Learn Chinese cooking terms


Francisco was planning to cook a great meal for his Chinese friends in his apartment. They arrived early to help him cook. He wanted to have Bavarian stir-fried vegetables with Russian borscht, which his friends had absolutely no experience with. So, he had to give them directions, but oh, no! When he wanted to ask someone to use the spatula to stir the vegetables, or to use the ladle to serve the soup, all he could say was “把那个。。。那个东西。。。那个,快点拿那个把它那个那个,快!”(bǎ nà gè 。。。nà gè dōng xī 。。。nà gè ,kuài diǎn ná nà gè bǎ tā nà gè nà gè ,kuài!) His poor friends didn’t know which kitchen utensil he wanted. It was like that all night.

So, they ordered KFC. Hope this post will help you avoid those situations.

In Chinese, 勺 (sháo) refers to spoon or a round utensil for eating/cooking, but can also refer to something that does what a spatula does – stirring or turning over food in a wok – 锅 (guō). 锅 (guō) is the generic name for most pots, but if you’re looking for a specific utensil or pot, see below. Cookware in general is called 烹调用具 (pēng diào yòng jù).

铲子 or 锅铲

炒勺汤勺饭勺 漏勺 or 笊篱 平低锅 汤锅 汤锅2

Spring Festival (春节chūnjié) Travel Tips

Photo ID Required for Train Ticket Purchases

ID card

This Spring Festival, you will need photo ID when buying train tickets.

According to China Radio International and Sina.com news, travelers in Guangdong and Sichuan province must provide photo ID when buying tickets. As of right now, this rule does not apply to Beijing. It’s also a good idea to get to the ticket seller early. Arriving 2 hours before opening will increase your chances of buying tickets.

Note that you can only buy advance tickets for D, Z, T, and K trains 10 days in advance. Ticket sellers open at 9am.

Also, arriving at the train station early will give you enough time to check your luggage through security check and find your way to your boarding gate. Stations are often large, noisy, crowded, and confusing.

The Different Classes of Trains

Chinese-trainD (动车 dòngchē) Electric trains. Typically has higher speed than T trains or K trains, with a top speed of 250 km/h. Provides fast, frequent service between cities like Beijing/Taiyuan and Shenzhen/Guangzhou.

Z (直达 zhídá) Direct express trains. Although they are called “direct” trains, they may stop at stations along the way. Top speed 140 km/h.

T (特快 tèkuài) Express trains. They have a limited number of stops. Top speed 120 km/h.

K (kuài) Fast trains. Stops at more stations than T trains.

Trains without letters in front of them are the slowest of all. They stop at many more stations than the faster trains listed above, but ticket prices are also cheaper. Top speed 100 to 120 km/h.

More information on tickets, routes and pictures of train interiors at seat61.com


Be wary of long lines and pickpockets. Pay attention to your surroundings and the people around you. The Spring Festival is a high season for thieves and tricksters. Travel with a friend if possible, don’t fall asleep where it’s not safe, put wallets and valuables in inside pockets, and lock stowed luggage. Even pockets with zippers are vulnerable.Don’t keep your cash all in one place; if possible, divide it among places on your person.

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.

Free Chinese input tool

chinese inputGoogle pinyin input tool is one of most popular input tools in China. I love using it everyday at work, because it’s Fast, Smart and Easy to use.

If you are learning Chinese characters and want an easy way to input them yourself, you should try it out.

You can download at following address and can be installed easily,


available for windows XP and Vista systems

Helpful shortcuts:

1.Switch easily from Chinese to English input by using the Ctrl+Shift shortcut,

2.Select input results using Number keys accordingly or Space key to select the first one

3.Use “,” key (comma key)goes to previous page and “.” key(full comma) to next page.

Since this software and instructions are all in Chinese,  you run into any problems, let us know in comment, I ‘d love to help.

helpful websites for Mandarin learning


Need to look up a word by pinyin, English, or in Chinese? Need to hear how it’s pronounced? Check out this website with the funny name, Nciku.

In my few months of learning Mandarin it’s the best site I’ve come across so far. Why?

  • search by pinyin, English, or Chinese
  • don’t know the pinyin or the English translation of a character, but know how to write it? Use your mouse to write the character, and the dictionary will suggest matches and look it up for you
  • instantly hear how a word/phrase is pronounced
  • example sentences so you can see how the word is used, with pinyin and English translation directly underneath. ‘Cause a word might be suitable in one situation but not another. Useful for those “use this vocabulary word to make up a sentence” homework exercises!
  • looping flash animations show you how to write the word, stroke by stroke
  • active forum so you can ask questions that a dictionary can’t answer
  • sign up for an account to create your own vocab lists for later review
  • can look up English words, with both American and UK pronunciation

The site’s still in beta but has certainly come a long way since its inception. Wonder what features are coming next?

MDGB Online Dictionary

To be honest, I haven’t used this one as much as nciku. But this site still has some impressive features.

  • specialized vocabulary and advanced words included
  • Chinese <-> English translation (no pinyin support, sorry! but copy&paste is supported)
  • radical/stroke lookup
  • flash cards and character quizzes (under 练习 Practice)
  • option to denote tones with numbers, marks, or different colors. Pretty.

They also have an offline reader available. Ever find it annoying to read a Chinese document on the computer, find a word you don’t know, open up a web browser, then copy&paste the word into a search engine to find out the meaning? With the reader, just hover over the word and a definition will pop up. However, it’s only free for 15 days.

This website was great for finding the Chinese names of common houseplants that filter the air. (Be sure to check the poison information on the plants if you click on the link)

Are you curious about the Chinese names of air-cleaning houseplants and where you can get them in Beijing? What are your favorite websites for learning Chinese? Do you use software that shows popup definitions for text that you can hover over with your mouse? Show you care and share in the comments.


20 points for anyone who can tell me what nciku and MDGB mean.