Language Week at Outside-In

I’ve decided to blog around a theme this week, namely the Chinese language and language learning. Each day there will be a new post related to that theme.

At the same time I am launching a subscription drive, complete with a “lucky draw.” New subscribers and/or those who recommend new subscribers will be entered to win a free copy of my book, “Survival Chinese Lessons.”

To enter the ‘lucky draw” you will need to either subscribe to this blog or recommend someone to subscribe. You can do so by entering your email in the “subscribe to updates by email” section on the right, or by subscribing to the RSS feed. If you subscribe to receive it by email, a verification email will be sent to you.  You will need to click on the link provided in that email in order to activate your subscription. Be sure to check your spam box if it doesn’t come through right away.

After you have subscribed, please leave a comment on THIS post letting me know. If someone recommended this blog to you, please indicate that in the comment.  Just give the person’s first name and last initial. I will most likely be able to figure out how it is!

The deadline to subscribe is the end of the day (wherever you are on the planet) on October 13, 2012. 2 names will be chosen randomly to receive a free copy of my book.

That’s all there is to it!

Now, with that out of the way, and to whet your appetite, here is the introduction to the book:

In 1582 an Italian Jesuit named Matteo Ricci arrived in Macau to begin learning the Chinese language. He would eventually master the language and come to be recognized as a true Chinese scholar by the intellectual elite of the day. He not only spoke the language fluently; he translated the Confucian classics into Latin and even wrote books in Chinese himself.

After establishing communities in Macau, Guangzhou, Nanchang, and Nanjing, he was granted permission by the emperor to live in Beijing in 1601, becoming the first westerner to reside there. He died at his home in Beijing in 1610.

In March 2010, to mark the 400th anniversary of his death, the municipal government of his hometown in Italy sponsored a special exhibition on his life and work at the Beijing Capital Museum, titled “Matteo Ricci: An Encounter of Civilizations in Ming China.” The exhibit included many 16th century artifacts, including original Chinese language books written by Ricci.

One section of the exhibit focused on his years of language study in Macau, and was titled “In the Whirlpool of the Chinese Language.” It is an apt description of what it is like “foreigners” to learn Chinese.

Many people come to China with the hope and/or intention of learning the language, but soon give up. The tones, the unfamiliar sounds, and he complexity of the characters quickly form themselves into a whirling mass that overwhelms the motivation and desire to learn. The task seems too big.

Learning Chinese is a big task, but learning how to use the language to accomplish simple, everyday tasks is not.  You may never, like Matteo Ricci, translate Chinese classics or write books in Chinese yourself. But even Ricci had to start with the basics, learning the sounds, the tones, and the vocabulary to accomplish the stuff of everyday life.

And there-in lies the purpose of this book – to help you learn the sounds of Chinese as well as some basic vocabulary, questions, statements, and conversations. It is by no means a comprehensive Chinese language textbook. You will NOT be fluent by the time you work through it. Rather, it is something to help you get your feet – or should I say your big toe –wet. Actually, if you can use this material when you are done, you will have just enough Chinese to get you into trouble.

Whether you are trying to learn some Chinese in preparation for a visit to China, for a short-term work assignment, or as the first steps in a life-long journey of learning, it is my hope that these materials will be helpful to you.


You can read more about the book by clicking “My Book” at the top of this page.

Related Post:

A Letter to Chinese Language Learners

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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14 thoughts on “Language Week at Outside-In

  1. I heard about Outside In through Amy Y’s blog.
    I recommended two people subscribe to Outside In- Jean B and Bettye L.
    Please enter me in the book drawing.

  2. Hello, Jo!!!

    Hooray for “Language Week”!!! So, I was at EPCOT on National Day (which was also EPCOT’s 30th Anniversary) and stopped by the China Pavilion to wish whomever I saw a happy holiday… Some were more receptive than others to my “mamahuhu” Chinese. I usually tell people that I know enough Chinese to get myself into trouble, but not always out! Just this past Sunday, I was back at EPCOT again (I know, just 6 days later — the joys of living in Florida!), and I was able to request (and receive!) a small bag = success! (It was for my friend who couldn’t finish her turkey leg…)

    I think I officially subscribed to your blog in March, but I’m pretty sure that I’ve caught up on all the articles over the years… (Thanks, Facebook!) Can I still enter your contest?? Every time I have a Chinese student in my office and ask if they need to borrow a pen, I think of you… 😉

  3. I found you through HaoHao. Your book looks really interesting and I’m going to wager that it’ll be very successful. Have you thought about doing a Kindle version?

  4. Just subscribed. My family just moved to Sichuan about 6 weeks ago. I know my wife, in particular, could use some Chinese survival!

  5. Ah, so this is where we’re supposed to leave comments! I may not get back to China again- been twice. So, maybe the book could go to someone who might use it more, but thought I’d post anyway. Small world- as a woman at my neighborhood bus stop has taught in China through ELIC too.