A New Blog of our major project

After the mid-term feedback, Haiming Li and I decide to open a new blog to continue our major project. Here you can have a happy learning time.

Welcome come to our Chinese opening classroom blog!




Chinese paper-cut II

Today I will show you how to make some simple paper-cut. First we will learn how to cut double happiness. What we need is a piece of paper(If you have red papers, it would be better), a pair of scissors, and a pencil. Now, I will do it step by step.

  1. Fold:                                                                             2、Fold again



3、Draw shadow                                                             4、Cut off the shadow part

paper-cut                   paper-cut

5、Unfold the paper


There is a different way of cutting, and the first and second step are the same with the previous one.  But this time ,we draw the shadow  in a different way.


Then cut along the line we drew. We will get another double happiness.paper-cut


Chinese paper-cut: XI

In China, you can see paper- cut of double happiness on weddings and house of new couples definitely,as it symbolizes more happiness will come.

Then we can try another paper-cut, tracery. First fold the paper. Then draw the picture.

paper- cut        paper-cut



Pay more attention to the bottom. Do not forget cut of the angle. After cutting, we can get a beautiful tracery.




paper-cut               paper-cut

It is pretty easy, right? If you are interested, join me, have a relax! I am looking forward to seeing your cutting work.

Chinese paper–cut I

Chinese paper–cut (中国剪纸)


Chinese paper-cut: XI


Chinese paper-cut: FU

The paper-cut art is one of the most ancient Chinese folk arts of Han nationality. Its history can be traced back to the sixth Century A.D.. Tracery and meaningful cut art are both included in the paper-cut, although they may need different tools such as scissors or knife, yet the essence of the creation work is same. The carrier can be paper, gold foil, bark, leaves, cloth, leather and other sheet materials.

1、Homonym: (1) Fish (yú 鱼) has the same pronunciation with surplus (余). It represents that may you always obtain more than you wish. (2) bat (biān蝙 fú蝠) Fú has the same pronunciation with blessing (福).  (3) Chicken (jī 鸡) has the same pronunciation with lucky (吉)

Chinese paper-cut: chicken


Chinese paper-cut: figure

3、Animals:twelve animal zodiac

Chinese paper-cut: monkey
double happiness

4、Chinese characters:

(1) Double happiness always relates to wedding.






5、Folk story





Chinese Tea Culture: Chinese “Coffee” Culture

Compare to coffee which is popular in western countries, most Chinese people prefer drinking tea in their daily life. As is known to all, China is the birthplace of tea. After thousands of years developing, Chinese tea culture has formed a complete system, in which the history of tea, the Chadao, customs about tea and other aspects are included.

Chinese tea ceremony
In Chinese,  tea is called 茶chá, 茶叶 cháyè, or tealeaves. We ues the verb 泡 pào which equal to brew to describe the action of making tea. 茶道 chádào means tea ceremony.
These are the common expressions, when we are drinking tea with others: 1. 请喝茶  please drink tea; 2. 茶很香  the tea is fragrant; 3. 很好喝  the tea tastes good

Origin of tea:
The Chinese first discovered and utilized tea. At that time, tea was used mainly for food and medicine. According to a popular legend, tea was discovered by a Chinese Mythical Emperor Shennong, the inventor of Chinese medicine and farming in 2737 BC as a medicinal beverage at first. Around the 300 A.D. , with the custom of drinking tea brewed from fresh tea leaves in boiling water firmly entrenched in China, tea became a daily drink. Between the Yuan and Qing Dynasties, tea houses and other tea-drinking establishments were opening up all over China. Then, tea drinking spread from China to Japan in the 6th century, but it was not introduced to Europe and America till the 17th and 18th centuries.Today, as one of the most popular beverage in the world, tea remains China’s national drink.

Chinese tea culture

Types of  tea:

Green tea: Green tea has historically been Asia’s most famous tea and is popular in the West as well. The secret of green tea lies in the fact that it is rich in antioxidant sucatechin polyphenols, specifically epigallocatechin gallate, that fight cancer without any negative side effects. There are indications that drinking green tea also reduces cholesterol levels and may help to control blood clots.

Black tea: There are dozens of variations, each with its own characteristic, from very sweet and light to dark and dry. It’s possible to find the perfect match for every taste preference. Famous black teas are Qimen Black, Yunnan Black, Lapsang Souchong and Minnan Black (also known as Tan Yang Kongfu).

Oolong tea: The spelling “oolong” (also “wulong”) is a phonetic transcription of the Chinese characters, approximating to the sound of spoken Chinese, or more specifically, Mandarin. The correct transcription is “wulong cha” in pinyin. It includes the most famous Wuyi Rock teas and different types of tieguanyin.

Pu’er tea: Pu’er tea is grown in southern Yunnan province. The tea is famous for its health benefits, history and post-fermentation characteristics. Pu’er has both “raw” and “cooked” varieties. The raw version exhibits a green color and matures over a number of years. The cooked variety is black in color and has an earthy flavor.

White tea: Not as popular as other varieties, but good alternatives are Silver Needle and White Peony, and a white tea from Yunnan, a fermented white tea cake and white tea bricks. It contains a greater number of antioxidants than other teas.

Yellow tea: Nowadays, yellow tea is only found in a few locations in China, mainly because it is difficult to process. Only three varieties are well known: Meng Ding from Sichuan province, Junshan Silver Needle from Hunan and the Huoshan Yellow Buds from Anhui. Both the leaves and the brewed tea are yellow-green in color. The taste is fresh, with a slight hint of pepper.

Scented teas: Scented teas are made by combining high quality tea leaves with the fragrances and tastes of blossoms, for example, jasmine or pomelo flowers.

Tea ceremony
The purpose of tea ceremony is spiritual enlightenment.Tea ceremony includes tea artistry,tea etiquette, environment, and enlightenment.

Pin Yin–the way of Chinese character pronunciation (III)

Today, I will finish my teaching of  Pin Yin –Tones and Rules of Spelling.

study pinyin
Photo Credit: Fufurasu via Compfight cc


Definition: Chinese is tone language. By tone language I mean the language in which every word has its specific tone or tones.

Importance: tones can distinguish meanings. Different tones have different meanings. For example, the two pinyin have the same initial and final. They are different only in tones. For example, mǎi and mài, mǎi is the third tone and means to buy; mài is the fourth tone and means to sell.

A vivid illustration of Chinese tones (pitch graph of the 4 tones). The tone marks: “—”mother, “/” Yes?, “∨” (really?), “\” Yes! What!

In order to give you a better understanding, I will share you a pitch graph so that you will know what is tone like vividly.

Tone description

The bigger the number is , the higher the pitch is. The first tone keeps staying at number 5. The second tone is from number 3 to number 5. The third tone is from number 2 to 1 and then goes from number l  to number 4. The fourth tone is from number 5 to number 1. The fifth tones light tone.

Attention: in video 2, the introduction of the third tone is not accurate

Where do we place tone marks? Generally, put it on the major vowel of the “final”. Then what’s the major vowels? It’s that one that appears ahead according to the order “a o e i u ü”. Egg. mǎi, kāi, táo, xiè, dòu.

The neutral tone/ light tone/ toneless: some words have unstressed syllables which one toneless and therefore they are not given tone marks.  How do we know a word is the neutral tone? (1) Structural words like particles are also often unstressed and similarly unmarked e.g.. de(的), le(了), ma(吗). (2) when we address others, sometimes the same two Chinese characters are read toneless e.g. māma (mother), jiějie, (sister) (3) other cases such as conventional/customary e.g.  xièxie, tàiyang, yǎnjing.

Try to speak loudly to practise.

Tonal Adjustment

Adjustment of the third tone: (1) in speech, when a third tone precedes another third one, it changes to a second tone e.g. nǐhǎo pronounces níhǎo. (2) Tone3+tone (1,2,4, neutral) its rising part is omitted, like half tone3 e.g. wǔmei, wǒmen.

Adjustment of bu and yi: when yī precedes tonel, tone2 and tone3, it changes to the fourth tone. When yī precedes the forth tone,  it changes to the second tone e.g. yītiān→yì; yīnián→yì; yīwǎn→yì; yīkuai→yì; yíduì. Similarly, 不(bu) is fourth tone, when bù precedes tonel, tone2 and tone3, it do not change;but when bù  precedes the forth tone,  it changes to second tone bú e.g. bùgāo/bùnán/bùhǎo→bù(remain the same tone); búmàn.

Rules of spelling

1. The finals of zhi chi shi ri zi ci si are “i”.

2. As for finals beginning with “i” without initials: if there is no other vowel, just add ‘y’ to the beginning: yi, yin, ying. If there is another vowel or other vowels, remove ‘i’and add y to the beginning: ya(-ia); ye(-ie); yao(-iao); you (-iou); yang(-iang); yong(-iong).

3. As for finals beginning with ‘u’ without initials: if there is no other vowel, just add ‘w’ to the beginning: wu. If there is another vowel or other vowels, remove ‘u’ and ‘w’ to the beginning: wa(-ua), wo(-uo), wan(-uan), wang(-uang), weng(-ueng), wai(- uai), wei(-uei), wen(-uen).

4. When you see j q x y initial goes with ü, you need to change ü to u, For example ju, quan, xue, yu, yue, yuan, yun.

5. Tone marks are marked on the vowels ‘a o e i u ü’, according to the order, for example kāi, zhāo.  When the tone mark is on an ‘i’, the dot on the ‘i’ should be omitted, for example jīn,tì,zhǐ. As for finals iu and ui, we always put the tone marks on the latter, for example diū, niú, huī.

If you have any problem about pinyin, please feel free to ask me.


Pin Yin–the way of Chinese character pronunciation (II)

Last time, I introduced Initial Sounds of Pin Yin, today I will continue the Final Sounds teaching. The finals connect with the Intitial sounds to create the one syllable words that are the basis of the Chinese language. Although Pin Yin is always made up of Initial Sounds, Final Sounds, and tones, sometimes Final Sounds associated with tones can constitute syllable as well.

Final (Ending Sounds): 24

Final Sound Table

-a (as in father), -an (like the sounds of “angry”), -ang (like the sound of “wrong“), ai- (as in “high”), -ao (as in “how” or “out”)

-o (as in “what”), -ou (as in “low” or “boat” ), -ong ( similar to “own” )

e- (sounds like “uh”), -en (as  in “open“), -eng (sounds like “won‘t”), ei- (as in “eight”), -er (as in “herd”)

i- (sounds like “ee” in”see”), ie- (sounds like “ye” in “yes”), in-(as in “bin“), ing-( as in “going“), iu-( sounds like “yo” in “yoga”)

u (sounds like “oo” in “loop”), -ui (similar to “way”), -un (sounds like  “win)

-ü (First try to pronounce “i”, and then your tongue stays here, gradually purse your lips. Try it yourself). When ü or letter combinations of ü meet initials j,q,x, we write ü as u.  -üe/ue(sounds like “yea” in “year”), üe/ue, ün (u with n, like French une)

Final sounds combinations (12):

-ia (sounds like ya in “yard”), -ian (similar to “yen”), iang(similar to “young”), -iao (sounds like yow in “yowl”), -iong (i merged with ong)

-ua (u followed by a), uai- (similar to “why”), -uan (u followed by an), uang- (u followed by ang ), -ueng (u followed by eng, which exists only with zero initial as weng), uo-(as in “war”)

-uan (ü followed by an, only with initials j,q,x)

Pin Yin–the way of Chinese character pronunciation (I)

Putonghua which is also called Mandarin is the common language of the Han ethnic group in China. It’s standard and official. It’s based on Beijing phonetics and the dialect of the northern China. The Chinese language is divided into seven major dialects. Speakers of different dialects in some cases cannot understand each other, but dialects are unified by the fact that they share a common script. The seven Chinese dialects are Northern dialect, Wu dialect, Xiang dialect, Gan dialect, Min dialect, Hakka (spoken in northern Guangdong and other provinces) and Cantonese. Min, Hakka and Cantonese are widely spoken among overseas Chinese communities.

Chinese character is the writing symbol of Chinese, while pinyin is the phonetic symbol of Chinese character. A Chinese character corresponds to one syllable, and a syllable usually composes of three parts: initials, finals and tones. There are 21 initials, 36 finals, two semivowel(y, w), and five tones which are made up of four tones and soft one in Pin Yin.

In teaching Chinese as a foreign language, phonetic teaching is the first step but a important step, as the study of Pin Yin is the basis of Chinese learning, which affects whether students can learn Chinese well. Only after we teach students pinyin, they know how to read Chinese characters, and how to communicate by speaking Chinese.The following chart is a Chinese phonetic chart
alt=”” /> Pin Yin chart

Today we will introduce Initial Sounds (22) first.

声母表 (Initial Sounds chart)



























These initial letters have the same pronunciation as in English: (fl,m,s,(w),(y)).

m– (as in “man”), n– (as in “no”), l– (as in “letter”), f- (as in “from”), s– (as in “student”), w– (as in “woman”), y–(as in “be”).

The following initial letters have slight differences as noted below. If the comment calls for a strong puff of breath, old your open hand several inches from your mouth and make certain that you can actually “feel” the breath as you pronounce the letter.

p– (as in “pun” or “pop”), note: use a strong puff of breath; k– (as in “cop”), note: use a strong puff of breath; t– (as in “top”), note: use a strong puff of breath; b (as in “bum”) note: no puff of breath; d– (as in “dung”), note: no puff of breath; g (as in “good”), note: no puff of breath; h– (as in “hot”) note: slightly more aspirated than in English.

The following initial letters are the more difficult for English speakers.

z– (as in “friends“), c–(as in bits“), s–(almost the same as the pronounce of “s’ in English), zh (as in “judge”) ch– (as in “church“, but with a strong puff of breath), sh– (as in “shirt”), r– (as in “run”), j– (as in “jeep”) but keep tongue flat, q– (like the “ch” in “cheese”) but keep tongue flat, x– (like the “sh in “sheep”) also keep tongue flat.