Categories
Intermediate

Essay: 《感谢困难》Thanking Life’s Challenges by Lin Qingxuan

You can skip your Instagram yoga gratitude break today, here’s another one from Taiwanese Buddhist essayist Lin Qingxuan (林清玄). HSK 4-5.

Categories
Intermediate

Essay: 《蝴蝶的种子》Seed of a Butterfly by Lin Qingxuan

Taiwanese Buddhist essayist Lin Qingxuan marvels at the wonders of nature, time, space, and reincarnation. This piece is all about awe of the natural world, and you’ll learn some Discovery Channel vocab, like “pupa”, “mate”, “breed”, “spawn”, and lots of animal names.

Categories
Advanced

Letter: Ba Jin’s Correspondence with “Young Friends Searching for Ideals” – Part II

In Part II of this two-part series, we’ll read acclaimed author Ba Jin’s reply to the 10 elementary school students who wrote him a letter asking him for moral guidance in 1987. I’m not a super weepy person, but I legit cried reading this. This is a noble, elevating piece of writing, and reading it, I’m reminded that in all societies, there are those who struggle with the materialism that engulfs us.

Categories
Beginner

Essay:《帮忙》 Helping Out

In this one-paragraph read (HSK 2-3), Little Brother wants to help dad get ready to leave the house, but his contribution falls flat.

Categories
Advanced

Essay: 《丑石》The Ugly Rock by Jia Pingwa

Jia Pingwa (贾平凹) is one of China’s modern literary greats, and in this short story, it shows. I don’t know how this guy crammed so many insights on the human condition into a few paragraphs about a rock, but he undeniably did.

Categories
Intermediate

Letter: Ba Jin’s Correspondence with “Young Friends Searching for Ideals” – Part I

In the first of a two-part post, we’ll look at a letter sent in 1987 from a group of elementary school students to the anarchist writer Ba Jin (most famous for his 1931 novel The Family) as they struggle to cope with China’s changing social values. In Part II, I’ll translate Ba Jin’s reply.

Categories
Intermediate

Essay: Desk-chairs of the Future

This kid was asked to imagine the perfect desk-chair of the future – what it would look like, and what it would do – and boy, does he ever. The chair turns into all kinds of utopian machinery. It flies, it helps you sleep, and it carries your books to school. Sentence structure is pretty […]

Categories
Beginner

Essay: Catching Frogs

Though this post is beginner-level, it’s also very condensed. I’d say you’ll have to stop and remind yourself what something means every few words or so.

Categories
Beginner

Essay: My First Telephone Call

Though the conclusion of this essay might fall a bit flat for all of us who are very used to having a telephone, this is an interesting glimpse into what a monumental rite of passage it is for children in rural areas to have one or use one for the first time.

Categories
Intermediate

Essay: Papa, Please Don’t Smoke!

In this essay, a child desperately (and very angrily) pleads their father not to smoke. Though this is classified as “Intermediate”, beginners should definitely try this read, leaning heavily on the hover word-list. The difficult parts are the mid-level turns of phrase, which are all explained below.

Categories
Intermediate

Guest Post: The exam of life

Well well well, lookie here. A guest post! Today we’ll be reading Rebecca Chua’s (Chinese name: 蔡幸彤) translation of an essay from her textbook. The post is about the rewards of honesty. I remember my own textbook being full of these types of essays, so thank you, Rebecca, for the traditional read.

Categories
Intermediate

My Gluttonous Elder Brother

I set out to do a beginner post since I haven’t done one in a while, but no joy, I think I have to classify this as intermediate. Beginners are welcome to try this out, as most of the words are simple and the subject matter is a bit immature (so of course it totally […]

Categories
Advanced

News: Snowstorm has caused 15 deaths and 2000 flight delays or cancellations

In the spirit of the holiday season, which is winding to a blissfully overweight close, I give you an article about something you may or may not have just struggled through if you flew home for the holidays (which I did).

Categories
Beginner

Our Family’s Jump Rope Contest

A single-paragraph essay about the results of a family jump rope competition.

Categories
Beginner

After I Got My New Years’ Money

For those of you new to Chinese culture, one thing a Chinese child most looks forward to all year is the time during Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) when they get to go ask their neighbors and other adults for red envelopes containing some money – it’s a bit like trick-or-treating for cash. This essay […]

Categories
Beginner

Essay: A Foolish Affair from my Childhood

This essay is about a kid who takes his father’s advice a little too literally (with amusing results).

Categories
Beginner

Dear Diary: Mama Please Believe Me

And now a break from all the intermediate and advanced exercises I’ve been posting lately. This one is a straightforward beginner Chinese diary-style essay about a student whose mother is displeased with his (or her, it’s never clarified) homework.

Categories
Advanced

Martial Arts Mastery: Put Yourself at a Disadvantage

In this essay you’ll learn to read Chinese martial arts words – well, a few, anyway – but it’s not really the vocabulary that places this in the “advanced” category. It’s more that most of the text is full of wax-on, wax-off Karate Kid statements, as the martial arts master talks about how putting oneself […]

Categories
Intermediate

Essay: My Family’s Dragon Boat Festival

While we’re busy prepping for our holiday season, I figured I’d post something about a Chinese holiday. This is a culturally-rich and comfortably intermediate essay describing how one family celebrates the Dragon Boat Festival (端午节 duān wǔ jié. If you’re curious what the typical Chinese household does on this late-spring holiday (held on the fifth […]

Categories
Beginner

Essay: Happy Me!

A short, easy (very) beginner read about a child going ice-skating. The word “ice skating” appears about a bazillion times in the space of these few sentences, so, after reading this, you may expect to recognize the word for the rest of your natural life.