Questions and answers about learning Chinese

Today I will answer some questions related to learning Chinese. I have been learning Mandarin Chinese for three years now and I’m on elementary level at the moment, going strongly towards intermediate.

Here are some questions you typed to your favourite search engine before ending up to my blog.

Can I trust Skritter?

Seems like someone have been thinking of trying Skritter to learn Chinese, but is not sure if he/she wants to give them his/her credit card information. Skritter is a great way to keep all those words and characters on your mind. If you’re not familiar with it, you can first check out the post I wrote in January: Why I use Skritter to learn to write Chinese and why you should too?

From my experience I can say that you can fully trust Skritter as I have never had any problems with it. I do understand if you still don’t want to use your credit card or perhaps you don’t have one. In that case you can contact them by email and I’m sure they will find a solution that will work for you.

How do people know what to eat at McDonald’s in China?

This one is easy. Even you can’t speak or read Chinese they have a picture menu and you can just point what you want.

I know 1500 Chinese characters. What’s my level?

This isn’t easy to answer. When you say you know 1500 characters do you mean that you can read them? Or that you understand what they mean? Or that you can write them? In my opinion knowing x amount of characters should include all the aspects: meaning, pronunciation (pinyin) and writing.

Also being able to read or/and write isn’t enough. How is your listening and speaking skills?

You could test your Chinese by taking a HSK exam. That’s the official Chinese proficiency test. Well, to be exact there are two HSK’s at the moment, the old version and the new version. But no matter which one you take, it will be a good way to find out your level. More information about the old HSK can be found here: hsk.org.cn. For new HSK go to chinesetesting.cn.

No time to do that? Then you could try this Chinese level system.

Is learning Chinese hard?

There’s a huge debate going on whether Chinese is a hard language or not. This one I already answered last year in my post: Is learning Chinese hard or not?

Do you have any other questions about learning Chinese?


What is wrong with Western men in China?

Let me start with a story from last spring.

An Italian young man came to China as an exchange student to study Chinese. He and his fellow classmates enjoyed having fun on the weekends and usually headed to bars in downtown Guangzhou. He noticed that he got a lot of attention from Chinese girls just by doing nothing. Just by being a foreign man. Perhaps the muscles didn’t hurt either.

Soon he found himself a Chinese girlfriend and spent time with her and with his friends. But every time he went to a bar he didn’t want his girlfriend to come with him. Once he said something like this: “But I like those other girls too!”

Then one day his Italian girlfriend, who have been missing him for months, came to Guangzhou to see him. They went to dinner with his friends and the Italian girlfriend sat on the right side of him. Who sat on the left side? His Chinese girlfriend of course!

Luckily his Italian girlfriend wasn’t that naive and soon figured out what was going on with her “boyfriend”. She flew back to Italy and took one thing with her. His passport! I guess he deserved it.

No, I didn’t make this up. This is a true story and unfortunately just one of many situations between Chinese girls and Western men I’ve seen. I know men cheating on their girlfriends back home. Single men having fun with several Chinese girls and letting a girl think that she is special and his only girl. I have heard of husbands cheating their wife without getting caught.

What is wrong with these men? My theory is that because it’s easy for a Western man (even easier if you’re tall and good looking) to get attention and more from Chinese women. They are more popular here than back home. Suddenly there are so many girls around them that it gets to their heads. They start to think they are better than they are. They think that it’s impossible to get caught.

I don’t accept cheating at all. I know what it does to people and it’s nothing good. I have been myself cheated very very badly before I moved to China. Why don’t these men just man up and break up with their girlfriend or wife if they want someone else? Why they only think of themselves? Why they don’t feel responsible for their family that will get hurt?

Remember, not every Western man is like this. You don’t have to assure me that you don’t belong to this group. But you if you get angry after reading this, think for a minute, why are you angry to me about something you have done? I have seen enough cheating here in Guangzhou.

For all the Chinese girls reading this, take care of yourself. I don’t want to see your hurt. For all the good Western men out there, thank you.


Traveling in Hong Kong: Tai O Village

I visited Tai O fishing village last Tuesday while I was waiting for my passport in Hong Kong. If you want to see a different side of Hong Kong you should visit this charming place on the Lantau island. You can take the metro to Tung Chung station and take a bus number 11. You can also choose to take a ferry from Central to Mui Wo and then bus number 1 to Tai O village.

Tai O is the place for seafood lovers, but unfortunately I’m not one of them. Even the smell of dried fish is little bit too much for me. But there is also much more to do at the village than eat. Sea, mountains, local people, culture, old buildings. Tai O has it all!

Some people are living in traditional stilt houses called pang uk. According to Wikipediapang uk were evolved from boat houses of Tanka or fishing people, after moving to reside on land”.

For 20 HKD (16,50RMB, 1,80EUR) you can take a quick boat trip to see some dolphins. We were lucky to actually see two or three of them, but they were far away and this is the best photo I got (look above). It was the first time I have seen a dolphin in the nature so it was really exciting!

If you are living or visiting Hong Kong, give Tai O a chance. It’s a lovely village, but if you want to, you can manage it in a hour or two (plus bus and metro). Or have you been there already?