In addition to winning the USA Memory Championship, CLI Online student, Alex Mullen just set a new World Record in Speed Cards (memorizing the order of one shuffled deck of 52 playing cards as fast as possible). He completed this feat in a mere 18.65 seconds!! What’s more? Alex also won the 2015 World Memory Championship.
Alex has a passion for teaching other the techniques he uses in memory sport competition. Dive into his website and start applying the methods of a World Champion to your language learning journey. As a sample, below we’ve included Alex’s 20 Words Challenge.
Watch Alex move through a shuffled deck of cards while setting a World Record speed that would intimidate Johnny 5:
And here’s the moment Alex Mullen was announced USA Memory Champion:
We had the privilege of sitting down with Ben Hedges, founder of Learn Chinese Now, and discussing a variety of topics including his personal journey into the Mandarin language. Ben shared such incredible language learning insights and wisdom during our chat that we’ve decided to release the entire interview in three installments. While watching this first installment, follow along in the below transcript for the Chinese characters, pinyin, and English translation. You can also use this link to download a PDF containing the interview transcript and vocabulary list.
大家好，我是 Ben Hedges，中文名字叫郝义博。我是英国伦敦大学亚非学院的毕业生。我也在台湾留学了一年，在那边学了一年的中文。毕业之后，我就开始拍网络视频，主要是讨论一些中国的时事、电视剧、新闻、什么电影啊。后来这些视频就在台湾爆红了。所以我们就现在是每一周拍一个新的网络节目，后来我有很多机会跟一些公司合作拍一些影片，比如说我们跟Seven Eleven合作过拍台湾的环岛影片。2013年我也开始拍一个教中文的节目叫 “Learn Chinese Now”。我们每个星期出一个新的视频。这是针对外国人，正在学中文的外国人。帮他们学一点简单的中文，或 是把比较复杂的中文给他们解释一下。这个节目也是用一个幽默的方式，用一个幽默的方式来教中文。观众的反馈是很好的。
Dàjiā hǎo, wǒ shì Ben Hedges, zhōngwén míngzì jiào hǎoyìbó. Wǒ shì yīngguó lúndūn dàxué yà fēi xuéyuàn de bìyè shēng. Wǒ yě zài táiwān liúxuéle yī nián, zài nà biān xuéle yī nián de zhōngwén. Bìyè zhīhòu, wǒ jiù kāishǐ pāi wǎngluò shìpín, zhǔyào shì tǎolùn yīxiē zhōngguó de shíshì, diànshìjù, xīnwén, shénme diànyǐng a. Hòulái zhèxiē shìpín jiù zài táiwān bào hóngle. Suǒyǐ wǒmen jiù xiànzài shì měi yīzhōu pāi yīgè xīn de wǎngluò jiémù, hòulái wǒ yǒu hěnduō jīhuì gēn yīxiē gōngsī hézuò pāi yīxiē yǐngpiān, bǐrú shuō wǒmen gēn 711 hézuòguò pāi táiwān de huándǎo yǐngpiān. Wǒyě 2013 nián wǒ yě kāishǐ pāi yīgè jiāo zhōngwén de jiémù jiào “Learn Chinese Now”. Wǒmen měi gè xīngqī chū yīgè xīn de shìpín. Zhè shì zhēnduì wàiguó rén, zhèngzài xué zhōngwén de wàiguó rén. Bāng tāmen xué yīdiǎn jiǎndān de zhōngwén, huò shì bǎ bǐjiào fùzá de zhōngwén gěi tāmen jiěshì yīxià. Zhègè jiémù yěshì yòng yīgè yōumò de fāngshì,yòng yīgè yōumò de fāngshì lái jiāo zhōngwén. Guānzhòng de fǎnkuì shì hěn hǎo de.
Hello everyone, my name is Ben Hedges and my Chinese name is Hao Yibo. I graduated from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the University of London. I also studied Chinese in Taiwan for one year. After I graduated, I started making online videos, discussing current affairs, TV dramas, news and movies in China. The videos became a hit in Taiwan, so now we release a new video online every week. We started to get a lot of opportunities to collaborate with companies and create more videos. For example, we worked with 7-Eleven to film a video about traveling around Taiwan. In 2013, I started a new program called “Learn Chinese Now”. It is a program developed for foreigners learning Chinese, and we release weekly videos. The program’s goal is to teach foreigners some simple Chinese, or explain the use of complicated Chinese words, and we try to do it in a humorous way. The program is well received by its audience.
Dayong (01:33 – 01:40)
通过制作Learn Chinese Now对您更好的理解文化差异有什么影响吗？
Tōngguò zhìzuò Learn Chinese Now duì nín gèng hǎo de lǐjiě wénhuà chāyì yǒu shén me yǐngxiǎng ma?
How has building Learn Chinese Now impacted your own journey toward greater fluency and cultural understanding?
Zhìzuò zhèxiē yǐngpiān de shíhòu wǒ yǒu yīgè jīhuì zài fùxí wǒ yǐjīng zài shàng dàxué de shíhòu xuéguò de yīxiē chéngyǔ a, dànshì jiāo, zuòwéi yīgè yǐngpiān, bǐrú shuōjiāo yīgè chéngyǔ de yǐngpiān, zhēn de huì bāng wǒ gèngshēn de lǐjiě nàgè chéngyǔ de yìyì. Bǐrú shuō wǒmen pāile yīgè jièshào “sàiwēngshīmǎ yān zhī fēi fú” de zhègè chéngyǔ, suǒyǐ wǒ kànle nàgè, nàgè gùshì, kànle yuánwén, wényánwén de nàgè gǔdài hànyǔ de gùshì. Zhēn de hěn yǒuqù, zhēn de gèngshēn, gèngshēnrù liǎojiě zhègè gùshì, ránhòu bǎ tā jiāo gěi xuéshēng. Zhègè guòchéng, dāng yīgè lǎoshī, zhēn de kěyǐ ràng nǐ gèng shēn de lǐ jiè yīxiē zhōngwén cí de, zhōngwén chéngyǔ de yìyì, nèihán, hěn shēn de nèihán.
Making these videos gave me a chance to review what I have learned, for example, idioms in college. Teaching people what I have learned really allows me to have a deeper understanding of the idioms. For instance, we made a video introducing the idiom “Misfortune may actually be a blessing”, and I read the original story in classical Chinese. The story was really interesting and meaningful, and teaching it to the students allows me to discover more meaning behind the idioms.
Dayong (02:37 – 02:40)
您希望Learn Chinese Now对观众有什么影响？
Nín xīwàng Learn Chinese Now duì guānzhòng yǒu shén me yǐngxiǎng?
What impact do you hope Learn Chinese Now has on your audience?
Nowadays, a lot of students are learning modern Chinese, so they can go to China for business. However, I feel that learning a bit of ancient Chinese and classical Chinese allows you to understand modern Chinese better, as modern Chinese evolved from ancient Chinese. There is a story behind most of the Chinese phrases and idioms, and it is not as simple as English.
At the Chinese Language Institute we understand and hold a deep respect for the process of gaining fluency in Mandarin. Learning Chinese requires practice and commitment, amongst many elements. While the most direct route to Chinese fluency is arguably studying in China (at the CLI Center) the memorization of vocabulary and characters are a necessity on the path to fluency — thus making self-study integral to language learning.
Using technology is often a nice way to spice up self-study. This blog post highlights a fun, free, Mandarin learning app called ChineseSkills which ‘gamifies’ the learning process while mixing listening, reading, writing and speaking skills into memorable graphics and simple gameplay. ChineseSkills also has a built in SRS — plus the company’s logo is a cute little panda, and who doesn’t like pandas?
The following are our 20 favorite summer-themed flashcards from ChineseSkills:
Learning Mandarin is a journey in which a student’s evolution continually occurs across a spectrum of skills — e.g. listening, speaking, reading, writing, cultural understanding, etc. This post is focused on two of those skills: speaking and listening. We have compiled a list of 12 videos from Mandarin HQ (an excellent, free resource for Mandarin videos) designed to draw attention to the unique sounds and accents of Mandarin while also providing a study resource containing the vocabulary and phrases of many common daily activities. So warm up some tea, put on your headphones and enjoy ever step of your Mandarin learning journey.
Top 12 Videos to Improve Your Mandarin
一The Sounds Of “Southern Accented” Mandarin Chinese
二 Mandarin Chinese Accent Challenge: “North or South?”
三 How to Recognize and Pronounce The 4+1 Tones of Mandarin Chinese
四 Ordering Chinese street food like a local in Mandarin Chinese
五 Talking about hobbies in Mandarin Chinese
六 How to ask for the restaurant bill in China
七 Why do so many Chinese girls use umbrellas when it’s sunny?
八 Is There Anything You Don’t Eat?
九 How to wish someone a happy birthday in Mandarin Chinese
十 How to say “I know” and “I don’t know” in Mandarin Chinese
十一 Celebrating National Day Golden Week in China
十二 5 ways to greet a friend you haven’t seen for a long time in Mandarin Chinese
CLI has churned through hundreds of videos by ChineseClass101.com to compile this list of 25 videos covering must-know Mandarin vocabulary. We’ve extracted all of the vocabulary into simple lists of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and phrases at the end of this post — click here to jump to the lists. You can also use this link to download a PDF containing the complete 222 word vocabulary list. Enjoy!
#1 Learn 25 Must-Know Chinese Nouns
People, places, things, and ideas — nouns are an elemental part of speech and this video covers 25 essentials.
#2 Learn 25 Must-Know Chinese Verbs
We look to action words (a.k.a. verbs) to keep this Chinese lesson moving.
#3 Learn 25 Chinese Adjectives
Learning Mandarin adjectives is a fast way to spice up your ability. This video covers basics like 大 and 小 or 热 and 冷 while also adding some off-beat flare with words like 恶心 and 臭。
#4 Learn 5 Mandarin Words Pertaining to Studying a Language
It’s crucial to learn verbs and nouns but how do you say ‘verb’ or ‘noun’? What about ‘to study’? This video covers 5 rudimentary words related to studying a language.
#5 Learn 15 Favorite Chinese Words
In this upbeat video with Yuting you’ll review 15 useful words like 喜欢， 对不起，and 尊敬。
#6 Learn 25 Chinese Phrases to Improve Your Fluency
In just under 7 minutes this video covers 25 very practical phrase from how to receive a compliment—哪有，哪有—to “don’t worry, I’ve got it”—放心吧，包在我身上。
#7 Learn 5 Life Events in Mandarin
This short video teaches us the vocabulary for 5 basic life events: to be born, graduation, to work, to get engaged, and the final act—to die.
#8 Learn 5 Subjects of Study in Mandarin
This quick 2 minute video favors history and the sciences. Watch it and learn how to say history, science, physics, biology, and chemistry in Mandarin.
#9 Learn 5 Vegetables in Mandarin
Help prepare yourself for Chinese cuisine by reviewing 5 vegetables in this short 2 minute video.
#10 Learn 5 Mandarin Words Related to Cooking
This video covers 5 words you should know like stir-fry and barbecue.
#11 Learn 5 Flavors in Mandarin
It’s no secret, authentic Chinese food is delicious. This brief 2 minute video covers the 5 main flavors of Chinese cuisine. Dig in.
#12 Learn 5 Tableware Words in Mandarin
Sticking with the theme of food, this next 2 minute video teaches us a few staple tableware items you’ll find at a Chinese meal.
#13 Learn 5 Words Related to Cleaning Using Mandarin
Now that we’ve learned words related to cooking, it’s time to clean up. Learn 5 easy words having to do with cleaning.
#14 Learn 5 Articles of Clothing in Mandarin
Get your outfit ready by learning a few simple words like 帽子，裤子，and the loanword T恤衫。
#15 Learn 5 Clothing Accessories in Mandarin
Now it’s time to accessorize your outfit by using words like 皮带，手表， and 太阳镜。
#16 Learn 5 Mammals in Mandarin
What does the fox say? Who knows, but after watching this video at least you’ll be able to say 狐狸。
#17 Learn 5 Geographic Terms in Mandarin
Desert, lake, river, island, ocean — take 2 minutes and learn them all here.
#18 Learn 5 Mandarin Words You’ll Need When Crossing Borders
Crossing the border is official business and knowing your vocabulary can expedite the process.
#19 Learn 5 Words Related to Tourism in Mandarin
Saying tourism is a major industry in China is a vast understatement. Saying the word 游客, yóukè, is simple.
#20 Learn 5 Words Related to Currency Exchange in Mandarin
Being a 游客 means you’ll need to exchange your local currency for RMB. In this video you will learn some necessary terms to do just that.
#21 Learn 5 Mandarin Words You May Need in a Hotel
With this video in less than 2 minutes you can learn some very practical words you’ll need in a hotel.
#22 Learn 5 Words Describing Personalities in Mandarin
Describing a person’s personality is a common occurrence in any language. This video teaches us 5 useful Mandarin words for describing a person’s disposition.
#23 Learn 5 Mandarin Words Regarding Health Concerns
Health vocabulary is an important set of words to study. This video has 5 simple words to learn.
#24 Learn to Say 5 Difference Sports Using Mandarin
Sports are very popular in China. 足球 and 篮球 are among the most popular. It’s time to get your game on.
#25 Learn How to Say 5 Kinds of Furniture in Mandarin
Pull up a 椅子 and learn 5 pieces of furniture in less than 2 minutes.