Anthony is from High Wycombe, England. Apart from English and Chinese, he also speaks French and German. Anthony is an NAATI professional Chinese-English translator, a tutor, a musician and a songwriter. He started learning Chinese since 14 years old and continued learning Chinese in high school and university. Anthony has just turned 30, now living in Melbourne Australia and completing his PhD in Chinese computational linguistics and teaching Chinese part-time in Monash University.

Time Stamped Show Notes

  • [0:52] – Anthony was born and raised in England
  • [0:55] – He currently lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he has been for 16 years
  • [1:23] – He learned German and French while studying in England
  • [2:13] – He is currently working towards a PhD focused on translating the Chinese word “le” and its many uses into English. He hopes to create a translator that can bridge the gap between Chinese and English ways of expression. He also teaches Chinese and linguistics part-time.
  • [3:26] – He became interested in Chinese when he was 14 and began teaching himself, then began formal study when he started university
  • [4:28] – Why did Anthony learn Chinese?
    • [4:42] – Anthony’s mum often played Eastern music in the car while he was growing up, and his interest in the music led to curiosity about China and its culture.
    • [5:09] – He knew it would be a good idea to begin learning the language before travelling to China
  • [6:08] – What’s is Anthony’s biggest motivation in learning Chinese?
    • [6:15] – The challenge of learning Chinese was a big motivator because it felt more rewarding to learn and discover such a different language.
    • [6:29] – Learning European languages never really appealed to Anthony, but Chinese was more interesting and had more to discover
    • [7:15] – Anthony has observed that people who enjoy the feeling of accomplishing something difficult are motivated to continue learning Chinese
  • [7:39] – How did Anthony learn Chinese?
    • [8:00] – In the beginning, Anthony was motivated by understanding how the language worked so he took copious notes about grammar, expression, and phrasing.
    • [8:24] – Anthony approached the Chinese language from an academic perspective instead of practical
    • [8:51] – Anthony became interested in using the Chinese language to communicate later on in his learning journey
    • [9:20] – Anthony finds it very beneficial to have a thirst for knowledge and a sense of exploration when learning Chinese
    • [10:28] – Anthony has found that a helpful technique for visual learners is to colour code the characters based on tones
    • [11:05] – It’s also important to say the words out loud while practising, not just saying the words in your head
    • [11:30] – Seeing the same characters in different contexts also helped understand the language better
  • [12:23] – What had been Anthony’s biggest challenge in learning Chinese?
    • [12:30] – The tones have been the biggest challenge for Anthony, particularly in the middle of his learning journey
    • [12:50] – Anthony started off by ignoring the tones and just learning vocabulary, which made it much more difficult to learn the tones properly later
    • [13:03] – Anthony thinks it’s a better idea to practice and focus on tones from the beginning. His students do this and develop muscle memory so that the tones stick with them
    • [13:26] – Tones can sound different with different emotions or moods
    • [14:21] – Anthony reiterates how useful knowledge of the language can be. He gives an example of how a specific sequence of tones alters the pitch of the second tone in the sequence. This isn’t commonly found in textbooks
  • [15:35] – Embarrassing moment: 
    • [15:58] – One time while trying to find people to practice Chinese with, he approached a group of Chinese looking people and began speaking Chinese to them, but they were not Chinese. They directed him towards the Chinese group, but he was too embarrassed to speak with them at that point
  • [17:10] – Most rewarding moment: 
    • [17:18] – The first time he realised he had developed fluency
    • [17:30] – When he first got to Nanjing, Anthony was shy, but after spending some time there he became more comfortable and confident
    • [17:51] – One specific instance was while Anthony was in Shanghai, he had an abstract discussion about artworks in Chinese. He realised that he could express himself well and connect with people, and that was very rewarding
    • [18:34] – Anthony was surprised to find that he was capable of using Chinese conversationally to discuss art and express his point of view
  • [19:12] – Anthony has a Chinese girlfriend, and he uses Chinese with her and her family. He also uses Chinese to keep in touch with friends in China
  • [19:34] – Anthony tries to take advantage of as many opportunities to utilise his Chinese as possible
  • [20:21] – When Anthony met his girlfriend, they spoke English.
  • [21:02] – Life before learning Chinese vs. life after learning Chinese
    • [21:12] – Learning Chinese has broadened Anthony’s perspective about the diversity of people’s life stories and how different people might think differently
    • [21:59] – All of Anthony’s work currently is related to Chinese, so it has given him a professional advantage
    • [22:11] – He has become more confident and approachable since learning Chinese
  • [22:56] – A difference between the Chinese culture and Anthony’s own culture
    • [23:04] – Directness of expression; People in Western cultures tend to be forthright in talking to people about their opinions and in their requests of other people
    • [23:25] – In China, it’s necessary to be more indirect with your speech
    • [23:33] – You also need to focus on interpreting how Chinese people really feel, because they may not say it outright. Chinese people do not want to be offensive or make you feel uncomfortable
  • [25:04] – Anthony’s favourite cities in China: Nanjing, Shanghai, & Xiamen
    • [25:10] – Everywhere in China offers you something different
    • [25:20] – He appreciated how traditional Nanjing was, how bustling Shanghai was as a modern metropolis, and the tropical feeling and European-style architecture of Xiamen

Anthony’s Favourite Chinese Quote

  • [28:56] – 路遥知马力,日久见人心 – Just as you see a horse’s stamina on a long road, you see a person’s heart with the passage of time
    • 路(lù) – way / road
    • 遥(yáo) – very far
    • 知(zhī) – to know
    • 马(mǎ) – horse
    • 力(lì) – strength
    • 日(rì) – the sun / time
    • 久(jiǔ) – long
    • 见(jiàn) – to see
    • 人(rén) – people
    • 心(xīn) – heart
  • [29:49] – Anthony finds this poetic because it means that time will show a person’s true colours
  • [30:08] – Victor adds in the first part of the quote and gives more context to the quote

Anthony’s Advice for Chinese Learners

  • [31:53] – Don’t give up in the middle of your language learning journey. Whenever you do something difficult, there will be discouraging phases. Be patient with yourself and be prepared to persevere
  • [32:38] – Maintain your interest and curiosity to learn more, there’s always more knowledge to gain when learning a language

Connect with Anthony

Resources Mentioned:

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