaning and or reading of the character. It is said that you need 2000 hours of practice to master the language. So getting you to the level of comfort for Mandarin will take 1000 hours. If you practice for one hour every day, that will take you 3 years to get comfortable with Mandarin and 6 years to master the language! Talk about investing time in learning.

Why Must I Learn Mandarin? Is It even Worth It?

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After all the difficulties that come with learning one language, you might be re-thinking your decision of NOT learning the language. But why is it a hard must thing? Must we really go through all the struggle and spend A LOT of time? Well, truth be told, learning ANY language takes time, dedication, and skill. Mandarin just takes more time and more skill but does not mean it cannot pay you back as learning other languages in the future. Consider it a must, because learning Mandarin has just as much worth as learning English. 

Making Friends

Although main speakers of Mandarin Chinese reside in China, being able to speak the language will help you spread your network, make friends and possibly open up new opportunities in the future. There are 40 million Mandarin speakers that live outside of China. One of them, or more, could just be your friend! Why miss an opportunity to make friends with someone who could be just as cool and awesome as you?

Business

If you are in business, chances are, you might have some connection to China later in the future. 13 percent of the world’s export and trade is led by China in 2020. Chinese businessmen are more likely to accept business deals when they know that someone on the other side speaks Chinese and understands the culture. This strong preference can be seen in the movie Crazy Rich Asian when Aunty Eleanour mentioned the term “Ka Ki Lang ”, meaning “our own kind”. This preference goes way beyond marriage partners with deep roots even in Chinese business culture today.

Travel

If you ever consider traveling to China, then why not learn Mandarin? China is also rich in culture with a vast number of unique traditions waiting to be discovered. Learning mandarin can give you a whole different experience. While learning Chinese, you will slowly learn their culture too. Learning a people’s culture will always give you an upper hand when you travel. You will know where to ask, what to do and what to look for. Essentially, you can get an authentic unique experience of culture and traditions without getting confused.

So, why not start learning Mandarin? Who knows what opportunities lie in the future for you!

5 effective ways to learn Chinese for free with 100% result

How to have fun with learning Chinese in the same way as having fast food? Fast food is many people’s favorite meal because it’s convenient and cheap. Learning Chinese can also be fun, low cost and effective at the same time.

Let’s look at 5 effective ways to learn Chinese for free with amazing results. 

Imitate native speakers

Most Chinese learners have difficulty with their Speaking skill among the 4 skills of Listening – Speaking – Reading – Writing. One effective way to practice speaking Chinese successfully, is to work hard to imitate the pronunciation and accents of native speakers.

You can try listening to news, music or watching Chinese TV series. By practicing listening to Chinese for at least 15 minutes a day and maintaining that habit, and at the same time, imitating native speakers with a standard accent, you can see great results.

Learn vocabulary by topics

When you group vocabularies into the same topic, memorizing vocabulary is guaranteed to become much simpler. This is a particularly good way for office workers. Because when you learn vocabulary according to your field of work and interest, you will maximize that vocabulary, making your conversations with colleagues or foreign partners go smoothly with a natural flow. 

To improve your Chinese at work, you can start with some common topics such as writing emails, giving presentations, meeting in Chinese, working with foreign bosses, etc.

Learn Chinese through short stories 

You will find many interesting Chinese short stories on the Internet with audio to help you practice listening. Then, summarize what you hear with different grammar structures and tenses. You can use an online tool, or ask a friend or native teacher to check your spelling and grammar. After a short time, your Chinese grammar will definitely improve.

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Make friends with native speakers 

Your chances of meeting native people living in the same area as you are quite high. You can go to bars or restaurants for foreigners, join social clubs or sports activities, and find people who want to exchange languages. You can even volunteer as a guide at a tourist attraction near your home to meet Chinese speakers from all over the world. Additionally, with the growth of social media, you can reach out to others who love to practice Chinese with you on social platforms and expand your network. 

Choose the right Chinese learning method 

One of the fastest ways to learn Chinese is to use the right learning method that works well for you. If you prefer to study in a classroom environment, where you can have interaction with teachers and classmates, enrolling yourself in a community free language learning class is ideal. Nonetheless, if you have a busy schedule, you may find yourself interested in learning Chinese through online websites such as Pandanese or mobile applications.  

Hopefully, you can find one or all of the above 5 methods helpful in mastering Chinese learning. If you need specific advice on the most effective ways to learn Chinese, Pandanese is always ready to support you! Reach out to us or leave a comment below and share with us your thoughts! 

3 proven ways to learn Chinese using online platform at the comfort of your home

You don’t have to be enrolled in a professional language school to learn Chinese well. But the surprising thing is that the majority of Chinese learners still choose to enroll in long-term and pricy language courses, which can triple the price of an annual or lifetime subscription study plan of online language platforms. 

However, the world is changing and with the development of technology, Chinese language learners are choosing to utilize an effective educational platform like Pandanese to master their favorite language at the expense of less than $10/month. 

Let’s walk through these 3 proven methods to master your Chinese at the comfort of your home. 

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Practice makes perfect 

Daily practice is one of the most efficient ways to learn a new language. With so many distractions stemming from different sources both online and offline nowadays, blocking out approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour per day to dedicate to your language improvement is already an amazing start. By practicing daily, even just 5 new words or 3 new characters per day, you are one step closer to fulfill the vocabulary goal that you set out for yourself. 

Easy said than done, what you want to know is how to achieve this daily goal without going to a language class supplied with a strict teacher and printed books and resources? Actually, it’s simpler than you thought. If you have a computer or access to one, you can access an educational language website at the click of a button. 

Learning a challenging language such as Chinese online that you can easily subscribe to at a fraction of the cost reduces the friction between studying at your convenience and having to show up in class. Both methods provide you with the study resources and materials you need. However, using an online study platform gives you more freedom in structuring your study time if you are tight on time. You can freely choose when to study your favorite language. You do not need to worry about showing up in class on time while there is always a risk of something urgent comes up at the last minute. Additionally, you may not feel lazy or reluctant to open your computer and browse through several fun flashcards per day to memorize new cool Chinese words.

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Make it stick 

Spaced repetition makes learning Chinese less intimidating. In the Chinese language, there are a challenging number of characters, radicals, and phrases that need to be learned. Because of these elements, some Chinese learners have been struggling with following through with their study process. However, Chinese is just the same as other languages, that it is not designed to be learned at one time. This is where spaced repetition comes into play. It is known that the spaced repetition technique, coined by Hermann Ebbinghaus, helps to boost long-term memory and is used extensively in education curriculums. One of the most common applications of spaced repetition is the use of flashcards. 

Flashcards are the main method on all online educational language platforms due to the specific reason mentioned above. The additional features that language learning website like Pandanese offers based on the flashcard system are lessons, tests and study reminder. Hence, what you are getting from learning flashcards online is not just the benefit of repetition, but also of the interactive learning approach that is usually offered only in class. 

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Seeing is learning 

Visual aids bring your Chinese learning to the next level. Many learners, as well as non-learners, know that the Chinese language is famous for its rich vocabulary of characters. These characters look cool, and if you know about 100 words made up from the most popular characters, you may feel like a superhuman. The reason for this is that characters are quite hard to remember and the combination of characters to make up words seems limitless. This fact sometimes turns off Chinese learners. However, if you can learn Chinese characters like reading manga, or watch a TV show, by having all the visuals, you may feel learning this language is like a walk in the park. 

Images of Chinese characters with fun art explanations of their meanings are fully optimized on many online learning websites such as Pandanese. This is possible because the websites want to stimulate learners visually. Additionally, without the presence of a teacher, the platform ensures that anyone can understand the meaning of words and phrases by simple but fun explanations in the form of pictures. So even if you find reading words, not your strong suit, you will have no problem learning Chinese online.

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Whether you are choosing Pandanese or any online learning platform, you are utilizing the power of technology to master Chinese at the comfort of your home. With so many options out there to choose from, hopefully, you can find the right fit for your study journey that makes it an enjoyable and rich experience. 

Reach out to us at Pandanese to learn more about what we offer and have a fun trial run with us. We would love to accompany you on your journey of knowledge and wisdom. 

One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.

Frank Smith

The Chinese 5 Phases

The Yin Yang Theory

The Yin Yang theory is an ancient Chinese philosophy created long ago and still deep rooted in Chinese culture today. The most infamous part of the theory is perhaps the symbol of the theory. A circle divided into two sides, each side colored black and white. If you see the picture above, you’ll notice that they are not fully black nor fully white as there is a small dot with the opposite color on each side. This symbol is a representation of the theory’s belief of balance and interconnection. A simple explanation for this theory is that good things can’t always be fully good, and bad things can’t always be fully bad. Nothing is ever fully perfect or imperfect, the good and bad cannot be fully separated and will always be connected in a certain way. This philosophy is most commonly found in martial art teachings and exercises such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong. The Yin Yang theory later made it into pop culture and international fame when the famous martial artist, Bruce Lee, made his break into Hollywood. Bruce Lee’s break into Hollywood brought up traditional Chinese martial arts to light along with the studies that the martial arts was based on including the Yin and Yang theory. Other applications of the Yin Yang theory can be found in Chinese Metaphysics Feng Shui, Traditional Chinese Medicine and a less well-known application, the 5 phases. 

The 5 Phases

The 5 phases or wu xing 五行, is an ancient Chinese philosophy as old as the Han dynasty in China. As ancient as it may be, the philosophy can still be found in modern day Chinese culture, for example, in Chinese medicine and Chinese astrology. In the 5 phases philosophy, each phase is represented with an element derived from nature. The 5 elements in this philosophy are water, earth, fire, metal, and wood. Each of the elements has different relationships with the other elements both negative and positive.

Chinese Traditional Medicine

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In Chinese traditional medicine, these elements can be used to represent an organ and medicinal herb. A traditional Chinese medicine doctor can decide on which medicinal herb can be used to treat a problematic organ based on the elements that the organ and herb is represented with. Take for an example the lungs. The lungs in Chinese medicine are represented with the element metal. The herbs in Chinese medicine are represented with tastes complementary to the elements. The tastes of the herb can be categorized into salty, sweet, bitter, pungent and sour. The herbs with pungent taste such as agarwood, tangerine peel, and wild mint, are represented by the metal elements therefore believed to be effective in treating lung problems.

Chinese Astrology

Similar to Chinese medicine, Chinese astrology also uses these elements as a representation of astrological phenomena and space objects. This representation is also the source of one of China’s four great folktales, the Tale of the Cowherd and Weaver girl. The folktale represents why the star Vega (weaver girl) and Altair (cowherd) are separated by the Milky way (heavenly river). Other than a source of fairy tale, these elements can also be combined together with the Chinese zodiac giving the astrologer insights on a person’s personality, fortune and love. 

Find out your element!

Left to right: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water

Getting to know your element is as easy as pie. All it takes is your year of birth to figure out.

If your year of birth

Ends with the number 0 or 1, your element is metal

Ends with the number 2 or 3, your element is water

Ends with the number 4 or 5, your element is wood

Ends with the number 6 or 7, your element is fire

Ends with the number 8 or 9, your element is earth

Let us know your element in the comments below!

The Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese Zodiac – June 25, 2021

The Zodiac in Chinese Culture

In Chinese culture, the Chinese zodiac plays an important role in daily life. From deciding travel schedules to more important matters like marriage and wedding ceremonies, the Chinese zodiac is often reffered to for good luck and fortune. In several Asian countries, the Chinese Zodiac goes beyond to just predicting luck and fortune, but is also referred to for matchmaking as it is believed to be capable of predicting prosperity and harmony of a future household. This culture is well-known and widely spread across Asia with several variations but, what’s the story behind the zodiac?

The Legend

Once upon a time, the emerald emperor, ruler of heaven, wanted to find a way to measure time. The emerald emperor thinks hard and decided to dedicate each year to an animal as a way to measure time. He held a race and announced that whichever animal reached the finish line would have a year dedicated to them. The road for the race stretched from the mountains to the forest until the last leg of the race where the animals must cross a river.

The mouse (属) asked for help to the kind Ox (牛) to cross the river, promising that they will reach the end of the race together. However just before they reaced the finish line, the mouse jumped ahead to the finish line securing first place leaving the Ox at second. The tiger (虎)followed and finished the race at third. Not long after, the rabbit (兔)finsihes at fourth. The dragon(龙)could have won first place but decided to help the other animals throughout the race. In the end, the dragon finishes the race at fifth place. The Snake (蛇)finsihed sixth and the horse(马)followed behind. The monkey, rooster and sheep worked together to cross the river. Once they did, they discussed the order of who should finish next. After discussing, they decided that the sheep (羊)shall finished at eight, the monkey (猴)at ninth and the rooster (鸡)at tenth. The dog (狗)could have finished much faster, but because he was distracted, he finished the race at eleventh. Similar with the dog, the pig (猪) went to sleep in the middle of the race and ended up finishing last. These 12 animals made up the Chinese zodiac that we know today, representing a 12-year cycle. The sequence goes based on the result of the race, which is mouse (属), ox (牛), tiger (虎), rabbit (兔), dragon (笼), snake (蛇), horse (马), goat (羊), monkey (猴), rooster (鸡), dog (狗), and pig (猪). 

In addition to the 12 animals, the 5 traditional elements is also added to this cycle. The elemets consist of fire (火), earth (地), metal (金), water (水), and wood (木). Each of the elements are chosen from nature and is related to the Chinese belief of Yin and Yang. Combining the 12 animals and 5 elements gives us a cycle that lasted 60 years. Because of this, the 60th birthday is largely celebrated with festivites throughout several Asian culture as it is a symbol of longevity and great health for being able to go through the full compelete cycle of 12 animals and 5 elements. 

Check your zodiac!

The year you are born  is represented by one of the 12 animals and one of the 5 elements. Check out the chart below to see which zodiac and which element the year you are born. Each animal and elements can give some insights to your character, predict your fortune and luck. Let us know in the comment below!

This article is published by the Pandanese team.

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