Modern China is not generally thought of a particularly religious place, so you might be surprised to learn that they have their own fair share of gods, deities, creation myths and other religion-related concepts - and they go back ridiculously far into antiquity (given that it's China, you might have expected that part). Believe it or not, ancient China was chock-full of different gods and diverse belief systems, but the particular bit we found most interesting was something almost all religions have in common: the myth of creation. For China's most prominent creation myth, social class plays a role.
There are myriad common misconceptions about China that foreigners are bound to hear (and maybe repeat - by the way, you can't see the Great Wall (长城, chángchéng) from the moon), but one of the more frequently-uttered discusses how countless cornerstone inventions of the modern industrial world have their origins in ancient China. Oddly enough, this one is sort of true: everything from metallurgy to navigation to weaponry has seen massive and crucial contributions from Chinese inventors, and it's clear that without ancient China, much of our modern world would look radically different from a scientific perspective. Let’s take a closer look at what came from China (and what didn't) to find out how important ancient China has been to the science and technology world!
A couple years ago, I took two (@CNY11K) every-weekday-for-12-week courses from Miracle Mandarin (the Fuxing Lu / Shaanxi Lu facility in Puxi and loved it.
Each day was an hour of each of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. They moved fast and forced you to learn/use it quickly. It was "modular" in that you could choose to do either the read/write, or the listen/speak, or both (the two were taught by different teachers). Classes were "up to 9 students," although most of the time it was actually 6-7, which seemed like "just about right"--everyone expected to participate a lot, but with time to think/absorb while others are called upon. The first two weeks were pinyin and then it moved on to hanzi. Most of the learners were really students--recent university grads from mature-economy countries using the MM-provided student visa to search for a job. MM is one of at least a half-dozen private providers of such courses--Mandarin Center, ACLS, Red Carpet Mandarin, etc.
I know some folks who've taken analogous courses from one of the local universities (many offer them--Fudan, Donghua, Jiaotong, etc.) and said they were larger (up to 25 students), thus had less personal attention, and cost a bit less. I found (paradoxically) that the class made you learn faster than individual instruction (because you couldn't dawdle).
Among the tutor-offering companies, Mandarin House seems to specialise in the "tell us what you need, where you need it, when you need it, and we'll provide it for a fee."
Not sure what it's like back where you live, but here in Shanghai winter is still with us so it's the perfect time of year to ignore the outdoors entirely and kick back with your flat-screen! Before, we touched on the often-bizarre world of Chinese television, but today we're talking about the big screen. Here in China foreign movies are widely available and very popular (both in legal and illegal formats), but there's a long and rich tradition of homegrown Mainland cinema, so we'll take a quick look at the fascinating realm of Chinese movies.