Category Archives: English

Meu Carro Novo

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t buy a new car, nor did I started to learn Portuguese.

I found this term in my Google Webmaster report, the term “meu carro novo” is represents 30% of all search queries to my little blog. What’s that? I am curious enough to find out.

Curiosity

When I see Yifan growing up, I would predict that curiosity is one of the most important characters he should have when he is very young. That is the key driving factor for people to learn. I am happy that I am still curious in many things, including the mysterious three word: Meu Carro Novo

It Means: My New Car

My guess was:

Meu = My

Carro = Car

Novo = New

Pretty good guess. With the help of Google Translation Tool, and several try, I found it this sentence comes from Portuguese, and means: “My New Car”.

Novo gave me a lot of inspiration

I suddenly understand why there is a commercial center called Novo on Tianyaoqiao Road, and in Chinese, it is called 永新城, or “For Ever-New City”. If this is the case, Novo should mean new, in Portuguese, and in Latin, and many other Latin based language (but not in English).

It also reminds me of another word: De Novo. I had a hard time to remember whether it should be spelled as “Donevo, Denevo, or Do Nove…”. Now it is clear, that De means nothing, and Novo means New, so De Novo means anew, afresh, and start from empty again, but in a different way. De Novo was a code name for an project within eBay.

Well, at least, I learnt some new words in Portuguese. To get started to learn some language is easy, the key is to get started, as I talked in this article: Dislike Doing, or Start Doing

Call a Taxi on the Phone? In English?

My friend dropped an email and complain about waiting for half an hour or even one hour for taxi everyday – seems he is living in a very “decent” place that even taxi won’t go there to break the peace of the area. He asked if there is any telephone number he could call to book a taxi. He does not speak Chinese.

Well. There are many numbers to call in Shanghai for taxi services, but not many offers English service, so far as I know.

My Preferred Call Center – Qiang Sheng Taxi

After the previous year, I have formed the habit to dial +86-21-62580000 for taxi services. There are many other lines, like 96822 from Da Zhong taxi, but the chances to get through to Qiang Sheng call center is much higher (Dazhong’s taxi is much better though).

I checked with the center. They don’t have special English service line, but there are some agents who are able to answer English phone calls. So just call it and say whatever language is not Chinese. If an operator cannot understand you, chances are, he/she switch it to a person capable of English.

Lunar Calendar is Moon Calendar

Lookup and see the moon tonight – it is full moon, and I know it is the 15th day of the 9th month in lunar calendar. The beauty of Chinese lunar calendar is, it always exactly meets the face of the moon.

Not Perfect English is Fine, So does Correction

After I arrived to home, ate a banana, took a hot bath, and logged onto my home computer at around 11:00 PM, I was surprised to see hot argument in my previous entry: Removed my Email from Blog. I wasn’t able to checkout comments at day time yet.

The thread started by bob’s correction of a sentence in my English writing. Itself, to be honest, does NOT seem offensive to me.

Not So Perfect English is OK…

I know, that I am not writing perfect English. And I also know that recently (in the latest half year), the misspelling and grammar mistakes are worse. I didn’t always have time to read what I typed for the second time as I did before. And I didn’t always copy and paste the content from MovableType into Word for spelling checking. As you may notice, most of my entries were created around mid-night, the time my IQ for language is among the lowest. I guess fifteen minutes more sleep is more appreciated for a sleepyhead like me in mid-night.

However, I also remember that keeping the most basic spelling and grammar checking is also critical for a good blog (as stated in bulletin 10 of Writing Good Website Content).

… So does Correction

I admit I felt a little bit embarrassed whenever someone pointed out some errors on my blog. I felt even stronger when the erros are so obvious. I tried to correct the original version if the suggestion makes sense. Don’t worry. I am not discouraged at all for these cases.

I think I have built enough confidence after the three years of blogging. Being confident means to truly understand what one can do and what one cannot, and to accept imperfectness.

Peace, Please

I appreciate everyone’s encouragement to keep on blogging with the “creative spelling” (as Carroll put it in her privous comment. It does give me much courage. However, I felt not good for some later comments with some not-so-respectful tone toward bob. As I outlined in this article: Peace in Discussion, I cannot bear anyone writing flaming comment against my other readers, no matter what attitude he has toward me. Here are some points I selected from the article:

  • As you can see again, there is a comment system on this site. I value everyone’s post and it is part of the blog – actually, it is very large portion of this website.
  • The comment entries provide very informative and updated content to the readers. I have my principle on comments (check the My principle on comments section).
  • I cannot bear anyone writing flaming comment against my other readers
  • Thank you for your defense for me, but I just want to make it clear that I value any disagreement as much as those supporting comments.
  • I don’t think (helping me by flaming other commenters) hurts me as much as people’s attempt to discourage others from express their opinion.

I have hidden the comments with offensive comment to bob in that thread. I hope a peaceful environment for everyone to participate. Meanwhile, let me give blogging more time to correct those obvious grammar and spelling errors. :-)

Have a wonderful night – sleepyhead Jian Shuo is going to bed now.

Thinking in English or Chinese

After I graduated, and joined international company, I started to use English in my emails within the company. It has been a rule of thumb that all international companies uses English as internal communication tool. English skill has been an important factor during interview process.

However, no matter how good one’s English is, it is still hard to THINK in English. I believe I can think in English (with very hard practices, including writing this blog), but just as my friend put it: “There is at least 20% difference in myself between thinking in English or Chinese”. When I am thinking in English, I do feel the different. The logic is following the western logic, and the terms like professional, systematic, reasoning occupies my head much more than the time I use Chinese.

Recently, when I transit my focus to the pure Chinese market, I found my language changed a lot. I never (or try my best to avoid) thinking in English. When I am thinking in English again, I know I am farther away from the market I am in. I have to use the slang people use, and set my foot to the real land, that may have some affects in my English blog too.

It is an interesting topic – when people do the business in a different language than the target market, the minor difference may affects the reason slightly, and slight difference can be huge impact in the market… Just my two cents.

Language Exchange Partners Wanted

I came to the Shanghai University of Science and Technology yesterday and talked to hundreds of students. I confirmed that English is very important, although the English examination is not. I encourage every students to find some foreign friends in Shanghai – to learn more about the world, to improve oral English and to help foreigners in this city feel at home. I am more than happy to do it. I asked the students to post their request on my classified site Kijiji and I will help them to post their information here. Here are two

Felix

Felix majored in Chinese literature and now is a graduate student. He wishes to make friends with foreign friends for language exchange. He can teach chinese, and provide other help for friends and want to improve oral English. His contact is:

Mobile: 13524591277

email:felixding@21cn.com

His Chinese last name is Ding. So you can call him Felix.

This information was originally posted on Language Exchange area of Kijiji

More will Come

Just as I said, a classified platform is not that useful if there is no service helping people to really get connected. I am willing to provide this service. No matter how big the business becomes, I am personally committed to do that.

For English speaking persons, you can post here. By posting, you grant me the permission to translate it into Chinese and post on Kijiji for you.

If you speak Chinese, you can post to Language Exchange Category on Kijiji. Please add four characters 口语醒目 at the end of your ads, so I know you grant me the permission to move it to this page.

Why I Don’t Have an English Name

Most friends of mine have English names, so do many young people in China. I am often asked about “What is your English name?”. My answer is, Jian Shuo Wang is my English name.

I know this brings much trouble to my foreign friends It is not easy to pronounce it, especially the word “Shuo”. If I choose a name such as Jason Wang or Jackson Wang, it may be easier for others to address me.

However, I didn’t choose one. Why?

Prove it

The most important reason is on the legal side. I am not sure whether others are aware of this, but on the legal aspect, is there any document proving that you are the person you claim to me? My name on passport is Jian Shuo Wang, so does the national ID. If I use English name any where other than private conversation, it will bring big trouble to me to proof it.

I have some friends who used English name to register their MCSE exam. They have their English name printed on the certificate. They spent quite some time to change it to the one of Pinyin.

Branding

Name is a brand. Everyone built credibility and visibility around a name. If you have two names, you have spent double efforts to do the same thing…

English Instructions in Yantai

Eric brought back an Internet Setup Guide from a hotel in Yantai, Shangdong Province. I bursted into laughter when I read the English section of this guide. Try to read it without referencing Chinese version of this guide in the next picture.

yantai-network.guide.english-marked.jpg

Image in courtesy of the hotel in Yantai. Brought back by Eric and photographed by Jian Shuo Wang

I am sure only the smartest people who knows Chinese can understand what they are talking about. I tried but still cannot get the original meaning. There is no chance for native English speakers to understand because the smart people who know both English and Chinese can translate the sentences to Chinese word by word and get the meaning.

Chinese version

Refer to the Chinese version if you can read both.

yantai-network.guide-marked.jpg

Image in courtesy of the hotel in Yantai. Brought back by Eric and photographed by Jian Shuo Wang

If you cannot read Chinese, why not have a try to translate it into proper English?

Update June 29, 2004

I started to worry about the negative impact these photo may bring to the hotel, to Yantai or even Shandong province. I didn’t mean that. This is just for fun. As eki_robin tested, the guide was directly translated by software. There are many such kind of translation around the country and maybe everyone who knows English can help to correct these errors. Here is something you can do.

  • Call the hotel manager to report the improper translation.
  • Help to create a better translation and send it to the receiption.
  • Call local media since the power of media will help people to pay attention to it.

Professional English

I write this article to thank John, from Sinosplice, to send me emails to correct typos and grammar errors in my previous entry.

As I listed in my About Page, I am not a native English speaker. I have never lived in an English speaking country, so there must be a lot of errors in my English writing. John, and other good people sent me private emails to correct it. I want you to know I appreciate your advices and help.

Chinese Grammar

From my personal experience, the professionalism of English writing is ignored in the English learning system. Only after I began to work with people in U.S. did I realize some basic rules in punctuation marks. For example,

Wrong: I am Jian Shuo.I live in Shanghai.

Right: I am Jian Shuo. I live in Shanghai.

The space after the period sign is important. I didn’t know that in my 8 years of continous English lessions from primary school to middle school. The space is the key about whether a paragraph looks professional. For example, below is quoted from a letter I received.

year,i am anxious because many mates around me are find good one.during the perid of finding job,i found i donno which field am i in and what job i can afford, suddenly ,i felt i was a no major person,it’s so bad thing…

The capitalization, and the punctuation are easily ignored since these rules are rarely taught.

I think I am doing a little bit better than the average, but there is still big room to improve. It seems to me that how professional one writes is more important than how large the vocabulary he has.

English Research

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in

waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht

the frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl

mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do

not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.

TOEIC Score = 915

I got my TOEIC score today, after two weeks after I took the exam. The score is 915 out of 990. Well. It is a good score since I took the first place of all the 50+ participants for this exam – actually the only one with 900+ score. I feel good since I didn’t prepare for it, actually, I learnt there were grammer and corretion types of questions the morning before the exam. Meanwhile, I also feel very bad since if I prepare well for it, maybe I can get a higher score. Anyway, it will pass almost all the requirements for a TOEIC score – the five star hotels ask TOEIC of 890 for outlet managers.

My Listening Score was 480

and my Reading Score was 435

Certificate Fun

I found I became a Certificate and Exam fun recently. I just passed MSF Practitioner Exam yesterday, passed TOEIC just now and will get a driver’s license in the next half month after I pass the final real road exam. The feeling of accomplishment is good, although I am not sure when and how I can use the certificate, especially for the MSF Practitioner Exam. Maybe the benefit is the permission to teach the three-day MSF course 1846A: MSF Essentials. It can be of useful in the future, I think.

My Experience of TOEIC Exam

This should be a normal Saturday morning if there was no TOEIC exam. I should have waked up late in the morning to see the highly raised sun if there was no TOEIC exam. Unfortunately, this is the date for me to take it.

I still remember the time when I was preparing for TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). TOEFL has been popular in students in China for ten years. There are also hundreds of training centers helping people to prepare for the TOEFL test. I remember I attended TOEFL classes for half year before I took the exam.

TOEIC, which also comes from ETS (English Testing Services (R)), seems less famous. I heard about this term about three months ago. I thought it is some company internal test and later, I found out it comes from ETS, but much more informal. It is not only because it can be held in the examinee’s company, but because of other factors I will explain later.

Before the Exam

The exam started at 9:30 AM today and ended at 12:06. It was told to bring a 2B pencil and rubber. I thought it maybe some casual exam like others held within the company, but I was wrong.

The door of the training room was locked tightly and all the examinees waited outside the door – I have never waited like this in the company. :-) And at 9:30 sharp, the door opened and a good looking girl I don’t know appeared at the entrance and checked ID card and the exam permit carefully one by one. She was really careful with the numbers and the faces (the real person and the picture on the ID), as if she has never seen a China National ID card before. This took about 10 minutes along. People were also asked to take out the mobile phone and turn it off before her. This is stricter than that on a airplane. :-)

Later I found this is the only staff from the testing center. The others all come from the company. On the board hang large poster about TOEIC, however, the poster is obviously localized with the URL of TOEIC test center in China: http://www.toeictest.com.cn I just checked this site and it is quite simple, slow and unprofessional.

The Exam

To me, TOEIC is still somewhat simple – although I cannot guarantee a high score, but the listening conversation and the reading sections are relatively easier than TOEFL. I am not sure if everyone thinks so – is it because I took TOEFL 5 years ago while my English improved during the half decade?

This is the most unprepared exam in my life. Before this morning, I even didn’t know how many sections in the exam. I roughly read the reading section of a sample exam for the first time between the 9:00 AM to 9:30 AM time window before the exam. I took some preparation sessions for the listening comprehension at work before. In the short 30 minutes, I learnt that there are three sections in the reading part – choosing the right answer to complete a sentence, correcting mistakes in a sentence and understand short business paragraphs.

The 100 listening comprehension questions were hard work for me. I kept concentrated on the tape for 30 minutes, or longer, who knows…. I just felt very hard to find out the right oval on the answer sheet because the answer sheet was so compact that everything clustered together.

After I finished the exam, I feel not bad. The result will come out in two weeks.

TOEIC is Not Good Organized and Not Professional

Personally, I think TOEIC is not a professional test. There is a gap between the standards TOELF and TOELF/GRE.

  • Registration. I almost lost my chance to take the exam since my national ID card number was wrongly printed on the Entrance Permit. It turned out to be the mistake of the test center.
  • Answer sheet. I always believe the TOEFL/GRE test is very good at usability design. The [STOP] and the [Go to the next page] instructions are very considerate. But in TOEIC answer sheet, question number 101 to 199 were simply marked as number 1 to 99 on the test exam. The only difference is, one is on the upper side and other is on the lower part. I felt very strange and uncertain to put my answer for question No. 139 into the question 39 on the answer sheet. It does not look like an answer sheet from ETS.
  • The print. The small logo (about 200*60 pixel) on the answer sheet was not clear, and was obviously enlarged from a much smaller one, so the resolution was not good.
  • The website. Either TOEIC or TOEICTEST.COM.CN were not satisfactory.

Well. I believe there is still some way for TOEIC to go in China – to be more professional. BTW, China is not updated on the list of TOEIC’s Taking Test web page yet.

More about TOEIC in Shanghai

In case you are curious, the expense to attend a TOEIC exam is about 70 USD or 600 RMB. The full score is 990 and lowest is 10.

Upcoming TOEIC and MSF Practitioner Exams

I registered for the exam of 074-100 MSF Practitioner 21 days from today. I was convienced to register for an exam first will benifit the preparation by giving myself pressure. It is true. It is also true that by announcing the exam you are going to take will strengthen the pressure so force myself to learn harder. :-) True. (The course for this lesson is 1864) I will go to the Prometric center at Dong Hua Universtiry. Personally, I don’t like Prometic test center’s operation in China – the computers are old, the locations are hard to find. There is even no supervisor for in the class room.

The other exam I have registered is the TOEIC (Test of English For International Communication) exam the next week. I didn’t prepare for it right now since I think I can pass, although may not get a high score. TOEIC is becoming more and more popular recently in Shanghai. I can see this term in newspapers, especially on job related newspaper. Dozon of books have been published for preparation of this exam. Many multinational companies requie this certificate for their employees. To be honest, I didn’t know what it is half a year ago.

Updaed August 16, 2003

I attend the test this morning. It is the most unprepared exam I have ever attended. The score will come out in two weeks.

Updaed August 27, 2003

The TOEIC score comes out to be 915. I also got a PASS for MSF Practitioner Exam yesterday.

Is English Skill That Important

Recently, an exteremly hot discussion on whether English skills is that important on Sina.com.cn is brought to my attention. The original title is “Does English skills determine your fate?” The title sounds astonishing, doesn’t it?

It seems from the result of the vote, more people (50% vs 20%) agree with statement. While on the discussion board (Chinese site), most of participations complained about English’s aggression to Chinese’s territory.

I am also confused

I am also confused about this for a very long time. English has been successfully deployed to many countries as an international language. I write in English everyday and sometimes speak English. I see so many people struggling to learn and improve English – including me. Yes. I am very confused about what English really means to everyone.

Do we need mandarin, or Pu Tong Hua?

Let’s take a look of the mandarin in China. Lots of my friends and I grew up in Luoyang and can only speak mandarin. We has lost the ability to speak the Hennan dialect, which has existed and been inherited for more than 1000 years. Mandarin is a great threat to the local language. It is good on the other hand, that no matter where I travel in China, there is no language difficulties – it is the official and most popular language.

Surprisingly, I visited Tibetan area last month. The guide there can also speak fluent mandarin. This helped me a lot. However, I cannot communicate with the groom. This was quite bad. Many reports complain that the government is stealing the Tibet from the Tibet people by stealing their language. It can be true in some terms. It is not a matter of the government is stealing or not, it is just a matter of fact.

Not only my home or Tibet, every city, every town and every village is facing the same problem. Maybe only Beijing and some Northeast province can survive. So my question is, should I insist to speak the local dialect?

However, I also have friends who cannot speak mandarin. When they visit me in Shanghai, he cannot be understood by people there. This has brought him a lot of trouble. It is difficult for him to find a job or to find new friends – the reason is simple, nobody will learn his language just to understand him.

Key learning

From my experience and my friend’s, I learnt that a language is mainly for communication proposes. Sometimes there are major languages that are widely accepted, and the broad acceptance make it easier for people to communicate, it is beneficial to learn it.

How about English

When English is concerned, it is hard. Since the government enforces the adoption of mandarin and it is within the same country, people won’t push back that much. However, if this adoption span across the border of countries, it will hurt the feeling of the people. It is reported that the people and government of France is working every hard to push back the aggression of English to their language.

No English, then what?

Today, I spent my whole day meeting with the representatives from all over the world. We have people come from Europe (UK, France, Finland, Norway, German, etc… ), from Middle East (Israel…), from Africa, Latin America, from Asia (China, India, Korea, Japan….). Of cause, there is lot of people from U.S.

The days session is conducted in English. I am surprised to find the English skills of European countries are very good, so does India. People from Asia tend to perform poorly in presentations. It is sad. This reminded me of the story of my friends. Just like that he cannot communicate with other people in China, we cannot easily communicate with others in the world. Yes. This is sad.

Meanwhile, it is very interesting that when I have meeting with people from Korea and Japan. It is a tough meeting. It is 100% percent sure that we need to speak English. Although I can only understand 30% of what the Japanese says and 70% of what Korean says, it is good enough since I can understand about 0% if they speak their native language.

It turns out when people using different languages meets, they need to find a common language that everyone can speak. English has been in place already. There is no doubt about it.

Certainly, we are not that comfortable to learn, imitate and speak the language that people in other countries are using, we have too learn something. English is the most practical one. My brother once studied the Interlingua (or the International Language) but he abundant at last. Interlingua successfully solves the problem that it does not force anyone to speak the language of the other – it is very equal ?everyone need to learn something that is completely new. But not so many people want to learn. It is a joke now, let alone it is still not fair since it looks like something between English and Spanish.

Not everyone needs English

For my friends and for my groom, if they don’t need to travel, it is definitely unnecessary to learn mandarin. For anyone who don’t need to go outside the country or meet with others come into the country, they don’t need to learn English either. However, without English skills, one does limits the scope he can reach and will lose so many opportunities.

I am still confused, but it is clear that English is important for me