Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 039: Caleb Shetland

In this episode, I interview Caleb Shetland, an American now working in Taipei as a firmware engineer.

Listen to find out:

- His experience learning Chinese at a US college
– What approach he wishes he had used instead, to learn characters
– When he realized that learning Mandarin would be useful for his engineering career
– How he thinks Mandarin compares in difficulty versus other languages
– His experience traveling overseas for the first time to Beijing
– His experience as a foreign student at a Chinese campus
– His struggle trying to find a job as an expat engineer in Taiwan
– His initial experience working in an office environment in Taiwan
– What it was like being the only foreigner in a large multi-national company
– The benefit of being a foreign engineer in Taiwan
– The demand for expats in the local tech industry
– The importance of co-ops and internships


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 038: Alex Trup

In this episode I interview Alex Trup, a Brit now working in Digital Marketing in Taipei, Taiwan.

Listen to find out:

- About his experience learning Chinese in the UK
– How he went from China to Taiwan
– His experience as a foreigner in a Taiwanese working environment
– Why he likes Taipei compared to other cities he’s lived in
– His experience as a new father in a mixed cultural relationship
– His approach to raising his child in a bilingual environment
– What he would have done differently if he was to learn Chinese from the start
– His advice for a westerner looking for a job in Taiwan or China
– How he got the job at his current company as one of its first expat hires


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 037: XiaoFei

In this episode I interview Xiao Fei, an American blogger now living in Taiwan.

Listen to find out:

- His experience trying to get a degree at a local Taiwanese university
– Why he switched out of the Chinese program to an English one
– His experience living in China
– Why he finds his current university program more manageable
– How and why he started a blog about waterfalls in Taiwan (Facebook)
– His long term plans in Taiwan
– What he would do differently if he was to learn Chinese again
– Why he thinks writing is a valuable skill to learn
– Why he’s proud of his sloppy writing
– His opinion on telling jokes in Chinese


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 036: Keoni Everington

In this episode I interview Keoni Everington, an American now working in the media business in Taiwan.

Listen to find out:

- What got him interested in learning Chinese 20 years ago
– What it was like learning Chinese in Ohio
– How he benefited from guanxi early on
– What it was like moving from Ohio to Beijing in 1994
– How he overcame the difficult living conditions back then
– All the different jobs he had along the way, and how he progressed through them
– His secret to getting jobs that he may not be directly qualified for
– The advantages and disadvantages between working for Chinese companies versus western ones
– What he wishes he had done differently career wise
– What he recommends more foreigners do to expand their career paths
– An alternate approach you could use to work at a specific company


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 035: Scott Faul

In this episode I interview Scott Faul, an American now living in Taiwan.

Listen to find out:

- What got him interested in learning Chinese, while in the US
– His experience studying Chinese in Taiwan, while working on the side
– How he used the Chinese he had learned, while working in the US
– The benefits he found for being able to speak Chinese, while looking for work
– His experience living in Beijing for 10 years
– The difference he found in culture between China and Taiwan
– The difference in accents and slang he experienced between Taipei and Beijing
– What he would have done differently regarding learning Chinese
– Why he switched from business to doing a masters in translation
– What his career plans in translation are currently
– The difference in business culture in China / Taiwan versus in America
– How negotiations are handled differently in China / Taiwan versus out west


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 034: Aaron Simmons

In this episode I interview Aaron Simmons, an American Professional Development Coach. He is the founder of Diversify International and Multi-Lingual Story Corner.

Listen to find out:

- What got him interested in Chinese culture and language in the first place, while studying in the US
– Why he chose a more challenging route to learning Chinese
– What his experience was living in China while in an intensive program learning Chinese
– Why he moved from China to Taiwan
– How he got his first job managing a school
– What he found unique about managing local Taiwanese employees
– How he had to change his management style to adapt to local culture
– How he adapted to becoming a consultant
– How he improved his Chinese skills as a result
– Why he decided to start his own consulting company
– How he found new clients
– How he adapted from simplified Chinese characters to traditional ones
– What the biggest challenge he had adapting to Chinese in Taiwan was


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 033: Alex Barker

In this episode, I interview Alex Barker, an American consultant about his experience learning Chinese

Listen to this episode to find out:

- How Alex got interested in learning Chinese in America
– His experience in an American college class learning Chinese
– Why he didn’t make as much progress in Chinese as he wanted to
– His experience taking a university class in Chinese in Taiwan
– His experience working as an intern at the American Chamber of Commerce
– Why he found it useful to have Mandarin ability on his resume
– Why he feels there are multiple levels of Mandarin ability
– His experience with personal relationships that only use Chinese
– What he would do differently if he had to study Chinese again
– Why he would encourage students in school to choose Chinese as a second language
– What advice he would give to students learning Chinese in a non Chinese speaking area
– How he recommends people learn colloquial Chinese
– What threw him off about speaking Chinese in Taiwan versus in Beijing
– His experience being on Taiwanese game shows


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 032: Adriana Estrada

In this episode I interview Adriana Estrada from Guatemala, who has lived in Taiwan for the past 7 years, completing her undergraduate and master’s degree during that time.

Listen to find out:

- What brought Adriana to Taiwan in the first place
– What advantages she brings to the work place over local Taiwanese
– What types of companies she’s looking to work at
– Her experience completing an engineering degree in Chinese
– Why she chose Taiwan to do her degree in
– Why she’s glad she did her degree in Chinese and the approach she took
– Why other students come to Taiwan, but don’t learn as much Chinese as they should
– Why she feels most learning of Chinese is done outside of the classroom
– Why she feels getting a degree in Taiwan isn’t for everyone
– What aspects of culture shock she’s experienced in Taiwan versus Guatemala
– Her experience dating Taiwanese men
– Whether she’s affected by the amount of Taiwanese used by locals
– Her opinion on the different food options available


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 031: Nick Howard

In this episode, I interview Nick Howard, an American who has been living in Taiwan for the past 9 years.

Listen to find out:

- What brought him to Taiwan in the first place
– How he moved up from teaching at a cram school to teach at a university
– The process he went through learning Chinese
– Why learning Chinese was a priority for him
– Why he switched from learning in class to learning on his own
– How he transitioned from teaching to consulting
– Why he started a co-working space (Facebook)
– What he would recommend for expats wanting to switch from teaching to a different career path
– Why he recommends living in a smaller town, for those wanting to improve their Chinese and understanding of local culture
– How Taiwanese is used locally versus Mandarin
– How he’s been able to get along with his wife’s Taiwanese family


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 030: Derek McGuinness

In this episode I interview Derek McGuinness, an American who has been living in Taiwan for 7 years.

Listen to find out:

- What brought Derek to Asia and specifically Taiwan
– How he started teaching English, while looking for other opportunities
– How he started his first business in Taiwan
– How he compares starting a business in Taiwan compared to Thailand
– How he began learning Chinese on the side
– What benefits he found from being able to speak Chinese at a functional level
– What skill he thinks is necessary for expats to learn Chinese
– What things he did in his learning to get to the next level
– How he transitioned into his current job at an international fitness company.
– What cultural differences he’s noticed comparing Taiwanese clients with American and Thai ones
– Why he chooses to live in Taiwan than America
– What advice he’d give to an expat wanting to change their career path


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 029: Adam Menon

In this episode, I actually interview… myself! Well not, really. I invited CLO user Joe Cooperman to interview me on my motivation for coming to Taiwan and starting this course teaching fellow expats how to speak Mandarin.

Listen to find out:

- Why Joe uses CLO
– What brought me to Taiwan
– What problem I found with many methods teaching Chinese
– How I transitioned from teaching English to teaching Chinese
– What other Chinese resources I liked and was influenced by
– Why the lesson material is limited to 7 levels
– How the usage of the site has changed over the years
– On the future of the site
-

 


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 028: Steve Iglehart

In Part 2 of this episode, we continue our interview with American businessman Steve Iglehart.

Listen to find out:

- How he moved on to the skin care market
– What his biggest challenge was in this market
– The intense process of training salespeople to use his product
– How he learned to read people’s reactions over the years
– What the advantage of being an expat was, when it came to sales
– What businesses he has since transitioned to
– Why he thinks it’s easier for an expat to do business in Taiwan today
– Why he feels a local university degree is the best way to reach fluency in Chinese
-


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 027: Steve Iglehart

Steve Iglehart is an American businessman from San Francisco who has been living in Taiwan for almost 30 years.

Listen to this episode to find out:

- What made Steve want to learn Chinese
– Why he chose to come to Taiwan
– His first moments in Taiwan, looking for a Chinese school
– Why he decided to stay on in Taiwan and do a university degree locally
– Why he found the degree to be one of his most challenging life experiences
– His experience job hunting after graduating
– How he learned how business was conducted locally
– What his first business was
– What reaction locals had to doing business with him


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 026: Keiran

Keiran is a Canadian living in Taiwan, now working in the bicycle industry.

Listen to this episode to find out:

- What brought Keiran to Taiwan in the first place
– How he began learning Chinese initially
– What he didn’t like about his first school
– How he found people to practice his Chinese with
– Where the most effective part of his learning came from
– What he did to make himself more approachable for casual conversation with strangers
– Why he ended up getting a university degree in Taiwan
– What challenges he had getting the degree
– Why he feels learning more than one language at the same time is an effective way to learn
– Why getting a university degree locally in Taiwan is a great opportunity
– How he started in the bicycle industry
– His advice for expats wanting to do something different career wise
– Why being able to speak Chinese was helpful to him
– His advice for expats wanting to take their Chinese to the next level
– How he recommends you make the most of your experience abroad


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 025: Ross

FEINGOLD, Ross

In this episode, I interview Ross Darrell Feingold, an American now working as a senior advisor at the DC International Advisory, a law firm in Taipei, Taiwan.

Listen to this episode to find out:

- What made Ross focus on learning Mandarin Chinese 20 years ago
– What a one year intensive Mandarin learning program in Singapore was like
– Why he felt this program was still not enough for him
– What it was like to take a Mandarin studies course in a small American university
– What made him choose Taiwan over Singapore and China to further his Chinese learning
– What his plan was, after learning Chinese
– The most important thing to consider when applying for a job in Asia
– How he compares Asia with the west
– The differences in company culture
– A misconception he’s noticed in company hours
– Why he chooses to live in Asia
– How he uses Chinese in his daily work


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 024: Jon

In this interview, I interview Jon Renzella, an American artist now living in Taichung, Taiwan.

Listen to this episode to find out:

- What brought Jon to Taiwan in the first place
– Why he wanted to live in a place that didn’t speak English
– How he began learning Chinese without any formal classes
– His current approach to learning how to read Chinese
– How he uses technology to help with learning how to read
– How he transitioned into being a full time artist in Taiwan
– His experience joining the local art community
– His advice for fellow expats looking to follow their interests and passions
– How he overcame the language barrier to joining the local community
– How he started a gallery for foreign artists to showcase their work with the local community
– Some of the differences in local art culture from what he’s experienced in the west


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 023: Alex

In this episode I interview Alex Wagner, who now runs a pizza shop at a local Taiwanese night market.

Listen to find out:

- What brought Alex to Taiwan in the first place
– How he transitioned from teaching to selling pizza
– His process starting the business
– How the night market business works
– How he markets himself as the foreign face of the business
– Where he finds employees to work there
– How his Chinese has improved as a result of interacting with customers
– His plans for his business going forward
– How he got over the uncertainty of starting a business
– The crucial factor required to stand out at a night market
– His advice for those wanting to transition away teaching English


Guided Plan and Level Certification

We have added a couple of new options to the pricing page.

New users now have the option of choosing between the existing Premium Online plan, or the new Guided Plan.

PricingPlan

In addition to all the features from the regular online plan, the guided plan also provides an assignment for each lesson. This usually requires you to record yourself answering a question related to the lesson. If you require additional or customized vocabulary not taught in the lesson, you can ask the teacher who will provide an answer within 1 business day.

The guided plan also includes a level certification test for levels 1, 2 and 3. This consists of two parts. Part 1 is a timed online vocabulary test to see if you can identify vocabulary taught from lessons in your selected level. If you pass this test (80% or higher score), you then qualify for an online Skype test with one of our teachers.

We have prepared a set of questions for each of levels 1, 2 and 3. If the teacher is satisfied with your answers (passing score of 80% or higher) then you receive your certificate, which can be printed out.

Existing users can only purchase level certification tests for levels 1, 2 and 3. In the coming days, we will also add level certification options to the redeem credits program.

Level_Certification

Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 022: Bear

In this episode, I interview “Bear” – originally from Scandinavia, now working in China.

Listen to find out:

- What brought him to China in the first place
– His initial hardships in China
– Why he felt he wasn’t capable of learning Chinese in the beginning
– Why he didn’t make progress learning initially, and what changed that
– What motivated him to start learning characters
– The drastic improvement being able to speak Chinese had on his daily life
– How he’s able to make friends with local Chinese
– What aspect made a great improvement in his qualify of life in China
– Some of the big differences in company culture he found in China versus Europe
– The big difference in job interviews between China and Europe
– His experience with “face” and trust in Chinese companies
– His recommendations for foreigners living in Chinese communities and in local relationships
– How he learned to communicate using a Chinese version of English
– How learning Chinese compares to learning other languages
– His advice to foreigners who haven’t tried to learn Chinese yet, because they believe they aren’t capable
– Why it’s ok to make mistakes while speaking


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 021: I love Taiwan

In this episode, I continue the interview I did with Shaun Bettinson, where he discusses his “I love Taiwan” project.

Listen to find out:

- How this project got started.
– How he launched his initial promotional video

- The Project Website
-
 How he was able to promote it
– How he won a Guinness World Record
– Why he thinks the project was so popular
– What he gained from this experience
– How he benefited from the friendships made
– How his outlook on the future has changed


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 020: Shaun Bettinson

In this episode, I interview Shaun Bettinson, a Brit who now lives in Taichung, Taiwan.

Listen to find out:

- What brought Shaun to Taiwan initially
– Where he learned his initial Chinese
– What he didn’t like about his first group class
– What he liked about his next teacher
– What he recommends you look for in a private teacher
– What kind of effort he put in to learn Chinese outside of class
– What benefits he found from being able to speak Chinese
– How he transitioned from teaching into an alternate career path
– How his Chinese helped him in his new position
– What advice he’d give to someone wanting to switch from teaching to a different career path


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 019: Davide Saccon

In this episode, I interview Davide Saccon, an Italian now living in Qingdong, China.

Listen to find out:

- How he learned “street” Chinese in Italy
– What brought him to China after that
– Why the Chinese he had learned before wasn’t as useful in smaller Chinese villages
– How he used the Chinese he had learned to land his first job in China
– Why it was much harder to learn Chinese outside of China than in China
– What cultural differences he noticed between working in China versus Europe
– How compensation affects motivation with Chinese workers
– How he manages language and communication with his Chinese wife
– Why he had to change the language approach he used with his kids
– The language approach he finds works best with kids from mixed language couples
– The problem he found with the local education system for kids, and what solution they found for it


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 018: Ethan Feig

In this episode, I interview Ethan Feig, an American now working in a trade company in Taichung, Taiwan.

Listen to this episode to find out:

- What brought Ethan to Taiwan at age 18
– How Taiwan differed from his prior expectations
– How he learned Chinese from a fellow expat, and how that approach compared to his Taiwanese teacher
– How he maintained his Chinese listening and comprehension skills while back in the US for 2 years
– How he transitioned from teaching English into other work
–  About the work culture at his current company
– What advice he has for others wanting to work in non teaching careers in Taiwan


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 017: Wesley Insights

In this episode, we welcome back Wesley (from our last episode) to share some of the more fascinating aspects of the Chinese language including:

- How abbreviations work in Chinese (and how they differ from English)
– Why Chinese can’t be the next global language
– Why understanding Chinese culture is so important to understanding Chinese
– The actual meaning of “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”
– How chengyus are formed, used and developed
– Sarcasm in Chinese culture and how it’s used
– How he learns and uses chengyus, and how this differs from how native speakers learn them
– Why accents in Chinese don’t matter
– Why Chinese TV has Chinese subtitles
– How the writing system of dialects like Taiwanese has evolved
– The multiple ways that dialects can be subtitled
– “False friends” in Chinese
– How colors in Chinese are used differently than they are in English
– Why language learning is a series of plateaus with no distinct peak

 


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 016: Wesley Holzer

In this episode, I interview Wesley. He’s an American, with degrees in Chinese and translation.

Listen to this episode to find out:

  • How Wesley got interested in Chinese in the first place.
  • How he found Chinese easier to learn as a second language than Spanish.
  • What his teacher did to significantly increase his interest in learning Chinese.
  • Why it’s important to learn the whole culture rather than just the language.
  • What aspect of Chinese drove his main interest in the language.
  • His biggest struggle learning Chinese in LA.
  • What his best decision was, regarding learning Chinese.
  • What he learned on the street that they don’t teach in textbooks.
  • What he learned from taking a degree in translation.
  • Why he learned more from his grad school classmates than from local friends.
  • What happens to foreigners as they live in Taiwan / China for an extended period.
  • The difference in culture working for a Taiwanese run company.
  • Why you also need to maintain your English, while living in a foreign country.
  • The benefits and limitations of having a local partner, with regards to improving your Chinese.

Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 015: Dominic Cope

Dominic is from Oregon, USA, and now lives in Taichung, Taiwan with his wife and 3 year old twins. Listen to this episode to find out:

- What made Dominic move to China at the tender age of 16
– What it was like as a teenager living in China
– Why he lost a lot of weight while living in China
– What aspect of being a foreigner in China was the biggest cultural shock to him
– What brought him to Taiwan a couple of years later
– The biggest differences he noticed between Kunming, China and Taiwan
– What it was like to take a university degree in Chinese with local Taiwanese students
– How he transitioned from teaching English to his current position as Director of Operations for a US Tech company
– His advice for people wanting to transition into a different career path in Taiwan / China
– How he uses Chinese in his daily life
– His approach to language with his Taiwanese wife and his kids
– Why he changed his language approach with his kids
– His thoughts on educating his kids at this young age

 


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 014: Austin Yoder (Part 2)

In part 2 of our interview with Austin Yoder, we find out:

- About the Foundation for Talented Youth and why he started it
– What his goals for the program are
– How receptive locals are to being sold or lectured to by a foreigner
– How Taiwan’s entrepreneur culture differs from western culture
– Why the traditional career path is changing
– The increased influence that parents have in Chinese culture
– The importance of building relationships in local business (and learning Chinese)
– How to test if someone is interested in your product or service (or if you have a good teacher)
– His advice on the most effective way to learn Chinese
– His advice for foreign entrepreneurs in Taiwan
– How the Taiwanese government is trying to increase foreign involvement in local entrepreneurship

Resources mentioned: Taipei Startup Stadiumentrepreneur visaSocial Enterprise Cluster


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 013: Austin Yoder (Part 1)

Austin is an American who has lived in Hong Kong, Indonesia and now in Taiwan. He now runs two companies including tearroir and Foundation for Talented Youth. Listen to this episode to find out:

- Why he chose to live in Taiwan
– What it was like growing up as an American in Hong Kong.
– What it’s like going to an international school
– His experience taking a degree in Chinese from an American university
– How he started his first business in Taiwan
– His recommendation for how to register a business in Taiwan
– How he went about finding local clients
– About the tea culture in Taiwan and how it’s bought and sold

We will wrap up the interview in our next episode.


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 012: Priya Lalwani Purswaney

Priya is originally from India, but has now lived in Taiwan for 27 years. She works as a simultaneous interpreter. Listen to this episode to find out:

- What brought Priya to Taiwan in the first place
– Her initial impressions of Taiwan
– How she began learning Chinese and what approach they took
– Why she recommends an intensive approach to learning Chinese
– Why she thinks knowing Indian languages like Hindi helps in learning Mandarin
– Which sounds in Chinese she finds many English speakers have trouble pronouncing
– How she transitioned into working as a translator / interpreter
– Why she prefers interpreting over translating work
– How preparation for interpreting works
– The various types of translating options available, and the skills required for each
– Consecutive, whispering / simultaneous without equipment, simultaneous with equipment
– How interpreting is done for more niche languages (relay interpreting)
– The process that goes through translating sentence by sentence
– Why she recommends putting kids through the local education system up to Grade 3 or so before switching to an international system
– When she recommends learning to write characters and when it isn’t
– Why she recommends Hindi speakers (Indians) learn using zhuyin (bo po mo fo) over pinyin
-


Learn Chinese Insights Podcast Episode 011: Jason Schuurman

Jason has lived in Taichung, Taiwan for the past 4 years, after previously doing a stint in China. Listen to this episode to find out:

- What brought Jason to China in the first place.

- How he practiced learning Chinese before moving to China.

- The benefits of learning Chinese from a native English speaker, and what to look for

- How he compares interacting in Chinese in China versus Taiwan

- How he compared living in Nanjing versus Shanghai

- What prompted him to move from China to Taiwan

- His thoughts on traditional classroom learning versus modern methods

- His thoughts on learning to type versus learning to read.

- His approach to learning to read while learning to speak

- How he received a scholarship to learn Chinese in Taiwan (and what key approach he used)

- The differences between Chinese and Taiwanese people

- His communication approach with his Taiwanese wife

 

Resources and links mentioned: Anki flashcard program, Taiwan Ministry of Education Scholarship information