Reading books for Chinese learners

Reading books for Chinese learners

Having set my eye on doing the HSK 3 exam in the summer, this requires me to recognise many new Chinese characters. I’ve been keeping an eye out on Chinese books that would be helpful for me to read in Mandarin… I would love to be able to read the Harry Potter books, but they are way too difficult! Maybe in a few more years! My friend said she bought some Mandarin books for foreigners which she said are pretty good so I wanted to give them a go.

So for Christmas, I asked Rafa could he buy me some Mandarin books for me to learn from… and sure enough, he bought me a couple on the internet for my Kindle.

The ones I have are from Mandarin Companion, Chinese Graded Reader. I think so far they have 2 levels, myself studying Level 1.

In the book, it states

Level 1 is designed around the Mandarin Companion’s core set of 300 basic characters. . .. . most of the vocabulary will be simple everyday words that the reader is likely to know.’

It goes on to talk about what level is right for a person and how reading will help improve your Chinese.

What’s good about these books is that they use classic books like ‘The Secret Garden’.. one that mostly everyone has heard about, but the characters and the locations are adapted into Chinese, instead of sticking to the original’s.

At the moment I have finished reading ‘The Monkeys Paw’, which I thought was very good. It isn’t extremely long, but it gives you about 80 new vocabulary, and they make you review the already known characters and phrases throughout the whole book.

With the kindle version, if you don’t know a phrase, you can also highlight it and it will translate for you into English the meaning. In this particular book, there are 10 chapters, with the new vocabulary and their meanings located at the back. There are then questions in Chinese that you can answer about the storyline, the characters and so on.


And most of all, it’s enjoyable!

If you want more information about Mandarin Companion, check out this website: Mandarin Companion Review

So If you are thinking of learning Mandarin, I suggest, when you know some Hanzi, you should try out one of these books….they are enjoyable to read, and they help you remember the Chinese grammar.

Plus, you feel so smart when you read a book completely in Mandarin!



Our idea of moving

As much as I love the city of Chengdu, I think.. finally, we have come to the conclusion that we need to move.

After coming back from Ireland, the cold here has just been driving us mad. Even tidying the house is actually a struggle, with our crappy air con, the apartment is still freezing, meaning all we want to do is sit huddled beside our ‘fires’.

The pollution is also another major factor. I’ve heard, 7,500 people in China die from cancer…. each day! With lung cancer as one of the most common cancers. . . what a surprise.

I suppose at this stage, I’ve become numb about the whole pollution issue. Yes it’s here, I see it everyday in the sky, but… thats Chengdu. And I go about my business. I suppose when I hear it from people back home talking about the air quality in China that I realise ‘yeah, it actually is a problem’.

Recently, every Sunday there seems to be a respite from the pollution…. and the sun shines bright with no clouds to be seen. I love Chengdu when the weather is good. If the weather was sunny, I would definitely stay here longer. I’ve been here nearly two and a half years so this city has become ‘home’ in a way.

I’m familiar with the roads and locations (of most places), I enjoy riding on the e-bike as it’s so convenient. I like our complex; not too big or small. We are within walking distance of shops and restaurants. Uni is super handy to get to, and I just walk 10 minutes to get the bus to work. Plus, the new subway line is hopefully going to open in the summer, about a 15 minute walk away from us.

I’m comfortable here, so when I think of us moving, and having to start from scratch….. it definitely makes me nervous and anxious.

This time next year we hope to move to another city in China, so by then we’ll have two years of learning Mandarin which I’m sure should help us in moving just that bit easier.

One city that we are seriously considering is Xiamen. This is in the south east of China, opposite the island of Taiwan. The weather is much better I hear. For me, Xiamen looks ‘tropical’…. whereas Chengdu is more ‘rustic’. We were possibly thinking of Kunming, but it seems like the city’s weather is also becoming more prone to smog.

Anyway, we do have another year to decide.

I’ll try not to panic just yet!



What it means to be Irish.

I found a lovely video about Ireland and ‘What it means to be Irish.’ There are some beautiful visuals in the video, and if you are interested in travelling to visit, you may find some areas you may like to explore from this youtube video below.

What it means to be Irish

Aside from my dislike of the government and of course the weather, this video reminds me what is GOOD about my country, with the ancient castles and of course the stunning scenery.

Plus, I hear the people aren’t too bad either. 🙂

I hope you enjoy!



Needing to buy a heater.

Needing to buy a heater.

Having returned to Chengdu, we have given up the warmth of our lovely fire stove at home in return for our measly old air conditioner that puffs out (just about) luke warm air. Having become spoilt by the fire in Ireland, the return to the cold and having to wear jackets all day, even indoors, we were forced to take action.

Both of us just couldn’t stand the constant feeling of being cold. Inside; it’s cold. Outside; it’s cold. In a restaurant; it’s cold. And this coldness permeates through your whole body, which makes it worse. Although Ireland is cold, especially with the crisp breeze, Chengdu seems worse. I’m not sure why…. it just is. At home, you know that when you go inside some place it’s going to be warm. When we went to our local shopping centre, I was that warm I had to take my coat off! But in Chengdu, that will unfortunately, never, ever be the case.

Becoming fed up with this, we decided, on our second day of returning, to go and buy ourselves one of these heaters. These don’t exist in Ireland, but I’m sure they would go down a treat! And for the great price of 98yuan, or about 13euro, they were a fantastic price! You can set it on a timer, there are two temperatures; 450W and 900W, and they even move side to side! They really are a great job! There is a strong light which reflects the back panel and gives off heat.  The red light also makes it cosy at night…. almost like a REAL fire! haha

God I’d be a really good salesperson for Baoerma!


At it’s full glory.



Look at it go!

We have one each, with me saying ‘Oh I think I’ll put the fire on’. Seeing as I don’t have the luxury of our fire stove at home, our new heaters will be satisfactory I think.

We’re going to get great use out of these for the next few months, until the heat starts rolling in. Then they’ll be tucked away and out will come our fan to cool us down!….. and of course, once again courtesy of Baoerma.