“Learn Chinese” iGoogle Page Grand Unveiling


NetVibes page has replaced iGoogle page]

(Click here for audio soundtrack for this post)


[Update: see also also “Learn Chinese” 2.0]

This is the greatly anticipated (by me) and severely anticlimactic (to you) kāimùshì 开幕式 of my “secret plan” for all those Chinese-learning RSS feeds:

A “Learn Chinese” iGoogle page! (Add the button to your own page)

Current Contents

Blogs* Daily Words Lessons**

*in alphabetical order
**and a dictionary thrown in for good measure

What is it?

For learners of Chinese, this is a way to skim quickly and easily the “headlines” of (currently) 21 a lot of different Chinese-learning blogs and resources all displayed on one page. You can rearrange, add, and remove content to customize the page for your own Chinese learning. The idea is that rather than checking each website every day, you can just click over to the iGoogle page, have a look at what’s new or intriguing and then dive into the content that interests you without clicking on thousands of different pages.

For writers of blogs/Chinese resources, this is a way for us to hùxiāng bāngzhù 互相帮助 and boost everyone’s readership (see below in “What’s Next” section).

Everyone wins!

How do I try it?

It’s absolutely FREE (you don’t even need to sign up for a Google/Gmail account, but if you want to save your settings you should at some point).

Just do this:

1. Click here to tell iGoogle you’re thinking about trying the “Learn Chinese” page.

2. On the screen that opens, ignore almost everything while you scroll down and click the button that looks like this:

(I don’t know what that check mark does)

3. Go to www.igoogle.com.

4. You should see a list of headlines arranged in 3 columns. Here’s a little diagram to show how I organized the stuff (you won’t see these column headings on the page itself):

Blogs* Daily Words Lessons**

*in alphabetical order
**and a dictionary thrown in for good measure

5. Here’s how to use the iGoogle page:

What’s Next?

If your website is included in the “Learn Chinese” page, consider adding the following code to your website (in WordPress it can just be a “Text” widget) and we’ll each get a new subscriber every time someone clicks on it!

<a href="http://laowaichinese.net/igoogle" target="_blank"><img src="http://laowaichinese.net/wp-content/uploads/igoogle.gif" border="0" alt="" /> Add "Learn Chinese" to iGoogle</a><br /> <a href="http://laowaichinese.net/learn-chinese-igoogle-page-grand-unveiling.htm" target="_blank"><em>What's this?</em></a>

Looks like this:

Add “Learn Chinese” to iGoogle
What’s this?

If we get 500 users of the “Learn Chinese” iGoogle tab, it should appear in the auto-complete suggestions for iGoogle adding tabs (whatever that means. If you’d like to know more about that, let me know.)

I don’t currently know of any way to track how many users there are of this iGoogle page. That’s one of the things that makes this grand experiment so fun.

I see RSS feeds as a largely untapped potential for language learning (and in general). I would love to know how to post “a package” or list of raw RSS feeds like this some way other than an iGoogle page created from a dummy email address. But this is the best I could come up with for now. If anyone else has a better way to do this, please do tell.

Something missing from the “Learn Chinese” iGoogle page?

Let us know and I’ll add it if it’s appropriate.

Disclaimer: Laowai Chinese does not take responsibility for any of the content displayed on iGoogle. The “Learn Chinese” page is just an attempt to aggregate all current, quality RSS content that is related to learning Chinese without making any statement or claim about the value of each resource. Any dispute about whether a resource should be added to “Learn Chinese” will be settled via peer pressure in the form of comments on this post.

[Update: Language Learning and Technology (a journal affiliated with Michigan State University) reviewed the “Learn Chinese” iGoogle page in their June 2009 issue (pdf) under the “Emerging Technology (pdf)” column.]

34 Replies to ““Learn Chinese” iGoogle Page Grand Unveiling”

  1. I’ve been using iGoogle in exactly this fashion, and I don’t think I’m the only one. If it brings more traffic then I’m all for it! BTW.. fantastic theme music.

  2. Joel,

    Re mp3: The music is Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man.”

    Re feed: I think the language category of your blog would be fine. But may I suggest that you “burn” it into it’s own feed at Feedburner so you can track the stats (if you’re interested)?

    For you it would be:

    I can just paste that feed as is right into the iGoogle page, but if you sent it through feedburner first you could see how many people are subscribed to the learning mandarin feed. Let me know what you decide to do.

  3. Alright Joel, you’re in. From now on, whoever clicks the button will get the version of the iGoogle page that includes your site. Would you consider adding the button to your site?

  4. Joel,

    Something went wrong with the code copy/pasting on your site. I took some quotes out. Maybe it’ll work better now. It’s not meant to be a added as a link but rather as a plain text widget (so you can have the cool iGoogle button).

    If you’d prefer to add it as a link, just link to


    That’s the auto redirect page I set up so I can easily update the link (as I did when I added your site). Let me know what works. Remember, it’s all a grand experiment.

  5. I got it fixed. it’s because I just copy-pasted the code as displayed in your post, and for me at least, it displays the quote marks as curly quotes, half of them going the wrong way. All I had to do is replace the quotes in my code.

  6. Oh that’s bad (but good that you figured out the problem). I’m trying to display the code in Courier New now. If anyone else adds the button, let me know if it now works to just copy and paste the code directly.

  7. Carl, et al,

    I’ve FINALLY got the code working correctly. The issue has been (as Joel pointed out at the beginning) the smart quotes that WordPress insists on using. So, may I recommend this plugin if anyone else is considering inserting code into their sight. Whew! Nightmare over.

    If anyone’s added the button to your site and the image isn’t showing up or the link is broken, please try copying and pasting the code again and it SHOULD work this time.

    [fingers-crossed emoticon here]

  8. this is good advice. I’ll agree with all of that.i read it && i really like the content of this blog, so do keep posting and keep the good work up.
    enjoy blogging, thanks.

  9. Can anyone tell me how this works, since I have no idea what this is for?.

    MANY THANKS INDEED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

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  13. im liking the dictionary on the learn chinese igoogle page. Nice one. Iv been using some chinese dictionary software that brings my computer to a stand still when ever its active. I wont be using it in a hurry now!

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