If Zorro can learn Swedish & Norwegian (Norwegish), Anyone can!

The other night I was desperate for a free action movie, so I whipped out my trusty iPad and opened my favorite Chinese Movie app, PPTV, to begin my hunt for a worthy candidate.  My expectations include only the basest of manly virtues, that is, senseless violence.  I tend to watch more medieval action flicks because while heavy in action, they’re primarily low in vulgarity and naked nudes.

After scrolling around for a few minutes, I thought my quest was all for naught, but behold!  Antonio Banderas starring as the 13th Warrior.  Ahmed ibn Fadlan is banished from…Babel? Baghdad? Whatever, he’s not even from that continent so I don’t care, to the north as an “ambassador”.  Anyway, Zorro is chosen to travel with a band of warriors to save a village from a mysterious evil.  Hard to resist right?  If my wife was there, there’s no way I’d have gotten away with this movie, not since the DragonBall Evolution fiasco…worst…date…ever.  But I liked the movie, just to throw that in there.  But I digress… Continue reading


Batman has a Batbelt, You have Chinese Language Tools

I’m a hunter, and I hunt for new tech all the friggin’ time that will give me the edge I’m looking for in Chinese.  Here’s the best of what I’ve found…so far…


Firefox plugins

Perapera Chinese Popup Dictionary

Vocabulary Highlighter

Chrome plugins:   Zhongwen: A Chinese-English Popup Dictionary

Chinese Subtitles:  Shooter.cn , requires .rar software

Use YouTube clips to learn Chinese: FluentFlix Continue reading

Sexy Context is Essential

At work, I probably do 2 whole hours of real work each day. The rest of my time is spent bouncing between side projects I have going on. One such project is going through a Chinese grammar wiki my buddy is helping edit for ChinesePod and All Set Learning.

One of the structures I was learning was, “Subj. + isn’t Adjective at all” or “Subj. isn’t the least bit Adjective.” One example included, “You’re not sexy at all,” and “He’s not smart at all!” These structures, along with others are carefully written in my study journal. Continue reading

Determine My Chinese Reading Level: Part 3

Big news! I just finished book 3 in my series of Chinese graded readers and things are looking up!  Here’s the statistics:

Total Reading Time: 212 minutes = 3 hours 32 min (2 hrs 35 min for Book 2)

Average Time per Page: 1.9 minutes/page (1.26 min/page for Book 2)

Average Characters per Page: ~362 per page; total possible: 442 characters/page, 17 lines x 26 characters/line, but realistically less than 362 characters/page after you take indentations and pictures into account (yes, they’re kids books, so there’s pictures, and dinosaurs…)

Length of Chapters: 4-6 pages (5-8 pages in Book 2)

Chapters in Entire Book: 40,182 = ~362 characters/page x 111 pages (17,324 in Book 2, over double the content!!)

Observations: Continue reading

Learning Languages & Killing Birds

When learning foreign languages, seemingly sage advice such as ‘Kill two birds with one stone,’ just won’t cut it.
I currently have a goal to figure out my reading level in Chinese by…you guessed it…reading!  Along the way, however, I’ve found myself trying to kill other birds with this one stone, meaning, while reading, I’m trying to boost my vocab, or I’m trying to increase my reading speed, or I’m trying to lengthen my sit-down time while reading.

All these side-missions have made my reading experiment turn into five other mini experiments.  I’m essentially trying to kill ten birds with one stone.

What I need to do, is kill one bird, one chinese reading bird, and kill him good, while using only one stonehenge sized stone to make sure I don’t miss.  (I’m sorry to any bird lovers, this is just a metaphor, no hard feelings against birds, except for the ones that use my car as target practice).

I’ve decided to quit expanding my experiments to try and include outlying elements and just use the experiment the way it is designed, and that is as a tightly controlled experiment with as few variables as possible.

How have you managed to kill your bird?  What are your distractions?  Share!

Language Study Plan 2: Three Fold Path: Right Method, Right Attitude, and Right Materials

From John Fotheringham @ LanguageMastery.com
Quoted from his article in The Polyglot Project

Most people never reach fluency because they spend far too much time learning about the language (reading the manual) and not enough time actually acquiring it (driving the car). Continue reading