Category Archives: Guest Post

Guest Post: Gift giving in China

Who doesn’t love to receive gifts? On the other hand, there are many people who love to give gifts, taking great pleasure of seeing the joy and appreciation in the faces of others as they start to open their presents…

Yet, in China, the giving of gifts is quite different from what you may be used to—and, whilst it’s important to make sure you give an appropriate gift, it’s perhaps more important to make sure don’t give anything likely to cause offence or, particularly in seriously superstitious China, perceived bad luck!

So, what sort of gifts should you give?

Well, money is always most welcome—more often than not placed in a red envelope, or hóng bāo and given to the recipient with both hands (this is the appropriate etiquette for all gift giving, by the way). Giving money for birthdays is mainly for elders and children and you may need advice on the suitable amounts to give.

 Then there is fresh fruit or special, quality foods—both ideally imported or, perhaps, local snacks or food items representative of your home country—nicely displayed in a fruit basket or well packaged and visually appealing. Imported wines and bottles of whiskey or brandy will always find favour with older recipients.

Certain items of practical clothing are always welcome and, especially for the younger generation, both Chinese girls and young men, if a brand name from overseas, all the better! However, be careful with overly bright colours for the older generation.

Some may appreciate receiving health supplements such as ginseng, herbal teas or, maybe, a well-known brand of vitamins.

Of course this list is not exhaustive and, as you get to better know the people you are giving to, you may be able to personalise the giving to further meet their expectations.

Having said this, in China, sometimes the gift being received has ominous connotations and there are some gifts which should be avoided at all costs, as name of items shares a similar pronunciation to something undesirable or has negative cultural symbolism.
Such gifts to avoid include: gifts of money which include the number four (such as 40 or 400) as the pronunciation of four sounds similar to the word for death, sǐ. Hats or, more particularly, green hats, should also be avoided as the phrase to wear a green hat is used to imply that a man’s spouse is cheating on him. In a similar vein, the word for umbrella sounds like the word to separate so giving an umbrella symbolises that the relationship between you and the recipient may soon dissolve.

Another one: due to the sound connection between the phrase to give a clock and activities related to death, as you might expect, giving a clock is in bad taste—but also is giving chrysanthemums as they’re often used for funerals.
Finally, shoes: avoid buying shoes for your Chinese girlfriend as the connotation is that she may use them to walk or run away from you, thereby ending your relationship.

However, don’t worry unduly, gift giving in China not as complicated as it seems—plus, you can always ask one of your Chinese friends to help you out with your planned selection before you buy something!



Keith is the author of the website Love Asian women and has lived in Asia for over 30 years. He is adept at sharing tips about meeting, keeping relationships with and dating Asian women in order to help you find your ideal Asian bride!

How are your experiences with gift giving in other countries or especially in China?


Guest Post: Learn Chinese through Mandarin Song – “A Little Happiness”

This article was written by TutorMandarin, an online learn Chinese tutoring service that helps students speak Mandarin using their learn Chinese app and PC Software.

“A Little Happiness” (小幸运/Xiǎo xìngyùn) is a Taiwanese song composed by Shi-Zhen Xu (徐世珍) and Hui-Fu Wu (吴辉福), and by JerryC.

The song was recorded by singer/actress Hebe Tien in 2015 and became the first Mandarin song to reach over a hundred million views on Youtube.

Theme Song of Mandarin Film “Our Times”

So,why is this song so popular? The song is beautifully written with touching lyrics and melody, but more importantly, it came out on the soundtrack of the blockbuster Taiwan film “Our Times” (我的少女时代, Wǒ de shàonǚ shídài). A little happiness was the theme song that accompanied some of the movies most touching scenes.

The song was actually written from the movie and matches it almost perfectly. The lyrics of the song talk about the highschool life of the main characters. As a period piece set in the 1990s, the music evokes the nostalgic atmosphere of the time. Pro tip: for those learning Chinese, watching Mandarin movies, shows, and listening to Chinese song is a wonderful way to improve your fluency!

Hebe Tien – “A Little Happiness” Official Music Video

Lyrics with Chinese, Pinyin and English

我听见雨滴落在青青草地                                                                                Wǒ tīngjiàn yǔdī luò zài qīngqīng cǎodì                                                          I heard raindrops dripping on the green lawn

我听见远方下课钟声响起                                                                                Wǒ tīngjiàn yuǎnfāng xiàkè zhōng shēng xiǎngqǐ                                   I heard class-dismiss bells ringing from far away

可是我没有听见你的声音                                                                            Kěshì wǒ méiyǒu tīngjiàn nǐ de shēngyīn                                                  But I didn’t hear from you

认真  呼唤我姓名                                                                                          Rènzhēn hūhuàn wǒ xìngmíng                                                                     Calling my name earnestly

爱上你的时候[1]还不懂感情                                                                                Ài shàng nǐ de shíhòu hái bù dǒng gǎnqíng                                                  I didn’t know what’s love when I was in love with you

离别了才觉得刻骨铭心[2]                                                                                   Líbiéle cái juédé kègǔmíngxīn                                                                              Only found out how much you mean to me after we aparted

为什么没有发现遇见[3]了你                                                                      Wèishéme méiyǒu fāxiàn yùjiànle nǐ                                                               Why didn’t I notice that meeting you

是生命最好的事情                                                                                                 Shì shēngmìng zuì hǎo de shìqíng                                                                       Is the best thing in my life

#也许当时忙着微笑和哭泣                                                                          Yěxǔ dāngshí mángzhe wéixiào hé kūqì                                                Maybe we were busily smiling and crying

忙着追逐天空中的流星                                                                             Mángzhe zhuīzhú tiānkōng zhōng de liúxīng                                              Busily chasing the shooting stars in the sky


理所当然[4]的忘记                                                                                         Rén lǐsuǒdāngrán de wàngjì                                                                                   People always forget and take for granted

是谁风里雨里一直[5]默默守护在原地                                                            Shì shéi fēng lǐ yǔ lǐ yīzhí mòmò shǒuhù zàiyuán dì                                  Who’s the one always guarding us in the wind and storms

[Chorus] ———

原来你是我最想留住的幸运[6]                                                                            Yuánlái nǐ shì wǒ zuì xiǎng liú zhù de xìngyùn                                             So it’s you, my happiness that I wanted to keep the most

原来我们和爱情曾经靠得那么近                                                            Yuánlái wǒmen hé àiqíng céngjīng kào dé nàme jìn                                 Realizing that we had once been so close to love


那为我对抗世界的决定                                                                                             Nà wèi wǒ duìkàng shìjiè de juédìng                                                      Your decision to fight this world with me

那陪我淋的雨                                                                                                                 Nà péi wǒ lín de yǔ                                                                                                   Soak in the rain with me

一幕幕[7]都是你                                                                                                           Yīmù mù dōu shì nǐ                                                                                                      You’re everywhere in my life

一尘不染[8]的真心                                                                                                      Yīchénbùrǎn de zhēnxīn                                                                                          Your flawless and sincere heart

与你相遇 好幸运                                                                                                           Yǔ nǐ xiāngyù hǎo xìngyùn                                                                                So lucky to encounter you

但我也失去为你泪流满面[9]的权利                                                                  dàn wǒ yě shīqù wèi nǐ lèi liú mǎnmiàn de quánlì                                      But I’ve lost the right to shed tears for you

但愿在我看不到的天际                                                                                             Dàn yuàn zài wǒ kàn bù dào de tiānjì                                                               I just hope that in the edge of sky where I can’t see

你张开了双翼                                                                                                             Nǐ zhāng kāile shuāngyì                                                                                      You’re opening your wings

遇见你的注定[10]                                                                                                   Yùjiàn nǐ de zhùdìng                                                                                             And meeting your Mr./Ms. Right

她会有多幸运                                                                                                               Tā huì yǒu duō xìngyùn                                                                                     She/he will be so lucky


青春是段跌跌撞撞[11]的旅行                                                                 Qīngchūn shì duàn diédiézhuàngzhuàng de lǚxíng                                 Youth is a stumbled journey


拥有着后知后觉[12]的美丽                                                                  Yǒngyǒuzhe hòu zhī hòu jué dì měilì                                                               With the beauty of having regrets

来不及感谢是你给我勇气                                                                         Láibují gǎnxiè shì nǐ gěi wǒ yǒngqì                                                                   I was late to thank you for giving me courage

让我能做回我自己                                                                                               Ràng wǒ néng zuò huí wǒ zìjǐ                                                                            To become who I am

Repeat # & [Chorus]

Chinese Language Learning:  Phrases and Chengyu

If you’re already familiar with Chinese Chengyu then you’ll be quick spot several cheng yus hidden within this song. For those in the dark, a “Chengyu” (成语, Chéngyǔ) a Chinese idiom that typically consists of four Chinese characters. With only 4 characters, Chengyus are a very concise way of quickly expressing a deep meaning based on a familiar story. Chengyus are so popular and efficient, you will hear them frequently used in daily conversation by all  levels of society.

In order to remember Chengyus you have to know not only 4 characters of the idiom, but also the background story that gave birth to it. Below are several Chinese phrases a Chengyu in the song and their meanings.

1. …时候 (…de shí hòu) : When…

时候 (shí hòu) means “a period of time”. We can put some words in front of 时候 to become different meanings.

(1) “什么 (Shén me)”, meaning “what”  + 时候 = when

(2) “小 (Xiǎo)”, meaning “little” +  时候 = when I was young/childhood

(3) In the content, 的 means “of” in English, and thus …的时候 means “the time of/when…”

2. 刻骨铭心 (Kè gǔ míng xīn) : [Chengyu] (carve) (bones) (print) (heart)      

Something is too unforgettable just like it’s engraved on one’s bones and memories.

3. 遇 (yù jiàn) : meet/encounter

The word “遇” means to meet or to come across. In this song, there are “相遇  (Xiāngyù)” and “遇见 (yùjiàn)” two words related to “meet”. The former one 相遇 emphasizes meeting “with each other” while the later simply means you “meet” someone.

4. 理所当然 (lǐ suǒ dāng rán): [Chengyu] (matters)(suppose to be)当然(of course)

理所当然 means something seems naturally reasonable and right. In Chinese, we often say “take something for granted” using this chengyu.

(1) 视…为理所当然 (Shì… wéi lǐ suǒ dāng rán): take…for granted. Usually, this contains negative meanings, indicating someone always think themselves deserves to have anything but actually they don’t.

(2) The chengyu in this lyrics, “人理所当然的忘记” means “naturally and unevitably doing something.”

5. 一直 (yī zhí): keep doing…

6. 幸运 (xìng yùn) : good luck/happiness (Noun.)

7. 一幕幕 (Yī mù mù): every scene/screen

Literally “幕” means movie screen or stage curtain, but further we would use this word as the scene in our memories.

8. 一尘不染 (yī chén bù rǎn) :  [Chengyu] (one)(dust)(not)(stained)

Normally this chengyu is used to describe the house is so clean that there’s no even a dust. In the song, “一尘不染的真心” means the sincere heart is so true that it’s flawless.

9. 泪流满面 (lèi liú mǎn miàn) : [Chengyu] (tears)(running down)(full)(face)

This is a common-used chengyu describing someone crying so hard that the face is full covered by tears.

10. 注定 (zhù dìng): destined to…

In the lyrics, 注定 is a noun meaning “destiny” or “destined one”.

11. 跌跌撞撞 (dié dié zhuàng zhuàng):  [Chengyu] 跌跌(fall down)撞撞(bump)

The image of the chengyu is that someone stumbles and cannot walk steadily, kind of like walking like they’re drunk. In addition, we often use it to describe abstractly that the life journey isn’t going smoothly. This sond adopt the later meaning that the youth is a stumbled path.

12. 后知后 (hòu zhī hòu jué): [Chengyu] (after)(found out)(after)(feel)

The chengyu describes someone has slower reaction and takes longer than the right time to figure out the fact or their feelings.

Hope you enjoy this Mandarin song and film. It’s also a good way to improve your Chinese listening skill or you can just relaxingly listen to this touching theme song. As for the film, I’m sure it will be a movie that make you laugh, cry, and feel touched!

Have Songs and their Music Videos helping you with language studies?

Guest Post: Tiger Mom & Eagle Dad

This is a guest blog post from TutorMandarin – an online Mandarin tutor service that teaches students how to speak Chinese using an innovative mobile app and PC Software.


“Tiger Mom” and “Eagle Dad” are now both commonly recognized terms by Western and Eastern parents alike. These terms refer to a strict type of parent that are prevalent in both the Chinese culture as well as other Asian cultures. Today, we’ll dive a bit deeper into where these terms come from, what they mean, and what they say about parenting.

What is a Tiger Mom?

“Tiger Mom” came into widespread use after the Yale law professor Amy Chua published her book – Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (2011). Amy Chua is a second generation immigrant and was raised in a traditional Chinese way. Her book reflects on how traditional Chinese parenting affected her and how she applies a similar strategy her kids upbringing. Her book shows her attempts to use traditional Chinese parenting techniques with a modern Chinese daughter who frequently rebels – forcing her to decide whether to double down on her traditional parenting style or adjust. The book is a memoir of her transformation of being a mother of two daughters while bringing them up in the traditional strict parenting way.


How Strict is a Tiger Mom?

Amy Chua revealed in the book that she never allowed her kids to have a playdate, sleepover, watch TV, participate in a school play, or choose their own extra-curricular activities. The kids were also not allowed to “get any grade less than an A” or “not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama.” On the weekends, they were made to take piano and violin lessons, in which they had to reach certain goals or else they didn’t go a break or even dinner. Chua claims these strict policies are the reason that her children became so successful later on in school and music studies. She argues that this type of parenting is common in Asian families and acceptable.

What is an Eagle Dad?

In 2012, a video of a 4-year-old Chinese boy shivering in the snow with only his underpants went viral. His father was filmed while his boy trembled and begged for his dad to hug him. Instead of doing so, the dad made the boy lay on the cold, freezing snow first before he actually held him. The dad, Li Sheng is the former president of a bedding company from Nanjing, was given the nickname “Eagle Dad.” He didn’t just want his son to succeed, he wanted him to soar. “Like an eagle, I push my child to the limit so he can learn how to fly.


How strict is too strict a dad?

Duoduo, the shivering boy, who was born several months premature. The doctor announced that he might suffer from cerebral palsy. Due to this, his dad made him undergo extreme physical and mental endurance to build up his strength. At age 5, he became the youngest person ever to fly a light airplane, covering a distance of 30 km. At age 6, he completed a 5.5km marathon with his father wearing only a red underwear as well. Now age 8, Duoduo has signed up for sales management courses at Nanjing University. Duoduo is home schooled by a private teacher along with his Eagle Dad. Waking up at 6:30 every morning covering studies such as art, math, music, business and finance, languages, technology, 3D printing, robotics, and even military exercise training. He’s even going to participate in a world-class robotic programming competition in the UK soon.

Does strict parenting work?

People might argue that strict parenting is against nature. Children should have the right to have a happy childhood without too much pressure. However, others might argue that making certain rules since they are young is an effective way to train them for the future. We are going to break down into two parts, upside and downside.

The Advantages of Strictness

Like the movie Whiplash, as the professor once said “I was there to push people beyond what’s expected of them. I believe that’s an absolute necessity.” Some believe that by pushing people to their limits, parents must be strict. Amy Chua truly believes that strict parenting is necessary for her children’s success. Eagle Dad believes that Duoduo will thank him in the future for what he did for him. At the heart of it, they harbor a belief that children are too young to know what is good for them and what is not. By following their past experience of success, strict parenting seems like a perfect model to follow. However, is that the only path to success?

The Disadvantages of Strictness

Children brought up through strict parenting often turn out either extremely obedient or wildly rebellious. Also, it is noted that children of Tiger Moms and Eagle Dads are so afraid of upsetting them, they are prone doing whatever it takes to avoid punishment or trouble. This includes lying, concealing their feelings, and more. Also, a lifetime of the following order hampers both their critical thinking and creativity.


To be strict or not to be strict?

It is the number-one question among all parents. Children’s personalities and abilities vary and change over time. Parents can start from either authoritarian or permissive method, step by step observing how your kids adapt to the style. Once you’ve made the decision to parent in a certain way, make every effort to stick with it. Whether you get advice from the people around you or follow the academic research, you will have to decide what is going to work best for you, your family, your child, and the society in which you live.


What do You think about Tiger Moms and Eagle Dads?