Nantong Vocational College is Hiring!

Beihu Chinese Institute has joined a long-term partnership with the International Department of Nantong Vocational College in the City of Nantong, Jiangsu Province, China. Nantong Vocational College, founded in 1973, was one of the first universities in higher vocational education in China. NTVU is 1.5 hours drive away from Shanghai. There are two campuses covering over 1,000 acres, with 11 academic departments, about 800 staff and faculty and close to 18,000 students.

Beihu Chinese Institute will continue educating and training English-speaking adults to master Chinese language as their own. Once a Beihu user successfully "graduates" from Self-study Chinese Curriculum, he/she will be eligible to be referred to teach at Nantong Vocational College. For your information, NTVU is hiring for one excellent English teacher right now. If your passion is to teach in China, please contact us ASAP at 612-961-1941 or


“对症下药, duì zhèng xià yào": Treat the Right Disease with the Right Medicine

As I was preparing the Keynote presentation for our class tonight, I was inspired by another ancient Chinese story, which was later summarized into a 成语: “对症下药, duì zhèng xià yào".

  • Story: “华佗, huà tuó” (145 BC-208 BC) has been believed to be the most influential doctor in Chinese history. He was a master in internal medicine, surgery, gynecology, pediatric and acupuncture. One day, two officials with the same outward symptoms went to see 华佗. But 华佗 prescribed different medicines to them. One got some laxation, and the other got some herbs to induce perspiration. These two people were very confused. But 华佗 responded, "You two share the same outward symptoms, but one is caused by dyspepsia from improper diet, and the other is caused by exogenous cold. Therefore, there are different medicines to treat these two different illnesses."

  • Set phrase: Since then, people would use these four Chinese characters to summarize this story, which is “对症下药, duì zhèng xià yào".

“对症下药, duì zhèng xià yào" is to a doctor what analyzing sentence structure is to a second language learner. Tonight's teaching is going to be a battle of mind. Most of my students had not studied Chinese language systematically at all when we started this class on June 6, 2019. Unless they can quiet down their hearts and follow my instructions closely, it is likely that we cannot reach the goals where the curriculum is leading us to. But language learning is not a simple result of "1+1=2". There are so many unexpected changes and irregularities that can become a stumble for them. If my students can survive from the numerously new and complex knowledge about all those Chinese attributives, their Chinese comprehension would surpass most of other Chinese language learners, even some bi-lingual educators. Consider tonight as a big bottleneck to overcome, and maybe this challenge can be turned into a powerful opportunity! In case you have not witnessed how our medical student Monica Ngo is conquering her Chinese studies, here is her short video:

Tonight at the North Campus of Bethlehem Baptist Church, BCI Class 1 students are going to attend the third open class from 7-9 pm CT. BCI Class 1 students use our online Chinese curriculum, Self-study Chinese Curriculum, to systematically decode Chinese language based on the theorems I created, so that they eventually learn how to translate and interpret their own English sentences into Chinese. Every other day, students finish all the assigned reading sessions and drills, and then they can access the in-depth teaching videos to correct their own answers. Finally, they make up three of their own English sentences, and then translate them into Chinese. They submit their Chinese assignments to a Wechat group, with both the written forms and recorded Chinese speakings. Within one business day, I will give them customized feedback and suggestions on how to improve their Chinese studies. On top of these virtual interactions, we meet once a month for six in-person teachings. For each class teaching, we focus on different themes based on Self-study Chinese Curriculum Modules.Tonight, we are going to talk about six different forms of attributives.

The Best Way to Tackle a Second Language is by Conquering Your First Language

There is a very famous set phrase in Chinese history, saying: “know yourself and then know your enemies, and you shall not put your army in danger in hundreds of battles.” This phrase was taken from The Art of War by a historical person named Sun Zi around BC 515- BC 512.

A little bit more background about the author and his name: “Sun” is the author’s family name. “Zi” is the respectful way to address a renowned man in ancient Chinese society. In the form of Chinese characters, “Sun Zi” is translated into “孙子“. And his original name was actually “Sun Wu”. Therefore, “Sun” was his family name and “Wu” was his given name” which means “military, vigorous and martial art”.

Let’s extend to another piece of knowledge that might make you feel more connected with the culture of Chinese names. For example, everyone knows about “Confucius”. In the form of Chinese characters, “Confucius” is translated into “孔子”. And the way how Chinese people pronounce “孔子“ is “Kong Zi”. But the second Chinese character “子“ simply means that people respect him to a degree to name him “子“, and that is not his original given name.

Alright! Let’s not get lost in the details. The reason why I want to talk about that set phrase lies in the fact that this philosophy does shadow the truth in second language learning. As the title demonstrates, “the best way to tackle a second language is by conquering your first language.” Let me put in this way: As a Chinese, I regard Chinese language as my “friend” and English language as my “enemy”. Therefore, my first step to tackle English language is actually by knowing more about my own language. You would be fascinated by the fact that learning ancient Chinese grammar has just as the same amount of headache as learning English grammar to a native Chinese person.

Therefore, for you who are learning Chinese as a second language, your first step is not directly tacking Chinese language, but actually going back to make sure you have a good foundation in your own English language. This comment seems hurtful! But believe me, your endeavor would soon be paid off. When my teaching assistants and I were interviewing over 1,000 students for ZY’s English learning program in 2011, I made sure that our applicants understood the importance of loving our own Chinese language before they start our normal English classes. The first three months were spent on diving in reading many Chinese ancient books, proses and literature. Once they were done with the first step (knowing themselves), we moved them forward to the next challenge (knowing their enemy).

Again! I want to remind you of the March 18, 2019 announcement. Stay close with us, and you would not regret. For those who want to use this set phrase in either spoken or written way, here is what you need:

  1. English Translation: know yourself and then know your enemies, and you shall not put your army in danger in hundreds of battles (you shall not be defeated).

  2. Chinese Characters: 知己知彼,百战不殆。

  3. Chinese Pronunciation: zhī jǐ zhī bǐ , bǎi zhàn bú dài

#Chinese language#second language#Chinese history#tackle

Business Credibility in Chinese History | 徙木立信

I always take pride in my identity of being a Chinese, not only because of our amazing diversified food, but also of our long and enriched history, where there are numerous real-life examples for us to discuss, modify an learn from generations to generations for over five thousand years. Most of my American family and friends have heard about Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor who unified China in BC 221. But seldom have them heard about how this got started in the first place.

So today, I am going to share one of the historical stories about how the ancient Chinese established credibility in the society during the chaos of political and economic instability. This story has been sung for over two thousand years, and since then people are accustomed to this four-characterized phrase when referring the spirit behind that story. This phrase is translated as “徙木立信, xi mu li xin“ in the form of Chinese characters.

Around BC 356 -350, Shang Yang was assigned by the King of Qin State to carry out a series of political reformations to change Qin’s political status among other lords in the land of nowadays China. The first challenge Shang Yang faced was actually not executing all those plans, but how to gain people’s trust. At that time, there were wars going on constantly, unsteady economic transactions, thieves and murders everywhere, it seemed just impossible for the citizens to believe that there were good laws to be carried out for their benefits.

So in order to establish credibility for the loyal court, Shang Yang made an announcement across the whole land of Qin. This is the main point of that announcement, “anyone who carries the wood log from the north gate to the marketplace, I am granting him 10 pieces of gold (equal to a nice house price for today)”. Certainly, everyone hesitated and nobody made any action about that announcement. So Shang Yang raised the bar to 50 pieces of gold, finally a young and poor man followed and guess what? He got 50 pieces of gold!

A little over 130 years later, Qin became the first country who unified the whole land of China! Since then, “徙木立信“ has been sung from generations and generations. According to the Literal Translation Technique, this four-characterized phrase is translated as “carrying the log to establish credibility”. There are many related stories like “徙木立信“, and I would be happy to write more about those historical stories for you.

I am writing about this story because Beihu Chinese Institute is launching a series of promotions, and you can view one of them by clicking on Products to see our exciting new pricing model. I hope after reading the story of “徙木立信“, you would trust that “I mean it!” There will be another exciting announcement on March 18, 2019, be watching for that!

Valentine's Day - The Day for My Beloved One!

Candlelight dinner, carriage ride on the snow with a beautiful moon, rose petals resting over the floor to surprise your beloved ones when they come back home from a busy day at work, Valentine’s Day is a special day for you to say, “I love you!”.

Well, what does “Valentine’s Day” mean for a traditional Chinese woman like me? It is all about the heart. How so? Some of you might have heard that Chinese language is pictograph. It means that according to the shape of some natural existence, a Chinese character was created to demonstrate the original meaning and purpose of that natural existence. For example, “Valentine’s Day” is translated into “情人节” in the form of Chinese characters. Let’s decode these three Chinese characters.

情 - This character comprises two parts, and each part is called a “radical”. A radical could be originally from another independent Chinese character, or it could be simply a related but dependent indication of some meaning. In this specific character “情”, the left radical is a dependent indication which cannot stand alone as a real functional character, but the right radical comes from a real character “青”. No matter whether the radical is dependent or not, they shadow the truth of that original existence. Let’s move forward to the individual meaning of each radical. So the left radical comes from this character, “心”, which means “heart”; the right radical means “blue, green, or anything that is melodious, such as fresh grass and blue sky”. So Chinese people define “情” as “love, emotions, feelings and relationships”, and it has something to do with the “heart”.

人 - This character means “person”.

节 - This character means “holiday, season and day”.

So if we use Free Translation Technique, Valentine’s Day is translated as “the day for my beloved one” in the Chinese language. And remember the fact that this is all about the heart.

If you are one of Beihu users or have been receiving our newsletters, you would not be surprised to know the legendary story of the Chinese Valentine’s Day. It is on July 7th in the lunar calendar. This is my favorite CCTV program advocating the Chinese Valentine’s Day, but unfortunately there is only Chinese subtitle for this video. I wish all of you a meaningful Valentine’s Day!

How Does Cultural Differences Impact Your Chinese Language Learning Experience?

“So, what is your secret of teaching Chinese to the English-speaking adults?” I am often asked this question with great curiosity when people hear about my Chinese teaching company. And I would always respond, “well, I give people the key to open that mysterious Chinese door.”

Let’s talk about the key I mentioned above. First, let’s make a distinction about teaching children Chinese and teaching adults Chinese - the same thing when educators use the term “pedagogy and andragogy”. Children often receive information well when it is presented interestingly, whereas adults often choose to accept information when it is explained logically. Because of this essential difference, we should match the children with the approach of “what”, and then match the adults with the approach of “why”. Therefore, immersing children in a Chinese-oriented environment and asking them to recite sentences would just work well. But reciting won’t work as effectively as on adults. What we need to do is to enable adult students to translate their own English sentences into Chinese.

Let’s move forward to one of the applications in the approach of “why” in teaching adult learners Chinese as a second language.

Western culture embraces freedom, and Chinese culture embraces order. Therefore, English language has sentences, such as “My uncle’s name is Tom” and “I have an uncle whose name is Tom”. But in Chinese language, you would only see this pattern, “I have a named Tom uncle”. The position of “uncle” is very free in English sentences, but it is very strictly locked at the end in Chinese sentences. Why? Because in Chinese culture, we always leave the most important information at the end to demonstrate a sense of modesty.

If you think this is just a coincidence, you are wrong. Let’s look at more examples:

English: Source of Life Chinese: Life’s source

English: Food in Minnesota Chinese: Minnesota’s food

English: Key to the Door Chinese: Door’s key

This cultural difference sets apart the way how “attributives” are used in the Chinese language compared to the English language. If you want to learn more, you are welcome to check our product “Module 3: Detailed Analyses on Chinese Attributives” by clicking

Unless otherwise noted, all teachings about “prepositive Chinese attributives” are taken from the Self-study Chinese curriculum. Copyright ©2019 by Beihu Chinese Institute LLC, a Chinese teaching company and publishing entity for the Self-study Chinese curriculum.

How Does your "Thinking Speed" Affect your Second Language Learning?

Today, I am going to advocate the conception of "thinking speed" in second language learning. In other words, the faster you can transform "English sentences" into "Chinese sentences" in your brain, the better your fluency in Chinese language will be. As a matter of fact, this is a necessary but hidden truth in guiding you to improve your spoken Chinese. Therefore, if you can set your mind to practicing this "thinking speed" in a systematical and effective way, you would enjoy seeing the obvious progress in your Chinese study. 

There are many ways to improve your thinking speed. But before we jump to that topic, I need you to start assessing your Chinese level according to "five capabilities," which are listening, speaking, reading, composition, and translating/interpreting. There are some misconceptions about "improving one capability at the cost of losing other capabilities." This statement is only true under some conditions, and I am not going to give much argumentation here. But if you are truly interested in learning more about this paradox, please click here to log into my website about "Understanding the Study Curve of Second Language Learning." 

The point given above is that you should have a habit of evaluating your Chinese level periodically according to these five capabilities. No matter which stage or which level you are in, you should not skip this endeavor. Most Chinese learners are aware of the three major components in studying Chinese, which are vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar. Therefore, you can integrate these three components into the five capabilities while evaluating your Chinese level. For example, on 7/18/2018, my listening Chinese capability is 3 out of 10 because my vocabulary and pronunciation are blah blah blah, my speaking Chinese capability is 2 out of 10 because my pronunciation and grammar are blah blah blah, and so on. 

After giving yourself a thorough evaluation, you can start practicing your thinking speed. One of the most useful approaches I have been enforcing my students to use is "watching and observing a short video" over and over again. You don't change the video until you have totally "overcome" it. If you regard a week as a circle, you can choose a 3-minute video to observe and imitate again and again (broadcasting from CCTV or any of your favorite Chinese TV Show or Program). The video can be decided according to your own preference and Chinese level, but the key is to change the video once your Chinese level has progressed. For example, I would dictate everything I heard after playing the video for 5 times on the first day. And then I will analyze the sentence structure thoroughly according to what I have dictated (I am referring to people who have basic knowledge in Chinese grammar. If you don't, you can purchase Module 1 to help you to achieve that goal). And then I will watch the video twice to make sure that I didn't miss anything. Then I will read with the video the last time as I am watching. On the second day, you will start with a fresh spirit, and you should still do the same thing. Imagine what just happened? You don't have to spend as much time as yesterday, because your "thinking speed" has progressed as you are repeating these actions. Do these same actions again on the third, forth, fifth and sixth day, and you will realize that you can speak as fluently as the broadcaster. The next week, you can change another video to practice your thinking speed. 

There were students in the past who listened to me and trusted what I said, so they did not only just scan it, but also practiced the theory persistently, and they ALL made it! But there were also students who heard of it but not carry it out, guess what happened? I wish you all find the right approach to study Chinese, and learn more than just our language but also our spirit! I cannot wait to see you grow in your Chinese study.

Conference of Chinese Poems CCTV Program - Chinese Valentine's Day

Today, I am going to share with you a well-known and influential Chinese-culture TV program initiated by CCTV about 3 years ago, the Conference of Chinese Poems (中国诗词大会). This TV program was initiated in support of the Chinese national policy about what you might have heard of concerning "One Belt and One Road Initiative" (also known as "OBOR" worldwide).

Every July 7th in lunar calendar, which is still popularly in use at traditional Chinese families, is the most important day for Chinese lovers. Because that day is the Chinese Valentine's Day. Last Friday 8/17/2018 was the Chinese Valentine's Day for the year 2018. This special day came from a legendary story. There was a very beautiful fairy who fell in love with a mortal. They lived a very happy, peaceful and arcadian life together with their two cute children, husband plowing for grains and wife weaving for clothes. However, it was not accepted that a fairy should be married to a mortal, especially this gorgeous fairy was the seventh daughter of the queen mother on heaven. So the queen mother came to the earth and forcefully took away her daughter, leaving the husband weeping bitterly with their two kids. The cattle that the family used to plow the grain field was deeply touched by his mater's love to his wife. So he came to tell the master that he could use his horns to fly to heaven and catch up with the queen mother. The cattle died, and the husband used the horns and reached to heaven. The queen mother was enraged with hot anger, and made a river (later known as the "Silver River") to stop Niu Lang, the husband's name which means cowboy in Chinese. Therefore, all the magpies came to help Niu Lang, and they gathered together to make a bridge over the silver river for this poor family to meet. That day was July 7th. 

Although it was a legend, still the story encourages people to take intentional and unconditional love to express how much we should cherish our beloved ones. If Niu Lang and Zhi Nv (fairy's name) could only meet once a year, shouldn't we live out our days by asking ourselves, "how could I make him/her feel more loved day by day?" This is the story of the Chinese Valentine's Day. You can click here or copy and paste this link to your browser (, and you will be able to watch the special program that was made to celebrate the Chinese Valentine's Day. 

Little Note: This program is not bi-lingual. You will need at least a Module 5 Level to be able to comprehend most of the conversations. But if you just want to immerse your brain with some really authentic Chinese pronunciation, this could be your highest goal. The hostess is one of my favorite celebrity. I am impressed not by her lovely appearance, but her knowledgeable foundation in Chinese language, poems and culture, and certainly her ability to engage her live audience members as a hostess. I am quoting a sentence that I translated from one of Mencius's students (about 200 years before Jesus was born) concerning an official document presented to the emperor about the importance of education. 

Therefore, learning makes awareness of self-insufficiency and teaching makes less of stubbornness. Thus, self-insufficiency enables reflection and humility; less stubbornness increases flexibility and strength. Therefore, the old wisdom often proclaims “teaching and learning should grow together.”— Zhengke Yue (Mencius's Student), Chronicle of Education

Introduction of Chinese Vowels

Today, we are going to enter the first instructive session of Chinese pronunciation. Therefore, we are going to start with the beginning of worldly sound—the vowel, which gives us the most vivid access to the art of sound.

Let me first introduce one of the most influential articles I have ever read on how to appreciate and understand the beauty of sound. Unfortunately, we could not trace the original author of the article, called Record of Music, but we could find it collected by a famous Ritualist in the Book of Rites [1] whose name was Shèng Dài. Dai was from the Dynasty of Xihan, Emperor of Hanxuan (BC 91–BC 48). The original version was written in the classical style of Chinese writing, “文言文, wén yán wén,” which means that it was written in ancient Chinese grammar. My translation might not be perfect, but I will try my best to make it as faithful and expressive as I can.

“Every sound is made meaningful because of the touch of the heart, while the touch of the heart is made possible because of its surroundings. When our heart is touched by our surroundings, then it forms voice; when one voice echoes with another voice, it forms changes; when changes are patterned together, it becomes sound. If we can appreciate the sound of patterned changes along with some instruments, and we sing them aloud and dance them out, the sound becomes music.”

The Record of Music was written at least 48 years before Jesus was born, and it posits that it is for the heart that music and sound were created. I could not agree more—even before I knew the name of Jesus, I always believed that sound should not be created just for human pleasure, but for a greater mission. I believed it was for “righting the heart and nourishing the soul” that sound was created. After I became a Christian, I was very excited to find confirmation in the Holy Bible: “Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” [2] Therefore, sound was really created to worship the Creator! Through Him we gain peace, joy, and love for our soul and heart.

I said earlier that the vowel gives us vivid access to the art of sound. Let me expand on that statement with more comprehensive content in terms of Chinese pronunciation. It is the consonant that begins the mission of sound (pīnyīn), but it is the vowel that brings color to the journey of this mission, and it is the tone that brings this good mission to a good completion. Let’s imagine that point A (consonant) departs, passes through point B (vowel), and arrives at point C (tone). This book places vowels first because: 1.) It connects consonants with tone. When you can totally master the “path” (vowel), you will have no problem tackling the “origin” (consonant) and the “destination” (tone). 2.) Vowels are to sound what a verb is to a sentence. A sound cannot exist without a vowel, but it can exist without a consonant. It is amazing to see how this law works both in English and Chinese!

I spent this time offering different examples so that you do not feel intimidated at the beginning of this strange journey. Both English and Chinese begin by making a sound, and vowels are “a speech sound produced by comparatively open configuration of the vocal tract, with vibration of the vocal cords but without audible friction.” [3] Let’s memorize the following theorems in these charts and practice.


[1] Chinese Ritualism is closely connected with Confucianism, but they are not exactly the same ideology.

[2] Ephesians 5:19. ESV

[3] The source found through Google Dictionary

Note: The above post is extracted from Shuang's book Self-study Chinese. Please do not use this post for commercial purposes. You are welcome to use it for academic and personal purposes. Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures is taken from the English Standard Version of the Bible (ESV). Copyright ©2008 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Literal Translation & Free Translation

Have you ever thought about why both English and Chinese would have the same linguistic phenomenon of “activeness” and “passiveness” in their expression? I do not have a comprehensive answer yet, but I hold some personal beliefs, which is illustrated in the book Self-study Chinese. I also wonder whether this phenomenon applies to other world languages. If so, I would venture to guess that all world languages originally come from “One.” This “Oneness” in all languages, which can be seen by decoding grammar, might have something to do with the story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11, ESV).

As a matter of fact, before I was a Christian and even before I had any vocabulary about Jesus the Christ, I discovered from an exclusively linguistic perspective that there is a sense of “Oneness” between English and Chinese. There has to be a “Creator” of English and Chinese, and I often used to call this “Creator” some “mysterious power being” that knows everything but cannot be fully known by human beings. Otherwise, how can we explain so many coincidences regarding these bi-linguistic phenomena? It is the bridge between English and Chinese that enables the translatability between the two languages. The idea of literal translation and free translation is applicable to this belief.

Let’s consider it this way:  A = B, and B = C; thus, we can conclude A = C. However, our thoughts should not stop there. Let’s further conclude that B, as the bridge between A and C, has to fulfill both features of A and C. Thus, we can assume that B might be bigger than A, B might be bigger than C, and B even might be bigger than A + C.

Let’s say that A represents English, which includes all phenomena of observed English utterances, while C represents Chinese, which includes all phenomena of observed Chinese utterances. B represents the Truth of all phenomena of both languages.

The literal translation validates the absolutely equivalent relationship between A and C, which means A = C. As a matter of fact, A has to equal C at some point; otherwise, there wouldn’t be a viable means of translation between the two languages.  We also believe B is not more or less, but exactly equal to A and C, which means B = A and B = C.

But, in real life, we know that there are some English utterances that cannot be directly explained in Chinese, and there are some Chinese utterances that cannot be directly explained in English. So, the free translation is borrowed to fill the gap between A and C when literal translation fails to provide an explanation. For example, when you hang out with your spouse while your friend happens to be there, and you call your friend “the third wheel” in English; but we Chinese would call this friend a “bright light.” Both phrases—the third wheel and the bright light—deliver the same message, but they have to be “indirectly” translated in a relatively free way to keep preserve their meaning in each language and culture.

The added value of the “gap” between English and Chinese is that it makes B bigger than A or C. What English lacks in translating Chinese sentences and what Chinese lacks in translating English sentences is made up for in the concept of B. B represents the Truth of all worldly languages. Therefore, at this point: B > A and B > C.

The assumption B > A + C comes from the fact that there are more languages, like French, German, Italian, Greek, Hebrew, and so on. Imagine that B is an unlimited being that includes all features of A and C, while A at some point overlaps with C inside of the “magical B.” The overlapping area can be decoded with literal translation, while the exclusive parts of A and C can only be decoded through free translation.

I do want to comment: When it comes to personal faith in Christ, it is love and humility that brings us to believe, rather than knowledge.

Note: The above post is extracted from Shuang's book Self-study Chinese. Please do not use this post for commercial purposes. You are welcome to use it for academic and personal purposes. Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures is taken from the English Standard Version of the Bible (ESV). Copyright ©2008 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.