small town laowai

an Americanish life in backwater China

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Chinese language

Tongue Tied? Blame Your Affective Filter

So, you’re in class and the teacher calls on you to read some long passage that is full of ridiculously obscure characters. And you were traveling all weekend so you didn’t preview this lesson. And this happens to be the… Continue Reading →

A Story Only China Expats Will Mingbai

How good is your Chinglish? If you can follow this story, I’m guessing you have lived in China hao jiu. The other day, I was buying some ershou furniture from a guy across town but I knew it was going… Continue Reading →

6 Chinese Words I Learned from Songs

Learning the lyrics to Chinese songs is a really fun way to learn new words and phrases in Chinese. It’s a great window into culture, too, to hear the poetic way sentiments are expressed in songs. From the time I… Continue Reading →

5 Surprises You’ll Encounter When You Travel to China

Today, I’m pleased to share a guest post with you, written by Yang Yang from Learn Mandarin Now. I’m sure if you have been to China, you can relate to these, and add some of your own. Enjoy! 5 Surprises You’ll… Continue Reading →

9 Chinese words you’re saying wrong (and how to fix them)

Everyone’s talking about China these days…too bad it’s so hard to pronounce what they’re trying to say. Here are the top mistakes I hear English speakers make, and how to correct them. Important note! I’m a linguist and I think… Continue Reading →

Illiteracy strikes again

“Mom, this salt is green.” Evan was helping me make dinner, and had just opened a new bag of salt. He was making a weird face as he peered inside. “And it smells like fish.” I grabbed the bag, wondering… Continue Reading →

Americans drive on the left and other truths I’ve learned

Years ago, I was having a conversation with my Malaysian friend, and we started talking about how Malaysia has a lot of British influence. “We drive on the right like they do,” my friend explained. “Wait, what?” I thought I… Continue Reading →

The Top 10 Ways to Learn Mandarin Chinese (Infographic from Learn Mandarin Now)

I was honored to be asked to take part in a survey from Learn Mandarin Now that polled China bloggers on the best resources they used in learning Mandarin Chinese. Take a look at the great infographic they put together… Continue Reading →

Insulting the elderly (Taking Route)

The swell gals over at Taking Route have been running a series called “31 Tips for Surviving (Not Crying) in a New Country.” This month, they and guest contributors are sharing all kinds of humorous tales of language and culture… Continue Reading →

Handy-Dandy Chinese Glossary

Here’s all the lovely Chinese words that I throw in my posts. Sometimes things just sounds better in Chinese. Word/phrase Chinese characters Meaning Usage and notes bu fangbian 不妨便 ‘not convenient’ This can also mean ‘awkward’ or ‘socially uncomfortable.’ Frequently… Continue Reading →

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