Back to Jing’an (thoughts)

When I first moved to Shanghai, I lived in the Jing’an Temple area, behind the Portman Ritz Carlton Hotel on Nanjing Road. It was a cool place to start out my Shanghai experience, and I enjoyed my time there (even if there weren’t many good eating options nearby). I discovered the joys of Shanghai morning walks to work there, and the whole “familiar strangers” thing was interesting. Later, though, I moved to the Zhongshan Park area, where I’ve been living for about 7 years now.

Jingan Temple in Late Morning

photo by Neil Noland

Well, now that the AllSet Learning office has established its new office in the Jing’an Temple area, I’m spending a lot more time here, and really liking it. I can’t realistically walk to work every day anymore, but this area sure is nice to wander around in. I’ve also got new neighbors now, and it’s good to be able to more frequently see friends that live in this area. (If you live/work in the Jing’an Temple area and want to meet up and do lunch or something, get in touch!)

The move has been keeping me busy (and away from this blog), together with hiring new employees. Building my own team of passionate staff has been a really great experience, though. They say that when you start a new business, it never turns out how you expected, and while my business plan is going more or less as planned, the aspects that turn out to be the most challenging and rewarding have been surprising. Hiring, training, and building long-term relationships with Chinese staff have definitely been at the top of both the “challenging” and “rewarding” lists.

In 2007 I wrote two posts about “how I learned Chinese”: Part 1 and Part 2. I always intended to write a part 3, because I definitely feel that I’m still learning Chinese very actively after all this time, but have not yet written it because it was never clear in my mind what the next stage was, where it began, and where it ended (or will end).

It’s now clear to me that “Part 3” was grad school in China plus work at ChinesePod, and “Part 4,” a huge new challenge, is starting and running a business in Chinese. A kind commenter, after reading through this blog’s whole 10 year archive, has recently reminded me that I’ve written very few personal articles on Sinosplice lately, and that it sort of feels like something is missing now. Well, I’m planning on writing some thoughts on these experiences soon; and hopefully my readers will find them interesting or helpful in some way.

In the meantime, friends in Jing’an should hit me up… (and I’ll be getting caught up on my email soon!)


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. “A kind commenter, after reading through this blog’s whole 10 year archive, has recently reminded me that I’ve written very few personal articles on Sinosplice lately, and that it sort of feels like something is missing now.”

    I sometimes get similar feelings from listening to the arc of ChinesePod content. It’s interesting to contrast the earliest podcasts you joined with those from the past week or so. In the beginning, everyone was trying to feel their way and develop a rhythm. In the middle, most of the hosts felt comfortable with a lot of spontaneity, particularly in Qing Wen. Now, ChinesePod is very professional and consistent. It still holds my attentional, and not diverting far from the lesson objectives is great for my learning and time management, but sometimes I miss the stories and silliness. It’s meaningful to be reminded that there are real people on the other side of the microphone.

    Perhaps there’s a sweet spot, say around 90% of the way from raw content to polished final product, where something can be consistently high quality, but stay unstructured enough to keep it fresh.

    I’m planning to move to Shanghai with my family in about 18 months. I’ll make an appointment to come in for a consultation at AllSet my first order of business after getting over jetlag!

    • Michael,

      ChinesePod is kind of a different story… It’s been going for over 6 years now. There comes a point when you’ve told most of your stories (and you can only do it spontaneously once)! But this is also the reason why we bring in new hosts (Greg and Dilu) to mix a little freshness in with the “veteran” hosts.

      Anyway, definitely look up AllSet Learning when you get in town! We plan to be in the same place in 18 months.

  2. John, when I’m in Shanghai next time I’ll give you a shout out. I love the blog!

    By the way, I’m attending University of Florida for Chinese partly because of you, man 🙂

  3. It would be great to read about Part3 and Part4. I would like to start my own business too after graduation, helping others and using Chinese for a work I enjoy. So reading more about your experiences would be more than welcome!

  4. John, I’ve been reading your blog since about 2008, and the insights, stories, and tools that you write about are always awesome!

    P.S. Any possible internship positions at All Set Learning? 🙂

  5. Hey, John, the next time that I’m in the Jing’an Temple area, you can bet we’ll have lunch . . .

  6. I think i read a few years ago you learned to speak Japanese early in your life. I was wondering if you kept that up, or if not, what it was like.. letting it slide into oblivion?
    May or May not fit in with your learning timeline..

    • I learned Japanese in college. It’s definitely got rusty, but I still understand a lot, and basic conversation is no problem. I remember most of the grammar; it’s just vocabulary that fades away over time…

  7. dwayne2d3d Says: May 16, 2012 at 1:49 am

    I’m a computer animator currently learning Japanese. I only choose Japanese over Chinese because it would be the easiest one to learn on my own without a voice coach. I found your site because of that software that you gave out for hearing the proper Chinese pronunciation. I read your whole archives in like 3 weeks. The amount of content was insane but it was fun to read your whole journey.

    I don’t have much to say other than just to say thanks for all your post you have done over the years cause i loved reading them. Once i move on to studying Chinese your website and your allset learning will be invaluable to me, cause i don’t plan on going at it alone like i did in Japanese….

    What i wrote is not necessarily relevant to your post, but i really just wanted to say thanks for all you have done…..
    -peace and much love man-

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