If your asking this question you’re already going about it the wrong way before you even start. Sure, learning Chinese is not a simple task for native European speakers, but that’s just because at first glance the language seems so different from what we know. When you break it down though, and set your mind to learning some of the basics you soon realise it’s not so alien as you first thought. The first hurdle is to get over your fears of learning a new language and have confidence in your own abilities. Giving up with a laugh and saying “I just don’t have the brain for languages” is not going to get you anywhere.
I’m particularly passionate about this because I see how much of a difference it makes when foreign tourists, students and interns make an effort to communicate with their Chinese friends and colleagues in Mandarin. Relationships in China are key to success in every walk of life. Even a simple sentence like “where are you from?” in Chinese demonstrates that you are open minded and eager to learn about your surroundings and the people you meet (even if you do not understand a word of the response!).
So, how do you begin to tackle the mountainous task of speaking Chinese? Where there is a will there is always a way. You just need to find the best way to make your memory work, this has to be personal to you I believe.
As inspiration for you all I’m going to give you a little insight into how my memory works…
Step 1. Start with the things that matter (i.e. food in my case). Choose a few of your favourite foods and cement those sounds in your mind with some word association.
Have you ever tried a ròu jiā mó (肉夹馍) for example? It’s a delicious stewed meat filled flatbread that sounds suspiciously like Roger Moore (otherwise known as 007):
Step 2. Next most important for me is something to wash the food down with, and since I live in Qingdao nothing can be better than a nice bottle of Tsingtao Beer. If you can’t find a single word to remember something by then start building a story to remember the sounds.
For example, Joe likes to drink beer. Sigh, but then he always needs to pee.
Pee Joe! Beer = pí jiǔ (啤酒)
Step 3. Once you’ve learned a few key words then you’re ready to start expressing your needs. Make yourself heard! When your colleagues are too busy trying to finish off their emails before lunch and your stomach is starting to growl with impatience it’s easy enough to let your imagination run wild…
Imagine Ursula the evil sea Queen from the Little Mermaid flipping her lid. I need food NOW! I’m starving = è sǐ le (饿死了)
Step 4. Then after a while you’re going to have to start recognising some of the more regular responses you hear in shops and bars in China.
The most frequent of these is méi yǒu (没有) meaning don’t have. “Do you have any Mayonnaise?” the foreigner asks with desperate hope in their eyes. “Meiyou” responds the shopkeeper with a incredulous laugh.
So you see! Easy, you just learned 4 things in the space of a few minutes.
I hope this encourages you to come out to China and try learning the language for yourself. It helps to get a good grounding in the basic grammar and pronounciation from a native Chinese speaker to get you started.
You can sign up for classes here in Qingdao, or in Chengdu, Dalian and Zhuhai too. Send an email to email@example.com for more information.
Ni Hao everyone,
I’m BACK in Qingdao!!!
My name is Stephanie and I am a “new” intern at InternChina. I come from Belgium and I’m really excited to be here in Qingdao again.
During my first internship, I had the chance to visit and learn more about this wonderful city and its inhabitants. At first, it was difficult to find my bearings and adapt to the completely new culture, weather and especially the food. But thanks to all the other interns and InternChina’s activities, I had the opportunity to discover very nice places and people and feel “at home” here in China.
I was never alone, there were always interns that I met for lunch, for dinner and/or for parties. We were all in a country we didn’t know, alone and for most of us with none or only some knowledge of Chinese. I met lot of people from around the world such as Germans, Americans, British, Russians, French, Italian, Spanish, etc. We all gather almost everyday at LPG (a famous bar with lots of overseas students as well as Chinese ones) to have a drink and chat.
I also met some Chinese people especially during my language classes at Qingdao Language School. My teacher during the summer was Grace Liang, a nice and funny person, we studied a lot during the classes but we also met after work and sometimes during the weekends to go out or to visit some famous places in Qingdao.
I’m now back again but this time for three months, it’s not summer anymore so Qingdao it’s a bit less crowded than how it was six months ago. However, it’s still a busy city and active as always! The weather at the moment is a lot colder than the last time I was here, but the good side of it, is that we still have sunny days with blue skies.
Qingdao is a nice city with a lot of nice spots to visit: The Beer museum, the TV tower, the old town, parks (beautiful in summer), Laoshan (beautiful Chinese mountain with breath taking views) and more.
I’m really looking forward to this new internship experience and hopefully explore more of Qingdao and lot of other places in China!
Would you like to gain work experience in ? Apply now or send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
By Stephanie Baaklini
Happy New Year to everyone out there:) I’m now back in the office after 2 weeks of travelling through China.
One thing I learned in those two weeks is that a little Chinese can help a lot, especially because a lot of Chinese people aren’t very good or don’t even speak a word in English. Even in cities like Beijing and Shanghai you will sometimes have problems communicating what you want.
When I first arrived in China for my internship the first problem was the communication – because of a delay of my flight I couldn’t get the ferry to Zhuhai. BUT there was no one who could explain the problem – they tried to speak English but I couldn’t understand a word.
Same problem was with the taxi drivers – in general you must be very lucky if you find an English speaking taxi driver in Zhuhai 🙂 During shopping in the underground markets, where you have to bargain for the price it’s even harder – haggling is not easy if both parties don’t speak the same language.
There are a lot more situations where I was lost without any help of the other interns, who already had Chinese classes. Honestly I felt stupid, like a small child that couldn’t do anything without help.
That’s why I decided to start Chinese language classes. I just talked with Morgan, our Office Manager in Zhuhai and the following week my Chinese classes begun. The best is to have a private teacher, 1 to 1 classes – so the teacher can slow down if you need more time or if you already know a little Chinese you will start at your level. I took 2 hours twice a week, so every Monday and Friday after work I went to the language school and expanded my language skills. As it is a private teacher you can arrange the time individually which is an advantage, especially when you have a full-time internship.
During my tour through China I was glad to be able to communicate at least a little with the people. Very often it was about ordering food in the restaurant or asking for directions. There are some basic things you really need to know and then it will be easier for you to live and travel in China.
As a bonus it also looks nice on your CV to have a language like Chinese – even if it is just the very basic. I hope this will help me in my future career, when I have meetings with colleagues from China – as Chinese people are very impressed when you can speak a little Chinese 🙂
Most people think that the most difficult part in learning Chinese is the writing. Chinese characters look very complicated at the first glance, especially for those who start learning Chinese on their own, and try to memorize random characters. Of course, that’s the hardest way to do that. But you will realize that once you have figured out the system behind the Chinese characters you’ll find it so much easier to memorize them.
Chinese is a quite logical language. If you’re interested in reading and writing Chinese characters, the easiest way is to start with the numbers 1-10. They are very simple to write, quite useful to know:
One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten
一 二 三 四 五 六 七 八 九 十
This is it! Now you know these characters, you actually know how to read and write all the numbers through 100. The reason is that Chinese counting follows a very simple pattern:
10 = 10 + 1 = 十一
20 = 2 + 10 = 二十
There are so called “radicals” in Chinese language, that defines the character. If you know the basic ones then you could also get the meaning from the characters, even though you don’t know how to spell the word. So Chinese radical is like a graphical component of a Chinese character. This component is often semantic, but could sometimes also be phonetic.
For example the Chinese character for mother consists of two parts.
The left part is the radical 女=”female”. Here the radical is also a semantic component.
The right part is a phonetic component: 马 mǎ = „horse“.
To sum it up, by just checking the left part you know that this character has something to do with a woman and by recognizing the right part you know how to pronounce it. Characters like this are quite easy to remember once you have learned more radicals.
Knowing this helped me a lot to learn Chinese characters. Just yesterday I had a task to call the manager from a company.
The problem was that I’ve never seen this character before and also didn’t know if the manager’s gender. So I checked the name, which says: 张 高娜. So I saw somewhere in the name the female radical 女 and I recognized the phonetic compenent from the family name “长”cháng. The rest of the name was a mystery to me. So picked up the phone, made a call and referred to the manager as „Miss/Manager Chang?“ and it worked out
So the hardest part of learning Chinese is to memorize are the tones, which will be handled in one of our next blogs. Being able to recognize the common radicals helps in the learning and recognition of old and new characters.
You see, learning Chinsese is not that hard. Especially not in one of our language classes.
Chengdu is a really vibrant and energetic city, that offers you the opportunity to experience the fast-growing modern China as well as the mythical ancient China while doing an internship in a company or take part in our language classes here. Apart from that there is also a really diverse nightlife that caters for all different tastes of music, beer and atmosphere. In fact Chengdu is meant to have the highest density of clubs and bars per capita in China.
Living in Chengdu for more than 4 months now, I had the chance to do in depth research into Chengdu’s nightlife and want to share my insights with you. Since there are so many places to go to, I will split it up in two blogs in which I try to give you an overview of the bars in the different city areas – but this list is far from complete.
Yu Lin (玉林)
Yu Lin is a traditional local living area in the city centre, which fortunately has been spared by the recent building boom and has a really nice and relaxed vibe to it. You can find hundreds of little eateries that offer delicious food to very affordable prices. Additionally Yu Lin boasts a wide range of small bars with regular live music from local and foreign artist. Places to go
– Machupichu (马丘比丘): a small and chilled bar hidden in a side street off Yu Lin Nan Lu (玉林南路) with live music on the weekends. When I asked the Dutch owner why he chose the name he said, because like the ancient Inca town, his bar is small and hard to find 😉
– Little Bar (小酒馆) old & new: with two locations in Yu Lin, this bar is a one of the oldest establishments in Chengdu. The old branch is really relaxed place where you can have a beer with friends and mingle with the locals. Whereas the new bar is the bigger one of the Little Bar’s and has a decent sized stage and dance floor to host the weekly live shows.
Tong Zi Lin (桐梓林)
Tong Zi Lin is the place where most foreigners live in Chengdu, hence has a bit more westernized bar and club scene.
– Shamrock: This sports bar is popular which shows a lot live matches (rugby, AFL, NFL, etc.) and also
is the home base of the local Western-Chinese rugby team. Ladies night on Fridays.
– Jellyfish: Very popular with foreigners (males) and Chinese (girls) alike, this is the place to work on your international relations. 😉 They have a new larger location in
– Beer Nest I :- A great bar opposite the Poly Centre with a variety of > 60 beers, wines, whiskeys, cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. There is a cozy upstairs sitting area with sofas and a lovely outside terrace where you can enjoy long summer nights.
– The Beer Nest II (Bar and restaurant) :- A second Beer Nest? Yes! But in contrast to the first Beer Nest, this one offers imported and mostly craft draft beers and tasty European food as well. Additionally, this location also offers great events like their bi-weekly Quiz Night and monthly Entrepreneurship Meetup- how cool is that?
Jiu Yan Qiao (九眼桥)
Close to Sichuan University campus, there are various bars and clubs in this area. The surrounding street BBQ places are always good for a midnight snack after long night out.
– Lan Town: Regular events with DJs from Chengdu and other Chinese cities playing a wide range of music from Hip Hop to Dub Step and Drum and Bass make this a place worth visiting if you are up for more urban sounds.
– Muse: You can find a Muse in almost every major city in China and the concept is always the same: stylish interior, pumping sounds and the occasional dance show on the stage. Good for a fun evening and a couple of whiskeys mixed with green tea.
Dong Men Da Qiao (东门大桥)
– Hemp House (麻糖): Relaxed atmosphere with a big outside area to linger around with a chilled Beer Lao after work. In the evenings they have either live bands or DJs playing until late at night.
For more info and addresses in Chinese and Pinyin check out https://www.gochengdoo.com/en/listings/itemlist/chengdu/night_life/ and https://www.chengduplaces.com/
Ni Hao everyone, my name is Stéphanie and am one of the new interns at InternChina. I come from Belgium and I’m really excited to be here in Qingdao.
So why am I here in China? Since I was a child, I have had a big interest in China and in the Chinese culture. I always wanted to visit China and the Great Wall. When I had to choose my third language, I jumped on the opportunity and decided to choose Chinese and studied it during my bachelor at ICHEC Brussels Management School in Brussels. It was definitely very interesting and I learned a lot during the two years. What was particularly interesting was that our Chinese professor was a “real” Chinese; he came form Shanghai and has since been living in Belgium for several years now. He teaches evening classes at ULB for a Master Chinese program for older students.
Two years ago, I was fortunate enough to visit Beijing and the Great Wall too. To walk on the Great Wall was extraordinary.I visited a lot during my stay in Beijing and really felt like I was in another world. Everything was so different, the people’s behaviour, the weather, the smells, the way of living and especially the food. There are so many things I saw during my trip to China, but I knew that visiting one city as a tourist was not enough to discover the authentic China. When I found the advertisement of InternChina in my school I knew that this was a great opportunity, so I decided to apply expecting to learn more about the country and its people. I got a reply soon after and InternChina offered me a Skype interview. Everything went fine and here I am in Qingdao.
When I arrived at the airport after a long journey Rita picked me up (she is the customer relations manager at InternChina Qingdao). She took me to the Marina to eat something and relax until my host mother came back home. I’ve only been here for a few days, so I’m trying to get used to the country and its inhabitant. I just started my first Chinese class here at Qingdao Language School. The school is only five minutes by bus from InternChina office and is easily accessible. The school itself is brand new and very well furnished, with several classrooms which are all spacious. All the teachers are young and enthusiastic; they speak good English and are highly motivated to teach their native language. Looking forward to getting to know Qingdao better and mastering the Chinese language!
Today, I want to tell you a little about how we get to know our host families.
A couple of weeks ago, I asked our Qingdao Customer Relations Manager Rita Jin, if she could take me with her when she goes to meet a new host family next time. She said yes, and I was quite excited to go a couple of days later.
After a 20minutes bus ride from the city centre, we arrived at the living compound and started searching for the apartment where we were to meet our new host family. The area was really nice and people were helpful. I have seen many living compounds in China already, but this one was bigger than the ones I normally visited. While searching for the right building we found a big frozen lake in the middle and thought that this place would be great in summer for our interns and a really nice place to live while being in Qingdao for an internship or language classes.
After we found the right building, we were warmly welcomed into the family’s home. They seemed to be really nice and had just moved in, so they were apologizing a hundred times about their ‘chaos’ (seriously, it was very clean and comfy and not chaotic or dirty at all). Rita talked to them for quite a while, and it was interesting to see how many questions have to be asked and how long it takes to make sure that the family really wants foreign students in their life. Rita was really great at her job in explaining everything that is important for the family to know about foreign students, what problems might occur, what is expected of the family etc. The host mum also had a lot of questions, especially about the general language level of our interns and if the bedroom they had to offer would be ok. I must say: The bedroom was really, really nice and I would immediately go and live with that family!
I am sure everybody who’s coming to China with InternChina and wants to live in a host family will have a really good time and many great experiences. You will be able to learn a lot about Chinese culture and traditions but at the same time also find out what modern Chinese life is like. Of course you have to restrain yourself a little with going out and partying while you live with a family, especially if they have a young son or daughter, but what you will get in return will definitely be worth it!
If you are still not convinced, watch some of our video references here.
Ich bin nun dabei seit mehr als vier Jahren Chinesisch zu lernen. Zeichen lesen, Zeichen schreiben, Texte übersetzen- funktioniert prima: aber man könnte noch ein bisschen sein Hörverstaendnis trainieren. Also, auf nach China, so schwer kann das doch nicht sein. Wer in der Lage ist merkwürdige Juratexte zu übersetzen, ist auch in der Lage einfache Unterhaltungen auf der Straße oder am Telefon zu führen. Wer braucht denn da noch Unterricht?
Chinesisch sprechen in China funktioniert auch erstmal ganz super: der Taxifahrer versteht meistens wo man hin will, man kann nach den Preisen fragen und versteht auch meistens die Antwort, man kann in Restaurants nach der Rechnung fragen und kann jedem sagen, dass man aus Deutschland kommt und in Zhuhai arbeitet. Das hört sich ja schonmal nicht schlecht an.
Und dann? Dann wird man mit folgenden Problemen konfrontiert: fiese Dialekte, schnell gesprochene Umgangssprache und irgendwie mag sich auch einfach so niemand an die vorgegeben Vokabeln aus den Lektionen halten, die man zu Hause brav jeden Abend durchgearbeitet hat.
Alle reden schnell und es will sich keiner so recht die Zeit nehmen, auf eine langsam übersetzte Antwort zu warten. Und dann fängt es an: man hört sich einfach selbst sowas sagen wie: ‚Ting bu dong‘ (Nix verstehen) und der Käse ist gegessen.
Die Wochen ziehen ins Land, ting bu dong, ting bu dong. Irgendwelche Fortschritte beim Chinesisch lernen: Fehlanzeige!
Es gibt nun also mehrere Möglichkeiten:
1) Man lebt in einer Gastfamilie, die einem beim Sprechen lernen hilft.
2) Man hat ein paar nette Obstverkäufer oder Garküchenbesitzer um sich rum, die Mandarin sprechen.
3) Oder aber man nimmt doch noch mal ein paar Stunden Chinesischunterricht nach der Arbeit.
Nachdem die ersten beiden Möglichkeiten für mich keine Option waren (ich wohne in einem von InternChina organisierten Apartment und wie gesagt, mein China-Einkaufs-Netzwerk spricht leider nur den lokalen Dialekt) habe ich mich dann doch dazu entschieden ein paar Stunden an unserer Sprachschule zu nehmen und das war auf jeden Fall eine hervorragende Entscheidung!
Eine Stunde lang Chinesisch reden und hören. In meinem Tempo. Wundervolles Hochchinesisch. Und niemand lacht. Man wird verbessert und es gibt sich jemand richtig Mühe zu verstehen was man so sagen möchte. Es lohnt sich also auf jeden Fall nach der Arbeit (oder wenn man in einer Firma arbeitet bei der es möglich ist, vielleicht auch Vormittags) ein paar Sprachstunden zu nehmen. Es wird auf einmal so viel leichter sich zu verständigen und man hat wieder das Gefühl Fortschritte beim Verständnis der chinesischen Sprache zu machen, anstatt nur auf der Stelle zu treten und sich trotz ‚Wohnort: China‘ nicht weiterzuentwickeln.
Und was hat sich verändert seit dem? Man läuft selbstbewusst durch die Straßen, lauscht irgendwelchen Gesprächen und hört sich selbst gelassen sagen: ‚ting dong!‘ (Jepp, versteh ich!).
I’ve started taking Mandarin classes every morning and have really enjoyed it. The first few days were difficult, especially getting used to the tones!! I have, however, seen alot of improvement and want to continue working on my Mandarin.
My teacher is a bubbly, eccentric 22 year-old girl named Liudi…she’s quite the teacher!
Yesterday myself and my two other classmates who’re also interns went out to lunch with all of the teachers and had a blast! See the attached photo