Basic Spoken English 《基础英语口语》

Basic Spoken English is now ready for download. Check it out!

I wrote this textbook last week for Chinese students wishing to improve their spoken English (英语口语), but English teachers in China may also find this a useful resource in the classroom.

The first lesson includes a breakdown of all the basic sounds of the English language. I have recorded both a male and female version of the mp3 which students can practice. The rest of the lessons are made up of short dialogues for students to listen to and role-play. You can find translations into Chinese of the key vocabulary in the Basic Spoken English PDF.

Enjoy!

Download Basic Spoken English (PDF)

Download all 24 lessons in mp3 format (ZIP)

33 Funny Words in Chinese

Let’s try something a bit lighter today. Here’s 33 words in Chinese I’ve collected over the years that I think are pretty funny when translated literally. Some of them also reveal a little bit about Chinese culture and thinking. Enjoy!

33 Funny Words in Chinese

  1. A computer is an “electric brain” (电脑).
  2. A cactus is an “immortal man’s palm” (仙人掌).
  3. A chameleon is a “colour-changing dragon” (变色龙).
  4. A pet is a “spoilt thing” (宠物).
  5. A boss is an “old board” (老板).
  6. A van is a “bread car” (面包车).
  7. A work of erotica is a “yellow book” (黄书).
  8. A porn is a “hairy film” (毛片).
  9. A breast stroke is a “frog swim” (蛙泳).
  10. A woman who has a successful career but remains single is a “leftover woman” (剩女).
  11. A woman who is easy to seduce is like “instant noodles” (方便面).
  12. A mistress is a “little 3” (小三).
  13. A hot babe is a “spicy little sister” (辣妹).
  14. A dildo is a “massage stick” (按摩棒).
  15. If you date someone, you “talk about love” (谈恋爱).
  16. If you come on to someone, you “eat tofu” (吃豆腐).
  17. If you give someone a hickey, you “plant a strawberry” (种草莓).
  18. If you cheat on your partner, you “go off the rails” (出轨).
  19. If your partner cheats on you, you “wear a green hat” (戴绿帽子).
  20. If you stand someone up, you “release a pigeon” (放鸽子).
  21. If you put on weight, you “get lucky” (发福).
  22. If you get rabies, you get the “crazy dog disease” (狂犬病).
  23. If you leave something to the last minute, you “grab the Buddha’s foot” (抱佛脚).
  24. If you’re fired from your job, you have your “squid fried” (炒鱿鱼).
  25. If you make things hard for someone by abusing your power, you make them “wear small shoes” (穿小鞋).
  26. If something has nothing to do with you, you say you’re just here “to buy soy sauce” (打酱油).
  27. When you do something immediately, you do it “on a horse” (马上)
  28. When you encourage and cheer someone on, you urge them to “add oil” (加油).
  29. You don’t wear contact lens, you wear “invisible glasses” (隐形眼镜).
  30. You don’t take ecstasy tablets, you take “shaking head tablets” (摇头丸).
  31. Your fourth finger is not your ring finger, but a “nameless finger” (无名指).
  32. You’re not a country bumpkin, but a “dirt bun” (土包子).
  33. Your way of making a living is not your bread and butter, but your “rice bowl” (饭碗).

向“百年国耻”说再见 (Saying Goodbye to National Humiliation)

向“百年国耻”说再见

Saying Goodbye to National Humiliation

梁文道著 Text by Leung Man-tao

傅君恺译 Translation by Carl Gene Fordham

 

中国在过去十年之间走过的道路还真是奇怪,尤其自媒体取得相对开放的空间以来,明明我们看到中国有诸多问题和困难,但才一回头,却猛然发现自己突然之间竟成了一个叫人艳羡甚至嫉恨的大国了。明明我们是一个受了百年欺凌的发展中国家,这两年在国际媒体上看见的却是一片中国热。明明几年前我们还是那个被人妖魔化的国度,现在却目瞪口呆地看着中文成为各国学生的热门科目。

The road China has been going down over the past decade is really quite strange, especially since the relative liberalisation of the media. Yes, obviously, we can see China has a lot of problems and difficulties, but it’s not until you turn your head around that you suddenly realise China has become a superpower that is admired, even envied. And yes, it’s clear that we are a developing country that has been the bully’s victim for a century, yet over the past couple of years we have seen in the international media people becoming more and more fascinated with our country. Evidently just a few years ago we were still a country that was demonised by others, but now we gaze in wonder as Chinese becomes a popular subject in schools around the world.

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Carl’s IELTS Essay Correction Glossary (卡尔的雅思写作修改必备词汇)

When Chinese students ask me the quickest way to improve their IELTS Writing score, I always tell them that personalised feedback is the most important thing. That, and the three Rs: Rewrite, Revise and ReadRewrite your essays in accordance with the feedback you get; Revise everything that you learn; Read more articles that contain vocabulary that is relevant to the test.

每当中国学生问我有什么方法能最快提高雅思写作分数时,我总是告诉他们,针对性的反馈意见是最重要的。也就是要做到三个R:重写、复习和阅读(Rewrite, Revise & Read)——重写作文,按照你收到的反馈意见写;复习你学到的所有东西;多读文章,有考试相关词汇的文章。

But, as anyone who marks IELTS essays for a living knows, there are also a number of standard terms you use when giving feedback. Some of them can be a bit tricky, so that’s why I’ve created this list of the most common terms I use when correcting Chinese students’ IELTS essays. I have also sorted the terms in this glossary into their respective IELTS Band Descriptors. Enjoy! – Carl

然而,任何一个专业批改雅思作文的人都知道,给出反馈意见要用到很多标准术语。有一些术语很难理解,所以我专门列了一个清单,是我给中国学生改雅思作文时最常用的术语。我对这些术语在词汇表中进行了分类,以便与雅思的评分标准相对应。好好学习!-卡尔

 

Carl’s IELTS Essay Correction Glossary

卡尔的雅思写作修改必备词汇

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40 Terms Commonly Used in Chinese Academic Writing

The following is a collection of 40 terms that I have come across while reading Chinese academic writing such as papers, reports, theses, etc. I think this list will be very useful for any Westerner coming to China to study a Chinese-taught programme, but it can also be used by Chinese wishing to improve their academic English vocabulary, as well as translation students and practitioners. I have tried to only include the most “typically Chinese” terms; I’ve deliberately left out words which have a one-to-one correspondence with English. For your convenience I’ve included a relatively simple example sentence for each word so you can better understand their usage. If you’re about to take on a Chinese-taught program, I think memorising this short list will help you understand lecturers a whole lot better. Enjoy!

40 Terms Commonly Used in Chinese Academic Writing

1. 学术 xuéshù: academics; scholarship; learning 民间文学是非常有学术价值的非物质文化遗产。Folk literature is an example of intangible cultural heritage which is of great academic value. [Note that “academia” can be translated as 学术界 xuéshùjiè, literally, “academic circles”.] Read more »

15 Chinese Words Which Have More Than One Meaning in English

I’ve always been curious about words in Chinese which can refer to two more different meanings in English. Here are 15 words I could think of that I have encountered before. If you can think of any more please let me know by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post!

 

1. 笑 xiào

笑 can mean both “smile” and “laugh”. To avoid possible confusion, the terms 微笑 and 大笑 can be used respectively. “Laughter” is translated as 笑声; “laughable” as 可笑. In most cases, context will make the intended meaning clear. For example, in the sentence 如果做得不好,请别见笑 it goes without saying that a person would laugh at someone’s poor job, rather than merely smile at it. Similarly, in the phrase 笑得很灿烂 (literally, “to xiao in a slendid and dazzling way”) it should be clear that “smile” is being referred to.

 

2. 声音 shēngyīn

声音 can mean both “voice” and “sound” in general. Context should make it obvious which sense is being referred to. For example, in the sentence 这女孩的声音很低沉 it would be absurd to translate it as “this girl’s sound is low and deep” – obviously it is her voice which is low and deep. In the same way, in the sentence 关门的声音把他唤醒过来 it must be the sound of a door shutting that woke the person up, since a door cannot speak obviously.

 

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Random Word Trivia #10

See how many of these random words you can guess the English and Chinese for!

1. You have a bad habit, like smoking or gambling.

2. You have a tool that enables you to appear taller than what you are.

3. You look really similar to a celebrity.

4. You have an argument with someone because your personality is different to theirs.

5. You are paid money to keep your mouth shut.

6. You are walking through a city, looking for a something which is recognisable from a distance.

7. You are a woman, and this is your bedroom.

8. You are someone who never shuts up.

9. You remove hair from your body with a sticky kind of substance.

10. You have been asked to stand in the background at the filming of a movie.

11. You have a floor covering made of straw, imported from Japan.

12. You see a seat on the train that is for people with disabilities and pregnant woman.

13. You see a list of the main things that need to be learnt in your textbook.

14. You notice a lot of people are obsessed with something, but you don’t think it will be popular for very long.

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14 Nouns That Are Countable in Chinese (But Not in English)

The following is a list of words that are countable in Chinese but not in English. I think this article will be beneficial for both learners of English and Chinese. Enjoy!

 

1. 信息 (news)

Chinese example sentence: 我有个好消息要告诉你。
Literal translation: I have a good news to tell you.
Idiomatic translation: I have some good news to tell you.

Chinese example sentence: 这些信息是不对的。
Literal translation: These information are incorrect.
Idiomatic translation: This information is incorrect.

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250 Physical Verbs in English and Chinese

I’ve always wanted to compile a list of verbs in English and Chinese that involve physical actions, as I believe these are some of the trickiest types of vocabulary to master. They’re tricky because, although they’re the kind of things we do on a daily basis, we rarely think about how to express them clearly in our first language – let alone our second.

I’ve broken up this list into nine categories, covering almost any type of physical verb you could think of.

  • Head, hair and face: 18
  • Mouth and throat: 18
  • Eyes and brows: 17
  • Utterances: 20
  • Hands and arms: 51
  • Legs and feet: 20
  • Whole body: 56
  • Displays of affection: 18
  • Acts of violence: 32
  • Total: 250

 Let’s get started!

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