Since I started blogging about learning Chinese, quite a few blogs have popped up, shown some promise, and then, to my dismay, disappeared. Thankfully, there are blogs like East Asia Student, by Hugh Grigg (a.k.a. 葛修远). If you are looking for consistently good explanations of grammar, translations of classical poetry and texts, or even a some Japanese-related posts, East Asia Student will fulfill your needs. Hugh’s remarkable attention to both quantity and quality in article’s like “Tones in Mandarin Chinese” is just one of the reasons why East Asia Student is one of the most popular blogs on the Chinese Blog List.
About Hugh(a.k.a. 葛修远)
- Learning Chinese
- Chinese Poetry
- Intro Japanese
You’re Chinese seems pretty good. How long did that take? What unexpected hurdles did you have to overcome?
My Chinese isn’t that great! I feel like I’m finally starting to reach the stage where it’s actually a useful, functional language for me.
I’m in my third year of full-time study. I started from scratch at university, but my degree is Chinese Studies, so pretty much the whole thing is focused on learning Chinese. I’d say the biggest hurdle compared to European languages is that a lot of words just don’t have an exact match between Chinese and English. Learning in context is more important than ever with Chinese.
What advice would you give to a Chinese newbie?
Do loads of listening. Aim to listen 24/7. You won’t be able to, but the more you aim to do, the more you’ll cram in. I really think listening is the most important part of language learning. Also don’t add too much stuff to your SRS, it’s easy for it to get overwhelming.
Traditional or Simplified:
Pinyin or Characters:
Speaking/Listening or Writing/Reading:
It has to be all of them!
What’s the one post on your blog that everyone learning Chinese should read? Why?
That is hard! I always try to write stuff that I remember searching for or would’ve found useful earlier in my studies, so it’s usually little bits and pieces that answer individual questions. I would say the most useful is the one on common learner mistakes - always good to iron those out as soon as possible.
What’s you’re favorite classical Chinese piece? What significance does it have on how you live your life?
I really liked Six Records of a Floating Life (浮生六記). It’s an actual autobiography by a guy who lived in the Qing dynasty, which is interesting in itself, but it’s also quite a moving, human story as well. The guy makes a lot of mistakes in his life that we can all learn from. It’s also more accessible than most Classical stuff (it’s technically a Literary Chinese text, but pretty much the same as Classical).
In the past few months, you’ve started posting more Japanese-related articles: what makes Japanese attractive to you?
My Japanese is non-existent at the moment. I have a long-term goal to have at least some grasp of Chinese, Japanese and Korean. It’s going to take donkey years, but I think I’ll get there in the end. I’m currently focusing on Chinese in order to get my degree. I think the languages make an interesting set as they all use Chinese characters to some extent and the countries have closely linked histories, plus they all historically used Classical Chinese.