How To Survive Any Situation In Mandarin Chinese

  • Written byDonovan Nagel
  • Read time5 mins
  • Comments5
You’ll get a lot out of this if you’re learning Mandarin Chinese.
Survive In Chinese

Survive In Chinese
Pricing: No longer available
  • Chinese and English audio for repetitive listening
  • Covers Chinese characters
  • Very inexpensive
  • Not comprehensive


Olly Richards (I Will Teach You A Language) teamed up with an expert in Mandarin, and they put together a resource for targeted, efficient Mandarin study over just a few short weeks.

UPDATE: This product is no longer available.

For my other recommendations and tools for learning Mandarin Chinese, see here.

I’ve traveled to so many new places around the world over the last 12 years (including many parts of China).

If I don’t know the local language already, I try to at least learn as much as I can in the weeks leading up to the trip to get the most out of it.

This makes everything so much more fun and memorable.

Even just being able to order a meal in a restaurant properly for example makes a massive difference to the whole experience. There’s nothing worse when traveling to be the typical tourist resorting to English all the time.

Not only is it more enjoyable speaking the local language but the people always respect you more for trying.

Just a basic proficiency goes a very long way.

The problem is that it’s not always that easy to learn enough of the language in the weeks leading up to a trip to be of any functional use while you’re traveling (whether it’s business or vacation).

In the case of Mandarin, there are a lot of people who spend months or even years studying the language at home, think that they’ve learned enough and then arrive in China or Taiwan dumbfounded and unable to communicate properly.

This is incredibly discouraging.

The problem isn’t necessarily that they didn’t spend enough time studying Mandarin either but rather that they didn’t spend enough time studying the right content, the right way.

Of course a lot of people try to get around this by carrying phrasebooks with them or resorting to an online translator but it can be so awkward and time-consuming trying to find a phrase while somebody’s staring at you waiting for a response.

Not to mention the fact that you won’t learn much this way. 🙂

You can study Chinese till the cows come home but if you’re not focused on the right content, you’re wasting your time

This really applies to every language.

Somebody who spends 5 hours a day studying Mandarin haphazardly without a clear focus and effective strategy will not necessarily learn any faster than somebody who spends an hour a day or less.

I’ve always been an advocate of short, highly focused study periods instead of long study periods myself because the more you try to absorb at one time, the less you’re likely to retain any of it.

One of the most important things you can do in preparation for a trip abroad is to plan the kinds of discussions and interactions that you’re most likely to find yourself in.

Identify the topics that matter to you personally and prepare for them.

Unfortunately not a lot of study material out there is designed for this which means that most of the time it’s on you to figure it out.

Enter Survive in Chinese

I occasionally mention my good friend Olly Richards who’s a language educator, blogger and polyglot (8 languages).

Well he teamed up with a buddy of his (an expert in Mandarin) and they put together an amazing resource for targeted, efficient Mandarin study over just a few short weeks.

Trust me – this is not a gimmicky “Learn Mandarin in 2 Weeks” type thing.

Rather this is all about showing you exactly how to acquire what you need in Chinese leading up to a trip to China or Taiwan.

It strips back the unnecessary, time-wasting BS and gets straight down to what you specifically need to communicate effectively.

I’ve gone through the product myself and there is a tonne of good content and value in it.

Where it really shines is that it comes with audio in both Chinese and English that’s formatted for repetitive listening so it’s the kind of thing you can not only read and study but also take with you on the plane or commutes to listen to.

I always talk about the challenges of listening comprehension and this is one tool that will help you improve it.

Survive in Chinese also goes into a lot of detail on reading Chinese characters which will help you understand things like menus in Chinese restaurants.

Now, it’s already really low priced for the high quality that it is but I actually asked Olly to discount it so he’s dropped it down 40% for a short time.

That means it’s only $12.

For an audio package this extensive, that’s a seriously generous deal. It’s around the same price as a basic phrasebook but the audio component alone is worth a lot more.

You’ll get a lot out of this if you’re learning Mandarin Chinese (also see these online Chinese courses).

The discount’s only up for a short time so if it sounds like something that would help you then make sure to jump on it now.

UPDATE: This product has been discontinued.

Comment below and let us know if you found it useful. 🙂

Pricing: No longer available
Support me by sharing:

Here's what you should read next:

Egyptian Arabic: Easy Stories With English Translations | Now Available!

Review Of Russian Short Stories For Beginners (By Olly Richards)

The Most Honest Rocket Chinese Review You'll Ever Read (2020)

Love languages?

Language you're learning...
Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Icelandic


Comment Policy: I love comments and feedback (positive and negative) but I have my limits. You're in my home here so act accordingly.
NO ADVERTISING. Links will be automatically flagged for moderation.


"the more you try to absorb at one time, the less you’re likely to retain any of it"
interesting...would you say this is based more on your experience or do you know or have any studies that either exemplify or confirm this? thx again


Sciences says that. You may like to check out "Make It Stick" and "A Mind For Numbers". Both books deal with the topics of cognition, memory, and retention and a common theme runs through them: It is a lot better to focus intensively for short periods at regular intervals than sit down and learn for hours on end. In other words, you are more likely to retain the material you learnt in four 15-minute intervals spread over a day compared to a one-hour stretch of learning. There are plenty of references at the back of each book, so you will not be short of studies.

If you are looking for something specific to languages, you may find Boris Shekhtman's books interesting.

Let me stop here, before my message ends up sounding like spam. ;)


Thanks - I might take a look at some of those books you mentioned.

As for Boris, I have a few of his books but still can't find anything directly pertaining to something along the lines of short intervals vs. intensive learning. It seems as though someone like Boris, who has served at FSI, at the very least, wouldn't be against intensive learning where intensity is a feature. Did you have a specific book in mind from him?


Betty Lou Leaver, Madeline Erhman and Boris Shekhtman's "Achieving Success in Second Language Acquisition".

He talks about memory--short-term, long-term, and permanent--and suggests "repetition" as a strategy to assist it in chapter two.

Disclaimer: I am still on chapter two so I do not know what goes on. In fact, I have read chapter two twice now--a year ago then a few months ago--and but cannot progress further. It sounds bad and it is. -_- Need to learn perseverance.

Terri Nostrand

I took a chance because this sounded compelling. I didn't receive the $12 price at checkout (paid $20), and only received 3 short PDFs and 3 MP3s. The first 23 pages of the 41 page instructional text are general information and biographical items about the author. Pages 24-27 are information on tones and pronunciation, and pages 27-40 contain phrases that are found in every pocket reference or quick study book. I would find $12 an acceptable price, but these are just non-interactive, skimpy downloads.

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world."
- Ludwig Wittgenstein