Learn Chinese Through Listening to Chinese Music

google-musicA small follow-up of our previous post on methods on how to learn Chinese by watching Chinese TV shows, another way that you can improve your Chinese is to listen to and learn Chinese songs- and don’t forget to put it all to practice by going to the KTV with your friends!

There are many online music streaming websites in China, but one of the popular ones that I enjoy to use is Google China’s 谷歌音乐 (Google Music), however I believe that this service may only work for users who are located within China, as I know that users from the US aren’t able to connect to this service.

We’ll walk through some of the basic features of the Google Music website.


Looking first at the search bar, we can see several options of searching for the music that you’re looking for:

In the search bar, you can search for songs [搜索音乐] sou1suo3 yin1yue4, or you can search the website [搜索网页] sou1suo3 wang3ye4:

[输入歌手] shu1ru4 ge1shou3: Enter singer’s name

[专辑] zhuan1ji2: Enter album name

[歌曲名称或歌词] ge1qu3ming2cheng1 huo4 ge1ci2: Enter song name or lyrics


You can also browse the website by looking through the menu:

[首页] shou3ye4: Home page

[排行榜] pai2hang2bang3: Browse by top charts

[音乐分类] yin1yue4 fen1lei4: Browse by song genre

[挑歌] tiao2ge1: Customized selection

[歌手库] ge1shou3ku4: Browse by artist name

[私房歌] si1fang2 ge1: Artist’s recommendations


On the homepage, the main view lets you browse by songs of different languages:

[语榜单] hua2yu3 bang4dan1: Chinese Songs

[欧美榜单] ou1mei3 bang4dan1: Europe and American Songs

[日韩榜单] ri4han2 bang4dan1: Japanese and Korean Songs

You can also see a listing of new songs, and popular songs of each language category, and on the very far right, a listing of the popular artists.

[新歌] xin1ge1: New songs

[热歌] re4ge1: Popular songs

[歌手] ge1shou3: Artists

Hopefully this gives you a good start on browsing Google China’s Music service, and will help you on your way in improving your Chinese language learning. [Google Music]

If you have any other popular Chinese music streaming websites that you like to use, be sure to share them with the rest of us in the comments!

Wubi and Pinyin – Which Chinese Character Input Method?

Chinese Input Method KeyboardWriting Chinese characters by hand is a confusing task of memorizing strokes and characters, but the use of computers has made it slightly easier- perhaps an unfortunate blessing since I’ve heard time and time again from local coworkers how their grasp of writing out Chinese characters has regressed because they only now need to recognize characters due to their constant use of Chinese input methods. There are many types of input methods available; some which are based on pronunciation, while others on character structure, character set or a combination of pronunciation and character structure. I’d like to talk about two of the popular Chinese character input method editors (IME): Pinyin and Wubi.

Pinyin (拼音输入法)

Pinyin Chinese Input MethodThe Pinyin IME (拼音输入法 pin1yin1 shu1ru4fa3) allows users to input Chinese characters by typing in the pinyin of a Chinese character, and the Pinyin IME then presents the user with a list of characters with that pinyin pronunciation. The advantage of the pinyin input method is that it’s very easy to learn for Mandarin speakers, since those who are familiar with pinyin will already be able to input Chinese characters with almost no training, which is not the case with other input methods. The Pinyin IME is very popular in mainland China, since children are already required to learn pinyin in school. However the Pinyin IME was created based on the pronunciation of standard-Mandarin so native Mandarin speakers who speak with accents will have a hard time distinguishing a number of similar sounding syllables, such as c and ch, s and sh, z and zh, n and ng, h or hu and f, or n and l. Moreover, Chinese dialect speakers who don’t know pinyin, or speak Mandarin, will not be able to use this input method at all.

Wubizixing (五笔字型输入法)

Wubi Chinese Input MethodThe Wubi IME, short for The Wubizixing (五笔字型输入法 wu3bi3zi4xing2shu1ru4fa3) allows users to input Chinese characters based on the structure of characters rather than their pronunciation, making it possible to enter Chinese characters even when the user doesn’t know the pronunciation, or if the user speaks a dialect of Chinese. As the name suggets, the Wubi 五笔 (wu3bi3) IME divides the keyboard into five regions, which is assigned a certain type of character stroke, which allows for the user to efficiently write characters with at most 4 keystrokes. Another efficiency in using Wubi over phonetic character input methods, is that users don’t have to select characters from a list of similar homo-phonic choices, and so there’s a greater ability for a Wubi typist to ‘touch’ type without having to look at the computer screen. However, a major drawback to learning Wubi is that it has a high learning curve, and requires memorization and practice for a user to use it proficiently.

Which Input Method?

My recommendation for choosing between these two Chinese character input methods would be to consider your goal for typing Chinese. If you aim to be a professional Chinese typist, and need to input Chinese characters at a high rate, then it may be well worth your time to learn the Wubi IME system. However, if you are a standard-Mandarin speaker, and only need to input Chinese for casual computer use such as online chatting and surfing, then the Pinyin IME system will be more than sufficient for your needs.

Are you a well versed Chinese typist? Share your views on these two Chinese character input methods, or any other input method that you may be using already, in the comments below.

Learn Chinese Characters

How to be a tough guy in Chinese

The following phrases are commonly used in casual spoken Chinese. They can help you to express your frustration, dissatisfaction, or ensure that people will not mess with you. Either that, or these phrases may earn you a free beating. Use at your own discretion. ;)

The 找 (zhǎo)pattern: looking for…

找 (zhǎo) is most commonly used for 找东西 (zhǎo), i.e. looking for something. However, 找 (zhǎo) also has many other useful applications…

找茬 (zhǎochá), verb. To purposely find fault and pick at small details. Or, to make a fuss/make trouble.

他已经做得很好了,你别找茬了 (tā yǐjīng zuò děi hěn hǎo le, nǐ bié zhǎochá le) He’s done his best already; don’t be so picky.

A synonym for 找茬 (zhǎochá) is 找事 (zhǎoshì). Also, 没事找事 (méishì zhǎo shì), adj., is to be a busybody, or to complain, or to make a big deal out of something small.

你的博客不是已经修改了好几次了吗?别没事找事,快发布吧!(nǐ de bókè bù shì yǐjīng xiūgǎi le hǎo jǐ cì le ma? bié méishì zhǎo shì, kuài fābù ba!) Didn’t you revise your blog post like a million times already? Stop fussing and publish it!

Adding the particle 啊 (a) or 呀 (ya) at the end and emphasizing 茬 (chá) or 事 (shì)  increases the note of aggression. The particle is usually pronounced with 轻声 (qīngshēng) – pronounced with a neutral tone.

Quite often, you’ll hear drivers yelling at pedestrians/bicyclists/other drivers/people when they get in their way and the drivers have to suddenly put on the brakes because they’ve been driving too fast. They’ll say, “找呀你?! (zhǎocháyanǐ), that is, you lookin’ for trouble?!

If your friends are making fun of you, you could also say, “找呀你?! (zhǎocháyanǐ)”, or alternatively, “找啊你?! (zhǎoshìanǐ)” you lookin’ for trouble? you wanna start somethin’? Make sure to emphasize the 茬 (chá) or 事 (shì). Hopefully, your friends will know that you’re joking.

The 欠 (qiàn) pattern: you deserve a...

欠 (qiàn) means owe, or lack. In English sometimes people will say someone “needs a smackdown”.  In Chinese, this can be expanded to express dissatisfaction at people and/or situations. Another reason why Chinese is such a wonderful language.

欠揍 (qiàn zòu) adj., deserves a beating
欠打 (qiàn dǎ) adj.,deserves to be hit
欠骂 (qiàn mà) adj.,deserves to be scolded
说话欠考虑 (shuōhuà qiàn kǎolǜ) adj.,speaks without thinking

这小孩儿总是不听话,真欠骂! (zhè xiǎoháir zǒngshì bùtīng huà, zhēn qiàn mà!) This kid is such a brat; he deserves a good scolding!

网络又出问题了,真欠揍! (wǎngluò yòu chū wèn tí le, zhēn qiàn zòu !) Internet’s down again; somebody’s gonna get a hurt real bad!

All of these can be used to express displeasure, but rarely is used to indicate a desire for actual violence. Anyway, it’d be irresponsible to not caution you to be careful who you say it to. Your good friends or coworkers that you can joke around with, no problem. But your boss or spouse…well, not so much.

Read Bilingual News, Learn Chinese

Check out sl.iciba.com to read current news with English on the top and Chinese on the bottom. Although there is no pinyin, you can see the meaning of Chinese words in their context.

In the definition window you can see definitions and bilingual example sentences, although many of the example sentences seem quite obscure. You can also search for other Chinese words directly from the pop-up window.


Do you have any other useful English/Chinese bilingual websites? Share them in the comments.

Free language resource: How to Learn Chinese

Please download How to learn Chinese Guide and feel free to share with your friends.

This useful guide covers topics such as learning Chinese strategies, learning styles, maintaining motivation, overcoming barriers, memorizing vocabulary, and various other issues. Now freely available online with hard copies available at our Chinese language school in Beijing.

We’ve heard some positive feedback about this practical learning Chinese guide from our current students. Hope it’ll help you improve your Chinese as well!

One of the most useful sections is about learning Chinese  strategies. These chapters contain ideas such as different ways to use flash cards, recording yourself, saying the action that you are doing, grouping items or topics, labeling items, or looking for similarities. Other useful topics include maintaining motivation and learning from high achievers.

If you’ve downloaded and read some of the content, or have tried it out, let us know your thoughts down in the comments.

P.S. if you prefer to read or download individual chapters online, please see our How to learn Chinese page.


How to learn Chinese guide

Free Chinese language study guide available for download in pdf format. This useful Chinese study guide covers topics such as learning strategies, learning styles, maintaining motivation, overcoming barriers, memorizing vocabulary, and other issues in the study of Mandarin. Now freely available online with hard copies available at our Beijing Chinese language school.  Please feel free to share with your friends.