There are two reasons that make me write this post. First, recently, some friends of mine, who are not majoring in Chinese or living in China/Taiwan/any Chinese-speaking countries, asked me about my experience in learning Chinese. These friends of mine may have learnt Chinese in Vietnam or in the US and their Chinese learning experiences are quite confined to what are taught in Chinese textbooks and they are at the same time not fans of Mandopop (華語流行音樂), classical Chinese drama (古裝電視劇), Taiwanese drama (台灣偶像劇), or Chinese novels of all genres (i.e. wuxia (武俠), romantic novel (言情), etc.), it is a little bit difficult for them to find a helpful source for learning Chinese. I find myself strongly sympathized with them at this point as I used to struggle with my mediocre Chinese level (and still struggle now) and I want to reach Chinese learning sources other than movie and music (even I am a big fan of Chinese movie and music) and importantly, I do not like to follow Weibo), it was not until my time staying in Taipei that I started tapping into various sources on Facebook of various topics (i.e. economics, business, literature, culture, travel, etc.). I think that I should share some useful and informative Facebook pages in my opinion here for ones who may concern. Second, as I ticked like to many Facebook pages recently, I really want to sort out some really good sources for my own reference. Noted, my below suggestion comprises mainly pages written in Traditional Chinese and suitable for Chinese learners of Intermediate/Upper-Intermediate level.
- Magazines/ news/ programs written in Chinese which are run by the Western media
These are magazines/ news written in Chinese operated by large magazines/ newspaper of the West, i.e. BBC, New York Times, or programs like National Geographic, or Harvard Business Review. A good thing about these magazines is that you may find both English and Chinese versions of a text for comparison and it may help a lot in constructing your vocabulary. Comments in these Facebook pages come from many Chinese-speaking countries, i.e. China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and it is quite interesting on seeing how they react when there are something specifically written about China, Hong Kong or Taiwan (I myself think it is somehow like what happens under the comment section of BBC in Vietnamese version), however, with better control of temper.
As far as I know, there are several newspapers already developing content in Chinese, i.e. The Economist or Time, however, it seems that they have not launched a Facebook site. So there are several pages as follows for your reference:
- 哈佛商業評論 (Harvard Business Review)
- 國家地理雜誌 (National Geographic)
- BBC 中文網（繁體）(BBC Chinese version – Traditional Chinese)
- The New York Times Chinese -Traditional 紐約時報中文網
- RFI 华语 – 法国国际广播电台 (Radio France Internationale)
- 《BBC知識》國際中文版 (BBC Knowledge – Chinese version)
- 彭博商業周刊 / 中文版 (Bloomberg Businessweek – Chinese version)
- Mainstream media/ Mass news media
The term “Mainstream media” or “Mass news media” is used here to refer to large news conglomerates, including newspapers and broadcast media that underwent successive mergers in many countries or the various large mass news media that influence a large number of people, and both reflect and shape prevailing currents of thought. It is somehow equal to BBC or CNN in the West for its strong influence. I can name several sources for your ease of reference.
|Chinese names and Links||English names||Based in|
|自由時報評論網||Liberty Times – Special page for opinion|
|udn tv||United Daily News||Taiwan|
|轉角國際 udn Global||Taiwan|
|鳴人堂||United Daily News – Special page for Opinion||Taiwan|
|商業周刊（商周.com）||Business Weekly Taiwan||Taiwan|
|Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报||United Morning||Singapore|
|經濟日報||Economic Daily News||Taiwan|
|東森財經||EBC Financial News||Taiwan|
|TVBS 新聞||TVBS News||Taiwan|
|有線新聞 i-Cable News||I-Cable news||Hong Kong|
|Taiwan News－台灣英文新聞||Taiwan News||Taiwan|
While this post’s main purpose is to feature the pages written in Chinese, several sources of English news from Chinese-speaking countries may be helpful:Actually, you may choose to follow a couple of them only if you are not so interested in having your newsfeed flooded with Chinese text. You may find that the links as listed above mostly come from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore and there is nothing coming from China. The first reason, of course, is that as Facebook is banned in China, there are few pages featuring news from Mainland China on Facebook. The second reason is that I am a little bit hesitant to subscribe to any page from Mainland China for my fear of reading comments made by Chinese citizens as I have witnessed on some platforms like Weibo. It is, of course, not good at all as my subscription to news from Taiwan or Hong Kong will lead to the lack of diversification of perspectives.
|South China Morning Post SCMP||Hong Kong|
|SCMP International||Hong Kong|
|The China Post||Taiwan|
|China Xinhua News||China|
- Alternative newspapers/ Alternative press
The great availability of alternative newspapers/ alternative press should be something that makes me excited the most while learning Chinese. Unlike the mainstream newspaper/ mainstream media that usually features the mainstream viewpoints and sometime is criticized for their biased views with a view to serving the interests of governments/ corporations, these alternative newspapers/ alternative press tend to be non-commercial projects, featuring more diversified views and frequently written in style of opinionated reviews and columns, investigations into a specific topic. These newspapers, from my observation, are often run by a group of reporters or small/medium-sized media companies. The definition, of course, is just for reference only as there are some pages run by a small group of reporters providing with views that are not diverse enough.
When it comes to alternative newspapers/ alternative press, I am a little bit jealous of the diversity of such means of media when comparing with that in my country where press is still subject to censorship from the authority, and alternative press is hence like a far-fetching dream.
The most favorite pages of mine are:
a) 換日線 Crossing
換日線 Crossing is a platform contributed by around 180 non-professional writers, most of them are Taiwanese from more than 80 cities in the world. These writers may be overseas Taiwanese students or young professionals living and working abroad. They often share their observations of life from different corners in the world, from European to Africa, from the USA to Vietnam and sometimes make comparison with Taiwan. It is somehow interesting to see how Taiwanese see the world and their own society and find out that they share a lot of common things with Vietnamese people (for example, their feelings when coming back to Taiwan after spending time studying in the US or how to bring up children) or it is interesting to read how they perceive about life in Vietnam. Articles featured in 換日線 Crossing are suitable for Chinese learners of Intermediate and Upper-Intermediate levels.
b) The News Lens series
Other favorite sources of mine come from The News Lens. The News Lens (TNL) is an independent bilingual online media based in Taiwan and Hong Kong dedicated to spread the voices of Asia to the world in Mandarin and English. As claimed by TNL’s owners, “TNL’s mission is to provide not only facts, but also diverse perspectives. Through our voices pieces, we aim to generate conversations about significant trends and issues. Our contributors come from all around the world, and range from being professional journalists to stay-at-home moms.”
There are some Facebook pages of TNL as follows:
|The News Lens International Edition||The News Lens – English version|
|The News Lens 關鍵評論網 香港||The News Lens – Hong Kong|
|The News Lens 關鍵評論網 東南亞||The News Lens – South East Asia|
|The News Lens 關鍵評論網||The News Lens – Chinese version|
|The News Lens 關鍵評論網 藝文||The News Lens – Arts|
Other pages that are similar to換日線 Crossing and The News Lens, featuring international perspectives, include the following pages:
|World Digest||Mainly featuring news from all over the world|
|全球之聲||English name: Global Voice|
|地球圖輯隊 情報總部||English name: Images from all over the world/
A platform that mainly features images to tell stories from all over the world
|Initium Media 端傳媒||A Hongkong-based media|
|風傳媒觀點||English name: Storm Media viewpoint/
Opinions on international incidents
|獨立評論在天下||English name: Independent Discussion @ TianXia
Opinion page of TianXia Magazine
There are some pages, however, focusing on local news and providing individual perspectives:
|本土新聞Local Press||Featuring news in Hong Kong|
|Stand News 立場新聞||Featuring news in Hong Kong|
|報導者 The Reporter||Featuring news in Taiwan|
|日本訊息||Featuring news/ opinions related to Japan|
|Worklife in Japan 日本 職場 生活 趨勢||Featuring news/ opinions related to Japan|
|歐洲觀點 Europinions||Featuring news/ opinions related to Europe|
- Pages for causes
These pages are dedicated to a specific cause, i.e. support for immigrants, environment protection. Of course, there are thousands of causes to support and I am unable to follow them all. These are several pages that are quite informative for your reference:
|政問||English name: Talk to Taiwan/ A platform that raises concerns related to Taiwan’s future among the young Taiwanese citizens|
|One-Forty||A page that supports the immigrants to Taiwan by sharing stories of the immigrants/ foreign workers/ foreign students in Taiwan|
|法律白話文運動 Plain Law Movement||A page run by a group of professionals who would like to make law easier to be accessed by people without law background|
|環我好嗎?||A page of NCCU’s students that shares simple ideas to protect environment|
There are various pages that supply with specific contents, for example: daily knowledge, history, literature, poem, travel etc. I would like to name a few informative pages with good writings as follows:
|TedxTaipei||Tedx is already famous so there may be no need for further introduction|
|文化銀行 Bank of Culture||As its name may suggest, this page is dedicated to provide with informative writings regarding various cultural aspects in Taiwan, including but not limited to old buildings, traditional handicraft, religion, performing arts, etc.|
|每日一冷||English name: A cool thing per day
This page is more like a platform to provide with kind of “Do-you-know”-styled knowledge about everything in our world.
|故事：寫給所有人的歷史||English name: Story: The history written for everyone
This platform is meant to bring history into daily life, providing people with comprehensible writing and reliable source of knowledge by employing creative method, combining with new means of media.
This platform frequently has live event on Facebook with Taiwanese speaker from different places in the world together sharing viewpoints in a specific topic.
|知史||English name: Know History
Another platform for providing historical knowledge
|Li-Ho Taiwan||Li-ho is the pronunciation in Taiwanese language of “Ni hao” （你好）. This platform intends to provide Taiwan-related information|
|女人迷 womany||Platform with sharing woman’s thoughts. Actually, I found it a little bit like Vietnamese websites with motivational speech or kinda self-help for woman. A little bit cheesy but it provides quite comfortable writings. And the website version also allows reader to read in both traditional and simplified Chinese.|
|閱讀人||English name: The Reader
It has nothing to do with the movie “The Reader”. A platform that promotes readership in its original meaning 😉 This page is run by a couple of husband and wife.
|說書 Speaking of Books||A platform providing with book commentary|
|晚安詩||English name: Poem for the evening
As its name may suggest, this is a platform dedicated for poem only.
|背包客棧||English name: Backpacker Hostel
A platform for ones who love traveling
|旅行臺灣 就是現在||English name: Travel to Taiwan now
A platform that provides with various information related to beautiful places to travel in Taiwan
|台北旅遊網||English name: Travel in Taipei
A platform with relentlessly updated information related to places to travel in Taipei
|批踢踢實業坊(Ptt.cc)||English name: Facebook page of Ptt
One thing weird about Taiwanese netizens is their obsession with Ptt. Ptt is kind of a biggest forum for gossipers in Taiwan, run on the old-fashioned platform of BBS (Bulletin Board System). If you are curious about how Ptt of Taiwan is like, refer to the end of the post to have a look at the screenshot of a discussion on Ptt.
|台灣二三事 Taiwan Trivia||Some random trivial things about Taiwan|
As I mentioned above, based on your own preference, you may choose to follow several pages only. Following Facebook pages is just the very first step to make sure that you reach the sources for learning language. The next step, of course, totally depends on the learner. As you know that Facebook has developed algorithm that is based on your daily interaction on Facebook to somehow manipulate what you would see on your Facebook newsfeed, an active attitude toward learning language is still highly required.
As far as I am concerned, a perk of learning Chinese by this method is that you gain other perspectives, at least from Chinese-speaking world. For example, what you read before about Chinese-speaking world is often written in your mother language or in English, which unavoidably led to biased view or misunderstanding. Reading news written in Chinese and reading the comments below may provide with perspectives from the insiders and you may get closer to the actual thoughts of local people. Or recently, ensuing the event of United Airlines, in which a Vietnamese American was dragged out from the airplane, which captures the attention from all over the world (I do think that there are few events that may arouse strong reactions from all over the world like that, perhaps due to the fact that this Vietnamese American was firstly thought by the media to be Chinese American), my Facebook news-feed is covered with the news or analysis or opinions from the West, Vietnam, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and mainland China and it is quite interesting to see how people in different places in the world react differently to the same story.