Stalled July Posts

July has been a super busy month for me, largely because of all the work that’s gone into getting the forthcoming Chinese Grammar Wiki BOOK out in print form, but also because of a host of other projects, both work-related and personal. So while I can’t say that all of that stuff is done (yet), I can share a little bit about what I’ve been busy with.

I probably would have managed a few more posts in July if not for getting hacked yet again, by some stupid malware script that found an old WordPress plugin exploit. Static site generators are looking more and more attractive…

I joined a gym! And not just any gym, but one that specializes in personal trainer services. It’s not cheap, but I signed up both because I need to get in shape and have been wanting to see what a personal trainer can do, but also because this kind of service is so analogous in so many ways to the personalized Chinese training service that AllSet Learning provides. This experience is offering lots of interesting insights, and I’ll be sharing more on this. (Curious if anyone else has made similar connections between body fitness and language training, on a very personal level?)

My daughter is five and a half, and her English reading is coming along, but now she’s also learning pinyin at the same time. How confusing is that? Turns out, not very. The concept “these same letters make different sounds in Chinese” is not super hard for a kid to get, it seems.

Much to my surprise, I also have a few small video projects in the works. The first one will be shared here very soon.

Everybody needs some down time, right? In between episodes of Game of Thrones, I’ve been immensely enjoying Horizon Zero Dawn. What an amazing game.


John Pasden

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


  1. I love drawing comparisons between physical training and language learning. I could talk for hours about it, but here I’ll just say that I like to describe learning a language as similar to training for a marathon: True progress is the result of long term, consistent practice; you see what seems like quick progression in the beginning often followed by a frustrating plateau; and ultimately for those who are really dedicated to it it is a permanent lifestyle change, not a temporary project that will someday be completed.

    I also find the language environment of my own gym very interesting. I have been doing CrossFit for the past three years and have had to learn what seems like a whole new bilingual dialect in the process. It’s asport/training method that has expanded from its origins in the US very rapidly over just the past several years, and has taken with it its own set of terminology and jingo. Sometimes I’m the only foreigner at our training sessions, yet the workouts are written on the whoteboard in English (including all those abbreviations and terminology that are specific to fitness or even unique to CrossFit itself). Meanwhile, everyone there speaks mostly Chinese with some of those English terms thrown in here and there. So for a westerner like me it was necessary to learn not only the Chinese vocabulary for all those fitness terms, but also the English ones themselves. Meanwhile Chinese rookies do the same in reverse, learning tons of English training language and also the equivalent jingo in their own native language. In the past the coaches have put out vocabulary lists for newbies to learn.

  2. Years ago on 非诚勿扰 a male contestant who was a simultaneous interpreter made an appearance. His foreign languages were English and Korean, and he was based in the UK. He said that in order to get the edge and perform under pressure he had to exercise intensely. One of his supporters in the profile videos was a British national who just happened to be his personal trainer.

  3. Static site generators are awesome. I recommend Hugo.

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