Interviews in Chinese and the Chinese Resume

I have been applying for internships in China for the last few months and have gone through several interviews, both all in Chinese and part English part Chinese. I thought I could share my interview experiences with you all. I am by no means an expert on interviewing in Chinese, but I thought we could all benefit from a discussion about what to expect in these interviews. Some background, I have been interviewing at marketing agencies so if you are looking for another position it will likely have some differences in interview style.

Like interviews even in English speaking countries, the obvious first part of the interview is a 个人介绍 personal intro, I suggest getting this part down, not only for interviews but just in general. Think of it as a speed dating pitch that tells someone all the important details about yourself. I realize this is probably obvious, but getting your intro down is the first step in not just an interview but also in striking up a conversation with new Chinese friends. You should practice until you can call it up on a whim, a good list of facts about yourself and maybe some interesting stories should be at the top of your repertoire.

Specifically for interviews, if your Chinese still isn’t at a completely fluent level, I suggest looking up lists of interview questions and answering them in Chinese, write out notes for yourself (make sure it isn’t a complete script, as most people can tell when you have rehearsed too much), and get one of your Chinese friends/tutors/teachers to look at your notes and correct them. If you have the chance do some mock interviews and try to think of many different scenarios. Preparing for an interview in another language will require much more practice than in English, obviously.

It depends on the job you are applying for, but if you want to try to find a job in China, then you will probably want to have a Chinese resume. Now the advice I have gotten on this might not be applicable to everyone, but what I have gathered is that some key differences in a Chinese resume versus an English one are:

  1. Having a part of your resume that functions somewhat like a cover letter, a portion where you write about your interests and let the person that will be interviewing you know a bit more about you, and not necessarily all professional information. The way this was explained to me was that Chinese companies don’t do as many interviews as American ones, so they want to know a little bit about you, however if you have any different thoughts on the subject please let me know!
  2.  Another thing that has been going away somewhat, but that I still put on my Chinese resume is a photo of yourself. Usually a small photo in the top corner of your resume is all that is required.
  3. While in America, younger people usually try to keep their resumes to one page, this rule doesn’t usually apply to Chinese resumes, just go ahead and fill it up with all the information you find relevant. My resume is about a page and a half, with the last half page being my 个人介绍. I realize some of you more experienced people have English resumes upwards of 3 or more pages, so this tip really only applies to people coming out of college with little on the job experience.

So if any of you have had experiences with interviews in Chinese, questions for me, or have comments on what I have written, please let me know and I can add it. Good luck everyone!

Goodbye Mr. Loser 夏洛特烦恼

Last week with my college Chinese Language Club we got to watch 夏洛特烦恼 so I thought I would share my thoughts about this… unusual film. It came some time ago and was a big hit in China, but I didn’t get the chance to see it until recently, but it was definitely some good Chinese practice!

So to sum up, this film is largely a comedy with a few gut-wrenching cry like a baby moments. It is about a man named 夏洛 who is unhappy with his life, so he gets to go back in time and live it all over again. It had me on belly laughing through most of the movie with the over the top acting and dramatization of some of the parts of this film, definitely not a serious movie, although you may find it has a serious message by the end of it.

As far as the Chinese that was spoken in the movie, most of it isn’t too hard, mostly everyday conversation words although a few of the actor’s accents were much thicker than what I am used to. If your Chinese is good enough to hold a conversation with someone for more than five minutes, you will most likely be able to understand large portions of this movie without English subtitles.

However,  I think it is definitely worth watching, you can find it with both Chinese and English subtitles (as most Chinese movies can be found) which means that you beginners can still watch, enjoy, and get some practice out of it. Remember to actively practice as you watch, stop often to look up words you don’t know, and maybe consider watching it twice, once for enjoyment and to understand plot, and another for pure learning. This is generally a good habit to get into with everything you watch, but I do understand that it can be tedious. If any of you end up watching it I would like your views on why they chose the English name for the movie versus the meaning of the Chinese one, let me know in the comments.

The Classroom Dilemma

Whew… it has been a long few weeks, glad it has finally calmed down enough where I can get back to writing posts for you lot. It’s been hard to keep up my Chinese practice once life gets hectic, but we all do the best we can, right? Well I met with my Chinese tutor this week and she brought up a point that I think many of us can relate to, the classroom dilemma.

I had noticed this in passing during my years of studying Chinese, and really only noticed it during my personal conversation daydreams, why aren’t we taught more everyday vocabulary? If you have taken Chinese classes in a school setting then you will most likely be aware of the order in which your learning progresses. The first ‘level’ (or whatever your school calls the different Chinese classes) is meant to teach you pronunciation and basic grammar, getting a good introduction for yourself is usually the most important thing at this stage. After the first level, however, lessons become more complex, wanting to teach more complex grammar alongside more complex topics, such as the one child policy or our views on pollution in China. This is all well and good, and it teaches some of the harder grammar, but I have found that while using this method increases understanding of the language, many of us, after going through ‘school’ Chinese, find we still have difficulties in making everyday conversation, sure, we now know the grammar we need to use, but lack the vocabulary.

Several Chinese students I have talked with have expressed how poor their English vocabulary is, for most Chinese people, they begin learning English very early on, but after having studied for 5+ years, still find themselves unable to communicate effectively with us 老外 (foreigners). Other attributing factors to this is level of interest and their teacher’s ability, but this lack of vocabulary seems to be the most widespread issue.

This holds true for many Western students of Chinese as well. I go to a Chinese restaurant and while I am able to discuss at some length the political situation in China, I am unable to say simple dishes and the like.

I bring up this vocabulary issue, not because I believe classes themselves should be changed, I feel that they do the best they can with the minimal amount of time given to them, but rather to stress the importance of going back and learning that beginning vocabulary.

Focusing on this ‘easy’ vocab, I feel is more important than some of the upper level stuff that you might want to learn about, this kind of conversation will come up a lot more than the economic crisis in Rwanda. This is probably an unnecessary reminder for most of you, but I feel it is a large problem in many learners of both Chinese and English.

For some of you who are more beginners in Chinese, my suggestion is to focus on grammar and pronunciation, vocab comes later, as a beginner you need to get your understanding of the language down, as well as learning the complete vocab for several topics you are interested in, so that you have something to talk about. As many more knowledgeable learners than I have told me, if you know how to talk about hiking, even if you hate hiking, for today, you LOVE hiking.

Chinese Idiom Mondays! #8

Hey all! 大家好!I know I haven’t posted in a while, been busy and whatnot, but I hope to be back to posting regularly. This week’s idiom is 班门弄斧 (bān mén nòng fǔ), which basically means to show one’s slight skill before an expert. The story behind the idiom, however, is to show off one’s skill with the ax before Lu Ban (鲁班), who I am assuming is pretty good with an ax? If anyone knows the full story feel free to post it in the comments.

I will be making sure to post a second post this week, but it will probably be on Saturday rather than the usual midweek, busy week. My Chinese Language Club at my college campus will be watching the movie 夏洛特烦恼 or Goodbye Mr. Loser, so I invite you all to go watch it and I will make a short post on my comments on the movie where you all can voice your own opinions.

Speaky Language Exchange App Review

Initial reaction to Speaky. Why am I on Tinder? Pretty sure I want to practice Chinese not find another girlfriend.

Seriously though, the app initially looks exactly like a dating app, you swipe left or right on people that also are looking for language learning partners, many of which aren’t actually speakers of the language you are trying to practice (although you can limit your settings to only native speakers). I feel like it could bring on people that you don’t want contacting you, but I haven’t had any trouble yet. After you get over that fact though and get into the meat of the app, you find that you don’t actually need to do the ‘Tinder’ style swiping, but rather, can go find people that speak Chinese that are currently on the app, which I more prefer and is more typical of these kinds of apps.

The actual interface of the messenger seems to be very typical, but I do like that I am able to block users easily. Another plus in my book is that Speaky seems to have a rather large data base of people that use it, some of these apps, especially early on, fall prey to the endless cycle of ‘ I can’t find anyone online so I’m not going to be online’. For a newer language exchange app that is competing with HelloTalk and the like, Speaky tends to have a good amount of people online that you can speak with, however, if you are learning Chinese, most of the people on Speaky seem to be Taiwanese, and therefore mostly use traditional characters..

I very much like that I am able to filter people that can contact me, although I find it a little odd that if I wanted to I could narrow it down to only 20 year old women… Again feels dating appish, but hey I suppose it makes them unique in the world of language exchange apps, as others that I have used have attempted to downplay this by having very small profile pictures, etc.. Also need to remember that this is a very new app, so I’m sure there will be changes and updates for improvement in the future.

Not a huge fan that there seems to be no ‘inhouse’ translator, as I find that very useful. However, the fact that you can access it from your computer, not just your phone is pretty neat. With the amount of time I spend on a computer, this fact alone could keep me coming back to the app, especially during class time! I mean… not during class, definitely not.

The app does offer a wide variety of languages available but I hypothesize that many of the languages aren’t yet in use by more than a few. All in all, this app seems like it could be a competitor given some time, although I do suggest downplaying the dating style format that it takes (I know I am harping but it surprised me!), as I feel it could scare some people off.

Chinese Idiom Mondays!#7

Today’s idiom, 好事多磨 (hǎo shì duō mó), means that the road to happiness is strewn with setbacks or no good things come without toil, so now that you know this, you can sound classy and arrogant to alllll of your Chinese friends, congrats! But really, this is a good idiom with a good lesson, especially for all of us Chinese language wannabes, gotta do that work to make them gains. So make sure you are all getting your daily learning in, check out my recommendations for other language learning sources if you are stymied at where to find some extra language practice.

Vocab Learning: Harry Potter!

I have been attempting to read the Chinese versions of Harry Potter for the last few months, and as such I thought it would be appropriate to share with all of you some Harry Potter vocabulary! Some of the translations, especially for names may be different depending on which translations you read, but things like broomsticks and wands should be the same. So if you’re a HP fan like I am, it is important to know how to discuss one of our favorite shows/books in Chinese.

The Trio!

Harry Potter – 哈利波特 Hālìbōtè

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Hermione Granger –  赫敏格兰杰Hèmǐngélánjié

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Ron Weasley – 罗恩韦斯莱 Luōēnwéisīlái

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Hogwarts Stuff

Hogwarts – 霍格罗茨 Huògéluócí

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Dumbledore – 邓布利多 Dèngbùlìduō

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Gryffindor – 格兰芬多 Gélánfēnduō

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Slytherin – 斯莱特林 Sīláitèlín

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Ravenclaw – 拉文克劳 Lāwénkèláo

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Hufflepuff – 赫奇帕奇 Hèqípàqí

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Magical Items

Magic – 魔法 Mófǎ

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Broomstick – 扫帚 Sàozhǒu

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Wand – 魔杖 Mózhàng

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Golden Snitch – 金色飞贼 Jīnsè fēizéi

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And as a bonus 神秘人 Shénmìrén, You Know Who。。。

Voldemort – 伏地魔 Fúdìmó

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Chinese Idiom Mondays! #6

The idiom for today is 听天由命 (tīng tiān yóu mìng) which means to resign oneself to the will of Heaven, or to trust in luck. So as many of us who are still in school know, the only way to pass those upcoming midterms is to either study hard, or trust in luck… as studying hard is the hard option, guess I’m gonna need to buy some lucky horseshoes or something.

When it comes to our Chinese study and practice, better to trust in those long hours of vocab learning because luck doesn’t work so well when you’re lost in Beijing. So try and learn at least five new words a day this week! Also, if anyone has any good tips that they like for learning massive amounts of vocab, let me know in the comments, the best way I have found is just writing them down a bunch of times and quizzing myself… not very elegant I know, but what’re you gonna do?

Immersion Through Electronics

I know in my previous post I promised this would be about how to stay motivated in your learning, but thinking on it again, I figured that would be a “You can do it!” kind of post, which is lame… So instead of torturing all you nice people with that I thought I would talk a little bit about an easy thing you can do to up your practice time.

I’m pretty sure I personally, spend more than a quarter of my life on some type of electronic, be it a phone, laptop, or my really awesome desktop computer I just built (I know, I’m nerdgasming too), so it just makes sense for me to do something super simple that can convert some of that time spent into learning time, yay! So obviously, switching your phone or computer into Chinese won’t instantly make you better, I’m not even saying its going to  improve your language skills over night, but what it can do is

  1. Get you to learn those rarely used words like “标签页” which means browser tab, and stuff like that, that you wouldn’t normally use in everyday situations. If they aren’t used that often, why would I want to learn them you ask? Well, you might come upon a day where you need to use words like this, and lacking that, being forced to learn new words is always a good thing, if you want to be able to find out how to open “Paint” you’ll have to figure out what the program is called in Chinese.
  2. It can also just be another part of your attempts at outside of China “immersion”. Of course, you can’t become fully immersed  whilst not in China, but every little bit can help. If your phone is in Chinese, you are more likely to proc Chinese ads to pop up in websites, your apps will be in Chinese (for the most part), and you will have to learn all that “Angry Birds” and Facebook vocab.

Finding some Chinese browsers like the QQ browser or the like can also help make your electronics more “Chinese”. I like to use QQ browser because you can connect your WeChat/微信 as well as it having some other cool features such as a homepage that you can literally find any type of reading/listening/watching/gaming material a growing Chinese student could hope for. If you are already a pro or have some Chinese friends you probably already have all of your favorite Chinese website for reading books, the news, or watching TV, but for those newbies out there this can be a good starting place to find material that fits your learning style and interests.

On a side note a phone in Chinese also makes for a pretty good “lock” against nosy friends and parents that want to mess with your phone, unless all your friends and family speak Chinese (which would be cool, but if that’s so you should already know Chinese…).

Once again, the only real way to immerse yourself in Chinese is to go to China, however, if that’s not an option right now it can be the little things that can add up improve your overall Chinese level through smart studying, language practice, Chinese friends (or just friends that speak Chinese), and taking help anywhere you can get it. 努力学习 my friends!

Chinese Idiom Mondays! #5

Alrighty! So I know I haven’t been posting for a while, school getting in the way as usual… What are you gonna do? Sigh. So, instead of posting my usual 4-5 posts a week like I would prefer to do, I am going to have to knock it down to 2 for a while. No worries though, that just means they will be better quality! I hope.

So today’s idiom! 半途而废 (bàn tú ér fèi). This idiom means to give up half way. A particularly useful idiom in my opinion as I, personally, feel like doing this all the time. Don’t give in to the temptations of the evil idioms, however, keep learning, keep studying, and don’t give up in your pursuit of mastery over the Chinese language.

My next post will be about doing just that, how not to give up when it feels like you have no time to put towards your language learning goals. So look forward to that, I’m gonna go cry while I write my sixteen page paper on the transition from foraging to agriculture in ancient China…

Why learn how to write 汉字 (Chinese characters)?

In this day and age we have the wonderful thing that is technology. As I sit at my three-monitored computer, listening to a Chinese podcast on my phone, texting intermittently as I write this blog post I can see why many of you might think that learning how to write 汉字 could be kind of… useless. I too thought that at one point, and during the hours of learning how to write I sometimes still have doubts.

The thing that brings me, personally, back to the light that is 汉字 learning, is that everything stems from them. 

All of my learning starts with writing down a new character, or grammar phrase in my little notebook. Every word that I know in Chinese started in my notebook (not this one exactly, as I kind of ran out of pages a long time ago) and it is these written characters that my Chinese knowledge stems. However, being honest, how often do I write in Chinese for anything but practice? Almost never. What with email and texting and Microsoft Word, it hasn’t even come up. If you have been learning Chinese for some time now you have probably noticed this, and asked yourself, ‘why go through the trouble of learning how to write these damned things, if I don’t need to?’

Great question. You could, feasibly, learn Chinese by simply remembering how it sounds, is spoken, and vaguely what the characters look like. What with keyboards, we just have to be able to recognize a character once it is in front of us. However, I think that if you truly want to learn this language, then you need to be able to, at the least, write a few characters.

I believe that writing characters is the best way for me to remember a word, and what it looks like (for later subtitles 🙂 ), mind you, this is active practice while writing. I usually write each character around ten times whilst saying it aloud (or in my head in public) and usually space out characters into blocks of ten or fifteen and then quiz myself to make sure I have them in my head.

I understand this method may not work for everyone, and some of you lucky people just have to glance at a character and will instantly be able to remember it forever, and to those people, I say, go away and never talk to me. Ever. Seriously, I hate you.

Another reason in my extremely persuasive argument is that it feels freaking awesome! I know I nerd out a lot, but this is one place I feel it is deserved. Don’t you guys want to be able to doodle on a piece of paper and the person next to you to not have any idea what they hell you’re doing? I know it’s not a good reason, but I enjoy it. I sometimes forget that to people who haven’t been studying an Asian language that characters just look like weird lines and boxes and stuff.

So if any of you have any other ideas as to why learning Chinese characters is useful or just other study methods you have of remembering how to write them, or if you just want to say hi please comment below!

Chinese Idiom Mondays! #4

The idiom this week is one of my personal favorite and the one that I and my friends definitely use the most! Mostly when it comes to making bad decisions, but whatever…

The idiom this week is 入乡随俗 which basically means when in Rome do as the Romans do.

This is a good idiom to remember, not only for it’s usefulness in certain situations, but also good to remember when in China. You’re in China, so you gotta do what? Speak Chinese! As well as drink the local brew, finish your drink at every 干杯, try out that 网吧 (internet cafe), just make sure you don’t take up smoking, don’t have to take it that far.

Remember to comment your favorite idioms or you can send them to me and I can post them another week.