Happy New Year!

Welcome back everyone.  Hope you all had a good holiday season.  I’m very excited about what the New Year will bring to this website and to this program here.  Heck, I’m extremely excited about the changes you’ll see in the next month so stay tuned…


CLO Remixes

One of our listeners has taken the time to create remixes of some of our lesson dialogues and made them available on his website.  I especially like his last one where he created a direct comparison between Kirin’s Taiwanese accent and Ray and Heidi’s Northern Chinese version.  Thanks James!  You can take a look at his work here.


Music!

As stated in the previous post, I’m experimenting with other forms of “input” outside of the lessons themselves. While in Taiwan I listened to lots of interesting music that I wouldn’t have heard otherwise. Over the next little while I hope to post some songs along with the video, lyrics and translation in the Premium section.

To begin with, I will keep this in the free portion of the Premium section. A link to purchase the CD is also available at the bottom. I get a small commission for any CDs purchased, so hopefully that will allow me to leave it in the free section. If not, I may have to move it to the Premium (paid) side.

The first song in this format is “Superstar” by a very popular female pop group in Taiwan called S.H.E. The name of the group represents the initials of the English names of the three singers – Selina, Hebe and Ella for those interested. It is available in two formats: Traditional Chinese characters and Pinyin or Simplified Chinese characters and Pinyin. Scan through the Pinyin and see if there are any words or phrases that you recognize. Take a look at the (rough) English translation to gather the context. Enjoy!

Traditional Chinese character version

Simplified Chinese character version


New Videos

Due to popular demand, I have resumed producing the videos of Ray and Heidi. They are not meant to be fancy, but they do provide an alternate input of the material presented in the lessons. 7 new videos have been added.

I’m working on other forms of “input” for you that should be available during the holiday break.  Enjoy and keep the feedback coming!


Sections Updated

The following sections were updated this past week:

  • FAQ – a few new questions were added including “How do I keep the transcript from disappearing off my screen when listening on my iPOD?”  If you think of any other questions for inclusion, please let me know.
  • About Us – you asked for pictures of us plus wanted to know where exactly I was located so I put some new pictures and our address.
  • How to Use – cosmetic touches were added to make it easier to read
  • How we touch – cosmetic touches were added to make it easier to read

Thanks to all who have supported this website and my efforts this year.  This website is built around you and your suggestions so keep them coming.  I have a long list of ideas planned for the New year thanks to all the feedback you have given me so far, so I predict a bright year of Chinese learning for all of you.  Happy Holidays!


Improving your pronunciation

Here’s something cool to try (well I think its cool):

1. Visit the Vocabulary section of Lesson 45 (Premium access)

2. Start the “Test your Pronunciation” recorder.

3.  Scroll down and play Kirin’s version of the lesson summary.

4.  Listen to her read each line of the dialogue then repeat after her.

What you should find is that the recorder records Kirin’s voice then yours repeating after her.  When you play back your recording you should hear Kirin’s voice followed by your voice allowing you to directly compare if the two sound the same or not!

Now wouldn’t it be cool if I extended this feature to all the previous lessons…


Lessons 44 and 45 Traditional Chinese corrections

There are a couple of Traditional Chinese characters in the above lessons that need to be explained.

In traditional form there exist two characters: 隻 (zhī) and 只(zhǐ). The former is the measure word for animals while the latter means “only.” In the simplified form both these meanings are combined into 只 with the meaning and pronunciation derived from context.

Similarly, the traditional form distinguishes between 它 (tā) and 牠 (tā) with the former referring to objects while the latter refers to animals. In the simplified form, both are combined using the character 它.

The traditional Chinese vocabulary for lessons 44 and 45 has since been updated to reflect the above.


YATPPU

(In case you didn’t figure out the title, it’s “Yet Another Tone and Pinyin Practice Update).

Chinese character versions have now been added.  Links can be found at the bottom.  Use the mouse-over function for translations from Pinyin to English or Chinese to Pinyin.  A couple of the English translations are missing for now as I confirm the proper “idiomatic” translation, but they will be added soon.  Enjoy!


Test your Pronunciation

The Test your Pronunciation tool has been added to the Vocabulary section of Lesson 45. The Review audio summary has also been edited to remove the intros to allow you to more easily compare how your voice sounds. As well, Ray and Heidi’s version has been separated from Kirin’s version into two files.  Let me know if you prefer this format, in which case I can extend it to other lessons.


Holiday Special!

With two weeks left in the December holiday season I have decided to renew a previous promotion I had of $9.95 monthly subscriptions.  I’m doing this for two reasons:

1.  Since it’s the holiday season, I’m in a giving mood (yay!).
2.  I’m hoping to have a major feature introduced in time for the New year which would normally warrant a price increase.  However, rather than increase the price I would rather offer a sale till the feature is released.

The benefit to those who subscribe now is that they can maintain their pricing plan for as long as they maintain their subscription, regardless of future price increases so I highly encourage you to take advantage of this promotion while it’s available.

Happy Holidays!

-Adam


Tone and Pinyin Practice Update

There have been requests for downloadable versions of the Tone and Pinyin practices as well as Chinese character versions.  The former wish has been granted – download links can now been viewed at the bottom if you’re logged in.  The latter wish is on its way.

Be careful what you wish for these days, as it just might come true…

Happy Holidays!


Lesson 044 Updated

There’s been a minor update to Lesson 044. Thanks to Anthony for pointing it out to me. I had originally translated “Yǒu, yīgè érzi háiyǒu liǎnggè nǚér” (from Lesson 11) as “I have one son and one daughter” when it should in fact have been “I have a son and two daughters.” This has since been updated in the audio and the word for word transcript.

As well, thanks to Andrea (yet again) for pointing out the rules for the pronunciation of yī. When it precedes a falling tone, the tone changes to yì. So all the “yīzhī” references in the transcripts have since been changed to “yìzhī.” It’s a very fine difference between the two if you listen to the speakers, but it’s worth noting nonetheless.

Thanks again for all those who send comments as it really helps me fine tune this program for you.


Premium notes reorganized

I’m happy to say that the shift from PDF to web content is now complete.  The notes and questions that were formerly available in PDF format have now been separated into the Vocabulary and Notes links.  There have been a few questions as to why this shift was necessary so I’ll address them briefly here.  As always, I welcome your comments!

  1. The main attraction to the PDF format was being able to print the notes and take them with you.  This can now be accomplished by the “Print this Page” link at the bottom of every page.
  2. The PDF notes were regarded as being too “busy” since they included Simplified and Traditional Characters.  However, research from you the users has indicated that most of you are either interested in on or the other (or neither!) as far as Chinese characters go, so this content has now been separated in the Vocabulary section into Pinyin, Simplified and Traditional versions.
  3. Since these notes were meant to help you review the material, I am now making extensive use of the “Mouse-over” feature to allow you to test your retention before moving the mouse pointer over the words to reveal the answer.

It’s very important for me that as I move forward, I don’t take any steps back, so if there’s something I’m missing here, please let me know.  As well, since this site now contains well over 350 pages of content that were mostly individually typed, please let me know if you spot any typos or mistakes.

The video links have been moved into the Vocabulary sections of each lesson (where applicable) to allow you to follow along with the transcript while watching the video.

If you have any other suggestions on what I can do to improve your learning experience, please continue to send in your comments and feedback as it’s been extremely useful so far.

There are more goodies planned for December so stay tuned to this blog for all the latest site developments.


Test your Pronunciation tool

I’ve added a “Test your Pronunciation” box to the Tone and Pinyin Practices 2 to 4.  You can record yourself reading the text, then compare your pronunciation with the speakers.  Please test it out for me and let me know if you find it useful.  If so, I can add it next to the Review audio summaries for all lessons.


Lessons 3 to 22 Pinyin notes updated

I am constantly reevaluating the teaching style being used in the course and what best meets the needs of our listeners.  Many of the techniques I am employing here are different from that used in other courses.  However at some point, some consistency has to be used to make it easier for people to combine this course with other forms of study they may have.

When a new word is introduced, I try to break down the parts and the meaning to help you understand and remember it.  To go along with this, when I first started creating Pinyin notes, I purposely separated each character to make it easier to distinguish the separate tones that created each word.  However, this style differs from standard Pinyin which combines characters to create words with multiple syllables just like in English.  I have since been convinced from feedback that it is better to stick with the standards used in other courses, so I’ve updated the dialogue transcripts from Lessons 3 to 22 by rearranging the Pinyin into words that are easier to read.  The lessons after that have already been doing this, so hopefully this keeps things more consistent.

On a similar note, there are many instances where when characters are combined, their tones change.  Many second syllables often adopt a neutral tone in daily usage.  However, I have been keeping their original tone marks to help you understand the breakdown of each word.  Here too though, I have since been convinced by listeners (Thanks Andrea!) that it is better to keep the style employed by others and mark neutral tones as being such if that’s how they are generally pronounced.  I won’t change earlier transcripts for this part, but will try and employ this new style from hereon.

None of this should matter if you follow our recommendation of listening to the speakers and repeating after them exactly as they do.  The transcripts, Pinyin, tone marks etc. should supplement this method of learning and not replace it.

I hope you can see that your comments are very valuable to me, so keep them coming.


Lessons 21 to 30 Complete transcripts converted

Phew! I’m proud to say that we have finally completed the conversion of all our PDF Complete word for word transcripts from PDF format to the new “interactive” web version. It was a painstaking process but well worth it. We will now change our focus towards converting the Premium lesson notes from Lessons 5 to 30 to this new format as well. Hopefully that process will be smoother (and quicker!).

We are constantly on the lookout for new ideas to improve your user experience, so if you have any, don’t hesitate to let us know. Most of the tools on this site have come from your suggestions so don’t stop! There is a long “to do” list that we are working on right now. While the new Course schedule shows us taking a break during the holiday season, we will be using that time to catch up on updating some of the existing resources and coming up with new ones. As always, stay tuned to this blog to find out what’s new and exciting here at ChineseLearnOnline.com.


Podcast Updates

From now on, the latest Podcast update will continue to be released among the Podcast lessons in the General site.  However, since most of them refer to features and promotions that are later discontinued, they will subsequently be removed from the General site and archived here.


Lesson 26 updated

The audio for Lesson 26 was updated with a very small change.  In the original lesson, we said that zhù had a meaning of “to rent” or “to stay.”  However the former definition is incorrect so that reference was removed.  The word for word transcript was also updated to reflect this change.


Course Schedule

We’ve created a calendar for Level 1 (Lessons 1 to 60) and the start of Level 2 (Lessons 60+). You may view it here. Note that there will be some time off during the holiday break as well as between Levels 1 and 2. Use this time to catch up on your review, or take some time off from learning Chinese. :-) If any changes are made to this schedule they will be posted in this blog.


Complete Transcripts 13-20 updated

The Complete word for word transcripts for Lessons 13 to 20 have been updated from PDF to interactive format.  “Interactive” is the new buzzword we’re using for the online versions that allow you to mouseover Chinese words to get their English meanings.  There are 10 lessons left (21 to 30) to convert to this format.  We’ll then move to converting all the Premium Lesson notes.  Phew!

If you notice any glitches along the way (typos, outdated links etc.) please let us know!  Thanks.


Lessons 32 to 35 Updated

We’ve had a lot of feedback regarding the use of Chinese within the lessons from Lesson 30 on. For many of you it was too much. We’ve taken a long look at it and asked Heidi to slow down her rate of speech to make it easier to understand. Lessons 32 to 35 have been updated with Heidi’s lines made slower. The content of the lesson and transcript remains the same.

This approach we’re using is similar to how children learn their native language. When the same thing is said to them over and over, it eventually sinks in. So we’re hoping that by using the same teaching language in each lesson, it will slowly start to sink in. If ever in doubt, please refer to the Complete word for word transcripts that translate the extra Chinese thrown in there. Once you’re used to the current level of Chinese within the lesson, expect more to be introduced until eventually we should be able to use Chinese for most of the lesson!

Please continue to send in your comments as it really helps us improve the course for you.


Lesson 31 and 35 updated

There have been a couple of minor updates to the Lesson 31 and 35 podcasts. According to Kirin, my intros didn’t sound right so they were rerecorded to be more correct. The Complete word for word transcripts have been updated to reflect this change.

Since these are lessons that will remain archived to be downloaded anytime, it is important for each lesson to be very accurate.  If you hear any words or phrases that don’t sound right, please inform us.  We are also taking corrective steps to avoid having to update future lessons by getting it right the first time!  Thank you for your patience with us. :)


New Lesson notes

The Lesson notes from Lessons 31 on have been updated to include extra vocabulary pertinent to the lesson. The review questions for those lessons have been removed for now as it seems that there isn’t much demand for them in their current format. If you would like to see them back though, please let us know.

Over time, the PDF notes on the website will slowly be replaced with their website counterparts. This will allow us to present the material in a better format, as well as allow you to copy and paste into other applications (which was harder to do with PDFs). For those of you wanting to print, you may use the “Print this Page” link at the bottom of every page.

If there’s anything else we can do to improve your user experience, please let us know.


More Tone and Pinyin Practice

I’ve added 3 others to this new section at the bottom of the Premium lessons.  They are a collection of nursery rhymes, so they are short and easy to read.  Being able to master the pronunciation of these will help you with new words as they are introduced in the lessons.  Let me know what you think!


Tone and Pinyin Practice

The first Tone and Pinyin Practice has been added to the Premium section just after Lesson 4.  We had it there before, but feedback was that the audio wasn’t good enough (which I agree).  That has since been improved and it’s now back up.  I will try and add more of these type of practice as it’s a great way to practice pronunciation and reading Pinyin without having to focus on meaning (although the meaning is quite cute!).


FAQ

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) has been updated with a few new questions we’ve been getting.  It’s also been redesigned to make the questions easier to access.  If you have a question, please ask here or Contact Us.


Lessons 32 and 36

These two lessons were both updated to correct some misinformation.

32. There was a mistake in the original lesson as sāichē was originally taught as sàichē. Check the transcript in your lesson. If it has sàichē, then please redownload the lesson.

36. There was a mistake in the original lesson as jiùde was originally taught as jiǔde.  The easiest way to check if you have the updated lesson is to look at the length of the file.  If your file length is 11:00 please redownload the lesson as the new lesson is now 10:44.

In cases, where a major update in a lesson was made as in the above, there will be a message in the Comments section of that lesson (as there is now).  From time to time, we may make minor updates to lessons without changing the content.  In those cases, the updates will be mentioned here but not in the comments section.
Thanks and sorry for any inconvenience!


Podcast Update: November 2006

- new website design
– multiple review features in Premium section
– audio summary
– test your recognition of Chinese characters
– supplementary notes
– word for word transcripts
– special thanks to those who have given us feedback and given us ratings and reviews
– monthly price increasing to $14.95 US starting Dec 1
– November promotion: sign up for $9.95 US monthly and maintain the price with your subscription regardless of future price increases
– lots of new features being added in the next few weeks


Podcast Update: October 2006

- Lessons 1-12 rerecorded in past two weeks to improve sound quality
– Lessons can be searched on website by typing in lesson number (e.g. type ‘010’ in search window to bring up Lesson 10).
– Complete ‘word for word’ transcripts now available for Premium subscribers. Samples available in Lessons section.
– New speakers coming soon.
– Premium notes complement podcast lesson by teaching supplemental vocabulary and review exercises through reading.
– Premium content constantly being updated.
– Language learning and motivation tips from experts also available in Premium section.
– Premium memberships currently selling for $9.95 US per month.
– October promo: send comments to feedback@chineselearnonline.com.
– Vote and write reviews for us on iTunes, Yahoo and Podcast Alley.