How to get better at reading Chinese language news
Learn the system I use to read and understand Chinese language news in an easier, quicker and more efficient way.
I’m launching a live course.
It’s called The Methven Method: A framework making it easier to read and understand Chinese language news.
This is a note to explain more about it.
If you want to take the plunge, you can register here:
Reading the news in Chinese regularly is the best way to keep up with what’s going on in China, maintain and improve your Chinese language skills, and stay on top of the latest language trends.
But it’s also a painful and sometimes almost impossible task to get through a Chinese news article, even for the most advanced language learner.
‘News Reader’ text books teach you ‘newsy’ language, but they don’t teach or prepare the non-native reader for “how” to read the news in Chinese.
That’s because it’s an art which you can only learn through long, lonely hours of wading through dull and frustratingly difficult news articles.
A 'real life' article in Chinese is full of linguistic traps:
Perplexing puns, neologisms, and slang words
Confusing cultural references, images, names, and historical back stories
Disorientating differences in length, structure, format and styles
But, there is a solution…
I’ve been publishing the Slow Chinese 每周漫文 newsletter every week for nearly two years (86 weeks, but who's counting!), reading five to ten long-form Chinese news and opinion pieces each week.
Before starting to write Slow Chinese, I would hardly ever get through a whole Chinese news piece - giving up because it was too hard, boring, depressing, and/or confusing.
But through the process of reading and writing each week, I’ve developed a framework which makes it much easier to select, read and understand any Chinese language news article.
It's called the Methven Method.
The Methven Method is a framework which helps me improve my news reading skills and ability to choose and consume any news article more quickly and efficiently.
And I’m sure it can help you if you are an advanced learner of Mandarin who needs to read the news in Chinese.
So, I’ve decided to share the whole thing!
To give you an idea of what’s in there, here are three quick tips from the Methven Method to try:
Read the first and last para before you start reading an article.
If there are good idioms or colloquialisms at the start or end of an article it means it’s higher quality, a more interesting read, and better content for learning language. No interesting phrases? It’s a boring article and not worth your time - unless that’s what you’re looking for.
Review all the images in the article first.
They offer clues about the content, context and structure, often including names of companies, places and people which you familiarise yourself with and look up first - making life easier when you come to read the article.
Look out for words and phrases in “speech marks”.
These are often hard-to-understand puns, slang or neologisms which have been adapted to the article and can easily catch you out. Learn them first.
These are just three tactics in what has evolved into the 65-point framework of the Methven Method.
What you’ll learn
You'll learn the framework I've developed and use every week to select, reading and understand Chinese news articles.
Condensed into a course delivered in six live one-hour sessions, we cover the following topics:
Introduction: basic principles of how to approach consuming the news in Chinese, an overview of the Methven Method, its expected outcomes, best practices, and tips on forming a reading and learning habit.
The media environment: a deep dive on recommended Chinese language media sites, how to navigate them, and where to find the best content.
Choosing the right article: a system to assess whether the article is right for you, which is a crucial but often overlooked part of the process.
Doing the groundwork: a framework which helps you prepare before starting the reading process.
Actively reading the article: tips, tricks and resources to help you properly read and understand the article.
Applying and validating: how you take what you’ve learned and apply it to gain a deeper understanding of the topic as a researcher, analyst or student.
We will apply the framework to actual media articles in the live sessions, and there will be live Q&A at the end of each session too.
The course will focus on:
Chinese language business, society and current affairs news - in other words the kind of topics covered in the Slow Chinese newsletter;
Chinese language news sites based in mainland China, as well as those elsewhere, and in traditional and simplified characters;
And we won’t go into the People’s Daily, the China Daily or any state media sources.
The course is led by me, Andrew Methven, with the help of Zoe Qian, who edits the Slow Chinese newsletter
As a native speaker, Zoe will share her takes, tips and tactics with students.
She will be presenting the second module on the Chinese language media landscape - a must for anyone who has to, or aspires to, read the news in Chinese as part of their job.
The price to join the course is $100.
Paying members of the Slow Chinese community can grab a bargain and get it for $50.
Sign up for the annual membership of Slow Chinese and get a 10% discount:
You’ll find the member discount code and link to join the course for $50 in last week’s member newsletter published on 24 September.
Who is the course for?
To benefit from the Methven Method you should be one or more of the following:
✅ Learning Chinese for at least five years and would define yourself as an 'advanced learner'
✅ Have attained a level equivalent to HSK5 or HSK6, or graduated in Chinese language from university
✅ Know enough Chinese characters to be able to read a short news article without much trouble, but still find it challenging to read long form pieces.
✅ Already studied technical aspects of reading the news in Chinese - 'newsy' vocab, use of language and structures etc (which we don't go into in this course).
✅ Need to read Chinese news as part of your job including analysts, journalists, think tankers and researchers focussing on China.
✅ Or you just want to focus on improving your Chinese reading skills through building a habit of reading Chinese language news while avoiding a brain implode.
When is the course launching?
The first session will be on Tuesday 4 October at 7pm UK time, and then every Tuesday for the following five weeks. Each session will be around 1 hour long.
How is it delivered?
It will be delivered live on Zoom. Students can join passively or actively - chipping in with questions at the end of just taking it in.
Will there be a recording?
Yes. If you cannot attend live there will be a recording shared after the live session.
Can I get a refund?
Yes, we offer a 14-day money-back guarantee in case you are not satisfied with the course (counting from the first live session). The only thing we will ask is for a reasonable explanation of why you want the refund.
What happens next?
First, you can sign up now. Then you'll receive an email notification on 2 October with a link to access the first live session on Tuesday 2 October.
Have another question?
Reply to this email and I'll be happy to respond.
Finally, if this course isn’t for you, but you want to support and help get it in front of the right people, please help share on your social channels and with your Chinese language learning networks.
I’ll see you in your inbox as normal on Saturday!
Ps - whenever you're ready, there are 3 more ways I can help you:
1. Join: become a member of the Slow Chinese community and take your language skills to the next level.
2. Learn: The 3-Hour China Trends Tune-up @ $15 is an easy (and cheaper) way to experience how the membership resources can help you.
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