Popup Chinese http://popupchinese.com en-us © 2012 Language Systems Ltd. Learn Chinese with free mandarin podcasts, lessons, HSK sample tests, music videos, movies and more.... Popup Chinese Popup Chinese service@popupchinese.com Clean no <![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Let me do it, myself]]> Tue, 28 Apr 2015 09:00:00 +0800

One of the things we're proud of at Popup Towers is our hard-fought ability to wring natural dialogues out of less-than-natural voice-actors, a skill that usually involves unleashing Grace at them in varying degrees of rage. And since recording a dialogue this way can take up a bit of time, the result is that we usually end up with a number of variants for each one, usually getting more and more natural as we go along.

If you're totally new to Chinese we suggest coming back to this show later -- the lesson is a bit tricky for the Absolute Beginner level -- but we wanted to showcase it here for two reasons. The first is that this show features not one but two dialogues. The interesting thing is that the first dialogue sounds a bit stilted while the second sounds extremely natural. And since they basically saying the same thing, we wanted to contrast and compare them, to learn what it is that makes mandarin sound forced and what makes it more colloquial.

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One of the things we're proud of at Popup Towers is our hard-fought ability to wring natural dialogues out of less-than-natural voice-actors, a skill that usually involves unleashing Grace at them in varying degrees of rage. And since recording a dialogue this way can take up a bit of time, the result is that we usually end up with a number of variants for each one, usually getting more and more natural as we go along.

If you're totally new to Chinese we suggest coming back to this show later -- the lesson is a bit tricky for the Absolute Beginner level -- but we wanted to showcase it here for two reasons. The first is that this show features not one but two dialogues. The interesting thing is that the first dialogue sounds a bit stilted while the second sounds extremely natural. And since they basically saying the same thing, we wanted to contrast and compare them, to learn what it is that makes mandarin sound forced and what makes it more colloquial.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - From the Archives of the CBC]]> Wed, 11 Mar 2015 09:00:00 +0800

Classical pianist Glenn Gould, the most improbable sex symbol in Canadian music history, set the world ablaze in the 1960s and 1970s with his emotional reinterpretations of Bach's keyboard repertoire. But what really distinguishes Gould from his contemporaries is the sheer volume of experimental recordings he bequeathed the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on his death, recordings made at home during his final years in recluse and only now available to the public for the first time....

Note to Listeners: we tried to keep this show focused on classical music, but then Grace kept mentioning how much she doesn't like Taylor Swift, and David felt forced to wave his populist flag, and that is how our podcast descended into nonsense shortly after our two hosts offhandedly diagnosed the vast majority of the Chinese population with obsessive compulsive disorder.

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Classical pianist Glenn Gould, the most improbable sex symbol in Canadian music history, set the world ablaze in the 1960s and 1970s with his emotional reinterpretations of Bach's keyboard repertoire. But what really distinguishes Gould from his contemporaries is the sheer volume of experimental recordings he bequeathed the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on his death, recordings made at home during his final years in recluse and only now available to the public for the first time....

Note to Listeners: we tried to keep this show focused on classical music, but then Grace kept mentioning how much she doesn't like Taylor Swift, and David felt forced to wave his populist flag, and that is how our podcast descended into nonsense shortly after our two hosts offhandedly diagnosed the vast majority of the Chinese population with obsessive compulsive disorder.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - Intrigue at the National Gallery of London]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 17:15:59 +0800

The tip-off? It had come from an old landline in the basement of the National Gallery, so the caller could have been anyone associated with the institute, and possibly even the director himself. But finding out exactly who had made that call was proving more troublesome than Inspector Zhang had anticipated, since the phone had been wiped clean of prints, and none of the staff - even when questioned privately - showed anything but bewilderment at any suggestion of impropriety.

So who had snuck into that backroom, and was there any substance to their allegations of artistic skullduggery? Complicating matters further was the demand for extreme discretion coming down from his supervisors at Scotland Yard, who themselves were now under pressure from Downing Street and the House of Windsor, both parties well aware that with the integrity of the Royal Collection at stake, the nation itself might face a public scandal that could threaten the integrity of the monarchy itself.

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The tip-off? It had come from an old landline in the basement of the National Gallery, so the caller could have been anyone associated with the institute, and possibly even the director himself. But finding out exactly who had made that call was proving more troublesome than Inspector Zhang had anticipated, since the phone had been wiped clean of prints, and none of the staff - even when questioned privately - showed anything but bewilderment at any suggestion of impropriety.

So who had snuck into that backroom, and was there any substance to their allegations of artistic skullduggery? Complicating matters further was the demand for extreme discretion coming down from his supervisors at Scotland Yard, who themselves were now under pressure from Downing Street and the House of Windsor, both parties well aware that with the integrity of the Royal Collection at stake, the nation itself might face a public scandal that could threaten the integrity of the monarchy itself.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Negotiation and Fortune]]> Wed, 07 Jan 2015 02:17:22 +0800

As a professional negotiator with more than twenty years experience on the force, Richard had dealt with hostage cases before and knew that this would be a particularly tough one to crack. And his was an impression confirmed by the grim visages on the faces of the SWAT team. Holed up on the upper floors of the National Bank, the kidnappers had settled into a defensive position that would make storming the building a disastrous exercise in bloodshed, making a negotiated settlement the only practical option.

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As a professional negotiator with more than twenty years experience on the force, Richard had dealt with hostage cases before and knew that this would be a particularly tough one to crack. And his was an impression confirmed by the grim visages on the faces of the SWAT team. Holed up on the upper floors of the National Bank, the kidnappers had settled into a defensive position that would make storming the building a disastrous exercise in bloodshed, making a negotiated settlement the only practical option.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - 10 signs you may have an asshole for a husband]]> Tue, 11 Nov 2014 11:40:36 +0800

As the whirlwind romance that preceded Mary's honeymoon faded, it became increasing clear that her ill-fated marriage had thrust her into a conjugal death march. Yet despite her husband's passive aggressive hostility, Mary lived in the hope that sheer enthusiasm could somehow break through his frustrated silence, and so continued to ask after him and express an interest in his affairs, and all despite the fact that -- let's face it -- the man was an unremitting asshole.

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As the whirlwind romance that preceded Mary's honeymoon faded, it became increasing clear that her ill-fated marriage had thrust her into a conjugal death march. Yet despite her husband's passive aggressive hostility, Mary lived in the hope that sheer enthusiasm could somehow break through his frustrated silence, and so continued to ask after him and express an interest in his affairs, and all despite the fact that -- let's face it -- the man was an unremitting asshole.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - American Hukou]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 09:00:00 +0800

The admission process had already taken four months. Four months of school tours, and meetings with first the principal and then every fourth grade teacher on payroll. Four months of paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork as Jonathan sat sullenly at home wondering when he would finally be able to go back to school. It had been a long wait, but today, at least, his parents would get an answer to that question.

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The admission process had already taken four months. Four months of school tours, and meetings with first the principal and then every fourth grade teacher on payroll. Four months of paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork as Jonathan sat sullenly at home wondering when he would finally be able to go back to school. It had been a long wait, but today, at least, his parents would get an answer to that question.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - Shattered Dreams]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 09:00:00 +0800

Rather than a regular podcast, today we are pleased to publish a longer Elementary dialogue designed to test your listening comprehension. The language used here is not terribly difficult, but it is spoken at native pace and with the sort of emotional inflection you'll find living and working in China. So take a listen and click through to our quiz to see how much you understand. Our annotated transcript is there as always in case you have difficulty.

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Rather than a regular podcast, today we are pleased to publish a longer Elementary dialogue designed to test your listening comprehension. The language used here is not terribly difficult, but it is spoken at native pace and with the sort of emotional inflection you'll find living and working in China. So take a listen and click through to our quiz to see how much you understand. Our annotated transcript is there as always in case you have difficulty.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - The Public Security Alarm]]> Fri, 12 Sep 2014 09:00:00 +0800

Through many countries and over many seas I have come, dear brother, to this futuristic society in which you live, only to find myself astonished and humbled by its paradoxical embrace of social monitoring tools which seem to assure social order, yet also remain respectful of individual privacy and democratic rights. But alas! What is that pale cry? From whence comes that demonic shriek which fills the air with groans of woe, and strikes my soul with fear?

Learning Chinese? This is a fairly easy beginning lesson that covers the basics of asking and answering questions, such as asking what things are. We also give you a great phrase you can use to make yourself seem more understood, and help you apologize as you push yourself off the subway. So if you're just getting started with mandarin, check it out!

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Through many countries and over many seas I have come, dear brother, to this futuristic society in which you live, only to find myself astonished and humbled by its paradoxical embrace of social monitoring tools which seem to assure social order, yet also remain respectful of individual privacy and democratic rights. But alas! What is that pale cry? From whence comes that demonic shriek which fills the air with groans of woe, and strikes my soul with fear?

Learning Chinese? This is a fairly easy beginning lesson that covers the basics of asking and answering questions, such as asking what things are. We also give you a great phrase you can use to make yourself seem more understood, and help you apologize as you push yourself off the subway. So if you're just getting started with mandarin, check it out!

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Beijing, 2015]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 09:00:00 +0800

The government had first dismissed rumours of the city's impending water scarcity, yet as the months dragged on and the supply trucks grew less and less frequent, public denial morphed into slow acceptance as the city baked. In time, even the moat around the Forbidden City drained to nothing, its dry stones picked clean by the dessicated husks of those who remained, parched shadows of their former selves.

Learning Chinese? This is an upper-level recording that features an original movie trailer. If your Chinese is getting up there, take a listen and see how much you understand. While we don't walk through the recording line-by-line, David and Grace do point out some of the more difficult bits, including some revolutionary language you may not yet know. So take a listen and let us know what you think.

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The government had first dismissed rumours of the city's impending water scarcity, yet as the months dragged on and the supply trucks grew less and less frequent, public denial morphed into slow acceptance as the city baked. In time, even the moat around the Forbidden City drained to nothing, its dry stones picked clean by the dessicated husks of those who remained, parched shadows of their former selves.

Learning Chinese? This is an upper-level recording that features an original movie trailer. If your Chinese is getting up there, take a listen and see how much you understand. While we don't walk through the recording line-by-line, David and Grace do point out some of the more difficult bits, including some revolutionary language you may not yet know. So take a listen and let us know what you think.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - Zhu Jing and Her Music]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 15:18:46 +0800

“梦想是很单纯的”、“当你无法左右这个世界的时候,就去创作吧”、“妈妈,我希望下辈子你可以做我的女儿,这样我就可以像你爱我一样来爱你”……今天,让我们一起走近朱婧——一位才华横溢的创作歌手,去了解她与音乐的不解之缘,去聆听她歌声背后的一个个平凡、真实又感动人心的故事。那时,那人,那天籁般的歌喉……

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“梦想是很单纯的”、“当你无法左右这个世界的时候,就去创作吧”、“妈妈,我希望下辈子你可以做我的女儿,这样我就可以像你爱我一样来爱你”……今天,让我们一起走近朱婧——一位才华横溢的创作歌手,去了解她与音乐的不解之缘,去聆听她歌声背后的一个个平凡、真实又感动人心的故事。那时,那人,那天籁般的歌喉……

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<![CDATA[Elementary - Travelling Light]]> Mon, 04 Aug 2014 09:00:00 +0800

Xiao Wang strained to tighten the security strap around her luggage, pressing her knee against the bulging fabric to muscle the suitcase closed. She was not sure when or how packing had become this problematic. For while she had long ago become accustomed to the need for travelling light, it nonetheless seemed that there was somehow more and more to pack for each trip.

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Xiao Wang strained to tighten the security strap around her luggage, pressing her knee against the bulging fabric to muscle the suitcase closed. She was not sure when or how packing had become this problematic. For while she had long ago become accustomed to the need for travelling light, it nonetheless seemed that there was somehow more and more to pack for each trip.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - Beijing Fun Life]]> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 09:00:00 +0800

是不是生活中总能遇到一些让你困惑不解、茫然无措的人和事?总有那么一些不可思议的人和事让你无语、无奈、甚至抓狂、崩溃,但也哭笑不得?很多时候我们选择了一笑而过。毕竟,林子大了,什么鸟儿都有。在这个多元化的社会里,那些奇闻趣事也不失为我们茶余饭后的谈资。也毕竟,怪圈里怎能没有奇葩?

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是不是生活中总能遇到一些让你困惑不解、茫然无措的人和事?总有那么一些不可思议的人和事让你无语、无奈、甚至抓狂、崩溃,但也哭笑不得?很多时候我们选择了一笑而过。毕竟,林子大了,什么鸟儿都有。在这个多元化的社会里,那些奇闻趣事也不失为我们茶余饭后的谈资。也毕竟,怪圈里怎能没有奇葩?

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - A Loosely Hammer-Related Lesson]]> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 09:00:00 +0800

Xiao Zhang loved his job. Even that time he fractured his arm at the water cooler, it wasn't until the pain began to trigger hallucinations that he even thought of going to the hospital. And then there was the day he had a spinal fracture and laughed it off until the company owner personally strapped him to a spinal board and ferried him to the emergency room. So a bruise? This was nothing. Hardly even visible.

Learning Chinese? And confused by our lesson photo this week? While we're willing to admit that this lesson doesn't have much to do with a hammer, all of the photos of bruises that we could find were offputting. And this lesson is going to live in our archives for a long time. So everyone gets a hammer instead. Consider it one degree of separation from our topic this week, and considerably better looking.

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Xiao Zhang loved his job. Even that time he fractured his arm at the water cooler, it wasn't until the pain began to trigger hallucinations that he even thought of going to the hospital. And then there was the day he had a spinal fracture and laughed it off until the company owner personally strapped him to a spinal board and ferried him to the emergency room. So a bruise? This was nothing. Hardly even visible.

Learning Chinese? And confused by our lesson photo this week? While we're willing to admit that this lesson doesn't have much to do with a hammer, all of the photos of bruises that we could find were offputting. And this lesson is going to live in our archives for a long time. So everyone gets a hammer instead. Consider it one degree of separation from our topic this week, and considerably better looking.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Anarchists and the Printing Press]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 09:00:00 +0800

After years in the metaphorical wilderness, the Society of Anarchists had finally gathered enough funds to purchase their printing press. Tucked away covertly below the buildings of parliament, the machine stood as a symbol of intellectual resistance within the very halls of a power. Its presence would spark a revolution in dissent and art both, and draw the ire of the very political establishment whose ideology it mocked.

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After years in the metaphorical wilderness, the Society of Anarchists had finally gathered enough funds to purchase their printing press. Tucked away covertly below the buildings of parliament, the machine stood as a symbol of intellectual resistance within the very halls of a power. Its presence would spark a revolution in dissent and art both, and draw the ire of the very political establishment whose ideology it mocked.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - A Trip to the Hospital]]> Mon, 23 Jun 2014 09:00:00 +0800

Having spent the weekend puttering around Chaoyang hospital listening to the groans of the infected, certain members of our staff would like to suggest that a priority for the next Fifth Year Plan be fixing the vending machines in all major health centers, so that at least some of this world's inevitable pain and suffering can be partially offset by the ready availability of fresh caffeine mixed with high-fructose corn syrup.

Learning Chinese? In previous lessons we've taught you the difference between 才 and 就. Most textbooks stop there, but we've decided to plow on with this lesson that is going to confuse things even more, by showcasing a specific case in which the two characters are actually used to mean exactly the same thing. Just think of this as one of those times when Chinese decides to kick you in the teeth... for fun.

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Having spent the weekend puttering around Chaoyang hospital listening to the groans of the infected, certain members of our staff would like to suggest that a priority for the next Fifth Year Plan be fixing the vending machines in all major health centers, so that at least some of this world's inevitable pain and suffering can be partially offset by the ready availability of fresh caffeine mixed with high-fructose corn syrup.

Learning Chinese? In previous lessons we've taught you the difference between 才 and 就. Most textbooks stop there, but we've decided to plow on with this lesson that is going to confuse things even more, by showcasing a specific case in which the two characters are actually used to mean exactly the same thing. Just think of this as one of those times when Chinese decides to kick you in the teeth... for fun.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Behind the Scenes at Popup Towers]]> Tue, 17 Jun 2014 13:53:38 +0800

This week at Popup Chinese, we take you behind the scenes of a recording session as Grace and Li Zhiqiang struggle to coax a decent performance out of a new voice actor. This is a fairly difficult intermediate show, but if you've been listening to us for a while, we think you'll like it. Not only does it help show what our recording sessions are usually like, but it provides a good excuse for talking about some of the less obvious words and phrases Chinese people use to describe more complex emotions.

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This week at Popup Chinese, we take you behind the scenes of a recording session as Grace and Li Zhiqiang struggle to coax a decent performance out of a new voice actor. This is a fairly difficult intermediate show, but if you've been listening to us for a while, we think you'll like it. Not only does it help show what our recording sessions are usually like, but it provides a good excuse for talking about some of the less obvious words and phrases Chinese people use to describe more complex emotions.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - You Had One Job]]> Mon, 09 Jun 2014 09:00:00 +0800

Sarah had struggled for years with her company's internship program, which seemed to saddle her each year with marginally less competent and marginally more slack-jawed members of the local student population. Yet while the interns had never been exactly productive, Jared was in a class of his own....

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Sarah had struggled for years with her company's internship program, which seemed to saddle her each year with marginally less competent and marginally more slack-jawed members of the local student population. Yet while the interns had never been exactly productive, Jared was in a class of his own....

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<![CDATA[Advanced - The Huang Haibo Sex Scandal]]> Mon, 02 Jun 2014 09:00:00 +0800

在这个文化多元化、经济快速发展的社会里,那条所谓的道德界限开始日渐模糊。浮躁、虚荣让越来越多的人开始迷失自己,亦或是...在找回自己?及时行乐也开始成为越来越多人的人生座右铭。只是,行乐要有度,要有道德标准和法律约束,起码要对自己负责。乐与不乐其实都有它的代价。快来加入Grace和李莉,针对嫖娼及出轨等一些敏感话题一起八卦一下,探讨一下,感慨一下...

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在这个文化多元化、经济快速发展的社会里,那条所谓的道德界限开始日渐模糊。浮躁、虚荣让越来越多的人开始迷失自己,亦或是...在找回自己?及时行乐也开始成为越来越多人的人生座右铭。只是,行乐要有度,要有道德标准和法律约束,起码要对自己负责。乐与不乐其实都有它的代价。快来加入Grace和李莉,针对嫖娼及出轨等一些敏感话题一起八卦一下,探讨一下,感慨一下...

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<![CDATA[Elementary - Hurting the Feelings of the Chinese People]]> Tue, 27 May 2014 09:00:00 +0800

One moment Xiao Liu had been suggesting a weekend retreat to Zhongshan Park, and the next his entire office had plunged into a leaden silence. As he would shortly discover, there were feelings that had been hurt, and if he hoped to paper over the situation the only thing to do was to make an apology and mend his ways.

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One moment Xiao Liu had been suggesting a weekend retreat to Zhongshan Park, and the next his entire office had plunged into a leaden silence. As he would shortly discover, there were feelings that had been hurt, and if he hoped to paper over the situation the only thing to do was to make an apology and mend his ways.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - An Invitation to Violence]]> Wed, 21 May 2014 09:00:00 +0800

A rose tucked away at the bottom of the pantry, clumsy letters wrapped in ribbons and hidden in the attic: such as these had been her efforts at concealment. Yet how brazen were their mid-day meetings in the park near the wharf, making it nonetheless inevitable that her husband would hear of her affair, and take steps to bring it to a decisive and final end.

Learning Chinese? This is a bit of an easier Intermediate show than some of our more recent ones, so if you're clambering up to full fluency from the Elementary level, give it a try and see how much you can understand. In the show itself, Grace and David talk a bit about duelling, and teach a grammar pattern that - even if you hate - you should still find useful.

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A rose tucked away at the bottom of the pantry, clumsy letters wrapped in ribbons and hidden in the attic: such as these had been her efforts at concealment. Yet how brazen were their mid-day meetings in the park near the wharf, making it nonetheless inevitable that her husband would hear of her affair, and take steps to bring it to a decisive and final end.

Learning Chinese? This is a bit of an easier Intermediate show than some of our more recent ones, so if you're clambering up to full fluency from the Elementary level, give it a try and see how much you can understand. In the show itself, Grace and David talk a bit about duelling, and teach a grammar pattern that - even if you hate - you should still find useful.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - Goldfinger]]> Mon, 12 May 2014 09:00:00 +0800

Auric supervised the construction of his cutting laser feeling relief laced with loathing. Procuring the damn thing from China had promised cheaper costs, but prompted endless foot-dragging from US customs over environmental standards and power supply issues. Between those delays and the inevitable miscommunications with his Shenzhen supplier, it would have been easier to import Swiss equipment from the start.

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Auric supervised the construction of his cutting laser feeling relief laced with loathing. Procuring the damn thing from China had promised cheaper costs, but prompted endless foot-dragging from US customs over environmental standards and power supply issues. Between those delays and the inevitable miscommunications with his Shenzhen supplier, it would have been easier to import Swiss equipment from the start.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - Thoughts on Hong Kong]]> Wed, 07 May 2014 09:00:00 +0800

近期,大陆夫妻带孩子香港当街小便一事引起了热议。港人声讨内地游客素质问题,大陆人却也因当事记者拍照侵权展开了反驳。习惯、素质、理解、矛盾、文明......陷入了一场辩论战,加之网络的煽风点火与断章取义,更使得这场论战愈演愈烈!当街小便固然不对,但是背后也许另含隐情;冷眼“取证”固然有过,但是法律和规章是需要遵守的!归根结底,究竟什么是文明?文明应以何种方式发展和传承?

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近期,大陆夫妻带孩子香港当街小便一事引起了热议。港人声讨内地游客素质问题,大陆人却也因当事记者拍照侵权展开了反驳。习惯、素质、理解、矛盾、文明......陷入了一场辩论战,加之网络的煽风点火与断章取义,更使得这场论战愈演愈烈!当街小便固然不对,但是背后也许另含隐情;冷眼“取证”固然有过,但是法律和规章是需要遵守的!归根结底,究竟什么是文明?文明应以何种方式发展和传承?

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<![CDATA[Elementary - The Starbucks Dance]]> Tue, 29 Apr 2014 09:00:00 +0800

Popup Towers has nothing against Starbucks. In fact, as a language training company, we admire the way they've found success getting otherwise sensible people to use made-up words like venti and trenta in normal conversation. Nonetheless, as occasional coffee drinkers ourselves, we also hope that someone at Starbucks listens to this lesson if only so that corporate headquarters gets a wake-up call about how insanely frustrating it is ordering a medium coffee anywhere in the Middle Kingdom.

Incidentally, if you're already used to learning Chinese with us you'll find this Chinese lesson a bit different than its predecessors. And that's because we don't really teach standard mandarin so much as the bizarre subset of it needed by anyone growing weary of repeating themselves about seventy or eighty times to make sure they get the right-sized drink, or going through the physical pantomime we call the "Starbucks dance", a highly repetitive ritual between you and your barista that involves rhythmic turn-based pointing at the cup rack.

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Popup Towers has nothing against Starbucks. In fact, as a language training company, we admire the way they've found success getting otherwise sensible people to use made-up words like venti and trenta in normal conversation. Nonetheless, as occasional coffee drinkers ourselves, we also hope that someone at Starbucks listens to this lesson if only so that corporate headquarters gets a wake-up call about how insanely frustrating it is ordering a medium coffee anywhere in the Middle Kingdom.

Incidentally, if you're already used to learning Chinese with us you'll find this Chinese lesson a bit different than its predecessors. And that's because we don't really teach standard mandarin so much as the bizarre subset of it needed by anyone growing weary of repeating themselves about seventy or eighty times to make sure they get the right-sized drink, or going through the physical pantomime we call the "Starbucks dance", a highly repetitive ritual between you and your barista that involves rhythmic turn-based pointing at the cup rack.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Secret Room in the Attic]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 09:00:00 +0800

Something was hidden in the attic. That much was certain, yet how could Mark and Susan find out the secret of the orphanage? Any passage leading to the upper crawlspace was well cloaked, perhaps even sealed off years ago in the renovations that followed the death of the last schoolmaster. And with Miss Gruntle known to prowl the school grounds at night, their only opportunity to truly explore opened them to the risk of a lifetime of lashings.

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Something was hidden in the attic. That much was certain, yet how could Mark and Susan find out the secret of the orphanage? Any passage leading to the upper crawlspace was well cloaked, perhaps even sealed off years ago in the renovations that followed the death of the last schoolmaster. And with Miss Gruntle known to prowl the school grounds at night, their only opportunity to truly explore opened them to the risk of a lifetime of lashings.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - Office Romance]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 09:00:00 +0800

We strive to make Popup Towers the sort of freewheeling love nest where interoffice relationships are highly encouraged, but sometimes struggle with the consequences. After Lily's break-up with Luo Hao, we took her aside and said "relax baby, there are plenty more fish in the sea for a hot cat like you." But she kept moping about, so we had to move her desk near the elevator.

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We strive to make Popup Towers the sort of freewheeling love nest where interoffice relationships are highly encouraged, but sometimes struggle with the consequences. After Lily's break-up with Luo Hao, we took her aside and said "relax baby, there are plenty more fish in the sea for a hot cat like you." But she kept moping about, so we had to move her desk near the elevator.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Assault, Battery and the Future]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 09:00:00 +0800

Just getting started learning Chinese? Today we offer you a lesson containing assault, battery, and just a touch of the future tense. Not that Chinese really has a future tense, but if you want to talk about things that haven't happened yet, we have everything you need to get started in a dialogue that's so simple even an absolute beginner can handle it.

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Just getting started learning Chinese? Today we offer you a lesson containing assault, battery, and just a touch of the future tense. Not that Chinese really has a future tense, but if you want to talk about things that haven't happened yet, we have everything you need to get started in a dialogue that's so simple even an absolute beginner can handle it.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Return of the Chinese Tutor]]> Mon, 31 Mar 2014 09:00:00 +0800

Teaching Chinese may have been Xiao Wang's first love, but diversifying into English just made business sense. Not only were there a lot more English learners than foreigners in Beijing, but the students she picked up seemed more appreciative of her talents and receptive to her teaching methods. Sure, every now and then someone would come along who thought they knew better, but had they lived in London for four months?

Learning Chinese? In this show, the second time our Chinese tutor has surfaced, we cover some essential classroom vocabulary you may have missed: words and phrases like "say it again" and "what fresh hell is this". So if you can't yet understand Chinese spoken at natural speed but are getting there, give this show a listen and let us know what you think in the comments section.

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Teaching Chinese may have been Xiao Wang's first love, but diversifying into English just made business sense. Not only were there a lot more English learners than foreigners in Beijing, but the students she picked up seemed more appreciative of her talents and receptive to her teaching methods. Sure, every now and then someone would come along who thought they knew better, but had they lived in London for four months?

Learning Chinese? In this show, the second time our Chinese tutor has surfaced, we cover some essential classroom vocabulary you may have missed: words and phrases like "say it again" and "what fresh hell is this". So if you can't yet understand Chinese spoken at natural speed but are getting there, give this show a listen and let us know what you think in the comments section.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Rotten from the Head Down]]> Mon, 24 Mar 2014 09:00:00 +0800

The board had taken quick action when rumours of accounting irregularities had hit the local papers, commissioning Detective Zhen to investigate the allegations. But once he had uncovered evidence of embezzlement at the local subdivision, something had compelled him to keep digging. And the further he dug, the less regular overall corporate finances seemed, and what he found pointed to much deeper problems than a single corrupt staffer....

This week on Popup Chinese, the fish rots from the head down in a show that features bribery, embezzlement, kickbacks and more. Join us as we explore the darker side of corporate malfeasance, and teach you the language you'll need to know to navigate your way through blackmail and corruption in the Middle Kingdom.

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The board had taken quick action when rumours of accounting irregularities had hit the local papers, commissioning Detective Zhen to investigate the allegations. But once he had uncovered evidence of embezzlement at the local subdivision, something had compelled him to keep digging. And the further he dug, the less regular overall corporate finances seemed, and what he found pointed to much deeper problems than a single corrupt staffer....

This week on Popup Chinese, the fish rots from the head down in a show that features bribery, embezzlement, kickbacks and more. Join us as we explore the darker side of corporate malfeasance, and teach you the language you'll need to know to navigate your way through blackmail and corruption in the Middle Kingdom.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Awake, Masters of Darkness!]]> Mon, 10 Mar 2014 09:00:00 +0800

The good news about living in China is that you're unlikely to get abducted and forced into a satanic ritual. Part of this may be a lack of personal experience with raising the dead, but part is also a lack of the basic linguistic tools necessary for communing with the masters of darkness. Which is really a cultural issue, because it took us about five minutes to explain what a pentagram was to our confused voice actors....

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The good news about living in China is that you're unlikely to get abducted and forced into a satanic ritual. Part of this may be a lack of personal experience with raising the dead, but part is also a lack of the basic linguistic tools necessary for communing with the masters of darkness. Which is really a cultural issue, because it took us about five minutes to explain what a pentagram was to our confused voice actors....

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Adventures on WeChat]]> Wed, 26 Feb 2014 20:52:00 +0800

Facebook spent 16 billion dollars on some kind of mobile phone app? We heard something about that, but we're not really sure what you guys are doing outside China. Because we have our own thing going on in the mobile chat space, and pretty much everyone in this country of 1.3 billion mobile users is on it. So you should get on it too.

Learning Chinese? In today's show, we feature two dialogues about asking someone for their Wechat/Weixin number. This is a useful way of hooking up with new friends, and a non-threatening way to meet new people -- it's not as aggressive as asking someone for their phone number, and it lets you find out more about them through an entirely new and innovative method of digital stalking. Needless to say, we highly recommend it.

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Facebook spent 16 billion dollars on some kind of mobile phone app? We heard something about that, but we're not really sure what you guys are doing outside China. Because we have our own thing going on in the mobile chat space, and pretty much everyone in this country of 1.3 billion mobile users is on it. So you should get on it too.

Learning Chinese? In today's show, we feature two dialogues about asking someone for their Wechat/Weixin number. This is a useful way of hooking up with new friends, and a non-threatening way to meet new people -- it's not as aggressive as asking someone for their phone number, and it lets you find out more about them through an entirely new and innovative method of digital stalking. Needless to say, we highly recommend it.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - We Love You, Fridtjof and Ragnvald]]> Tue, 18 Feb 2014 18:09:38 +0800

"I can't believe you still haven't covered Sweden!" Living on the front lines of our ongoing battle to disregard user feedback, and particularly feedback that requires expending effort, Gail was upset about our prolonged disregard of the requests of not just one but two of her more Nordic students. But while the wheel of podcast production may grind slowly, it grinds very fine indeed. So here you go Sweden. And here you go Ikea. And here you go Fridtjof and Ragnvald....

And how about you? Do you have any ideas for a topic we haven't covered yet? While we don't suggest getting your hopes up in the short-term, let this episode stand as testament that not only will we do our best to eventually and somewhat laggardly produce stuff that people keep harassing us about, but that we will also somewhat concomitantly find world experts on the topic to help make the materials stick. So don't be afraid to email us, or - better yet - praise us online somewhere in an authentic but perhaps marginally spammy way, mentioning almost in passing that if only (if only!) we also had a lesson on __________ then there wouldn't be any reason for any sane person not to listen.

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"I can't believe you still haven't covered Sweden!" Living on the front lines of our ongoing battle to disregard user feedback, and particularly feedback that requires expending effort, Gail was upset about our prolonged disregard of the requests of not just one but two of her more Nordic students. But while the wheel of podcast production may grind slowly, it grinds very fine indeed. So here you go Sweden. And here you go Ikea. And here you go Fridtjof and Ragnvald....

And how about you? Do you have any ideas for a topic we haven't covered yet? While we don't suggest getting your hopes up in the short-term, let this episode stand as testament that not only will we do our best to eventually and somewhat laggardly produce stuff that people keep harassing us about, but that we will also somewhat concomitantly find world experts on the topic to help make the materials stick. So don't be afraid to email us, or - better yet - praise us online somewhere in an authentic but perhaps marginally spammy way, mentioning almost in passing that if only (if only!) we also had a lesson on __________ then there wouldn't be any reason for any sane person not to listen.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Dancing to the Stars at Lincoln High]]> Mon, 10 Feb 2014 11:53:02 +0800

Xiao Ming would always remember her first day at Lincoln High, if only because the Chinese student's shock at the reality of an inner-city American school almost drove her to tears. Little did she know that she would be a celebrity within the year. But even when her peers started giving her high-fives walking down the hallway, Xiao Ming didn't let the attention go to her head. Because none of this was about her: it was about the dance team, and about saving their school.

Learning Chinese? This intermediate show has two separate dialogues that tell the story of Lincoln High, and what Xiao Ming did there. In addition to some new vocabulary and a few interesting patterns, this lesson also features a common northern expression we encourage you to drop into conversation with your friends, especially if you are nowhere near Heilongjiang and feel like pulling one up on the locals....

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Xiao Ming would always remember her first day at Lincoln High, if only because the Chinese student's shock at the reality of an inner-city American school almost drove her to tears. Little did she know that she would be a celebrity within the year. But even when her peers started giving her high-fives walking down the hallway, Xiao Ming didn't let the attention go to her head. Because none of this was about her: it was about the dance team, and about saving their school.

Learning Chinese? This intermediate show has two separate dialogues that tell the story of Lincoln High, and what Xiao Ming did there. In addition to some new vocabulary and a few interesting patterns, this lesson also features a common northern expression we encourage you to drop into conversation with your friends, especially if you are nowhere near Heilongjiang and feel like pulling one up on the locals....

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Where are the Car Keys?]]> Mon, 03 Feb 2014 09:00:00 +0800

Every other industrial operation in China may have shutdown now that it's Chinese New Years, but fortunately we've managed to keep our lesson-producing slavemill podcast studio open during the break, all the better to continue delivering the sort of fresh and interesting Chinese learning shows that will help you join our ranks as oppressors of the working classes and partisans strictly opposed to things like compulsory holidays.

On a pedagogical note, our recent lessons at this level have climbed up the difficulty gradient to the point they're almost intermediate-level shows. If you've found them a bit challenging don't worry -- in this show, Brendan and Echo take a step back from the brink, with a simpler dialogue that reveals a charming technique you can use to imply that you're stating the obvious, or what should be the obvious at least.

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Every other industrial operation in China may have shutdown now that it's Chinese New Years, but fortunately we've managed to keep our lesson-producing slavemill podcast studio open during the break, all the better to continue delivering the sort of fresh and interesting Chinese learning shows that will help you join our ranks as oppressors of the working classes and partisans strictly opposed to things like compulsory holidays.

On a pedagogical note, our recent lessons at this level have climbed up the difficulty gradient to the point they're almost intermediate-level shows. If you've found them a bit challenging don't worry -- in this show, Brendan and Echo take a step back from the brink, with a simpler dialogue that reveals a charming technique you can use to imply that you're stating the obvious, or what should be the obvious at least.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Like Father, Like Son]]> Thu, 30 Jan 2014 09:00:00 +0800

When the doctor entered the room, the boy was sitting motionless on the floor where he had been several minutes before, still staring intently at a crack in the nearby wall, as if there was some secret in the darkness beyond which promised some profound revelation. Yet the doctor's attention was not on his young patient, but rather the father who stood anxiously several feet away. For how could he break the news?

In this intermediate lesson, we cover two relatively advanced ways of making comparisons. First with a structure that is used to compare things which are quite alike, and then with a more tricky pattern that can be used to make percentage comparisons. This is a tricky point, wrapped in a very colloquial lesson, so if you're working towards fluency, give us a listen and see what you think. Feedback and thoughts welcome below as always!

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When the doctor entered the room, the boy was sitting motionless on the floor where he had been several minutes before, still staring intently at a crack in the nearby wall, as if there was some secret in the darkness beyond which promised some profound revelation. Yet the doctor's attention was not on his young patient, but rather the father who stood anxiously several feet away. For how could he break the news?

In this intermediate lesson, we cover two relatively advanced ways of making comparisons. First with a structure that is used to compare things which are quite alike, and then with a more tricky pattern that can be used to make percentage comparisons. This is a tricky point, wrapped in a very colloquial lesson, so if you're working towards fluency, give us a listen and see what you think. Feedback and thoughts welcome below as always!

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Not a Big Deal]]> Thu, 16 Jan 2014 09:00:00 +0800

William had been home a mere two hours before his father sequestered him in the living room with a suggestion they sit down and insinuation of a serious conversation to come. This was followed at first by a general humming and hawing, and a few pregnant pauses, and William began to wonder what could be of such obvious concern? What had happened while he was away at university?

Learning Chinese? Our intermediate lesson for today is at the more difficult end of the difficulty spectrum at the Elementary level. But we still felt it was worth publishing, for it focuses on a rarely-taught but incredibly useful expression for telling other people that something isn't a big deal. If this is too difficult for you don't worry though, most of the material at this level is a bit easier to understand, so just check our archives for a show that's closer to your level.

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William had been home a mere two hours before his father sequestered him in the living room with a suggestion they sit down and insinuation of a serious conversation to come. This was followed at first by a general humming and hawing, and a few pregnant pauses, and William began to wonder what could be of such obvious concern? What had happened while he was away at university?

Learning Chinese? Our intermediate lesson for today is at the more difficult end of the difficulty spectrum at the Elementary level. But we still felt it was worth publishing, for it focuses on a rarely-taught but incredibly useful expression for telling other people that something isn't a big deal. If this is too difficult for you don't worry though, most of the material at this level is a bit easier to understand, so just check our archives for a show that's closer to your level.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - The Perils of Philately]]> Wed, 08 Jan 2014 09:00:00 +0800

We don't really know what it is about China and stamp collecting. In most countries the activity exists as a sort of underground movement, and no-one admits lightly to philately. But here in China things are different. Very different.

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We don't really know what it is about China and stamp collecting. In most countries the activity exists as a sort of underground movement, and no-one admits lightly to philately. But here in China things are different. Very different.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Flow My Tears]]> Wed, 25 Dec 2013 09:00:00 +0800

Save for his passing look of furtive intelligence, the police would hardly had given the beggar a second glance, for even if loitering on public property was technically a crime, it hardly served anyone's interests to harass those without even the limited means of paying the necessary fines to secure due process. And so the truly poor and desperate were permitted to exist on the margins of society, secure in their poverty from unreasonable search and seizure.

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Save for his passing look of furtive intelligence, the police would hardly had given the beggar a second glance, for even if loitering on public property was technically a crime, it hardly served anyone's interests to harass those without even the limited means of paying the necessary fines to secure due process. And so the truly poor and desperate were permitted to exist on the margins of society, secure in their poverty from unreasonable search and seizure.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Comparative Workplace Efficiency]]> Tue, 17 Dec 2013 09:00:00 +0800

Stephen hit the refresh button without much expectation, his mind preoccupied with the question of whether now might afford a good opportunity for another visit to Starbucks. After all, no serious market analyst could be expected to write a report like his without the most up-to-date sales data from finance, and who could fault him for being securely caffeinated when those all-important documents finally did arrive?

Learning Chinese? Or just a slacker seeking that ever-elusive job that combines maximum pay with minimum expectations? Whatever the reason you've come to Popup Chinese, join Brendan and Echo in our studio today as we talk about how to use directional verb complements to send email to colleagues and resuscitate the near-dead.

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Stephen hit the refresh button without much expectation, his mind preoccupied with the question of whether now might afford a good opportunity for another visit to Starbucks. After all, no serious market analyst could be expected to write a report like his without the most up-to-date sales data from finance, and who could fault him for being securely caffeinated when those all-important documents finally did arrive?

Learning Chinese? Or just a slacker seeking that ever-elusive job that combines maximum pay with minimum expectations? Whatever the reason you've come to Popup Chinese, join Brendan and Echo in our studio today as we talk about how to use directional verb complements to send email to colleagues and resuscitate the near-dead.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - A Matter of Philosophy]]> Mon, 02 Dec 2013 09:00:00 +0800

In recent news, Beijing University has disbanded its Chinese philosophy department. "We listened to the latest advanced show from Popup Chinese," department chairman Wang Xiaoming stated, "and realized that they nailed it... wrapping up essentially all outstanding academic disputes in a mere fifteen minutes." With no research remaining to be done and no need for further books on the matter, the professoriat is disbanding to focus on university administration.

Learning Chinese? There are a couple of philosophical debates in mandarin that form such a core part of the language that it's impossible to be a well-rounded Chinese speaker without being aware of them. The question of "original sin" is exactly one such issue: is evil inherent to the nature of man, or a product of social upbringing? We were curious how everyone at Popup Towers came down on this, which is why we invited Sylvia, Echo and David into our studio for a debate over 性本善 or 性本恶. Why not take a listen and let us know what you think?

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In recent news, Beijing University has disbanded its Chinese philosophy department. "We listened to the latest advanced show from Popup Chinese," department chairman Wang Xiaoming stated, "and realized that they nailed it... wrapping up essentially all outstanding academic disputes in a mere fifteen minutes." With no research remaining to be done and no need for further books on the matter, the professoriat is disbanding to focus on university administration.

Learning Chinese? There are a couple of philosophical debates in mandarin that form such a core part of the language that it's impossible to be a well-rounded Chinese speaker without being aware of them. The question of "original sin" is exactly one such issue: is evil inherent to the nature of man, or a product of social upbringing? We were curious how everyone at Popup Towers came down on this, which is why we invited Sylvia, Echo and David into our studio for a debate over 性本善 or 性本恶. Why not take a listen and let us know what you think?

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Huang Xiaoming at the Stylist]]> Wed, 13 Nov 2013 09:00:00 +0800

Huang Xiaoming brushed his hand through his hair, which glistened in the morning sunshine in a somewhat unusual way. "After the army, I wanted to be able to express myself more fully." Pens scratched against paper in the silence that followed. "But how could I do that with clothing and music alone?" Xiaoming's voice dropped into quiet intimacy, as if he was reaching out to each listener personally. "And that was when I knew I needed to make real innovations in Chinese hairstyling."

Learning Chinese? Or stuck in Yiwu on a sourcing trip and really need to get a haircut? Fortunately, in this Elementary show, we cover both of these likely possibilities in a show that reviews most of the language you'll need to get a haircut, or maybe just a trim, at your neighborhood hairdresser. And - yes - we actually mean hairdresser. If the shop doesn't have scissors you're on your own....

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Huang Xiaoming brushed his hand through his hair, which glistened in the morning sunshine in a somewhat unusual way. "After the army, I wanted to be able to express myself more fully." Pens scratched against paper in the silence that followed. "But how could I do that with clothing and music alone?" Xiaoming's voice dropped into quiet intimacy, as if he was reaching out to each listener personally. "And that was when I knew I needed to make real innovations in Chinese hairstyling."

Learning Chinese? Or stuck in Yiwu on a sourcing trip and really need to get a haircut? Fortunately, in this Elementary show, we cover both of these likely possibilities in a show that reviews most of the language you'll need to get a haircut, or maybe just a trim, at your neighborhood hairdresser. And - yes - we actually mean hairdresser. If the shop doesn't have scissors you're on your own....

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - Things We Love About China]]> Mon, 21 Oct 2013 09:00:00 +0800

Some of our shows can be admittedly negative about China, given all of the pressures and stresses that people deal with living here. But China also remains the world's happiest nation, at least according to North Korean media. So for all of the grumbling that we do, there is plenty to love about living here. Which is why we invite everyone feeling down about life in the Middle Kingdom to join Sylvia and Echo today for an advanced podcast in which we chat about everything we really like about life in China. We keep things upbeat for a change, how about that?

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Some of our shows can be admittedly negative about China, given all of the pressures and stresses that people deal with living here. But China also remains the world's happiest nation, at least according to North Korean media. So for all of the grumbling that we do, there is plenty to love about living here. Which is why we invite everyone feeling down about life in the Middle Kingdom to join Sylvia and Echo today for an advanced podcast in which we chat about everything we really like about life in China. We keep things upbeat for a change, how about that?

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Faking the Art of War]]> Mon, 14 Oct 2013 09:00:00 +0800

In this Intermediate show, David, Echo and Sylvia drop into our studio to chat about The Art of War, revealing not only what the Chinese military classic has in common with Monty Python, but also our own personal favorites from among the text's celebrated 36 strategems. And our goal? Helping you seem hyper-educated: because we're all about shortcuts, and why read the original text when you can just fake it through a podcast?

Learning Chinese? This lesson is a touch on the more difficult side for our intermediate series. Not only do we have a lot of native Chinese spoken in the discussion section of our podcast, but our non-dialogue focus is on some of the more commonly used strategems from The Art of War that you'll run into in daily life in China. But if you're an upper-level student, please do check it out and let us know what you think.

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In this Intermediate show, David, Echo and Sylvia drop into our studio to chat about The Art of War, revealing not only what the Chinese military classic has in common with Monty Python, but also our own personal favorites from among the text's celebrated 36 strategems. And our goal? Helping you seem hyper-educated: because we're all about shortcuts, and why read the original text when you can just fake it through a podcast?

Learning Chinese? This lesson is a touch on the more difficult side for our intermediate series. Not only do we have a lot of native Chinese spoken in the discussion section of our podcast, but our non-dialogue focus is on some of the more commonly used strategems from The Art of War that you'll run into in daily life in China. But if you're an upper-level student, please do check it out and let us know what you think.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Buzzing Up (and hating China)]]> Thu, 03 Oct 2013 09:00:00 +0800

So this story is somewhat off-topic, but after you hear the podcast you'll understand. The back-story is that Amazon emailed (repeatedly) to notify us that some books we had ordered for next-day delivery were shipped and would arrive that afternoon. But then after changing plans to make sure someone was home, we were notified by a telephone call in the late afternoon that the shipper hadn't even bothered to put the books in the mail. Because they wanted to check that we really wanted them.

Admittedly, this isn't a bit deal in the scheme of things, but is complaining about it unreasonable? Does it mean we hate China? Because maybe it means we've got other stuff on our plate: you be the judge.

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So this story is somewhat off-topic, but after you hear the podcast you'll understand. The back-story is that Amazon emailed (repeatedly) to notify us that some books we had ordered for next-day delivery were shipped and would arrive that afternoon. But then after changing plans to make sure someone was home, we were notified by a telephone call in the late afternoon that the shipper hadn't even bothered to put the books in the mail. Because they wanted to check that we really wanted them.

Admittedly, this isn't a bit deal in the scheme of things, but is complaining about it unreasonable? Does it mean we hate China? Because maybe it means we've got other stuff on our plate: you be the judge.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Ambulance Days]]> Wed, 25 Sep 2013 09:00:00 +0800

Although we claim to be experts in basically everything involving China, we should admit that no-one at Popup Towers has ever had to call an ambulance. The one time a friend came down with a medical problem that needed one, he staggered to the local convenience store and someone took care of it for him. But since you're living in China and can't count on that, be sure to give this lesson a listen as we cover all the Chinese you should need to know to get help in an emergency. Or at least dial the right number.

Learning Chinese? At our absolute beginners level, all lessons are designed for people who have no previous experience speaking Chinese. So even if you don't know any Chinese, you should be able to understand the materials we cover in this class. And when you start finding this stuff too easy? Head up to our elementary level which features more spoken Chinese in the podcast, and longer dialogues in general.

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Although we claim to be experts in basically everything involving China, we should admit that no-one at Popup Towers has ever had to call an ambulance. The one time a friend came down with a medical problem that needed one, he staggered to the local convenience store and someone took care of it for him. But since you're living in China and can't count on that, be sure to give this lesson a listen as we cover all the Chinese you should need to know to get help in an emergency. Or at least dial the right number.

Learning Chinese? At our absolute beginners level, all lessons are designed for people who have no previous experience speaking Chinese. So even if you don't know any Chinese, you should be able to understand the materials we cover in this class. And when you start finding this stuff too easy? Head up to our elementary level which features more spoken Chinese in the podcast, and longer dialogues in general.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Lost in a Parking Garage]]> Tue, 27 Aug 2013 09:00:00 +0800

Safely ensconced on the fifth floor (5A-West) of the parking garage, the Volkswagen Beetle waited patiently for the return of its masters. Minutes passed into hours, and then hours into days. And when winter stretched into spring and spring into summer, the passage of time caused little discomfort for the unprepossessing automobile. Its owners would come, and when they did it would be time to take them and their shopping home.

Learning Chinese. In this show, we cover a few words and phrases useful for getting out of just about anything in mandarin, and remind you that verbs describing thinking and feeling are always used in the present aspect. Finally, we cover a use of 又 which is impossible to translate, since the character carries almost no independent meaning into the sentence.

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Safely ensconced on the fifth floor (5A-West) of the parking garage, the Volkswagen Beetle waited patiently for the return of its masters. Minutes passed into hours, and then hours into days. And when winter stretched into spring and spring into summer, the passage of time caused little discomfort for the unprepossessing automobile. Its owners would come, and when they did it would be time to take them and their shopping home.

Learning Chinese. In this show, we cover a few words and phrases useful for getting out of just about anything in mandarin, and remind you that verbs describing thinking and feeling are always used in the present aspect. Finally, we cover a use of 又 which is impossible to translate, since the character carries almost no independent meaning into the sentence.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - Chinese Pet Stories]]> Mon, 19 Aug 2013 09:00:00 +0800

The worst childhood pet stories we've ever heard are variants of Cujo or Pet Semetary, involving a once-beloved puppy which not only goes crazy, but massacres large portions of a small rural village in the process. And in that sense, these childhood stories of Echo and Sylvia are somewhat tame by comparison. But they also make us wonder at the sensibilities of a country which trains its children to raise worms.

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The worst childhood pet stories we've ever heard are variants of Cujo or Pet Semetary, involving a once-beloved puppy which not only goes crazy, but massacres large portions of a small rural village in the process. And in that sense, these childhood stories of Echo and Sylvia are somewhat tame by comparison. But they also make us wonder at the sensibilities of a country which trains its children to raise worms.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - The Art of Email]]> Mon, 12 Aug 2013 09:00:00 +0800

Xiao Luo stared at the business card with the patience and intensity of an archeologist exhuming an ancient Pharoh. Unexpectedly, the combination of her own sweat and the Shanghai summer heat had given the once cream-colored paper a greyish-blue tint, and smudged the delicate combination of numbers and letters which had previously been the email address of the most important businessman in her field. Could she reconstruct it from memory?

Learning Chinese? This lesson has one of our more difficult dialogues at the Absolute Beginner level, although we try to work you up to it slowly. Nonetheless, if you are a total beginning to mandarin, you'll probably want to start with an easier show from our beginner lesson archive. If you've already got a few under your belt though, join us for this show and learn all the Chinese you need to ask for someone's email address. If you're new to China, you'll find this is oddly more difficult than it is abroad.

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Xiao Luo stared at the business card with the patience and intensity of an archeologist exhuming an ancient Pharoh. Unexpectedly, the combination of her own sweat and the Shanghai summer heat had given the once cream-colored paper a greyish-blue tint, and smudged the delicate combination of numbers and letters which had previously been the email address of the most important businessman in her field. Could she reconstruct it from memory?

Learning Chinese? This lesson has one of our more difficult dialogues at the Absolute Beginner level, although we try to work you up to it slowly. Nonetheless, if you are a total beginning to mandarin, you'll probably want to start with an easier show from our beginner lesson archive. If you've already got a few under your belt though, join us for this show and learn all the Chinese you need to ask for someone's email address. If you're new to China, you'll find this is oddly more difficult than it is abroad.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Sheep Disappointment]]> Mon, 05 Aug 2013 09:00:00 +0800

The first month after the apocalypse was the worst, as China struggled not only with efforts to fend off its relentless onslaught of undead, but also to keep its survivors motivated and well-fed as food supplies ran low and major cities found themselves cut-off from more well-stocked regional outposts. Fortunately, it was not long before Chinese ingenuity offered a solution to the nation's predicament.

Learning Chinese? In today's show we cover a pretty strange grammar pattern that appears twice in our dialogue. And it's strange not only because it fails to obey common grammar conventions, but also because we can't really explain what is happening ourselves on a fundamental level. If you think you can do better, take a listen and share your thoughts in the comments section below. We'd be curious if anyone can give us a good systematic explanation for what is going on.

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The first month after the apocalypse was the worst, as China struggled not only with efforts to fend off its relentless onslaught of undead, but also to keep its survivors motivated and well-fed as food supplies ran low and major cities found themselves cut-off from more well-stocked regional outposts. Fortunately, it was not long before Chinese ingenuity offered a solution to the nation's predicament.

Learning Chinese? In today's show we cover a pretty strange grammar pattern that appears twice in our dialogue. And it's strange not only because it fails to obey common grammar conventions, but also because we can't really explain what is happening ourselves on a fundamental level. If you think you can do better, take a listen and share your thoughts in the comments section below. We'd be curious if anyone can give us a good systematic explanation for what is going on.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - The General Relativity Ultimatum]]> Mon, 22 Jul 2013 09:00:00 +0800

It was at precisely the moment Xiao Zhang was supposed to be mulling over his options and trying to find an escape from his predicament, that his mind somehow veered back to Einstein's theory of General Relativity and the conceptual experiment of the accelerating elevator. Because if gravity was the same thing as constant acceleration, then what exactly was five minutes anyway? Wasn't time relative? And if it was, then how could it ever come to an end? The thought seemed oddly comforting.

Learning Chinese? Rather than assault you with more , today we're pleased to present a simpler lesson intended to help you practice all the Chinese you need to deal with time, whether it involves procrastinating at work or hectoring the overattentive wait staff at your favorite Chinese restaurant. We hope you enjoy it, and if you have suggestions on future topics you'd like to hear covered, let us know anytime at service@popupchinese.com.

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It was at precisely the moment Xiao Zhang was supposed to be mulling over his options and trying to find an escape from his predicament, that his mind somehow veered back to Einstein's theory of General Relativity and the conceptual experiment of the accelerating elevator. Because if gravity was the same thing as constant acceleration, then what exactly was five minutes anyway? Wasn't time relative? And if it was, then how could it ever come to an end? The thought seemed oddly comforting.

Learning Chinese? Rather than assault you with more , today we're pleased to present a simpler lesson intended to help you practice all the Chinese you need to deal with time, whether it involves procrastinating at work or hectoring the overattentive wait staff at your favorite Chinese restaurant. We hope you enjoy it, and if you have suggestions on future topics you'd like to hear covered, let us know anytime at service@popupchinese.com.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - Flight Delays of the Gods]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2013 09:00:00 +0800

The Beijing Capital Airport is not only the busiest airport in the world by traffic volume, but it's apparently also the most vindictive and spiteful when it comes to the treatment of non-national airlines. Or that's the most likely explanation we can think of for how a four hour flight to Beijing transformed into a thirty hour Odyssey that included a two day layover in Taiyuan while our plane was cleared for "permission to land" in the capital.

Admittedly, the delay could have been an accident. Or it could have involved mechanical difficulties. But we're leaning towards corruption as the most likely answer, and if you're interested in the reasons why, Echo and Sylvia in our advanced show for today as they talk about this epic flight delay, and share some local gossip about the airline industry in China. And with that in mind, we'd be interested to hear if anyone has similar stories, so please feel invited to leave a comment in the discussion section below, or write Echo directly with your experiences at echo@popupchinese.com.

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The Beijing Capital Airport is not only the busiest airport in the world by traffic volume, but it's apparently also the most vindictive and spiteful when it comes to the treatment of non-national airlines. Or that's the most likely explanation we can think of for how a four hour flight to Beijing transformed into a thirty hour Odyssey that included a two day layover in Taiyuan while our plane was cleared for "permission to land" in the capital.

Admittedly, the delay could have been an accident. Or it could have involved mechanical difficulties. But we're leaning towards corruption as the most likely answer, and if you're interested in the reasons why, Echo and Sylvia in our advanced show for today as they talk about this epic flight delay, and share some local gossip about the airline industry in China. And with that in mind, we'd be interested to hear if anyone has similar stories, so please feel invited to leave a comment in the discussion section below, or write Echo directly with your experiences at echo@popupchinese.com.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Brownie Cake, Part II]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2013 09:00:00 +0800

Deep within the bowels of his Shanxi fortress, lungs safely ensconced behind an industrial breathing apparatus, Gao opened his oven to gaze inside with paternal pride. Thick, rich and spewing forth unquestionably carcinogenic vapour, his second generation of brownies looked deliciously irresistible. In fact, it if weren't for his intimate knowledge of the physical agony awaiting anyone who sampled even a single bite, Gao would have been tempted to try one himself.

Learning Chinese? Newcomers to Popup Towers might wonder why our staff seem so intent on killing each other using homemade imitations of popular Western desserts. We worry less about the homicidal impulses of our voice actors and more about providing interesting Chinese learning materials that also feature Chinese the way it is actually spoken here in China. So we hope you enjoy this lesson. And if you're still confused by the story, be sure to check out this lesson which outlines the background to Gao and 9527's epic Popup rivalry.

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Deep within the bowels of his Shanxi fortress, lungs safely ensconced behind an industrial breathing apparatus, Gao opened his oven to gaze inside with paternal pride. Thick, rich and spewing forth unquestionably carcinogenic vapour, his second generation of brownies looked deliciously irresistible. In fact, it if weren't for his intimate knowledge of the physical agony awaiting anyone who sampled even a single bite, Gao would have been tempted to try one himself.

Learning Chinese? Newcomers to Popup Towers might wonder why our staff seem so intent on killing each other using homemade imitations of popular Western desserts. We worry less about the homicidal impulses of our voice actors and more about providing interesting Chinese learning materials that also feature Chinese the way it is actually spoken here in China. So we hope you enjoy this lesson. And if you're still confused by the story, be sure to check out this lesson which outlines the background to Gao and 9527's epic Popup rivalry.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - In the Army (Huang Xiaoming edition)]]> Tue, 09 Jul 2013 09:00:00 +0800

As the most handsome member of his squadron, Huang Xiaoming was routinely tasked with the more photogenic military duties: fielding media interviews, organizing photo shoots for recruiting purposes and posing as "Mr. December" for the division's annual charity calendar. Content with their second-tier status in the world of masculine beauty, Huang's squadmates would drift into supporting roles on these projects: lifting heavy items, cleaning weapons, or playing with animals for b-roll.

Learning Chinese? Our dialogue today is a bit of a mix of more formal public speech, as well as the sort of casual mandarin that you'll hear people speak in more unguarded moments. And what are we learning? Beyond the listening practice, what we hope you take away from this is that Chinese speakers regularly make exactly the sort of mistakes that Chinese learners do as well. So don't worry too much about getting your speaking habits perfect, although we'll tell you how to do that too.

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As the most handsome member of his squadron, Huang Xiaoming was routinely tasked with the more photogenic military duties: fielding media interviews, organizing photo shoots for recruiting purposes and posing as "Mr. December" for the division's annual charity calendar. Content with their second-tier status in the world of masculine beauty, Huang's squadmates would drift into supporting roles on these projects: lifting heavy items, cleaning weapons, or playing with animals for b-roll.

Learning Chinese? Our dialogue today is a bit of a mix of more formal public speech, as well as the sort of casual mandarin that you'll hear people speak in more unguarded moments. And what are we learning? Beyond the listening practice, what we hope you take away from this is that Chinese speakers regularly make exactly the sort of mistakes that Chinese learners do as well. So don't worry too much about getting your speaking habits perfect, although we'll tell you how to do that too.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - If You Are the One]]> Mon, 01 Jul 2013 09:00:00 +0800

On our advanced show this week, Echo and Sylvia go head-to-head on the topic of modern dating, with a conversation specifically about 非诚勿扰, the most popular dating show on Chinese television. Sylvia isn't a big fan of the show, but Echo wishes she could take part. If you're looking for native-level conversation to practice your listening skills, join us for this show and learn why.

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On our advanced show this week, Echo and Sylvia go head-to-head on the topic of modern dating, with a conversation specifically about 非诚勿扰, the most popular dating show on Chinese television. Sylvia isn't a big fan of the show, but Echo wishes she could take part. If you're looking for native-level conversation to practice your listening skills, join us for this show and learn why.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - The Duel]]> Mon, 24 Jun 2013 09:00:00 +0800

Knowing he might never see her again, Nevis had stood in the snow outside her window all night. And now he stood, hands trembling slightly in the morning breeze, fingers wrapped tightly around a thin grip of steel, prepared to face the worst if so he must. And it would be worth it. It would be worth all of it.

Learning Chinese? We have an interesting sentence in our dialogue for today, because it is completely time-agnostic. Put it into the past, and it doesn't change. Use it to refer to ongoing conditions, and it doesn't change. And stick it into the future? Yup - no change at all. So join us in out studio today as we take a look at this great sentence pattern and teach you how to use it like a native.

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Knowing he might never see her again, Nevis had stood in the snow outside her window all night. And now he stood, hands trembling slightly in the morning breeze, fingers wrapped tightly around a thin grip of steel, prepared to face the worst if so he must. And it would be worth it. It would be worth all of it.

Learning Chinese? We have an interesting sentence in our dialogue for today, because it is completely time-agnostic. Put it into the past, and it doesn't change. Use it to refer to ongoing conditions, and it doesn't change. And stick it into the future? Yup - no change at all. So join us in out studio today as we take a look at this great sentence pattern and teach you how to use it like a native.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - A Good Scrubbing]]> Mon, 10 Jun 2013 09:00:00 +0800

Even years after her sudden death from apoplexy, Robert's mother would haunt her son's dreams, her corpulent and open-palmed presence bellowing with outrage over his "filthy, filthy pants" and threatening to give the boy "a good scrubbing." As his court psychiatrist would later testify, this classic case of childhood trauma not only colored his relations with the opposite sex, but also affected his notions of acceptable personal hygiene.

Interested in learning Chinese? Or perhaps you're not really interested in learning Chinese at all but are still curious how exactly to speak to household cleaning staff. You know, wanting to know enough Chinese so that you can walk that fine line between being the sort of permissive employer who attracts every layabout in the Middle Kingdom, and the sort of tyrant immortalized in the oral histories of Fujian and Anhui? Then this podcast is for you.

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Even years after her sudden death from apoplexy, Robert's mother would haunt her son's dreams, her corpulent and open-palmed presence bellowing with outrage over his "filthy, filthy pants" and threatening to give the boy "a good scrubbing." As his court psychiatrist would later testify, this classic case of childhood trauma not only colored his relations with the opposite sex, but also affected his notions of acceptable personal hygiene.

Interested in learning Chinese? Or perhaps you're not really interested in learning Chinese at all but are still curious how exactly to speak to household cleaning staff. You know, wanting to know enough Chinese so that you can walk that fine line between being the sort of permissive employer who attracts every layabout in the Middle Kingdom, and the sort of tyrant immortalized in the oral histories of Fujian and Anhui? Then this podcast is for you.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Oregon Trail]]> Mon, 27 May 2013 09:00:00 +0800

The largest investment for any family daring the Oregon Trail was the purchase of oxen. Bullets? Medicine? Clothing for the children? Safe passage across dangerous rivers? All of these were luxuries. Even children were a luxury, since in a worst case scenario your adults could survive on squirrel meat and repopulate once they reached the west coast. But if your oxen died? Then the grim ghosts of dysentery that stalked the trail would show no mercy.

Learning Chinese? This week on Popup Chinese we boot up the Apple II and discover the surprising amount that Chinese people know about American history. And Super Mario and Contra and strange Chinese role-playing games involving mystical swords. Also, details on the not-so-legit Nintendo gaming systems that were all the rage in the days before the XBox.

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The largest investment for any family daring the Oregon Trail was the purchase of oxen. Bullets? Medicine? Clothing for the children? Safe passage across dangerous rivers? All of these were luxuries. Even children were a luxury, since in a worst case scenario your adults could survive on squirrel meat and repopulate once they reached the west coast. But if your oxen died? Then the grim ghosts of dysentery that stalked the trail would show no mercy.

Learning Chinese? This week on Popup Chinese we boot up the Apple II and discover the surprising amount that Chinese people know about American history. And Super Mario and Contra and strange Chinese role-playing games involving mystical swords. Also, details on the not-so-legit Nintendo gaming systems that were all the rage in the days before the XBox.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - Something you don't know about your wife]]> Mon, 20 May 2013 14:29:49 +0800

Robert suspected his wife's strange preoccupation with Beijing Opera was beginning to affect their marriage. While he had always been aware of her fascination with Chinese culture, after she became involved in a local theatre troupe, June seemed much less willing to compromise on the small issues, or even consider things from his perspective. And then there were her midnight practice sessions, furtive telephone calls and paranoid protectiveness of personal toiletries.

Learning Chinese? Our elementary lesson today is a bit trickier than most, but if you've been with us for a while we think you'll enjoy it, since it introduces a new sentence pattern we haven't run into yet, and that we're not aware of being covered in any textbook we've stumbled into to date. Despite the hour of pain that preceded the recording, we had a good time making this show and hope you enjoy it too.

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Robert suspected his wife's strange preoccupation with Beijing Opera was beginning to affect their marriage. While he had always been aware of her fascination with Chinese culture, after she became involved in a local theatre troupe, June seemed much less willing to compromise on the small issues, or even consider things from his perspective. And then there were her midnight practice sessions, furtive telephone calls and paranoid protectiveness of personal toiletries.

Learning Chinese? Our elementary lesson today is a bit trickier than most, but if you've been with us for a while we think you'll enjoy it, since it introduces a new sentence pattern we haven't run into yet, and that we're not aware of being covered in any textbook we've stumbled into to date. Despite the hour of pain that preceded the recording, we had a good time making this show and hope you enjoy it too.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - Chinese Parenting]]> Tue, 14 May 2013 09:00:00 +0800

It was another ideas meeting at Popup Towers, and the topic had turned to our advanced Chinese-only shows. "Why can't we have an upbeat podcast for a change," David had suggested. "I'm worried listeners are going to think we're chronically depressed between our discussion of pollution, academic bribery and corporal punishment." The room hung silent. "Couldn't we have a happy show about family and love or something like that?"

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It was another ideas meeting at Popup Towers, and the topic had turned to our advanced Chinese-only shows. "Why can't we have an upbeat podcast for a change," David had suggested. "I'm worried listeners are going to think we're chronically depressed between our discussion of pollution, academic bribery and corporal punishment." The room hung silent. "Couldn't we have a happy show about family and love or something like that?"

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<![CDATA[Elementary - The Chinese Tutor]]> Mon, 29 Apr 2013 09:00:00 +0800

Sean couldn't mask his dismay at the literal exactitude with which his Chinese lecturer approached her teaching duties. Even after months of parroting back her sentences like a trained parrot, he still struggled with spontaneous communication. It struck him as absurd that anyone expect a student to reach fluency this way, but that was why he'd finally taken the plunge and hired a local tutor. Even if his new teacher wasn't professionally trained, at least his time with her would afford the chance for some genuine conversation.

On the off-chance that this is your first lesson, don't be scared: while this is the longest dialogue we've ever produced at the Elementary level, the vocabulary is not terribly complex and we think you can handle it. And if you have any questions or comments? Feel free to write us anytime at service@popupchinese.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Sean couldn't mask his dismay at the literal exactitude with which his Chinese lecturer approached her teaching duties. Even after months of parroting back her sentences like a trained parrot, he still struggled with spontaneous communication. It struck him as absurd that anyone expect a student to reach fluency this way, but that was why he'd finally taken the plunge and hired a local tutor. Even if his new teacher wasn't professionally trained, at least his time with her would afford the chance for some genuine conversation.

On the off-chance that this is your first lesson, don't be scared: while this is the longest dialogue we've ever produced at the Elementary level, the vocabulary is not terribly complex and we think you can handle it. And if you have any questions or comments? Feel free to write us anytime at service@popupchinese.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - Memories of School Days]]> Mon, 22 Apr 2013 09:00:00 +0800

Our Popup crew had dinner at a Sichuan restaurant last week, and for whatever reason the conversation quickly turned to traumatic childhood experiences. And it turns out that while attending school in any country can give kids a rough time, if you attended school in China in the 1980s and 1990s you had to add teacher-management and bribery strategies into your list of daily problems, as Echo and Sylvia discuss in today's show.

Curious what it was like attending primary school in China in the late 1980s and early 1990s? If so, join us today for a podcast that shares the dirt on the Chinese school system, and finally gives Sylvia and Echo a chance to come clean about their traumatic pasts. And if you have comments of your own or suggestions about future topics you'd like to see us discuss in the future, leave us a note below or send us an email at service@popupchinese.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Our Popup crew had dinner at a Sichuan restaurant last week, and for whatever reason the conversation quickly turned to traumatic childhood experiences. And it turns out that while attending school in any country can give kids a rough time, if you attended school in China in the 1980s and 1990s you had to add teacher-management and bribery strategies into your list of daily problems, as Echo and Sylvia discuss in today's show.

Curious what it was like attending primary school in China in the late 1980s and early 1990s? If so, join us today for a podcast that shares the dirt on the Chinese school system, and finally gives Sylvia and Echo a chance to come clean about their traumatic pasts. And if you have comments of your own or suggestions about future topics you'd like to see us discuss in the future, leave us a note below or send us an email at service@popupchinese.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - The Gossip Mongers]]> Wed, 17 Apr 2013 09:00:00 +0800

Our new Ayi is great, except for her propensity to gossip. We'll tell her things like what we had for breakfast or how much sleep we got the night before, and the next thing you know she's shared that on Weibo and Facebook and then we're getting inbound telephone calls from strangers in Henan with occasionally useful but somewhat overfamiliar advice. Truth be told, we're not sure exactly how to deal with it, since she does a really good job otherwise.

Learning Chinese? In this lesson, we cover an incredibly useful expression that is unfairly ignored by textbooks worldwide. And in the process, we try to illustrate one of the nicest things about learning mandarin: the looser grammatical structure makes many Chinese expressions more flexible and universally applicable than their English counterparts.

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Our new Ayi is great, except for her propensity to gossip. We'll tell her things like what we had for breakfast or how much sleep we got the night before, and the next thing you know she's shared that on Weibo and Facebook and then we're getting inbound telephone calls from strangers in Henan with occasionally useful but somewhat overfamiliar advice. Truth be told, we're not sure exactly how to deal with it, since she does a really good job otherwise.

Learning Chinese? In this lesson, we cover an incredibly useful expression that is unfairly ignored by textbooks worldwide. And in the process, we try to illustrate one of the nicest things about learning mandarin: the looser grammatical structure makes many Chinese expressions more flexible and universally applicable than their English counterparts.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - Richard III]]> Mon, 15 Apr 2013 09:00:00 +0800

People often ask us how we get such great voice acting, as if there were a secret we could simply put into words. Whereas the truth is that acting is a form of Zen, and it takes years to develop a sensitivity to the art. For us a key part was spending our formative years at the Central Academy of Drama. And as much as it pains us to admit now that we are trained thespians, we'd never even heard of the Bard before attending that venerable institute. In those days, as our teachers would often tell us, truly we were green as lettuce.

Learning Chinese? This lesson is mostly just fun listening practice, but if you're looking for a challenging way to build from it, spend a few minutes on our associated vocabulary list and quiz, which will test you on how well you can recognize famous quotes from Shakespeare... translated into Chinese. This ends up being harder than you think, although it may help to note that we've only used one selection per play.

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People often ask us how we get such great voice acting, as if there were a secret we could simply put into words. Whereas the truth is that acting is a form of Zen, and it takes years to develop a sensitivity to the art. For us a key part was spending our formative years at the Central Academy of Drama. And as much as it pains us to admit now that we are trained thespians, we'd never even heard of the Bard before attending that venerable institute. In those days, as our teachers would often tell us, truly we were green as lettuce.

Learning Chinese? This lesson is mostly just fun listening practice, but if you're looking for a challenging way to build from it, spend a few minutes on our associated vocabulary list and quiz, which will test you on how well you can recognize famous quotes from Shakespeare... translated into Chinese. This ends up being harder than you think, although it may help to note that we've only used one selection per play.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - To Catch a Thief]]> Tue, 02 Apr 2013 09:00:00 +0800

When Detective Smith started his slow climb up the professional ladder, his unorthodox crime-fighting techniques and obsession with furniture made him a laughingstock to the local criminal underclass, as well as many of his more conventional colleagues. Yet his persistent and creative efforts to clean up the city would eventually earn him the grudging admiration of even his most vocal foe, and lead to a sea change in policing techniques nationwide.

Learning Chinese? This is among the more difficult of our Elementary lessons, but if you're working towards understanding television and radio in China you should find it useful: the conversation is natural and reflects the sort of Chinese you'll hear every day in real media. So give it a listen and let us know what you think by email at service@popupchinese.com or in the comments section below.

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When Detective Smith started his slow climb up the professional ladder, his unorthodox crime-fighting techniques and obsession with furniture made him a laughingstock to the local criminal underclass, as well as many of his more conventional colleagues. Yet his persistent and creative efforts to clean up the city would eventually earn him the grudging admiration of even his most vocal foe, and lead to a sea change in policing techniques nationwide.

Learning Chinese? This is among the more difficult of our Elementary lessons, but if you're working towards understanding television and radio in China you should find it useful: the conversation is natural and reflects the sort of Chinese you'll hear every day in real media. So give it a listen and let us know what you think by email at service@popupchinese.com or in the comments section below.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - Leaving Beijing]]> Mon, 25 Mar 2013 14:11:08 +0800

If this show is a bit introspective, that's because the "at what cost" question has been a recurring theme of late in our conversations with colleagues and friends. For some the decision to move on is about money and lifestyle, while for others it is just time to do something different. What do we think about this? What do you think about this? If you understand native-level Chinese and are looking for listening practice, why not join us for this advanced show and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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If this show is a bit introspective, that's because the "at what cost" question has been a recurring theme of late in our conversations with colleagues and friends. For some the decision to move on is about money and lifestyle, while for others it is just time to do something different. What do we think about this? What do you think about this? If you understand native-level Chinese and are looking for listening practice, why not join us for this advanced show and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Brownie Cake]]> Mon, 18 Mar 2013 09:00:00 +0800

Factional alliances had been coalescing for months, for as the availability of work narrowed, it was obvious to all that sacrifices would simply have to be made. And so it was that Popup Towers became a place of whispers and sideways glances among the voice acting team, as a hundred secret alliances blossomed and then withered overnight. And then there was the baking....

Learning Chinese? At the Intermediate level we try to present genuine Chinese dialogues prepared and presented without concerns over reducing the difficulty or sculpting the language spoken to make it easier for beginners. This means you get fully natural Chinese passages in speed, tempo as well as emotion. And once you can follow along at this level, you should be ready to step up to both native media as well as our more advanced shows.

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Factional alliances had been coalescing for months, for as the availability of work narrowed, it was obvious to all that sacrifices would simply have to be made. And so it was that Popup Towers became a place of whispers and sideways glances among the voice acting team, as a hundred secret alliances blossomed and then withered overnight. And then there was the baking....

Learning Chinese? At the Intermediate level we try to present genuine Chinese dialogues prepared and presented without concerns over reducing the difficulty or sculpting the language spoken to make it easier for beginners. This means you get fully natural Chinese passages in speed, tempo as well as emotion. And once you can follow along at this level, you should be ready to step up to both native media as well as our more advanced shows.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - Under Pressure]]> Mon, 11 Mar 2013 09:00:00 +0800

It's been an adjustment having a new roommate here at Popup Towers. We chat a bit at breakfast and dinner, but he mostly keeps to himself, working and studying in his room rather than the common areas. But it isn't like he's a social recluse or anything. Far from it. He has plans to go far, as we know all too well.

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It's been an adjustment having a new roommate here at Popup Towers. We chat a bit at breakfast and dinner, but he mostly keeps to himself, working and studying in his room rather than the common areas. But it isn't like he's a social recluse or anything. Far from it. He has plans to go far, as we know all too well.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - Beijing Air Pollution]]> Tue, 05 Mar 2013 09:00:00 +0800

Our advanced podcast for today is a show Echo and Sylvia recorded about the air pollution in Beijing. What's it like living in a city where you can't breathe? How do Chinese people cope and what are people doing to solve the problem or deal with it? If you're an advanced Chinese student looking for some upper-level language practice, join us for today's show and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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Our advanced podcast for today is a show Echo and Sylvia recorded about the air pollution in Beijing. What's it like living in a city where you can't breathe? How do Chinese people cope and what are people doing to solve the problem or deal with it? If you're an advanced Chinese student looking for some upper-level language practice, join us for today's show and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Glory of Imperial Russia]]> Thu, 28 Feb 2013 09:00:00 +0800

It had been a winter of great discord, with even Russia's wealthiest cities stalked by a sweeping tide of violent bolshevism. And yet how far the Tsar's summer home seemed from all this blood, as the rich strolled on the warm grass oblivious to the death fast approaching. And even now was their blindness anything but the arrogance of the Imperial throne, and characteristic of this age of contradictions?

Learning Chinese? Our lesson for today is inspired by several of the Russian television series we've seen imported into China over the years, and dedicated to anyone who has ever watched a full episode of these imported soap operas, or even just stumbled across the name of the Russian Foreign Minister when working through the news. Because you're not alone to find eight-character foreign names excruciatingly difficult to pronounce.

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It had been a winter of great discord, with even Russia's wealthiest cities stalked by a sweeping tide of violent bolshevism. And yet how far the Tsar's summer home seemed from all this blood, as the rich strolled on the warm grass oblivious to the death fast approaching. And even now was their blindness anything but the arrogance of the Imperial throne, and characteristic of this age of contradictions?

Learning Chinese? Our lesson for today is inspired by several of the Russian television series we've seen imported into China over the years, and dedicated to anyone who has ever watched a full episode of these imported soap operas, or even just stumbled across the name of the Russian Foreign Minister when working through the news. Because you're not alone to find eight-character foreign names excruciatingly difficult to pronounce.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - A Bad China Day]]> Mon, 25 Feb 2013 09:00:00 +0800

Sometimes life in China doesn't make much sense. Which is why we'd like to introduce your head to this concrete wall now while everyone is still being sociable. We think you should get to know each other, and learn a bit about your hobbies and special interests, because you'll be running into each other fairly often now that you're in town. And can you use chopsticks? Yeah? Just checking.

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Sometimes life in China doesn't make much sense. Which is why we'd like to introduce your head to this concrete wall now while everyone is still being sociable. We think you should get to know each other, and learn a bit about your hobbies and special interests, because you'll be running into each other fairly often now that you're in town. And can you use chopsticks? Yeah? Just checking.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - We can remember it for you wholesale]]> Mon, 18 Feb 2013 09:00:00 +0800

We've been trying to keep our feature film project under wraps and don't want to do the whole Kickstarter thing, but if anyone knows the Spielberg brothers tell them to answer our emails, because we only need a bit of cash to start shooting at this point and the story basically sells itself. I mean... if someone else made this movie, we would probably see it a couple of times in the theater at least. Multiply that by the number of people in China and you'll have a sense of what this can mean.

The concept? We're working from an original script, but imagine something like Inception except on Mars and with a spy angle as well. And we don't even need to cast: we've already got provisional commitments from Kate Bekinsale, Anne Hathaway and David Tennant. Granted, not everyone has signed on paper yet, but as soon as they see our concept art it'll be impossible to pry the pens from their fingers. And since everyone will be speaking Chinese, Steven will finally have a shot at that Best Foreign Language Oscar.

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We've been trying to keep our feature film project under wraps and don't want to do the whole Kickstarter thing, but if anyone knows the Spielberg brothers tell them to answer our emails, because we only need a bit of cash to start shooting at this point and the story basically sells itself. I mean... if someone else made this movie, we would probably see it a couple of times in the theater at least. Multiply that by the number of people in China and you'll have a sense of what this can mean.

The concept? We're working from an original script, but imagine something like Inception except on Mars and with a spy angle as well. And we don't even need to cast: we've already got provisional commitments from Kate Bekinsale, Anne Hathaway and David Tennant. Granted, not everyone has signed on paper yet, but as soon as they see our concept art it'll be impossible to pry the pens from their fingers. And since everyone will be speaking Chinese, Steven will finally have a shot at that Best Foreign Language Oscar.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - What's in the Box]]> Mon, 11 Feb 2013 09:00:00 +0800

David Mill's eyes settled on the blood-stained box lying before him. It was the same box that Somerset had carried over moments earlier... or would have carried over were he actually in this scene and not taking the day off from work. Somewhere in his subconscious, David realized that this meant the script made no sense. Without his partner, he must have gone over and picked up the box himself. But why would he carry it all the way back to Joe Doe before opening it, and what kind of sane police officer would just leave a serial killer alone in the desert?

If you've been with us since year one, you doubtless know all about our penchant for slasher films by now. And you probably also know that our dialogues sometimes don't make any sense. So we recommend you don't think too carefully about the setup to this one. Just enjoy the show, hopefully learn a bit more about when questions aren't questions, and write us anytime at service@popupchinese.com if you have feedback or suggestions on things you'd like to see us cover.

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David Mill's eyes settled on the blood-stained box lying before him. It was the same box that Somerset had carried over moments earlier... or would have carried over were he actually in this scene and not taking the day off from work. Somewhere in his subconscious, David realized that this meant the script made no sense. Without his partner, he must have gone over and picked up the box himself. But why would he carry it all the way back to Joe Doe before opening it, and what kind of sane police officer would just leave a serial killer alone in the desert?

If you've been with us since year one, you doubtless know all about our penchant for slasher films by now. And you probably also know that our dialogues sometimes don't make any sense. So we recommend you don't think too carefully about the setup to this one. Just enjoy the show, hopefully learn a bit more about when questions aren't questions, and write us anytime at service@popupchinese.com if you have feedback or suggestions on things you'd like to see us cover.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Iron Chicken]]> Mon, 04 Feb 2013 09:00:00 +0800

Iron Chicken knows which way the winds are blowing. It knows how much that shirt sells for at the Chegongzhuang Discount Market, and it isn't afraid of telling you straight out. So don't try to pull one over the Iron Chicken. It will not pity you. It will stick fast to its ideals of fairness, justice and affordable cotton casual-wear. And if you still insist on your ridiculous markup, it will walk away. Because the Iron Chicken does not need you. It does not need anyone.

Learning Chinese? While there is less fowl here than our title might suggest, we had fun recording this show and would like to reiterate that the entire dialogue is Echo's idea. So please do not use our general email address for your complaints. Rather, please direct your hate mail straight to the source by writing echo@popupchinese.com. In fact, feel free to write multiple times under different pseudonyms. And don't forget to compliment the rest of our Popup Staff while you're at it.

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Iron Chicken knows which way the winds are blowing. It knows how much that shirt sells for at the Chegongzhuang Discount Market, and it isn't afraid of telling you straight out. So don't try to pull one over the Iron Chicken. It will not pity you. It will stick fast to its ideals of fairness, justice and affordable cotton casual-wear. And if you still insist on your ridiculous markup, it will walk away. Because the Iron Chicken does not need you. It does not need anyone.

Learning Chinese? While there is less fowl here than our title might suggest, we had fun recording this show and would like to reiterate that the entire dialogue is Echo's idea. So please do not use our general email address for your complaints. Rather, please direct your hate mail straight to the source by writing echo@popupchinese.com. In fact, feel free to write multiple times under different pseudonyms. And don't forget to compliment the rest of our Popup Staff while you're at it.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - What's wrong, Lassie?]]> Mon, 21 Jan 2013 09:00:00 +0800

Timmy needed her! And just like that our faithful collie no longer felt the sting of the ice round her paws, or the frozen wind blowing through the woods. Instead, blood surged through her veins as instinct took command and she drove headlong back to the farmhouse in search of help, her small body throwing itself across the fields and over the old wooden fence in a single bound as she raced home for help.

Learning Chinese? At the Absolute Beginner level at Popup Chinese, our focus is on covering the basics of the Chinese language in a series of shows you can cover in any order. In today's episode, join Echo, Brendan and David as we talk about why Lassie never made it big in China, and then discuss an easy way to put your sentences into the Chinese equivalent of the future tense.

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Timmy needed her! And just like that our faithful collie no longer felt the sting of the ice round her paws, or the frozen wind blowing through the woods. Instead, blood surged through her veins as instinct took command and she drove headlong back to the farmhouse in search of help, her small body throwing itself across the fields and over the old wooden fence in a single bound as she raced home for help.

Learning Chinese? At the Absolute Beginner level at Popup Chinese, our focus is on covering the basics of the Chinese language in a series of shows you can cover in any order. In today's episode, join Echo, Brendan and David as we talk about why Lassie never made it big in China, and then discuss an easy way to put your sentences into the Chinese equivalent of the future tense.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - Impressions of America]]> Mon, 14 Jan 2013 09:00:00 +0800

With air pollution off the charts in Beijing, we turn our gaze outwards this week and invite Echo and Amber into our studio for an advanced show about their experiences living and traveling across the United States. Little did we know that we would not get a podcast about the majestic sweep of American wilderness, the dynamism of a working Republic, or even the great American foods like deep-dish pizza. Instead, they both went on about something completely different....

Learning Chinese? At the advanced level, we try to showcase a wider variety of materials than explicit lessons, which means we also have some shows featuring the kind of Chinese-only advanced conversation featured in this podcast. Beyond listening to this sort of listening material, we also encourage advanced students to check out our manually annotated collection of Chinese short stories, our not-as-regular-as-it-used-to-be film guessing game, and our archive of upper-level HSK materials.

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With air pollution off the charts in Beijing, we turn our gaze outwards this week and invite Echo and Amber into our studio for an advanced show about their experiences living and traveling across the United States. Little did we know that we would not get a podcast about the majestic sweep of American wilderness, the dynamism of a working Republic, or even the great American foods like deep-dish pizza. Instead, they both went on about something completely different....

Learning Chinese? At the advanced level, we try to showcase a wider variety of materials than explicit lessons, which means we also have some shows featuring the kind of Chinese-only advanced conversation featured in this podcast. Beyond listening to this sort of listening material, we also encourage advanced students to check out our manually annotated collection of Chinese short stories, our not-as-regular-as-it-used-to-be film guessing game, and our archive of upper-level HSK materials.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Newsroom]]> Tue, 01 Jan 2013 09:00:00 +0800

While Bruce may simply have been standing in the right place at the right time, the mood in the newsroom was nonetheless elated, with even the interns well-aware that this unexpected scoop would catapult their local paper to national attention, and perhaps even net them a National Newspaper Award for excellence in photojournalism.

Learning Chinese? At the intermediate level one of the things we try to highlight is entirely natural and improvisational Chinese as opposed to the sorts of heavily scripted and largely unnatural speech featured on other learning programs and textbooks. And this dialogue is a case in point: the difficulty is not so much in understanding the vocabulary here as simply following what is happening as our native Chinese speakers communicate casually the way you'll hear everywhere in mainland China.

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While Bruce may simply have been standing in the right place at the right time, the mood in the newsroom was nonetheless elated, with even the interns well-aware that this unexpected scoop would catapult their local paper to national attention, and perhaps even net them a National Newspaper Award for excellence in photojournalism.

Learning Chinese? At the intermediate level one of the things we try to highlight is entirely natural and improvisational Chinese as opposed to the sorts of heavily scripted and largely unnatural speech featured on other learning programs and textbooks. And this dialogue is a case in point: the difficulty is not so much in understanding the vocabulary here as simply following what is happening as our native Chinese speakers communicate casually the way you'll hear everywhere in mainland China.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - On the Road]]> Tue, 25 Dec 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Memories of New York were fading rapidly as we pulled over to the first roadside station we had seen in hours, our gas tank hovering a touch above empty after what seemed to have been an interminable drive through the desert. It wasn't clear exactly where we had ended up, but the gas was cheaper than expected and the counter inside sold some of the best falafels we'd ever eaten....

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Memories of New York were fading rapidly as we pulled over to the first roadside station we had seen in hours, our gas tank hovering a touch above empty after what seemed to have been an interminable drive through the desert. It wasn't clear exactly where we had ended up, but the gas was cheaper than expected and the counter inside sold some of the best falafels we'd ever eaten....

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - A Visit from the Doctors]]> Mon, 17 Dec 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Earlier this month, in an effort to make our advanced shows more interactive, and ensure they address the needs of professional workers throughout the world, Popup Towers invited the staff of the Surgery Department at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital to our recording studios to participate in the making of a dialogue and podcast dedicated to members of their profession. This is a mistake we will not be making again....

Over time, most intermediate students pick up on the basics of medical vocabulary, learning to talk about CT scans and ultrasounds and recount the names of a huge number of virii and diseases that can kill and maim in various horrible fashions. But despite this, most advanced students still have no clue how to talk about sprains, bruises, cramps and other really common ailments, which is why we've put together this lesson today.

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Earlier this month, in an effort to make our advanced shows more interactive, and ensure they address the needs of professional workers throughout the world, Popup Towers invited the staff of the Surgery Department at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital to our recording studios to participate in the making of a dialogue and podcast dedicated to members of their profession. This is a mistake we will not be making again....

Over time, most intermediate students pick up on the basics of medical vocabulary, learning to talk about CT scans and ultrasounds and recount the names of a huge number of virii and diseases that can kill and maim in various horrible fashions. But despite this, most advanced students still have no clue how to talk about sprains, bruises, cramps and other really common ailments, which is why we've put together this lesson today.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Gods of Powerpoint]]> Tue, 11 Dec 2012 09:00:00 +0800

After watching his guest power-cycle the projector in baffled dismay for five straight minutes, Wang's internal struggle to maintain composure was fast approaching breaking point. Why did every fiscal quarter end like this? Flush with enthusiasm for whatever latest management theory was trending in California, headquarters would inevitably dispatch a fresh graduate with no actual experience in the industry to lecture his battle-scarred team about their own supply chain issues. And now this?

Learning Chinese? Our lesson today falls midway between the Elementary and Intermediate levels, and we were a bit on the fence about how to classify it. The reason for this is that while our dialogue is a bit easier than most others at this level, our subject matter and vocab is more professional and stretches beyond the basics into the hinterlands of Chinglish, that hazy region on the linguistic map where the familiar can be surprisingly exotic.

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After watching his guest power-cycle the projector in baffled dismay for five straight minutes, Wang's internal struggle to maintain composure was fast approaching breaking point. Why did every fiscal quarter end like this? Flush with enthusiasm for whatever latest management theory was trending in California, headquarters would inevitably dispatch a fresh graduate with no actual experience in the industry to lecture his battle-scarred team about their own supply chain issues. And now this?

Learning Chinese? Our lesson today falls midway between the Elementary and Intermediate levels, and we were a bit on the fence about how to classify it. The reason for this is that while our dialogue is a bit easier than most others at this level, our subject matter and vocab is more professional and stretches beyond the basics into the hinterlands of Chinglish, that hazy region on the linguistic map where the familiar can be surprisingly exotic.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Casanova's Roommate]]> Tue, 27 Nov 2012 09:00:00 +0800

For most of the evening, Jay had hovered on the cusp of sleep, kept awake by the muted sounds of bossa nova pouring from his flatmate's stereo, its dim beats peppered with the occasional rattling of pipes and a series of strange falsetto screams. And on the few occasions he managed to drift off, his mind was flooded with strange images of his thesis committee at a Cuban beach party, reading his thesis and laughing at it in a series of oddly-familiar falsetto screams.

Our latest show is an elementary Chinese lesson. For us the elementary level means that you're able to follow the basics in spoken Chinese, but have difficulty watching television or listening to the radio at normal speed without assistance. This is the level where we like to highlight the basic grammar points we assume everyone knows at our higher levels, where our focus shifts to how and why Chinese people break them. So if you're an elementary Chinese student get started by listening to this show, and then check out our chinese lesson archive for more than a thousand other great shows.

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For most of the evening, Jay had hovered on the cusp of sleep, kept awake by the muted sounds of bossa nova pouring from his flatmate's stereo, its dim beats peppered with the occasional rattling of pipes and a series of strange falsetto screams. And on the few occasions he managed to drift off, his mind was flooded with strange images of his thesis committee at a Cuban beach party, reading his thesis and laughing at it in a series of oddly-familiar falsetto screams.

Our latest show is an elementary Chinese lesson. For us the elementary level means that you're able to follow the basics in spoken Chinese, but have difficulty watching television or listening to the radio at normal speed without assistance. This is the level where we like to highlight the basic grammar points we assume everyone knows at our higher levels, where our focus shifts to how and why Chinese people break them. So if you're an elementary Chinese student get started by listening to this show, and then check out our chinese lesson archive for more than a thousand other great shows.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Acrobats]]> Mon, 19 Nov 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Detective Wilders was coming face-to-face with a world few members of proper society even acknowledged: the underclass of the acrobatic arts. And yet perhaps underclass was not the proper word. For as not unlike members of a secret society, acrobats did not reject the tenets of civil society so much as simply live by a separate code. Theirs was a world not easily entered by outsiders, but one which once entered, must be entered completely.

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Detective Wilders was coming face-to-face with a world few members of proper society even acknowledged: the underclass of the acrobatic arts. And yet perhaps underclass was not the proper word. For as not unlike members of a secret society, acrobats did not reject the tenets of civil society so much as simply live by a separate code. Theirs was a world not easily entered by outsiders, but one which once entered, must be entered completely.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Book Club]]> Tue, 13 Nov 2012 09:00:00 +0800

The heart of the operation was a claustrophobic room tucked away in the bowels of just another city bar. Once through the trap door into the basement, visitors were greeted by a tiny circle of chairs arranged haphazardly atop an unfinished concrete floor. It was not a place anyone would come for civil discussion. The air was fetid, and pools of water collected unevenly on the floor as water dripped down from the cooling pipes which snaked across the ceiling.

Learning Chinese? Our lesson today features an intermediate-level dialogue, along with a quick book club of our own. Want to know who we consider to be the Hemingway of China? And who else is worth reading now that you're up to this level? Get our verdict in this show, and leave your own thoughts in the comment section below to share recommendations on contemporary authors we've missed.

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The heart of the operation was a claustrophobic room tucked away in the bowels of just another city bar. Once through the trap door into the basement, visitors were greeted by a tiny circle of chairs arranged haphazardly atop an unfinished concrete floor. It was not a place anyone would come for civil discussion. The air was fetid, and pools of water collected unevenly on the floor as water dripped down from the cooling pipes which snaked across the ceiling.

Learning Chinese? Our lesson today features an intermediate-level dialogue, along with a quick book club of our own. Want to know who we consider to be the Hemingway of China? And who else is worth reading now that you're up to this level? Get our verdict in this show, and leave your own thoughts in the comment section below to share recommendations on contemporary authors we've missed.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - iPad Acquisition Techniques]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Before you send us hate mail, be aware that we tried getting 9527 to slow down. "Whatdoyoumeanslowdown," she said in bewilderment, "Imalreadyspeakingslowly." And we sighed and told her maybe to try a bit harder, since even our microphone only caught about thirty percent of what she said and she looked at us like we were crazy and headed back into the studio clucking softly and proceeded to do another take on fast-forward.

Learning Chinese? If you're at the elementary level, you shouldn't find the vocab in this dialogue challenging in the least, although you'd be forgiven for missing the english word that gets repeated throughout considering that most of our voice actors seemed to have trouble pronouncing the letter D. Fortunately, our focus isn't English phonetics so much as Chinese grammar: a sentence pattern you'll hear all over the place that native Chinese speakers use to place an extra emphasis on the ownership or possession of an object.

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Before you send us hate mail, be aware that we tried getting 9527 to slow down. "Whatdoyoumeanslowdown," she said in bewilderment, "Imalreadyspeakingslowly." And we sighed and told her maybe to try a bit harder, since even our microphone only caught about thirty percent of what she said and she looked at us like we were crazy and headed back into the studio clucking softly and proceeded to do another take on fast-forward.

Learning Chinese? If you're at the elementary level, you shouldn't find the vocab in this dialogue challenging in the least, although you'd be forgiven for missing the english word that gets repeated throughout considering that most of our voice actors seemed to have trouble pronouncing the letter D. Fortunately, our focus isn't English phonetics so much as Chinese grammar: a sentence pattern you'll hear all over the place that native Chinese speakers use to place an extra emphasis on the ownership or possession of an object.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Without a Clue]]> Thu, 01 Nov 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Our somewhat confused efforts to introduce the American board game Clue to our Chinese friends has resulted in a number of Friday pickup games near Sanlitun. But even after several months, the concept of the game seems strangely difficult for some people to grasp. And we sympathize, because knowing who killed whom with what hardly addresses the much more important why.

Learning mandarin? At our intermediate level, we don't shy away from giving you native-speed, colloquial Chinese dialogues. And there really isn't much hand-holding in this episode, but if you find it too difficult don't worry - just head to our intermediate archives and find an easier lesson from among the hundreds we've already published. And let us know what you think anytime in the comments section below, or by sending us email at service@popupchinese.com.

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Our somewhat confused efforts to introduce the American board game Clue to our Chinese friends has resulted in a number of Friday pickup games near Sanlitun. But even after several months, the concept of the game seems strangely difficult for some people to grasp. And we sympathize, because knowing who killed whom with what hardly addresses the much more important why.

Learning mandarin? At our intermediate level, we don't shy away from giving you native-speed, colloquial Chinese dialogues. And there really isn't much hand-holding in this episode, but if you find it too difficult don't worry - just head to our intermediate archives and find an easier lesson from among the hundreds we've already published. And let us know what you think anytime in the comments section below, or by sending us email at service@popupchinese.com.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Buying Earphones]]> Mon, 29 Oct 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Learning Chinese? Our mandarin lesson for today features a short but simple dialogue covering the way real Chinese shoppers ask for prices. We expect it will come in handy the next time you're strolling down the street and see imitation Apple products available for one-tenth of their normal retail price.

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Learning Chinese? Our mandarin lesson for today features a short but simple dialogue covering the way real Chinese shoppers ask for prices. We expect it will come in handy the next time you're strolling down the street and see imitation Apple products available for one-tenth of their normal retail price.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - The Voice of China]]> Mon, 22 Oct 2012 09:00:00 +0800

American Idol premiered in the United States in 2005, and China has had a metric ton of song-related reality television shows since then. So what exactly is it that has turned The Voice of China into a nationwide craze? Since its premiere in July on Zhejiang Television, the show has become probably the most talked-about television series in the entire mainland, with a band of fanatical followers including some of us here at Popup Towers.

Learning Chinese? If your Chinese is already at a relatively advanced level, join Echo, Andy and Gao today for an advanced Chinese lesson focusing on a lot of vocabulary related to The Voice of China and other reality television shows. Our conversation here is entirely in mandarin, but if you have any questions or problems, we encourage you to leave comments or questions in the discussion space below, or write Echo at echo@popupchinese.com

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American Idol premiered in the United States in 2005, and China has had a metric ton of song-related reality television shows since then. So what exactly is it that has turned The Voice of China into a nationwide craze? Since its premiere in July on Zhejiang Television, the show has become probably the most talked-about television series in the entire mainland, with a band of fanatical followers including some of us here at Popup Towers.

Learning Chinese? If your Chinese is already at a relatively advanced level, join Echo, Andy and Gao today for an advanced Chinese lesson focusing on a lot of vocabulary related to The Voice of China and other reality television shows. Our conversation here is entirely in mandarin, but if you have any questions or problems, we encourage you to leave comments or questions in the discussion space below, or write Echo at echo@popupchinese.com

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - The CCTV Minority Show]]> Wed, 17 Oct 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Nathan struggled to make sense of the mugshots. The young banker could remember countless details about the previous evening: the costumes, the songs, even the taste of exotic milk-based dishes. But how could he ever pull the criminals out of a line-up? Almost everything about the evening had been designed to draw attention away from their individual appearances.

Learning Chinese? This is one of our easier lessons at the Intermediate level, since we go light on difficult vocabulary, but if you're used to the slow and artificial pace of textbook Chinese you may still find it quite a challenge. So why not take a listen and see how much you understand? And let us know what you think by email at service@popupchinese.com.

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Nathan struggled to make sense of the mugshots. The young banker could remember countless details about the previous evening: the costumes, the songs, even the taste of exotic milk-based dishes. But how could he ever pull the criminals out of a line-up? Almost everything about the evening had been designed to draw attention away from their individual appearances.

Learning Chinese? This is one of our easier lessons at the Intermediate level, since we go light on difficult vocabulary, but if you're used to the slow and artificial pace of textbook Chinese you may still find it quite a challenge. So why not take a listen and see how much you understand? And let us know what you think by email at service@popupchinese.com.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Mother's Secret Past]]> Mon, 15 Oct 2012 09:00:00 +0800

All through their autumn romance, Susan had seemed so eager that Michael meet her parents, and the two of them had planned a joint trip home at Thanksgiving just for this purpose. Yet now that the date was upon them, her enthusiasm had changed into an almost brooding depression, forcing Michael to wonder what could possibly have gone wrong. Had something in their relationship changed? Was she upset at him? Or had her parents heard something about him and disapproved of them being together?

Learning Chinese? Dealing with relationship issues? Regardless of whether you have to meet the folks or not, we encourage you to listen to our lesson today as we stress the all-important point about how the Chinese language can sometimes be totally and utterly illogical, and how its easy to make amateur mistakes which will give you away as a non-native speaker simply by following all the normal rules outlined by your teachers.

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All through their autumn romance, Susan had seemed so eager that Michael meet her parents, and the two of them had planned a joint trip home at Thanksgiving just for this purpose. Yet now that the date was upon them, her enthusiasm had changed into an almost brooding depression, forcing Michael to wonder what could possibly have gone wrong. Had something in their relationship changed? Was she upset at him? Or had her parents heard something about him and disapproved of them being together?

Learning Chinese? Dealing with relationship issues? Regardless of whether you have to meet the folks or not, we encourage you to listen to our lesson today as we stress the all-important point about how the Chinese language can sometimes be totally and utterly illogical, and how its easy to make amateur mistakes which will give you away as a non-native speaker simply by following all the normal rules outlined by your teachers.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Gangnam Style]]> Wed, 10 Oct 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Rich Koreans, carnivorous teddy bears and Nazis. Lest anyone think we are oblivious to pop culture, today we are pleased to present an Elementary Chinese lesson on the latest Internet sensation sweeping across China. Also, considering the continued availability of Titanic gear in shops nationwide, we expect to continue hearing about this for at least the next decade, so it doesn't hurt to bone up on it.

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Rich Koreans, carnivorous teddy bears and Nazis. Lest anyone think we are oblivious to pop culture, today we are pleased to present an Elementary Chinese lesson on the latest Internet sensation sweeping across China. Also, considering the continued availability of Titanic gear in shops nationwide, we expect to continue hearing about this for at least the next decade, so it doesn't hurt to bone up on it.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - An Evening of Romance and Laughter]]> Mon, 08 Oct 2012 09:00:00 +0800

June's colleagues had been so eager to set her up with Peter that she had resisted for over a month, coming up first with this excuse and then that one before finally succumbing to at least one date. But now that the two of them were alone together, she wondered why had she waited? He was handsome, and funny and charming. Even the waiters, ever sensitive to the delicacy of unfolding love, had slowly cleared the rest of the guests indoors, leaving the two of them alone on the candlelit terrace.

Learning Chinese? Our show today is at the more difficult end of our spectrum when it comes to lessons for absolute beginners. In it, we cover a useful sentence pattern for telling other people how you feel about them... or life in general. But if it is too difficult for you, don't worry. Just hop back to our lesson archive for hundreds of even easier lessons for total beginners to the Chinese language.

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June's colleagues had been so eager to set her up with Peter that she had resisted for over a month, coming up first with this excuse and then that one before finally succumbing to at least one date. But now that the two of them were alone together, she wondered why had she waited? He was handsome, and funny and charming. Even the waiters, ever sensitive to the delicacy of unfolding love, had slowly cleared the rest of the guests indoors, leaving the two of them alone on the candlelit terrace.

Learning Chinese? Our show today is at the more difficult end of our spectrum when it comes to lessons for absolute beginners. In it, we cover a useful sentence pattern for telling other people how you feel about them... or life in general. But if it is too difficult for you, don't worry. Just hop back to our lesson archive for hundreds of even easier lessons for total beginners to the Chinese language.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - A Sound of Thunder]]> Wed, 26 Sep 2012 09:00:00 +0800

As the time machine settled emerged from the plasma void, the world came back into focus through the tiny porthole. It was a jungle, and the jungle was high and broad and the entire world forever and forever. Sounds like music and sounds like flying tents filled the sky, and those were pterodactyls soaring with cavernous gray wings, gigantic bats of delirium and night fever. As the machine started its cooldown cycle, Eckles reached for his rifle and pursed his lips in satisfaction: after years of anticipation, it was finally time for the hunt to begin.

Learning Chinese? Our shows at the advanced level assume that you're either relatively fluent in mandarin, or very close to being fluent. Because of this, we focus less on colloquial Chinese and more on the sort of problems that upper-level students face: advanced vocab acquisition and dealing with less colloquial Chinese. In this show, join us as we explore the problems of paradox and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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As the time machine settled emerged from the plasma void, the world came back into focus through the tiny porthole. It was a jungle, and the jungle was high and broad and the entire world forever and forever. Sounds like music and sounds like flying tents filled the sky, and those were pterodactyls soaring with cavernous gray wings, gigantic bats of delirium and night fever. As the machine started its cooldown cycle, Eckles reached for his rifle and pursed his lips in satisfaction: after years of anticipation, it was finally time for the hunt to begin.

Learning Chinese? Our shows at the advanced level assume that you're either relatively fluent in mandarin, or very close to being fluent. Because of this, we focus less on colloquial Chinese and more on the sort of problems that upper-level students face: advanced vocab acquisition and dealing with less colloquial Chinese. In this show, join us as we explore the problems of paradox and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Box on Head]]> Mon, 24 Sep 2012 09:00:00 +0800

You know the tin-foil hat wearing, conspiracy-paranoid crowd that started showing up almost overnight when X-Files became mainstream and that you'll still run into every now and again in the States, and especially if you live in San Francisco? Well... the good news is that China doesn't really have this kind of counterculture yet. The paranoid life is simpler here. More direct. And much less high-tech.

Learning Chinese? The elementary level at Popup Chinese is where we get most of our grammar out-of-the-way, and today's lesson is no exception, focusing on what you'll come to know and love as the continuous aspect: the Chinese way of communicating than an action is ongoing. In this lesson we cover two common ways of doing this and talk about both the similarities and slight differences between these techniques. This is rarely taught in textbooks, but its the sort of thing that separates native speakers from second-language learners, so if you're working towards fluency be sure to give it a listen, and let us know what you think.

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You know the tin-foil hat wearing, conspiracy-paranoid crowd that started showing up almost overnight when X-Files became mainstream and that you'll still run into every now and again in the States, and especially if you live in San Francisco? Well... the good news is that China doesn't really have this kind of counterculture yet. The paranoid life is simpler here. More direct. And much less high-tech.

Learning Chinese? The elementary level at Popup Chinese is where we get most of our grammar out-of-the-way, and today's lesson is no exception, focusing on what you'll come to know and love as the continuous aspect: the Chinese way of communicating than an action is ongoing. In this lesson we cover two common ways of doing this and talk about both the similarities and slight differences between these techniques. This is rarely taught in textbooks, but its the sort of thing that separates native speakers from second-language learners, so if you're working towards fluency be sure to give it a listen, and let us know what you think.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Corn Batman]]> Wed, 19 Sep 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Bruce Wayne surveyed the hospital room where Gordon lay in babbling incoherence. The police commissioner had been delusional since being pulled from the Gotham sewers two days ago. And while the fallen officer could offer no words to explain his predicament, the keen eyes of his guest nonetheless understood. For lying on the table beside him were the remnants of a dinner too much for any man to bear: an untouched slab of beefsteak, a spoonful of mashed potatoes. And then the corn. Two pieces of corn on the cob, gnawed clean to the bone.

Learning Chinese? We are working with industry contacts in Hollywood to bring a greater and better vision of The Dark Knight to Chinese cinemas, one with more corn and less Dickens. Shooting a film is a pretty big endeavor, but while we get it off the ground we are pleased to bring a double-header podcast to help share our vision of the film, and drum up support for what we think will be a much more ambitious and literary take on the Batman mythos.

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Bruce Wayne surveyed the hospital room where Gordon lay in babbling incoherence. The police commissioner had been delusional since being pulled from the Gotham sewers two days ago. And while the fallen officer could offer no words to explain his predicament, the keen eyes of his guest nonetheless understood. For lying on the table beside him were the remnants of a dinner too much for any man to bear: an untouched slab of beefsteak, a spoonful of mashed potatoes. And then the corn. Two pieces of corn on the cob, gnawed clean to the bone.

Learning Chinese? We are working with industry contacts in Hollywood to bring a greater and better vision of The Dark Knight to Chinese cinemas, one with more corn and less Dickens. Shooting a film is a pretty big endeavor, but while we get it off the ground we are pleased to bring a double-header podcast to help share our vision of the film, and drum up support for what we think will be a much more ambitious and literary take on the Batman mythos.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Lost in the Desert]]> Mon, 17 Sep 2012 09:00:00 +0800

"There's no excuse to find oneself stuck in a desert these days," Philip muttered as he crested another dune. Between satellite positioning systems and cellular phones, it was practically impossible to get disconnected from society at all. So what were they doing trudging through what appeared to be the Sahara desert? The last few days may have been a bit muddled in his mind, but whatever the reason, Philip was pretty sure this was somehow James' fault. Whenever they got into a situation like this it was always James' fault....

Learning Chinese? Our lesson today is intended for absolute beginners who are just starting to learn Chinese. This means that even if you don't know any mandarin, you'll still be able to make sense of this dialogue. And by the end of our ten minute lesson, you'll be able to use a simple sentence pattern to say or ask how much more of something is left, whether it be distance or time.

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"There's no excuse to find oneself stuck in a desert these days," Philip muttered as he crested another dune. Between satellite positioning systems and cellular phones, it was practically impossible to get disconnected from society at all. So what were they doing trudging through what appeared to be the Sahara desert? The last few days may have been a bit muddled in his mind, but whatever the reason, Philip was pretty sure this was somehow James' fault. Whenever they got into a situation like this it was always James' fault....

Learning Chinese? Our lesson today is intended for absolute beginners who are just starting to learn Chinese. This means that even if you don't know any mandarin, you'll still be able to make sense of this dialogue. And by the end of our ten minute lesson, you'll be able to use a simple sentence pattern to say or ask how much more of something is left, whether it be distance or time.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Ayi Strikes Back]]> Wed, 12 Sep 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Let us break from the tradition of language instruction and instead offer some practical home-cleaning tips for making the best of your time in China. First, we recommend buying separate mops for the washroom and the rest of your home. Having a third mop dedicated for kitchen use is advisable but not necessary. And don't forget to keep your cleaning rags out of the kitchen, and take care lest they get tossed into the wash with the rest of your clothing. Other than that, living in China is great.

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Let us break from the tradition of language instruction and instead offer some practical home-cleaning tips for making the best of your time in China. First, we recommend buying separate mops for the washroom and the rest of your home. Having a third mop dedicated for kitchen use is advisable but not necessary. And don't forget to keep your cleaning rags out of the kitchen, and take care lest they get tossed into the wash with the rest of your clothing. Other than that, living in China is great.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - The Most Popular Lawyer in Hogtown]]> Mon, 10 Sep 2012 09:00:00 +0800

After the scandalous acquittal of Nathan Darnell, Jeremy Harvale became one of the more sought-after solicitors in the city, his services in demand by everyone from white-collar criminals to gang leaders and hardened murderers. And while his popularity may not have reflected a vote of confidence in the ethics of the legal profession, it never helped to be too fastidious about morality when hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of personal freedom were on the line.

Learning Chinese? Let us confess up-front that today's Elementary lesson is harder than most of the others at this level: our dialogue really pushes the limits of what we consider elementary. What we want you to take away from this show is much simpler though, being an easy way to transform fairly straightforward questions into skeptical expressions of doubt. This is an easy emotional twist that will make you sound a lot more fluent, so if you're learning Chinese, be sure to take a listen and then let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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After the scandalous acquittal of Nathan Darnell, Jeremy Harvale became one of the more sought-after solicitors in the city, his services in demand by everyone from white-collar criminals to gang leaders and hardened murderers. And while his popularity may not have reflected a vote of confidence in the ethics of the legal profession, it never helped to be too fastidious about morality when hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of personal freedom were on the line.

Learning Chinese? Let us confess up-front that today's Elementary lesson is harder than most of the others at this level: our dialogue really pushes the limits of what we consider elementary. What we want you to take away from this show is much simpler though, being an easy way to transform fairly straightforward questions into skeptical expressions of doubt. This is an easy emotional twist that will make you sound a lot more fluent, so if you're learning Chinese, be sure to take a listen and then let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Shopping with Naomi Klein]]> Wed, 05 Sep 2012 09:00:00 +0800

After reading our declaration of solidarity with the workers of the world, Naomi Klein dropped by Popup Towers the other day for a solidarity march to Wangfujing, where we mobilized the masses in protest of oppressive capitalism in general, and the replacement of sensible, logo-free clothing with rhinestone-encrusted t-shirts and pleated stonewashed jeans in particular. And then we went shopping.

Learning Chinese? Our elementary Chinese lesson is like most of the others at this level: it features a fast and colloquial dialogue that's representative of the sort of Chinese that is rarely featured in modern textbooks, but is the way people actually speak here in China. So if you haven't created an account at Popup Chinese yet, be sure to signup for a free account and get immediate access to not only this lesson, but our archive of literally thousands of other great shows to pull your Chinese up into fluency.

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After reading our declaration of solidarity with the workers of the world, Naomi Klein dropped by Popup Towers the other day for a solidarity march to Wangfujing, where we mobilized the masses in protest of oppressive capitalism in general, and the replacement of sensible, logo-free clothing with rhinestone-encrusted t-shirts and pleated stonewashed jeans in particular. And then we went shopping.

Learning Chinese? Our elementary Chinese lesson is like most of the others at this level: it features a fast and colloquial dialogue that's representative of the sort of Chinese that is rarely featured in modern textbooks, but is the way people actually speak here in China. So if you haven't created an account at Popup Chinese yet, be sure to signup for a free account and get immediate access to not only this lesson, but our archive of literally thousands of other great shows to pull your Chinese up into fluency.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - The French Revolution]]> Mon, 03 Sep 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Lest there be any doubt to the French protestors who have taken to milling about outside Popup Towers, let it be known that - like Byron - our hearts stand firmly with your people, save in those edge cases where demonstrations of solidarity run up against our inveterate hatred of early-morning calisthenics and other forms of fascist reveille.

And what is that mon ami, you are learning Chinese but tired of the oppressive pablum that constitutes most Chinese textbooks? Then shake off your shackles and liberate your mind with a free account here at Popup Chinese. We have well over a thousand shows in our free lesson archive, and you're welcome to listen to them all.

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Lest there be any doubt to the French protestors who have taken to milling about outside Popup Towers, let it be known that - like Byron - our hearts stand firmly with your people, save in those edge cases where demonstrations of solidarity run up against our inveterate hatred of early-morning calisthenics and other forms of fascist reveille.

And what is that mon ami, you are learning Chinese but tired of the oppressive pablum that constitutes most Chinese textbooks? Then shake off your shackles and liberate your mind with a free account here at Popup Chinese. We have well over a thousand shows in our free lesson archive, and you're welcome to listen to them all.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - Turtle in the Mud]]> Mon, 27 Aug 2012 09:00:00 +0800

It turns out that our first mistake doing business in China was giving our hosts a gift of dessicated turtle bones wrapped in bamboo and silk. They were polite enough to accept our offering and one of the younger staffers even commented on how well preserved the carapace seemed to be, but we never did get that contract, and they stopped replying to our emails. Chalk it up to cultural differences.

This is an advanced show,and it's a bit different from anything we've done to date. While we have a reading here that teaches some of the basics in parsing classical Chinese, our focus is more than just providing a resource for those interested in reading classical Chinese, since we also have the chance to highlight some of the debates that real Chinese people continue to have about traditional Chinese philosophy, and Zhuang Zi in particular.

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It turns out that our first mistake doing business in China was giving our hosts a gift of dessicated turtle bones wrapped in bamboo and silk. They were polite enough to accept our offering and one of the younger staffers even commented on how well preserved the carapace seemed to be, but we never did get that contract, and they stopped replying to our emails. Chalk it up to cultural differences.

This is an advanced show,and it's a bit different from anything we've done to date. While we have a reading here that teaches some of the basics in parsing classical Chinese, our focus is more than just providing a resource for those interested in reading classical Chinese, since we also have the chance to highlight some of the debates that real Chinese people continue to have about traditional Chinese philosophy, and Zhuang Zi in particular.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - The Second Vaccination]]> Thu, 23 Aug 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Learning Chinese? We've already had a few lessons about basic numbers in mandarin, so in today's show we take a step beyond that and talk about ordinals, or how to say that it is your first, second, third or four hundredth time doing something. The rules for doing this are much easier in Chinese than in English, so take a listen and in less than ten minutes you'll be well on your way to the elementary level, at least as far as numbers are concerned.

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Learning Chinese? We've already had a few lessons about basic numbers in mandarin, so in today's show we take a step beyond that and talk about ordinals, or how to say that it is your first, second, third or four hundredth time doing something. The rules for doing this are much easier in Chinese than in English, so take a listen and in less than ten minutes you'll be well on your way to the elementary level, at least as far as numbers are concerned.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - Any Shanghai Restaurants Open Late?]]> Mon, 20 Aug 2012 09:00:00 +0800

This introduction has zero bearing on our actual lesson, but considering the gravity of the subject matter, if you live in Shanghai please throw us a bone and tell us where on earth people go for late-night dining. The "Eat Drink Man Woman" diner on Tongren Lu used to be a great place with serviceable coffee and 24-hours of nutritious WIFI. But with that shut down it seems the entire city's late-night dining options are restricted to McDonalds, 永和大王 and 避风塘. Say it ain't so.

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This introduction has zero bearing on our actual lesson, but considering the gravity of the subject matter, if you live in Shanghai please throw us a bone and tell us where on earth people go for late-night dining. The "Eat Drink Man Woman" diner on Tongren Lu used to be a great place with serviceable coffee and 24-hours of nutritious WIFI. But with that shut down it seems the entire city's late-night dining options are restricted to McDonalds, 永和大王 and 避风塘. Say it ain't so.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - Gollum visits Beijing]]> Wed, 15 Aug 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Andy Serkis tossed the dungeons and dragons treatment onto his coffee table, where it thudded to rest atop the scattered remains of nine other fantasy scripts previously discarded. With The Hobbit in post-production and Game of Thrones earning rave reviews on HBO, there was no shortage of epic fantasy projects looking for his participation. How ironic that after years of struggling for this sort of legitimacy he was now hoping for a more conventional role in a dramatic comedy.

And it was exactly then, just as Andy was beginning to feel sorry for both himself and Western culture more broadly, that he noticed the small yellow envelope which had fallen from the table to the yellow carpeting. The writing on the front was written in curiously formal capital letters. And while this was enough to entice him to open the letter and begin scanning it in nonchalant boredom, it wasn't long until his eyes returned afresh to the start of the page, and began anew as he realized the invitation to Beijing was serious.

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Andy Serkis tossed the dungeons and dragons treatment onto his coffee table, where it thudded to rest atop the scattered remains of nine other fantasy scripts previously discarded. With The Hobbit in post-production and Game of Thrones earning rave reviews on HBO, there was no shortage of epic fantasy projects looking for his participation. How ironic that after years of struggling for this sort of legitimacy he was now hoping for a more conventional role in a dramatic comedy.

And it was exactly then, just as Andy was beginning to feel sorry for both himself and Western culture more broadly, that he noticed the small yellow envelope which had fallen from the table to the yellow carpeting. The writing on the front was written in curiously formal capital letters. And while this was enough to entice him to open the letter and begin scanning it in nonchalant boredom, it wasn't long until his eyes returned afresh to the start of the page, and began anew as he realized the invitation to Beijing was serious.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Linguistic Massacre]]> Mon, 13 Aug 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Murder, wiretapping and blackmail aside, our focus today is actually on a more pedestrian form of linguistic crime: the way many Chinese speakers are managing to butcher mandarin by virtue of not understanding its origins. Specifically, today we focus on five useful idioms that almost every single native speaker now uses to mean the exact opposite of what they actually mean.

This is more difficult show than most of our intermediate lessons, since we spend a bit of time talking about classical Chinese, but if you're looking to push your way past colloquial mandarin into our upper level, we think you'll find this really useful. In addition to covering some extremely useful chengyu, in the next fifteen minutes you'll learn more about their origins than most native speakers ever will, knowledge we expect you to put to good use at your own discretion.

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Murder, wiretapping and blackmail aside, our focus today is actually on a more pedestrian form of linguistic crime: the way many Chinese speakers are managing to butcher mandarin by virtue of not understanding its origins. Specifically, today we focus on five useful idioms that almost every single native speaker now uses to mean the exact opposite of what they actually mean.

This is more difficult show than most of our intermediate lessons, since we spend a bit of time talking about classical Chinese, but if you're looking to push your way past colloquial mandarin into our upper level, we think you'll find this really useful. In addition to covering some extremely useful chengyu, in the next fifteen minutes you'll learn more about their origins than most native speakers ever will, knowledge we expect you to put to good use at your own discretion.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - Giving Directions in Shanghai]]> Wed, 08 Aug 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Things we love about Shanghai include its great subway system, fantastic nightlife, and its green and walkable city streets. But then there are the taxis... and have you ever tried getting a cab in Shanghai? First there is the matter of flagging one down in a place where convention demands that taxi lines are formed in parallel to the road. And assuming you wrest one from the masses and clamber in? Well... then your adventure has only begun.

Learning Chinese? Our lesson today is all about over-specifying when giving directions, a skill that is actually quite useful to have regardless of where you end up living in China. So if you're learning mandarin and already know the basics, join us for a show that will help push you beyond them and towards more upper-level fluency. And if you have any questions, please do let us know in the comment section below, or by email at service@popupchinese.com.

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Things we love about Shanghai include its great subway system, fantastic nightlife, and its green and walkable city streets. But then there are the taxis... and have you ever tried getting a cab in Shanghai? First there is the matter of flagging one down in a place where convention demands that taxi lines are formed in parallel to the road. And assuming you wrest one from the masses and clamber in? Well... then your adventure has only begun.

Learning Chinese? Our lesson today is all about over-specifying when giving directions, a skill that is actually quite useful to have regardless of where you end up living in China. So if you're learning mandarin and already know the basics, join us for a show that will help push you beyond them and towards more upper-level fluency. And if you have any questions, please do let us know in the comment section below, or by email at service@popupchinese.com.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Squeak: Master and Companion....]]> Mon, 06 Aug 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Squeak is our office cat who in the last few years has turned Popup Towers into his own private fiefdom of glass, aluminum and dot-com excellence. Whenever we're recording, he'll paw at the studio door trying to get in. Visitors are always greeted with excitement out of the hope they might bring something edible, and when he wants to relax on his favorite chair, good luck dragging him away from the computer or getting any work done.

Learning Chinese? This lesson is intended for Absolute Beginners to the Chinese language. We start with a fairly simple and straightforward dialogue, and move on with a podcast that will teach you some of the absolute basics to speaking mandarin. So if you're new to Chinese give it a listen and see what you think. And if you have comments or questions, feel free to leave a note, or contact us anytime by email at service@popupchinese.com.

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Squeak is our office cat who in the last few years has turned Popup Towers into his own private fiefdom of glass, aluminum and dot-com excellence. Whenever we're recording, he'll paw at the studio door trying to get in. Visitors are always greeted with excitement out of the hope they might bring something edible, and when he wants to relax on his favorite chair, good luck dragging him away from the computer or getting any work done.

Learning Chinese? This lesson is intended for Absolute Beginners to the Chinese language. We start with a fairly simple and straightforward dialogue, and move on with a podcast that will teach you some of the absolute basics to speaking mandarin. So if you're new to Chinese give it a listen and see what you think. And if you have comments or questions, feel free to leave a note, or contact us anytime by email at service@popupchinese.com.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - Chinese Negotiation Tactics]]> Tue, 31 Jul 2012 09:00:00 +0800

The Shenzhen company's pricing strategy was simple but effective. Five minutes after any customer arrived, they would be guided to the executive sundeck and given several glasses of cool spring water while they waited for the executive team. Once the customer was sufficiently hydrated, their counterparts would arrive with apologies and a gift of the region's finest green tea. After several toasts, the pricing negotiations were never quite as protracted as some customers may have wished.

Learning Chinese? Our elementary lessons at Popup Chinese stretch beyond the baics into dialogues which feature more complex constructions. While these feature common sentence patterns and can help you push your way to fluency, they also highlight the same sort of conversational and colloquial speech you'll find spoken every day in mainland China. So if you're learning Chinese, give us a listen and hear for yourself how much different real spoken Chinese is from the dry, unnatural texts you may be accustomed to from other textbooks.

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The Shenzhen company's pricing strategy was simple but effective. Five minutes after any customer arrived, they would be guided to the executive sundeck and given several glasses of cool spring water while they waited for the executive team. Once the customer was sufficiently hydrated, their counterparts would arrive with apologies and a gift of the region's finest green tea. After several toasts, the pricing negotiations were never quite as protracted as some customers may have wished.

Learning Chinese? Our elementary lessons at Popup Chinese stretch beyond the baics into dialogues which feature more complex constructions. While these feature common sentence patterns and can help you push your way to fluency, they also highlight the same sort of conversational and colloquial speech you'll find spoken every day in mainland China. So if you're learning Chinese, give us a listen and hear for yourself how much different real spoken Chinese is from the dry, unnatural texts you may be accustomed to from other textbooks.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - The Beijing Floods]]> Mon, 30 Jul 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Memories of last week's floods in Beijing are dying hard, at least judging by the way the hottest selling items on Taobao continue to be car escape kits, and the way traffic now manages to grind to a halt everywhere around the capital anytime there's even a touch of inclement weather.

As a consequence, today on Popup Chinese we're happy to publish a fully-Chinese discussion podcast for advanced listeners. This is really just listening practice, but we have a discussion focused on the topic of last week's flooding in Beijing and there is plenty of new vocabulary for those of you boning up on disaster terminology. And in an interesting twist, we also managed to get Bunny in the studio to talk about this with Echo. In addition to being a now-famous voice-actor, Bunny is also working his way up the ranks as a member of the Chinese security establishment and was out on the streets that day. We hope you like the show.

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Memories of last week's floods in Beijing are dying hard, at least judging by the way the hottest selling items on Taobao continue to be car escape kits, and the way traffic now manages to grind to a halt everywhere around the capital anytime there's even a touch of inclement weather.

As a consequence, today on Popup Chinese we're happy to publish a fully-Chinese discussion podcast for advanced listeners. This is really just listening practice, but we have a discussion focused on the topic of last week's flooding in Beijing and there is plenty of new vocabulary for those of you boning up on disaster terminology. And in an interesting twist, we also managed to get Bunny in the studio to talk about this with Echo. In addition to being a now-famous voice-actor, Bunny is also working his way up the ranks as a member of the Chinese security establishment and was out on the streets that day. We hope you like the show.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Suicidal Tendencies]]> Mon, 23 Jul 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Samuel had always appreciated architecture, which was why he had insisted on hiring a top-tier architect to design his new office. So how ironic that it would be here - in the iconic glass lobby that had symbolized his success - that he would end both his career and his life. It had not been an easy choice, but what other could he make? In the last week everything he had lived for had been taken away in an elaborate and cruel con game in which even his closest friends and relatives seemed complicit.

Learning Chinese? In our Chinese lesson for today, Brendan, David, Echo and take to our studios to talk about scams in Chinese. This lesson features a fast and natural-speed dialogue involving a man on the brink, so if your mandarin is already at the intermediate level, join us for both it, as well as a discussion on common scams in China and the language you need to know to talk about them. And let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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Samuel had always appreciated architecture, which was why he had insisted on hiring a top-tier architect to design his new office. So how ironic that it would be here - in the iconic glass lobby that had symbolized his success - that he would end both his career and his life. It had not been an easy choice, but what other could he make? In the last week everything he had lived for had been taken away in an elaborate and cruel con game in which even his closest friends and relatives seemed complicit.

Learning Chinese? In our Chinese lesson for today, Brendan, David, Echo and take to our studios to talk about scams in Chinese. This lesson features a fast and natural-speed dialogue involving a man on the brink, so if your mandarin is already at the intermediate level, join us for both it, as well as a discussion on common scams in China and the language you need to know to talk about them. And let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - Good Morning, Mr. Bond]]> Thu, 19 Jul 2012 09:00:00 +0800

The sheer scale of Emilio Largo's China operations -- including the military bunker in which James found himself sequestered -- suggested far more menacing plans than the mere narcotics-smuggling suspected in London. But there were more questions here than how MI5 had missed the rebirth of SPECTRE, such as how his former adversary had survived their last encounter, or how anyone could setup such a labyrinthine operation in Shanghai without attracting the attention of the Chinese government?

As the sun rose into view through the cell window, James' thoughts turned back to the question of why he was still alive. Perhaps Largo was simply unsure of what exactly Britain knew. If true, this offered some small point of leverage for the imprisoned spy, although after thirty hours without sleep James wondered if he could possibly be alert enough to seize any advantage afforded by it when meeting Emilio later this morning. What he really needed was a coffee.

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The sheer scale of Emilio Largo's China operations -- including the military bunker in which James found himself sequestered -- suggested far more menacing plans than the mere narcotics-smuggling suspected in London. But there were more questions here than how MI5 had missed the rebirth of SPECTRE, such as how his former adversary had survived their last encounter, or how anyone could setup such a labyrinthine operation in Shanghai without attracting the attention of the Chinese government?

As the sun rose into view through the cell window, James' thoughts turned back to the question of why he was still alive. Perhaps Largo was simply unsure of what exactly Britain knew. If true, this offered some small point of leverage for the imprisoned spy, although after thirty hours without sleep James wondered if he could possibly be alert enough to seize any advantage afforded by it when meeting Emilio later this morning. What he really needed was a coffee.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - A Glass of Ice Water]]> Tue, 17 Jul 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Although he couldn't remember any details of the accident, having been knocked unconscious by the force of the truck's initial impact, Xiao Li found himself scarred by the collision in unexpected ways. Even months after waking up in a Shunyi hospital, the young man would find his thoughts drifting off at the strangest of times. And his memory was not what it had been in the past, something particularly problematic for someone in the service profession.

Learning Chinese? This is a Chinese lesson for Absolute Beginners. This means that even if you don't know any Chinese, we keep things simple enough that this lesson should be accessible to you. If you're a higher-level student, check out our massive archive for tons more difficult lessons covering everything from simple grammar patterns to advanced colloquial Chinese. And let us know if you have any feedback by writing us at service@popupchinese.com.

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Although he couldn't remember any details of the accident, having been knocked unconscious by the force of the truck's initial impact, Xiao Li found himself scarred by the collision in unexpected ways. Even months after waking up in a Shunyi hospital, the young man would find his thoughts drifting off at the strangest of times. And his memory was not what it had been in the past, something particularly problematic for someone in the service profession.

Learning Chinese? This is a Chinese lesson for Absolute Beginners. This means that even if you don't know any Chinese, we keep things simple enough that this lesson should be accessible to you. If you're a higher-level student, check out our massive archive for tons more difficult lessons covering everything from simple grammar patterns to advanced colloquial Chinese. And let us know if you have any feedback by writing us at service@popupchinese.com.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Knife to a Gunfight]]> Wed, 11 Jul 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Officer Stevens pried open the warehouse door and slipped into the musty interior. Although armed solely with a knife, he was not the least concerned about his lack of firepower. More pressing in his mind was the far-off wail of sirens, an audible sign the rest of his squad was closing in on this complex. In perhaps fifteen minutes the entire compound would be surrounded by uniformed officers, at which point the escape options for everyone would narrow considerably.

Learning Chinese? This lesson has been a long time in coming, but today we're pleased to present a lesson on verbs which are "secretly gei". And our point here is simple but unexpected. Because while most verbs in Chinese take 给 as either a coverb or complement when they want to communicate the idea of giving something to someone, there are a few curious outliers which can still go-it-alone.

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Officer Stevens pried open the warehouse door and slipped into the musty interior. Although armed solely with a knife, he was not the least concerned about his lack of firepower. More pressing in his mind was the far-off wail of sirens, an audible sign the rest of his squad was closing in on this complex. In perhaps fifteen minutes the entire compound would be surrounded by uniformed officers, at which point the escape options for everyone would narrow considerably.

Learning Chinese? This lesson has been a long time in coming, but today we're pleased to present a lesson on verbs which are "secretly gei". And our point here is simple but unexpected. Because while most verbs in Chinese take 给 as either a coverb or complement when they want to communicate the idea of giving something to someone, there are a few curious outliers which can still go-it-alone.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Home Invasion]]> Mon, 09 Jul 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Hands trussed behind his back as the thieves ransacked his flat, the diamond merchant reflected with unromantic detachment that this could be the work of almost any of his colleagues. Yet he was not totally unprepared for this eventuality, which was why his thoughts kept returning to his home security system. "There's a special wireless mode enabled by default," the salesperson had confided in him. "It can't be bypassed by cutting the wire, and when the alarm is forcibly disabled it will alert us through secondary channels."

Learning Chinese? Our Elementary level at Popup Chinese is where things get a bit more complicated. By this level you should already know the basics and be able to parse simple sentences. This lets us start exploring more complicated grammar structures and more colloquial expressions that are harder to translate literally into English. But we still do this within the context of dialogues that showcase the sort of genuine mandarin you'll hear the next time you're trussed up in a home invasion waiting for the police to arrive.

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Hands trussed behind his back as the thieves ransacked his flat, the diamond merchant reflected with unromantic detachment that this could be the work of almost any of his colleagues. Yet he was not totally unprepared for this eventuality, which was why his thoughts kept returning to his home security system. "There's a special wireless mode enabled by default," the salesperson had confided in him. "It can't be bypassed by cutting the wire, and when the alarm is forcibly disabled it will alert us through secondary channels."

Learning Chinese? Our Elementary level at Popup Chinese is where things get a bit more complicated. By this level you should already know the basics and be able to parse simple sentences. This lets us start exploring more complicated grammar structures and more colloquial expressions that are harder to translate literally into English. But we still do this within the context of dialogues that showcase the sort of genuine mandarin you'll hear the next time you're trussed up in a home invasion waiting for the police to arrive.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Consoling a Friend]]> Wed, 04 Jul 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Providing emotional support isn't exactly our forte here at Popup Towers, and it probably isn't wrong to call our philosophy closer to the sink-or-swim variety. But when an esteemed listener wrote in requesting a lesson on how to console a distraught friend, we couldn't say no. So if you're curious how to handle yourself the next time a Chinese-speaking friend suffers a nervous breakdown, we have your back with this podcast. Because life will probably get better for them. Maybe.

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Providing emotional support isn't exactly our forte here at Popup Towers, and it probably isn't wrong to call our philosophy closer to the sink-or-swim variety. But when an esteemed listener wrote in requesting a lesson on how to console a distraught friend, we couldn't say no. So if you're curious how to handle yourself the next time a Chinese-speaking friend suffers a nervous breakdown, we have your back with this podcast. Because life will probably get better for them. Maybe.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - Undue Pressure]]> Mon, 02 Jul 2012 09:00:00 +0800

If you're living or dating in China, it's impossible not to notice the enormous pressure Chinese society places on young people to get married as quickly as the laws of physics permit. Casual dating is somewhat of a foreign concept, so much so that women past the age of twenty-five often bemoan their spinster-like condition. And for men, the situation is equally bad, as the pressure to attract a wife creates attendant pressures to purchase a home, car and other material products which are effectively unaffordable for many workers.

Learning Chinese? In this advanced and all-native Chinese podcast, Echo, Gao and Qin take to our studio to talk about their own experiences with marriage and their attempts to deal with the pressure. As we find out, one of the three is actually planning to get married quite soon, which provides more grist for the gossip mill. There is a lot of advanced vocabulary in this show, so if your Chinese is good enough to follow natural-speed conversation, join us and find out which of the three is staring down the marriage aisle.

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If you're living or dating in China, it's impossible not to notice the enormous pressure Chinese society places on young people to get married as quickly as the laws of physics permit. Casual dating is somewhat of a foreign concept, so much so that women past the age of twenty-five often bemoan their spinster-like condition. And for men, the situation is equally bad, as the pressure to attract a wife creates attendant pressures to purchase a home, car and other material products which are effectively unaffordable for many workers.

Learning Chinese? In this advanced and all-native Chinese podcast, Echo, Gao and Qin take to our studio to talk about their own experiences with marriage and their attempts to deal with the pressure. As we find out, one of the three is actually planning to get married quite soon, which provides more grist for the gossip mill. There is a lot of advanced vocabulary in this show, so if your Chinese is good enough to follow natural-speed conversation, join us and find out which of the three is staring down the marriage aisle.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Our Hong Kong Subsidiary]]> Wed, 27 Jun 2012 09:00:00 +0800

While the financial meltdown ravaged Squire and Huddington's continental operations, the transnational's activities in Hong Kong remained surprisingly resilient to slumping European demand. Western analysts attributed the growth to continued demand-pull in Asia and management's hands-off attitude to letting its Hong Kong subsidiary refocus on the Asian market, and there may even be some truth to that....

Learning Chinese? Our show today is about lies, gossip and rumors. If you're a Chinese learner at the intermediate level or above and feel comfortable listening to a show that is half in Chinese and half in English, join us for a bilingual discussion of the Chinese rumor mill. We'll cover some practical vocabulary for spreading malicious gossip yourselves, and take a quick look at some of the more outlandish rumors that have circulated on the Chinese Internet in recent years.

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While the financial meltdown ravaged Squire and Huddington's continental operations, the transnational's activities in Hong Kong remained surprisingly resilient to slumping European demand. Western analysts attributed the growth to continued demand-pull in Asia and management's hands-off attitude to letting its Hong Kong subsidiary refocus on the Asian market, and there may even be some truth to that....

Learning Chinese? Our show today is about lies, gossip and rumors. If you're a Chinese learner at the intermediate level or above and feel comfortable listening to a show that is half in Chinese and half in English, join us for a bilingual discussion of the Chinese rumor mill. We'll cover some practical vocabulary for spreading malicious gossip yourselves, and take a quick look at some of the more outlandish rumors that have circulated on the Chinese Internet in recent years.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Lost in the Forest]]> Mon, 25 Jun 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Thirty years later the entire class would laugh about it over drinks, or most of them would anyway. For his part, Zhang Hua would simply get a far-away look in his eye whenever his mind travelled back to those five days he had spent huddled for shelter in a moss-covered hollow after his teacher and classmates had driven back to the city oblivious to the significance of the empty seat in the back of the bus.

Learning Chinese? By now you've learned that Chinese people like to answer questions by repeating the verb used to ask them in either the affirmative or negative form. But did you know there are some situations in which this rule isn't quite so reliable? This podcast covers one of these cases, in which the common verb 是 is - much like Zhang Hua in our dialogue - strangely absent from its usual place.

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Thirty years later the entire class would laugh about it over drinks, or most of them would anyway. For his part, Zhang Hua would simply get a far-away look in his eye whenever his mind travelled back to those five days he had spent huddled for shelter in a moss-covered hollow after his teacher and classmates had driven back to the city oblivious to the significance of the empty seat in the back of the bus.

Learning Chinese? By now you've learned that Chinese people like to answer questions by repeating the verb used to ask them in either the affirmative or negative form. But did you know there are some situations in which this rule isn't quite so reliable? This podcast covers one of these cases, in which the common verb 是 is - much like Zhang Hua in our dialogue - strangely absent from its usual place.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - The Limits of Evolution]]> Wed, 20 Jun 2012 09:00:00 +0800

We have had many dark moments at Popup Towers, but perhaps none darker than the summer of 2009 when Echo bought a cricket from a street peddler on Nanluoguxiang, and proudly placed "The Great General" by the window in his wicker cage. For the first few days as our guest settled into his new quarters, his timid nature made him an amiable office companion. This period of quietude was not to last, and while his death three months later was sad, it was not without its upside considering we run a recording facility.

Learning Chinese? We've decided that this is a lesson perfect for Absolute Beginners to the Chinese language... or really Advanced students looking to brush up on their pronunciation of what we've decided is basically the hardest word in the entire Chinese language. If this is your first lesson you might be better off picking another one from our lesson archives, but if you're up for a challenge, take a listen and let us know what you think.

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We have had many dark moments at Popup Towers, but perhaps none darker than the summer of 2009 when Echo bought a cricket from a street peddler on Nanluoguxiang, and proudly placed "The Great General" by the window in his wicker cage. For the first few days as our guest settled into his new quarters, his timid nature made him an amiable office companion. This period of quietude was not to last, and while his death three months later was sad, it was not without its upside considering we run a recording facility.

Learning Chinese? We've decided that this is a lesson perfect for Absolute Beginners to the Chinese language... or really Advanced students looking to brush up on their pronunciation of what we've decided is basically the hardest word in the entire Chinese language. If this is your first lesson you might be better off picking another one from our lesson archives, but if you're up for a challenge, take a listen and let us know what you think.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Crossing the Border]]> Mon, 18 Jun 2012 09:00:00 +0800

After months setting up shell companies everywhere from Hong Kong to the Cayman Islands, Xiao Li's plans would still hinge on his single exit interview at the Shenzhen border. The mid-level manager had amassed enough paperwork from contacts outside the country to make his trip seem innocuous to superiors at the Foreign Ministry, but there was always the potential for things to get ugly at the border crossing....

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After months setting up shell companies everywhere from Hong Kong to the Cayman Islands, Xiao Li's plans would still hinge on his single exit interview at the Shenzhen border. The mid-level manager had amassed enough paperwork from contacts outside the country to make his trip seem innocuous to superiors at the Foreign Ministry, but there was always the potential for things to get ugly at the border crossing....

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - The Detective Welder, part II]]> Wed, 13 Jun 2012 09:00:00 +0800

The murder had happened around noon, when Winter Reynolds III had met a thick length of steel piping in a restroom at the Federal Reserve. The bludgeoning to death of America's most reclusive financial magnate was heady stuff for a press starved of political gossip: given the number and influence of the tycoon's avowed public enemies, his killer could have been almost half of New York or Washington.

And yet, Detective Stronach thought as he surveyed the crime scene, this mystery could be unraveled by the evidence in this room. For who could have wielded the weapon? Initial evidence pointed to the plumber who had been repairing the executive washroom upstairs. Who else could have had the opportunity to sneak the murder weapon into the building or the professional acumen to wield it with such destructive force. And yet something about this hypothesis was also unsettling to the detective. But why?

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The murder had happened around noon, when Winter Reynolds III had met a thick length of steel piping in a restroom at the Federal Reserve. The bludgeoning to death of America's most reclusive financial magnate was heady stuff for a press starved of political gossip: given the number and influence of the tycoon's avowed public enemies, his killer could have been almost half of New York or Washington.

And yet, Detective Stronach thought as he surveyed the crime scene, this mystery could be unraveled by the evidence in this room. For who could have wielded the weapon? Initial evidence pointed to the plumber who had been repairing the executive washroom upstairs. Who else could have had the opportunity to sneak the murder weapon into the building or the professional acumen to wield it with such destructive force. And yet something about this hypothesis was also unsettling to the detective. But why?

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - The State Bowling Champion]]> Mon, 11 Jun 2012 09:00:00 +0800

In the weeks after the interns discovered John's status as State bowling champion, his ranking was all the gossip in the office. For despite the fact that none of his coworkers had ever expressed the slightest interest in his sport, John now found he could hardly head to the watercooler without one of the marketing crew attempting to give him a high-five, or an engineer rushing out to ask for tips on ball-handling. He would have been sure the entire spectacle was some elaborate setup if it weren't for everyone's apparent sincerity about the whole escapade.

Learning Chinese? One of the things we try to do at our higher levels here at Popup Chinese is step away from just reviewing the literal meanings of various words and focus more on the ways that native Chinese speakers communicate more subtle emotions. And that's exactly our focus in this lesson, which talks about a common way to express reluctance that we've yet to see covered in any other textbook. So you see, it's not that we need to teach this, but shouldn't someone...?

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In the weeks after the interns discovered John's status as State bowling champion, his ranking was all the gossip in the office. For despite the fact that none of his coworkers had ever expressed the slightest interest in his sport, John now found he could hardly head to the watercooler without one of the marketing crew attempting to give him a high-five, or an engineer rushing out to ask for tips on ball-handling. He would have been sure the entire spectacle was some elaborate setup if it weren't for everyone's apparent sincerity about the whole escapade.

Learning Chinese? One of the things we try to do at our higher levels here at Popup Chinese is step away from just reviewing the literal meanings of various words and focus more on the ways that native Chinese speakers communicate more subtle emotions. And that's exactly our focus in this lesson, which talks about a common way to express reluctance that we've yet to see covered in any other textbook. So you see, it's not that we need to teach this, but shouldn't someone...?

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - An Education for Life]]> Wed, 06 Jun 2012 09:00:00 +0800

As Detective Stronach surveyed the ransacked vault, he felt time contract on itself, as if it were but yesterday he had first found work in the London shipyards, joining the local welding crew as its youngest and skinniest wharf rat. In those days he had learned the trades the hard way, clambering into tightest of crawlspaces and down the narrowest of industrial pipes to finish dangerous corner welds and affix steel plating to the hull. It had been difficult and claustrophobic work, but it had given him an education for life.

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As Detective Stronach surveyed the ransacked vault, he felt time contract on itself, as if it were but yesterday he had first found work in the London shipyards, joining the local welding crew as its youngest and skinniest wharf rat. In those days he had learned the trades the hard way, clambering into tightest of crawlspaces and down the narrowest of industrial pipes to finish dangerous corner welds and affix steel plating to the hull. It had been difficult and claustrophobic work, but it had given him an education for life.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Network Transfer]]> Mon, 04 Jun 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Han Lin grinned at his girlfriend as he gestured towards the office headquarters that rose above the small park where they were eating lunch. China Mobile was one of the more prestigious places for a new engineer to find employment, and Han couldn't help but want to show off his employee privileges. "I'll just send the file over the corporate network then," he smiled as he pocketed the USB drive, adding that "even something this big should only take a few minutes at most."

Living in China? No matter what industry you're in, at some point you are going to find yourself in an office environment locked in mortal combat with office equipment. Fortunately, regardless of whether you need to scan documents, backup files to a USB drive or just transfer files across the network, in this lesson we cover the key vocabulary you need to get things done. So take a listen, let us know what you think in the discussion section below, and feel free to email us anytime at service@popupchinese.com.

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Han Lin grinned at his girlfriend as he gestured towards the office headquarters that rose above the small park where they were eating lunch. China Mobile was one of the more prestigious places for a new engineer to find employment, and Han couldn't help but want to show off his employee privileges. "I'll just send the file over the corporate network then," he smiled as he pocketed the USB drive, adding that "even something this big should only take a few minutes at most."

Living in China? No matter what industry you're in, at some point you are going to find yourself in an office environment locked in mortal combat with office equipment. Fortunately, regardless of whether you need to scan documents, backup files to a USB drive or just transfer files across the network, in this lesson we cover the key vocabulary you need to get things done. So take a listen, let us know what you think in the discussion section below, and feel free to email us anytime at service@popupchinese.com.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Beijing Autopia, 2157]]> Thu, 31 May 2012 12:20:57 +0800

After the construction of the new downtown expressway, drivers had raced through the streets of Beijing with an almost cavalier disregard for the laws of physics, for who among us would not feel exalted to speed from the outskirts of Shunyi to the downtown core in just ten minutes? And yet within a few years, even this technological marvel would prove no match for the ingrained habits of an entire generation of Beijing cab drivers.

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After the construction of the new downtown expressway, drivers had raced through the streets of Beijing with an almost cavalier disregard for the laws of physics, for who among us would not feel exalted to speed from the outskirts of Shunyi to the downtown core in just ten minutes? And yet within a few years, even this technological marvel would prove no match for the ingrained habits of an entire generation of Beijing cab drivers.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Return of the Roommate]]> Mon, 28 May 2012 09:00:00 +0800

The hardest thing about Andy's transition to university was adjusting to life with a roommate. Having become accustomed to studying through the night, sleeping in late and otherwise treating his living space as exclusive personal territory, sharing his day-to-day routine with someone was a new experience. And while it was nice to have company in some ways, it was an adjustment putting up with his roommate's eccentricities, and it seemed the semester would involve many lessons in not only applied maths but also in compromise.

Learning Chinese? A lot of people trying to learn Chinese feel that they're missing out from not having a Chinese roommate, and lament all the time they spend in expat circles. Because of this, we're happy to announce a new program aiming to mimic the experience of studying at Tsinghua: for only $1000 a month Popup Chinese will send a Chinese person to live with you in your flat or apartment. No guarantees on hygiene or personal behavior, but it will probably work out. To take us up on this generous offer, just email Echo!

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The hardest thing about Andy's transition to university was adjusting to life with a roommate. Having become accustomed to studying through the night, sleeping in late and otherwise treating his living space as exclusive personal territory, sharing his day-to-day routine with someone was a new experience. And while it was nice to have company in some ways, it was an adjustment putting up with his roommate's eccentricities, and it seemed the semester would involve many lessons in not only applied maths but also in compromise.

Learning Chinese? A lot of people trying to learn Chinese feel that they're missing out from not having a Chinese roommate, and lament all the time they spend in expat circles. Because of this, we're happy to announce a new program aiming to mimic the experience of studying at Tsinghua: for only $1000 a month Popup Chinese will send a Chinese person to live with you in your flat or apartment. No guarantees on hygiene or personal behavior, but it will probably work out. To take us up on this generous offer, just email Echo!

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - The Interminable Wait]]> Wed, 23 May 2012 09:00:00 +0800

At forty-five minutes past the hour Mark was visibly restless, and by a quarter past he was positively pacing. It didn't matter to him that this was a sensitive legal affair involving three major parties across two continents. Considering that Hawkins-Billet was extending its services pro bono - hardly an inexpensive favor - surely it wasn't too much to expect punctuality from the client?

Learning mandarin? Our lesson today teaches how to make confident statements about the future using what Brendan refers to as a "prediction sandwich" and the rest of us call the 会... 的 construction. But don't let this grammatical lingo scare you off -- by the end of this lesson you'll have learned a tremendously easy way to make predictions about what will happen. So join us for today's show and if you have any questions, feel free to let us know in our discussion section below.

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At forty-five minutes past the hour Mark was visibly restless, and by a quarter past he was positively pacing. It didn't matter to him that this was a sensitive legal affair involving three major parties across two continents. Considering that Hawkins-Billet was extending its services pro bono - hardly an inexpensive favor - surely it wasn't too much to expect punctuality from the client?

Learning mandarin? Our lesson today teaches how to make confident statements about the future using what Brendan refers to as a "prediction sandwich" and the rest of us call the 会... 的 construction. But don't let this grammatical lingo scare you off -- by the end of this lesson you'll have learned a tremendously easy way to make predictions about what will happen. So join us for today's show and if you have any questions, feel free to let us know in our discussion section below.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - The Anti-Foreign Crackdown]]> Tue, 22 May 2012 01:05:43 +0800

If you've been following the news, you'll know our title for this show refers to the latest "official crackdown" going on in Beijing: this time aimed at the apparent flood of itinerant foreigners in China to steal money, jobs and women from Yang Rui at CCTV. In unrelated news, if you want to buy some drugs, you can apparently still pick them up at Sanlitun.

As far as we can tell, the most immediate effect of all this commotion has been a clampdown on visas issued in Hong Kong and a tightening of the agency system many people rely on to assist with visa applications. But what is likely to happen long-term? This is a topic worth talking about, which is why in today's show Amber, Brendan and Echo take to the studio to chat about public enemy number one. In the process, we cover some of the more useful vocab you can use for talking about these developments with your own friends and colleagues.

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If you've been following the news, you'll know our title for this show refers to the latest "official crackdown" going on in Beijing: this time aimed at the apparent flood of itinerant foreigners in China to steal money, jobs and women from Yang Rui at CCTV. In unrelated news, if you want to buy some drugs, you can apparently still pick them up at Sanlitun.

As far as we can tell, the most immediate effect of all this commotion has been a clampdown on visas issued in Hong Kong and a tightening of the agency system many people rely on to assist with visa applications. But what is likely to happen long-term? This is a topic worth talking about, which is why in today's show Amber, Brendan and Echo take to the studio to chat about public enemy number one. In the process, we cover some of the more useful vocab you can use for talking about these developments with your own friends and colleagues.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Occupational Hazard]]> Wed, 16 May 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Flying into Los Angeles at night was like falling into the stars themselves. Below the plane, the darkened sprawl stretched to the ends of the horizon, the streets bathed in a hundred thousand glimmering lights, flashing and twinkling as the cars on the expressway churned their way home. And welcoming them all was the LAX airport in the distance, its runways framed by strobing lights....

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Flying into Los Angeles at night was like falling into the stars themselves. Below the plane, the darkened sprawl stretched to the ends of the horizon, the streets bathed in a hundred thousand glimmering lights, flashing and twinkling as the cars on the expressway churned their way home. And welcoming them all was the LAX airport in the distance, its runways framed by strobing lights....

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Drinks with the Boss]]> Mon, 14 May 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Remember the time you worked for that state-owned auto company and got invited to the annual banquet and said yes and were surprised when everyone started relaxing and having a good time and soon you were even flirting with Xiao Li and thinking it might go somewhere but then the next thing you remember was waking in a pitch-black room with your body wracked in a kind of throbbing scream and your mind seized with visions from Ecclesiastes, wondering how you managed to get from the banquet hall to this place, and where exactly was this place anyway?

Let us be frank: it does not take much exposure to China to learn that there are some activities in this country that are not conducive to either learning mandarin or continuing to live. This lesson covers one of those cases, but is also a bit of a dual-use podcast. Because while the mandarin we cover has the potential to get you into trouble, it can also help keep you sane in a different context. So listen up and use your newfound powers for good or evil as you wish.

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Remember the time you worked for that state-owned auto company and got invited to the annual banquet and said yes and were surprised when everyone started relaxing and having a good time and soon you were even flirting with Xiao Li and thinking it might go somewhere but then the next thing you remember was waking in a pitch-black room with your body wracked in a kind of throbbing scream and your mind seized with visions from Ecclesiastes, wondering how you managed to get from the banquet hall to this place, and where exactly was this place anyway?

Let us be frank: it does not take much exposure to China to learn that there are some activities in this country that are not conducive to either learning mandarin or continuing to live. This lesson covers one of those cases, but is also a bit of a dual-use podcast. Because while the mandarin we cover has the potential to get you into trouble, it can also help keep you sane in a different context. So listen up and use your newfound powers for good or evil as you wish.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Thinking and Feeling]]> Wed, 09 May 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Our lesson today is for absolute beginners to the Chinese language, which means that even if you don't know any Chinese you should still find it accessible enough to pick up some of the basics. In it we cover two useful verbs you can use to tell others what you are thinking and feeling. And as a bonus, we also cover a useful phrase for apologizing in Chinese, either so you can apologize yourself, or so you can demand satisfaction from everyone around you.

New to Popup Chinese and not sure what we have in store? This lesson is for absolute beginners to the Chinese language, but if you're a more advanced student don't worry: we have hundreds of lessons at your difficulty level in our Chinese lesson archive. Just create a free account for yourself and you'll get full access totally free of charge. So create your own free account today and let us know what you think of our stuff.

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Our lesson today is for absolute beginners to the Chinese language, which means that even if you don't know any Chinese you should still find it accessible enough to pick up some of the basics. In it we cover two useful verbs you can use to tell others what you are thinking and feeling. And as a bonus, we also cover a useful phrase for apologizing in Chinese, either so you can apologize yourself, or so you can demand satisfaction from everyone around you.

New to Popup Chinese and not sure what we have in store? This lesson is for absolute beginners to the Chinese language, but if you're a more advanced student don't worry: we have hundreds of lessons at your difficulty level in our Chinese lesson archive. Just create a free account for yourself and you'll get full access totally free of charge. So create your own free account today and let us know what you think of our stuff.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Son of Gump]]> Wed, 02 May 2012 09:00:00 +0800

The somnolent corpse twitched as the first jolts of electricity seared through its head, trunk and prostrate limbs until wreaths of blue flame arced up and down the leg braces as the voltage faded and the laboratory returned to silence, a silence filled with only the smell of charred flesh and the unspoken question that reached between the two observers, asking if this might finally be the time for the legend to rise again?

Our Chinese podcast for today is all about speed, and is filled with some hot-swappable expressions you can use when things start happening faster than you expect. But before you get started with the madness that is today's lesson, if you haven't heard our previous show titled "They Called Me Mad, The Fools" you might want to give it a listen first, since our story picks up where its predecessor left off.

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The somnolent corpse twitched as the first jolts of electricity seared through its head, trunk and prostrate limbs until wreaths of blue flame arced up and down the leg braces as the voltage faded and the laboratory returned to silence, a silence filled with only the smell of charred flesh and the unspoken question that reached between the two observers, asking if this might finally be the time for the legend to rise again?

Our Chinese podcast for today is all about speed, and is filled with some hot-swappable expressions you can use when things start happening faster than you expect. But before you get started with the madness that is today's lesson, if you haven't heard our previous show titled "They Called Me Mad, The Fools" you might want to give it a listen first, since our story picks up where its predecessor left off.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Workplace Pickup Techniques]]> Mon, 30 Apr 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Every language learning program needs at least one lesson on creepy workplace stalking. And by this we mean a lesson filled with useful tips and tricks on how to pickup friends and coworkers without coming across like a creepy stalker. And that's why we've taken special pains to produce this show filled with tips and tricks for maximizing your chances of office romance. And also two really useful prepositions. What more could you want?

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Every language learning program needs at least one lesson on creepy workplace stalking. And by this we mean a lesson filled with useful tips and tricks on how to pickup friends and coworkers without coming across like a creepy stalker. And that's why we've taken special pains to produce this show filled with tips and tricks for maximizing your chances of office romance. And also two really useful prepositions. What more could you want?

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Pulling a Car]]> Wed, 25 Apr 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Max was still not clear on exactly how his Volvo had ended up stuck in this patch of loose sand somewhere off-road in Utah, and Robert was not being exactly forthcoming about the details. The last thing he could remember was dozing off somewhere by Shiprock, only to be jolted awake by a sort of sliding brake that left them stranded on the side of this dirt road with two wheels spinning in the sand, no cellular signal and not another car in sight. This was a problem they would have to solve themselves.

Are you an Absolute Beginner to the Chinese language? If so, our Chinese lesson for today is designed with you in mind. In it, we cover a series of high-frequency phrases you'll hear mainlanders use when they're trying to avoid responsibility or work, and practice expanding it into a more general question asking whether something is possible.

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Max was still not clear on exactly how his Volvo had ended up stuck in this patch of loose sand somewhere off-road in Utah, and Robert was not being exactly forthcoming about the details. The last thing he could remember was dozing off somewhere by Shiprock, only to be jolted awake by a sort of sliding brake that left them stranded on the side of this dirt road with two wheels spinning in the sand, no cellular signal and not another car in sight. This was a problem they would have to solve themselves.

Are you an Absolute Beginner to the Chinese language? If so, our Chinese lesson for today is designed with you in mind. In it, we cover a series of high-frequency phrases you'll hear mainlanders use when they're trying to avoid responsibility or work, and practice expanding it into a more general question asking whether something is possible.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Saga of the Bottle Cap]]> Mon, 23 Apr 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Gandhi said something about being the change you want to see, and we agree. Because while you may have purchased that bottle of orangeade, and even handed over good money for it, it was a transaction made under false pretenses. So go stand up for yourself. Head back to that newspaper stand and tell the owner what you think of his business. You can insist this is not good enough and demand satisfaction.

Learning Chinese? We have more beginner lessons coming out later this week. In the meantime, our show for today is for the more wizened Intermediate crowd which already speaks some Chinese and is looking to sound even more native. And how are we going to help you with this but by teaching a number of colloquial but non-standard words you can use as drop-in replacements for high-frequency ones everyone already knows. So listen up and drop these words into conversation and in no time your friends will be looking at you with renewed respect and possibly even fear.

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Gandhi said something about being the change you want to see, and we agree. Because while you may have purchased that bottle of orangeade, and even handed over good money for it, it was a transaction made under false pretenses. So go stand up for yourself. Head back to that newspaper stand and tell the owner what you think of his business. You can insist this is not good enough and demand satisfaction.

Learning Chinese? We have more beginner lessons coming out later this week. In the meantime, our show for today is for the more wizened Intermediate crowd which already speaks some Chinese and is looking to sound even more native. And how are we going to help you with this but by teaching a number of colloquial but non-standard words you can use as drop-in replacements for high-frequency ones everyone already knows. So listen up and drop these words into conversation and in no time your friends will be looking at you with renewed respect and possibly even fear.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - Conflicts in the Medical System]]> Tue, 17 Apr 2012 09:00:00 +0800

We're pretty lucky not to have had to deal with any major medical crises while in China. Which is probably a good thing judging by the contents of this Advanced podcast, which features a native-native Chinese conversation between Echo and Tiansen about the medical system and how it often puts doctors and patients at odds. So if you've already got pretty decent Chinese and are looking for listening practice that will help you pick up new words and phrases, give this podcast and shot and see how you do.

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We're pretty lucky not to have had to deal with any major medical crises while in China. Which is probably a good thing judging by the contents of this Advanced podcast, which features a native-native Chinese conversation between Echo and Tiansen about the medical system and how it often puts doctors and patients at odds. So if you've already got pretty decent Chinese and are looking for listening practice that will help you pick up new words and phrases, give this podcast and shot and see how you do.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Memories of High School]]> Mon, 16 Apr 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Suffering the mockery of his high school peers, Stephen had retreated into scholastics to escape from pain and loneliness. Eventually, this would lead him to graduate with top honors and be accepted by one of the most prestigious universities in the nation. And yet as he accepted his diploma, he wondered if one day he might return to this small town and show them all that with courage and determination, a man could still succeed.

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Suffering the mockery of his high school peers, Stephen had retreated into scholastics to escape from pain and loneliness. Eventually, this would lead him to graduate with top honors and be accepted by one of the most prestigious universities in the nation. And yet as he accepted his diploma, he wondered if one day he might return to this small town and show them all that with courage and determination, a man could still succeed.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Advice for Dealing with New Parents]]> Wed, 11 Apr 2012 09:00:00 +0800

In the spirit of sharing a helpful tip for dealing with friends who procreate, one thing we've learned something of the hard way is the astonishing degree to which parents end up being more patient with their new offspring than they are with their non-childbearing but emotionally supportive friends, especially should one happen to make a stray remark about asking the little guy to hurry up because other people might need to go too.

Just starting to learn Chinese? Our podcast for today is one of our more difficult lessons at the Absolute Beginner level, since it presumes you've already run into the particle 了, and know it is used to put sentences into the past tense and signal what is known as a "change of state". But what you might not know is that sometimes you'll see this doubled-up in the same sentence. This lesson is about one case when this occurs, so that you can impress everyone with how native your Chinese is getting.

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In the spirit of sharing a helpful tip for dealing with friends who procreate, one thing we've learned something of the hard way is the astonishing degree to which parents end up being more patient with their new offspring than they are with their non-childbearing but emotionally supportive friends, especially should one happen to make a stray remark about asking the little guy to hurry up because other people might need to go too.

Just starting to learn Chinese? Our podcast for today is one of our more difficult lessons at the Absolute Beginner level, since it presumes you've already run into the particle 了, and know it is used to put sentences into the past tense and signal what is known as a "change of state". But what you might not know is that sometimes you'll see this doubled-up in the same sentence. This lesson is about one case when this occurs, so that you can impress everyone with how native your Chinese is getting.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Happy Easter]]> Mon, 09 Apr 2012 09:00:00 +0800

I know you were doing email long before I signed up for the yahoo, but could anyone really have imagined what the Internet would have become when AOL invented it in 1993? I mean... just look at this beautiful scarf I bought to celebrate our Easter gift-giving tradition. It might seem like an ordinary piece of clothing at first, but if you look carefully you'll see it's hand-made. And I had to get it shipped in overnight from a store that specializes in one-of-a-kind pieces, so don't get it wet.

Learning Chinese? Today we celebrate Easter by combining the power of coverbs with the fun of collocations. The result is a set of powerful and fun ways to talk about your feelings towards people and objects. And there's no need for thanks. Just consider it a Merry Easter present from all of us at Popup Towers to you. Seriously though, be careful about getting this one wet, since it's more of an indoor scarf than all-weather gear.

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I know you were doing email long before I signed up for the yahoo, but could anyone really have imagined what the Internet would have become when AOL invented it in 1993? I mean... just look at this beautiful scarf I bought to celebrate our Easter gift-giving tradition. It might seem like an ordinary piece of clothing at first, but if you look carefully you'll see it's hand-made. And I had to get it shipped in overnight from a store that specializes in one-of-a-kind pieces, so don't get it wet.

Learning Chinese? Today we celebrate Easter by combining the power of coverbs with the fun of collocations. The result is a set of powerful and fun ways to talk about your feelings towards people and objects. And there's no need for thanks. Just consider it a Merry Easter present from all of us at Popup Towers to you. Seriously though, be careful about getting this one wet, since it's more of an indoor scarf than all-weather gear.

]]>
yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Introduction to Pinyin]]> Thu, 05 Apr 2012 09:00:00 +0800

By now we assume you've heard of pinyin: the dominant method of writing the sound of Chinese characters using the roman alphabet. We use pinyin everywhere on Popup Chinese and while we obviously can't teach you all of the sounds in a single podcast, we did want to put something together for those of you having trouble making sense of the system, and in particular to clear up three common misconceptions people have about the romanization system: the mistaken idea that pronunciation follows English norms, the belief that the sounds in pinyin are internally consistent, and the confusion that strikes when it comes time to use pinyin to enter characters on a computer.

Beyond this podcast, we also want to take a minute and point out two resources here on Popup Chinese that most beginners overlook. The first is our online pinyin chart which is now bundled with our Chinese dictionary. You can use this to explore all possible pinyin sounds, see the relationship between different sounds, and hear the pronunciation of all sounds quickly and easily. Our second resource is our archive of pinyin recordings available for free download. They might not make for as easy listening as a podcast, but they're useful and you're welcome to use them with our compliments.

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By now we assume you've heard of pinyin: the dominant method of writing the sound of Chinese characters using the roman alphabet. We use pinyin everywhere on Popup Chinese and while we obviously can't teach you all of the sounds in a single podcast, we did want to put something together for those of you having trouble making sense of the system, and in particular to clear up three common misconceptions people have about the romanization system: the mistaken idea that pronunciation follows English norms, the belief that the sounds in pinyin are internally consistent, and the confusion that strikes when it comes time to use pinyin to enter characters on a computer.

Beyond this podcast, we also want to take a minute and point out two resources here on Popup Chinese that most beginners overlook. The first is our online pinyin chart which is now bundled with our Chinese dictionary. You can use this to explore all possible pinyin sounds, see the relationship between different sounds, and hear the pronunciation of all sounds quickly and easily. Our second resource is our archive of pinyin recordings available for free download. They might not make for as easy listening as a podcast, but they're useful and you're welcome to use them with our compliments.

]]>
yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - A Visit to the Dentist]]> Wed, 04 Apr 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Today we are pleased but mystified to present another edition of Popup Total Request Live, this time with an advanced show directed at the astonishingly large number of you (N > 1) who have written in to request a Chinese-only discussion on dental hygiene. Facing the incredulity of the rest of the office, Echo tried to explain your enthusiasm to us as follows. "It's because everyone loves the dentist," she said. "It's like a holiday when you take a day off work to go to get your teeth cleaned or have oral surgery."

So if you enjoy this podcast you should write echo@popupchinese.com to express your gratitude for her tireless efforts to bring this show to reality. The rest of us disavow any responsibility for it and are working hard to produce more family-friendly shows -- like the upcoming sequel to our plunger episode.

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Today we are pleased but mystified to present another edition of Popup Total Request Live, this time with an advanced show directed at the astonishingly large number of you (N > 1) who have written in to request a Chinese-only discussion on dental hygiene. Facing the incredulity of the rest of the office, Echo tried to explain your enthusiasm to us as follows. "It's because everyone loves the dentist," she said. "It's like a holiday when you take a day off work to go to get your teeth cleaned or have oral surgery."

So if you enjoy this podcast you should write echo@popupchinese.com to express your gratitude for her tireless efforts to bring this show to reality. The rest of us disavow any responsibility for it and are working hard to produce more family-friendly shows -- like the upcoming sequel to our plunger episode.

]]>
yes 08:00 1) who have written in to request a Chinese-only discussion on dental hygien]]> 1) who have written in to request a Chinese-only discussion on dental hygiene. Facing the incredulity of the rest of the office, Echo tried to explain your enthusiasm to us as follows. "It's because everyone loves the dentist," she said. "It's like a holiday when you take a day off work to go to get your teeth cleaned or have oral surgery." So if you enjoy this podcast you should write echo@popupchinese.com to express your gratitude for her tireless efforts to bring this show to reality. The rest of us disavow any responsibility for it and are working hard to produce more family-friendly shows -- like the upcoming sequel to our plunger episode.]]>
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Where did you put the plunger?]]> Mon, 02 Apr 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Long-time listeners may be hard-pressed to forget our first foray into the exciting world of home plumbing, and if you're new to Popup Chinese you may want to listen to that show before exposing yourself to today's sequel, which picks where the last one left off. Our two protagonists now return home after a hearty lunch and turn their attention to the question we have left hanging all these three years: where did the plunger go anyway?

Learning Chinese? We're not sure if this lesson is a step up or a step down from its predecessor, which we've been told by multiple people has the distinction of being the most highbrow, lowbrow Chinese podcast in existence. In any event, we're certain you won't find the sort of thing we teach today in most or any textbooks, which is a pity since it is actually quite useful. In addition to covering some useful vocab for home cleaning, we also provide a useful reminder of why you should never let friends over to your house.

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Long-time listeners may be hard-pressed to forget our first foray into the exciting world of home plumbing, and if you're new to Popup Chinese you may want to listen to that show before exposing yourself to today's sequel, which picks where the last one left off. Our two protagonists now return home after a hearty lunch and turn their attention to the question we have left hanging all these three years: where did the plunger go anyway?

Learning Chinese? We're not sure if this lesson is a step up or a step down from its predecessor, which we've been told by multiple people has the distinction of being the most highbrow, lowbrow Chinese podcast in existence. In any event, we're certain you won't find the sort of thing we teach today in most or any textbooks, which is a pity since it is actually quite useful. In addition to covering some useful vocab for home cleaning, we also provide a useful reminder of why you should never let friends over to your house.

]]>
yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Excavation and Betrayal]]> Thu, 29 Mar 2012 09:00:00 +0800

With fears inflated by a few carefully placed rumors, the local populace was wise enough to stay away from the dig site, rightly fearing what might surface in a place which had lain buried for so long in the sands outside Cairo. And yet this same caution did not apply to the members of the excavation team, of whom no-one could predict which way their loyalties would bend once the tomb was opened and its treasures revealed once more to a waiting world.

Learning Chinese? Our Intermediate lesson for today features a dialogue straight out of an Indiana Jones archeological adventure. And as is fitting for such a topic, we spend a bit of time in this podcast stretching beyond simple language learning and look instead at the subtle and often collaborative process through which Chinese screenplays turn into Chinese films.

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With fears inflated by a few carefully placed rumors, the local populace was wise enough to stay away from the dig site, rightly fearing what might surface in a place which had lain buried for so long in the sands outside Cairo. And yet this same caution did not apply to the members of the excavation team, of whom no-one could predict which way their loyalties would bend once the tomb was opened and its treasures revealed once more to a waiting world.

Learning Chinese? Our Intermediate lesson for today features a dialogue straight out of an Indiana Jones archeological adventure. And as is fitting for such a topic, we spend a bit of time in this podcast stretching beyond simple language learning and look instead at the subtle and often collaborative process through which Chinese screenplays turn into Chinese films.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome]]> Tue, 27 Mar 2012 09:00:00 +0800

The world's cultural heritage had been incinerated along with its servers when the first bombs fell, and what little film stock survived had decayed in the years that followed as human society struggled to rebuild itself after the apocalypse. And yet here (here!) in this musty storehouse in Tibet, Xiao Wang had somehow stumbled across an astonishingly large collection of twentieth century cultural artifacts. Would it be enough to piece the past back into existence, and rediscover the fabled Thunderdome of yore?

This week on Popup Chinese, Echo, Gao and Tiansen conduct an exercise in cultural anthropology, attempting to piece together the plot of the film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome from nothing more than the music video for Tina Turner's classic rock anthem "We Don't Need Another Hero". What is the film about? Why the excessive human hair? And how on earth does one say Thunderdome in Chinese anyway? For answers to these questions and more, check out today's show and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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The world's cultural heritage had been incinerated along with its servers when the first bombs fell, and what little film stock survived had decayed in the years that followed as human society struggled to rebuild itself after the apocalypse. And yet here (here!) in this musty storehouse in Tibet, Xiao Wang had somehow stumbled across an astonishingly large collection of twentieth century cultural artifacts. Would it be enough to piece the past back into existence, and rediscover the fabled Thunderdome of yore?

This week on Popup Chinese, Echo, Gao and Tiansen conduct an exercise in cultural anthropology, attempting to piece together the plot of the film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome from nothing more than the music video for Tina Turner's classic rock anthem "We Don't Need Another Hero". What is the film about? Why the excessive human hair? And how on earth does one say Thunderdome in Chinese anyway? For answers to these questions and more, check out today's show and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Adventures on the Second Ring Road]]> Mon, 26 Mar 2012 11:08:29 +0800

Stephen looked at his cab driver with newfound respect. Although traffic on the second ring road was otherwise touch-and-go, here at last was a man attempting to change it. Hunched over the steering wheel with his eyes on the road, the driver pushed forward at a slow but steady pace, sometimes lagging behind and sometimes nearly hitting the vehicle in front but never actually stopping. It was traffic smoothing applied as expertly as Stephen had ever seen done, as if this one man were trying to wrest Beijing congestion into shape through force of will alone.

Learning Chinese? Even if you don't speak any Chinese, this lesson should be at your level of difficulty. What we'll learn is how to double-up a number of high-frequency verbs in order to make suggestions. There's a simple trick here that's impossible to forget once you've learned it and using it will help you sound a lot more fluent than people who are learning from regular textbooks. So if you're working towards learning Chinese take a listen and see what you think. And if you have any questions, let us know in the discussion section below.

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Stephen looked at his cab driver with newfound respect. Although traffic on the second ring road was otherwise touch-and-go, here at last was a man attempting to change it. Hunched over the steering wheel with his eyes on the road, the driver pushed forward at a slow but steady pace, sometimes lagging behind and sometimes nearly hitting the vehicle in front but never actually stopping. It was traffic smoothing applied as expertly as Stephen had ever seen done, as if this one man were trying to wrest Beijing congestion into shape through force of will alone.

Learning Chinese? Even if you don't speak any Chinese, this lesson should be at your level of difficulty. What we'll learn is how to double-up a number of high-frequency verbs in order to make suggestions. There's a simple trick here that's impossible to forget once you've learned it and using it will help you sound a lot more fluent than people who are learning from regular textbooks. So if you're working towards learning Chinese take a listen and see what you think. And if you have any questions, let us know in the discussion section below.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - The Fate of an Industry]]> Wed, 21 Mar 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Things were starting to look ugly. While blockbuster films could still draw people to theaters, the rise of Youtube and Bittorrent had savaged the rest of the industry, destroying the rental income most studios relied upon to break even. And while the big studios had adjusted with ever more extravagant productions, the reality for most directors was less pretty. Unable to cast big name stars, smaller productions were forced into hiring cheaper and cheaper actors, to the point that the cast for this particular production resembled nothing so much as the extras from a George A. Romero flick.

Learning Chinese? Our lesson today is an advanced listening test set at a video shoot. Your challenge is to listen to this fast and colloquial clip and try to figure out who is being filmed and why? If you think your Chinese is good enough to tease out the answers from our one-minute dialogue take a listen and see how you do on our accompanying quiz. These aren't easy questions, so if you get anything wrong consult our transcript to see what you missed. We think you might be surprised at the results.

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Things were starting to look ugly. While blockbuster films could still draw people to theaters, the rise of Youtube and Bittorrent had savaged the rest of the industry, destroying the rental income most studios relied upon to break even. And while the big studios had adjusted with ever more extravagant productions, the reality for most directors was less pretty. Unable to cast big name stars, smaller productions were forced into hiring cheaper and cheaper actors, to the point that the cast for this particular production resembled nothing so much as the extras from a George A. Romero flick.

Learning Chinese? Our lesson today is an advanced listening test set at a video shoot. Your challenge is to listen to this fast and colloquial clip and try to figure out who is being filmed and why? If you think your Chinese is good enough to tease out the answers from our one-minute dialogue take a listen and see how you do on our accompanying quiz. These aren't easy questions, so if you get anything wrong consult our transcript to see what you missed. We think you might be surprised at the results.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Holding Pattern]]> Mon, 19 Mar 2012 18:32:14 +0800

What was it about his in-law's apartment that put Derek on edge? The kitchen was small but serviceable and the rest of the apartment didn't seem to lack any amenities: the living room had a television and pull-out sofabed, a wireless router provided steady Internet access, and a fridge and washing machine stood tucked into a tiny alcove near the door. At only fifty square meters it wasn't exactly a place he would choose to live himself, but why should even a short visit give him such a strange sense of unease?

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What was it about his in-law's apartment that put Derek on edge? The kitchen was small but serviceable and the rest of the apartment didn't seem to lack any amenities: the living room had a television and pull-out sofabed, a wireless router provided steady Internet access, and a fridge and washing machine stood tucked into a tiny alcove near the door. At only fifty square meters it wasn't exactly a place he would choose to live himself, but why should even a short visit give him such a strange sense of unease?

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - A Plunge from the Cliff]]> Wed, 14 Mar 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Given the recent death of Edward's solicitor and the mysterious disappearance of his wife, it seemed natural to suspect foul play in the millionaire's own untimely passing. But who could the culprit be? There were but five people on the island at the time of his death, and every one had an ironclad alibi, having gathered to dine not only with each other at the time of the murder, but with none other than Detective Wentworth Summers, the most reputable sleuth in all of Scotland Yard.

Learning Chinese? Today we take a break from verb conjugation drills to present a murder mystery that piles up the bodies faster than Greek Tragedy, all the while operating under conditions of voice recording austerity that would satisfy even the International Monetary Fund. So take a listen, and see if you can guess the solution to our mystery before all is revealed. And let us know what you think in the comments section too: we like that.

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Given the recent death of Edward's solicitor and the mysterious disappearance of his wife, it seemed natural to suspect foul play in the millionaire's own untimely passing. But who could the culprit be? There were but five people on the island at the time of his death, and every one had an ironclad alibi, having gathered to dine not only with each other at the time of the murder, but with none other than Detective Wentworth Summers, the most reputable sleuth in all of Scotland Yard.

Learning Chinese? Today we take a break from verb conjugation drills to present a murder mystery that piles up the bodies faster than Greek Tragedy, all the while operating under conditions of voice recording austerity that would satisfy even the International Monetary Fund. So take a listen, and see if you can guess the solution to our mystery before all is revealed. And let us know what you think in the comments section too: we like that.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - The Movie Store]]> Mon, 12 Mar 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Could the police crackdowns and online competition really be having such a deleterious effect on Shanghai's leading film shop? Whatever the cause, it was clear the quality of the merchandise at Movie World was regressing. As recently as the Shanghai Expo the store had managed to keep the latest releases consistently in stock. But now the shelves would stay empty for days on end, while the clerks showed almost complete indifference to the state of the selection.

Learning Chinese? This elementary Chinese podcast is probably different from any other learning material you've come across before. Instead of coddling you with artificially slow mandarin, at Popup Chinese we feature native-level Chinese spoken exactly the way people speak it in China. Adjusting to real Chinese speech can be a bit tricky when you start, but it also makes for a much faster learning curve. So if you want to learn Chinese and are tired of methods which do not work, give us a listen. And if you have any questions? Feel free to write us anytime by email at service@popupchinese.com.

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Could the police crackdowns and online competition really be having such a deleterious effect on Shanghai's leading film shop? Whatever the cause, it was clear the quality of the merchandise at Movie World was regressing. As recently as the Shanghai Expo the store had managed to keep the latest releases consistently in stock. But now the shelves would stay empty for days on end, while the clerks showed almost complete indifference to the state of the selection.

Learning Chinese? This elementary Chinese podcast is probably different from any other learning material you've come across before. Instead of coddling you with artificially slow mandarin, at Popup Chinese we feature native-level Chinese spoken exactly the way people speak it in China. Adjusting to real Chinese speech can be a bit tricky when you start, but it also makes for a much faster learning curve. So if you want to learn Chinese and are tired of methods which do not work, give us a listen. And if you have any questions? Feel free to write us anytime by email at service@popupchinese.com.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - Roald Amundsen's Shanghai Diaries]]> Tue, 06 Mar 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Winter had arrived with unexpected vigor, and from his window overlooking People's Square, Roald could still see the scattered husks of several unfortunate souls who had failed to find shelter. This was the survival of the fittest at work - in Shanghai as in Antarctica - and yet the Norwegian explorer's narrow escape from a similar fate still haunted the man. For despite the high price of rental properties in Shanghai, his current accommodations were still inadequate for the coming chill, and his nerves persisted despite his landlord's repeated pledges to weatherize the compound.

Learning Chinese? This is an advanced mandarin lesson featuring a lengthy Chinese diary from one of the lesser known Amundsen expeditions to Southern China, and capped-off by a discussion of something you won't hear about anywhere else: the traditional Chinese solar calendar, knowledge of which will allow you to come across as suffocatingly knowledgeable about Chinese culture at your next cocktail party.

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Winter had arrived with unexpected vigor, and from his window overlooking People's Square, Roald could still see the scattered husks of several unfortunate souls who had failed to find shelter. This was the survival of the fittest at work - in Shanghai as in Antarctica - and yet the Norwegian explorer's narrow escape from a similar fate still haunted the man. For despite the high price of rental properties in Shanghai, his current accommodations were still inadequate for the coming chill, and his nerves persisted despite his landlord's repeated pledges to weatherize the compound.

Learning Chinese? This is an advanced mandarin lesson featuring a lengthy Chinese diary from one of the lesser known Amundsen expeditions to Southern China, and capped-off by a discussion of something you won't hear about anywhere else: the traditional Chinese solar calendar, knowledge of which will allow you to come across as suffocatingly knowledgeable about Chinese culture at your next cocktail party.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - What happened to my credit card?]]> Mon, 05 Mar 2012 09:00:00 +0800

We're not suggesting that the Lido hotel is evil in the same way as the Overlook from the Shining, but be informed that at least one of the bank machines in there is on the fritz, and withdrawing cash may involve a longer wait than is customary, with the exact length depending on how many technicians are needed to pry off the faceplate of the machine and dive into its innards in search of your American Express card.

Learning Chinese? This is a pretty basic lesson all about various cards (bank cards, credit cards, telephone cards) and the various things they can get up to with and without your permission. This lesson is suitable for anyone with less than two months of Chinese study, and will cover some useful vocabulary and sentences for daily life in China. We hope you like it, and please let us know if you have any feedback or suggestions in the comments section below.

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We're not suggesting that the Lido hotel is evil in the same way as the Overlook from the Shining, but be informed that at least one of the bank machines in there is on the fritz, and withdrawing cash may involve a longer wait than is customary, with the exact length depending on how many technicians are needed to pry off the faceplate of the machine and dive into its innards in search of your American Express card.

Learning Chinese? This is a pretty basic lesson all about various cards (bank cards, credit cards, telephone cards) and the various things they can get up to with and without your permission. This lesson is suitable for anyone with less than two months of Chinese study, and will cover some useful vocabulary and sentences for daily life in China. We hope you like it, and please let us know if you have any feedback or suggestions in the comments section below.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Father, why must you dress up like this every Wednesday?]]> Tue, 28 Feb 2012 09:00:00 +0800

A comedy-mystery-thriller laced with father-son conflict and a subplot involving the Transportation Security Administration, "Father, why must you dress up like this every Wednesday" is a masterpiece of contemporary drama that defies categorization while calling attention to the all too human costs of airport security theater.

Learning Chinese? Our dialogue today is about as fast as they get at the Elementary level. Our focus is on how to tell others to mind their own business using one of a number of common and fairly short phrases. We cover a variety of polite and not-so-polite ways of doing this, and we'll admit that two of our selections are ultimately a bit vulgar. That said, they're worth knowing about, if only to understand the recent upsurge in Chinese Internet ornithography.

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A comedy-mystery-thriller laced with father-son conflict and a subplot involving the Transportation Security Administration, "Father, why must you dress up like this every Wednesday" is a masterpiece of contemporary drama that defies categorization while calling attention to the all too human costs of airport security theater.

Learning Chinese? Our dialogue today is about as fast as they get at the Elementary level. Our focus is on how to tell others to mind their own business using one of a number of common and fairly short phrases. We cover a variety of polite and not-so-polite ways of doing this, and we'll admit that two of our selections are ultimately a bit vulgar. That said, they're worth knowing about, if only to understand the recent upsurge in Chinese Internet ornithography.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Next Generation]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Liu laid the device on the table to the confusion of the assembled crowd. It seemed to be nothing so much as a strange evolutionary variant of the mobile phone, perhaps half the size of a normal wallet, although illustrating the same folding mechanism. Gone was the touch screen and sleek glass cover, replaced with an industrial keyboard that folded into the casing. And there didn't seem to be anywhere to scrawl Chinese input.

Back in the 1990s, McDonalds used to bear the brunt of public riots here in Beijing. Apparently the new kid on the block is Apple, although the crowds these days are less pissed off about American culture forcing its way into China, and more irritated that it isn't forcing its way into the country fast enough to keep up with demand. Which means that if you really want the latest stuff, you have to have either special connections or an Internet connection.

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Liu laid the device on the table to the confusion of the assembled crowd. It seemed to be nothing so much as a strange evolutionary variant of the mobile phone, perhaps half the size of a normal wallet, although illustrating the same folding mechanism. Gone was the touch screen and sleek glass cover, replaced with an industrial keyboard that folded into the casing. And there didn't seem to be anywhere to scrawl Chinese input.

Back in the 1990s, McDonalds used to bear the brunt of public riots here in Beijing. Apparently the new kid on the block is Apple, although the crowds these days are less pissed off about American culture forcing its way into China, and more irritated that it isn't forcing its way into the country fast enough to keep up with demand. Which means that if you really want the latest stuff, you have to have either special connections or an Internet connection.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Middle-Child Syndrome]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Until the age of five, Simon had never known misery, his life being a series of happy discoveries, as the young boy discovered in turn the pleasures of self-locomotion, the power of speech, and eventually the joy of socializing with a group of well-adjusted peers in the local kindergarten. And yet these good times were not to last, as events beyond his control conspired to end this idyllic period of this life.

Learning Chinese? Our Chinese podcast today is for absolute beginners to mandarin. In it we cover some useful words and phrases for talking to children, and learn the basics of how to make simple sentences using adjectives. By the end of this ten minute show, you'll also know how to use simple possessives to say that something is yours, or his, or hers.

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Until the age of five, Simon had never known misery, his life being a series of happy discoveries, as the young boy discovered in turn the pleasures of self-locomotion, the power of speech, and eventually the joy of socializing with a group of well-adjusted peers in the local kindergarten. And yet these good times were not to last, as events beyond his control conspired to end this idyllic period of this life.

Learning Chinese? Our Chinese podcast today is for absolute beginners to mandarin. In it we cover some useful words and phrases for talking to children, and learn the basics of how to make simple sentences using adjectives. By the end of this ten minute show, you'll also know how to use simple possessives to say that something is yours, or his, or hers.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Satellite Conspiracy]]> Tue, 14 Feb 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Although his vision was still clouded by the drugs in his system, James had enough sense to know he was in a scientific laboratory of sorts, or perhaps a telecommunications center. The distinct hum of an industrial-grade ventilation system and lack of any natural light suggested a deep subterranean lair or perhaps military-grade bunker. Yet it was not until his head began to clear and the room came into focus that the true peril of his situation became menacingly clear.

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Although his vision was still clouded by the drugs in his system, James had enough sense to know he was in a scientific laboratory of sorts, or perhaps a telecommunications center. The distinct hum of an industrial-grade ventilation system and lack of any natural light suggested a deep subterranean lair or perhaps military-grade bunker. Yet it was not until his head began to clear and the room came into focus that the true peril of his situation became menacingly clear.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - The Great Wall of Music]]> Tue, 07 Feb 2012 09:00:00 +0800

We're developing a conspiracy theory that the Great Wall was really designed to act as a two-way non-permeable culture membrane. Because while it manages to keep an enormous amount of foreign music from getting into China, it also tends to trap what little amount trickles in, amplifying seemingly random musicians into Asian megastars and ricocheting their work around the country until it pervades everything from banking telephone hotlines to railways to practically every handheld device with an audio-out function.

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We're developing a conspiracy theory that the Great Wall was really designed to act as a two-way non-permeable culture membrane. Because while it manages to keep an enormous amount of foreign music from getting into China, it also tends to trap what little amount trickles in, amplifying seemingly random musicians into Asian megastars and ricocheting their work around the country until it pervades everything from banking telephone hotlines to railways to practically every handheld device with an audio-out function.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - The Beijing Accent and Standard Mandarin]]> Wed, 01 Feb 2012 09:00:00 +0800

It's probably the biggest source of misinformation out there about the Chinese language, so today Echo and David take to our studio to chat about what exactly constitutes the difference between standard mandarin and the Beijing dialect. If you're totally new to Chinese, you can use this show to practice some key words in a way that will help you come across like a native speaker. And if you're a more advanced beginner, we also have some real Beijing slang in here we encourage you to throw into conversation to bewilder and amaze your landlords, friends and neighbors.

Learning Chinese? Our podcast today is designed for absolute beginners to the Chinese language. What that means here at Popup Chinese is that even if you don't know any Chinese, you should find most of the materials covered totally accessible. We keep our discussion to high-frequency vocabulary, practice using words and phrases that you're actually going to use, and don't get into overly-complicated explanations that distract from having you talking in Chinese right away. So take a listen, and if you like what you hear, be sure to signup for a free account for much, much more.

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It's probably the biggest source of misinformation out there about the Chinese language, so today Echo and David take to our studio to chat about what exactly constitutes the difference between standard mandarin and the Beijing dialect. If you're totally new to Chinese, you can use this show to practice some key words in a way that will help you come across like a native speaker. And if you're a more advanced beginner, we also have some real Beijing slang in here we encourage you to throw into conversation to bewilder and amaze your landlords, friends and neighbors.

Learning Chinese? Our podcast today is designed for absolute beginners to the Chinese language. What that means here at Popup Chinese is that even if you don't know any Chinese, you should find most of the materials covered totally accessible. We keep our discussion to high-frequency vocabulary, practice using words and phrases that you're actually going to use, and don't get into overly-complicated explanations that distract from having you talking in Chinese right away. So take a listen, and if you like what you hear, be sure to signup for a free account for much, much more.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - A Matter of Food Security]]> Wed, 25 Jan 2012 09:00:00 +0800

It felt as though the household was passing through some horrible wartime rationing. Once a daily luxury, the mid-afternoon milking had become at first irregular before fading to an almost complete absence. Conferring on the crisis from the comfort of the third floor sun deck, Edmund and Susan decided that the time had passed for inaction. If they were not to live at the mercy of others for their basic food security, it would be necessary to root out their own reserves, however problematic that might be without opposable thumbs.

Learning Chinese? Our elementary Chinese lesson for today covers the most native way Chinese people ask exasperated rhetorical questions, so that you can sound as world-weary as everyone else. Also in the mix: how to complain about Beijing's air quality and traffic problems and a cultural note on why no-one has their phones stolen in China. So if you're learning Chinese or just learning to get by in China, listen to our show and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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It felt as though the household was passing through some horrible wartime rationing. Once a daily luxury, the mid-afternoon milking had become at first irregular before fading to an almost complete absence. Conferring on the crisis from the comfort of the third floor sun deck, Edmund and Susan decided that the time had passed for inaction. If they were not to live at the mercy of others for their basic food security, it would be necessary to root out their own reserves, however problematic that might be without opposable thumbs.

Learning Chinese? Our elementary Chinese lesson for today covers the most native way Chinese people ask exasperated rhetorical questions, so that you can sound as world-weary as everyone else. Also in the mix: how to complain about Beijing's air quality and traffic problems and a cultural note on why no-one has their phones stolen in China. So if you're learning Chinese or just learning to get by in China, listen to our show and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - A Perversion of Justice]]> Mon, 23 Jan 2012 09:00:00 +0800

It had been particularly dark that evening, which lent some credence to the claims of the parking lot attendants not to have seen the actual killing. But while the evidence against the main suspect was admittedly circumstantial, the drive to secure a conviction was shared at all levels of government, with it being quite clear to those in power that whoever killed Andrei Prodan had not only an uncommon viciousness, but a fundamental disregard for the institutions of public governance itself.

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It had been particularly dark that evening, which lent some credence to the claims of the parking lot attendants not to have seen the actual killing. But while the evidence against the main suspect was admittedly circumstantial, the drive to secure a conviction was shared at all levels of government, with it being quite clear to those in power that whoever killed Andrei Prodan had not only an uncommon viciousness, but a fundamental disregard for the institutions of public governance itself.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Ultimatum]]> Wed, 18 Jan 2012 09:00:00 +0800

The sales report was taking longer than Xiao Hong expected, which was surprising considering that sales were down two hundred percent in the quarter and there wasn't actually that much to write-up. Yet the document weighed on his mind, clouding his mid-morning QQ chats and distracting him during his pre-lunch sales meeting. Fortunately, the prospect of lunch with an old friend promised at least a brief respite from the dark clouds of work left undone.

Learning Chinese? The stark terror the Chinese labor force seems to install in workers abroad is lost on us, if only because our limited experience suggests that not a terrible amount of work gets done in large Chinese organizations and nepotism rather than meritocracy is the overarching organizational principle. That said, in the event you've hired someone like this or are underpaid for the work you do, you should find this podcast useful: it's all about giving ultimatums in Chinese.

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The sales report was taking longer than Xiao Hong expected, which was surprising considering that sales were down two hundred percent in the quarter and there wasn't actually that much to write-up. Yet the document weighed on his mind, clouding his mid-morning QQ chats and distracting him during his pre-lunch sales meeting. Fortunately, the prospect of lunch with an old friend promised at least a brief respite from the dark clouds of work left undone.

Learning Chinese? The stark terror the Chinese labor force seems to install in workers abroad is lost on us, if only because our limited experience suggests that not a terrible amount of work gets done in large Chinese organizations and nepotism rather than meritocracy is the overarching organizational principle. That said, in the event you've hired someone like this or are underpaid for the work you do, you should find this podcast useful: it's all about giving ultimatums in Chinese.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - Impressions of Sichuan]]> Mon, 16 Jan 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Our collective vote for the most incomprehensible Chinese we've ever heard still goes to whatever that farmer selling miniature Terracotta statues was speaking the day we stopped by Qin Shihuang's tomb in Xi'an. And compared to that, the Sichuanese accent is delightful and funny and amazingly comprehensible. And it's actually so very *almost* mandarin that - had history turned but slightly differently in 1955 - we would all be speaking it today.

Learning Chinese? Our advanced shows at Popup Chinese are entirely in native level Chinese. So you should be fluent at communicative Chinese if you hope to make much sense of them. And our show this time is all about the Sichuanese accent. We had a good time recording this show, so if you're looking to pass yourself off as a southwesterner or just want to pick up some Sichuanese slang to impress or confuse the relatives, take a listen. We hope you enjoy the show.

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Our collective vote for the most incomprehensible Chinese we've ever heard still goes to whatever that farmer selling miniature Terracotta statues was speaking the day we stopped by Qin Shihuang's tomb in Xi'an. And compared to that, the Sichuanese accent is delightful and funny and amazingly comprehensible. And it's actually so very *almost* mandarin that - had history turned but slightly differently in 1955 - we would all be speaking it today.

Learning Chinese? Our advanced shows at Popup Chinese are entirely in native level Chinese. So you should be fluent at communicative Chinese if you hope to make much sense of them. And our show this time is all about the Sichuanese accent. We had a good time recording this show, so if you're looking to pass yourself off as a southwesterner or just want to pick up some Sichuanese slang to impress or confuse the relatives, take a listen. We hope you enjoy the show.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - A Trip to the Gym]]> Wed, 11 Jan 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Surrounded by an objectively unpleasant mass of grunting, sweating fleshcakes, Hank's body resented his mind for its foolish attempt to impose such Spartan discipline on them both. And to have the gall to disguise it as self-improvement? Gone indeed were the halcyon days of 2011 with its late nights at the pub and mid-morning breakfasts, replaced with this daily hell of early-morning suffering and pain.

Learning Chinese? Even if you're as generally slothful as some of us you'll still be able to get quite a bit out of this mandarin lesson for absolute beginners to the Chinese language. The reason is that while our dialogue centers around generally athletic behavior, what we focus on linguistically is talking about taking turns, and this is remarkably useful language regardless of whether you're pushing your body to the limits at a health club, or just buying another round of drinks for some friends.

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Surrounded by an objectively unpleasant mass of grunting, sweating fleshcakes, Hank's body resented his mind for its foolish attempt to impose such Spartan discipline on them both. And to have the gall to disguise it as self-improvement? Gone indeed were the halcyon days of 2011 with its late nights at the pub and mid-morning breakfasts, replaced with this daily hell of early-morning suffering and pain.

Learning Chinese? Even if you're as generally slothful as some of us you'll still be able to get quite a bit out of this mandarin lesson for absolute beginners to the Chinese language. The reason is that while our dialogue centers around generally athletic behavior, what we focus on linguistically is talking about taking turns, and this is remarkably useful language regardless of whether you're pushing your body to the limits at a health club, or just buying another round of drinks for some friends.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - Horrors of the Chinese Rail System]]> Mon, 09 Jan 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Now that Chinese New Years is barreling down on us like a t-shirt salesperson at the Great Wall, the thoughts of pretty much everyone throughout China are turning to the obvious question of the holidays: how on earth to get home. If you've ever experienced traveling during what the locals euphemistically refer to as the "Golden Week", you'll know what this involves. And if you've been lucky enough to avoid the spectacle, let our Chinese podcast for today provide the horrifying illumination.

Learning Chinese? Our Chinese podcast for today isn't a lesson so much as a discussion aimed to provide advanced conversational listening practice. In the studio with Echo today are Gao and Tan, two younger actors on the Beijing scene who face the unpleasant prospect of figuring out how to get home. At least they're not from Xinjiang.

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Now that Chinese New Years is barreling down on us like a t-shirt salesperson at the Great Wall, the thoughts of pretty much everyone throughout China are turning to the obvious question of the holidays: how on earth to get home. If you've ever experienced traveling during what the locals euphemistically refer to as the "Golden Week", you'll know what this involves. And if you've been lucky enough to avoid the spectacle, let our Chinese podcast for today provide the horrifying illumination.

Learning Chinese? Our Chinese podcast for today isn't a lesson so much as a discussion aimed to provide advanced conversational listening practice. In the studio with Echo today are Gao and Tan, two younger actors on the Beijing scene who face the unpleasant prospect of figuring out how to get home. At least they're not from Xinjiang.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Comrades in Space]]> Wed, 04 Jan 2012 09:00:00 +0800

The Captain grew reflective as earth loomed out the starboard window. His crew would be pleased with their extended shore leave, but the inner planets were far too crowded for his tastes. Although the first few days off-ship were always refreshing, after that he would miss the constant adventures and brotherly camaraderie that had made his time in space so professionally and personally fulfilling. Years traversing the galaxy would do that to a man, he thought. In time you could come to feel free only in uniform.

Learning Chinese? In addition to a Chinese dialogue infused with space-faring camaraderie, we've also filled this podcast with some of the most underrated adjectives you'll need to know in China. Because while you may be able to express joy and delight by this point, what about frustration, angst, blame and resentment? All these emotions and more are yours for the listening. So take a listen, and we hope you enjoy the show.

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The Captain grew reflective as earth loomed out the starboard window. His crew would be pleased with their extended shore leave, but the inner planets were far too crowded for his tastes. Although the first few days off-ship were always refreshing, after that he would miss the constant adventures and brotherly camaraderie that had made his time in space so professionally and personally fulfilling. Years traversing the galaxy would do that to a man, he thought. In time you could come to feel free only in uniform.

Learning Chinese? In addition to a Chinese dialogue infused with space-faring camaraderie, we've also filled this podcast with some of the most underrated adjectives you'll need to know in China. Because while you may be able to express joy and delight by this point, what about frustration, angst, blame and resentment? All these emotions and more are yours for the listening. So take a listen, and we hope you enjoy the show.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Fleet Street Murders]]> Mon, 02 Jan 2012 09:00:00 +0800

Fleet Street had embraced the killings with the unbridled enthusiasm of the British press, pouring rivers of ink into outraged editorials denouncing the demise of traditional values and calling for the heads of practically the entire city council. The authorities responded with the imposition of a strict curfew, yet seemed powerless to arrest London's downward spiral. Practically every dawn brought new rumors of death and dismemberment, and breathless reporting on the discovery of yet another dessicated victim.

In the midst of this surreal spectacle, Michael found his life acquiring a strangely dreamlike irreality, so much so that even the forced cheer of his two flatmates could hardly shake his suspicions that something was terribly amiss. And if his days were as a dream, his nights were worse, as he lay in a sleep haunted by visages of horrible and unspeakable violence.

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Fleet Street had embraced the killings with the unbridled enthusiasm of the British press, pouring rivers of ink into outraged editorials denouncing the demise of traditional values and calling for the heads of practically the entire city council. The authorities responded with the imposition of a strict curfew, yet seemed powerless to arrest London's downward spiral. Practically every dawn brought new rumors of death and dismemberment, and breathless reporting on the discovery of yet another dessicated victim.

In the midst of this surreal spectacle, Michael found his life acquiring a strangely dreamlike irreality, so much so that even the forced cheer of his two flatmates could hardly shake his suspicions that something was terribly amiss. And if his days were as a dream, his nights were worse, as he lay in a sleep haunted by visages of horrible and unspeakable violence.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - A Trip to the Orphanage]]> Mon, 26 Dec 2011 09:00:00 +0800

The Shaanxi orphanage was not where Xi Jinping had hoped to spend his weekend, but a western pilgrimage was an easy way to shore up support among the Party's left-leaning student faction and consolidate his lead as front-runner for replacing Hu Jintao as Party Chairman in 2012. Nonetheless, as the children bustled into the room screaming and yelling, one of the most powerful men on the Politburo couldn't help but think back to his last vacation in Tahiti, with its endless beaches, seaside tranquility and... well... lack of children.

Learning Chinese? If you're new to Popup Chinese be sure to signup for a free account to get immediate access to our massive archive of Chinese audio lessons just like this one. In this lesson we focus on the emotional differences between two popular ways of asking questions. Most textbooks don't cover this sort of emotional subtext, but knowing it is fundamental to really being able to communicate natively in mandarin. So enjoy the podcast, and let us know anytime if you have any comments or suggestions.

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The Shaanxi orphanage was not where Xi Jinping had hoped to spend his weekend, but a western pilgrimage was an easy way to shore up support among the Party's left-leaning student faction and consolidate his lead as front-runner for replacing Hu Jintao as Party Chairman in 2012. Nonetheless, as the children bustled into the room screaming and yelling, one of the most powerful men on the Politburo couldn't help but think back to his last vacation in Tahiti, with its endless beaches, seaside tranquility and... well... lack of children.

Learning Chinese? If you're new to Popup Chinese be sure to signup for a free account to get immediate access to our massive archive of Chinese audio lessons just like this one. In this lesson we focus on the emotional differences between two popular ways of asking questions. Most textbooks don't cover this sort of emotional subtext, but knowing it is fundamental to really being able to communicate natively in mandarin. So enjoy the podcast, and let us know anytime if you have any comments or suggestions.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - What Year-End Bonus?]]> Wed, 21 Dec 2011 09:00:00 +0800

There's a story circulating on Weibo that may or may not be apocryphal, but is whipping up resentment and envy among proles like us nationwide. You may have heard it: it's about a secretary in a Chinese investment company who broke down in tears after receiving a six-figure year-end bonus. When news of this hit our office, work stopped for at least a minute, although less out of shock at the excesses of finance and more from our collective inability to rapidly handle currency conversion when dealing with multiples of Chinese 万....

Learning Chinese? In this podcast, Echo takes to the studio with two guests whose voices will be familiar by now if you've listened to a lot of our more intermediate podcasts. And the subject of our discussion is the year-end bonus culture in China. If you're curious about how the numbers add up on the Chinese side, want to know if you're the only one who has been gifted cured pork ("as good as cash"), or just want some insider Popup gossip, take a listen to our advanced Chinese podcast for today.

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There's a story circulating on Weibo that may or may not be apocryphal, but is whipping up resentment and envy among proles like us nationwide. You may have heard it: it's about a secretary in a Chinese investment company who broke down in tears after receiving a six-figure year-end bonus. When news of this hit our office, work stopped for at least a minute, although less out of shock at the excesses of finance and more from our collective inability to rapidly handle currency conversion when dealing with multiples of Chinese 万....

Learning Chinese? In this podcast, Echo takes to the studio with two guests whose voices will be familiar by now if you've listened to a lot of our more intermediate podcasts. And the subject of our discussion is the year-end bonus culture in China. If you're curious about how the numbers add up on the Chinese side, want to know if you're the only one who has been gifted cured pork ("as good as cash"), or just want some insider Popup gossip, take a listen to our advanced Chinese podcast for today.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Cthulhu visits the Wiltshire Bed and Breakfast]]> Mon, 19 Dec 2011 17:49:21 +0800

The dream had been rich in suffering and in omens of his imminent return: creatures of unspeakable form pooling in the blood-soaked depths, waves of terrible power foaming beneath a darkening midday sun. And through it all the chanting, chanting, chanting of his true name. Over and over the chorus called for his return, for the restoration of his empire and the slaughter of all mankind. And it would soon come to pass, once his sojourn in this quiet British village was complete.

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The dream had been rich in suffering and in omens of his imminent return: creatures of unspeakable form pooling in the blood-soaked depths, waves of terrible power foaming beneath a darkening midday sun. And through it all the chanting, chanting, chanting of his true name. Over and over the chorus called for his return, for the restoration of his empire and the slaughter of all mankind. And it would soon come to pass, once his sojourn in this quiet British village was complete.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Beijing City Directions]]> Wed, 14 Dec 2011 09:00:00 +0800

We should have a special show called "Total Request Live" which will be much like MTV's video request show except with less sex and more conversational mandarin. In any event, that's what we're getting today as we're pleased to publish a Chinese lesson on a topic that's been requested by you guys: the basics of asking for directions in Chinese. The mandarin to do this is actually fairly simple, but our dialogue moves quickly so we're publishing this at the elementary rather than absolute beginner level.

Note: think we're missing something you've got a burning desire to know? If there's a topic you'd like to see us cover, please let us know either by leaving a suggestion in our comment section below, or reaching out to us by email at service@popupchinese.com. We promise to treat you with more civility than the befuddled tourist in today's podcast.

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We should have a special show called "Total Request Live" which will be much like MTV's video request show except with less sex and more conversational mandarin. In any event, that's what we're getting today as we're pleased to publish a Chinese lesson on a topic that's been requested by you guys: the basics of asking for directions in Chinese. The mandarin to do this is actually fairly simple, but our dialogue moves quickly so we're publishing this at the elementary rather than absolute beginner level.

Note: think we're missing something you've got a burning desire to know? If there's a topic you'd like to see us cover, please let us know either by leaving a suggestion in our comment section below, or reaching out to us by email at service@popupchinese.com. We promise to treat you with more civility than the befuddled tourist in today's podcast.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Asking for Directions]]> Mon, 12 Dec 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Two days west from Guilin and the riders were all but lost. Despite the effectiveness of China's Imperial road network, which strung together the major cities of the empire and helped ensure the political fealty of the far-flung provinces, nationwide travel was still dangerous. And the maps from the Imperial College in Beijing were nearly worthless too, showing only the general lay of the land and occasional geographic landmark. To find a small town in this maze-like mountainous region the two riders would have to ask for directions town by town....

Learning Chinese? Let us just admit it: the title for today's lesson is a bit tongue in cheek. Because it isn't about asking for directions in anything but the loosest possible sense, and instead focuses on how to communicate an attitude of condescension in mandarin. So listen up and in a short ten minutes we'll arm you with knowledge of how to quietly infuriate speaking partners. And if you have thoughts or feedback, send us an email at service@popupchinese.com anytime.

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Two days west from Guilin and the riders were all but lost. Despite the effectiveness of China's Imperial road network, which strung together the major cities of the empire and helped ensure the political fealty of the far-flung provinces, nationwide travel was still dangerous. And the maps from the Imperial College in Beijing were nearly worthless too, showing only the general lay of the land and occasional geographic landmark. To find a small town in this maze-like mountainous region the two riders would have to ask for directions town by town....

Learning Chinese? Let us just admit it: the title for today's lesson is a bit tongue in cheek. Because it isn't about asking for directions in anything but the loosest possible sense, and instead focuses on how to communicate an attitude of condescension in mandarin. So listen up and in a short ten minutes we'll arm you with knowledge of how to quietly infuriate speaking partners. And if you have thoughts or feedback, send us an email at service@popupchinese.com anytime.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - Echo's Secret Diary]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Discovered in a bundle of personal effects years after Popup Chinese morphed into the world's leading educational-military conglomerate, Echo Yao's secret diary paints a different portrait of the organization's early history than that found in the sanitized corporate histories which would follow. And while the authenticity of this material cannot be verified beyond all doubt, these fragmentary recordings offer historians a fascinating window into working class life in China at the start of the 21st century.

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Discovered in a bundle of personal effects years after Popup Chinese morphed into the world's leading educational-military conglomerate, Echo Yao's secret diary paints a different portrait of the organization's early history than that found in the sanitized corporate histories which would follow. And while the authenticity of this material cannot be verified beyond all doubt, these fragmentary recordings offer historians a fascinating window into working class life in China at the start of the 21st century.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - The Deaf Pickpocket Gang]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2011 09:00:00 +0800

"Enough with this small-scale stuff," Wang Zecun signed. Although the pickpocket gang had been working the railroad station for years, using their heightened observation and non-vocal communication skills to outwit the authorities, the encroachments of the local police were becoming too obvious to ignore. "If they're going to crack down on us like this, we might as well get out of petty crime completely."

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"Enough with this small-scale stuff," Wang Zecun signed. Although the pickpocket gang had been working the railroad station for years, using their heightened observation and non-vocal communication skills to outwit the authorities, the encroachments of the local police were becoming too obvious to ignore. "If they're going to crack down on us like this, we might as well get out of petty crime completely."

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - The Popup Cheerleading Squad]]> Wed, 30 Nov 2011 09:00:00 +0800

We'll admit, our Popup Chinese cheerleaders are probably not what you're expecting. First of all because they're all men in an industry dominated by the other gender. But also because their previous cheering experience consists mostly of mild swearing at the Beijing soccer team and the occasional caustic remark directed at Liu Xiang for selling out to Nike and letting down the hopes and dreams of the Chinese people in 2008.

Nonetheless, when we asked them to lend a hand and show us how to cheer in Chinese, our squad members were more than enthusiastic, and charged into the studio. And then silence, and a puzzled "so what do you want us to say anyway?" And the result was this podcast for absolute beginners to the Chinese language. So download it and listen as we cover the best and very possibly worst ways to cheer for almost anything in mandarin, Chinese.

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We'll admit, our Popup Chinese cheerleaders are probably not what you're expecting. First of all because they're all men in an industry dominated by the other gender. But also because their previous cheering experience consists mostly of mild swearing at the Beijing soccer team and the occasional caustic remark directed at Liu Xiang for selling out to Nike and letting down the hopes and dreams of the Chinese people in 2008.

Nonetheless, when we asked them to lend a hand and show us how to cheer in Chinese, our squad members were more than enthusiastic, and charged into the studio. And then silence, and a puzzled "so what do you want us to say anyway?" And the result was this podcast for absolute beginners to the Chinese language. So download it and listen as we cover the best and very possibly worst ways to cheer for almost anything in mandarin, Chinese.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Chinese Drinking Games]]> Mon, 28 Nov 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Since there are doubtless schoolchildren reading this, let us paint a picture for you: you've just arrived in China after a series of adventures in Southeast Asia and - hungry after the eight hour cargo flight from Nepal - head out to a local canteen to grab some dinner before heading back to your hotel. You've barely walked in when a small gang of local thugs saunters over to size you up. "A foreigner," the leader smirks, "I guess it's about time to see how much milk your stomach can handle...."

Learning Chinese? It doesn't take much experience socializing with almost anyone in China (but perhaps especially northern China) to realize that basically every social event is an opportunity to put this lesson into practice. Birthdays, weddings, and even official work dinners are opportunities for shared dairy consumption with your fellow Chinese friends and coworkers. In this Chinese podcast, we help you figure out what is going on. Just be careful not to die from excessive lactose consumption.

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Since there are doubtless schoolchildren reading this, let us paint a picture for you: you've just arrived in China after a series of adventures in Southeast Asia and - hungry after the eight hour cargo flight from Nepal - head out to a local canteen to grab some dinner before heading back to your hotel. You've barely walked in when a small gang of local thugs saunters over to size you up. "A foreigner," the leader smirks, "I guess it's about time to see how much milk your stomach can handle...."

Learning Chinese? It doesn't take much experience socializing with almost anyone in China (but perhaps especially northern China) to realize that basically every social event is an opportunity to put this lesson into practice. Birthdays, weddings, and even official work dinners are opportunities for shared dairy consumption with your fellow Chinese friends and coworkers. In this Chinese podcast, we help you figure out what is going on. Just be careful not to die from excessive lactose consumption.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Opportunity Knocks]]> Wed, 23 Nov 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Now that our strategic T-shirt reserves are nearly depleted, we're having to stop with the blatant bribery and lean more towards intimidation and suggestion when it comes to making new friends. Occasionally this means implanting a subliminal message in one of our podcasts, such as - say - encouraging those of you with a bit of spare time to go door to door to help spread word.

And on the education front? In addition to covering some useful vocabulary we throw at the kids in our neighborhood whenever they come into sight, our Chinese podcast today covers five critical verbs you can use to describe the act of paying attention to someone or something, or - as is probably more the case - just ignoring them completely. And for bonus points, we'll even teach you the magical phrase you need to tell other people to mind their own business. Life is good.

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Now that our strategic T-shirt reserves are nearly depleted, we're having to stop with the blatant bribery and lean more towards intimidation and suggestion when it comes to making new friends. Occasionally this means implanting a subliminal message in one of our podcasts, such as - say - encouraging those of you with a bit of spare time to go door to door to help spread word.

And on the education front? In addition to covering some useful vocabulary we throw at the kids in our neighborhood whenever they come into sight, our Chinese podcast today covers five critical verbs you can use to describe the act of paying attention to someone or something, or - as is probably more the case - just ignoring them completely. And for bonus points, we'll even teach you the magical phrase you need to tell other people to mind their own business. Life is good.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Get in Line]]> Mon, 14 Nov 2011 09:00:00 +0800

You know those stories about people lining up for hours at the Mac Store in Palo Alto? Or camping out overnight to get tickets to a movie premiere? Turns out that it doesn't tend to happen in China for a fairly simple reason: waiting in line is still something of a foreign concept in most of the country. We don't know if it's because Chinese people are on average too polite to call out people who cut in line, but as far as many people are concerned, why join the end when you can just gravitate to somewhere down front and eventually push your way in?

Learning Chinese? Our Chinese podcast for today is designed for absolute beginners to the Chinese language. Our podcast centers on a dialogue that is fast but fairly short. Following a quick walk-through, Echo and David go on to talk about how to make forceful suggestions in Chinese, the sort of thing you might find useful the next time someone tries to cut into line ahead of you....

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You know those stories about people lining up for hours at the Mac Store in Palo Alto? Or camping out overnight to get tickets to a movie premiere? Turns out that it doesn't tend to happen in China for a fairly simple reason: waiting in line is still something of a foreign concept in most of the country. We don't know if it's because Chinese people are on average too polite to call out people who cut in line, but as far as many people are concerned, why join the end when you can just gravitate to somewhere down front and eventually push your way in?

Learning Chinese? Our Chinese podcast for today is designed for absolute beginners to the Chinese language. Our podcast centers on a dialogue that is fast but fairly short. Following a quick walk-through, Echo and David go on to talk about how to make forceful suggestions in Chinese, the sort of thing you might find useful the next time someone tries to cut into line ahead of you....

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Unsuccessful Journey]]> Wed, 09 Nov 2011 22:31:26 +0800

Perhaps you've read Tom Friedman's paean to China's high-speed rail technology? Up until the damn things started smashing into each other, China had a fairly successful history of developing high-speed trains. But you don't hear so much about them these days.

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Perhaps you've read Tom Friedman's paean to China's high-speed rail technology? Up until the damn things started smashing into each other, China had a fairly successful history of developing high-speed trains. But you don't hear so much about them these days.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - Donald Trump]]> Mon, 07 Nov 2011 09:00:00 +0800

When Brendan heard Echo and Sylvia were doing this podcast, he affected the motion of someone rolling over in a grave. But his complaints didn't stop the juggernaut that is this podcast, because despite Trump's bearish and often aggressive comments on China, the rest of us consider his show a must-see guilty pleasure, one that has somewhat amazingly survived replication by hordes of reality television programmers in China.

Learning Chinese and new to Popup Chinese? This is an advanced Chinese podcast, so unless you can follow a mandarin-only discussion it is going to be above your level. But if you're an advanced student, and especially if you do business in China or are involved with media take a listen. Our discussion starts with Trump and heads to politics before turning to the dismal state of reality television in China. It's unfeigned, and will give you the inside scoop on what all those Chinese tourists standing outside Trump Tower really know about the man inside.

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When Brendan heard Echo and Sylvia were doing this podcast, he affected the motion of someone rolling over in a grave. But his complaints didn't stop the juggernaut that is this podcast, because despite Trump's bearish and often aggressive comments on China, the rest of us consider his show a must-see guilty pleasure, one that has somewhat amazingly survived replication by hordes of reality television programmers in China.

Learning Chinese and new to Popup Chinese? This is an advanced Chinese podcast, so unless you can follow a mandarin-only discussion it is going to be above your level. But if you're an advanced student, and especially if you do business in China or are involved with media take a listen. Our discussion starts with Trump and heads to politics before turning to the dismal state of reality television in China. It's unfeigned, and will give you the inside scoop on what all those Chinese tourists standing outside Trump Tower really know about the man inside.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - The Marriage of True Minds]]> Mon, 31 Oct 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Now that you're getting married it's time for a short digression. Assuming you're like most people who've clawed their way to some modicum of Chinese competence through traditional language schools, you've likely been taught that 了 indicates past tense and that 过 indicates past tense too. Oddly, an astounding number of people never get past this. We've even run into intermediate and advanced students with a decent feel for mandarin who can't explain the difference between these two simple particles.

So in the spirit of striking a blow for clarity and setting-things-straight-once-and-for-all, this is the lesson where Echo and Brendan wade into the morass of aspectual particles and set things right. So if you've ever been confused by the difference between the two or are just looking for a quick refresher, listen to this free Chinese podcast, and enlightenment will dawn.

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Now that you're getting married it's time for a short digression. Assuming you're like most people who've clawed their way to some modicum of Chinese competence through traditional language schools, you've likely been taught that 了 indicates past tense and that 过 indicates past tense too. Oddly, an astounding number of people never get past this. We've even run into intermediate and advanced students with a decent feel for mandarin who can't explain the difference between these two simple particles.

So in the spirit of striking a blow for clarity and setting-things-straight-once-and-for-all, this is the lesson where Echo and Brendan wade into the morass of aspectual particles and set things right. So if you've ever been confused by the difference between the two or are just looking for a quick refresher, listen to this free Chinese podcast, and enlightenment will dawn.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Dwarf Net Epoch Park]]> Tue, 25 Oct 2011 09:00:00 +0800

The containment system had been designed by the greatest minds in the country. Keeping the animals in their pens were twin layers of barbed wire fencing with enough electricity surging through them to stun a herd of elephants. Cognizant of the dangers of reliance on the public grid, the park was powered by an off-grid system with enough reserve battery charge to keep the park operational for a week in the event of national disaster. Practically every potential security weakness had been rigorously guarded against, save for one....

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The containment system had been designed by the greatest minds in the country. Keeping the animals in their pens were twin layers of barbed wire fencing with enough electricity surging through them to stun a herd of elephants. Cognizant of the dangers of reliance on the public grid, the park was powered by an off-grid system with enough reserve battery charge to keep the park operational for a week in the event of national disaster. Practically every potential security weakness had been rigorously guarded against, save for one....

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - The Art of the Paraphrase]]> Mon, 24 Oct 2011 09:00:00 +0800

If you've spent much time in traditional Chinese classes, you've likely had that moment of frustration shortly after arriving in China when you realize your textbooks have been lying to you, or at least featuring a more Panglossian form of mandarin than seems to be spoken by anyone you've met. And that not only do Chinese people rarely speak in formal prose, but a disappointingly small number seem to spend weekends climbing the Great Wall or exploring tea plantations.

We feel your pain, which is why our Chinese podcast for today is about a casual way to answer questions that most textbooks ignore, and some even get factually wrong. This is a common pattern you'll hear people use whenever they want to describe where something is or say where they got it. So if you're learning Chinese, spend ten minutes with us today and by the time we're done, we guarantee your mandarin will sound a lot more natural and genuine than the way you've most likely been speaking it before.

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If you've spent much time in traditional Chinese classes, you've likely had that moment of frustration shortly after arriving in China when you realize your textbooks have been lying to you, or at least featuring a more Panglossian form of mandarin than seems to be spoken by anyone you've met. And that not only do Chinese people rarely speak in formal prose, but a disappointingly small number seem to spend weekends climbing the Great Wall or exploring tea plantations.

We feel your pain, which is why our Chinese podcast for today is about a casual way to answer questions that most textbooks ignore, and some even get factually wrong. This is a common pattern you'll hear people use whenever they want to describe where something is or say where they got it. So if you're learning Chinese, spend ten minutes with us today and by the time we're done, we guarantee your mandarin will sound a lot more natural and genuine than the way you've most likely been speaking it before.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - The End of the World]]> Thu, 20 Oct 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Shortly after the tsunamis wiped out the coasts, those inland were blindsided by solar flares, floods, landslides and volcanic eruptions. Within months the sky had blackened and from the pre-crash population only a handful of survivors remained, living mostly in fortified underground bunkers cut off from each other and the outside world. Theirs was a world of terror and crushing loneliness. And this Chinese podcast is their story.

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Shortly after the tsunamis wiped out the coasts, those inland were blindsided by solar flares, floods, landslides and volcanic eruptions. Within months the sky had blackened and from the pre-crash population only a handful of survivors remained, living mostly in fortified underground bunkers cut off from each other and the outside world. Theirs was a world of terror and crushing loneliness. And this Chinese podcast is their story.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Book Smarts]]> Tue, 18 Oct 2011 09:00:00 +0800

We know that many of you admire Brendan and Echo for their uncanny ability to make mandarin accessible without reducing it to baby-talk. But what you may not realize is that central to this is a hard-fought policy we created of not letting Brendan discuss Chinese grammar until the Elementary level. And this is more than a matter of keeping things easy: it's a defensive mechanism to prevent our ten minute podcasts from growing into half hour Odysseys which require serious editing work to get useable.

That said, there are times when Brendan is right and we've got to just throw some grammar your way. And this podcast is one of those times, because we want to introduce the continuous aspect: how to describe an action that is ongoing in Chinese. But even if you hate grammar, you should listen in because we'll temper the book smarts with the perfect excuse for getting out of conversation. So take a listen. And if you have any questions or comments? Leave a post in our discussion section, or write us anytime at echo@popupchinese.com.

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We know that many of you admire Brendan and Echo for their uncanny ability to make mandarin accessible without reducing it to baby-talk. But what you may not realize is that central to this is a hard-fought policy we created of not letting Brendan discuss Chinese grammar until the Elementary level. And this is more than a matter of keeping things easy: it's a defensive mechanism to prevent our ten minute podcasts from growing into half hour Odysseys which require serious editing work to get useable.

That said, there are times when Brendan is right and we've got to just throw some grammar your way. And this podcast is one of those times, because we want to introduce the continuous aspect: how to describe an action that is ongoing in Chinese. But even if you hate grammar, you should listen in because we'll temper the book smarts with the perfect excuse for getting out of conversation. So take a listen. And if you have any questions or comments? Leave a post in our discussion section, or write us anytime at echo@popupchinese.com.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Drinks with the In-Laws]]> Mon, 17 Oct 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Mike's relations with Julie's family had been poor for as long as he could remember, but this evening felt different. Perhaps it was the beer, or perhaps it was discovering how much he had in common with her older brother. But regardless of the cause, as the evening and drinks wore on Michael felt as if a weight had been lifted. While he still might not see eye-to-eye with his new family on politics, at least he was starting to feel like less of an outsider.

Learning Chinese? The bad news is that we can't really help you handle your in-laws. Or perhaps we can help you figure out what to call them. And actually being fluent in Chinese might help you handle their deadpan jokes about murdering the foreigner in his sleep. But beyond the basics, you're pretty much on your own. Still... why not take a listen to our latest intermediate Chinese podcast? And be sure to signup for your free account with us if you haven't yet.

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Mike's relations with Julie's family had been poor for as long as he could remember, but this evening felt different. Perhaps it was the beer, or perhaps it was discovering how much he had in common with her older brother. But regardless of the cause, as the evening and drinks wore on Michael felt as if a weight had been lifted. While he still might not see eye-to-eye with his new family on politics, at least he was starting to feel like less of an outsider.

Learning Chinese? The bad news is that we can't really help you handle your in-laws. Or perhaps we can help you figure out what to call them. And actually being fluent in Chinese might help you handle their deadpan jokes about murdering the foreigner in his sleep. But beyond the basics, you're pretty much on your own. Still... why not take a listen to our latest intermediate Chinese podcast? And be sure to signup for your free account with us if you haven't yet.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Famous Detective MacGregor]]> Tue, 11 Oct 2011 09:00:00 +0800

It doesn't take much exposure to Chinese television to realize CCTV's recipe for juicing the ratings of any show: adding mandarin-speaking foreigners. And while we're always happy to see our compatriots getting paid by the Chinese government for a change, we'll be the first to admit that the mandarin fluency of many of our aspiring Western thespians leaves a considerable amount to be desired, at least in terms of communicating more subtle details as character motivations, emotional sincerity and overarching plot.

Learning Chinese? In this podcast, join our crew as we walk through the climactic scene from a recent CCTV production featuring everyone's favorite mandarin-speaking Scots detective... as heard by its Chinese audience. And once we're finished with that, keep listening as we offer up a quick cheater's guide to a Chinese genre that's equally impenetrable to the rest of the world. Soon you too can impress your friends with eerie foreknowledge about the plots of Chinese television shows you've never seen before and are unlikely to ever see again.

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It doesn't take much exposure to Chinese television to realize CCTV's recipe for juicing the ratings of any show: adding mandarin-speaking foreigners. And while we're always happy to see our compatriots getting paid by the Chinese government for a change, we'll be the first to admit that the mandarin fluency of many of our aspiring Western thespians leaves a considerable amount to be desired, at least in terms of communicating more subtle details as character motivations, emotional sincerity and overarching plot.

Learning Chinese? In this podcast, join our crew as we walk through the climactic scene from a recent CCTV production featuring everyone's favorite mandarin-speaking Scots detective... as heard by its Chinese audience. And once we're finished with that, keep listening as we offer up a quick cheater's guide to a Chinese genre that's equally impenetrable to the rest of the world. Soon you too can impress your friends with eerie foreknowledge about the plots of Chinese television shows you've never seen before and are unlikely to ever see again.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Casual Greetings in Chinese]]> Sun, 09 Oct 2011 09:00:00 +0800

What do native Chinese speakers say when they greet each other? You may be surprised to learn it isn't the standard "hello" you'll find taught in most textbooks. And that's why we've devoted this podcast to casual greetings in mandarin. So regardless of whether you're just starting to learn Chinese or have been working towards fluency for a while, join us in this Chinese podcast as we cover the language native Chinese speakers actually use when they want to say hello.

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What do native Chinese speakers say when they greet each other? You may be surprised to learn it isn't the standard "hello" you'll find taught in most textbooks. And that's why we've devoted this podcast to casual greetings in mandarin. So regardless of whether you're just starting to learn Chinese or have been working towards fluency for a while, join us in this Chinese podcast as we cover the language native Chinese speakers actually use when they want to say hello.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Emergency Evacuation]]> Wed, 05 Oct 2011 09:00:00 +0800

The arrival of the National Guard had done little to turn the tide at Wilmer Creek, where an unrelenting onslaught by the undead had pitched friend against friend, and neighbour against reanimated neighbour in a frenetic battle for control of the town. But even as the military struggled to reassure citizens that the situation was under control, a fresh offensive broke through the downtown blockade and routed the defense forces. It was time to evacuate.

Note: this Chinese podcast is all about prepositions in Chinese. Now since it's a bit hard to make this sort of thing sound sexy all by itself, just imagine yourself on a yacht in the Mediterranean surrounded by twenty or so of the most attractive linguists you can picture, all of whom are desperate for factually accurate information about Chinese grammar. Now picture yourself casually dropping the word "coverb" into this volatile mix and knowing what it means....

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The arrival of the National Guard had done little to turn the tide at Wilmer Creek, where an unrelenting onslaught by the undead had pitched friend against friend, and neighbour against reanimated neighbour in a frenetic battle for control of the town. But even as the military struggled to reassure citizens that the situation was under control, a fresh offensive broke through the downtown blockade and routed the defense forces. It was time to evacuate.

Note: this Chinese podcast is all about prepositions in Chinese. Now since it's a bit hard to make this sort of thing sound sexy all by itself, just imagine yourself on a yacht in the Mediterranean surrounded by twenty or so of the most attractive linguists you can picture, all of whom are desperate for factually accurate information about Chinese grammar. Now picture yourself casually dropping the word "coverb" into this volatile mix and knowing what it means....

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<![CDATA[Advanced - CCTV Sports Network]]> Tue, 04 Oct 2011 09:00:00 +0800

The Chairman of CCTV Sports threw the latest ratings report on his desk with a sense of frustration. Despite the enormous sums CCTV was investing in live sports coverage, none of their events seemed to be resonating with mainstream Chinese audience. And while it was true the domestic sports market was still immature, the lack of any traction among male sports fans was a real problem for the program. Now was clearly the time for a change in approach to the network's sports coverage, but what were the options?

Note: if you're listening to our advanced shows you should already speak relatively fluently and be looking for a challenge, which is why we've pushed today's advanced listening to unprecedented levels of difficulty. More than a native-level conversation, this listening test features rapid-fire mandarin sportscasting that is almost like the real thing, except for... well... we'll let you figure that out. So take a listen, and good luck on the test.

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The Chairman of CCTV Sports threw the latest ratings report on his desk with a sense of frustration. Despite the enormous sums CCTV was investing in live sports coverage, none of their events seemed to be resonating with mainstream Chinese audience. And while it was true the domestic sports market was still immature, the lack of any traction among male sports fans was a real problem for the program. Now was clearly the time for a change in approach to the network's sports coverage, but what were the options?

Note: if you're listening to our advanced shows you should already speak relatively fluently and be looking for a challenge, which is why we've pushed today's advanced listening to unprecedented levels of difficulty. More than a native-level conversation, this listening test features rapid-fire mandarin sportscasting that is almost like the real thing, except for... well... we'll let you figure that out. So take a listen, and good luck on the test.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Mid-Autumn Depression]]> Mon, 03 Oct 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Wang Ziqian contemplated the ceiling from within his cocoon of self-imposed isolation. For the past week our voice actor had remained in his room, substituting regular work for sleep, sleep and more sleep. And the more he withdrew from the world, the stronger his urge to continue doing so. In fact, why not simply spend the rest of his life in bed? Even a week in this seemed by far preferable to leaving the comfort of his room.

Learning Chinese? We'll admit that this is probably the wrong week to have a podcast about inclement weather, given that either nature or the cloud-seeding arm of the Beijing municipal government has given us fantastic weather for the National Day holidays. But no matter! And in addition to complaints about the weather, we're also going to cover a critical grammar point about how to talk about the duration of events in both positive and negative sentences. This is essential knowledge for anyone learning Chinese, so if you're working towards fluency be sure to listen.

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Wang Ziqian contemplated the ceiling from within his cocoon of self-imposed isolation. For the past week our voice actor had remained in his room, substituting regular work for sleep, sleep and more sleep. And the more he withdrew from the world, the stronger his urge to continue doing so. In fact, why not simply spend the rest of his life in bed? Even a week in this seemed by far preferable to leaving the comfort of his room.

Learning Chinese? We'll admit that this is probably the wrong week to have a podcast about inclement weather, given that either nature or the cloud-seeding arm of the Beijing municipal government has given us fantastic weather for the National Day holidays. But no matter! And in addition to complaints about the weather, we're also going to cover a critical grammar point about how to talk about the duration of events in both positive and negative sentences. This is essential knowledge for anyone learning Chinese, so if you're working towards fluency be sure to listen.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Doctor Himmel's Laboratory]]> Wed, 28 Sep 2011 09:00:00 +0800

The opening door spilled the children into the musty atmosphere of an underground research laboratory. Myriad scientific tracts with names like "Principles of Rocketry" and "Race for the Atom" filled the shelves, packed tightly between strange tanks and tubes filled with oddly-colored liquids. And yet what caught both of their eyes was something more sinister: an old newspaper spread open on the central worktable, a steel dagger plunged in anger through the dated headline.

Learning Chinese? Mandarin may not have been a critical asset in 1945, but the world is changing and who knows where danger will rear its head next. So if you've already pushed your mandarin to the conversational level, listen to our intermediate Chinese podcast for today, which will get you to the point where you too can thwart renegade threats to international peace and stability, not to mention deal with the more eccentric members of your family.

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The opening door spilled the children into the musty atmosphere of an underground research laboratory. Myriad scientific tracts with names like "Principles of Rocketry" and "Race for the Atom" filled the shelves, packed tightly between strange tanks and tubes filled with oddly-colored liquids. And yet what caught both of their eyes was something more sinister: an old newspaper spread open on the central worktable, a steel dagger plunged in anger through the dated headline.

Learning Chinese? Mandarin may not have been a critical asset in 1945, but the world is changing and who knows where danger will rear its head next. So if you've already pushed your mandarin to the conversational level, listen to our intermediate Chinese podcast for today, which will get you to the point where you too can thwart renegade threats to international peace and stability, not to mention deal with the more eccentric members of your family.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Impromptu Home Renovation]]> Mon, 26 Sep 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Hank had spent the morning preparing for their evening dinner party. And while the dining room had definitely improved from his attention, the living room was perhaps slightly the worse for it. For while the odds of one of their guests fatally tripping over the missing floorboard was quite small, it was admittedly greater than zero. Which was why Hank decided it was time for a trip to the hardware store. If he was lucky he could get everything fixed before anyone noticed the four foot gap.

Learning Chinese? Our Chinese podcast for today is designed for absolute beginners to the Chinese language. So even if you've never spoken a word of mandarin before, we know you'll feel comfortable listening to our latest radio show. And by the time you're done? You'll be fluent enough to ward off all those pesky inquiries from friends and family concerned about the hardware bills and all that time you've been spending in the basement.

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Hank had spent the morning preparing for their evening dinner party. And while the dining room had definitely improved from his attention, the living room was perhaps slightly the worse for it. For while the odds of one of their guests fatally tripping over the missing floorboard was quite small, it was admittedly greater than zero. Which was why Hank decided it was time for a trip to the hardware store. If he was lucky he could get everything fixed before anyone noticed the four foot gap.

Learning Chinese? Our Chinese podcast for today is designed for absolute beginners to the Chinese language. So even if you've never spoken a word of mandarin before, we know you'll feel comfortable listening to our latest radio show. And by the time you're done? You'll be fluent enough to ward off all those pesky inquiries from friends and family concerned about the hardware bills and all that time you've been spending in the basement.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Dinner Party]]> Wed, 21 Sep 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Rachael wondered what she could possibly bring as a gift to the dinner party. When her ex-roommate had left the United States several years ago no-one could have predicted that living abroad would change her so completely. Yet now that Sylvia had returned home, her lifestyle and tastes were so different from what they had previously been that even her closest friends like Rachael felt baffled by the transformation. Reflecting on the difficulty of picking gifts for an enigma, Rachael decided that the safest gift was probably a simple bottle of wine.

Learning Chinese? The first thing you'll realize about our intermediate Chinese podcast for today is that it features one of the longest dialogues we've done at this level. That said, while the conversation is fast and moves quickly, it's otherwise fairly representative of the difficulty level you'll find at in our intermediate Chinese lessons. So if you're new to Popup Chinese and have a year or two of mandarin under your belt check this out and see how much you understand. And if it's too easy or too difficult for you, just visit our Chinese lesson archive and find something more your level.

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Rachael wondered what she could possibly bring as a gift to the dinner party. When her ex-roommate had left the United States several years ago no-one could have predicted that living abroad would change her so completely. Yet now that Sylvia had returned home, her lifestyle and tastes were so different from what they had previously been that even her closest friends like Rachael felt baffled by the transformation. Reflecting on the difficulty of picking gifts for an enigma, Rachael decided that the safest gift was probably a simple bottle of wine.

Learning Chinese? The first thing you'll realize about our intermediate Chinese podcast for today is that it features one of the longest dialogues we've done at this level. That said, while the conversation is fast and moves quickly, it's otherwise fairly representative of the difficulty level you'll find at in our intermediate Chinese lessons. So if you're new to Popup Chinese and have a year or two of mandarin under your belt check this out and see how much you understand. And if it's too easy or too difficult for you, just visit our Chinese lesson archive and find something more your level.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Running with Scissors]]> Mon, 19 Sep 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Zoe bit her lip and watched the clock. It had now been forty minutes since her boyfriend disappeared uptown to fetch art supplies, and with him stuck in traffic on the way back each minute that passed was progressively unbearable. As the minute hand swept past the four o'clock mark, she realized it was now less than an hour before the courier would stop accepting overnight shipments. And with a giant stack of paper that still required swift cutting before she could send off her art project, time was of the absolute essence....

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Zoe bit her lip and watched the clock. It had now been forty minutes since her boyfriend disappeared uptown to fetch art supplies, and with him stuck in traffic on the way back each minute that passed was progressively unbearable. As the minute hand swept past the four o'clock mark, she realized it was now less than an hour before the courier would stop accepting overnight shipments. And with a giant stack of paper that still required swift cutting before she could send off her art project, time was of the absolute essence....

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Advanced Chinese Telephone Kungfu]]> Tue, 13 Sep 2011 09:00:00 +0800

The Henan factory boss remained prone on his office desk when the phone rang, but Stephen nonetheless froze in alarm. It was true the workers on the assembly line rarely disturbed their employer in his private enclave, but a failure to answer a direct internal call would unquestionably attract attention. Which was when the spy realized his original escape plan was doomed, and damned his superiors at Langley for their failure to purchase a discounted group subscription to Popup Chinese.

Note: we're not saying that this Chinese lesson is actively designed to fill a critical gap in Western intelligence training. It's actually a snippet of something we caught in our recording studio. But we do marvel at the lack of practical Chinese lessons elsewhere on how to impersonate chain-smoking middle-aged Chinese capitalists. Because while anyone can talk about their hobbies in mandarin, it's the ability to answer the phone like a power broker that separates the rhetorical men from the boys. Which is why we touch on this today, if only after covering how to say hello on the phone and some other basics.

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The Henan factory boss remained prone on his office desk when the phone rang, but Stephen nonetheless froze in alarm. It was true the workers on the assembly line rarely disturbed their employer in his private enclave, but a failure to answer a direct internal call would unquestionably attract attention. Which was when the spy realized his original escape plan was doomed, and damned his superiors at Langley for their failure to purchase a discounted group subscription to Popup Chinese.

Note: we're not saying that this Chinese lesson is actively designed to fill a critical gap in Western intelligence training. It's actually a snippet of something we caught in our recording studio. But we do marvel at the lack of practical Chinese lessons elsewhere on how to impersonate chain-smoking middle-aged Chinese capitalists. Because while anyone can talk about their hobbies in mandarin, it's the ability to answer the phone like a power broker that separates the rhetorical men from the boys. Which is why we touch on this today, if only after covering how to say hello on the phone and some other basics.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Seafaring in the Industrial Age]]> Mon, 12 Sep 2011 09:00:00 +0800

As the merchant clipper sailed north, the leaden gloom that had settled on its crew gave way to levity. With the treacherous passage around Cape Horn complete, the sailors began to speak of their arrival as a fait accompli, driving the cabin boy so positively giddy with anticipation that he begged them to regale him time and time again with stories of the riches that awaited them in Peru. These tales then grew in the telling until the mere sight of a seagull would stir them all to dreams of a wealth beyond imagination.

Looking for a taste of something different? Let us be the first to admit our Chinese podcasts are occasionally somewhat eclectic. And this is among the more eclectic of them, so if you're easily offended please stay away and spare us the lecture. That said, we believe this is genuinely useful material to know, and you're not likely to learn it anywhere else. So if you've already got a fair bit of Chinese under your belt and want to know the language inside out, join us for this Intermediate lesson. You'll be speaking like a sailor in no time.

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As the merchant clipper sailed north, the leaden gloom that had settled on its crew gave way to levity. With the treacherous passage around Cape Horn complete, the sailors began to speak of their arrival as a fait accompli, driving the cabin boy so positively giddy with anticipation that he begged them to regale him time and time again with stories of the riches that awaited them in Peru. These tales then grew in the telling until the mere sight of a seagull would stir them all to dreams of a wealth beyond imagination.

Looking for a taste of something different? Let us be the first to admit our Chinese podcasts are occasionally somewhat eclectic. And this is among the more eclectic of them, so if you're easily offended please stay away and spare us the lecture. That said, we believe this is genuinely useful material to know, and you're not likely to learn it anywhere else. So if you've already got a fair bit of Chinese under your belt and want to know the language inside out, join us for this Intermediate lesson. You'll be speaking like a sailor in no time.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Innovation in the Chinese Dairy Industry]]> Thu, 08 Sep 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Longtime listeners to Popup Chinese know that we're big fans of the Chinese dairy industry. As such, in addition to forcing our staff to consume unhealthy amounts of milk and yoghurt on a daily basis, we also promote the industry by coming up with new and interesting uses for traditional dairy products. This podcast has been inspired by one of our more recent inventions, a product which brings respite from the summer heat and moisturizes while it cools.

Want to learn Chinese? This Chinese podcast is designed for students at the elementary level. That means that while we're past the basics, our dialogues and lesson materials are still relatively short and easy to understand. So if you've been studying Chinese for at least six months but less than two years, check this out and see how you do. And if it isn't right, just signup for a free account and visit our Chinese lesson archive to find something more at your level.

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Longtime listeners to Popup Chinese know that we're big fans of the Chinese dairy industry. As such, in addition to forcing our staff to consume unhealthy amounts of milk and yoghurt on a daily basis, we also promote the industry by coming up with new and interesting uses for traditional dairy products. This podcast has been inspired by one of our more recent inventions, a product which brings respite from the summer heat and moisturizes while it cools.

Want to learn Chinese? This Chinese podcast is designed for students at the elementary level. That means that while we're past the basics, our dialogues and lesson materials are still relatively short and easy to understand. So if you've been studying Chinese for at least six months but less than two years, check this out and see how you do. And if it isn't right, just signup for a free account and visit our Chinese lesson archive to find something more at your level.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Insider Gossip]]> Tue, 06 Sep 2011 09:00:00 +0800

We stood in the hallway watching 9527 ease her hairpin into our lock. "It's Fujianese design," she said biting her lip in concentration before simultaneously twisting the pin and jerking the lever sideways. There was the brief sound of metal scraping reluctantly against metal and a brief shudder that ran up the door frame before the lock gave way and the door popped open.

We're still not sure if 9527 was talking about her hairpin or our home security, but changed the locks shortly afterwards and no longer consider it accidental that most of the locksmiths in Beijing come from down south. But regardless of where and how 9527 learned that particular skill, let us share this Chinese podcast with you that reveals how deep an impression she has made on her fellow voice actors, most of whom have no idea that she actually has a Chinese name and is not really on the lam.

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We stood in the hallway watching 9527 ease her hairpin into our lock. "It's Fujianese design," she said biting her lip in concentration before simultaneously twisting the pin and jerking the lever sideways. There was the brief sound of metal scraping reluctantly against metal and a brief shudder that ran up the door frame before the lock gave way and the door popped open.

We're still not sure if 9527 was talking about her hairpin or our home security, but changed the locks shortly afterwards and no longer consider it accidental that most of the locksmiths in Beijing come from down south. But regardless of where and how 9527 learned that particular skill, let us share this Chinese podcast with you that reveals how deep an impression she has made on her fellow voice actors, most of whom have no idea that she actually has a Chinese name and is not really on the lam.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - The Interrogation Room]]> Wed, 31 Aug 2011 09:00:00 +0800

The world was blue and Stephen floated in it. He could not be sure if he was truly awake or asleep, and it was even possible he was underwater. But why would he be underwater? There seemed to be a dim light somewhere above him which tapered off into darkness below, but it was hard to be certain in this world of translucent color. His sense of direction was lost. And the last thing he could remember was....

And then his vision cleared and reality came rushing back: the months of eavesdropping, the sting operation, and the betrayal that rendered his plan a suicide trap. And now this bleak warehouse, the ache in his left ribs and the look of terror in his partner's face, all the while their captor scrutinized him for consciousness, waiting to finish this grim mission.

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The world was blue and Stephen floated in it. He could not be sure if he was truly awake or asleep, and it was even possible he was underwater. But why would he be underwater? There seemed to be a dim light somewhere above him which tapered off into darkness below, but it was hard to be certain in this world of translucent color. His sense of direction was lost. And the last thing he could remember was....

And then his vision cleared and reality came rushing back: the months of eavesdropping, the sting operation, and the betrayal that rendered his plan a suicide trap. And now this bleak warehouse, the ache in his left ribs and the look of terror in his partner's face, all the while their captor scrutinized him for consciousness, waiting to finish this grim mission.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - Death in the Boardroom]]> Mon, 29 Aug 2011 09:00:00 +0800

As Susan prepared for her board presentation, the junior saleswoman at Cantor Williams reflected on the irony of her position. Despite the fact that her company specialized in selling downsizing packages to the Fortune 500, she had been saddled on this sales call with a partner who seemed at his most efficient when checking email or making lunch arrangements. Why had Connor been assigned to shadow her, and what possible benefit did the company gain from over-staffing?

Susan had complained about the situation to her manager, but he had simply told her "this is how it works." From their very first day with the firm sales associates were paired together in a process designed to promote solidarity, but which in fact pitted the groups against each other in a winner-take-all competition to climb the corporate ladder and make partner. Susan grimaced at the thought of Connor riding her coattails to the top, yet had to admit the extra pressure was effective at pushing her to the limits of her own ability to perform under pressure.

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As Susan prepared for her board presentation, the junior saleswoman at Cantor Williams reflected on the irony of her position. Despite the fact that her company specialized in selling downsizing packages to the Fortune 500, she had been saddled on this sales call with a partner who seemed at his most efficient when checking email or making lunch arrangements. Why had Connor been assigned to shadow her, and what possible benefit did the company gain from over-staffing?

Susan had complained about the situation to her manager, but he had simply told her "this is how it works." From their very first day with the firm sales associates were paired together in a process designed to promote solidarity, but which in fact pitted the groups against each other in a winner-take-all competition to climb the corporate ladder and make partner. Susan grimaced at the thought of Connor riding her coattails to the top, yet had to admit the extra pressure was effective at pushing her to the limits of her own ability to perform under pressure.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - They came from the sky....]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2011 09:00:00 +0800

There you'll be, ready to collapse into bed after an exhausting day doing whatever and just when you're about to drift off you'll see the first one get brave enough to buzz down from that hole in the ceiling, or out from behind the power sockets, and sooner than you know there's a group and holy $%#! if the one taking the lead is not the most massive insect you've ever seen airborne and even the dog is unnerved by it and you have a sinking feeling that maybe coming to China was a bad idea, and if the job paid a lot more than staying in Denver now at least you know why.

Hate mosquitoes? As you can tell, our Chinese lesson today is all about the repellent bloodsuckers, perhaps in part because August just happens to be the worst time of the year for them in Beijing thanks to all this humidity. That said, in the spirit of keeping our prejudices educational we also talk a bit about the past tense, and how to describe things that have already happened. If you're learning Chinese this is really useful stuff, so be sure to check out our podcast and let us know what you think.

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There you'll be, ready to collapse into bed after an exhausting day doing whatever and just when you're about to drift off you'll see the first one get brave enough to buzz down from that hole in the ceiling, or out from behind the power sockets, and sooner than you know there's a group and holy $%#! if the one taking the lead is not the most massive insect you've ever seen airborne and even the dog is unnerved by it and you have a sinking feeling that maybe coming to China was a bad idea, and if the job paid a lot more than staying in Denver now at least you know why.

Hate mosquitoes? As you can tell, our Chinese lesson today is all about the repellent bloodsuckers, perhaps in part because August just happens to be the worst time of the year for them in Beijing thanks to all this humidity. That said, in the spirit of keeping our prejudices educational we also talk a bit about the past tense, and how to describe things that have already happened. If you're learning Chinese this is really useful stuff, so be sure to check out our podcast and let us know what you think.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - The Chinese Ice Phobia]]> Mon, 22 Aug 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Any chance you remember that scene from Goldfinger where James Bond is trussed up on the cutting board, and he turns to the villain who then says something about expecting Bond to die in the slowest and most painful way possible? Well... if Goldfinger were a Chinese film we could replace his laser with a glass of iced water and show our villain laughing maniacally from the certain knowledge that Bond's mere proximity to the glass would usher in a fate at least as bad as and quite possibly much worse than death.

What we really mean to say is this: Echo and Brendan are in our studio today, and they both spend a non-trivial amount of time ignoring our dialogue in order to argue about the relative merits of Chinese medical superstitions involving food temperature. That may or may not be your thing, but if you're learning Chinese we think you'll find this lesson useful if only because it features an incredibly common sentence pattern you can use whenever you want to say "whenever". This is the 一/就 pattern and it's one of the most useful sentence structures to know in Chinese. So listen up and be sure to let us know what you think of the show in the discussion section below.

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Any chance you remember that scene from Goldfinger where James Bond is trussed up on the cutting board, and he turns to the villain who then says something about expecting Bond to die in the slowest and most painful way possible? Well... if Goldfinger were a Chinese film we could replace his laser with a glass of iced water and show our villain laughing maniacally from the certain knowledge that Bond's mere proximity to the glass would usher in a fate at least as bad as and quite possibly much worse than death.

What we really mean to say is this: Echo and Brendan are in our studio today, and they both spend a non-trivial amount of time ignoring our dialogue in order to argue about the relative merits of Chinese medical superstitions involving food temperature. That may or may not be your thing, but if you're learning Chinese we think you'll find this lesson useful if only because it features an incredibly common sentence pattern you can use whenever you want to say "whenever". This is the 一/就 pattern and it's one of the most useful sentence structures to know in Chinese. So listen up and be sure to let us know what you think of the show in the discussion section below.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Shared Apartment]]> Wed, 17 Aug 2011 09:00:00 +0800

For months after purchasing his condominium, Henry Martin found himself experiencing episodes of almost religious transcendence, as if another universe had brushed up against his reality and somehow distorted it. He felt that time had somehow dissolved and his apartment strangely belonged to another family whose presence could be felt but never seen or otherwise known. The entire episode lasted for weeks, and gave him a profound sense of dislocation, and an unsettling suspicion there was more to life than his five senses could feel or perceive.

Learning Chinese? Our intermediate lesson series at Popup Chinese is designed for students with at least two years of experience at the university level. At this level we accelerate towards native-level fluency with Chinese lessons that feature native-level dialogues around thirty seconds in length. So if you already speak some Chinese and are looking for a way to get even better, listen up and see how you do.

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For months after purchasing his condominium, Henry Martin found himself experiencing episodes of almost religious transcendence, as if another universe had brushed up against his reality and somehow distorted it. He felt that time had somehow dissolved and his apartment strangely belonged to another family whose presence could be felt but never seen or otherwise known. The entire episode lasted for weeks, and gave him a profound sense of dislocation, and an unsettling suspicion there was more to life than his five senses could feel or perceive.

Learning Chinese? Our intermediate lesson series at Popup Chinese is designed for students with at least two years of experience at the university level. At this level we accelerate towards native-level fluency with Chinese lessons that feature native-level dialogues around thirty seconds in length. So if you already speak some Chinese and are looking for a way to get even better, listen up and see how you do.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Classified Information]]> Mon, 15 Aug 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Richard Thorpe eyed the customs officer with suspicion. Although his mission came down from the highest levels of government, he was certain that it would cause a scene regardless if homeland security found an intoxicated and possibly drugged cat in his backpack. As he reached for his passport, the former merchant banker decided to play his trump card.

Learning Chinese? Our lesson for today is a relatively short discussion of the strange behavior of measure words. We all know the basic rules for using measure words: put them in front of countable nouns and try not to mix them up too much. But as we learn today, that's not quite all there is. In fact, there are two situations in which Chinese speakers will commonly drop measure words, even if it's grammatically correct to include them. Listen to our podcast for the juicy details.

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Richard Thorpe eyed the customs officer with suspicion. Although his mission came down from the highest levels of government, he was certain that it would cause a scene regardless if homeland security found an intoxicated and possibly drugged cat in his backpack. As he reached for his passport, the former merchant banker decided to play his trump card.

Learning Chinese? Our lesson for today is a relatively short discussion of the strange behavior of measure words. We all know the basic rules for using measure words: put them in front of countable nouns and try not to mix them up too much. But as we learn today, that's not quite all there is. In fact, there are two situations in which Chinese speakers will commonly drop measure words, even if it's grammatically correct to include them. Listen to our podcast for the juicy details.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Murder in the Red Chamber]]> Mon, 08 Aug 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Of the twelve beauties of Jinling, only six remained. The first deaths had seemed accidental if strangely prophetic. Yet the discovery of the latest victim hanging from a tree in the Grand View Garden had changed everything. And while the murders were grim, who or what malevolent force could be behind them? And what connection - if any - could the killings have to the mysterious family heirloom which had disappeared?

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Of the twelve beauties of Jinling, only six remained. The first deaths had seemed accidental if strangely prophetic. Yet the discovery of the latest victim hanging from a tree in the Grand View Garden had changed everything. And while the murders were grim, who or what malevolent force could be behind them? And what connection - if any - could the killings have to the mysterious family heirloom which had disappeared?

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - A Letter from the Cat]]> Mon, 01 Aug 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Mildred's relationship with her cat had taken a significant turn for the worse in the past few months, degenerating to the point it had started treating her with open resentment. In recent days the creature would sit on its perch by the window surveying her with a sullen contempt, an attitude that settled into begrudging acquiescence only when she ventured to change its litter or feed it a snack.

It was hard to say when exactly the shift had occurred, but it probably dated to the cessation of her academic leave and the reversal of her and her husband's schedule. Even since March she had been working routinely from her downtown office while Philip spent most of his time at home handling domestic matters and working on his home business. But even if that was the cause of the change, what exactly had triggered it. Feelings of betrayal, or loneliness?

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Mildred's relationship with her cat had taken a significant turn for the worse in the past few months, degenerating to the point it had started treating her with open resentment. In recent days the creature would sit on its perch by the window surveying her with a sullen contempt, an attitude that settled into begrudging acquiescence only when she ventured to change its litter or feed it a snack.

It was hard to say when exactly the shift had occurred, but it probably dated to the cessation of her academic leave and the reversal of her and her husband's schedule. Even since March she had been working routinely from her downtown office while Philip spent most of his time at home handling domestic matters and working on his home business. But even if that was the cause of the change, what exactly had triggered it. Feelings of betrayal, or loneliness?

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - The Hottest Hotpot in Beijing]]> Wed, 27 Jul 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Every now and then someone writes us asking for the "hottest hotpot in Beijing", which is actually one of the easiest questions to answer: if you're a glutton for punishment go to Guijie and check out a restaurant called Kong Liang (孔亮). This restaurant is across the street from Little Sheep and its hot broth tastes like nothing so much as molten rock, so if you're looking to impress someone or simply want to end it all, this is your best bet.

And a note of warning... today's Chinese podcast is towards the upper-end of our difficulty spectrum when it comes to elementary lessons. If you're new to Chinese you'll have trouble understanding everything the first time around: our dialogue pushes forward at native speed and has a lot of colloquial expressions. That said, the sentences themselves are fairly short, so once you know what is going on, you should find it easy to follow along.

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Every now and then someone writes us asking for the "hottest hotpot in Beijing", which is actually one of the easiest questions to answer: if you're a glutton for punishment go to Guijie and check out a restaurant called Kong Liang (孔亮). This restaurant is across the street from Little Sheep and its hot broth tastes like nothing so much as molten rock, so if you're looking to impress someone or simply want to end it all, this is your best bet.

And a note of warning... today's Chinese podcast is towards the upper-end of our difficulty spectrum when it comes to elementary lessons. If you're new to Chinese you'll have trouble understanding everything the first time around: our dialogue pushes forward at native speed and has a lot of colloquial expressions. That said, the sentences themselves are fairly short, so once you know what is going on, you should find it easy to follow along.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Friends in China]]> Thu, 21 Jul 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Given that Friends was such a popular sitcom in the United States, you probably won't be surprised to hear the show picked up a massive following in China as well. But how much of the show did its Chinese audience really understand? While we're not ready to say that everything got lost in translation, we'll be blunt: when we sent our voice actors into the studio to give us an intermediate dialogue inspired by the show, this is what they came up with....

Learning Chinese? While we normally like beginners, God help you if this is your first Chinese lesson ever. Our dialogue today is good for learning how to greet friends in casual mandarin, and how to make suggestions in a less formal tone than you might be used to, but if you're just getting started you might find the pace a bit fast. And yet there's no need to panic. If this is too fast for you just dig through our archive of easy Chinese lessons for something a bit slower.

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Given that Friends was such a popular sitcom in the United States, you probably won't be surprised to hear the show picked up a massive following in China as well. But how much of the show did its Chinese audience really understand? While we're not ready to say that everything got lost in translation, we'll be blunt: when we sent our voice actors into the studio to give us an intermediate dialogue inspired by the show, this is what they came up with....

Learning Chinese? While we normally like beginners, God help you if this is your first Chinese lesson ever. Our dialogue today is good for learning how to greet friends in casual mandarin, and how to make suggestions in a less formal tone than you might be used to, but if you're just getting started you might find the pace a bit fast. And yet there's no need to panic. If this is too fast for you just dig through our archive of easy Chinese lessons for something a bit slower.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - The Beijing Ikea]]> Wed, 20 Jul 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Much like swimming in the surging waters that flushed out the Augean Stables, shopping at IKEA in Beijing means surrendering yourself to divine will and being carried helplessly along in a wave of Chinese shoppers intent on clearing out everything in their path. Sofas, dining sets, mattresses and jigsaw-shaped foam carpets? Nothing stands a chance once the doors of Beijing's furniture behemoth swing open to the milling crowds. And good luck getting home delivery....

Learning Chinese? While we assume you're here because you don't want to sound inarticulate in mandarin, it never hurts to know exactly how to sound inarticulate like a native. And that's why Brendan and Gail take to our studio today to share their own disaster stories about furniture shopping in Beijing, and pass along some tips on how to buy time in Chinese when you're not sure what to say next.

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Much like swimming in the surging waters that flushed out the Augean Stables, shopping at IKEA in Beijing means surrendering yourself to divine will and being carried helplessly along in a wave of Chinese shoppers intent on clearing out everything in their path. Sofas, dining sets, mattresses and jigsaw-shaped foam carpets? Nothing stands a chance once the doors of Beijing's furniture behemoth swing open to the milling crowds. And good luck getting home delivery....

Learning Chinese? While we assume you're here because you don't want to sound inarticulate in mandarin, it never hurts to know exactly how to sound inarticulate like a native. And that's why Brendan and Gail take to our studio today to share their own disaster stories about furniture shopping in Beijing, and pass along some tips on how to buy time in Chinese when you're not sure what to say next.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Captains of Finance]]> Fri, 15 Jul 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Veronica had been chairing Solomon Brothers' hiring committee for several months, and while she had interviewed countless candidates from the nation's leading schools, none of the recent graduates seemed to possess the killer instinct required in investment banking. And yet today's candidate seemed different. While his attire was certainly unorthodox, his near vivisection of one the downstairs guards suggested a certain ruthlessness that might be useful to the firm.

Learning Chinese? In today's intermediate Chinese podcast, Echo and David talk a bit about the difference between sincere and insincere compliments in China. There are plenty of situations where this will come in useful, and its nice to be able to pick up on the subtle signals Chinese people use to signal approval or disapproval when describing others. So if you're learning Chinese listen in and let us know what you think. And if you have suggestions on other topics we can cover, write anytime at service@popupchinese.com.

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Veronica had been chairing Solomon Brothers' hiring committee for several months, and while she had interviewed countless candidates from the nation's leading schools, none of the recent graduates seemed to possess the killer instinct required in investment banking. And yet today's candidate seemed different. While his attire was certainly unorthodox, his near vivisection of one the downstairs guards suggested a certain ruthlessness that might be useful to the firm.

Learning Chinese? In today's intermediate Chinese podcast, Echo and David talk a bit about the difference between sincere and insincere compliments in China. There are plenty of situations where this will come in useful, and its nice to be able to pick up on the subtle signals Chinese people use to signal approval or disapproval when describing others. So if you're learning Chinese listen in and let us know what you think. And if you have suggestions on other topics we can cover, write anytime at service@popupchinese.com.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Alternatives to the X-Ray]]> Tue, 12 Jul 2011 09:00:00 +0800

An older gentleman who began his medical career during the cultural revolution, Doctor Li had been always been slightly suspicious of imaging technology. Which was why the doctor stared at the X-ray with uncertainty. The image seemed to show a hairline fracture running the length of the patient's radius, but who could really be sure? Perhaps it was better to test his hypothesis a bit more directly.

Learning Chinese? Our Chinese podcast for today introduces some critical language involving pleasure and pain. By the end of this podcast you'll be able to tell people where it hurts, and will know some of the simplest sentences you can make in Chinese. And when you're done, click through to our Chinese lesson archive for hundreds upon hundreds of more great lessons that will have you speaking mandarin in no time.

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An older gentleman who began his medical career during the cultural revolution, Doctor Li had been always been slightly suspicious of imaging technology. Which was why the doctor stared at the X-ray with uncertainty. The image seemed to show a hairline fracture running the length of the patient's radius, but who could really be sure? Perhaps it was better to test his hypothesis a bit more directly.

Learning Chinese? Our Chinese podcast for today introduces some critical language involving pleasure and pain. By the end of this podcast you'll be able to tell people where it hurts, and will know some of the simplest sentences you can make in Chinese. And when you're done, click through to our Chinese lesson archive for hundreds upon hundreds of more great lessons that will have you speaking mandarin in no time.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - A Taste of Silicon Valley, China]]> Fri, 08 Jul 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Robert Lee regretted his trip to California. Although the young Chinese developer was accustomed to the vagaries of doing business in China, he had found his brushes with American capitalism even more frustrating: his meetings had been constantly interrupted, postponed or cancelled, while his counterparts had shown an astonishing lack of knowledge about technology developments in non-American markets.

The experience had spurred his hasty return to Beijing, where the entrepreneur now found himself surveying the high-tech district from the towering windows of Zhongguan Securities. The crowds far below surged through the streets like nothing so much as electricity pulsing through a computer circuit. It was not such a bad place for a tech company to start out, he mused. And with that thought the conference doors opened and Robert turned to meet the team....

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Robert Lee regretted his trip to California. Although the young Chinese developer was accustomed to the vagaries of doing business in China, he had found his brushes with American capitalism even more frustrating: his meetings had been constantly interrupted, postponed or cancelled, while his counterparts had shown an astonishing lack of knowledge about technology developments in non-American markets.

The experience had spurred his hasty return to Beijing, where the entrepreneur now found himself surveying the high-tech district from the towering windows of Zhongguan Securities. The crowds far below surged through the streets like nothing so much as electricity pulsing through a computer circuit. It was not such a bad place for a tech company to start out, he mused. And with that thought the conference doors opened and Robert turned to meet the team....

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Crime and Cryptocurrency]]> Tue, 05 Jul 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Bring us your tired, your poor, your huddled cryptocurrencies built on artificial hashing algorithms and stochastic probability measures. Bring us your illicit profits from online drug and kidney trades, international money laundering, and late-night poker sessions conducted in furtive retreat from the prying eyes of Internet censors. And long live this entire peer-to-peer thing: we think China could use a lot more of it.

Learning Chinese? Our Chinese podcast for today is an elementary lesson intended for anyone with an interest in digital currencies, or an abiding dislike for particular family members. That said, the content in our podcast is (mostly) true. If you're a bitcoin fan we're happy to share news that you can now use the currency to upgrade your account on Popup Chinese. Send us an email and we'll arrange for your upgrade at the prevailing market rates.

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Bring us your tired, your poor, your huddled cryptocurrencies built on artificial hashing algorithms and stochastic probability measures. Bring us your illicit profits from online drug and kidney trades, international money laundering, and late-night poker sessions conducted in furtive retreat from the prying eyes of Internet censors. And long live this entire peer-to-peer thing: we think China could use a lot more of it.

Learning Chinese? Our Chinese podcast for today is an elementary lesson intended for anyone with an interest in digital currencies, or an abiding dislike for particular family members. That said, the content in our podcast is (mostly) true. If you're a bitcoin fan we're happy to share news that you can now use the currency to upgrade your account on Popup Chinese. Send us an email and we'll arrange for your upgrade at the prevailing market rates.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - A Calculated Risk]]> Thu, 30 Jun 2011 09:00:00 +0800

"You say you've never played before," Gerard struggled to maintain his composure. The date had been going well until that point: he had leveraged possession of South America to seize control of North America. And he had just been poised to cross into Europe when his date placed armies in Kamchatka and moved across the straits, striking a fatal blow to his plans for world domination.

Want to learn Chinese? Our lesson for today is designed for Absolute Beginners to the Chinese language. This means that even if you don't know any mandarin at all, you'll still be able to pick up some of the basics from our podcast and transcript today. So take a listen and check it out, and when you're ready for more signup for a free account and explore our Chinese lesson archive, which has hundreds upon hundreds of more great lessons.

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"You say you've never played before," Gerard struggled to maintain his composure. The date had been going well until that point: he had leveraged possession of South America to seize control of North America. And he had just been poised to cross into Europe when his date placed armies in Kamchatka and moved across the straits, striking a fatal blow to his plans for world domination.

Want to learn Chinese? Our lesson for today is designed for Absolute Beginners to the Chinese language. This means that even if you don't know any mandarin at all, you'll still be able to pick up some of the basics from our podcast and transcript today. So take a listen and check it out, and when you're ready for more signup for a free account and explore our Chinese lesson archive, which has hundreds upon hundreds of more great lessons.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - An Evening at the Rock and Roll Club]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Consider the stock photo accompanying this lesson illustrative of the truly great times we have had partying at several Beijing clubs that are not the Loft nor Maggies and that Oliver Stone has yet to frequent at three o'clock in the morning, at least as far as we know.

You see, Shanghai might be the clubbing capital of China, but Beijing has Rock and Roll, the only place we've ever been that has featured fire-breathing dancers and a choreographed routine involving a massive man-eating snake. Add to this the Titanic videos that still play on loop and the disc jockeys of indeterminate gender, and you've got to admit that the place has its own vibe.

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Consider the stock photo accompanying this lesson illustrative of the truly great times we have had partying at several Beijing clubs that are not the Loft nor Maggies and that Oliver Stone has yet to frequent at three o'clock in the morning, at least as far as we know.

You see, Shanghai might be the clubbing capital of China, but Beijing has Rock and Roll, the only place we've ever been that has featured fire-breathing dancers and a choreographed routine involving a massive man-eating snake. Add to this the Titanic videos that still play on loop and the disc jockeys of indeterminate gender, and you've got to admit that the place has its own vibe.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Evolutionary Strategies of Household Pets]]> Thu, 23 Jun 2011 09:00:00 +0800

When your pet starts rummaging through the knife drawer because it hasn't been fed, it's probably time to get another pet. But what about the warning signs? What other clues do cats and dogs give us that something is off in your relationship, or that they're expecting a bit more attention? This is the critical question we explore in today's lesson for Absolute Beginners to the Chinese language.

And now a warning. Although this lesson is intended for newcomers, if this is your very first time hearing Chinese, you'll probably find the dialogue a bit fast for comfort. So be aware that once we've pushed past our blitzkrieg-paced dialogue things slow down and we cover the material more slowly. But if it's still too fast for you don't panic, because we have plenty more lessons in our archives, so go check those out!

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When your pet starts rummaging through the knife drawer because it hasn't been fed, it's probably time to get another pet. But what about the warning signs? What other clues do cats and dogs give us that something is off in your relationship, or that they're expecting a bit more attention? This is the critical question we explore in today's lesson for Absolute Beginners to the Chinese language.

And now a warning. Although this lesson is intended for newcomers, if this is your very first time hearing Chinese, you'll probably find the dialogue a bit fast for comfort. So be aware that once we've pushed past our blitzkrieg-paced dialogue things slow down and we cover the material more slowly. But if it's still too fast for you don't panic, because we have plenty more lessons in our archives, so go check those out!

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Crash Landing]]> Tue, 21 Jun 2011 09:00:00 +0800

A crucial trait for any pilot is constant situational awareness, or keeping watch for small problems which might signify larger ones to come. And while James Washburn was an excellent pilot in this regard, nothing in his career could have prepared the seasoned captain for the events which were to unfold this particular evening, on what was otherwise a perfectly routine flight from New York to Boston....

Learning Chinese? We haven't been treating you with kiddie gloves at our Absolute Beginner and Elementary levels, but where we really shine is the Intermediate level, which will put you on the fast track to fluency with complex dialogues that feature advanced speaking patterns and lots of emotional nuance. So if you're learning Chinese with the goal of professional fluency, be sure to listen in: you won't regret it.

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A crucial trait for any pilot is constant situational awareness, or keeping watch for small problems which might signify larger ones to come. And while James Washburn was an excellent pilot in this regard, nothing in his career could have prepared the seasoned captain for the events which were to unfold this particular evening, on what was otherwise a perfectly routine flight from New York to Boston....

Learning Chinese? We haven't been treating you with kiddie gloves at our Absolute Beginner and Elementary levels, but where we really shine is the Intermediate level, which will put you on the fast track to fluency with complex dialogues that feature advanced speaking patterns and lots of emotional nuance. So if you're learning Chinese with the goal of professional fluency, be sure to listen in: you won't regret it.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - The Saga of the Power Crystals]]> Fri, 17 Jun 2011 09:00:00 +0800

One of the benefits China offers as an expat destination is the refreshing lack of streetside vendors hawking power crystals and comfort necklaces. Unfortunately, while the Orient is insulated from the prevailing trends on late-night American television, if you live here you will have to deal with a whole new category of mystical concepts that have seized the local imagination. Except for acupuncture, which we're willing to admit might have some merits....

Learning Chinese? Our Elementary lesson for today is a bit faster and more complex than most of our podcasts at this level, but still consists of fairly simple sentences and high-frequency vocabulary. So if you already know some Chinese but are looking to push yourself closer to fluency, give us a shot and experience Chinese the way it's actually spoken in mainland China. And if you have any questions or thoughts, consider yourself warmly invited to let us know in the discussion section below.

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One of the benefits China offers as an expat destination is the refreshing lack of streetside vendors hawking power crystals and comfort necklaces. Unfortunately, while the Orient is insulated from the prevailing trends on late-night American television, if you live here you will have to deal with a whole new category of mystical concepts that have seized the local imagination. Except for acupuncture, which we're willing to admit might have some merits....

Learning Chinese? Our Elementary lesson for today is a bit faster and more complex than most of our podcasts at this level, but still consists of fairly simple sentences and high-frequency vocabulary. So if you already know some Chinese but are looking to push yourself closer to fluency, give us a shot and experience Chinese the way it's actually spoken in mainland China. And if you have any questions or thoughts, consider yourself warmly invited to let us know in the discussion section below.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Not Even Close]]> Wed, 15 Jun 2011 09:00:00 +0800

So it turns out that not everything in Beijing is really in "walking distance" from your hotel as your tour guide promised. Or that's how it feels now that you're halfway between Xizhimen and Sanlitun with only twenty minutes left before the show. Suffice it to say that the maze of hutongs in which you are lost no longer seem as charming as they did from the outside....

Learning Chinese? Our podcast for today is designed for absolute beginners to the Chinese language. This means that even if you don't have any background in mandarin, you should be able to follow along and pick up some of the basics of this fascinating language. So give us a listen and be sure to signup for access to our premium features like transcripts, tests and extra audio recordings.

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So it turns out that not everything in Beijing is really in "walking distance" from your hotel as your tour guide promised. Or that's how it feels now that you're halfway between Xizhimen and Sanlitun with only twenty minutes left before the show. Suffice it to say that the maze of hutongs in which you are lost no longer seem as charming as they did from the outside....

Learning Chinese? Our podcast for today is designed for absolute beginners to the Chinese language. This means that even if you don't have any background in mandarin, you should be able to follow along and pick up some of the basics of this fascinating language. So give us a listen and be sure to signup for access to our premium features like transcripts, tests and extra audio recordings.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Crisis in Washington]]> Mon, 13 Jun 2011 09:00:00 +0800

A mere two hours after he had ordered the mission, the President read his security briefing with a seething fury, his thoughts as stormy as the clouds darkening the skies above Washington. His administration could deal with a partisan Congress. And no-one expected a free ride from the media on issues of national security. But to face what must either be gross incompetence or deliberate obstruction from his own military advisers? He reached for the phone....

Learning Chinese? Today's lesson is an intermediate listening test filled with drama. This is Chinese the way you'll hear it on television or in the theaters. So if you have a few years of mandarin under your belt take a listen to our dialogue and then click through to our quiz section to gauge your comprehension. And if you have any questions? Feel free to leave questions in our discussion section below, or check out our online popup Chinese transcript and see what you missed.

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A mere two hours after he had ordered the mission, the President read his security briefing with a seething fury, his thoughts as stormy as the clouds darkening the skies above Washington. His administration could deal with a partisan Congress. And no-one expected a free ride from the media on issues of national security. But to face what must either be gross incompetence or deliberate obstruction from his own military advisers? He reached for the phone....

Learning Chinese? Today's lesson is an intermediate listening test filled with drama. This is Chinese the way you'll hear it on television or in the theaters. So if you have a few years of mandarin under your belt take a listen to our dialogue and then click through to our quiz section to gauge your comprehension. And if you have any questions? Feel free to leave questions in our discussion section below, or check out our online popup Chinese transcript and see what you missed.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - A Bad China Day for Dashan]]> Thu, 09 Jun 2011 09:00:00 +0800

We have enormous respect for Mark Rowswell, but there's still something unsettling about the constant cheer his alter ego Dashan manages to project on state television. It's almost as if Mark's creation lives in a different China than us, one where bureaucratic corruption and intransigence don't exist and the food companies aren't constantly trying to poison one with new and inventive nutritional supplements.

In any event, while we suspect Mark has his ups-and-downs like the rest of us, we actually wonder what if anything he can do about it. Because how exactly can you have a bad China day when you're supposed to be the most upbeat foreigner in China. And given his reputation for impeccable mandarin, will his friends and family even notice?

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We have enormous respect for Mark Rowswell, but there's still something unsettling about the constant cheer his alter ego Dashan manages to project on state television. It's almost as if Mark's creation lives in a different China than us, one where bureaucratic corruption and intransigence don't exist and the food companies aren't constantly trying to poison one with new and inventive nutritional supplements.

In any event, while we suspect Mark has his ups-and-downs like the rest of us, we actually wonder what if anything he can do about it. Because how exactly can you have a bad China day when you're supposed to be the most upbeat foreigner in China. And given his reputation for impeccable mandarin, will his friends and family even notice?

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<![CDATA[Elementary - The Lecture Circuit]]> Tue, 07 Jun 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Much later in life, Qin would still wake from terrible nightmares of his college days. Yet unlike his many classmates who struggled with the math, his decision to major in physics was not the trigger for these episodes so much as his choice of studying in Urumchi, where the finest minds in the province would lecture on the most pressing scientific questions in whatever language and accent seemed most convenient at the time.

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Much later in life, Qin would still wake from terrible nightmares of his college days. Yet unlike his many classmates who struggled with the math, his decision to major in physics was not the trigger for these episodes so much as his choice of studying in Urumchi, where the finest minds in the province would lecture on the most pressing scientific questions in whatever language and accent seemed most convenient at the time.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Sometimes you just can't take it anymore....]]> Mon, 30 May 2011 09:00:00 +0800

At the Silk Market in Beijing, Robert had been the center of attention, with polo shirts and Timberland jackets thrust at him blindly from all sides. And now, after a brief respite at his hotel, the frenzy had begun again. Barely had the poor man cleared his plate, when a fresh serving of mutton, beef or fish would be spooned onto it by one or sometimes several of his Chinese colleagues simultaneously.

Want to learn Chinese? We love China most of the time, but admit to find it grating when Chinese people assume that foreigners are incapable of putting food on their own plates. And while we usually grin and bear it, sometimes enough is enough. Which is what this lesson is about. Join us for an introductory walk through the Chinese language in which we learn a few ways to assert yourself in mandarin with varying degrees of forcefulness.

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At the Silk Market in Beijing, Robert had been the center of attention, with polo shirts and Timberland jackets thrust at him blindly from all sides. And now, after a brief respite at his hotel, the frenzy had begun again. Barely had the poor man cleared his plate, when a fresh serving of mutton, beef or fish would be spooned onto it by one or sometimes several of his Chinese colleagues simultaneously.

Want to learn Chinese? We love China most of the time, but admit to find it grating when Chinese people assume that foreigners are incapable of putting food on their own plates. And while we usually grin and bear it, sometimes enough is enough. Which is what this lesson is about. Join us for an introductory walk through the Chinese language in which we learn a few ways to assert yourself in mandarin with varying degrees of forcefulness.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - The Commuting Life]]> Sun, 29 May 2011 09:00:00 +0800

"And then there was the time a fight almost broke out in our studio over the Tokyo metro...."

Our advanced Chinese podcast for today another merciless onslaught of full-speed, native-level Chinese. Hosted by Nicole who you might know from our site for learning Cantonese, it showcases a mix of both northern and southern accents, and covers a topic is dear to the hearts of everyone struggling to get by in Beijing: commuting and the toll it takes on your work-life balance. Listen in and then let us know how you're coping too.

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"And then there was the time a fight almost broke out in our studio over the Tokyo metro...."

Our advanced Chinese podcast for today another merciless onslaught of full-speed, native-level Chinese. Hosted by Nicole who you might know from our site for learning Cantonese, it showcases a mix of both northern and southern accents, and covers a topic is dear to the hearts of everyone struggling to get by in Beijing: commuting and the toll it takes on your work-life balance. Listen in and then let us know how you're coping too.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Cosplay Jiang Zemin]]> Wed, 25 May 2011 09:00:00 +0800

The first time the Communist Youth League suggested a cosplay outing to Beihai park, Xiao Wang was taken aback by the idea. She had always thought joining the Communist Party would be a romantic, intellectual journey filled with serious discussions about the fate of the nation and her responsibilities as a prospective Party member. And yet if costume play was what they wanted... let no-one say she wasn't willing to play the part.

Learning Chinese and dismayed by the general lack of lessons about cosplay and senior Party leadership? Let our Intermediate Chinese podcast for today fill this critical gap as we cover both topics in a single podcast. And we welcome lesson suggestions for other topics you feel are equally underrepresented: send us your suggestions at service@popupchinese.com or leave a note in our comment section below.

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The first time the Communist Youth League suggested a cosplay outing to Beihai park, Xiao Wang was taken aback by the idea. She had always thought joining the Communist Party would be a romantic, intellectual journey filled with serious discussions about the fate of the nation and her responsibilities as a prospective Party member. And yet if costume play was what they wanted... let no-one say she wasn't willing to play the part.

Learning Chinese and dismayed by the general lack of lessons about cosplay and senior Party leadership? Let our Intermediate Chinese podcast for today fill this critical gap as we cover both topics in a single podcast. And we welcome lesson suggestions for other topics you feel are equally underrepresented: send us your suggestions at service@popupchinese.com or leave a note in our comment section below.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - Squeak the Cat]]> Tue, 24 May 2011 12:59:38 +0800

We took Squeak in after a friend found him huddling in the bushes of her apartment complex. As he's grown up, our once-tiny kitten has developed a fondness for gnawing on things as a general solution to any problem, along with a voracious appetite for lychee and fondness for fetching paper balls. Given that our last non-Chinese cat spent most of its time sleeping, our conclusion is that Chinese cats are pretty cool.

Learning Chinese? At the elementary level our dialogues start moving away from simple words to more complex sentences. And while our dialogue for today is still not that complex, it moves as quickly as the language you'll hear on the streets of Beijing. So if you're pushing ahead with your mandarin or are an animal lover looking to pick up some pet-related vocabulary, join us for a lesson that will set you on the right track.

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We took Squeak in after a friend found him huddling in the bushes of her apartment complex. As he's grown up, our once-tiny kitten has developed a fondness for gnawing on things as a general solution to any problem, along with a voracious appetite for lychee and fondness for fetching paper balls. Given that our last non-Chinese cat spent most of its time sleeping, our conclusion is that Chinese cats are pretty cool.

Learning Chinese? At the elementary level our dialogues start moving away from simple words to more complex sentences. And while our dialogue for today is still not that complex, it moves as quickly as the language you'll hear on the streets of Beijing. So if you're pushing ahead with your mandarin or are an animal lover looking to pick up some pet-related vocabulary, join us for a lesson that will set you on the right track.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - A Lifetime of Remorse]]> Wed, 18 May 2011 09:00:00 +0800

He had heard that the Owl of Minerva flies only at twilight, and yet the old man had dismissed such philosophy when young. As a boy, enlightenment had raced before his grasping fingers. It was only now as he lay on his deathbed that the old man knew the cruel truth in the form of a pained regret for a lifetime of deeds left undone....

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He had heard that the Owl of Minerva flies only at twilight, and yet the old man had dismissed such philosophy when young. As a boy, enlightenment had raced before his grasping fingers. It was only now as he lay on his deathbed that the old man knew the cruel truth in the form of a pained regret for a lifetime of deeds left undone....

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - The Grandmother Enigma ]]> Tue, 17 May 2011 09:00:00 +0800

"It says that Chinese people really care about family," Larry Page leafed through the consulting report. For the last few months, impassioned youth from all over the country had been flooding the Internet with impassioned pleas filled with references to their grandmothers. From its headquarters tracking online sentiment, Google was sure somewhat strange was happening in the country, but what exactly?

Learning Chinese? This lesson is for Absolute Beginners to the Chinese language. Even if you don't know any mandarin this lesson should be simple enough to get you started. So join us as we cover two essentials: how to ask questions about time, and when and where to invoke the names of close friends and relatives. We thrive on your comments and suggestions, so if you have any, please feel free to leave a comment in the discussion space below or send us an email at service@popupchinese.com.

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"It says that Chinese people really care about family," Larry Page leafed through the consulting report. For the last few months, impassioned youth from all over the country had been flooding the Internet with impassioned pleas filled with references to their grandmothers. From its headquarters tracking online sentiment, Google was sure somewhat strange was happening in the country, but what exactly?

Learning Chinese? This lesson is for Absolute Beginners to the Chinese language. Even if you don't know any mandarin this lesson should be simple enough to get you started. So join us as we cover two essentials: how to ask questions about time, and when and where to invoke the names of close friends and relatives. We thrive on your comments and suggestions, so if you have any, please feel free to leave a comment in the discussion space below or send us an email at service@popupchinese.com.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - The Dumb, Illiterate Judge of Hakensaw County]]> Fri, 13 May 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Those who say justice is blind never met Samuel Trappers, famed throughout the fourteenth circuit for his unorthodox approach to law and personal hygiene. More than one counsel had met her match arguing the finer points of law before his court, and many were those to arrive with meticulously prepared briefs only to have their entire cases thrown out in a fit of pique over slight failings in ceremonial attire.

Looking for a good way to learn Chinese? At our elementary level, our lessons start to creep up in length, but they still feature high-frequency vocabulary and avoid complex grammar structures. So they're exactly the sort of lessons you need if you're still trying to internalize the basics of the language. So if you're an elementary student listen in and let us know what you think. You can reach us by email anytime at service@popupchinese.com.

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Those who say justice is blind never met Samuel Trappers, famed throughout the fourteenth circuit for his unorthodox approach to law and personal hygiene. More than one counsel had met her match arguing the finer points of law before his court, and many were those to arrive with meticulously prepared briefs only to have their entire cases thrown out in a fit of pique over slight failings in ceremonial attire.

Looking for a good way to learn Chinese? At our elementary level, our lessons start to creep up in length, but they still feature high-frequency vocabulary and avoid complex grammar structures. So they're exactly the sort of lessons you need if you're still trying to internalize the basics of the language. So if you're an elementary student listen in and let us know what you think. You can reach us by email anytime at service@popupchinese.com.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - An Inclination to Casual Looting]]> Tue, 10 May 2011 09:00:00 +0800

John was the school's most popular thief. Sifting through a bag left unattended for a moment, he'd strike up conversation with the owner as they returned, hardly pausing from his single-minded plunder of their personal electronics. Yet while the boy had been repeatedly disciplined by the relevant authorities, his crimes never seemed to come to a head: there remained something almost charming about his childish enthusiasm for theft that disarmed even his most outspoken victims.

Learning Chinese? Today we're proud to present a Chinese lesson for Absolute Beginners to the Chinese language. If this sounds like you, join us for a fun session that shares the secret everyone who has gone through the learning process knows about how not to sound like a robot when speaking Chinese. This is the sort of thing your textbooks won't teach you. And it's only from Popup Chinese. So listen up and let us know what you think!

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John was the school's most popular thief. Sifting through a bag left unattended for a moment, he'd strike up conversation with the owner as they returned, hardly pausing from his single-minded plunder of their personal electronics. Yet while the boy had been repeatedly disciplined by the relevant authorities, his crimes never seemed to come to a head: there remained something almost charming about his childish enthusiasm for theft that disarmed even his most outspoken victims.

Learning Chinese? Today we're proud to present a Chinese lesson for Absolute Beginners to the Chinese language. If this sounds like you, join us for a fun session that shares the secret everyone who has gone through the learning process knows about how not to sound like a robot when speaking Chinese. This is the sort of thing your textbooks won't teach you. And it's only from Popup Chinese. So listen up and let us know what you think!

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Secret Nazi Threat, part II]]> Thu, 05 May 2011 09:00:00 +0800

George S. Patton charged into Hitler's bunker with revolver drawn. Frustrated by the creeping pace of Allied progress, the American general had torn ahead with trusty aide in his private jeep, single-handedly clearing out entire squads of enemy soldiers in his drive to beat the Red Army to Berlin. Little could he know the surprise lying in wait for him at the heart of the Third Reich....

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George S. Patton charged into Hitler's bunker with revolver drawn. Frustrated by the creeping pace of Allied progress, the American general had torn ahead with trusty aide in his private jeep, single-handedly clearing out entire squads of enemy soldiers in his drive to beat the Red Army to Berlin. Little could he know the surprise lying in wait for him at the heart of the Third Reich....

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Secret Nazi Threat ]]> Tue, 03 May 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Nevermind that filming had been ongoing for weeks, and the script was explicitly based on records of Allied meetings during the Battle of the Bulge. The envoy from the Ministry of Culture had been adamant: changes were needed to both script and cast if shooting was to continue on schedule. Which was how the international WWII production found itself in disarray as its director headed off for an emergency meeting with his executive producer.

If you're learning Chinese and are at the intermediate level, we think you'll like this lesson. It's based on a fairly lengthy dialogue, but is a fun one filled with colloquial mandarin spoken they way you'll hear on television and on the streets in China. We also move beyond teaching vocabulary to talk about a useful way to sound ironic, sarcastic and disappointed when something doesn't go your way. We hope you enjoy it!

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Nevermind that filming had been ongoing for weeks, and the script was explicitly based on records of Allied meetings during the Battle of the Bulge. The envoy from the Ministry of Culture had been adamant: changes were needed to both script and cast if shooting was to continue on schedule. Which was how the international WWII production found itself in disarray as its director headed off for an emergency meeting with his executive producer.

If you're learning Chinese and are at the intermediate level, we think you'll like this lesson. It's based on a fairly lengthy dialogue, but is a fun one filled with colloquial mandarin spoken they way you'll hear on television and on the streets in China. We also move beyond teaching vocabulary to talk about a useful way to sound ironic, sarcastic and disappointed when something doesn't go your way. We hope you enjoy it!

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<![CDATA[Elementary - Popup Chinese Crossover Madness]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2011 09:00:00 +0800

There are some things about Chinese that you won't learn in a classroom, and some dialogues that conventional textbooks simply won't feature. For an example of the latter consider our crossover dialogue for today, inspired by a mixture of 1980s films, serial nightmares involving thirsty politburo members and a certain orange-flavored carbonated beverage that just happens to taste delicious when mixed with a bit of rum and drunk on the beach.

If you've listened to Popup Chinese for a while, you'll know what to expect. Or maybe you won't. But regardless of whether you're inured to the way we teach Chinese yet, listen up for our Chinese podcast that covers three elementary topics: an prepositional exception that proves the rule, an adverb you can use to tell friends that - as it happens - you don't really have the time to help them move, and a very colloquial way to order dinner. Because this is a long podcast and by the time it's done you'll probably be starving too.

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There are some things about Chinese that you won't learn in a classroom, and some dialogues that conventional textbooks simply won't feature. For an example of the latter consider our crossover dialogue for today, inspired by a mixture of 1980s films, serial nightmares involving thirsty politburo members and a certain orange-flavored carbonated beverage that just happens to taste delicious when mixed with a bit of rum and drunk on the beach.

If you've listened to Popup Chinese for a while, you'll know what to expect. Or maybe you won't. But regardless of whether you're inured to the way we teach Chinese yet, listen up for our Chinese podcast that covers three elementary topics: an prepositional exception that proves the rule, an adverb you can use to tell friends that - as it happens - you don't really have the time to help them move, and a very colloquial way to order dinner. Because this is a long podcast and by the time it's done you'll probably be starving too.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Military Escalation]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2011 09:00:00 +0800

The war had been raging for an eternity. At first the enemy would seize a strategic advantage and seem on the cusp of victory, only to be pushed back at the last moment. And then the pattern would play out in reverse. This ebb and flow had happened so many times that as the months and years wore on, both sides settled into an almost permanent stalemate of frustrated militarism: desperate and craving for escalation as a kind of perverse emotional release.

Our Intermediate Chinese lesson for today is filled with military lingo and terminology (bombs and parachutes and planes, oh my!). And since we recognize that you may not have personal cause to start World War III, we also spend a bit of time exploring the differences between 按照 and 照着, two words that are so remarkably similar in meaning that even native speakers have been known to get their usage wrong. So fire up the warplanes, get listening and we hope you enjoy the show.

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The war had been raging for an eternity. At first the enemy would seize a strategic advantage and seem on the cusp of victory, only to be pushed back at the last moment. And then the pattern would play out in reverse. This ebb and flow had happened so many times that as the months and years wore on, both sides settled into an almost permanent stalemate of frustrated militarism: desperate and craving for escalation as a kind of perverse emotional release.

Our Intermediate Chinese lesson for today is filled with military lingo and terminology (bombs and parachutes and planes, oh my!). And since we recognize that you may not have personal cause to start World War III, we also spend a bit of time exploring the differences between 按照 and 照着, two words that are so remarkably similar in meaning that even native speakers have been known to get their usage wrong. So fire up the warplanes, get listening and we hope you enjoy the show.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Beautiful and Mysterious]]> Wed, 20 Apr 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Brad's heart was a wreck. The previous evening he had met a girl he could only describe as perfect. And she had seemed interested between their drinks and dancing. Yet when the party drew to a close, she simply smiled when he asked for a telephone number or email address and told him to look her up. But as best he could tell from a cursory search of the Internet, she was entirely off the grid as well. What was a man to do? Hunt through the city of Beijing door-by-door in search of a single girl?

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Brad's heart was a wreck. The previous evening he had met a girl he could only describe as perfect. And she had seemed interested between their drinks and dancing. Yet when the party drew to a close, she simply smiled when he asked for a telephone number or email address and told him to look her up. But as best he could tell from a cursory search of the Internet, she was entirely off the grid as well. What was a man to do? Hunt through the city of Beijing door-by-door in search of a single girl?

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - A Serial Problem]]> Mon, 18 Apr 2011 09:00:00 +0800

The first murder had seemed accidental, and would have been officially registered a suicide if not for the near imperceptible signs of break-and-enter the forensics team had found at the scene of the crime. And even then the investigation would likely have ended up as boxes of dusty papers orphaned in the police warehouse if not for the astonishing series of events which followed, events which had the local authorities floundering in denial even as the situation escalated dramatically.

Learning Chinese? At the Intermediate level, our Chinese podcasts feature fast, real-life Chinese dialogues spoken at native pace and filled with emotionally rich and complex sentences. If you're just getting started these are probably above your level, but if you're working towards fluency and are looking to get past your textbook, they're the type of materials we think you need. So take a listen and let us know what you think.

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The first murder had seemed accidental, and would have been officially registered a suicide if not for the near imperceptible signs of break-and-enter the forensics team had found at the scene of the crime. And even then the investigation would likely have ended up as boxes of dusty papers orphaned in the police warehouse if not for the astonishing series of events which followed, events which had the local authorities floundering in denial even as the situation escalated dramatically.

Learning Chinese? At the Intermediate level, our Chinese podcasts feature fast, real-life Chinese dialogues spoken at native pace and filled with emotionally rich and complex sentences. If you're just getting started these are probably above your level, but if you're working towards fluency and are looking to get past your textbook, they're the type of materials we think you need. So take a listen and let us know what you think.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Our Nearsighted Colleague]]> Tue, 12 Apr 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Need to express surprise or issue forceful denials? These are two things we find ourselves doing with alarming regularity when escorting a certain nearsighted colleague of ours around Beijing. But while this lesson is inspired by real life, it's fairly easy and is crammed full of useful expressions for anyone starting to learn Chinese. So if you're just starting to use Popup Chinese, listen in and let us know what you think.

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Need to express surprise or issue forceful denials? These are two things we find ourselves doing with alarming regularity when escorting a certain nearsighted colleague of ours around Beijing. But while this lesson is inspired by real life, it's fairly easy and is crammed full of useful expressions for anyone starting to learn Chinese. So if you're just starting to use Popup Chinese, listen in and let us know what you think.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - A Betrayal of Family]]> Wed, 06 Apr 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Like Al Pacino in Coppola's rickety Godfather series, our mob boss is getting cranky as he ages, longing to pass the yoke of his responsibilities to the next generation, but torn by its lack of competence and inclination to familial disloyalty. In this Chinese podcast we delve into his struggle to keep his criminal syndicate intact, and come to terms with the fact we're only a single degree of separation from the real Chinese mob. So listen up, and feel free to let us know if you need any kneecaps broken in the comments section.

This is the third podcast we've done in our Big Boss series, but the first which merits classification at the Elementary level. So if you missed our first two because they weren't at your level, listen to this and then check out the originals once you're done. Because we hear the mob is hiring, and if you want to get into the Beijing or Shanghai underworlds, it's good to sound like you belong right from the start.

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Like Al Pacino in Coppola's rickety Godfather series, our mob boss is getting cranky as he ages, longing to pass the yoke of his responsibilities to the next generation, but torn by its lack of competence and inclination to familial disloyalty. In this Chinese podcast we delve into his struggle to keep his criminal syndicate intact, and come to terms with the fact we're only a single degree of separation from the real Chinese mob. So listen up, and feel free to let us know if you need any kneecaps broken in the comments section.

This is the third podcast we've done in our Big Boss series, but the first which merits classification at the Elementary level. So if you missed our first two because they weren't at your level, listen to this and then check out the originals once you're done. Because we hear the mob is hiring, and if you want to get into the Beijing or Shanghai underworlds, it's good to sound like you belong right from the start.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - A Simple Transaction]]> Mon, 04 Apr 2011 09:00:00 +0800

The Chinese teaching establishment had cornered us in a bar at Houhai, and was telling us it couldn't be done over shots of tequila. "Who can teach coverbs to absolute beginners," they scoffed. "You want to start with a lesson on drinking tea." The head of the Confucius Institute was nearly falling off his chair, but still chipped in something about the Great Wall. It was less a suggestion than something more forceful. "Play up the culture and make China look good, you know?"

And so we nodded and finished our drinks before heading home. "And down the hatches," Brendan said heading into the studio. "If we're going out in a blaze of glory, at least it'll be a blaze of linguistic glory that illustrates the topic-oriented nature of the Chinese language when it comes to giving instructions." The rest of us nodded. The world could drink tea on its own time. In our corner of the Internet, there was an urgent need for more podcasts about coverbs and topic-oriented sentences. The Great Wall could wait.

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The Chinese teaching establishment had cornered us in a bar at Houhai, and was telling us it couldn't be done over shots of tequila. "Who can teach coverbs to absolute beginners," they scoffed. "You want to start with a lesson on drinking tea." The head of the Confucius Institute was nearly falling off his chair, but still chipped in something about the Great Wall. It was less a suggestion than something more forceful. "Play up the culture and make China look good, you know?"

And so we nodded and finished our drinks before heading home. "And down the hatches," Brendan said heading into the studio. "If we're going out in a blaze of glory, at least it'll be a blaze of linguistic glory that illustrates the topic-oriented nature of the Chinese language when it comes to giving instructions." The rest of us nodded. The world could drink tea on its own time. In our corner of the Internet, there was an urgent need for more podcasts about coverbs and topic-oriented sentences. The Great Wall could wait.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Improving Staff Hygiene]]> Mon, 28 Mar 2011 09:00:00 +0800

It was a surprise visit from Xinhua last month that triggered us re-evaluating our roll-out-of-bed policy in favor of something a bit more corporate. Because while we don't particularly mind getting a reputation as the most disheveled podcasting crew in China, it's quite another thing when video rears its head and everyone has to see us on national television. Which was why we told our staff to make liberal use of the shower. And we really didn't expect the move to backfire so badly.

Learning Chinese? In this elementary Chinese podcast we focus on a single word that more than any other illustrates the total contempt the Chinese language holds for what other natural languages consider the sensible distinction between past, present and future. Useful whether you're just saying hello or telling someone you're a bit busy, this word is different from anything we have in English. So listen in and master it. And we hope you like the show.

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It was a surprise visit from Xinhua last month that triggered us re-evaluating our roll-out-of-bed policy in favor of something a bit more corporate. Because while we don't particularly mind getting a reputation as the most disheveled podcasting crew in China, it's quite another thing when video rears its head and everyone has to see us on national television. Which was why we told our staff to make liberal use of the shower. And we really didn't expect the move to backfire so badly.

Learning Chinese? In this elementary Chinese podcast we focus on a single word that more than any other illustrates the total contempt the Chinese language holds for what other natural languages consider the sensible distinction between past, present and future. Useful whether you're just saying hello or telling someone you're a bit busy, this word is different from anything we have in English. So listen in and master it. And we hope you like the show.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Sleeping Beauty]]> Tue, 22 Mar 2011 09:00:00 +0800

"The princess goes to sleep and wakes up again," Gail told us, making the fairy tale sound about as pedestrian as Echo's nightly routine. When pressed about this, our faithful podcaster paused, and then added mention of glass slippers and singing furniture, with the caveat that these were not "central to the plot" and may have been "made up by Disney".

Regardless of how well you remember the classics yourself, once you're in China you're in uncharted waters. Which is why we've taken a few liberties ourselves this lesson. So join us for an enjoyable look at what happens when you mix a traditional Western fairy tale with the process-oriented crime-solving prowess of your local Beijing police bureau. We hope our love for the boys in blue shines through in this dialogue filled with danger, intrigue, and the requisite quota of social harmony.

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"The princess goes to sleep and wakes up again," Gail told us, making the fairy tale sound about as pedestrian as Echo's nightly routine. When pressed about this, our faithful podcaster paused, and then added mention of glass slippers and singing furniture, with the caveat that these were not "central to the plot" and may have been "made up by Disney".

Regardless of how well you remember the classics yourself, once you're in China you're in uncharted waters. Which is why we've taken a few liberties ourselves this lesson. So join us for an enjoyable look at what happens when you mix a traditional Western fairy tale with the process-oriented crime-solving prowess of your local Beijing police bureau. We hope our love for the boys in blue shines through in this dialogue filled with danger, intrigue, and the requisite quota of social harmony.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Handling the Cops]]> Fri, 18 Mar 2011 09:00:00 +0800

While everyone starts with the what-a-lovely-uniform-you-have-officer, we find that cheerful nodding gets harder to stomach once you've been fined once too often for miscellaneous visa paperwork, or after friends or family have been dragged to local precincts to answer for their non-existing connections with international Zionist conspiracies that may or may not threaten the Chinese salt supply. Which is not to say that we're bitter. But there's a point where the entire security theater starts feeling old.

So while we can't honestly recommend this way of dealing with the cops, if they happen to drop by on an early Saturday morning when you're still in bed nursing a hangover, there's absolutely nothing wrong with putting that pillow over your head and going back to sleep. If they think it's important they'll come back, and probably in about 24 hours with someone louder.

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While everyone starts with the what-a-lovely-uniform-you-have-officer, we find that cheerful nodding gets harder to stomach once you've been fined once too often for miscellaneous visa paperwork, or after friends or family have been dragged to local precincts to answer for their non-existing connections with international Zionist conspiracies that may or may not threaten the Chinese salt supply. Which is not to say that we're bitter. But there's a point where the entire security theater starts feeling old.

So while we can't honestly recommend this way of dealing with the cops, if they happen to drop by on an early Saturday morning when you're still in bed nursing a hangover, there's absolutely nothing wrong with putting that pillow over your head and going back to sleep. If they think it's important they'll come back, and probably in about 24 hours with someone louder.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Strange and Unusual Erhuaization]]> Tue, 15 Mar 2011 09:00:00 +0800

It's one of the most common misconceptions even advanced students have about Chinese: the belief that erhuaization is non-standard and that anyone who says 这儿 (zhèr) instead of 这 (zhè) is somehow speaking the "Beijing dialect". While this opinion rarely survives a run-in with the actual Beijing dialect, it's understandably persistent among people who have not traveled broadly in China. And it's hardly their fault: there are a ton of native speakers who don't know the difference either.

So while we usually put our focus on standard mandarin in our Chinese podcasts, in today's Chinese lesson we take a step back and showcase some examples of more unorthodox erhuaization. These are all commonly used variants you'll start hearing once you're aware of them. And while you might not want to use them yourselves each day, they're good to know - excellent little language bombs you can drop the next time you're at a state banquet and someone asks you how your Chinese is coming along.

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It's one of the most common misconceptions even advanced students have about Chinese: the belief that erhuaization is non-standard and that anyone who says 这儿 (zhèr) instead of 这 (zhè) is somehow speaking the "Beijing dialect". While this opinion rarely survives a run-in with the actual Beijing dialect, it's understandably persistent among people who have not traveled broadly in China. And it's hardly their fault: there are a ton of native speakers who don't know the difference either.

So while we usually put our focus on standard mandarin in our Chinese podcasts, in today's Chinese lesson we take a step back and showcase some examples of more unorthodox erhuaization. These are all commonly used variants you'll start hearing once you're aware of them. And while you might not want to use them yourselves each day, they're good to know - excellent little language bombs you can drop the next time you're at a state banquet and someone asks you how your Chinese is coming along.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - Jay Chou]]> Sun, 13 Mar 2011 09:00:00 +0800

The Taiwanese superstar's performance in The Green Hornet had not been well received. But as the singer stretched out for his afternoon massage, he was finding it hard to care. Because nothing Variety did could take away the fact he was now partying with Cameron Diaz on his new private yacht. Compared to the music industry back home, Hollywood was a breeze. Although it did make him wonder what other ways he might have to cash in on his celebrity....

Note: we don't want to call this the ultimate advanced listening test, but we're pretty sure we heard Echo cackling to herself while putting it together. So you've been warned. If you're learning Chinese you should find this hard. Really hard. But it's a new office favorite and hopefully you won't mind listening to it a few times. The repetition pays off, and you never know when you need inspiration for gift ideas. Good luck!

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The Taiwanese superstar's performance in The Green Hornet had not been well received. But as the singer stretched out for his afternoon massage, he was finding it hard to care. Because nothing Variety did could take away the fact he was now partying with Cameron Diaz on his new private yacht. Compared to the music industry back home, Hollywood was a breeze. Although it did make him wonder what other ways he might have to cash in on his celebrity....

Note: we don't want to call this the ultimate advanced listening test, but we're pretty sure we heard Echo cackling to herself while putting it together. So you've been warned. If you're learning Chinese you should find this hard. Really hard. But it's a new office favorite and hopefully you won't mind listening to it a few times. The repetition pays off, and you never know when you need inspiration for gift ideas. Good luck!

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - The Sauce]]> Wed, 09 Mar 2011 09:00:00 +0800

If you've just stumbled up from our Chinese lessons for absolute beginners and have emerged blinking and stunned into the light of our elementary series... this is probably not the podcast for you. Mostly because it's tough, although possibly also because of the bad memories it might dredge up of your best friend's BBQ party in grade three.

That said, if you feel up for a challenge and are working to push your way towards the Intermediate level, you'll find this Chinese lesson well worth your time. In addition to a very natural and fast-paced dialogue, we've got two grammar points that are actually pretty subtle, all about minor changes you can make to sentence patterns you already know to change the emotion you're communicating. This is the sort of Chinese that will help you move from just speaking Chinese to actually communicating in it. Good luck!

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If you've just stumbled up from our Chinese lessons for absolute beginners and have emerged blinking and stunned into the light of our elementary series... this is probably not the podcast for you. Mostly because it's tough, although possibly also because of the bad memories it might dredge up of your best friend's BBQ party in grade three.

That said, if you feel up for a challenge and are working to push your way towards the Intermediate level, you'll find this Chinese lesson well worth your time. In addition to a very natural and fast-paced dialogue, we've got two grammar points that are actually pretty subtle, all about minor changes you can make to sentence patterns you already know to change the emotion you're communicating. This is the sort of Chinese that will help you move from just speaking Chinese to actually communicating in it. Good luck!

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Ordering Pizza]]> Mon, 07 Mar 2011 09:00:00 +0800

If you ask most foreigners for random trivia about Tianjin, they'll probably mention the foreign concessions, or Herbert Hoover fighting in the streets during the Boxer Rebellion, or the pivotal role the city played in the student protests during the May Fourth Movement. What you won't hear is anyone rave about the pizza....

So let's note that if you've stumbled into Tianjin and are looking for a nice place to have lunch, this lesson is going to be totally useless to you unless you've "gone native" and have a thing for fruit and pak-choi smothered in a loving serving of ketchup and served up on toast. We give the city full points for trying, but you should probably hold off on practicing this vocab until you're in either Beijing or Shanghai, where it will come in really useful.

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If you ask most foreigners for random trivia about Tianjin, they'll probably mention the foreign concessions, or Herbert Hoover fighting in the streets during the Boxer Rebellion, or the pivotal role the city played in the student protests during the May Fourth Movement. What you won't hear is anyone rave about the pizza....

So let's note that if you've stumbled into Tianjin and are looking for a nice place to have lunch, this lesson is going to be totally useless to you unless you've "gone native" and have a thing for fruit and pak-choi smothered in a loving serving of ketchup and served up on toast. We give the city full points for trying, but you should probably hold off on practicing this vocab until you're in either Beijing or Shanghai, where it will come in really useful.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Anyone Seen My Boyfriend?]]> Thu, 03 Mar 2011 09:00:00 +0800

You have to be kidding me, baby! I couldn't have even started to imagine that you two were an item. I mean... the matching clothing is sort of strange now that you mention it, but it isn't exactly out there for two friends to own the same Alanis Morissette hoodie. Just think about it - you only need ten people in the same room before there's a seventy percent chance two of them share the same birthday. I read that on the Internet.

Learning Chinese? Let's just be honest and admit that there are some situations in which expressing disbelief in English can be convoluted and difficult. Fortunately, these are exactly the times you need to switch to Chinese, where adding a single word to the start of any sentence is all that's required to throw reasonable doubt on even the most incontrovertible facts.

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You have to be kidding me, baby! I couldn't have even started to imagine that you two were an item. I mean... the matching clothing is sort of strange now that you mention it, but it isn't exactly out there for two friends to own the same Alanis Morissette hoodie. Just think about it - you only need ten people in the same room before there's a seventy percent chance two of them share the same birthday. I read that on the Internet.

Learning Chinese? Let's just be honest and admit that there are some situations in which expressing disbelief in English can be convoluted and difficult. Fortunately, these are exactly the times you need to switch to Chinese, where adding a single word to the start of any sentence is all that's required to throw reasonable doubt on even the most incontrovertible facts.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - A National Crisis]]> Tue, 01 Mar 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Zhongnanhai's natural beauty was little comfort to Luo Heping, a mid-level cadre whose thoughts for the past month had involved only the disaster playing out before him in slow motion. For despite the ambitious projections in the latest Five Year Plan, all evidence suggested provincial statistics were over-inflated and actual production was stagnant. Which made it likely that soon... very soon... China would hit a breaking point that might threaten the very existence of the state.

Learning Chinese? If you're able to follow most conversations, but still get lost on occasion watching television and listening to the radio then our intermediate podcasts are right for you. At this difficulty level we focus on broadening vocabulary and mastering more advanced grammar structures you won't hear every day. Students looking for easier lessons are encouraged to check out our archives of beginner and elementary Chinese lessons.

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Zhongnanhai's natural beauty was little comfort to Luo Heping, a mid-level cadre whose thoughts for the past month had involved only the disaster playing out before him in slow motion. For despite the ambitious projections in the latest Five Year Plan, all evidence suggested provincial statistics were over-inflated and actual production was stagnant. Which made it likely that soon... very soon... China would hit a breaking point that might threaten the very existence of the state.

Learning Chinese? If you're able to follow most conversations, but still get lost on occasion watching television and listening to the radio then our intermediate podcasts are right for you. At this difficulty level we focus on broadening vocabulary and mastering more advanced grammar structures you won't hear every day. Students looking for easier lessons are encouraged to check out our archives of beginner and elementary Chinese lessons.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Advanced - Weight-Loss in China]]> Thu, 24 Feb 2011 09:00:00 +0800

"Maybe life in college was a bit... excessive," Yue Yue recalls. And so begins our lurid expose of weight loss practices in China. If you're an advanced speaker looking for native-speed listening practice, join Gail and her friends today as they take to our studio to talk about what has and has not worked for them in the past. This is the podcast for anyone working to break into the Chinese media business or just just feeling bloated after a successful New Years!

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"Maybe life in college was a bit... excessive," Yue Yue recalls. And so begins our lurid expose of weight loss practices in China. If you're an advanced speaker looking for native-speed listening practice, join Gail and her friends today as they take to our studio to talk about what has and has not worked for them in the past. This is the podcast for anyone working to break into the Chinese media business or just just feeling bloated after a successful New Years!

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Lead Poisoning]]> Tue, 22 Feb 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Remember that time your assistant plagiarized his report straight off the Internet and then stared at you uncomprehendingly when told this was unprofessional? Then there are the people who interrupt private conversations between you and your friends to ask them if you can understand Chinese (since it sounds like they're speaking to you in Chinese). Or consider the cab drivers we've had who have gotten lost while trying to find Tiananmen Square. Or pretty much the entire population of Shanghai....

After a certain amount of time in China, you'll get inured to people behaving illogically. But if you find yourself wondering whether you're going crazy in the meantime, we're here to report that your sanity is probably still intact. Chances are you're just coming into contact with the consequences of widespread environmental problems. And beyond the language mentioned in this podcast, our best advice for dealing with it is to keep your guard up and don't live on the ground floor....

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Remember that time your assistant plagiarized his report straight off the Internet and then stared at you uncomprehendingly when told this was unprofessional? Then there are the people who interrupt private conversations between you and your friends to ask them if you can understand Chinese (since it sounds like they're speaking to you in Chinese). Or consider the cab drivers we've had who have gotten lost while trying to find Tiananmen Square. Or pretty much the entire population of Shanghai....

After a certain amount of time in China, you'll get inured to people behaving illogically. But if you find yourself wondering whether you're going crazy in the meantime, we're here to report that your sanity is probably still intact. Chances are you're just coming into contact with the consequences of widespread environmental problems. And beyond the language mentioned in this podcast, our best advice for dealing with it is to keep your guard up and don't live on the ground floor....

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Memories of Echo's Childhood]]> Wed, 16 Feb 2011 09:00:00 +0800

The consensus among Echo's peers was that grade one was the worst for everyone involved: the students, the teachers and the janitorial staff. So while a lot of people romanticize the Chinese education system, this lesson is our way of encouraging everyone to loosen up a bit. Because when you have to go....

Learning Chinese? Although we've been producing Chinese lessons for over two years now, it came as a shock when we realized we hadn't actually done a lesson on common classroom words and phrases. The language that you'll hear and use in the classroom starting from your first class. Which is the reason for this podcast. If you're starting to learn Chinese in a traditional classroom, take a listen and pick up some critical vocabulary you can use to make yourself understood to the teacher, not to mention demand periodic access to restroom facilities.

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The consensus among Echo's peers was that grade one was the worst for everyone involved: the students, the teachers and the janitorial staff. So while a lot of people romanticize the Chinese education system, this lesson is our way of encouraging everyone to loosen up a bit. Because when you have to go....

Learning Chinese? Although we've been producing Chinese lessons for over two years now, it came as a shock when we realized we hadn't actually done a lesson on common classroom words and phrases. The language that you'll hear and use in the classroom starting from your first class. Which is the reason for this podcast. If you're starting to learn Chinese in a traditional classroom, take a listen and pick up some critical vocabulary you can use to make yourself understood to the teacher, not to mention demand periodic access to restroom facilities.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - Back to Work]]> Sat, 12 Feb 2011 09:00:00 +0800

We hate to break the news, but your Chinese teachers have been lying to you. And not just one of them, but the entire teaching establishment from Professor Wang down. You see, remember in freshman year when your teacher told you to negate verbs in Chinese by sticking 不 in front of them in the present tense and 没 in front of them in the past tense. They may have been following orders, but they left something out. Something sinister and unpredictable and crazy....

Today is the day this conspiracy ends, as we break the silence with a lesson on one of the most bizarre verbs to grace the Chinese language. Because - yes - there is actually a verb out there you can negate with 没 in the present tense and 不 in the past tense (or vice versa). And once you know? We encourage you to be insufferably pedantic and bring this up every chance you get.

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We hate to break the news, but your Chinese teachers have been lying to you. And not just one of them, but the entire teaching establishment from Professor Wang down. You see, remember in freshman year when your teacher told you to negate verbs in Chinese by sticking 不 in front of them in the present tense and 没 in front of them in the past tense. They may have been following orders, but they left something out. Something sinister and unpredictable and crazy....

Today is the day this conspiracy ends, as we break the silence with a lesson on one of the most bizarre verbs to grace the Chinese language. Because - yes - there is actually a verb out there you can negate with 没 in the present tense and 不 in the past tense (or vice versa). And once you know? We encourage you to be insufferably pedantic and bring this up every chance you get.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Buried in the Garden]]> Wed, 09 Feb 2011 14:55:56 +0800

Before we get to our Chinese lesson for today, let us admit that it differs from its predecessors in one important way. Put simply, in response to the rising cost of bread and air in Beijing, our engineering team has been forced to make minor changes to our recording format which lower expenses while increasing staff efficiency. These changes are subtle and should not be noticeable to most listeners.

With that out of the way, what can be said about this lesson that the word "masterpiece" fails to cover? In addition to a native-level dialogue filled with suspense, this podcast contains exactly the sort of advanced language point that will have native Chinese speakers scrambling over themselves in praise of your eloquence. So listen up for a podcast drenched with sex, murder and one of the only Chinese adverbs you can use to start a sentence....

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Before we get to our Chinese lesson for today, let us admit that it differs from its predecessors in one important way. Put simply, in response to the rising cost of bread and air in Beijing, our engineering team has been forced to make minor changes to our recording format which lower expenses while increasing staff efficiency. These changes are subtle and should not be noticeable to most listeners.

With that out of the way, what can be said about this lesson that the word "masterpiece" fails to cover? In addition to a native-level dialogue filled with suspense, this podcast contains exactly the sort of advanced language point that will have native Chinese speakers scrambling over themselves in praise of your eloquence. So listen up for a podcast drenched with sex, murder and one of the only Chinese adverbs you can use to start a sentence....

]]>
yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - The Northeastern Girl]]> Wed, 02 Feb 2011 09:00:00 +0800

We know a lot of you love Northeastern China. Harbin is a great city, and we've heard excellent things about Shenyang too. So let's balance our dialogue right up front by admitting all the benefits the area has to offer: some of the best food and most open-hearted people in China. That said, they do speak funny sometimes....

Our dialogue today is short and totally unscripted. It's not a story or scene so much as an outtake. But it's also a good launching point for talking a bit about the stereotypical northeastern accent. This is a podcast about how emphasizing particular words can change the way you're perceived, and also about a common verb complement you can use to add a sense of urgency and surprise to your sentences.

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We know a lot of you love Northeastern China. Harbin is a great city, and we've heard excellent things about Shenyang too. So let's balance our dialogue right up front by admitting all the benefits the area has to offer: some of the best food and most open-hearted people in China. That said, they do speak funny sometimes....

Our dialogue today is short and totally unscripted. It's not a story or scene so much as an outtake. But it's also a good launching point for talking a bit about the stereotypical northeastern accent. This is a podcast about how emphasizing particular words can change the way you're perceived, and also about a common verb complement you can use to add a sense of urgency and surprise to your sentences.

]]>
yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Are You Sick?]]> Thu, 27 Jan 2011 09:00:00 +0800

We hate to be the bearers of bad news and all, but if you're coming to China for the long-term you are pretty much guaranteed to get seriously ill. And we mean ill in the call-the-doctor-to-defibrillate-my-lungs sense of the word. At least until your immune system starts taking this country seriously, life in China will be a lot like that time you tended bar at that sangria party in college, only without the wine and fruit juice.

Learning Chinese? If you're an absolute beginner to mandarin, join Echo and David for a Chinese lesson that covers some critical basics of the language. Start listening now and before ten minutes are up you'll know how to ask and answer questions in Chinese, and be an expert at shunning friends and relatives who show the slightest signs of potentially contagious infection.

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We hate to be the bearers of bad news and all, but if you're coming to China for the long-term you are pretty much guaranteed to get seriously ill. And we mean ill in the call-the-doctor-to-defibrillate-my-lungs sense of the word. At least until your immune system starts taking this country seriously, life in China will be a lot like that time you tended bar at that sangria party in college, only without the wine and fruit juice.

Learning Chinese? If you're an absolute beginner to mandarin, join Echo and David for a Chinese lesson that covers some critical basics of the language. Start listening now and before ten minutes are up you'll know how to ask and answer questions in Chinese, and be an expert at shunning friends and relatives who show the slightest signs of potentially contagious infection.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Inferno]]> Wed, 26 Jan 2011 09:00:00 +0800

In no time the interlopers had progressed to the center of the industrial plant. They moved in silence with the precision of a military crew, but as the swirling oil eddied around them, it became clear that the original plan had gone awry. Had they turned a wrong corner, or was their entire adventure an unexpected trap? Whatever the explanation, there was little time to lose....

Our intermediate Chinese lesson for today is a short listening test with ten devilishly difficult questions. If you fancy you've excellent Chinese take a listen and see how you do on our accompanying quiz. It is harder than you think!

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In no time the interlopers had progressed to the center of the industrial plant. They moved in silence with the precision of a military crew, but as the swirling oil eddied around them, it became clear that the original plan had gone awry. Had they turned a wrong corner, or was their entire adventure an unexpected trap? Whatever the explanation, there was little time to lose....

Our intermediate Chinese lesson for today is a short listening test with ten devilishly difficult questions. If you fancy you've excellent Chinese take a listen and see how you do on our accompanying quiz. It is harder than you think!

]]>
yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Elementary - The Fourteenth Floor]]> Mon, 24 Jan 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Today's dialogue is somewhat inspired by real life. The short version is that our cat Squeak has taken a fancy to crawling out our apartment window onto a narrow ledge from which unaided return is basically impossible. We're not sure if this a form of escapism, a product of deep-seated unhappiness with life, or if the animal is just plain dumb. Any tips on how to stop him from trying to kill himself are of course welcome.

Learning Chinese? Our dialogue today moves quickly, and our two grammar points aren't trivial either, making this one of the more challenging lessons we've put up at the elementary level. If you're working towards intermediate status give it a listen and see how much you understand. And if you have any questions or comments please leave them below or send your feedback directly to podcasters gail@popupchinese.com or brendan@popupchinese.com. We'd love to hear from you.

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Today's dialogue is somewhat inspired by real life. The short version is that our cat Squeak has taken a fancy to crawling out our apartment window onto a narrow ledge from which unaided return is basically impossible. We're not sure if this a form of escapism, a product of deep-seated unhappiness with life, or if the animal is just plain dumb. Any tips on how to stop him from trying to kill himself are of course welcome.

Learning Chinese? Our dialogue today moves quickly, and our two grammar points aren't trivial either, making this one of the more challenging lessons we've put up at the elementary level. If you're working towards intermediate status give it a listen and see how much you understand. And if you have any questions or comments please leave them below or send your feedback directly to podcasters gail@popupchinese.com or brendan@popupchinese.com. We'd love to hear from you.

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yes 08:00
<![CDATA[Intermediate - Dinner with the Party]]> Thu, 20 Jan 2011 09:00:00 +0800

"There's something about your familiarity with Marxism that's uncontrollably sexy," she groaned. "The principle that the revolution is led by the vanguard is more Leninist than Marxist," we replied. It may well have been Trotsky, but who was going to drag up such internecine issues when things were going so well? "And the Three Represents," she countered, "do you think it reconciles revolutionary socialism with market-led economic development...."

We haven't done a lesson on obscure Chinese political phrases yet, mostly because they can be a bit hard to drop into conversation. But while you can live without this stuff most of the time, every now and then you'll have dinner with someone important and being familiar with Chinese political rhetoric becomes surprisingly useful. So join Brendan and Gail for a quick Chinese podcast that covers some of the more common terms getting bandied about these days, including the revolutionary contributions of current Fearless Leader Hu.

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"There's something about your familiarity with Marxism that's uncontrollably sexy," she groaned. "The principle that the revolution is led by the vanguard is more Leninist than Marxist," we replied. It may well have been Trotsky, but who was going to drag up such internecine issues when things were going so well? "And the Three Represents," she countered, "do you think it reconciles revolutionary socialism with market-led economic development...."

We haven't done a lesson on obscure Chinese political phrases yet, mostly because they can be a bit hard to drop into conversation. But while you can live without this stuff most of the time, every now and then you'll have dinner with someone important and being familiar with Chinese political rhetoric becomes surprisingly useful. So join Brendan and Gail for a quick Chinese podcast that covers some of the more common terms getting bandied about these days, including the revolutionary contributions of current Fearless Leader Hu.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - On Avoiding Intestinal Problems]]> Mon, 17 Jan 2011 09:00:00 +0800

It's not that we're always indecisive about dinner, or that we have something against Sichuan food. It's just that the last time Echo and Brendan conspired to take us out for hotpot they managed to produce the hottest hotpot we have ever eaten. Although most of us quite sensibly stopped trying the spicy broth after a few bites, it still took days for our functionality to return to normal, and the office was not a pleasant place that week.

So consider yourself warned. That said, if you really want to punish yourself or your significant other, we recommend dining at 孔亮. This Sichuan restaurant has been transplanted straight from hell to the south side of Guijie right across the road from Little Sheep and one restaurant east of 渔佬. Make sure you order the spicy hotpot, and good luck.

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It's not that we're always indecisive about dinner, or that we have something against Sichuan food. It's just that the last time Echo and Brendan conspired to take us out for hotpot they managed to produce the hottest hotpot we have ever eaten. Although most of us quite sensibly stopped trying the spicy broth after a few bites, it still took days for our functionality to return to normal, and the office was not a pleasant place that week.

So consider yourself warned. That said, if you really want to punish yourself or your significant other, we recommend dining at 孔亮. This Sichuan restaurant has been transplanted straight from hell to the south side of Guijie right across the road from Little Sheep and one restaurant east of 渔佬. Make sure you order the spicy hotpot, and good luck.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Pirate Zombie Bank Teller]]> Thu, 13 Jan 2011 09:00:00 +0800

Let us skip the tale of Pirate Jack's flight from the gallows, noting only that the implausibility of his escape continues to fuel speculation that the world's most feared brigand did indeed die on the hangman's noose that day. And yet how to explain what happened years later: the discovery of the world's most fearsome pirate and scourge of the China seas employed as a common bank teller in the backwaters of the Caribbean....

Learning Chinese? We're willing to admit that our Chinese lessons are sometimes a bit unorthodox. But if you've been plugging away at Chinese for a while, we think you'll find our lack of please-sit-down-and-have-another-cup-of-tea a breath of fresh air. So join us for the greatest pirate story ever told, and write us with suggestions for what comes next at ideas@popupchinese.com.

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Let us skip the tale of Pirate Jack's flight from the gallows, noting only that the implausibility of his escape continues to fuel speculation that the world's most feared brigand did indeed die on the hangman's noose that day. And yet how to explain what happened years later: the discovery of the world's most fearsome pirate and scourge of the China seas employed as a common bank teller in the backwaters of the Caribbean....

Learning Chinese? We're willing to admit that our Chinese lessons are sometimes a bit unorthodox. But if you've been plugging away at Chinese for a while, we think you'll find our lack of please-sit-down-and-have-another-cup-of-tea a breath of fresh air. So join us for the greatest pirate story ever told, and write us with suggestions for what comes next at ideas@popupchinese.com.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - The MacGyver of Chopsticks ]]> Wed, 12 Jan 2011 09:00:00 +0800

As a confidant of ours confessed over beer one evening, "you'd think that now I'm running my own business in Beijing, people would assume I could eat." And yet, strange as it may seem, speaking mandarin is considered one of the easier skills for foreigners to master. The real parlor trick for impressing your Chinese friends and colleagues is simple tool manipulation, or the ability to put food in your mouth with sticks.

Learning Chinese? Our elementary series starts introducing basic grammar while focusing on very high-frequency and colloquial mandarin, the sort of language you'll use everyday. This is a good level for you if you've already learned the basics, but are still struggling to really internalize the language. If you're completely new to Chinese and are looking to start from scratch, we recommend checking out our lesson series for absolute beginners. You'll be back up at this level before you know it.

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As a confidant of ours confessed over beer one evening, "you'd think that now I'm running my own business in Beijing, people would assume I could eat." And yet, strange as it may seem, speaking mandarin is considered one of the easier skills for foreigners to master. The real parlor trick for impressing your Chinese friends and colleagues is simple tool manipulation, or the ability to put food in your mouth with sticks.

Learning Chinese? Our elementary series starts introducing basic grammar while focusing on very high-frequency and colloquial mandarin, the sort of language you'll use everyday. This is a good level for you if you've already learned the basics, but are still struggling to really internalize the language. If you're completely new to Chinese and are looking to start from scratch, we recommend checking out our lesson series for absolute beginners. You'll be back up at this level before you know it.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Memories of Changsha]]> Mon, 10 Jan 2011 09:00:00 +0800

This dialogue reminds us of our brief vacation in Changsha several years ago, when a few us of shared a bus with every single other inhabitant in the city. We're not sure what the occasion was, but it got so crowded the conductor basically gave up on collecting fares, while the rest of us gave up on our hopes of ever getting off the bus. The incident ended when the vehicle broke down in a traffic jam, giving us a much greater appreciation for the Beijing metro.

Learning Chinese? Our Absolute Beginner lessons are designed for people with no previous experience in the language. If you've already got some Chinese under your belt and want to move a bit faster, visit our lesson archives and explore our lessons at the elementary, intermediate and advanced levels.

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This dialogue reminds us of our brief vacation in Changsha several years ago, when a few us of shared a bus with every single other inhabitant in the city. We're not sure what the occasion was, but it got so crowded the conductor basically gave up on collecting fares, while the rest of us gave up on our hopes of ever getting off the bus. The incident ended when the vehicle broke down in a traffic jam, giving us a much greater appreciation for the Beijing metro.

Learning Chinese? Our Absolute Beginner lessons are designed for people with no previous experience in the language. If you've already got some Chinese under your belt and want to move a bit faster, visit our lesson archives and explore our lessons at the elementary, intermediate and advanced levels.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - The Beijing Subway]]> Tue, 04 Jan 2011 09:00:00 +0800

We have a love-hate relationship with the Beijing metro that comes out in this podcast. If you've lived in China we're sure you'll understand. But even if you haven't experienced Chinese public transit for yourself, you have a great reason to listen to this Chinese podcast. Because remember when we told you that the Chinese verb "to be" is a lot different from its English counterpart, and that sometimes it shows up doing really strange things? Well... our Chinese lesson for today covers exactly such a case.

For those of you keeping track, this lesson is definitely at the higher end of the difficulty spectrum for our Elementary lessons. This dialogue moves quickly, but the vocabulary isn't really that difficult. So hang in there and be sure to check our online or downloadable transcripts if you have trouble. And remember that questions and comments are welcome in our discussion section below. We look forward to hearing from you!

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We have a love-hate relationship with the Beijing metro that comes out in this podcast. If you've lived in China we're sure you'll understand. But even if you haven't experienced Chinese public transit for yourself, you have a great reason to listen to this Chinese podcast. Because remember when we told you that the Chinese verb "to be" is a lot different from its English counterpart, and that sometimes it shows up doing really strange things? Well... our Chinese lesson for today covers exactly such a case.

For those of you keeping track, this lesson is definitely at the higher end of the difficulty spectrum for our Elementary lessons. This dialogue moves quickly, but the vocabulary isn't really that difficult. So hang in there and be sure to check our online or downloadable transcripts if you have trouble. And remember that questions and comments are welcome in our discussion section below. We look forward to hearing from you!

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<![CDATA[Advanced - If You Are The One, Two]]> Mon, 03 Jan 2011 09:00:00 +0800

There are some films we see because we're bored. Others because we've been drugged and forced into the theater. And still others because they star Ge You, the lead actor in "To Live" whose turn with Donald Sutherland in "Big Shot's Funeral" put him on our radar as a very funny comedian. The presence of Shu Qi in this one didn't hurt either.

That said, and considering the sheer inanity that was the plot of the first romantic comedy, it was a miracle we sent Wang Ziqian to see this sequel. And even more of a miracle he came back positive about the film, raving that "the product placement wasn't nearly as bad as I thought!" And while we have to wonder how sincere his sentiment really is, we nonetheless sent him and Gail into the studio for an advanced podcast all about the film that - like it or hate it - is now setting box office records in China. We hope you enjoy the show.

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There are some films we see because we're bored. Others because we've been drugged and forced into the theater. And still others because they star Ge You, the lead actor in "To Live" whose turn with Donald Sutherland in "Big Shot's Funeral" put him on our radar as a very funny comedian. The presence of Shu Qi in this one didn't hurt either.

That said, and considering the sheer inanity that was the plot of the first romantic comedy, it was a miracle we sent Wang Ziqian to see this sequel. And even more of a miracle he came back positive about the film, raving that "the product placement wasn't nearly as bad as I thought!" And while we have to wonder how sincere his sentiment really is, we nonetheless sent him and Gail into the studio for an advanced podcast all about the film that - like it or hate it - is now setting box office records in China. We hope you enjoy the show.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Harry Potter #8]]> Wed, 29 Dec 2010 09:00:00 +0800

Our Chinese lesson for today dredges up memories of that time we bought a copy of The Matrix Reloaded from a DVD vendor on the streets of Beijing. "This is absolutely the real thing," he swore up and down, "it came straight from Shenzhen yesterday...." And so we bought it and soon found ourselves watching a handicam-rip of Johnny Mnemonic with a near-incomprehensible Chinese dub. The scene with the talking dolphin was particularly humiliating for all involved.

And while there is unlikely to be another movie as bad as Johnny Mnemonic in the near future, China is in Harry Potter mode again and expectations are high for the final film. Operating under the principle that anything goes in this country, in this podcast we talk a bit about the piracy industry in China, review some Chinese DVD-related vocabulary and share a quick language tip on coded signals you really need to back away from the merchandise.

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Our Chinese lesson for today dredges up memories of that time we bought a copy of The Matrix Reloaded from a DVD vendor on the streets of Beijing. "This is absolutely the real thing," he swore up and down, "it came straight from Shenzhen yesterday...." And so we bought it and soon found ourselves watching a handicam-rip of Johnny Mnemonic with a near-incomprehensible Chinese dub. The scene with the talking dolphin was particularly humiliating for all involved.

And while there is unlikely to be another movie as bad as Johnny Mnemonic in the near future, China is in Harry Potter mode again and expectations are high for the final film. Operating under the principle that anything goes in this country, in this podcast we talk a bit about the piracy industry in China, review some Chinese DVD-related vocabulary and share a quick language tip on coded signals you really need to back away from the merchandise.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - A Guide to Supportive Parenting]]> Mon, 27 Dec 2010 09:00:00 +0800

Children need to be nurtured and loved. So be sure to talk to them and ask questions. Show genuine concern and engagement for best results: how was your day; have you been having troubles at school lately; is there anything we should talk about? While this might seem strange behavior at first, in time you will grow accustomed to this sort of conversation and may even be able to engage with your children while mentally occupied elsewhere.

While we usually avoid talking about grammar at the absolute beginner level, sometimes there is a dialogue that demands it. This podcast is one of them. It may be a bit tough if you're totally new to Chinese, but it covers a key point that you'll use all the time. So take a listen. And if you have any questions, contact us anytime either via email, or by leaving a comment in our discussion section below.

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Children need to be nurtured and loved. So be sure to talk to them and ask questions. Show genuine concern and engagement for best results: how was your day; have you been having troubles at school lately; is there anything we should talk about? While this might seem strange behavior at first, in time you will grow accustomed to this sort of conversation and may even be able to engage with your children while mentally occupied elsewhere.

While we usually avoid talking about grammar at the absolute beginner level, sometimes there is a dialogue that demands it. This podcast is one of them. It may be a bit tough if you're totally new to Chinese, but it covers a key point that you'll use all the time. So take a listen. And if you have any questions, contact us anytime either via email, or by leaving a comment in our discussion section below.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Criminal Mastermind]]> Wed, 22 Dec 2010 09:00:00 +0800

The plan had been executed with military precision. It had taken a mere ten seconds from the first volley of gunfire until the point when the bank customers were under control, huddled on the floor in shock with their hands held over their heads. Another two minutes and the bank vaults were swept clean and the masked men out the door, the entire robbery finished minutes before the police were even aware of it.

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The plan had been executed with military precision. It had taken a mere ten seconds from the first volley of gunfire until the point when the bank customers were under control, huddled on the floor in shock with their hands held over their heads. Another two minutes and the bank vaults were swept clean and the masked men out the door, the entire robbery finished minutes before the police were even aware of it.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - Getting Out of Bed]]> Mon, 20 Dec 2010 09:00:00 +0800

Consider this Chinese lesson an intervention. We know it can be rough giving orders to people in China, and it's an open question of whether anyone is even listening, but then consider it from their perspective and imagine how rough it must be to hear pretty much every single foreigner in China mangle the grammar needed to make a simple request. No wonder they want to sleep in.

So while we know this Chinese lesson won't apply to most of the old-timers here at Popup Chinese, the rest of you need to pull yourselves into shape and get up to the Intermediate level where we are all natural leaders! So join Echo and Brendan in today's podcast as they cover four key ways to tell others they need to do something, and point out the single-biggest mistake that everyone makes when they're just getting started.

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Consider this Chinese lesson an intervention. We know it can be rough giving orders to people in China, and it's an open question of whether anyone is even listening, but then consider it from their perspective and imagine how rough it must be to hear pretty much every single foreigner in China mangle the grammar needed to make a simple request. No wonder they want to sleep in.

So while we know this Chinese lesson won't apply to most of the old-timers here at Popup Chinese, the rest of you need to pull yourselves into shape and get up to the Intermediate level where we are all natural leaders! So join Echo and Brendan in today's podcast as they cover four key ways to tell others they need to do something, and point out the single-biggest mistake that everyone makes when they're just getting started.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Future X-Cops]]> Thu, 16 Dec 2010 09:00:00 +0800

When the definitive history of Hong Kong science fiction is finally compiled, we believe there will be one man whose films will soar above those of his contemporaries like a robotic policeman on a computer-generated hoverbike. We speak of course of the incomparable Andy Lau, whose masterpiece "Future X-Cops" is hands down the best Hong Kong science fiction film we have seen in the last few months, if not the last year.

While we know that some of you old-timers at Popup Chinese might be dubious about this claim, to you skeptics we have two simple requests: first, prepare for this podcast by getting some popcorn and plunking down to watch the movie trailer we've linked to above; second, keep an open mind throughout this podcast as Echo talks about how delightful Andy Lau made her last birthday and in which a few other points of interest are made for the sake of including some educational content.

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When the definitive history of Hong Kong science fiction is finally compiled, we believe there will be one man whose films will soar above those of his contemporaries like a robotic policeman on a computer-generated hoverbike. We speak of course of the incomparable Andy Lau, whose masterpiece "Future X-Cops" is hands down the best Hong Kong science fiction film we have seen in the last few months, if not the last year.

While we know that some of you old-timers at Popup Chinese might be dubious about this claim, to you skeptics we have two simple requests: first, prepare for this podcast by getting some popcorn and plunking down to watch the movie trailer we've linked to above; second, keep an open mind throughout this podcast as Echo talks about how delightful Andy Lau made her last birthday and in which a few other points of interest are made for the sake of including some educational content.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Disease Podcast]]> Tue, 14 Dec 2010 09:00:00 +0800

We were brainstorming for a catchy title. "Why not call it the disease podcast," Echo suggested walking in the room. And as much of a downer as her suggestion was, it made sense, and brought up an interesting question we are now exploring: just how morbid can we make our Chinese lessons? Is there a limit before we sink into absurdity.

That said, we do consider this a useful Chinese lesson. In addition to covering a ton of medical terminology that you'll probably end up using (but hopefully not having), today's podcast also covers three ways to say "from the looks of it", the last of which is virtually guaranteed to win you an international peace prize if you are caught using it within earshot of the Chinese government. So listen up and let us know what you think. We hope you like it.

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We were brainstorming for a catchy title. "Why not call it the disease podcast," Echo suggested walking in the room. And as much of a downer as her suggestion was, it made sense, and brought up an interesting question we are now exploring: just how morbid can we make our Chinese lessons? Is there a limit before we sink into absurdity.

That said, we do consider this a useful Chinese lesson. In addition to covering a ton of medical terminology that you'll probably end up using (but hopefully not having), today's podcast also covers three ways to say "from the looks of it", the last of which is virtually guaranteed to win you an international peace prize if you are caught using it within earshot of the Chinese government. So listen up and let us know what you think. We hope you like it.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - The Mysterious Woman]]> Mon, 13 Dec 2010 09:00:00 +0800

The Cold War that had been simmering between our staff for months finally came to a head as Gail put down the phone. "Our Chinese lessons aren't easy enough," she leveled an icy glare at Brendan, who slipped his copy of "Quotations from Mencius" into his knapsack in furtive response. "We need a Chinese lesson that is so dead simple," she continued, "that even someone who can't even find China on a map can learn some of the basics of the Chinese language."

And that's how all the fun ended here at Popup Chinese, at least for this lesson. This week we've followed the advice of our "student-friendly" teacher Gail, which means our popular fun-with-Tang-Dynasty-etymology and how-did-the-Manchu-say-that podcast segments are gone, replaced with a highly-repetitive beginner lesson that will teach how you to ask who people are, and learn to understand the answers. This is a very simple lesson for anyone just starting to learn mandarin and looking for an easy way to fluency. So enjoy it while you can. The etymology can wait for another few days.

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The Cold War that had been simmering between our staff for months finally came to a head as Gail put down the phone. "Our Chinese lessons aren't easy enough," she leveled an icy glare at Brendan, who slipped his copy of "Quotations from Mencius" into his knapsack in furtive response. "We need a Chinese lesson that is so dead simple," she continued, "that even someone who can't even find China on a map can learn some of the basics of the Chinese language."

And that's how all the fun ended here at Popup Chinese, at least for this lesson. This week we've followed the advice of our "student-friendly" teacher Gail, which means our popular fun-with-Tang-Dynasty-etymology and how-did-the-Manchu-say-that podcast segments are gone, replaced with a highly-repetitive beginner lesson that will teach how you to ask who people are, and learn to understand the answers. This is a very simple lesson for anyone just starting to learn mandarin and looking for an easy way to fluency. So enjoy it while you can. The etymology can wait for another few days.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - Wall Street II]]> Tue, 07 Dec 2010 09:00:00 +0800

Our contacts at Maggie's tell us that when Oliver Stone put the finishing touches on the script that would become Wall Street II, he was somewhat drunk and equally distracted by the local nightlife. We're not sure that Zhang Yimou has the same excuse though, which raises the possibility that China and the West have somehow become locked in a game of cultural brinkmanship just to see who will blink first.

That said, even if you've been avoiding Chinese cinemas, our focus in today's podcast should still be useful. So join us for a fast-moving dialogue that reveals our underlying despair at the state of the world, but reviews a useful measure word for talking about the number of times you have done something from start to finish. This is a simple but elegant way to add more nuance to your spoken Chinese. We hope it comes in useful.

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Our contacts at Maggie's tell us that when Oliver Stone put the finishing touches on the script that would become Wall Street II, he was somewhat drunk and equally distracted by the local nightlife. We're not sure that Zhang Yimou has the same excuse though, which raises the possibility that China and the West have somehow become locked in a game of cultural brinkmanship just to see who will blink first.

That said, even if you've been avoiding Chinese cinemas, our focus in today's podcast should still be useful. So join us for a fast-moving dialogue that reveals our underlying despair at the state of the world, but reviews a useful measure word for talking about the number of times you have done something from start to finish. This is a simple but elegant way to add more nuance to your spoken Chinese. We hope it comes in useful.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Mountaineering]]> Mon, 06 Dec 2010 09:00:00 +0800

Although Captain Thrift's choice of ascents was unorthodox, there was no denying his skill nor the team's spectacular progress. Decisions that might have seemed rash to a more conservative climber paid off time and time again as his small team pulled itself up the sheer cliffs of Mount Rakaposhi in record time. And yet the frenzied pace of their assault was taking an unmistakable physical and mental toll on the team.

For who could keep up such a blistering pace? At twenty thousand feet, heavily reliant on oxygen tanks and with a near-vertical climb to the summit scheduled for the next morning, Julie and Chad were on the brink of physical collapse, wishing for nothing more than a quick meal and then plunge into the forgiving arms of sleep.

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Although Captain Thrift's choice of ascents was unorthodox, there was no denying his skill nor the team's spectacular progress. Decisions that might have seemed rash to a more conservative climber paid off time and time again as his small team pulled itself up the sheer cliffs of Mount Rakaposhi in record time. And yet the frenzied pace of their assault was taking an unmistakable physical and mental toll on the team.

For who could keep up such a blistering pace? At twenty thousand feet, heavily reliant on oxygen tanks and with a near-vertical climb to the summit scheduled for the next morning, Julie and Chad were on the brink of physical collapse, wishing for nothing more than a quick meal and then plunge into the forgiving arms of sleep.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Unleashing the Cougar]]> Wed, 01 Dec 2010 09:00:00 +0800

The cougar (a.k.a. catamount, panther or mountain lion) is a large, solitary beast found throughout the Americas. Exhibiting the greatest range of any mammal in the Western Hemisphere, the cougar is fiercely independent and an unmatched predator, stalking smaller beasts for pleasure as much as for food.

In our Chinese lesson for today, Echo and Brendan take to the studio with a mission: preventing you from sounding like a confused and distracted high-schooler the next time you want to give someone a compliment. So join us as we cover a number of intermediate adjectives you can call on whenever you want to sound particularly complimentary, or are just tired of calling everything and everyone "good-looking".

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The cougar (a.k.a. catamount, panther or mountain lion) is a large, solitary beast found throughout the Americas. Exhibiting the greatest range of any mammal in the Western Hemisphere, the cougar is fiercely independent and an unmatched predator, stalking smaller beasts for pleasure as much as for food.

In our Chinese lesson for today, Echo and Brendan take to the studio with a mission: preventing you from sounding like a confused and distracted high-schooler the next time you want to give someone a compliment. So join us as we cover a number of intermediate adjectives you can call on whenever you want to sound particularly complimentary, or are just tired of calling everything and everyone "good-looking".

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Just this one....]]> Mon, 29 Nov 2010 09:00:00 +0800

On entering the Chinese bazaar, Jake had been intent on purchasing a t-shirt, or perhaps a long-sleeved shirt. He had wanted something adorned with Chinese characters to commemorate his trip. Which raised the question of how exactly he had ended up in this state: arms stretched full of imitation Prada bags, Timberland jackets and pashmina shawls and his wallet considerably lighter than when he left the hotel.

Suffice it to say that learning how to say no is an important skill in China. There are a few ways of accomplishing this though, and in today's Chinese lesson we cover one of the less obvious. Instead of just coming right out with a refusal, we teach you to emphasize only the item you want. "It's this one," you'll say, "exactly this one." This is a polite way to control the conversation while making sure you're understood. And it can come in especially useful when you're shopping. Good luck!

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On entering the Chinese bazaar, Jake had been intent on purchasing a t-shirt, or perhaps a long-sleeved shirt. He had wanted something adorned with Chinese characters to commemorate his trip. Which raised the question of how exactly he had ended up in this state: arms stretched full of imitation Prada bags, Timberland jackets and pashmina shawls and his wallet considerably lighter than when he left the hotel.

Suffice it to say that learning how to say no is an important skill in China. There are a few ways of accomplishing this though, and in today's Chinese lesson we cover one of the less obvious. Instead of just coming right out with a refusal, we teach you to emphasize only the item you want. "It's this one," you'll say, "exactly this one." This is a polite way to control the conversation while making sure you're understood. And it can come in especially useful when you're shopping. Good luck!

]]>
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<![CDATA[Elementary - Schrodinger's Home]]> Wed, 24 Nov 2010 09:00:00 +0800

Our dialogue in this lesson is much easier than the quantum theory of superposition. It's so easy we almost made this an Absolute Beginner lesson in fact, save for that very last line. So if you're an Elementary student consider today's lesson a brief respite from our usual regime of grueling lessons designed to separate you from your sanity.

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Our dialogue in this lesson is much easier than the quantum theory of superposition. It's so easy we almost made this an Absolute Beginner lesson in fact, save for that very last line. So if you're an Elementary student consider today's lesson a brief respite from our usual regime of grueling lessons designed to separate you from your sanity.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - Encino Man meets American Pie]]> Mon, 22 Nov 2010 09:00:00 +0800

A lot of people learning Chinese develop the mistaken impression that the language has developed in isolation from other major world languages. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. As with our dialogue for today, the Chinese language borrows freely from wherever it can find inspiration. So join Brendan and Echo for a podcast that reviews a few Chinese loanwords you already know, and explains the origins of some you may never have suspected. And - yes - also stars Brendan Fraser.

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A lot of people learning Chinese develop the mistaken impression that the language has developed in isolation from other major world languages. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. As with our dialogue for today, the Chinese language borrows freely from wherever it can find inspiration. So join Brendan and Echo for a podcast that reviews a few Chinese loanwords you already know, and explains the origins of some you may never have suspected. And - yes - also stars Brendan Fraser.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Raising a Pirate Crew]]> Thu, 18 Nov 2010 09:00:00 +0800

Raising a pirate crew in China is harder than you think. Despite the allure of life on the high seas, many Chinese workers now forgo seafaring opportunities that fail to provide unemployment insurance and other social benefits. While many adventurers have thus drifted into more clerical work, there remains a group of the chronically underemployed that are still willing to work long hours for low pay and zero benefits. In our Intermediate Chinese lesson for today, we share tips on how to motivate these souls for a life of adventure. Also... the future aspect.

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Raising a pirate crew in China is harder than you think. Despite the allure of life on the high seas, many Chinese workers now forgo seafaring opportunities that fail to provide unemployment insurance and other social benefits. While many adventurers have thus drifted into more clerical work, there remains a group of the chronically underemployed that are still willing to work long hours for low pay and zero benefits. In our Intermediate Chinese lesson for today, we share tips on how to motivate these souls for a life of adventure. Also... the future aspect.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - The Spanish Main]]> Tue, 16 Nov 2010 13:49:32 +0800

Jack tilted his face upwards to savor the warm rays of the setting sun. For the past year, the most dreaded pirate in all of the Caribbean had struggled to find his way back to this desolate place, a small island reef hidden deep in the Spanish Main. A year had passed since Jack had been forced to bury his plunder here after a pitched sea battle with the Spanish Navy that had decimated his crew and forced him to flee for safety in his fastest corsair.

And his return had been far from easy. Jack had spent months trapped in the summer doldrums, and then months more cut by frigid winter gales as coal supplies fell low and murmurs of mutiny spread through his crew. And yet here he stood at last - vindicated - with only a few feet of sand between him and the greatest cache of pirate gold that ever was and evermore will be.

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Jack tilted his face upwards to savor the warm rays of the setting sun. For the past year, the most dreaded pirate in all of the Caribbean had struggled to find his way back to this desolate place, a small island reef hidden deep in the Spanish Main. A year had passed since Jack had been forced to bury his plunder here after a pitched sea battle with the Spanish Navy that had decimated his crew and forced him to flee for safety in his fastest corsair.

And his return had been far from easy. Jack had spent months trapped in the summer doldrums, and then months more cut by frigid winter gales as coal supplies fell low and murmurs of mutiny spread through his crew. And yet here he stood at last - vindicated - with only a few feet of sand between him and the greatest cache of pirate gold that ever was and evermore will be.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - Pet Ownership in China]]> Sun, 14 Nov 2010 13:41:25 +0800

Echo was pretty sure she was a dog person, and still insists she's going to raise a Golden Lab someday ("and the larger the better"). But her animosity to cats crumbled when Squeak showed up, and wormed his way into her affections with a prolonged licking session. Gail - on the other hand - has always been something of a cat person. So it isn't a surprise she's raising one either. Or that they settled on this topic for today's podcast.

If you're capable of listening to Chinese at native speed and have a thing for cats too, join us in this Chinese podcast for advanced listeners. In it, Echo and Gail talk about their experiences as cat owners in Beijing. And on a side topic, this editor will admit to being impressed that cats in Beijing know how to play fetch and seem to enjoy it immensely. We're not sure if this is a sign of end times, but consider yourself warned.

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Echo was pretty sure she was a dog person, and still insists she's going to raise a Golden Lab someday ("and the larger the better"). But her animosity to cats crumbled when Squeak showed up, and wormed his way into her affections with a prolonged licking session. Gail - on the other hand - has always been something of a cat person. So it isn't a surprise she's raising one either. Or that they settled on this topic for today's podcast.

If you're capable of listening to Chinese at native speed and have a thing for cats too, join us in this Chinese podcast for advanced listeners. In it, Echo and Gail talk about their experiences as cat owners in Beijing. And on a side topic, this editor will admit to being impressed that cats in Beijing know how to play fetch and seem to enjoy it immensely. We're not sure if this is a sign of end times, but consider yourself warned.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - What Time Is It?]]> Wed, 10 Nov 2010 09:00:00 +0800

There are two kinds of people for whom this lesson is overkill: those of you who have watches you check regularly, and those of you who are relatively punctual by nature. For the rest of us, it's useful to be able to find out what time it is in China. And so in this lesson we focus on learning how to ask this question in Chinese. We'll leave perfecting the look of stunned amazement you'll offer on hearing you're late up to you.

Want more? In addition to learning how to ask what time it is, this Chinese podcast also covers a few simple numbers so that you can understand the answer you get. We also touch briefly on why the past tense is not always the past tense.

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There are two kinds of people for whom this lesson is overkill: those of you who have watches you check regularly, and those of you who are relatively punctual by nature. For the rest of us, it's useful to be able to find out what time it is in China. And so in this lesson we focus on learning how to ask this question in Chinese. We'll leave perfecting the look of stunned amazement you'll offer on hearing you're late up to you.

Want more? In addition to learning how to ask what time it is, this Chinese podcast also covers a few simple numbers so that you can understand the answer you get. We also touch briefly on why the past tense is not always the past tense.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - Feeling Thirsty?]]> Tue, 09 Nov 2010 09:00:00 +0800

Henry was certain the locals didn't like him. There wasn't anything specific that gave him this impression, just the lingering feeling he had been under constant and malevolent surveillance since arriving in China. At his hotel, the desk clerk was always a bit too effusive in greeting, as if calling attention to his arrival, while the hotel porter would always be fumbling around in the hallway whenever he entered or left his room. The maid service ran with military efficiency. And then there were the taxi drivers....

Even walking down streets alone, Henry would feel himself being watched. The merchants would be polite enough to his face, but he'd turn around occasionally to find several them staring at him with expressions of curious distaste. Whatever the cause of this, Henry promised himself this was the last time he would ever vacation in Sanya.

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Henry was certain the locals didn't like him. There wasn't anything specific that gave him this impression, just the lingering feeling he had been under constant and malevolent surveillance since arriving in China. At his hotel, the desk clerk was always a bit too effusive in greeting, as if calling attention to his arrival, while the hotel porter would always be fumbling around in the hallway whenever he entered or left his room. The maid service ran with military efficiency. And then there were the taxi drivers....

Even walking down streets alone, Henry would feel himself being watched. The merchants would be polite enough to his face, but he'd turn around occasionally to find several them staring at him with expressions of curious distaste. Whatever the cause of this, Henry promised himself this was the last time he would ever vacation in Sanya.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Upholding Community Standards]]> Wed, 03 Nov 2010 09:00:00 +0800

At Popup Chinese, we're keenly aware of our responsibility for upholding community standards. And we're animal lovers too. Which is why if you're an intermediate student learning Chinese you can't go wrong by listening to this podcast. In it, we cover some essential vocabulary for extracting things from your pets, along with a more advanced adverb that you can use to add a sense of righteousness to the entire endeavor.

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At Popup Chinese, we're keenly aware of our responsibility for upholding community standards. And we're animal lovers too. Which is why if you're an intermediate student learning Chinese you can't go wrong by listening to this podcast. In it, we cover some essential vocabulary for extracting things from your pets, along with a more advanced adverb that you can use to add a sense of righteousness to the entire endeavor.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - Pirate Jack]]> Mon, 01 Nov 2010 09:00:00 +0800

Back when we were in college, no-one thought twice about Jack's accent or the beady glint in his eye. The pre-med students kept pretty much to themselves anyway, and were considered an insular lot by the rest of us. Looking back, the only sign something was really different about Jack might have been the time he and a few resident neurologists destroyed a local pub which refused to serve them rum. So... I suppose you can say I'm a bit surprised by what Jack's made of himself.

In this Chinese lesson, we bring a taste of the high seas to Popup Chinese. So hail all scurvy knaves, because this lesson has all the mandarin ye be needing to sack and pillage your way through the South China Seas. In additional a healthy dose of high frequency pirate vocab, this lesson also introduces a Chinese grammar point that will help you express surprise and amazement at the perils of a life on the sea.

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Back when we were in college, no-one thought twice about Jack's accent or the beady glint in his eye. The pre-med students kept pretty much to themselves anyway, and were considered an insular lot by the rest of us. Looking back, the only sign something was really different about Jack might have been the time he and a few resident neurologists destroyed a local pub which refused to serve them rum. So... I suppose you can say I'm a bit surprised by what Jack's made of himself.

In this Chinese lesson, we bring a taste of the high seas to Popup Chinese. So hail all scurvy knaves, because this lesson has all the mandarin ye be needing to sack and pillage your way through the South China Seas. In additional a healthy dose of high frequency pirate vocab, this lesson also introduces a Chinese grammar point that will help you express surprise and amazement at the perils of a life on the sea.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - The Death Star]]> Thu, 28 Oct 2010 09:00:00 +0800

You may have noticed the lack of Chinese people on the Death Star. Or anywhere near the Death Star for that matter. While some film critics write this down to racism on the part of director George Lucas, we prefer to think of it as a compliment to the general sense of the Han people. After all, when the only alternative is launching a suicide mission against an armored battle station the size of a small moon, and said battle station is run by a megalomaniac half-robot with magic powers, it makes sense to get out while the going is good.

Our lesson today is another Chinese listening test at the advanced level. As with our previous tests, we recommend listening to our dialogue a single time and then clicking through to our quiz page to see how much you actually understood. Our questions are tricky, but we've included a manually annotated Chinese transcript and vocabulary list as always for those seeking enlightenment. Good luck!

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You may have noticed the lack of Chinese people on the Death Star. Or anywhere near the Death Star for that matter. While some film critics write this down to racism on the part of director George Lucas, we prefer to think of it as a compliment to the general sense of the Han people. After all, when the only alternative is launching a suicide mission against an armored battle station the size of a small moon, and said battle station is run by a megalomaniac half-robot with magic powers, it makes sense to get out while the going is good.

Our lesson today is another Chinese listening test at the advanced level. As with our previous tests, we recommend listening to our dialogue a single time and then clicking through to our quiz page to see how much you actually understood. Our questions are tricky, but we've included a manually annotated Chinese transcript and vocabulary list as always for those seeking enlightenment. Good luck!

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<![CDATA[Elementary - You Never Told Me About Your Brother]]> Mon, 25 Oct 2010 09:00:00 +0800

I know you've been busy studying Chinese. And perhaps we haven't always been the best of friends. But was there really a need to keep this secret? I mean... it isn't as if any of my previous invective was personal. Or maybe it was a bit personal, but I'm sure you didn't take it the wrong way. I was just going through a rough time and needed time to clear my head. But I'm feeling much better now.

In most of our elementary lessons here at Popup Chinese, we focus on the relatively high-frequency vocabulary you'll need to reach communicative fluency. We define this as the point where you'll be able to talk about most ideas relatively generally. In this lesson our focus is more on emotional nuance. What's was that again, you say? Didn't quite catch that? That's exactly what we're talking about. Enjoy!

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I know you've been busy studying Chinese. And perhaps we haven't always been the best of friends. But was there really a need to keep this secret? I mean... it isn't as if any of my previous invective was personal. Or maybe it was a bit personal, but I'm sure you didn't take it the wrong way. I was just going through a rough time and needed time to clear my head. But I'm feeling much better now.

In most of our elementary lessons here at Popup Chinese, we focus on the relatively high-frequency vocabulary you'll need to reach communicative fluency. We define this as the point where you'll be able to talk about most ideas relatively generally. In this lesson our focus is more on emotional nuance. What's was that again, you say? Didn't quite catch that? That's exactly what we're talking about. Enjoy!

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Relationship with a Supermodel]]> Wed, 20 Oct 2010 09:00:00 +0800

Henry couldn't pinpoint it at all. His girlfriend was the most amazing woman he had ever known. She was beautiful and sexy and stunningly smart - much smarter than him he realized subconsciously. Yet while his feelings were clearly reciprocated by the way she looked at him, there was also something about her gaze that stirred up a feeling of deep unease. But what could be the problem?

Are you just starting to learn Chinese? In this lesson for absolute beginners to the Chinese language, join us as we share some tips for complimenting the guy or girl of your dreams. In addition to being useful for telling someone else how great you think they are, you can also use these tricks to tell them how great you are in return. Because if you're going to be dating a male or female supermodel, there's nothing wrong with a little self-promotion every now and then.

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Henry couldn't pinpoint it at all. His girlfriend was the most amazing woman he had ever known. She was beautiful and sexy and stunningly smart - much smarter than him he realized subconsciously. Yet while his feelings were clearly reciprocated by the way she looked at him, there was also something about her gaze that stirred up a feeling of deep unease. But what could be the problem?

Are you just starting to learn Chinese? In this lesson for absolute beginners to the Chinese language, join us as we share some tips for complimenting the guy or girl of your dreams. In addition to being useful for telling someone else how great you think they are, you can also use these tricks to tell them how great you are in return. Because if you're going to be dating a male or female supermodel, there's nothing wrong with a little self-promotion every now and then.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - I Wasn't Kidding]]> Sun, 17 Oct 2010 09:00:00 +0800

Please do not make any assumptions about my attire. I was not invited to China because of my sense of humor. Nor has my general gravitas in any way hindered my selection as model worker by the Furong district government. While it is true that I will tell the odd joke on occasion, such as that ringer about the penguin and the lame anthropod I recounted at the national textile exhibition last year, in general I am not considered a funny man. So it would be best if you take my remarks more seriously next time.

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Please do not make any assumptions about my attire. I was not invited to China because of my sense of humor. Nor has my general gravitas in any way hindered my selection as model worker by the Furong district government. While it is true that I will tell the odd joke on occasion, such as that ringer about the penguin and the lame anthropod I recounted at the national textile exhibition last year, in general I am not considered a funny man. So it would be best if you take my remarks more seriously next time.

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<![CDATA[Intermediate - Good Cop, Good Cop]]> Sat, 16 Oct 2010 09:00:00 +0800

The suspect smirked, John noted, and the old cop bit down hard to suppress the bile rising in his throat. Ever since the precinct had banned his more forceful interrogation techniques, it had been getting progressively harder for him to put scum like this behind bars. Bring them in for questioning and they'd just sit sullenly waiting for their lawyers to spring them out. On most days he kept his anger in check, but there was something about this guy's grin that pushed John to the edge.

Think you're a tough guy? In this Intermediate Chinese podcast, join us as we cover all the Chinese vocabulary and mannerisms you'll need to viciously interrogate friends, partners and relatives. Career opportunities await in law enforcement, racketeering and the mob, so get listening and let us know if you have any questions or comments.

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The suspect smirked, John noted, and the old cop bit down hard to suppress the bile rising in his throat. Ever since the precinct had banned his more forceful interrogation techniques, it had been getting progressively harder for him to put scum like this behind bars. Bring them in for questioning and they'd just sit sullenly waiting for their lawyers to spring them out. On most days he kept his anger in check, but there was something about this guy's grin that pushed John to the edge.

Think you're a tough guy? In this Intermediate Chinese podcast, join us as we cover all the Chinese vocabulary and mannerisms you'll need to viciously interrogate friends, partners and relatives. Career opportunities await in law enforcement, racketeering and the mob, so get listening and let us know if you have any questions or comments.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - The Wire]]> Tue, 12 Oct 2010 09:00:00 +0800

In Baltimore, everything gets compromised over time. You can be the perfect cop or the perfect dealer, but you'll eventually get taken down. So to survive you have to watch your back. There are people who'll tell you that it's a hard world and you have to put friends and family above that, but the reality is that when the heat comes down, sometimes the only way to survive is making sure you're not the fall guy.

In this Chinese lesson for Elementary students, we dole out some practical vocabulary you'll use regardless of how you feel about the law. You'll hear this when you call customer service. You'll hear it when you do your banking over the phone. You may even hear it from your closest friends and family.

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In Baltimore, everything gets compromised over time. You can be the perfect cop or the perfect dealer, but you'll eventually get taken down. So to survive you have to watch your back. There are people who'll tell you that it's a hard world and you have to put friends and family above that, but the reality is that when the heat comes down, sometimes the only way to survive is making sure you're not the fall guy.

In this Chinese lesson for Elementary students, we dole out some practical vocabulary you'll use regardless of how you feel about the law. You'll hear this when you call customer service. You'll hear it when you do your banking over the phone. You may even hear it from your closest friends and family.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Inside the Actors' Studio]]> Mon, 11 Oct 2010 09:00:00 +0800

To be fair, Zhang Yimou's script for the sequel to House of Flying Daggers was simple enough: following Xiao Mei's near fatal stabbing at the climax of the first film, the beautiful dancer is nursed back to health by a handsome Chinese doctor with whom she then falls in love. Their story of romance and traditional Chinese medicine is told in flashback form by their son, who calls home at the end of the film in a touching family reunion.

That said, it went without saying that the entire emotional payoff of the film rested on the delivery of that final telephone call. And while most directors might have sloughed it off given the grueling production schedule, Zhang Yimou wasn't considered the best director in China for nothing! Which was why the fearsome perfectionist had forced his cast to practice their delivery over and over again until even he was satisfied it marked the perfect conclusion to an otherwise perfect film.

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To be fair, Zhang Yimou's script for the sequel to House of Flying Daggers was simple enough: following Xiao Mei's near fatal stabbing at the climax of the first film, the beautiful dancer is nursed back to health by a handsome Chinese doctor with whom she then falls in love. Their story of romance and traditional Chinese medicine is told in flashback form by their son, who calls home at the end of the film in a touching family reunion.

That said, it went without saying that the entire emotional payoff of the film rested on the delivery of that final telephone call. And while most directors might have sloughed it off given the grueling production schedule, Zhang Yimou wasn't considered the best director in China for nothing! Which was why the fearsome perfectionist had forced his cast to practice their delivery over and over again until even he was satisfied it marked the perfect conclusion to an otherwise perfect film.

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<![CDATA[Advanced - The Age of Prosperity]]> Fri, 08 Oct 2010 09:00:00 +0800

Science fiction is hardly a popular genre in China, so how bizarre it is to see the literary sensation of the year be a dystopian futurist novel. Wrapped in the angst of a detective noir and written with shades of Orwell's 1984, The Age of Prosperity chronicles the imagined future world of 2013: an age in which a proud and prosperous China has risen to glory after the economic collapse of the Western world.

Although The Age of Prosperity is not legally available on the mainland, and the book is likely unpublishable here given its willingness to speak openly about politics, unofficial pirate editions of the novel are already in wide circulation. Everyone is talking about this book, and everyone we know who has read the book attests to it being a compelling and fairly quick read. But since the themes of the book play differently to a Chinese audience than an international one, in our advanced Chinese lesson for today we wanted to sit Echo and Brendan down for an in-depth discussion of whether this book lives up to its reputation.

And now a word of warning. Our advanced lessons here on Popup Chinese are hard, and this podcast is no exception. This show features native-level Chinese and presumes you can follow along at speed. We aren't going to show you any mercy and slow things down, but to help put the discussion in context, we have added some of the key vocabulary used in this podcast to our vocabulary list for this lesson. If you're having trouble following along, you may wish to check that to see what you're missing. So enjoy the discussion. And if you've read the book please feel free to share your thoughts in the discussion section below too. We would love to hear from you.

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Science fiction is hardly a popular genre in China, so how bizarre it is to see the literary sensation of the year be a dystopian futurist novel. Wrapped in the angst of a detective noir and written with shades of Orwell's 1984, The Age of Prosperity chronicles the imagined future world of 2013: an age in which a proud and prosperous China has risen to glory after the economic collapse of the Western world.

Although The Age of Prosperity is not legally available on the mainland, and the book is likely unpublishable here given its willingness to speak openly about politics, unofficial pirate editions of the novel are already in wide circulation. Everyone is talking about this book, and everyone we know who has read the book attests to it being a compelling and fairly quick read. But since the themes of the book play differently to a Chinese audience than an international one, in our advanced Chinese lesson for today we wanted to sit Echo and Brendan down for an in-depth discussion of whether this book lives up to its reputation.

And now a word of warning. Our advanced lessons here on Popup Chinese are hard, and this podcast is no exception. This show features native-level Chinese and presumes you can follow along at speed. We aren't going to show you any mercy and slow things down, but to help put the discussion in context, we have added some of the key vocabulary used in this podcast to our vocabulary list for this lesson. If you're having trouble following along, you may wish to check that to see what you're missing. So enjoy the discussion. And if you've read the book please feel free to share your thoughts in the discussion section below too. We would love to hear from you.

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<![CDATA[Elementary - The Golden Child]]> Wed, 06 Oct 2010 09:00:00 +0800

It truly is the golden child in China, and its success has sparked countless imitators in the fiercely-competitive beverage market. Perhaps to some people, there really is no difference between the two. "They're the same thing," you'll hear restaurant staff tell you when you order. But you know in your heart that isn't true. So join us for a Chinese lesson that delves into knock-off culture in China. We'll teach you how to insist on getting the real thing, or at least hold out for a while.

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It truly is the golden child in China, and its success has sparked countless imitators in the fiercely-competitive beverage market. Perhaps to some people, there really is no difference between the two. "They're the same thing," you'll hear restaurant staff tell you when you order. But you know in your heart that isn't true. So join us for a Chinese lesson that delves into knock-off culture in China. We'll teach you how to insist on getting the real thing, or at least hold out for a while.

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<![CDATA[Absolute Beginners - Want money?]]> Mon, 04 Oct 2010 09:00:00 +0800

Everyone may be hustling for a little extra cash these days, but our lesson today goes out especially to all you poor souls in Shanghai who have to run a gauntlet of professional beggars every time you step outside. Having lived it ourselves, we know this isn't a pleasant experience, and it's especially disheartening since it can desensitize you to helping people who are really down and out with nowhere to turn. With that in mind, and since this dialogue is also a bit mean-spirited, let's offset it with a practical tip on how to act charitably in China.

There are a lot of stores that will give you small change, but very few places you can really spend it. So if you're in the mood to be charitable, why not take advantage of this. Keep your small change in a separate pocket from your wallet and use this as a reserve for casual giving. You'll be surprised at how much accumulates over time, and having a separate stash for those who really need help will put you in more of a mood to give when the circumstances call for it.

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Everyone may be hustling for a little extra cash these days, but our lesson today goes out especially to all you poor souls in Shanghai who have to run a gauntlet of professional beggars every time you step outside. Having lived it ourselves, we know this isn't a pleasa