Interview in Mandarin with TV presenter and Chinese teacher Yangyang

Time for another video in Chinese! This is actually part of the summer project of improving many languages, and as such it is the first in a series of many interviews with natives of the languages in my list of 10.

I hope you like the new graphical intro! (Feedback appreciated: should I use a different musical intro, do you like the pop sounds, does the overall video look good?)

Yang Yang works as the Mandarin speaking presenter for the TV show “Hello Hollywood”, speaks on YoyoChinese lessons (a paid membership site where she teaches beginner Chinese), and also does her own videos on her Youtube channel. We had a couple of chats on Skype and she helped me with some problems I was having, and was happy to record our last conversation.

In this video we talked about how she got into working as a TV presenter, her thoughts on learning Mandarin, a quick cultural comparison of America (which I’m back in right now), how she trained Eliza Coupe to sound like a Chinese speaking expat in just two weeks, and more – the whole video is almost 20 minutes long. Don’t forget to activate the subtitles in English (or traditional/simplified Chinese).

There were a few sound synchronisation and other technical issues (this was my first recorded video Skype call), my camera died at the end, and I had to have Yangyang help me record her stream, but I think it worked out watchable and I’ll be sure to improve on it for the next video! Yangyang is certainly no stranger to such interviews so she was great to keep the conversation flowing.

Of course, this video is not a huge change in my level over the last month as I’ve not been learning Chinese as intensively (most of my work in June was on characters; more on that soon) and still have plenty of mistakes and had to glance at my notes on occasion, but the point was that rather than another interview of someone asking me about my story (which most of you know inside and out by now), I thought it was way more interesting to share other people’s stories using my languages, and that’s the style I’ll be going for in other upcoming videos too!

Hopefully future videos will be with people as interesting and fun to talk to as Yangyang! Thanks for watching :)



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  • burnsy

    Informative, impressive, and inspirational. I watched for 2/3 in mandarin before realizing that I could get subtitles. LOL. But started over and enjoyed every minute. Thank you. burnsy

  • James

    I like the new title sequence, although it’s sad to see the Taiwan flag has been removed from your website and titles.

    • Benny Lewis

      When I was travelling in Taiwan for that last week everyone told me I had a definite mainland twang on my Chinese. I can only pick one flag, sorry!

      I’m still going to recommend that people go to Taiwan over the mainland for a study abroad though.

  • Andrew

    That was wonderful and I especially loved the bit about how she came up with the idea to use popular shows like Sex and the City to teach students English and how much they loved that because that’s precisely the direction I’ve been going in with my language-learning, by blog, and now my book I’m writing for a while now, and my experience matches hers perfectly: people love learning a language from interesting, entertaining, contemporary media like TV shows, movies, and books, it’s just such a fantastic way to learn a language and it’s been made even more so thanks to the internet which allows you to do it all from home essentially for free or very close to it!

    Keep up the good work, Benny, and keep us updated. Loved the intro, by the way, looked very professional.


  • Jisoo Yi

    Hey Benny
    Where do you think the Chinese characters originated from?
    Of course it’s not an easy answer but I’d like to know of your guess.

  • Benny Lewis

    I don’t think I’ll be uploading to Youku any more. My videos there got very few views and most people I met who would be likely to read a blog in English used VPNs.

  • Fahd Hussain

    At least in this video, your pronunciation needs a bit of work, and definitely I think it is important to pay attention to matching the right tones with the right words. I can understand you fine, but you’re definitely using the wrong tones quite often. Also, I think it is apparent that you’re learning Mandarin with the Beijing flavour, as I keep hearing the “儿“ sound.

    • 小骆驼商队

      Well, there is nothing wrong with “儿“ sound itself. Some “儿“ sounds are part of Mandarin. Frankly speaking, if he spoke with the Beijing flavour, the “儿“ sound would have to be much, much more frequent. :D

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  • Dionski Schleck

    Benny you are very inspiring and your mandarin has encouraged m to believe it is not as hard as everyone says. Just a question, you say that you do no work before the three month immersion for demonstration purposes. If you were to be study mandarin outside of the three month challenge, what would you have done prior to going to taiwan?
    Cheers. You’re an inspiration.

    • Benny Lewis

      What I’m doing right now for Arabic! :) Read my posts about this project, and replace the word “Arabic” with “Mandarin” and you’ll see what I’d recommend ;)

  • mindlessnoise

    Benny, you are really really impressive. It’s so hard to communicate in another language in such a short time but you have been doing so well, and you are living proof that your methods work well.

  • Iris Ka-Yan Bakalar

    Wow your Mandarin’s really good. It’s funny because I find your Mandarin easier to understand than YangYang’s, presumably due to the accent – as in, of course you don’t speak with a mainlander’s accent and so for me, it sounds close to Cantonese, which makes it more understandable for me. The musical approach is exactly how my husband’s learning Cantonese from me now actually! – He likes to take the first word in the sentence, make sure he gets the tone for that word right, and then make everything relative to that tone. He’s learnt to recognise when something rises or falls or curves etc, esp if I put two similar tones back to back for him to hear the musical difference. My parents and even my Chinese Malaysian friends all understand him without problems :) (he doesn’t speak it yet, he only speaks simple sentences like “Do you want some tea?” – but that’s still more progress than I’ve ever seen a Westerner make in Cantonese)

    Anyway, btw, your youtube video – I thought I’d practice my own Chinese reading by turning on the traditional subs – it switches into simplified 3 times at various points, only for a sentence or two. Maybe you should fix it?

    Anyway, very well done to you! I can’t speak Mandarin myself but watching you speak it makes me think maybe I can too – yes, you being white definitely makes it more impressive for me, so esp with my own Cantonese background, I kinda have no excuse lol.