Going to the Movies? How to use Your Smart Phone to Buy Discount Movie Tickets

My wife and I have lived in Beijing for several years. Over the years we’ve had many friends venture to the movies theaters to watch the latest hits while we stayed home and enjoyed the savings of 10RMB DVDs. Now certainly there is a worthwhile savings for those who are patient enough to wait for a quality copy to come out to the dwindling number of DVD stores, but we all know that going to the theater is just not the same experience. There’s just something about the big screen, especially in 3D that blows away the home viewing experience.


A few months ago a local friend gave us some free movie tickets. Another friend then told me about an app that would allow a view of all the current movies and where they were playing. I then chose a 3D movie I knew my life would love to see for her birthday, but you guessed it, the free tickets were for 2D movies. I was now finally motivated, I had to have those tickets, but the price! So I asked another friend and they told me about the app. I actually bought the tickets while standing in line at the theater and saved substantially at the counter.


So, if you have an interest in either watching Chinese or Western movies (in their original language) in Beijing, with the original voice soundtrack, and don’t mind or actually would enjoy practicing your Chinese reading by following the Chinese subtitles, then this app is a must. The app is free and is called Mtime, or in pinyin – shiguangwang (时光网). Below is the step-by-step process for downloading and using Mtime.


Note that these directions are specific to making your purchase using a Chinese bankcard.


1)   Download the app and open it.


2)   The Home page is at center bottom and the current movie list is displayed with a customer rating from 1-10 (this post will not go into what the other bottom tabs are for).



3)   Scroll through and pick the movie you’re interested in.


4)   Push the orange purchase ticket (购票) tab.


5)   Here you will have a choice of dates at the top and below a scroll down for movie theaters showing your movie pick. I prefer to narrow the options by tapping the middle green circle tab (地区) so I can choose theaters in my district. If you’re in Chaoyang District you might want to choose the second tab for your nearby (附近) theaters.


6)   Scroll down and select the tab for your choice of theaters.



7)   You will see optional show times and prices for your movie tickets. Touch the tab for your preferred show time.


8)   Reserve your seat(s) by touching the seats you prefer. You can touch and order as many seats as you want from those that have not been reserved. The seats you reserve will appear orange while the rest are blue. The bottom will display the row (排) and seat numbers (座). When you’re finished you can press the orange next (下一步) button.



9)   Enter the cell phone number and password you would like to use (there should be at least one numerical digit).


10)  Now push the light blue register tab (免费注册) (In the future, once you’ve registered, you can tap the log in (登录) tab, that is, assuming it remembers your phone number).



11) Enter your phone number and your preferred password, then push the tab to obtain your verification number (获取验证吗) and you will receive a text with your verification code.


12) Enter the code and push the (提交) tab.



13) You get a pop up window that asks you to confirm that you want to go forward. Touch the definitely (确定) tab if you definitely want the tickets.


14) Now you have two choices, either registering your email address or cell phone. If you want to order tickets only with your phone, then touch the submit (提交) tab (this post only follows the track of using your cell phone).



15) You will get a screen that confirms you order and the amount. If it all looks right tap next (下一步).


16) Now you have a choice of payment options. The simplest is to use the Union Pay online option (使用银联在线付款) which is the second orange tab.



17) Now enter your bankcard number and touch “next”. You will get a second window. Enter your pin# and your registered phone number and then touch the orange SMS tab. You should receive a text with the required SMS number. Enter the number and touch “Start Pay”.


18) When processing is complete, Mtime should hold a record of your ticket purchase. You should also receive a text with the purchase details. You can show either of these at the ticket window to receive your tickets.



Of course I accept no responsibility for the accuracy of this post, or any losses you may incur as a result of following the above instructions.


There you have it. Enjoy your movie!

Great post on the strengths and weaknesses of SRS

SRS – spaced repetition systems are a really popular learning tool for increasing your memory retention and recall. Many of our students really like the results it produces whether they are using Skritter, Pleco or Anki.

This post by Olle Linge of Hacking Chinese is a great post for understanding how to make the most of SRS, and how not to use it.



Inputting Chinese characters

If you are learning Chinese then chances are that before too long you will want to write in Chinese using the computer. Assuming you are looking for a tool that allows you to write in Chinese as easily as it to write in roman script, then what you are looking for is a Chinese IME (Input Method Editor).


Google has is own IME for inputting Chinese characters http://google.com/intl/zh-CN/ime/pinyin/, and like most things Google it works well. Once installed it is easy to switch between writing in English and writing in Chinese.


The key selling point of any Chinese IME is its ability to provide the exact characters you want. For instance if you are writing about a policeman then you will want 被警察 (bèijǐngchá) rather than 北京茶.

The Google IME appears to claim that it will do a better job at getting to the characters you want quickly and accurately, and from my experience so far it seems to do a very good job of it. It can cope with writing long strings of characters and analyse the whole sentence to determine what characters make sense.


One drawback about the Google IME is that it the software itself is in Chinese– i.e. the terms and conditions, the settings etc are all in Chinese (so not so helpful if you are still a rookie language learner). You don’t need to alter the settings to make it work well, so this isn’t necessarily a problem but if you are of a nervous disposition, or just like to carefully read all your terms and conditions then maybe the Microsoft Pinyin IME would be a better alternative.


See also the previous blog post on wubi and pinyin.


Skritter review – a great way of learning how to write Chinese characters

Learning how to write Chinese characters is hard, and we can use all the help we can get. Skritter (http://www.skritter.cn) is a website that uses some clever web coding to create a novel way of helping you learn characters.

The strongest feature of Skritter in my opinion is its tool for Chinese character writing with real time feedback. This is unique as far as I am aware. When you draw a character the strokes you have drawn ‘fall’ into the right place – so every time you make a stroke a little too short, or forget the hook, or make it too straight – it will show you immediately what it should look like, and then let you continue on with writing the other strokes. Similarly, it will let you know if the stroke is in the wrong order, or wrong direction. It will even give you a hint if you are completely stuck as to which stroke comes next. Using Skritter has taught me that I have been writing the liang of piao liang (漂亮 – beautiful) wrong for months. I had been putting 儿 for the last two strokes instead of 几, and skritter would not let me get away with it!

Skritter is full of other useful features that should aid the language learner such as an inbuilt Spaced Repetition System, Audio reinforcement, and character decompositions, and user created mnenomics (see http://www.skritter.cn/pricing for a full list). Alongside which the studying is very customizable, allowing you to focus on exactly what you need whether that is just writing, or if reading and remembering the correct tone are also important to you.

However, to be honest, I am not going to be using it beyond the free trial. Partly that is due to the monthly fee ($10), but also I have already been learning for a while and I have found a set of other resources that provide almost all the features that Skritter provides.

But if you are new to learning to write Chinese characters, then it could be an excellent place for you to start. Skritter is not free, but they do let you have a two week free trial to experiment to see if it works for you. Hope this Skritter review helpful for those who want to give it try.
Learn Chinese Characters

a great Chinese video player

 As I mentioned in previous post,  today I’d like to share more about the  Chinese video player-Splayer, it’s neat, safe and really high performance  video player I’ve ever used.  It has many great features, and the one feature I like most is that it automatically matches and downloads movies subtitles itself from shooter.cn, so you don’t need to find the movie subtitle manually  yourself.

What can it do for learning Chinese? You probably heard from other Chinese learners that it’s great way to learn Chinese by watching Chinese movies, so if you are planing to do so, then this video player can do you a great help by using its subtitle automatic download and almost all the Chinese movies has both English and Chinese subtitles which download from shooter.cn.  I believe you can learn some real Chinese by learning from Chinese movies.

FYI, here is the post about downloading Chinese movie subtitles from shooter if you want to know more.

Other great features about this video player are smooth playback, low consumption, HD quality, Intelligent subtitle display technology and clean/beautiful interface.

More detail information about Splayer and downloading this video player, can be found here: http://splayer.org/index.en.html

Hope you find this post helpful, please let me know if you run into any problem or need any help with finding a certain Chinese movie.


Where to download Chinese subtitles for movies

Recently, when I was surfing around on some Chinese learning websites, I noticed that some people were looking for a place where they can download  Chinese subtitles for movies. And Since watching movies is one of great ways to learn Chinese,  I’d like to share some resources today, hope it would be something helpful for those who want to learn Chinese by watching movies or for those just want it for entertainment.

The website I’d like to introduce is called 射手网-shooter.cn, it’s personal-owned website and has tons of subtitles from way back, probably any movie you can think of. You can download Chinese subtitles for Chinese or English movies, or English subtitles for Chinese or English movies.  How can you make it work to show up the subtitles then?

Here are the steps:

1. type in the name of the movie in search bar and search;

2. then download the subtitles to your computer;

3. to change the file name of subtitles and make sure all the subtitles in different language have the same file name with the movie file name; (please make sure you don’t change the file format)

4. lastly, if your video player recognize  the subtitle file, you should be able to have subtitle showed up and also you can switch between different subtitle languages as well.

One more tip: when you search for subtitles, mostly like there would be many versions available from different subtitle producers, but the only important thing you need to know is what languages available in each version of subtitle? There is a language section of each subtitle description, so you can find out what languages  are available, the most common languages available are simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese and English. here are two examples:

subtitle languages: English, traditional Chinese, Dutch and French.

Subtitle languages: English, simplified and traditional Chinese.

Hope this post would be helpful to you and let me know in comment if you run into any problem.

In next post, I will share more about the video player developed by shooter.cn called Splayer.

Zhongwen: A Chinese Pop Up Translator for Chrome

Here’s another one for all you Chinese-learning Google Chrome users out there- this follows suit after our previous post about the Perapera-kun Chinese translator plugin for Firefox. Likewise, Zhongwen is a Google Chrome extension that brings up pop-up translations of Chinese characters and words from webpages that you are browsing.


The Zhongwen plugin translates both traditional and simplified Chinese characters into English, and uses the popular CEDICT Chinese English dictionary to do so. Most importantly, it also shows the Hanyu Pinyin along both the simplified and traditional characters.

Installing the Zhongwen plugin is quite a bit easier than the Perapera-kun plugin. All you need to do is navigate to the Zhongwen plugin page and click install; no separate dictionary file installation is required. Activating the plugin for use just requires you to click the plugin button in your browser, and mousing over Chinese characters will automatically call the translation popup to show.

Zhongwen Google Chrome Chinese Dictionary Popup Extension


Zhongwen Google Chrome Chinese Dictionary Popup Extension


To get started with the Zhongwen Extension:

1. Get the Google Chrome browser

2. Install the Zhongwen Extension

Happy surfing!

Perapera-kun: A Chinese Pop Up Translator for Firefox

I wanted to highlight an awesome translator pop-up tool for those who use the Firefox internet browser, called Perapera-kun. Perapera-kun is an extension add-on for Firefox that acts as a pop-up translator for Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, into English or German. I haven’t tried out the Korean, Japanese, or German dictionaries, but the Chinese-to-English dictionary provides translated meanings of words, and also the pinyin pronunciation of the word. This is a great tool to have if you’re wanting to venture into the Chinese net-space to browse some local BBS forums or news sites.



To get started with Perapera-kun:

1. Get the Firefox browser

2. Install the Perapera-kun add-on

3. Install the Chinese-to-English dictionary file

(Note: The Perapera-kun website is hosted on a WordPress site, which is blocked by the Chinese firewall. Here is a direct link to the Chinese-to-English dictionary file)

Happy surfing!

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

Recharging and Checking minutes on china mobile

china-mobile1 Omegadelta.net has a comprehensive post on navigating China Mobile’s automated service number, including plans, rates for voice, texts, data, international calling, and other information. Quite a good guide. If you just want some easy ways to recharge or check your balance on China Mobile, though, read on.

To get started, call 13800138000 to talk to a female robot (in Chinese) or a male robot (English). To navigate through the menus:

  1. enter 2 for English
  2. enter 2 to recharge (the guy says something like “to make an advance payment”but it means recharge)
  3. enter 1# to recharge the cell phone you’re calling from
  4. enter your PIN
  5. enter # to end

You should hear a message confirming your recharge. After you hang up, you can text YE to 10086 to get a text message indicating your balance. The text will be in Chinese but you should be able to see numbers reflecting your recharge.

You can also save the number string 13800138000p2p2p1# on your phone, and set the number as a quick-dial number. Then all you’d have to do is call that phone number, then wait for it to enter digits for you automatically. Enter your PIN. Then, enter # to finish.

Alternatively, Omegadelta.net also says here that you can recharge your account by texting CZ [PIN number] to 10086.