Category Archives: China


新年好 – 祝大家恭喜发财! Happy Chinese New Year and good fortune to you all!

So on Monday the FSI Chinese department had the New Year Party and food extravaganza. And when I say food extravaganza…

The line starts HERE!
They were very well organized

There were TWO tables like this one, and a small drinks and dessert table. Our teachers put a lot of time and effort in getting the party ready for us – they’re really amazing.

The food was just the first part though, there were also performances by the students and teachers. One class opened with the dragon dance, which was really cool. The class that began last month sang this song, which was pretty amusing to the students, especially the confused looks of the random Chinese people in the video.

The band is called Transition or 前進樂團 and seems to be some British guys based in Taiwan.

There were some other dances that involved fans or scarves or rubber ducks. There were also pretty songs about the moon and raps about learning Chinese. Then there was my class. We had a jeopardy-ish game where we asked two teams of teachers questions about American movies, literature, geography, Presidents, etc. At the end of the day, our coordinator worried that our part was too different for the program. We told her that NEXT year she could make students sing and dance, but that WE were grateful that we didn’t have the extra lunchtime practice that the other groups did… :-)

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Sneaking up on Mandarin (the language)

Ha! I’m back and writing again – a few more weeks of this and it’ll either be a habit, or I won’t write again for another eight months… Anyway, I wanted to share how Chad and I got ready to study Mandarin at FSI. As the reality of moving to Shanghai in 2012 set in, the more anxious we got about our ability to learn the language to some semblance of proficiency. Since we had plenty of time, I started to look into classes we could take before going to FSI.

I looked at NOVA community college, the USDA graduate school, and private language schools. All of these options were either poorly timed for us, too far away, or too expensive. As our goal was just to get some familiarity with the language, we didn’t want to spend too much time or money. So I looked at our options through FSI. Early morning Chinese didn’t appeal to either of us, so one of the online options would be the best. I’d heard some not so great stuff about the software available through FSI, but then I saw a class called Mandarin Express. Continue reading