My name is: Kendra Schaefer (My personal site)
I live in: Beijing
First year in China: 2002
What this site is for: This site doesn’t exist to teach you Chinese from scratch – there are plenty of sites and programs that do that. But this collection might help you keep your skills fresh, practice recognizing sentence structure, or pick up the occasional new vocabulary word.
After spending a few years China studying Mandarin and working, I took a several-year hiatus and returned to my native country. It was alarming how quickly my language skills began disintegrating. I searched online for Chinese reading materials, and though I found plenty of dictionaries and flash card sources, I had a very difficult time finding something that was at an appropriate reading level, was different than the typical textbook-y stuff available online, was presented in a way that was easy to read, and that I was sure I could get through. I ended up spending more time looking for something that was suitable than actually doing any reading. Even worse, I’d often get through a few paragraphs only to hit a phrase I couldn’t decipher and, with no one to ask, would have to put the reading aside. Annoy-ing!
As someone who organizes her thoughts into a series of domain names, it was inevitable I’d eventually start a website about it, and here you are. I post whenever I get a chance.
About the Translations
Most (but not all) of the translations on this site are done by me, and I don’t post anything unless I’ve checked it several times, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t missed something. Do feel free to comment if you see anything that ought to have a better translation – it won’t be taken amiss.
It’s often quite difficult to do a word-for-word translation, as Chinese words that fit well into a particular Chinese sentence read very awkwardly after they’ve been translated – sometimes a direct translation just sounds off. This is more and more true the higher your reading level.
I’ll often change the order of wording in a sentence so that it makes sense or reads well in English. You’ll also notice that I often remove commas, split long Chinese sentences into two or more English sentences, or rearrange the order of clauses, which is necessary to accommodate Chinese grammar. The translation is meant as a guidepost to help point you in the right direction and keep you grounded in the text when needed – it’s up to you to dissect sentence structure.
How I Classify Reading Levels
Ultimately, my classifications are pretty arbitrary, but I’ll try to lay out some of my basic reasoning here.
Beginner – Very very few of these texts are actually beginner tests; at least I haven’t been able to find any real beginner stuff yet (I’m still looking for good sources of real beginner texts that aren’t boring dialogs – if you know of any, please write!). This is because for any story, article or essay to really take shape, it usually must involve some intermediate grammar or intermediate vocabulary. This is why most truly beginner textbooks stick to dialogs as opposed to actual articles. In order to do any real reading, you’ve got to at least know the basics of sentence structure. I will classify something as beginner if at least a couple of the following criteria are met:
- The sentence structure is easy throughout
- It contains mostly simpler words that are in the dictionary
- There is no modern slang
- The subject matter is basic / or for children
- It’s not too long
- It contains few or no idioms
- It contains intermediate vocabulary but the story structure is very repetitive, so you can pick up the thread more easily as you go along.
Intermediate – I classify something as intermediate if:
- It’s a longer piece that you have to hold a narrative thread through.
- The language is intermediate or upper-intermediate.
- There are some light idioms.
Advanced – Most of what’s out there online is advanced reading. That’s why as of now, there are more advanced texts on here than anything else. I classify something as advanced if:
- It contains many specialized or technical words (technology, health, beauty, geography, etc.)
- It contains high-level structures, like newspaper-y or literary writing styles.
- It contains any archaic words.
- The sentence structure is very complicated.
- It contains a lot of modern slang.
Enjoy, and good luck with your studies.