One thing I have noticed since coming to Taiwan and
wasting time online studying for graduate school has been the incredible amount of blogs available to read written by Taiwanese on a wide variety of topics. There was a blog post I had read about a year ago or so, which I can’t find now, but the author had introduced various popular blogs in Taiwan and how the authors of those blogs can actually earn some decent money off of them. The point he had made was that there’s plenty of these blogs that exist. Now, reading as much as possible is an important aspect of language learning–and reading topics of interest even moreso, so let me introduce how I think that can be used to our advantage.
First let me introduce an English one that is written in a similar way to many Taiwanese blogs (but also because I’m quite hungry and I wanted to look at some food options for tonight). It’s “a hungry girl’s guide to taipei“, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for dining in Taiwan and you’re not sure where to start.
Okay, so why the heck am I starting with an English blog in this entry on studying Chinese? Well, English can be the best place to start! For example, the link I placed under “food options” mentions a restaurant called Toasteria. I like what she said, but I am also wondering what Taiwanese think as well. So, I pop on over to Google (localized to Chinese of course) and do a search. Right on top of the list are two different blog entries:
[台北] Toasteria Cafe 師大店 @ 超好吃的土司三明治啦
TOASTERiA 土司利亞‧東區‧台北- Double Cheese – 無名小站
While the latter is a bit dated (2008), there’s still plenty more in the search results to try. One quick note, I LOVE the amount and quality of photographs in these entries. So, as you can see there’s plenty of blog entries on a variety of topics, and many exist also on trips abroad to places like Japan, Hong Kong, Australia and more. It’s a really great way to read about people’s experiences and thoughts.
Now, with so many blog entries available to you, what do you do with that? How can they be used to your language learning advantage? Let’s look at a different–by that I mean non-food despite the growling of my stomach–example. Let’s say you’re in the market for a new iPad case with a bluetooth keyboard and you happened to see the one by IPEVO on their official website, Typi iPad 2 藍牙無線鍵盤筆記型保護套. Well, you think, that looks pretty snazzy, but you’re really not sure if it’s actually that good quality. So, you hit up your old pal Google–Chinese localized please–and search the name of the product.
TIP: After a while you’ll learn to recognize popular blog sites like wretch and yahoo, so when you get your search results you can skim directly for those and not get stuck getting on the official product pages or auction sites.
So you find four good blog entries with plenty of pictures and different reviews:
【試用】IPEVO Typi for iPad2。變身成小筆電的皮革保護套+藍芽鍵盤
我的iPad無線鍵盤-IPEVO Typi iPad 2 藍牙無線鍵盤筆記型保護套
C/P 值破表的高- IPEVO Typi iPad 2 藍牙無線鍵盤皮套組
IPEVO Typi IPAD2藍芽鍵盤保護套組
Anyway, so you get these and now you can make SRS entries, MCDs, whatever floats your boat. That’s not the real benefit, though.
You’ll notice I have always added more than one result. In practice, I usually aim for about four in total. The goal is, and aside from looking at product reviews to be smarter in your purchases, is to get a large amount of input on a similar topic. All of these entries talk about the same thing, so there’s plenty carryover of vocabulary and topics. Also, you’ll be more familiar with the topic to really get right into the entries. From there, you can see the different uses of sentences, ways of talking about the topic, and of course their final opinions. This is great not only for reinforcing vocabulary but also to learn how to talk about a topic in different ways. It’s definitely worth a shot and I highly recommend trying it out. If it works for you, feel free to let me know below!