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WeChat: A Gateway into Chinese Language and Culture

Jan. 18, 2017

General Chinese Wechat

The 微信 (wēixìn) WeChat app is not only an important part of life in China, it is essential. By the end of 2016, WeChat had over a billion accounts created, and 700 million accounts were active. Outside of China, 70 million users are also active on WeChat. It’s a great way to infiltrate the world of Mandarin Chinese!

WeChat has many uses. WeChat features basic text messaging, voice messaging, broadcast video messaging, video conferencing, video games, sharing of photographs and personal videos, and location sharing. Users in China may use WeChat as a “wallet”, enabling them to pay bills and even buy snacks at a convenience store!

Let’s take a look at some of 微信 (wēixìn) WeChat’s most effective and useful features to a Chinese learner.

1. 视频电话 (shìpín diànhuà) video call

WeChat allows users to make face-to-face video calls by simply pressing “+” and selecting the “video call” icon from under the chat window. The process is just like dialing a contact in your cell phone’s contact book. Users can use it to talk with Chinese speakers. It can help you improve your Chinese speaking. Mandarin Chinese learners, or even learners of Chinese dialects, can use this feature to connect with native speakers. Since speaking with natives is essential to any learning process, this is a valuable feature of WeChat.

2. 语音聊天 (yǔyīn liáotiān) voice chat

The voice chat feature turns your smartphone into a “walkie talkie” as you’d use back in the old days. You can use this feature under the chat window by simply switching “send message” into “hold to talk.” When you finish a sentence, simply release the “hold to talk” button to send your voice chat message. Unlike a phone call, you can respond at your own convenience. For a Chinese learner, if you are talking with your Chinese friends or teachers, you can imitate their pronunciation when you listen to the voice messages. It’s a good way to submerse yourself in Chinese and work on your pronunciation exercises!

3. 群聊 (qúnliáo) group chat

You can open your own group chat by selecting the wand button “start chat” and then choose your friends with whom you’d want to join in the group chat. WeChat allows users to create a group chat with up to 500 members. Once a group reaches 100 members, only those users have linked a mobile number can be invited to join the group. For Chinese learners, you can search for group chats which will help you with up-to-the-minute questions and concerns as you progress in Chinese.

4. 朋友圈 (péngyǒuquān) moments

Similar to Facebook’s “Timeline”, if you want to show some exciting pictures you took and share memorable moments with your WeChat friends you can use this feature. You can also customize who can see your pictures and posts through your “visibility” settings. This is a good way to virtually experience life in China and respond to comments in Chinese.

5. 微信订阅号 (wēixìn dìngyuè hào) WeChat subscription account

This is a type of We-Media service provided on the WeChat platform. There are numerous WeChat Subscription Accounts (微信订阅号, WSA for short) related to Chinese learning and teaching. Additionally, you can subscribe for updates on Chinese culture, geography, history, and more!

6. And finally, like any good online platform, 微信 (wēixìn) WeChat has a search tool
You can search for useful accounts such as the WeChat Subscription Accounts or learning materials to help your Chinese progress and learn more about China and its culture.

Here at eChineseLearning we have our own forum and account that is filled with useful Mandarin Chinese lessons and information:
WeChat Subscription Account: eChineseLearning

General Chinese eChineseLearning

What we do: Every week, with the exception of Chinese holidays, we send three informative posts to our followers. These include:
Every Monday (Beijing time) we upload: a weekly test (HSK test, AP Chinese, IB Chinese)
Every Wednesday (Beijing time) we upload: a Chinese story for kids (there is an audio recording for every story).
Every Friday (Beijing time) we upload: general Chinese materials (the most popular Chinese words, business Chinese, Chinese idioms, fun language and more).

If you sign up for a WeChat account but you don’t know who to add, we are more than willing to be your first WeChat friend!

Just remember our ID name: eChineseLearning

Quiz:

1. On WeChat, if you’d like to start or find a group chat for Chinese learners you can use this function:

A. 朋友圈 (péngyǒuquān)
B. 微信订阅号 (wēixìn dìngyuè hào)
C. 群聊 (qúnliáo)
See Answer

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