My name is Matthew Christensen and I am a Professor of Chinese at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where I have been teaching since 1995. I received a B.A. in Chinese with a minor in international relations from BYU, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Chinese linguistics and pedagogy from The Ohio State University.

For the bulk of my career I have been training students to study, work, and live in China. My interests are in Chinese language pedagogy, the interaction between language and culture, intercultural communication, Chinese linguistics, poetry, food culture, photography, and travel (among many other things).

Feel free to contact me at: matthew_christensen (at) byu.edu

For more photos, check out my Flickr page at:


Check out my other blog about adventures in the outdoors at: intotheoutdoors.wordpress.com

My fat biking blog is at:


and my book club blog at:


5 thoughts on “About

  1. Ni hao!

    I’ve been enjoying your blog, very informative and entertaining.
    Do you mind if I ask you a few questions? I’ll be staying in Nanjing
    for 3 weeks starting Sun – 8 Jul. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll use a
    cellphone or not, do you recommend I unlock my phone(s) here in
    the US or in China? Around how much would they charge in a
    Chinese shop? One phone is a Motorola slider and the other is a
    Tmobile Comet/Huwaei smartphone. Which carrier do you
    recommend? I’ll only be calling and texting, no net surfing.

    I’m also thinking of getting a bike jersey. Do they have a chain that
    you can recommend, something like REI or Performance Bike here in
    the US?

    Thanks for any info you can pass along,

    • Hi Ernest. Of US-based cell phones, I’ve only used an iPhone in China but very sparingly. With my particular plan it is $2 usd per minute. I’m not sure how much they would charge to unlock your phone. Here is an excerpt from a book I have written that will be out next February. It’s probably much more information than you want or need, but it may be helpful to you.

      As far as bike related stuff goes, I don’t know of any chains similar to REI or Performance. You can find bikes at department stores, but there are also bike shops scattered all over the city. It may be hard to find a jersey. There is a Specialized shop and a bunch of other outdoor gear shops on Danfeng Jie (st.) just off Zhujiang Rd. This is in the Gulou (Drum Tower) area close to Nanjing University campus. It is also very close to the major intersection and subway stop of Guangzhou Rd and Zhongshan Lu.

      Have fun in Nanjing. It’s a great city. I’ve spent a lot of time there.


      Cell phone service in China is available through all three of the large national companies, China Unicom 中国联通 zhōngguó liántōng, China Mobil 中国移动 zhōngguó yídòng, and China Telecom 中国电信 zhōngguó diànxìn. There are three kinds of cell phones that are available in China. One, is a very basic cell phone that can only be used for local calling, called 小灵通 xiǎo líng tōng. These cell phones are popular with younger people. They are also the most inexpensive phones and service. The disadvantages, of course, is that while you can make long distance phone calls with them, you can only use them in the city where you have the service. This may be a good choice if you plan on going to one city and staying there for the bulk of your time in China. These kinds of phones are being phased out and in the next couple years will soon not be available.

      The second type of cell phones are those used in China that work on a different frequency than cell phones in North America. The third type of cell phones have dual frequencies that will work in China or North America. In China GSM network phones use 900MHz and 1800MHz, and CDMA phones use 800MHz. In the U.S. GSM phones use 1900MHz. In China some cell phones can support 1900MHz. Both of these kinds of cell phones can make local as well as long distance calls. For those that want the flexibility of being able to use the phone anywhere in China, these kinds of phones are the best choice. However, using a cell phone in from the U.S. in China without getting a new SIM card, will undoubtedly incur huge roaming charges (as much as $2.99 per minute). It is best to get your U.S. based phone switched over to a Chinese cell phone service. However, if you are only using your smartphone to check email, an international data plan can be reasonable way to go for a short period of time.

      Once a phone has been selected, you need to select a calling plan. In the United States pay-as-you-go plans are not very popular compared to regular plans. Whereas most plans in the United States require signing a contract that requires monthly payments for a set time (usually a year or two), in China, this is not necessarily the case. Of the three large telephone companies in China, listed above, China Mobil 中国移动公司 zhōngguó yídòng gōngsī may have the most customers, but it depends on the region of China. In some regions different companies have more customers, as each of the companies may have coverage for different parts of the country.

      Cell phone plans initially require that you purchase an initial SIM chip 手机卡 shǒujīkǎ for your phone , that will also give you some initial start-up minutes. When your minutes are running low, you will receive a text message indicating this. The normal procedure is to then buy a new phone card 充值卡 chōngzhíkǎ (available in various denominations, usually 50 or 100 yuan). These cards are available at electronic stores or more conveniently at the many newspaper kiosks scattered around large cities in China. With these cards, you call a number and enter a pin, which in turn adds the amount of time (in money) to your phone. It is a rather simple procedure. Instructions how to add time to your card is on the back of the card. If your Chinese reading skills are weak, you will want to have a friend or colleague help you with this procedure.

      A variety of plans can be selected. Different plans will vary for per minute charges, for both local and long distance calls. Monthly rates will vary depending on the plan and free minutes will also vary. More expensive plans allow for more “free” minutes. Like in the United States, if you go over your minutes, there is usually a by-the-minute extra charge. If you have a pre-pay plan, then you cannot go over your minutes. Most plans require that you prepay (预付费 yùfù fèi) your bill. If you go over the minutes in your plan, your service is temporarily halted until you go in and pay again. These billing cycles do not necessarily coincide with the end of the month. Most plans are designed with monthly usage, but if you were to use up your minutes by the middle of the month, you would have to pay the next installment before you could continue using your phone. If you do not pay your bill in a timely manner, the phone company will cut off the service. Larger plans, such as with large businesses, may allow one to pay after the billing cycle (后付费 hòufù fèi) but this is not very common for individuals.

  2. Hi Matthew,

    I got to know your blog when searching for a good English grammar book for Chinese ESL students but came across your book. I know you specialize in teaching Chinese, but seeing that you wrote an English grammar book for those learning Chinese, I guess you would be familiar too with Chinese people learning ESL.

    I’m right now teaching a very low level Chinese student in Singapore. I mainly teach IELTS (higher level English), so it’s been a struggle for me teaching a lower-level ESL student. My Chinese isn’t good so I can’t explain the various English grammar terms. I’m a trained ESL teacher and so I know all the good textbooks out there, but they are all in English. This student is very low and I want to explain some stuff that I think would be better explained if I could recommend him a good English grammar book that is written totally in Chinese or better still is written in both English and Chinese.

    Would you be able to recommend such a book? I’ve been trying to find one but haven’t been successful. However, I do think there are tons of good ones but they are just familiar to those in China (and unknown to me since I’m just searching in English). So if you have any good books to recommend (or are there some good English grammar books that have been translated well into Chinese?), do let me know. Thanks.

  3. hello Mattew
    my name is orna taub from israel.i am a chinese language enthusiastic and recently i wrote several digital textbooks for students based on my own long time intensive learning experience.
    i am searching for a top reviewer to review at least my main book.i would like very much to send you a copy of my main book and have your review. is it possible for you?
    i’d love to hear from you.
    my email adress is:

  4. Pingback: “A Geek in China” by Matthew Christensen – an Interview | Speaking of China

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