If You Could Ask Chinese College Kids Anything…


The AllSet Learning Chinese Picture Book Reader iPad app comes preloaded with several free “books.” Although I immensely enjoyed creating a story involving post-apocalyptic steam punk dinosaurs, in some ways those free books were the most interesting. That’s because the content of each book is a simple interview question which is then answered by 10 different Chinese college kids. They’re all studying in Shanghai, but they come from all over China. You get to hear each young person’s own voice, see their photo, and even read their actual handwriting (in characters), which is also accompanied by text. This is a lot more interesting than most textbooks the kids are using these days! Through this app, it’s my hope to show a diverse, modern side of China’s youth, different from other sources.

We’ve aimed for intermediate level learners in the past, but we would consider doing simpler or more difficult questions. The interview questions already included in the app are:

1. 你最喜欢吃什么? (What do you most like to eat?)

2. 谈到美国,你第一个想到的是什么? (When speaking of the USA, what’s the first thing you think of?)

3. 你认为幸福是什么? (What do you think happiness is?)

And this is the part where I ask you, my readers, what types of questions you’d like us to ask for the next round of interviews. The questions need to be relatively short, and somewhat open-ended, but nothing requiring an essay to answer. It’s OK to get just a little bit into the human side of politics (One Child Policy, etc.), but we’re not going to do any particularly inflammatory topics, or topics that could get the interviewees in trouble.

So what questions would you like to see covered in the Chinese Picture Book Reader? Please share in the comments, or drop me an email if you like.


John Pasden

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


  1. What do you think of the gaokao system?
    What are the biggest challenges facing your generation?
    What do you think China’s role in the world should be in the 21st century?
    What were the most important changes, good or bad, to Chinese society in the last ten years?

  2. who do you love most your mom or your dad ?

  3. Stavros Says: April 3, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    What are the differences between the Chinese youth born in the 70s, the 80s and the 90s?

    What music and movies do you love to watch?

    Who do you think is the hottest celebrity?

    Who is the best sports star in the world today?

    What car would you love to drive and why?

    What is your favorite karaoke song?

    What is the coolest Chinese slang term being used on campus right now?

    Can you describe a fantastic night out with friends?

    For guys: what are some great pick up lines that impress hot Chinese college babes?

    For girls: What are the worst pick up lines you’ve ever heard from Chinese college studs?

    (After those last two I can think of a lot more questions, but hey . . . let’s keep it clean and save it for the up coming sealed sectioned app, which I am sure is in the processing!)

  4. What would you do if you didn’t have to work in your life?

  5. This reminds me of what a Chinese college student asked me when I first started teaching at SHUFE years ago. She came up to me, rather timidly after class, and asked, “What does, ‘my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard’ mean?” Luckily for me, at the time, I too had no idea.

  6. Is there any chance you could publish some of this content on the website as well for non-iPad users?

    • Yes, eventually, but not in the immediate future.

      I hate to offer the product only to iPad users, but it’s a business decision I’ll have to stick with for now.

  7. Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions so far.

    I’m still listening, if there are any other contributions out there!

  8. How about: What is your favortite book/novel and why? Who is your “hero?” What do you think China will be like in 50 years?

  9. What is your favorite festival over a year?

    Which city in China do you like most? or overseas?

    What is the most attractive tourist spot do you think?

    Which transport do you prefer most to travel?

    How many members do you have in your family?

    How much time do you spend online per day?

    Do you consider homosex is acceptable or not?

    by what age do you think you can live by yourself?

    How much $/year do you think is enough to live a satisfied life?

    What kind of snacks do you like most?

    What entertainment do you love most?

    Do you have your pet? what is it?

    What do you think is the best birthday gift?

    How do you think is the best way to pay court to someone you like?


  10. Why do you feel the need to first speak English when encountering a Western-looking person despite being in China and the rising number of non-Chinese having Chinese knowledge?

  11. Why do you think Chinese cuisine is the best in the world?
    Why is too much salt , vinegar, oil or spicy chilli peppers considered tasty?
    Why (when using English) do Chinese people say everything is delicious?
    What is the superstition behind beliving that most foods must be served and eaten warm?
    Why do most Chinese people not eat at Subway?

  12. […] said, I’m really happy with what we’ve done! Sinosplice readers actually contributed ideas for this app’s new content, some of which is free, and some of which is paid. We […]

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