Lingomi’s Reading List goes behind Chinese blogs at looks at people who write them. This week, an interview with Albert of Laowai Chinese. Laowai Chinese is one of the earliest Chinese blogs I read. It’s also one of the few that has continued throughout the years. Albert Wolfe, the “Laowai” has led great discussions on his blog, published books on learning Chinese, and has even given us a new work of fiction (with both English and Chinese dialogue!) called faceless.
On a personal note, he’s inspired me to start a couple projects, the Chinese Blog List, which tries to solve the problem of other Chinese blog lists by automatically updating itself so that stale blogs get automatically weeded out. As I mentioned in an earlier post, his description of the future Chinese dictionary caused me to push forward with the dictionary project I’d been thinking about for the past few years.
Q: What’s your blog about? Why did you start writing a blog?
LaowaiChinese.net gives tips for learning Chinese, especially speaking and listening. There are a lot of books and resources about learning to write the characters. But when I started my blog, I felt the literature was really lacking clear and detailed explanations about speaking and listening, especially the tones.
Q: When did you start studying Chinese? Why Chinese?
I started about 1 month before I came to China in 2005. I was intrigued by the mystique of “one of the hardest languages in the world” (for English speakers to learn) and also by the “world’s most spoken native language.” Of course, English is the world’s most spoken language, but most linguists consider Chinese to have the most native speakers (even though the dialects of Chinese make such a statistic a little bit tricky to nail down).
Traditional or Simplified:
Pinyin or Characters:
Speaking/Listening or Writing/Reading:
Q: What’s the biggest mistake you made when you started studying Chinese?
That’s an interesting question. I think my biggest mistakes were mostly in the affective (emotional / psychological) domain. For example, I remember feeling frustrated that I wasn’t farther along, angry at how hard the tones were, and disappointed that my friends preferred to speak English with merather than Chinese.
Q: What are your favorite posts from your blog?
My favorite part of having a blog is seeing people’s comments. That’s something you usually don’t get from a printed book. So, in that sense, the “Most Discussed” posts would be some of my favorites. As for posts that didn’t get a lot of comments, I still like the “Language Learning is Messy” series.
You’ve just published a new book: what’s it about? where can I get it?
faceless is my first novel. It’s an action / adventure story about the prevalence of social networks in our everyday lives and some of the dangers that can come from that.
It’s currently only available on Amazon (here). I also hope to make an e-book / Kindle edition available someday too, but because of some complex formatting in the text (including hanzi), the conversion process is a little bit tricky.