Chinese New Year 2013 – Year Of The Snake

night-life-new-york-chinatownThe Chinese New Year this year, begins on the 10th February 2013. This year is the Year of the Snake (water snake), which is said to be highly motivated, insightful and influential. In honour of the Chinese New Year, why not learn to speak one of the most important languages in the world – Mandarin Chinese. We highlight our recommended top ways to learn Mandarin Chinese, featuring some of the best and most innovative language providers in the world. [Read more…]

Mandarin Chinese Is Fast Becoming A New Language of Luxury

Wealthy Chinese tourists travelling to the United States are being treated to private shopping opportunities for luxury brands. According to a consulting firm, Chinese tourists spend more on luxury goods overseas than they do in their own country as these goods tend to be cheaper for them to buy overseas. European luxury brand stores have been capitalising on this for many years and US stores have only recently joined the race for wealthy Chinese custom. Many retailers have been learning the Mandarin Chinese language and also bringing in Mandarin-speaking staff to assist the wealthy tourists during their shopping trips to the US.

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Mandarin Chinese – A Language On The Rise

China is sending over 5000 Chinese language teachers abroad in a bid to increase the number of students learning Mandarin Chinese. It is already becoming a popular language to learn around the world. Even developing nations such as Pakistan is to make studying Mandarin Chinese compulsory in their schools.

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First Indigenous-Language Taiwanese Film a Success

The first film written entirely in the Taiwanese Atayal language has been well received by audiences at The International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg in Germany.  The film, ‘Everlasting Moments’, focussed on man’s relationship with nature and marked an important step in promoting indigenous languages.

Atayal is spoken by approximately 85,000 people and is one of Taiwans’ many languages, which also include Hakka, Mandarin and Min Nan (all Chinese), Amis, Japanese and Thao.  Taiwan also has several endangered and extinct languages, such as the extinct Basay and the nearly extinct Babuza.

Read more about the Taiwanese indigenous-language film and Taiwan’s desire to save indigenous languages>>

Browse our foreign language film section and learn a language with a movie>>


pimsleur-mandarin-chinese-quick-simpleAn independent language course review by Lisa Zealey

Being used to studying Latin languages which all have a similar structure, learning Chinese Mandarin was something completely new to me. I had often been keen on trying Chinese, Japanese or something totally different but always thought it would be really difficult to pick up for a total beginner and never even tried.

The Pimsleur method is very well structured and it gave me a real buzz to say simple phrases in Mandarin which would be of use to me if I was in China. Pimsleur is a totally audio method of language teaching, which means no books, pens or paper, similar to the way Michel Thomas teaches. This method seems to be getting increasingly popular as a modern and more ‘to the point’ way of language learning. Having tried a couple of Michel Thomas courses for other languages I was familiar with this kind of technique. The main difference between the Pimsleur and the Michel Thomas way of teaching is that Pimsleur uses real native speakers on the cassettes (I presume for all languages in the series – not just Mandarin). With Michel Thomas it is always him who does the speaking in the language.

It gave me a real buzz to say simple phrases in Mandarin which would be of use to me if I was in China.

So Pimsleur has real Chinese speakers, which I think works well, especially with a language like Mandarin where intonation is so important to meaning. He uses a Chinese man and woman throughout to illustrate examples and it is nice to hear each gender speak rather than just one.

There are 4 cassettes in the first pack that I used, so 8 cassette sides to work through. The key to absorbing it is being totally focussed and not thinking about anything else at all. While listening to it (in a relaxing bath!) for the first time I thought the whole thing was going to be too fast and that I would just have to keep rewinding it again and again. I realised though that the cassettes are made without this intention – you should just press play and let it run. By doing this I also realised that he is always going back to things you have learned before, introducing something new, and then going back again to what was learned at the beginning so slowly, it all starts to fall into place and you start to create sentences of your own which shows you are really getting somewhere.

It all starts to fall into place and you start to create sentences of your own which shows you are really getting somewhere.

I liked the way that there was a fluent conversation between two Chinese people at the beginning of each cassette. When you first listen to it you think ‘Oh my God – that’s impossible’, but by the end of the cassette you can do it! Listen to it again and you realise it was not impossible at all! It is really confidence boosting!

The listener has to make his own ‘word associations’ in order to recall vocabulary although some help is given by Pimsleur by translating things literally into English. It may be a little difficult for someone who has never learned even a European language before, but still, with perseverance, it is worth a try. It is a case of relating a totally new sound to an English meaning and once you can create that link in your mind, with practise, you shouldn’t forget it.

I found a few negative points to this course, one being that it is written for Americans. I now know perfectly well how to tell a Chinese person that I am American but don’t have a clue how to tell them that I am English! This, of course, will have to be adapted if these products are to be marketed in the UK. I found the second cassette a little harder to absorb and listened to it two or three times before moving on. Maybe an American might be able to tell me why it is important, but I could not understand the reason for Pimsleur revising how to say ‘College Road’ and ‘Long Piece Street’. This is another thing I can now say pretty well but cannot see it ever being useful.

Besides that though, once I had got past this stage I started to regain interest and was learning how to ask where things are, say I want to go to the restaurant, drink tea/beer, eat, ask when, what, with whom and lots of other interesting and useful expressions.

I think the most difficult part is probably the totally new vocabulary and sounds and the fact that intonation makes such a difference to a Chinese ear. The underlying grammar is not too confusing and I can think of European languages I have studied, such as German, when I have found word order more difficult.

In some ways Mandarin can be easier – really! I was delighted to find only one word for ‘to be’ in every person, singular and plural. However, expressing positive and negative can be more complicated to get your head around -with no obvious words for yes and no. But once you understand that you have to repeat the verb to do this, it becomes logical.

Each topic is only loosely touched on because it is a fairly difficult language to master and Pimsleur just tries to teach the get by basics in this first Quick and Simple series.

Once you have finished the course you will still feel like your Mandarin is fairly limited – it will be – but you have also come a very long way since the beginning, from not knowing anything to ‘getting by’ (just about!) Four cassettes is only the start and there are follow-on courses for beginners, intermediate and advanced learners, if you are still feeling really keen when you reach the end!

I definitely enjoyed this course as a whole and will certainly consider following it up. I will stick to audio for now though – learning to write it could be an even bigger challenge!

to buy Pimsleur Quick & Simple Mandarin Chinese [USA]>>
to find out more about Pimsleur language courses>>

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Michel Thomas Language Courses Are Still The Best

After all these years, the extended range of Michel Thomas audio-only language courses still makes Michel Thomas one of our bestselling language courses all  around the world.   Millions of people have learnt a new language with Michel Thomas where other language courses have failed them.   [Read more…]

World Cinema

Watching a foreign language movie is a great way to learn a new language, improve existing language skills and to find out about a foreign country and its culture. Buy a DVD in a foreign language and you can choose both the language you watch in and the language of the subtitles. You’ll be amazed at how much you can already understand. Film is a great language learning resource and makes a great gift too. Motivate yourself with a movie!

Our top 10 foreign language films

01 Downfall German
02 House of the Flying Dagger Chinese
03 Motorcycle Diaries Spanish
04 Amelie French
05 Il Postino Italian
06 Life is Beautiful Italian
07 Y Tu Mama Tambien Spanish
08 Delicatessen French
09 Spirited Away Japanese
10 Manon des Sources French

Foreign language movies by language

We have selected the most popular foreign language movies for you:

Chinese language movies
English language movies
French language movies
German language movies
Hindi language movies
Italian language movies
Japanese language movies
Spanish language movies
Other foreign language movies

Foreign language film reviews

This is where we tell you what we really think about foreign language films on language advantage! We’ve picked out a selection of our favourite foreign language movies and written a short review of each. They are all very different, but excellent viewing – and of course will motivate you to get the language advantage.

Chinese language film reviews
French language film reviews
German language film reviews
Hindi language film reviews
Italian language film reviews
Japanese language film reviews
Spanish language film reviews
Film reviews in other languages

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Teach Yourself Conversation

Are you lost for words when speaking a language?
Picture the scene: You’ve arrived at the airport in Spain, excitedly clutching your suitcase and sun hat, when you ask an airport official in your best phrasebook Spanish where the taxi rank is. It seems to work as he replies straightaway …… but that’s where the conversation ends!

[Read more…]