New Job Forces Me to Study Chinese Again

xiaokang-logo(Now that my coughing fit has stopped after blowing the dust off this blog, I think I’m ready to write something.)

After 10 years of teaching English at universities in China, I have made a career change (gǎiháng le 改行了) and jumped into the exciting world of business!

This is the introduction to a new series of posts about business vocabulary and gaps in my own Chinese knowledge that are only getting filled in now that I’m in a new career. But first, a word about teaching Oral English.

The end (for now) of my teaching career is marked with the publication of a brand new book:

Coach Them to Speak: A Practical Guidebook for College Oral English Teachers in China

My friend Elizabeth and I wrote it specifically for Oral English teachers in China, and more information is available about it on my other website here.

I very much enjoyed teaching English, and especially doing it at Peizheng College 广工培正学院 where I spent 8 years. I’m so happy to compile the experiences, tips, and resources from all these years into a single publication.


My new job is working for a company in Guangzhou called 小康之家 Xiǎokāng zhī jiā, or in English “Healthy Household,” owned by my friend Paul Condrell. (Here are 2 different videos on Youtube (English) and Youku (Chinese) introducing the company).

Because the whole job is in Chinese, I’ve found that my normal “cruising speed” for learning new vocabulary hasn’t been enough.

In other words, here I am in my 11th year in China, and for the last 8 years or so I haven’t needed to take notes or really do anything to learn Chinese because:

  1. New words started “sticking” on their own (this happened in about year 3). I could just remember them.
  2. The daily number of new words was so low (0 to 5 most days) it was easy to manage.
  3. The likelihood that I’d have a chance to reuse a new word was fairly low (because of the random situations that I’d learn a new word in) unless I made a point to use a word again (which I loved doing but often forgot to do).

But not anymore! All 3 of those things are different now.

So I went back to the basics.

Here’s my “自学 Chinese kit” from years 1 and 2 (I saved all this mostly for sentimental reasons):

Chinese Learning Kit

You can see

  • 7 “flashbooks” (about 150 pages each with one word per page = 150 flashcards in each book)
  • 3 “field notebooks” (for taking notes when I’m out and about)
  • My favorite dictionary, “Chubby” (no Pleco back then!)
  • Microcassette recorder (no smart phones back then!).

And now, after 8 years away from the Chinese-learning game, I’ve just created flashbook number 8:


It’s already half full of little goodies that I’ll be sharing in the upcoming posts.

But most importantly: please, always, ALWAYS remember what these little critters say, no matter what muffin-shaped environment they might be in…


With that kind of attitude, how can you NOT learn Chinese?


3 Replies to “New Job Forces Me to Study Chinese Again”

  1. Good stuff Albert – good luck with new job!

    I’m trying to focus on business Chinese for new job- so will follow your upcoming posts closely.


  2. Oh, my! Condrell is your friend! He was so famous in 90s. I still remember people used to receive little books which introduce all the good stuff from abroad.Like the Swiss army knife and the little lamp that can attached to a book…So many goood memories. But when the swiss army knife can be purchased from other ways(taobao), 小康之家 seems to be disappeared from public these years. Now you’re in 小康之家,it interests me again! Wish 小康之家 a great coming back!

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