Big Bang City, by Mahigan Lepage : an experience in digital reading

Big Bang City

Oh, you wonder why there is “digital reading” in the title of this post, since it’s a real book that headlines the article ? Wait a little, they can form in twos !

When I first bought me a Sony electronic reader in 2008, there was one experimental publisher in France that was proposing new voices on digital format, coming from the French-speaking communities : .  It’s still here, still opening up new literary frontiers, and that’s where I first heard from Mahigan Lepage with “Carnets du Népal”. Other digital books followed and a while ago, decided to make its ebooks available on paper ! Wonderful idea : you buy the paper edition, and you have free access to the digital versions, epub and mobipocket.


Mahigan Lepage is a Quebecker, he grew up in a Quebec French speaking community, but of course english is like a second language for him. Quebec French is slightly different from Metropolitan French. Some words differ, ways of describing things and situations seem full of imagery to us french people, it really gives french language different colors. From the very first book of Mahigan Lepage I perceived a very rich language, so dynamic. Many of his books are about travelling but his best one (for me) talks about adolescence, its hesitations, its fury, this one is such a great book : “Vers l’Ouest”.

Being fond of his writings, I’ve been following Mahigan Lepage on his weblog for quite a few years, that’s where I discovered the project of this book/travel. Big Bang City, four trips, eight megalopolis :  Manila, Jakarta, Beijing, Shanghai, Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangkok. Hong Kong was also on the route but it was a town where he only briefly transited.



I first read the book, read 120 pages in a row (on 480). Then I realized I was missing something, because the digital edition includes video and audio documents. So I grabbed the epub file and put it on my Nexus 10. I first tested it with Aldiko Epub Reader but the result was not satisfactory, so I tried with Google Play Books, which includes a dedicated ebook reader, and it was really good. You can see the links towards two video excerpts on this capture :




So the travel begins with Manila, a sprawling metropolis full of chaos, poverty and resourcefulness. Crazy town with huge traffic jams, that’s an experience :



Then comes Jakarta, equally chaotic and terrific, this first trip really seemed exhausting. The second trip begins with Beijing, another disproportionate city, but where things are more organized, less anarchic. There is another advantage by reading the electronic version over the paper version : photos are in color !



The travel continues through China with Shanghai, and  a short stop in Hong Kong, where M.Lepage discovers a typhoon, and how the inhabitants are accustomed to them :



Third trip : India, with Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai. We feel again the pressure of cities that grow up without any municipal plan. What strikes more in India is the harsh lives of people deprived from any rights, people who must fight every day to stay alive, disabled, old, ill people, some situations are really frightening.



Mahigan Lepage builds up an expression to refer to these people : “les combattants primordiaux”, which one could translate by “overriding fighters” or something like that. They have no alternative but fight everyday for their life, work hard and live hard.



Last trip, last town : Bangkok. But this is not how local people call their city. People from Ho-Chi-Minh City still call their city Saïgon, well that’s the same thing with Bangkok, people call it : “Krungthep”.  That’s one of the many things we learn from this town and this country. Mahigan Lepage know them well, since he travelled over there extensively, worked there for many months and learned Thai language. But if you want to know more about all this…just buy the book, you won’t be disappointed !


POST-SCRIPTUM : all the material I’ve shot above with my camera is under copyright of Publie.Net Editions and Mahigan Lepage. This blog has no commercial purpose at all, I just wanted to share my thoughts about this fantastic book. If Mahigan Lepage or his publisher happen to read this and to be dissatisfied by this article, they can be assure I will of course modify its form.

The “rentrée littéraire” (3)

Following the 2014 and 2015 posts on the “rentrée littéraire”, here are my first impressions on this year’s issue.

First of all, this year’s books seem to have a better quality, it’s more varied than last year, some stories sound really powerful. I began my readings with Céline Minard‘s “Le grand jeu”, which a friend offered me for my birthday :


A woman gives up her ordinary existence to plan a self-sufficient life in an ultra-modern retreat in the mountains. But plans may be well planned, reality is never what you expected. In a narrative mixing fantasy elements with more technical facts, Céline Minard drives us exactly where whe wants to, she builts a breathtaking and magnificent walk, pushing away all certainties and exuding some kind of a “poetry of the heights”. My best choice so far, a must-read !


The real power of fiction appears to you when you lose your landmarks, when you forget about the surrounding world and dive into the story. That’s what happened to me with “14 Juillet”, by Eric Vuillard (which happens to live and work in Rennes). 14 July is the day when the Bastille fortress in Paris was destroyed in year 1789, establishing the starting-point of what would be the french revolution. 14 July is now a national holiday in France. Stories about these violent times are often fragmented, few names appear, history only holds onto a few characters. In this piece, Eric Vuillard has decided to give the floor to the common people, craftsmen, workmen, housekeepers, cooks, all those people who also made the revolution happen, forgotten by history. This is a powerful evocation, full of lyricism and inspiration, I also warmly recommend this one :



Aurélien Gougaud is a young french writer, this is his first novel, and he has things to tell. “Lithium” is the criss-cross story of two young adults making a living in Paris nowadays. First names are never mentionned. It’s just “her” and “him”. One chapter you hear “her” talking, the next chapter is for “him” and so on. Of course in the end they will meet each other, but that’s not the point. Those lives are very raw, it’s quite harsh to live and work in Paris when you’re in your 20’s in year 2016. It’s about relationships and their fragility at this age, it’s about alcohol and drugs, it’s about social networks, it’s about sex, it’s about work, and it offers crude descriptions of those hard lives. A first-shot by Aurélien Gougaud, and this is a good one, in some ways it made me think about Michel Houellebecq, some reflections are soooo houellebecquian.

And this is the book our cat chose, he likes young authors :


Summer break


Not so much inspiration these days. With the dramatic events that occurred in France lately, the atmosphere at work is morose. Anyway, we travelled through the country again this summer, this time we visited another part of South Eastern France which is located just a hundred miles above the city of Montpellier : les Cévennes !

So, what about this national parc ? It’s an area of middle elevation mountains where you can find wild and arid plateaus, we call them “Causse”, in french. On the “Causse Méjean”, people are bringing up a species of horses native from Mongolia : the Przewalski horse. They are helping these particular horses not to disappear by reintroducing them in their natural environment after raising them, here is what the Causse Méjean looks like :


Of course there are numerous areas where you can go for a walk and observe wildlife, especially birds of prey. We had the chance not to be in the open air as a heat storm broke out, some can be redoubtable in this region. Here is a picture of that day (on another Causse) :


There are many other points of interest in the Cévennes, since you can bump on ancient traditional villages every ten miles, Vézénobres is one of them :


Other typical cities are much bigger, here is Uzès and its famous castle, which holds the premier title in the peerage of France :


And, everywhere you go, markets and night markets, farm products are so diverse down there that you can eat different dishes every day and experiment new tastes without limits :

Night Market

Now we’ve already been back to work for a fortnight ; while colleagues from all other the world are attending the IFLA annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, we’re awaiting the next coming “Rentrée Littéraire” ! Lots of books are about to enter the library, just waiting for them :


Studying Chinese (6) – From learning in a class to studying on your own


Five years now. Five years and the interest has not been decreasing, much to the contrary ! It seems that the more I am studying mandarin chinese, the more I am spending time on it, and on and on.

So, what can you tell about these five years ? The most obvious thing for me is that it’s very demanding, but also very rewarding. When you learn chinese, you have the feeling you are approaching not only one language, but three languages at the same time, since by learning one word you are learning :

  • the strokes of the character
  • the pinyin transliteration
  • the tones

And of course you must remember the sense of that word, considering that sometimes one word can have different meanings, depending on the context, like in any other language.  That means that, apart from homophony problems that are the main difficulties when speaking chinese, a written word can have different meanings, for instance 花, which can mean “flower”, or… “spend money”, but sometimes you are lucky when there are only two meanings.


Another thing I learned from that tortuous path, is that you’ve got to take ownership of your learning.

I had fast felt that the exercises that were given to us laborious learners were not enough, should I try to boost my level of understanding. But quite one year ago, I really felt that deeply, noticing that during the last six months attending that weekly course, the progress I was making was mainly due to my own work at home. I think during that time our chinese teacher was less concerned by our learning than by her return back home after her few years in France, but anyway, who will blame her ?

At that time I decided that after four years of group learning, it was high time for me to get a grip on my learning. I already had begun to work on written material, but I’ve been emphasizing that ever since, and I think I made a great leap forward (!) by following that fantastic MOOC I already talked about at the end of a previous post.

Not only did this MOOC make me progress in my understanding of chinese grammar, but it especially encouraged me to find video material that I can follow less harshly than, say, one year ago.


So, what will come next ?

  • Reading, mainly online with the help of dedicated platforms like Decipher Chinese or The Chairman’s Bao.
  • Watching chinese series, for instance you cand find some on YoYo Series Channels, including chinese subtitles, which is essential for understanding.
  • Again & again, reviewing characters on Pleco app, and very soon the Outlier Dictionary of Chinese Characters will be available.
  • Also I’d like to begin to learn traditional characters, at least for the most common. Simplified characters are by far the most widespread, but I am realizing that the traditional form is essential to really have a full approach of the chinese language, I feel I am missing something.




Feel like travelling ? Books are our best companions !

Our taste in reading may change, depending on our mood ; these days I’ve been reading books that took me far away, three books that made me travel on the whole planet :


The first one is from Philippe J. Dubois, french author and ornithologist. Some of his birds guides have been translated in english, but I don’t think this one has.

In this book he recalls his most fantastic expeditions : wandering through Chitwan Park in Nepal, Dubois comes close to a tiger (!), in Myanmar he has to cope with extremely suspicious authorities, in Morocco they have repetitive problems with an old Peugeot car. On another expedition he’s lucky to discover Siberia at the beginning of the 90’s, just after the opening of Russia to foreign visitors, and this time he travels as far as Sakhalin Island and then back to the continent.

Alaska, Georgia (in the Caucasus), Mongolia, Antarctica, Dubois went everywhere on the planet, and the last chapter is set in Ouessant Island, most western point of Brittany (and most western point of mainland France), well-known spot for birdwatchers.

I’ve always been interested in wildlife, as a kid I was devouring books about animals, but it kind of vanished later. From time to time, I find books that rekindle this interest, and here is one that is marvellous.


From fauna to flora, it’s just the distance to the second book : “La route du thé”, from Julie Klein & Philippe Devouassoux, a young french couple who travelled on foot through chinese Sichuan and Yunnan regions.

route du thé

A lot of people know about the ancient silk road, but the tea road is far less known, that’s what they decided to explore : during 5 months, they walked more than 2000 miles and gathered information on a dedicated blog.

The first part is dedicated to Yunnan, from Pu’erh to Deqen, at the gate of Tibet. The second part goes from Ya’an to Xinlong, discovering Sichuan region. Julie & Philippe were autonomous, so they were able to stop anywhere to put up their tiny tent, but they often encountered locals that offered to host them. Travelling on foot, they could testify that language differs a lot from one place to another (especially in Yunnan, where there are a lot of ethnic minorities), and so does the food, they make us discover an incredible variety in tastes. I hope one day this book will be translated, it’s a fantastic testimony about travelling by yourself and meeting local traditions, I highly recommend it !


Le grand marin

This last one is more an adventure novel than a book about travel. Catherine Poulain is an incredible little french woman, she worked in a canning factory in Iceland, she was a barmaid in Hong Kong and she went fishing for ten years in “the last frontier”, yes it is, Alaska, that’s the subject of this book.

“Le grand marin” (“The great sailor”) is one of these books that you cannot drop until you finish it. It carries you along a whirlwind of sounds, smells, encounters, waves and wind. It’s the story of Lili, who will decide on a whim to leave the smoky bars of Manosque in southern France to travel alone as far as Kodiak island. This wild adventure is filled with a lot of sensations : fear, cold, extreme tiredness, intense joy, everything is mixed and the blazing style helps to the pleasure of reading. Just by turning the pages, you can transport yourself over there, sail with her, and that is the magic of reading, it’s all about escaping from the real world and dive in fiction.


Relax and go to Bordeaux


All right now, it has been a long winter, with a great (but reasonable) amount of workload, so when we saw spring vacations coming, we wondered with my wife where to go : Lisbon, Madrid, London, Berlin, Rome, Vienna ? Then we remembered France is the world’s leading tourist destination, with wonderful regions and some of them we didn’t even visit.

On our wishlist is Tourraine with its gorgeous castles, Burgundy with its great wines and gastronomy, and the Bordeaux region, world famous destination for people who like wine, but also home of the “three M” : Montaigne, Montesquieu, and Mauriac (eventually, we only saw one of those residences). The effective argument was that my wife has a cousin living in Bordeaux, and so do I, of course we decided this time to go visit Bordeaux…and our cousins !


Bordeaux is located in the south-western part of France, in the Aquitaine region, along the Garonne river. Of course this is a decisive location for trade, that’s why Bordeaux has been for centuries one of the most important cities in France. For a long time home of a commercial harbour, the north part of the city along the river is now a landmark for trendy boutiques and popular bars. Sometimes you almost think you’re in Paris, sometimes you may believe you’re in New York City !


The town holds many beautiful pieces of architectural heritage, among them the Saint-Michel Basilica, which bell tower is independent from the church, it’s very curious (yes, it’s the one on the second photo from top). Bordeaux is also home of the largest independent bookstore in France : librairie Mollat. Its leader recently published a manifesto defending independent boookstores, here is what the store looks like from the outside :

Outside Mollat

and of course we did hang around its gorgeous shelves :

Inside Mollat


After three days in Bordeaux, we hit the west to drive around the bassin d’Arcachon, a very peculiar natural space just beneath the Atlantic Ocean. Here you have the opportunity to visit tiny typical fishing villages :



You can climb the largest and highest dune in Europe, the great dune of Pyla :



Or you can stroll around Arcachon winter town, which has the outmoded charm of 20th century seaside resorts with its gardens full of flowers and its surprising villas, for instance the Alexander Dumas villa :



Then it was time to go back to Bordeaux’s hinterland, more precisely the Entre-Deux-Mers region, where we were lucky to visit François Mauriac’s historical domain : Malagar. Not so much tourists the day we went (and not so good weather, too), so we quite had a personal visit, with a great presentation of the life of this important literary figure of the 20th century.


And I discovered back in Rennes that a novel around this subject just got published, for a matter of fact the cover photo looks very similar to mine, isn’t it ?



Entre-Deux-Mers is a famous wine producing region, you can visit vineries like Cadillac-Côtes-de-Bordeaux, you’re close to Pessac-Léognan and it’s also the home of the Graves vineyards, we didn’t want to miss the Maison des Vins de Graves where we bought a few red and white wines :



Our last day was a sunny day, so before driving back to Brittany, we had a wonderful time at one of the most famous wine city in the world, Saint-Emilion, it’s on the Unesco World Heritage List :


Why we must support independent editing !


Damn it, it’s been a long time since I haven’t been posting here… Blame it to the end of the winter, less energy with all those rainy days, and also I’ve been spending long hours of steady work to prepare for HSK4, the international standardized exam which tests and rates Chinese language proficiency.

So let’s come back to the library, let’s come back to books, and this time let’s talk about publishers, especially independent publishers. Initially I intended to post about « Les Allusifs » editor, a new « postcard from the shelves » post, but a happy coincidence made me listen to a great radio program this morning, about independent edition.

This is the first episode of a series that will be proposed every day this week. So, if you can understand french language and if you are curious about editing, this is tremendously interesting, and of course the programs will continue to be accessible on France-Culture website for months and months.

The commentator, Florian Delorme, invited in this first program Liana Lévi, who is an editor of Italian origin (on my photo, the first book on top left has been published by Liana Lévi). She has been publishing in France since 1982, so she knows what she is talking about when it comes down to independent edition. Together they call to mind the historical figures of André Schiffrin, and other participants are intervening on the phone : Sandro Veronesi, an italian author, Octavio Kulesz, an argentin publisher, and Tynan Kogane, from New Directions, a NY-based publisher, who claims that the force of independent edition is in its peculiarity ; he’s much more optimistic than Liana Lévi on the future of independent editing.

I was so enthusiastic about the program that the first thing I did afterwards was to pick up books from independent publishers in my living-room, and to take a picture, just to show the diversity of the covers, of the subjects tackled, and how it’s refreshing and different from « big » editors.


Les Allusifs


Oh, I forgot to talk about « Les Allusifs ». Twelve years ago, I remember I used to begin to buy novels for the public library where I was working at the time. Since I had been working previously in a music section, it was all fresh and new for me, and I had to rapidly deepen my knowledge of french publishers.

I remember I thoroughly enjoyed discovering all those little independent publishers. Some new may appear from time to time, but unfortunately, some also disappear. Three years ago, I thought the french publisher “Les Allusifs” was about to disappear : only two publications in 2012…one in 2013, but 2014 was a better year with 8 publications, as well as 2015. And now it seems to be back in the game, we just received this week a new book from “Les Allusifs”, with its recognizable circle around the title of the book.

We must not forget Independent publishers are the salt of contemporary publishing. Aside from often boring big editors, they draw their own path and propose different texts, different voices, different views in the worlds of fiction. You can find a lot of those precious publishers in France : Allia, Minuit, Verdier, Philippe Picquier, Le Mot et le Reste, Zulma, Le Dilettante, etc…but les Allusifs has a special taste for me. I am fond of their graphic editing, they publish authors coming from the five continents, and the translations are often immaculate (which is not always the case with so-called “big” editors”). Fine work, isn’t it ?

As individuals and as librarians, we must continue to support independent edition, it’s truly a breath of fresh air on our shelves !



International Librarians Network : exchange with colleagues around the world

a globe

CC Bailey Cheng


This one is for fellow librarians who consider it’s important to exchange on their job in order to progress and to make other progress : today I will talk about a program I have been involved in for a year and a half, the ILN !

The International Librarians Network is a facilitated peer-mentoring program : you apply, the ILN brings you into contact with another librarian in the world, and a four-month partnership begins, during which you will be able to share ideas and experience internationally, also to build your global network.

3500 participants since 2013, 120 different countries, and 80% want to sign again, so this is a truly international program, the only constraint being you must exchange in english language. There are regular propositions of subjects to be discussed, facilitated online group discussions and twitter chats.

Here is a video promotion of the program :



The ILN uses a model where all participants are treated as equals who have valuable experiences to share. This means that partners are not placed into established mentor/protégé roles, but rather are encouraged to view their partnership as a way to learn from each other ; all are mentors and all are protégés.

So why participate in the ILN peer mentoring program?

Through the ILN program you can:

  1. Rediscover your own valuable skills by sharing your experiences with your partner
  2. Gain new perspectives on your profession
  3. Build your professional network with colleagues around the globe
  4. Find new ideas that you can use in your library
  5. Develop new professional skills

Don’t wait, applications are now open for the next round of the ILN. it’s an amazing opportunity to get your very own international peer-mentor (and be one too) and it’s completely free. But hurry, applications must close on Monday 15 February 2016 !

About MOOCs : experience feedback and perspectives



I first heard about MOOCs quite…two years ago, I guess ? I tested out a few courses on the french dedicated platform, and I came away with mixed impressions. Opportunely, we had an in-house training lately on this topic at the library with my workmates, so I think it’s time for me now to :

  1. make you benefit from what I experienced tooking part in those MOOCs.
  2. review the different kinds of MOOCS, in english and french language.

By the way, what is hiding behind this curious acronym ? MOOC : Massive Open Online Course. It’s about learning things on the internet, at your pace, with many other people…whom you’ll never meet. Said something like that, it’s quite seductive, but reality doesn’t match the promise, we’ll see why.



1. Experiencing MOOCs : how you must be determined and motivated

Up to now, I’ve tried five MOOCS, let’s see how I went through each one of them :

  • “Introduction à HTML5 – Animations et jeux – session 1”, that was an introduction to the HTML5 web language. This MOOC stretched out on 7 weeks, I went through….two and a half. Not that I wasn’t motivated, but I guess I was short of time.
  • Python : des fondamentaux à l’utilisation du langage. That one was about Python language, much harder than the previous. Despite having practiced programming in my school years, I did not go that far. Again 7 weeks for this one, I only went through three. I tried to be the most serious I could, but I think this time the content was too abstract for me, I lacked prerequisites in coding.
  • Web sémantique et Web de données – session 1. This was about semantic web and linked data, so it’s definitely connected with the librarian’s skills. Yet again, it was displayed through 7 weeks, I only went through two.
  • Découper le temps : les périodes de l’histoire ; I subscribed to this course because I was interested in the subject : “divide time, the periods in history”. I am a complete moron since I…didn’t even have the time to start this one. But because I have joined this course, I am able to access its content, even if it’s over now.
  • Last but not least Open Wine University – Université de la vigne et du vin pour tous (!). You’ve understood this one is about wine, yes 5 weeks to know more about wines ! From growing the vines to tasting the wines, this one was exciting, but during the third week you had to buy different wines to taste and compare your impressions, so I quited.

Well, what can I say about all this ? I enrolled on 5 MOOCS, I didn’t even finish one. Ok, studies show that few people bring the MOOCs they choose to an end, but actually, I reached half the journey only for one MOOC among the five I tried : the one concerning the wine, well I guess…I’m definitely French (!).



More seriously, if you are interested in a MOOC, don’t hesitate to register : on at least two occasions, I know I didn’t have the time to start the MOOC on the week of its beginning. Anyway, I started it one or two weeks later, and it’s not a problem, a lot of people do that, because you do things at your pace, and that is really fantastic.

Secondly, you have to be careful about the prerequisites. Some MOOCs are for beginners, some others for intermediate, some apply to professionals. If you are not sure of your level, you’d better chose the lower one, I assure you.

Finally, attending a MOOC requires time, you’ve got be aware of that. It sure depends on your agenda, but you’ve got to have a serious motivation if you plan to reach the end of the road.



2. A (very) brief panorama

If we try to have an overall view on MOOCs, we must not forget that we’ll have a look at the current situation, as for January 2016. There are many economic players in this sector, they tend to gather to have more weight, so there may be less players in one or two years from now. We’ll only mention the main platforms, first in english language, then in french :


a. in english :

If you’re looking for a MOOC directory, such a tool exists, it’s called MOOC-LIST. Among the abundance of propositions, you can say there are two main platforms in the Anglo-Saxon world. The first is a paying one, it’s called Coursera, prices depend on the MOOC you choose.

The second is based on a freemium model and it’s called Edx. The courses are free but you can support the initiative on a dedicated page. Last month I discovered on Edx a fantastic MOOC about chinese grammar.  So yes…I enrolled for my sixth MOOC. I am completing the second week these days, it’s an excellent tool when you’re around HSK3-HSK4 level :




Not only does it present key points in chinese grammar in a very clear manner, but it also makes you learn phrase patterns, revise your vocabulary and learn some more. What is very useful is that all the course is subtitled in characters. Without that, I would even have begun, this is of great help : you can pause the course anytime to search the meaning of the character(s) you don’t understand. It’s better to watch it on a tablet : the subtitles come along at the bottom of the screen. On a laptop they are at the right side of the screen and it’s less convenient. So, it’s a great way to practise your chinese and learn essential grammar rules, I highly recommend it !


b. en français :

This may be unique in the whole world : the french Ministry of Education is subsidizing the FUN platform, that’s a great chance we have to access a lot of MOOCs totally free of charge.

A similar platform is providing courses in Canada, it’s called Edulib, and it’s highly advisable.

All in all, MOOCs are one of the best new tools education has to offer to everyone. Just pick up the right one for you, prepare to devote time and time again (but as you should if you had to attend a live course, anyway), and…walk the road to learning and beware the traps !





Studying Chinese (5) – new free resources


Today I will try to make chinese learners discover useful resources. Those may not be new to everyone but I found them relevant this year. We will focus on three resources, according to the level of the learner they address to :


1. CHINESE SKILL, elementary level

This one is designed for primary learners, around HSK2. It allows you to review your vocabulary, and to learn new words and phrases. You make our way through separate lessons, and you can access the next block of lessons only if you succeeded in finishing the previous one :

chinese skill


In each lesson, you encounter various exercises : you can be asked to recognize a word, or to put together its separate parts :


chinese skill


There are multiple-choice questions, and you must find the correct order for words in simple phrases :


chinese skill


It may appear very simple in the examples above, but as you progress through the levels, it becomes harder and harder. It’s a good app to help you remember your chinese vocabulary, and it’s much less boring than flashcards ! It also makes you study your oral understanding, since some exercises require listening comprehension. The themes are numerous and varied, it’s a lot of fun, so this is definitely helpful for “upper-beginners”.

You can download the app right here.



2. DECIPHER CHINESE, intermediate level

God, how long did I wait for such an app ? One of the many difficulties to tackle with when you learn chinese is to find some correct reading material. I found some through the years, I described that previously, but I lacked some fresh material. You know….those damned stories talking about legends or pandas, it’s so boring sometimes.

So I must say it was a huge breath of fresh air when I stumbled upon Decipher Chinese lately :


decipher chinese


Not only does this app offer recent press articles in chinese, but it also suggests the audio transcriptions of the phrases of the article. Ok, it’s voice synthesis, but it’s better than nothing. Words or expressions that are hard to understand are explained when you highlight the “book” icons. :


decipher chinese


Under each word, you will find a colored line corresponding to the HSK level of the word, it’s just fantastic. For a better understanding, you can also highlight each character to disclose its english translation :


decipher chinese


This is a must-have, nearly the app of the year in my humble opinion, and a major step for chinese learners.

You can grab it here !



3. 电视家, advanced level

It’s the most performing app on Android platforms to watch chinese televisions.

I might already have mentioned this app on polybri, and I use it steadily, even if sometimes I can only decipher a few characters in the subtitles. Anyway it’s important to listen to the language you are learning, to absorb the pronunciation, even if you don’t understand every thing that happens on the screen. It now comes in 2.7 version :




Browsing through the app is relatively intuitive. There are more than 200 channels, some of them in high-definition, great quality indeed :




Available on the playstore here, go for it !