Zaijian, ChinesePod

It’s been almost 8 years that I’ve worked at ChinesePod, but as of 2014, I’m now spending all my time with AllSet Learning. I’m incredibly proud of all the work I’ve done at ChinesePod over the years, especially of the enormous body of useful, modern lessons the ChinesePod team and I created for a new type of self-directed learner, a learner eager to devour practical and up-to-date Mandarin Chinese lesson material.

I’ll be in touch with the ChinesePod crew for years to come, I’m sure, but I think it’s a good time to reflect on ChinesePod’s greatest asset as an organization: the awesome people that work there or have worked there.

Hank, thanks for your support in a three-year transition from full-time work at ChinesePod to full-time work at AllSet Learning. One of the big takeaways I got from you was the idea that entrepreneurs can be a powerful force for change. It’s this idea, probably above all else, that pushed me to start my own company.

Jenny, I’ve watched you grow from a quirky kid to a mother of two with very polished hosting skills. It’s always humbling to remember you’re not a native speaker of English, and it’s been a privilege hosting podcasts with you over all these years. We had some great times behind the mic.

Ken, you created the product that became the ChinesePod podcast. It’s easy to forget that language-learning podcasts were not “a thing” when ChinesePod started, and the pioneering work you did with audio became the standard for the industry. It was an honor learning from you, and I’ve always respected your vision.

Connie, you’re one of the few of ChinesePod’s “Year 1” crew that’s still around, and your attitude and humor have remained constant over the years. You were always fun to work with, and added your mark, not just to Qing Wen, Advanced lessons, and the dialogs, but also to all those hilarious supplementary sentences you snuck in behind the scenes.

David Xu, you’re another member of the “Year 1” crew, and I still remember your first day, running around in the studio, all nervous. It wasn’t long before your audio editing skills were seriously impressing everybody. I won’t forget that you’re key to why ChinesePod podcasts sound so professional.

Jiaojie, it’s funny to think that we sort of went to school together at ECNU, but we had no idea we’d be working together. Thanks so much for your professional guidance on obscure grammar issues, and I’ll always remember you for your respect of the authority of the dictionary and for your flair for the romantic.

Dilu, you’re the “new kid on the block,” but you’ve become a legendary host in record speed, soaking in all the training and adding a style all your own. Thanks also for reminding us when we’d done a string of relatively boring lessons and it was time to mix it up! We had a blast.

Vera, you really don’t get enough credit for all the hard work that you do behind the scenes. You’re not behind the mic as much, but I’ve always been impressed by your positive attitude and awesome work ethic.

Amber, it’s been a really long time since I’ve worked with you, but those were some great times, and you did amazing work. You imparted something really special to ChinesePod that it’s never quite had since.

John B, you played a lot of different roles at ChinesePod over the years, but one thing was constant: good ideas. (Also trips to the store, but the great ideas were in greater quantity.) I miss working with you.

Dave, you were eccentric, but also genius, and we all know that your tech ideas were a tremendous help in transitioning from “scrappy little outfit” to “serious outfit,” and to ChinesePod’s long-term development in general.

Obviously, there are way more people I could thank. I don’t want to slight anyone, but this post is getting long.

I’ve really enjoyed working with ChinesePod’s translators, from Amber (yes, she played that role too), to Pete, to Jason, Greg, and all the way up to Tom. Those were some fun semantic conversations we had, and they went a long way in shaping my own ideas of how translation can and should aid learners.

Then there’s the other roles, like Steve, Aric, Canadian Matt, Colleen, Aussie Matt, Clay, Catherine, Joy, Nana, Jin Xin, Aggie, Jiabin, Ziheng, Zhang Feng, Carol, Suyi, Xiao Xia, Ross, Eileen, Rian, Sarah, Gulam, Bill, Rob, Hurwitz, J.C., Justin, Ray, Jiao, Vivi… the list is very long.

Thank you, team, past and present, and thank you ChinesePod users.




ChinesePod co-workers office in Shanghai

Praxis Langage

The Exiler

ChinesePod 1000th Lesson Party

Praxis Langage


Ladies of ChinesePod, 2007

Ken on acoustic

My visit to ChinesePod


Gifts from Austin, Texas

Signed photo of the ChinesePod Squad




John Pasden

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


  1. Awwww! John that is so sweet that you even remember me, let alone have such kind words. I can’t say these pictures didn’t bring a little tear to my eye. Can’t believe you are leaving ChinesePod! All all all the very best wishes for your own biz!

  2. Thank you, John. For the past four, almost five years, you and Jenny have been the teachers this poddy has spent the most time with, but never met. I laughed at a lot of your jokes and learned just piles and piles of stuff from you. Your posts here at Sinosplice and the model you set with your pronunciation in the podcasts pushed me, especially in my first year, to really work on my pronunciation. Without those podcasts, my Chinese would be nothing like it is today. (I sound like a walking talking billboard but whatever; this is seriously heartfelt appreciation here.) I’ve always thought it would be interesting to read a book by you; blogs only get so deep into things. Anyway, keep posting at Singosplice, at the very least, please!

  3. Hard to imagine ChinesePod without you, John. Best of luck with your new(ish) endeavor!

  4. Thanks for the shout-out, man! CPod was certainly a definitive period for my Chinese language learning due in no small part to my interactions with you. That place just won’t be the same without you. Best of luck in all your future endeavors with AllSet!

  5. Congratulations on your new(ish) adventure John! I’ve enjoyed reading your blog all these years and look forward to future online (or person?) bumping into eachother some day! Colleen

  6. I’ve heard the buzz about your decision to leave a while ago. Even though I had some time to digest the fact, it’s still so very tough and sad to understand the day has come.
    Keep in touch, John.
    Hopefully, those socks would be of use for a while ;D

  7. Wow .. ChinesePod won’t be the same without you, from now on. At least we have those podcasts .. you will live on at ChinesePod. Congratulations on the ‘new’ venture.
    Is there a John II?

  8. As a former subscriber to Cpod, my short time with you and your hosts definitely gave my Chinese a boost. All the best with new chapter in your life.

  9. Michael Hurwitz Says: January 7, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Thanks for everything John, it’s been a privilege to work with and to continue to work with you, and to have you guide me on both my Chinese and China journeys!

  10. Graham Bond Says: January 7, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    I’ve never met you, John, but I feel a real twinge of sadness at this news. Sadness probably isn’t quite the right word. A melancholy, perhaps, in that its hard to quite put my finger on the source of the angst. I guess I’ll just miss your insightful, humorous and only-occasionally caustic contributions to the podcast. As others have come and gone, I’ve really appreciated you hang-around-ability on CPod. In Shanghai, where 跳槽-ing seems a way of life, an eight year stretch is a real achievement. Keep on keeping on (especially with the blog) and good luck with all future endeavours, fella.

  11. Sometimes I feel like the expat life is a never ending series of goodbyes, and it feels depressing until I remember that for every one of those goodbyes there was also a hello.

  12. It’s really great to see all the people I’ve been learning from for so long. Sad to see you go from Chinesepod, I’ll miss listening to you in the lessons but I’m happy to see you keep on with your business, I know personally how gratifying it is to see your business grow when you love what you do, and you obviously do.

  13. Since you are walking down memory lane, it reminded me of the first time I visited the original Chinesepod studio. It was the famously run down, held together with bailing wire type of place that was perfect for a start-up. It has been fun to follow the progress and changes along the way. As the chinglish line goes, “wish you good luck.”

  14. Andrew Cockerham Says: January 8, 2014 at 8:58 am

    John, you have been instrumental in my learning Chinese, and ChinesePod was the primary way I learned Chinese. Since I met my wife while living in China, in a way I have to thank you and ChinesePod for meeting her. I always felt your explanations and voice on the lessons was easy to understand and super helpful. I’m sorry I never got to meet you while I lived in Shanghai. I like the picture of you and Jenny in the Austin shirts – I’m back in Austin now so look me up if you ever head this way!

    Best of luck in your future endeavors, and maybe I’ll come by and visit AllSet my next trip back to Shanghai.


  15. James Theron Says: January 8, 2014 at 10:41 am

    It’s been an immense pleasure to follow ChinesePod as it grew from a good idea to a great product and to meet good people like yourself who made it happen.

    Although we only met once back at the old “factory”, I have spent many hours listening to your podcasts over the past several years.

    Best of luck to this new phase of your life.

  16. John,
    P.S.想你的时候我会认真地听一遍Girly Talk的,不要打喷嚏哦!

  17. jen_not_jenny Says: January 8, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    The end of an era!
    John, you’re a thoroughly decent human being with a fascinating mind. That’s not nearly so common a combination as it should be. I miss talking grammar with you.
    ChinesePod subscribers will surely miss you, too, but you’ve left behind such an impressive body of work (how many thousands of podcasts now?) that the symptoms of withdrawal shouldn’t be too fierce. I’m excited to see what you continue to produce with AllSet. If the powers that be can do something about the smog in downtown China, I may make it into your office yet!

  18. 旧的不走新的不来。

    Bravo to 8+ years. Years spent in China are like dog years, so your 8 is like 56 years elsewhere.

    Double bravo to starting your own biz. A feat in itself. Finding your biz profitable enough to work at it full time is like walking on water. Amazing.

  19. Jenny Zhu Says: January 8, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    You are the Sonny to my Cher (?!). We’ve shared a wonderful 8 years professionally and personally. It was an honor to be the bridesmaid at your wedding and thank you for being the groom’s men and MC at mine. I won’t go on with work stuff but recording with you would always be the highlight of the week. All the very best on AllSet. which by now you’ve built into a prosperous business that solves students’ problems. See you at the next play date for our kids.

  20. Flo Alvarez Says: January 8, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    John, are you seriously leaving Chinese Pod? Are you coming back to the US?

  21. I can’t help but be a little double-minded about your departure, John.

    It’s wonderful that you’re able to pursue your own business and goals, but you will be dearly missed in the ChinesePod lineup. Ever since I first started listening, you and Jenny have been synonymous with ChinesePod. Best wishes on the new venture!

  22. John,

    Congrats on the move. CPod was lucky to land you right from the beginning, and to have been there 8 years is something special.

    Best of luck with AllSet Learning!

  23. robert berki Says: January 9, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    great pic of you and Dilu. You look like you just might be holding back a tear in this one.

  24. Bill Yeager Says: January 10, 2014 at 7:11 am

    Hey John, Wow, time does fly doesn’t it. I still have about 1000 lessons that I use for review, and so all of you way back in 2006 still contribute to my continued learning of Chinese.



  25. John,congrats on the big move – wish you much success with AllSet. Being a longtime Poddie and subcriber, I’ve “heard” practically everyone as they joined and then left CPod. I still remember when you first appeared. The podcasts were a little awkward at first, but I’ve always enjoyed your insights and amazing body of knowledge for all things Chinese. No doubt, CPod would not be where it is today without your contributions. Your departure will be sorely missed. Thankfully, there are still many lessons that you’ve recorded and I’ve yet to do…

  26. Walter Bauhoefer Says: January 17, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Dear John,
    πάντα ρεῖ
    it’s amazing how somebody I never met in person could become so familiar to me. Since 7 years by now I am listening almost every day to your voice, learning an awful lot. You are one of the persons who helped me immensely to keep up my enthusiasm for humbly learning Chinese (慢慢得) and braving the difficulties of this language. You are an extraordinary teacher. I want to express my deeply felt gratitude to you. You are already a linguistic institution.
    I wish you ongoing and lasting success in your new business.

  27. Marilynn Pasden Says: January 18, 2014 at 3:23 am

    I hope reading all these folks’ responses and kudos makes you humble & proud at the same time! They certainly do me! I praise the Lord & thank Him, not only for your great gifts, but also for what you’ve done with them. AND, perhaps even more important, you’re a great daddy! Love, Mom

  28. John,
    8+ years enjoying your work. Creativity, dedication and knowledge. Unbeatable combination. Hope our paths cross someday. Thank you for the gift of Chinese you shared with us all.

  29. Matthew Appleyard Says: January 26, 2014 at 6:33 am

    Chinesepod legend – will continue to follow you online and through Allset. You are a massive motivation to me and my learning.

  30. Armin Kayser Says: February 2, 2014 at 12:42 am

    John, listening to your Chinespod podcasts over and over your voice sounds almost as familiar as a family members’ although you never heard of me. Good luck for your business.

  31. This is somehow sad. These “one-way friendships” you get with people are a very strange feature of the digital world we live in.

    We’ve never met, John, but yours was the first blog I read by an expat when I first came to China as a high school student and started learning Chinese 6 years ago. It was a funny coincidence when I signed up for ChinesePod and found out that you were among the teachers. I must have listened to countless hours of your upper-intermediate lessons, which I have always enjoyed a great deal, and I have heard your voice so much I’m sure I’d recognize you if you ever dialed my phone by mistake.

    Your humorous and insightful posts on life and society in China helped me through a lot of the periods where I felt puzzled and frustrated. Moreover, with the background you have from doing a proper linguistics program in China, staying for the long term and blogging about it, you have stood out as an extremely adventurous, knowledgeable and genuine personality among the many and varied personalities that you find in the Chinese expat community. Having your blog and your ChinesePod lessons have almost been like having an older, more knowledgeable brother to ask for help whenever needed.

    So thank you so much for what you’ve done for me and the many learners out there. Good luck with AllSet learning and all of your future projects. I have no doubt you have all the personal qualities needed to succeed.

  32. Thanks so much John!

    ChinesePod got me through language school (2007-2011), and I know a big part of that was your work in the background. I know your contributions will be missed.

  33. Hello, John.
    I’ve enjoyed listening to cPod podcasts over the years. I’m also working my way through 秘密花园。 You do great work teaching Chinese! Best wishes to you as you move along with your own business!

  34. chelsea Says: May 9, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    no me?

  35. Richard Mahn Says: August 29, 2014 at 5:46 am

    John, just finally seeing this, but want to say it was great to work with you the 2+ years I was with ChinesePod! Hope all is going well with AllSet Learning.

  36. Florence Says: April 26, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    I am trying to get a hold of David Xu, could you please give me his email address / contact information, or give him my email address /contact information.

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