Interview by Furio

Furio of the Sapore di Cina blog recently interviewed me about the Chinese Grammar Wiki and AllSet Learning in general. He had some great questions, and I really like how the interview turned out. Check it out: Interview with John Pasden, the founder of Sinosplice and AllSet Learning [also in Italian, in Spanish].

The interview includes a number of questions I’m frequently asked these days by foreigners in China. Here’s an example from the interview:

> You are married with a Chinese girl, have a daughter and opened a company in China. Do you ever think about going back to U.S.?

> Of course. I’d be lying if I said I never think about it. I think about it not because I’m tired of China and want to go back, but rather because I suspect there may come a time when it just really doesn’t make any kind of sense for me (and my family) to stay. Ecological, economic, or political disasters could definitely befall China. You can’t be a responsible parent if you haven’t at least thought about a plan B.

> That said, I don’t have plans to leave China anytime soon. I’m still having a great time here, loving the experience of building my own company, and sincerely hope that I can be here for quite a while.

Read the full interview.


John Pasden

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


  1. John,

    Read the entire interview and likewise thought it was well done.

    It is interesting, you have a bit of “celebrity” status within the Chinese learning community, therefore perhaps unintentionally we all become very interested in knowing more about you.

    At the same time, maybe we have to realize some questions (i.e. those about your personal life) may not be that appropriate and/or directly related to the real topic, that is “China/Chinese”. Nevertheless, it seems on more than one occasion you’ve been wiling to open up and share details about your life personally and professionally. Which at least from a reader/student/follower standpoint, makes for a very nice experience.

    As to the full article written by Furio, one part I particularly found interesting and accurate is the answer to the question “After your adventure with ChinesePod, you decided to start your own company. Which are the challenges, as a foreigner, to own and run a company in China?”.

    Definitely encourage anyone interested in working/starting a business in Chinese to read your comments and take them to heart… very accurate, and need to be considered when thinking about running a business in China. It was nice to have someone like you give a voice to perhaps the experiences of many others who have/are going through similar experiences.

    Finally, your comment to the last question in the article about “Plan B” and the realities of being a foreigner in China and the thinking that naturally comes along with it, was again spot on. Surely many readers will have be one word come to mind “同感”.

    Thank you again for a really nice interview!


    • quoting Nommoc:

      “At the same time, maybe we have to realize some questions (i.e. those about your personal life) may not be that appropriate and/or directly related to the real topic, that is “China/Chinese”.”

      It’s funny how different points of view can be when it comes down to what is appropriate/not appropriate.

      I’ve been interviewed a few times and I never felt “personal life” questions weren’t appropriate. As bloggers we tend to talk and expose our private life much more than average. So I guess we are kind of used to personal questions haha

      Conversely, I did feel there were “difficult” question on the interview, that is the ones that dig more on how you can “exploit” (I know, it’s a strong word but my English isn’t very good looking) your blog to market your firm and yet find an equilibrium so that you don’t “damage” your blog or reputation.

      While many big blogs totally fucked up with it by focusing their content more on pure beginners (that is less savvy and easier customers) and somehow decreasing the quality of their overall contents on the eyes of long-term readers, I think John is doing a great job on keeping the two worlds (blog and business) separate : )

      Thanks for reading the interview and sharing your thoughts!


  2. Stavros Says: May 25, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    I agree with the sentiment above. In the eyes of many Chinese language learners, John is a celebrity of sorts. However, I doubt very much if the paparazzi are hanging out at his front door in the vague hope of getting those baby snaps.

Leave a Reply