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Using TV to teach Mandarin

By Jack Freifelder | China Daily USA | Updated: 2014-03-26 03:38

A New York-based entrepreneur is using the popular American television show House of Cards to teach Mandarin and English to millions of netizens around the globe.

Jessica Beinecke is the host and creator of, an online cross-cultural platform that promotes interest in the languages and cultures of the world’s two largest economies. For her latest teaching tool, she has tapped vignettes from Netflix’s House of Cards.

“House of Cards is blowing up in America and China, and what a great way to offer fans and their friends a fun and creative way to learn a foreign language,” she said in a March 19 press release. “For students studying Chinese or English in both countries, this is an opportunity for them to quickly learn how to discuss current events and trends in the languages they’re learning.”

Donning a brown wig and blue suit with a US-China lapel pin, Beinecke takes on the persona of Congressman Frank Underwood, played by American actor Kevin Spacey, and repeats phrases taken from the show.

“Well hello theyyyy-ah,” she says, mimicking the character’s thick Southern drawl, “I’m gonna teach you how to say the name of my television show in Chinese. Xander Feng is gonna looooooove this!” Xander Feng is a wealthy Chinese businessman in the show.

More than 60 million American and Chinese viewers have watched the second season of House of Cards since it was released on Netflix in February, according to the March 19 press release.

The 100,000 Strong Foundation, an organization that looks to strengthen US-China relations through Mandarin language learning and study abroad programs, is the founding partner of Crazy Fresh Chinese.

As an offshoot of the US Department of State’s “100,00 Strong Initiative,” the foundation is dedicated to realizing US President Barack Obama’s call for 100,000 Americans to study in China by the end of 2014.

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