The Mandarin Blueprint Podcast No 112

112. Two Types of Expat Life in China

Podcast Duration: 01:32:53

欢迎光临! Welcome!

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The Mandarin Blueprint Podcast focuses primarily on The Mandarin Blueprint Method online curriculum. Creators Luke Neale & Phil Crimmins answer questions and comments, discuss topics related to China and Mandarin learning, and have special guests.

81. How to Become Literate in Mandarin in Less Than a Year

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7:11 Comments & Emails

Jonathan Glazier by Community

Ok, I am Jonathan from Cambridge UK. I am a “creative” in that I help make and create TV shows around the world. I also Direct and Executive Produce. Asia’s Got Talent is one of my claims to fame! Although there’s a reason I work behind the scenes, I have been described as a “Functioning Introvert”. I am 61 years old, I think I am stuck at around 27 years in my out look. 

I am very privileged to work all over the world and the one thing I know is that any effort to communicate on a local level is a mark of respect and rewarded (often with laughter!) but with broad smiles and great relationships. On AGT we have 17 countries and so many languages. I hope I can at least say thank you, welcome and good luck in all of them. I can also say Happy Bunnies in many. I’ve been learning Mandarin for about 2 years and have never progressed as far at such a pace since taking up MBP.

I am dyslexic and even my own language can be a challenge, but I have the compensation of a really good visual mind, so MBP was a gift. I was drawn to Mandarin because of the challenge, I love of the culture and a work necessity in that I was offered a contract there (Covid put paid to that). Being able to read the characters was one of those light bulb moment for me, I remember most of mine, from understanding relativity and differential calculus to pitching our family geodesic tent. 

This course is just brilliant, so enjoyable and the community around the MBP is brilliant. As are Luke and Phil, so responsive and above all passionate about sharing their knowledge. I said in my case study that this course is one I can’t recommend highly enough. I look forward to meeting you all. JG


Heath Campbell by Community

Hi all,

I just wanted to share something that I found was really exciting. I had added Mandarin subtitles to a tv show I was watching called Cobra Kai. It didn’t allow for Mandarin dubbing but it did for subtitles. They flashed up way too quick for me to read but I did notice that I recognized many of the characters. This alone suggested to me that everyday speech is probably not as complicated as I think it is.

The exciting bit came when one of the characters spoke Spanish to her daughter. It was naturally translated into Mandarin. I hadn’t anticipated that. So I paused the scene and read it in Mandarin. To my delight, I understood the translation of what she was saying and even got the joke she made. From Spanish to Mandarin, to English!

I don’t expect a Matrix style of transition with Mandarin.  I relish being able to read bits of signs on Chinese restaurants or understand some words spoken by a Chinese business owner in their store. I almost clapped for joy when I first heard and understood a shop owner say 一个, even if he was only directing his staff to get me a roast chicken. It’s a process…no, it’s a journey and the journey is sometimes the destination.


Email from anonymous

Hi guys,

I was reading the article that was sent out recently about maintaining healthy habits for studying and I felt it really resonated with me. I graduated from university in 2018 and lived in China for a year until summer 2019. I tried to learn Chinese and managed to get a grasp of the basics but I was completely lost as to where to begin etc and studied so inefficiently. I fortunately found the BMPM course during my final month there and started to learn Chinese properly and kept it up until now.

I was also living a very unhealthy lifestyle during my time in China. I had a pretty bad drinking problem which had been worsening over time. Then add in all the bad sleeping habits and endless cigarettes etc. This really stagnated my progress in anything I did as a human being and of course my already inefficient Mandarin learning.

I decided to come back to the UK and live for a year and regather myself. Then, return to China to study for a year as a new person (obviously covid has changed that for now). I quit drinking and everything that came with it over a year ago and have been working through the MBPM curriculum alongside working in a regular job. I have about 400 characters left. This course has helped me immensely not just in learning Mandarin. It has also helped me learn about discipline, keeping good routines and having a sense of purpose. All this during a period of my life where I have been making big personal changes to become the person I want to be.

I would like to keep this private as it is slightly personal. However, after reading the article about the healthy habits yesterday I felt obliged to let you guys know how much I appreciate this course.


Lucy Haley on Other Pronunciations That Use CH: 车 chē,茶chá,出 chū,出去 chūqu

Hey guys – this course is fantastic! I was wondering if your thought it would be okay to study this course and your rapid acquisition course at the same time? I like to dedicate my first hour of the morning (6-7am) to language study, but because I live at home with brothers and parents (who like to sleep a little later) it’s a bit too early to be loudly pronouncing Chinese words!

I also started listening to Coffee Break Chinese podcast in my car – do you think it’s helpful to have background noise/practicing pronunciations like that?



Lance Kaufman on YOU DID IT!!!

Thanks for the incredible work on this course. It may be the best online course that I have taken. I plan write up a more thorough review after a few days to let the experience ferment.

Great job guys


Ric Santos on It’s a Word! 牛

这头牛很肥 : 可以用 “ 很胖” 吗 ?


Ann Bihari on It’s a Word! 浅

curious if the meaning of shallow here can also apply to a personality like it does in english?

肤浅 fūqiǎn


Jonny Johnathanson on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 简单


Am i reading too much into word/character order or does this make sense in comparison:

这个问题对我来说很简单 – this is a simple question for me (emphasis on the question)

对我来说这个问题很简单 – in my opinion, this is a simple question (emphasis on my opinion)

Im thinking both make complete sense but with different emphasis on seperate parts of the sentence. Please correct me if i’m wrong.


William Beeman on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 收到

Hi! In 你收到我送你的勺子没?Is the 没 a kind of “tag question? Like “or no?” or “or not?”


Micaela Ellison on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 办法

In the example response, could you also say 没有办法? Is there a difference between 没办法 and 没有办法?


Lucy Haley on (BONUS) The Language Learning Tripod: Attitude

Hi again, I start studying Chinese at university earlier next year. Would you suggest working with a program like yours whilst studying? So you get the theory and the actual language learning input?

You guys are the best


Nick Sims (戴燚)on 用手机还是去银行寄钱

Okay, this is intense but I actually know many of these characters!! How many times should I review this video and shadow before moving on? 10, 25, 50, 100? What’s my signal to move forward knowing that I’ll need more practice?


Lance Kaufman on Welcome! 3 Things to Do Right Away

I am 2/3rds of the way through remembering the hanzi volume 1,
(about 95 percent retention of characters, but I only know
pronunciation for around 10 percent of the characters.) How do you recommend proceeding in this course?

I can group the characters into three groups, 1) Can reproduce from muscle memory without needing to think of the components, 2) Can reproduce by thinking of the components, but don’t need to rehearse my mnemonic, and 3) Still dependent on recalling mnemonic to recall the components.


Lance Kaufman on Simple Final Ü (YU): Introduction with 鱼 yú

Is the u after q, j and x always pronounced with the v sound?


Lucy Haley on ANKI DECK(S) INSIDE – *MUST WATCH* How to Review with TMBM

Why wont it let me keep studying? It keeps saying ‘congrats you’ve finished this deck for now’ but I have literally only just downloaded it?


William Beeman on 我也想找男朋友

Thanks so much for your elegant explanation. It was very helpful. Just so you know, I am doing this course to get enough Chinese under my belt to do some comparative lingusitics, but I find I am having a great deal of fun, so it is really a pleasure.

And you guys’ enthusiasm for the language and explanations of grammatical points are really enjoyable and informative. I’m sorry I couldn’t study with your excellent professors.


William Beeman on 我也想找男朋友

Well, you asked, so here is way more than you wanted to find
out. 🙂 Ignore if it is too boring (but not to me).

My immediate project is to compare Chinese, Japanese and Arabic
morphology to try and show that grammatical form classes based on
Western (Indo-European) languages (noun, verb. etc.) are too rigid. Chinese is really ideal for this exploration because of the fluidity of its morphology, So many morphemes in Chinese can serve multiple gramatical functions, we need some new conceptual categories to encompass them. By the way, this is also true of American Indian languages where “nouns” are expressed as “verbs” and vice versa, so in Shawnee the English sentence: “The stone fell” would be most accurately rendered as “Stoning (happens) in a downward direction”

My ongoing project deals with grammatical aspect (how an action
extends over time–imperfect, perfect), and modality (the attitude of a speaker/writer toward what they are expressing) in language. I am still not confident enough to tackle this in Chinese, but it is really exciting to explore these two dimensions of expression in Chinese. There has been some research on this, but the field is really wide open. I have written about this in Japanese, Persian, Indonesian (Javanese), Arabic and German. So working with Chinese is immensely engaging as another comparative dimension for human language.

Finally, I have written a great deal about hierarchy in language.
Language levels expressing status and class differences are hugely interesting. We can start with the 你/您 (Nǐ/nín) distinction and then the topic explodes from there, and has hardly been dealt with in non-Chinese literature. Chinese kinship terms which are hierarchical in the extreme. I don’t know if MB folks are aware of the enormous range of kinship terms in Chinese wtih older/younger and but one of my predecessors, the great linguist Yu Ren Chao wrote a definitive article on Chinese kinship and address forms some years ago.

Chao, Yuen Ren. 1956. “Chinese Terms of Address.” Language 32 (1): 217–241.

An exploration of “polite” speech/behavior 礼貌 (lǐmào) The first character can be glossed as “etiquette” but look at the second character made up of “badger” and “appearance!” What’s up witth that? How does the badger get into this mix? (More research needed).

So I am very sorry that I am not much younger, coming to Chinese shows that there is an infinitude of interesting things to explore, and I am finding it enormously enjoyable.


Christine on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 新闻

I am not quite sure what the role is of 我们




Recently the news said that a wolf came here.

Top-Down Words: 

狼 láng – wolf


William Beeman on 外国人学中文不能太心急

Is the translation of 某些人才开始学 supposed to be “Some talented people start studying . . .” I’m trying to get my head around 人才 meaning “talented.” Is that right? If so, 才 functions (in Western grammatical nomenclature) as a noun, a verb, an adjective, and a preposition. A lot of work for a little word.

Full Context:



Lucy Haley on (BONUS) 4 Components of Habit Building Part 3: Reward

Do you have any good ideas for short term goals? Obviously the big overall one is to be able to have a conversation in China or read a book but what do you think are good smaller interim goals for absolute beginners?


Jason Pon on BONUS: Connector – Conditional “If-Then” Statements with 如果…, 就 & 要是…的话

Thanks for such a thorough and comprehensive grammar structure
as always. I always look forward to these 🙂 It’s the ‘ah-ha’ moment that, as you said, allows me to pick the concept up so much more naturally since i’ve been ‘exposed’ to the sentence with the grammar so many times already!


Carys Scott on (BONUS) The Language Learning Tripod Part 3: Time

On my home screen of my phone, I just moved the Facebook and the Facebook messenger apps to my 2nd screen page and replaced with the Kajabi app and Anki app ??


Carys Scott on Problem Initial CHI: 吃 chī,好吃 hǎochī,吃饭 chīfàn, 吃饭了吗? chīfàn le ma?

Can hâochī be used to say a drink is delicious? For example you could have a really tastey cocktail or a delicious hot beverage like hot chocolat. Thank you ?

1:19:02 Movies! 

This blog post explains the theory behind Movie Scenes and learning characters.


Ric Santos on Make a Movie 卖

Aside from the change of location and tone (3rd-4th) from 买 to 卖, I used 十 as a quick distinguishing mark for 卖, that whatever he it was that bought, he later sold it for 10 Dollars more (on top of it !)


Ric Santos on Make a Movie 牛

Ni-actress in the kitchen of -ou set: She draws the front face of a cow… but with only one ear. Wow , is that something new ( niú ) !?

ps. it is still a mystery what happened to the other ear, perhaps a samurai cut it ?


Ric Santos on Make a Movie 特

A cow inside the temple is really something Special.


Nick Sims (戴燚)on Make a Movie 艮

George Foreman (g-) is in Karen’s (-en) bedroom (3rd tone) feeling awkward because he is playing dress up with his daughter.

She’s playing a sun in her dance recital and asked him to dress up too. George has a Sun (日) mask on with a tutu (?). He looks in the mirror and is as BLUNT as possible, I look stupid.


Stephanie Arapian on Make a Movie 艮

Greg is sleeping off his hangover in the platform t(en)t. The Sun puppet strides is on Skates and begins singing the ‘good morning ” song, in a bright overly cheerful voice, while rolling around the tent.

Singing: “The bright sun comes up, the dew–Hrrrrggk!” Greg has Hooked (literally) the sun, and caught it in a chokehold, using the hook as a Blunt instrument.

“Let me be BLUNT. Sunshine and mornings doesn’t happen until I say it does. Got it?” The Sun nods, and runs when Greg released him. Greg rolls over back to sleep.


Nick Sims (戴燚)on Make a Movie 服

Kung Fu Panda (fu-) is cooking in the kitchen (2nd) at my childhood home. He PUT ON his apron so he doesn’t make a mess. He works from morning until the moon (月)comes out. Poe makes Robin (又) the best dumplings ever. Robin agrees and puts his wax seal (卩) of approval TO CONVINCE everyone that they are awesome.


Will R on Make a Movie 分

KEYWORD: 分 fēn To Separate
Actor: F-
Set: -en
Room within Set (tone): Front Door
Prop(s): 八 (Spider), 刀 (Trusty Pocket Knife)

Make a movie:
1. F- opens -en’s Front Door
2. A Spider (八) is about to burst in through the door and attack
3. F- pulls out his Trusty Pocket Knife (刀) battles the Spider
back out
4. F- then actives his Star Trek Force Field To Separate (分)
himself safely from the Spider
5. The Spider is now permanently Separated from F-

(分 prop = Star Trek Force Field)


Ann Bihari on Make a Movie 足

keyword – feet
actor – zeus
set – childhood home
room – kitchen
props – rolling stones mouth, rocket launcher

Zeus is sitting in the kitchen of my childhood home with his giant FEET up on the table. The rolling stones mouth is using a rocket launcher to massage those big ol’ tired FEET.


Ann Bihari on Make a Movie 票

keyword – ticket
actor – patie (pronounced PAY-she)
set – tremont house
room – bathroom
props – cowboy hat and large video display

Patie needs to buy TICKETs to the galveston mardi gras parade. She’s in the bathroom at tremont house and is getting ready. She puts on her sparkly cowboy hat and, looking at the giant video display (which also acts as a mirror), realizes that she can purchase her TICKETs directly from the video display. she enters in her room number and selects how many TICKETs she wants. they are added to her room bill and the mobile TICKETs are sent to her phone. she’s all set.


Ric Santos on Make a Movie 经

The Manager 经 of the silk shop is my J-actor outside entrance of -ng set. He says: Handicaps 又 working 工 with the silk 纟industry is good for the ECONOMY.


Will R on Make a Movie 到

KEYWORD: 到 dào To Arrive
Actor: D-
Set: -ao
Room within Set (tone): Garden
Prop(s): 至 (sleeping beauty),刂 (Broad Sword)

Make a movie:
1. D- at -ao’s Garden
2. Sleeping Beauty (至) has been lying there waiting for D- TO ARRIVE
3. D- gets his Broad Sword and stabs it in her to wake her up
4. Sleeping Beauty wakes angry saying: “You took your time didn’t you? You and Broad Sword (刂) have ARRIVED late”
5. D- says: “A wizard is never later, he ARRIVES (到) exactly when he needs to” (Gandalf/Lord of the Rings reference)


Christine on Make a Movie 茶

This came together for me very well using my props but it might
not work for everyone.

Charlie Chaplin (Ch actor) is in the kitchen on my a- location.
He wants to make some tea.

In my home country, there is a make of tea called ‘5 Roses’, with
a distinctive red box and a stylised picture of roses on it. This
is my Rose prop.

My other props are:
Straw, conical hat and a Bonsai tree.
So to complete the tea making ceremony (and the movie for the character), Charlie has to wear the straw hat while plucking the tea leaves from the Bonsai tea bush. Then he has to fill the little bags of 5 Roses tea with the leaves so that he can brew the perfect cup of tea.


Kathryn Nixon on MAKE A MOVIE 马

It takes place in the living room of a childhood friend A.

She has her black n white telly on and Michael Jackson is on screen. In her living room are three horses which she is training to copy Michael Jacksons moon walk. Eventually they become so good at it that I tell her she should dress them up as unicorns and enter a talent contest. I roll up some card, stick on glitter and then attach the unicorn horns to the horses faces with elastic. My friend is ecstatic. At that moment magic happens and Michael Jackson appears in the living room, and rides the three horses back into the telly to become part of the thriller video.
My friend is crying cos she lost her three horses and Michael Jackson has stolen them.


Georg Lohrer on Make a Movie 邦

Boris Becker in front of my ang-set. He has built his own little corral using hay-stacks and small brick walls. He somehow has gotten megalomaniac – he’s started to declare his own NATION.


Georg Lohrer on Make a Movie 帮

Boris Becker continues to build his own nation (see 邦) in front of my ang-set. He now wants to raise the German flag. He immediately gets some HELP. Someone brings a towel and some color sprays to HELP him painting the flag.

3 November, 2020