May 24, 2013

Welcome to Bo Tan!

The best way to get to know today's China, short of spending time there oneself, is to listen in on the conversations that are catching the attention of Chinese internet users. Some of these get reported in the international media, but the coverage is limited and often tells us more about journalists' views than those of Chinese netizens.

The language, needless to say, can pose a bit of a barrier. Web-based translation and dictionary tools, while certainly useful, can only go so far in making a text come alive for the non-native reader. In order to get the extensive reading practice needed to improve language skills and get to know another culture, students need tools to help make authentic materials more accessible and fun to read.

This blog is intended to provide students of Chinese language and cultures with an opportunity to develop their reading and listening comprehension skills while getting to know modern China by sampling a wide variety of brief and accessible news items, blog posts, videos, and opinion pieces that have generated interest and debate on the Chinese blogosphere.

Clicking on the Audiotext Reader link provided below each blog entry will open a Java applet that allows you to both read and listen to Chinese texts one word, phrase, or sentence at a time. You can click on unfamiliar characters to see their meanings and pronunciations, and you can drill down further to access lists of related words and characters. And you can listen to an audio recording of any portion of the text as many times as needed to become comfortable with it through your ears as well as your eyes.

Once you've made your way through a piece, feel free to join the conversation yourself using the comment option provided. Enjoy!

Thanks go to Frank Dai, Anna Ma, and Laura Dong for their generous contributions of audio recordings to the blog.

Posted by dporter at 04:51 PM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2013

China, on the Tip of the Tongue

The popular seven-part Chinese television documentary “China on the Tip of the Tongue” presents an enticing panorama of China's culinary traditions. This commentary on the series is adapted from a blog post by Peking University Professor Zhang Yiwu.

Audiotext Reader | Source Webpage

Posted by dporter at 05:31 PM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2013

Chinese Dream, American Dream

The fabled American Dream is no longer the only great nationalist story of personal aspiration in town. This blog post by Gong Fang Bin reflects on the future of the Chinese Dream in the wake of a discussion about national ideals between China and US leaders.

Audiotext Reader | Source Webpage

Posted by dporter at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2013

The Plight of Rural Students

While the education system in China is meant to be meritocratic, in practice, students from poor rural areas face significant hurdles to their educational success.

Audiotext Reader | Source Webpage

Posted by dporter at 05:13 PM | Comments (0)

Comedy in Exile

What makes Chinese immigrants laugh? Ask stand-up comedian Cui Baoyin (stage name “Beimei Cuige”), a Beijing native living in Seattle whose comedy routines have proven popular both with Chinese communities in the US and web video audiences back in China. In this short act for a women's gathering, he offers a modern Chinese take on the battle of the sexes and has some fun at the expense of inexperienced translators as well.

Audiotext Reader | Source Webpage

Posted by dporter at 10:48 PM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2013

Chinese Microblogs

Blogging has taken off in China, and has had a major impact on every aspect of society. This entry considers the likely long-term effects of Weibo, the most popular micro-blogging site in China today.

Audiotext Reader | Source Webpage

Posted by dporter at 05:06 PM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2013

Loneliness

Blogger Zhou Guoping reflects on the experience and the possible redemptive power of loneliness.

Audiotext Reader | Source Webpage

Posted by dporter at 05:16 PM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2013

The Internet and Social Change

The internet is huge in China and, according to this thoughtful post by blogger Ding Dong, it's having major transformative effects on every aspect of Chinese society. In US newspapers, we read frequently of internet censorship and the clever use of web satire as a form of political protest. According to this essay, these stories mask the deeper role online forums are playing in the development of a robust democratic political culture on the mainland.

Audiotext Reader | Source Webpage

Posted by dporter at 01:41 AM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2013

The Allure of the Older Man

According to recent surveys, large percentage of young Chinese women favor men at least ten years older than themselves. Is this the result of simple pragmatism or a reversion to traditional norms? This blog entry by Li Yinhe grapples with the implications of the "uncle complex" in today's China.

Audiotext Reader | Source Webpage

Posted by dporter at 09:43 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2013

The "Extra Points" Policy on Chinese Exams

A lot is at stake in the year-end exams in China each June. That's why government policy allocates extra points on the exam to certain groups, and why some critics, like blogger Xin Li, consider such a policy, at least in its current implementation, deeply unjust.

Audiotext Reader | Source Webpage

Posted by dporter at 07:23 AM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2013

Luxury Cars and the Need for "Face"

Cars are the most conspicuous luxury goods in today's China, where their purchase is regarded as a crucial way of maintaining face among one's peers. Shi Yuzhi explores some of the consequences of the recent explosion in car ownership.
[Abridged]

Audiotext Reader | Source Webpage

Posted by dporter at 09:34 PM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2013

Comparing US & China Educational Systems

Chinese students have been enrolling in US universities in every greater numbers in recent years. This post by a Chinese blogger explains some of the reasons why.
[Abridged]

Audiotext Reader | Source Webpage

Posted by dporter at 09:26 PM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2013

China's Bittersweet Romance with Tennis Pro Li Na

Chinese tennis champion Li Na is known for her quick temper. A recent outburst has caused a stir on the Chinese blogosphere about the debt a major athlete owes to the nation that has supported her, leaving fans and detractors debating whether China needs Li Na or Li Na needs China.

Audiotext Reader | Source Webpage

Posted by dporter at 07:54 AM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2013

The 80's Generation

The generation of Chinese born in the 1980s have a distinct background and outlook. This adaptation of a blog post by Kai Feng explains their reputation for unconventionality and rebelliousness, as well as the distinct challenges they've faced moving into middle age.

Audiotext Reader | Source Webpage

Posted by dporter at 07:25 AM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2013

The Paper Trade

The market for custom-produced papers, whether for undergraduate classes, master's theses, or even doctoral dissertations is becoming a multi-million dollar industry, and one with troubling effects on the educational system and beyond.

Audiotext Reader | Source Webpage

Posted by dporter at 09:34 PM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2013

The Mo Yan Controversy: A Chinese View

The novelist Mo Yan's Nobel Prize has generated considerable controversy outside of China. In this interview, Chinese literary scholars Liu Zaifu and Xu Jilin reflect on the political and moral judgments underlying the debate.

Audiotext Reader | Source Webpage

Posted by dporter at 10:08 PM | Comments (0)

July 28, 2013

Marriage and Cross-Strait Relations

Politicians haven't had much success in reducing tensions between the mainland and Taiwan over the years. A new generation of mainland brides may succeed where policy makers have failed.

Audiotext Reader | Source Webpage

Posted by dporter at 10:17 PM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2013

Happiness

In the hyper-competitive atmosphere of today's Chinese cities, less materialist goals can easily be neglected, leading to a sense of nostalgia for simpler forms of satisfaction and fulfillment.

Audiotext Reader | Source Webpage

Posted by dporter at 10:30 PM | Comments (0)