Departure of Jenny Zhu & David Xu, CPod's move to Taiwan
Why won't Chinese Pod make an official announcement about their move to Taiwan, and that Jenny and David are leaving?
Instead it is left to Jenny and David themselves to make a farewell at the end of a Media lesson, which most CPod don't listen to because it is well beyond their level.
How about keeping everyone informed for once. When are you moving, why are you moving, and who made the decision? (in fact, who is in charge of CPod these days?)
Matt_TDecember 29, 2014, 07:57 AM
I had some of the same concerns. My thinking is that all the info we are looking for will come in the year. Since its the holidays I am thinking that everyone is busy wrapping up the year and working on preparing the announcement of the move. I noticed that in jenny's we chat she was in Canada with her family over the holidays and thought it was strange since there were still podcasts being released with her in them but I guess it makes sense that they would have been recorded I'm advance to allow everyone time to leave for the holidays.
It's really sad to see Jenny and David go as there were the last remains of the original Chinesepodteam that I grew with over my time using Chinesepod.
Looking back to the wechat episode I was wondering why jenny shared her we chat ID and now I realize that it was probably to keep in touch and share her life with us fans since she is no longer at Chinesepod.
I'm curious to see what changes the team in Taiwan will bring.
I'll dare to make a prediction. Gwilym and Fiona will try to give us a business, political or pedagogical reason for moving to Taiwan, when of course the real reason is that they want to move back to their home town.
I also predict that the ownership of ChinesePod will change again within 3 years.
I believe that Jenny sold her company (ChinesePod) a number of years ago, so perhaps she has just decided that she would like to move on to other projects. The Wikipeida say it was bought by Bigfoot Ventures in January 2012 and I imagine they don't have business ties in China so have decided to get offices elsewhere, (The contact us page mentions NY,HK,LN etc). I heard from the teaching services (and others on this site) that operations were in Singapore. Either way, I'm pretty happy that there are so many lessons on this site to go through. I think if I were to listen to all 3000+ I would be a Mandarin genius :)
I might be wrong, but I don't think Bigfoot are the current owners. There is no mention of ChinesePod on their website. There has been no mention of a sale since then, but I suspect Gwilym and Fiona are the current owners.
Gwilym and Fiona already live inTaiwan have been producing content from there basically the entire time they have been with CPod. Looking at the CPod team page it seems that the CEO is the same person in charge of that Sexy Mandarin site also owned by the Bigfoot group.
Jenny has been focusing a lot on her open language business, is this also owned by Bigfoot group?
Either way I think the future holds some exciting new changes such as video content. One thing I would personally like to see is live google hangouts similar to what Yangyang Cheng does but I don't know if this is something they will do.
It would be nice to get a post from CPod outline their new content they are planning.
@Matt_t, I have been using Chinesepod as the primary source of my Chinese study material since early 2007. There wasn't a big archive at the time. So, it wasn't particularly daunting to go through the existing lessons. Although, it was a couple years before I could get much out of the advanced and media lessons, at which point, I worked my way through the backlog of those.
I have been primarily going through the intermediate lessons and just started trying some of the upper intermediate ones. I find myself still going back to the elementary lessons if the topic is particularly interesting to me. Your Chinese seems to be quite good, do you also get a lot of speaking practice where you live?
This is pretty typical of chinesepod for like the past 2 years or so. Its just a general lack of informing users about significant changes in the website and its staff. I use to write posts criticizing chinesepod about this but I got the silent treatment or vicious attacks from people like Jenny herself (in Chinese) saying that I held "conspiracy theories." Anyway, its sad to see a great product as well as the personalities who made it so great go down the tubes.
I just caught up with this news about the changes at Chinesepod. Being a consistent user since 2006, it's really heartbreaking to know that Jenny and David are leaving the company. Besides being great at what they do, I feel like I'm losing a great friend. Jenny Zhu has been the reason I've stuck with learning mandarin. Her delivery and clarity in mandarin is quite extraordinary as well being at a high level in English as well. "Will be sorely missed", is an understatement to say the least. The Chinesepod identity will completely change. I will probably not extend my subscription come July. To Jenny I would say, 啊呀 很糟糕！别走啊！你是我最好的老师， 怎么会离开Chinesepod? 我真的很伤心！Well maybe that not dramatic but truly feel the loss of a great teacher. John Pasden was also the perfect compliment to Jenny. The pair will be appreciated and remembered for revolutionizing Chinese learning, imho.
wotingyuDecember 30, 2014, 01:30 PM
Farewell and thank you to Jenny and David.
This form of communication (or non-communication) is very Chinese so in a way its just a part of the overall educationanl experience. Also, Taiwan is awesome so can't really blame any business for moving there--hopefully it doesn't muddy the 口音和发音。
FWIW--I'm pretty sure my last subscription renewal (November-ish) went to a paypal account for the current head of Bigfoot Ventures.
beibaoliJanuary 02, 2015, 02:07 AM
Oh, this is sad news indeed. Jenny's voice and personality have made listening to Chinesepod a joy for so many years! I am keeping my fingers crossed that the lessons will continue to be engaging, since my subscription continues for another 9 months. David will be sorely missed as well. If Cpod is in Taiwan now, will Connie and Vera also be gone from our lives? I meant to drop by the last time I was in Shanghai but didn't get around to it. So this is what I get for hesitating and missing my chance. Will we get introductions to the Taiwan crew? Was there some issue with the mainland government that necessitated the move to Taiwan? Will we now be learning putonghua with a Taiwanese accent? I am looking forward to getting more information. But anyway, farewell to all the Shanghai crew.
Connie & Vera ???
You really haven't been keeping up, have you!
Connie and Jiaojie were let go just over 12 months ago (Connie's last Qingwen was Dec 28 2013).
I don't know what happened to Vera, but her last lesson was June 30. I assume she was also given the flick - can anyone confirm or deny?
Here is my list of staff (those who appeared on Podcasts) who have vanished in the last 12 months (and a bit):
(1) John, (2) Connie, (3) Jiaojie, (4) Dilu, (5) Tom, (6) Greg, (7) Shanelle, (8) Maurice, (9) Jenny, (10) David
Have I missed anyone?
And other than John, how many can be confirmed as having left on their own volition?
Vera, Congratulations on moving on. You contributed so much to CPod I'm sure you will have tons of good references to last you the rest of your career if you choose to remain in teaching Chinese. I tried to add you on LinkedIn but could not without your email address.
markJanuary 02, 2015, 07:12 AM
I downloaded all of the advanced lessons and started binge listening to them, as my way to memorialize the Chinesepod that was. Interestingly, the early lessons aren't the same ones I remember listening to years ago. Although, the dialog is the same, they have become Connie and Jenny productions. I remember listening to versions where Jenny was trying out different co-hosts. I think some of the very earliest advanced lessons just aren't there. It seems even the past is not immune from change.
My personal feeling is that Chinesepod's greatest contribution to Chinese study has been to fill the gap between beginner materials and solely relying on materials produced for native Chinese speakers by native Chinese speakers. The upper-intermediate, advanced and media lessons are peerless, as far as I can tell. Unfortunately, this seems to have been a small market, or maybe, one that Chinesepod hasn't learned how to monitize properly.
Meanwhile, the supply of beginner materials for Chinese learners on the Web has become a crouded field, and just doing more lessons with good quality and interesting content, doesn't seem to be enough to break out of the pack.
Anyway, those are my thoughts as to why CPod is now making radical changes. ...just my own speculation.
nicksymondsonJanuary 03, 2015, 06:04 AM
I will just add my own fond wells to the CPod team having been subscribing for about 5 years now.
Nothing lasts for ever and I guess 9 years is a good run these days.
Thank you all for encouraging me and many others like me in my journey to learn Chinese.
I wish all the old staff in Shanghai good luck in the future.
zaphekiahJanuary 04, 2015, 03:15 PM
Yes, many, many thanks Jenny and David for all your hard work and professionalism over the years. The interest and enthusiasm you have brought to each lesson have made learning such fun. Best of luck to each of you in whatever you choose to do next!
renatahuangJanuary 04, 2015, 04:35 PM
Since I first learned Mandarin while living in Taiwan, this move will be interesting to me. I love the advanced courses and I'm starting on Media. But I'm sad to have lost the great team in Shanghai. They will be missed. But I'm looking forward to learning from the Taiwan team. Let's hope they keep both the simplified and traditional characters!
That is a real concern for me. I began learning simplified characters and do not feel the need to know both systems - at this time. Additionally, my ears prefer 标准普通话 with 北方口音, I would drop the lessons immediately if they are to use 台湾国语。
I'm sure both will be kept, but perhaps with the simplified in brackets instead of the other way around. I'm also really hoping that they'll introduce a cameo character with an authentic Taiwanese accent to compliment the neutral accents in the podcasts. Doing so will also provide an awareness to students that the idea of standard Mandarin is an idea only.
Proud of my southern accent, and the localisms that pepper it.
Re: "... my ears prefer 标准普通话 with 北方口音, I would drop the lessons immediately if they are to use 台湾国语." I thought that Shanghai is considered to be the "South" and that almost all of CPod's voice talents were from Shanghai. Lets keep an open mind before declaring Taiwan Mandarin to be "non-standard" relative to what CPod was doing before. They got enough complaints about not pronouncing words the same way people do in the North where "standard" Mandarin is spoken. I also think you need not worry that simplified characters are going to disappear from CPod. Money talks.
If you listened to the Cpod lessons, there were deliberate attempts to using 儿话音, with all the speakers. There is a standard mandarin which is accepted as being the norm, that people do not conform to it doesn't bother me, rather it makes the language more colorful and diverse. All my Shanghai relatives speak local mandarin, they probably think I speak too much like a 北方人。Taiwan mandarin has developed its own accent, this is undeniable. My Chinese teacher, born and educated in Beijing, here in the States has gone as far as to say Taiwan has destroyed mandarin, I beg to differ, but she's adamant in her beliefs. Anyhow there are plenty arguments for and against.
I think the relationship between Taiwanese Mandarin and mainland Mandarin is analogous to differences between American and British English. There has been a separation and consequently some language drift, both in vocabulary and pronunciation. For example, if I use the mainland words for taxi, potato, or trash can, most Taiwanese won't understand me. I'm not very good at analyzing phonetics. So, I can't explain the pronunciation differences, but they are there. The sound of the recent newbie lesson, made me think of Taipei. Taiwan also uses a different transliteration system that is not pinyin.
Mandarin is a native language in Taiwan. I have met Taiwanese who can only speak Mandarin, and not any other dialect. Most Taiwanese that I've met also speak another dialect, and tease me that if my Chinese gets too good, they'll switch to Taiwanese when they don't want me to understand. That situation is no different from most places in the mainland, just different local languages involved.
Taiwan is great, but it doesn't seem like that logical a base for CPod.
Chinesepod was always easy to listen to BECAUSE it didn't sound like 北京話。 it has always sounded, Quite frankly like Mandarin spoken in....drum roll....Taiwan. And Let's not pretend there aren't different pronunciations all over mainland, as well as dozens of different dialects. ive lived in mainland and I currently live in TW, the mandarin here is very standard here. It's a highly educated, urban population who developed (sorry) the correct system for learning the pronounciation of the sounds ㄅㄆㄇㄈ as opposed to pin yin, which relies on a foreign alphabet and has no way to duplicate chinese pronunciation. So little kids here learn ㄅㄆㄇㄈ from an early age and have a very strong grasp on pronunciation as well as the etymology of characters... Since they use traditional Chinese. dont worry, simplified Chinese will always be a choice, as traditional mandarin has always been a choice. But I couldn't disagree more with the idea that Taiwan is somehow a step down regarding learning Chinese. And To espouse that the Taiwanese don't speak properly would be insulting if it wasn't so hilarious.
busybeesJanuary 05, 2015, 04:10 PM
Its a kind of shock to hear this kind of news!
I can just repeat what some podsters said before: that Jennys clear and sexy voice was the main reason that made me come back to chinesepod year after year...
But every cloud has a silverlining. I myself had to leave different employments due to not so favourable circumstances and I know that for each door that closes life opens 10 new ones.
Wish you all the best, Jenny!
SiYaoJanuary 05, 2015, 07:17 PM
Jenny Zhu has become a brand unto herself. She is probably one of the most well known Chinese teachers online anywhere, having being interviewed globally about her teaching methods and delivery. One aspect of her approach is her natural friendliness and her strong command of English. Her heart and intelligence are really reflected in the lessons, regardless of co-partner in the studio. She could easily start up her own company and compete with Chinesepod successfully. The relationship between student and teacher in Chinese and other Asian societies is a special one, one to be respected and revered over time. To have her and other staff members 裁员了 is an injury to our learning and to our relationship to Chinesepod. It is rare that an online service becomes personal vis a vis teaching vehicle, hence many longtime users here are feeling this loss acutely.
I think the name of the game is monetizing the existing content library. What I think they fail to realize is that without fresh content you also don't get the steady stream of user input and the chance for team members to answer user questions that arise when new lessons are posted. I doubt that they attribute much value to the community of active users that post online. Admittedly though, we have been in decline for a while now. Look at how active the boards were, and how much user generated content was provided gratis in the old days. My two fen on the unlikely chance that management ever reads these comments.
Jenny started her exit two years ago when she and others sold the company. It's quite likely that CPod was destined to leave Shanghai from that moment on. So I don't think it's right to characterize Jenny as a victim. She has asked for users to support the Taiwan team, and I think they deserve a fair shot. I join others in wishing Jenny well and thanking her for her enthusiastic support of CPod for many years. She was a major part of building up a great company, and she is well within her rights to enjoy a successfully planned exit strategy.
Thanks for your input, podster. The Cpod community has not been in the loop regards to the transition to Taiwan nor any internal affairs of the company. There is a sense of corporate impersonality and disregard to their user base which I find rather bewildering - even major corporations have PR departments that communicate to its constituents the future plans of a company. Many users, as indicated by the few posts I've read, had become quite comfortable and endeared to the format which was refined over the years, with John Pasden, Vera, Connie, Amber, David and Jenny at the microphones. An analogy I can think of are the radio broadcasts before TV became the media of modern times. There is an intimacy of vocal contact that is undeniable when listening to any broadcast, podcast, what have you. Those living in the U.S. who can remember Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News can relate to that concept. It is yet to be seen if the future Taiwan podcasts will be on equal level in regards to quality and depth. The brilliance of Cpod is inherently based on Jenny Zhu's presence, pretty much throughout the years except for a stretch of a year or two when Vera co-hosted with John Pasden. Vera was also a very good hostess and 老师。As a former start up, CPod has matured now, we'll see if the candle still burns brightly. 天天向上！
I think you're forgetting Dilu. She was every bit as good as Jenny, and did considerably more podcasts than Vera over a period of more than 3 years. In fact I preferred her over Jenny.
This is the first I've heard that you are leaving, Jenny. While it makes me sad and disappointed, I frankly am surprised it took so long for you to go. Life moves on and people do as well. I agree with others that many of the hosts were very good. Dilu, Vera, and Shanell come to mind immediately, and I miss them still. But you, Jenny, have been the constant and consistent voice, the one I recognize and have grown comfortable with since I first heard you many years ago. This truly is like seeing a good friend leaving. I wish you the very best in whatever you do and wherever you go.
Hello I assume Ryan and Elliott are going too. Thanks guys too. Hope you get this message. I did enjoy their input to the shows.
Jenny and David of course as well will be deeply missed.
Matt from Sydney Australia.
jennyzhuJanuary 12, 2015, 02:55 AM
再次谢谢大家的留言！不好意思，没办法一一回复。In any case, I was just a fresh college graduate when I first started working at ChinesePod. Now I'm a mother of 2! And many Poddies have witnessed (or heard) these changes in my life. Though most of our interactions have been virtual, I truly feel it's suchg a magnificent and very real friendship.
rmacphailJanuary 12, 2015, 04:59 PM
I have been a member since 2007. I always enjoyed Chinesepod and the structure and continuity that it had offerred. Many other, cheaper, alternatives offer the " one on one" classes with a "revolving" cast of part time teachers. It is sad to see that Cpod has now also chosen this direction.
It is not to improve quality as you may have been told; but to reduce costs. It is much cheaper to employ part time staff rather than full time with the bebefits they may incurr.
It is not for the benefit of the customer but for the benefit of the company at the expense of their high end customers. Those customers who have subscribed to the one on one scheduled classes.
Companies do change. I just do not have to be part of that change.
tessa10January 17, 2015, 11:01 PM
Jenny & John are my all-time favorites, but really, all the teachers have been great. But now, I don't much like the latest Intermediate lessons...Fiona Tian is a rock star but the other 2 don't seem to have what it takes to keep C POD an irresistable learning resource. Jenny, you are awesome & sorely missed & I'm waiting to see what you do next.
darkstar94January 23, 2015, 10:22 PM
Wow, seems like everyone is leaving now, that's so very sad. Well I wish you two luck in your future! Thank you for everything you have contributed to ChinesePod!
timothygstoutJanuary 26, 2015, 03:38 PM
So sorry to hear Jenny and David have left Chinesepod! I started learning with Newbie lessons in 2010, and quickly moved on to more advanced ones - time has flown! Now, I'm teaching Chinese at my high school in Utah, and the program is strong and growing (and I'm still studying!). Feeling a bit guilty for not leaving more comments, and saying thank you more often (as if that would have forstalled the inevitable...haha). Also feeling very blessed to have had an opportunity to visit the old Cpod offices in Shanghai in the summer of 2011, and personally thank both David and Jenny at that time.
Not sure why Cpod has always been so private about individual's departures. Ken Carol and Jenny Zhu were my first Chinese teachers, and Ken's sudden departure left many poddies scratching their collective heads. I am very grateful to them, and all the great teachers who followed. Perhaps it's fear of negative fallout that announements would have on the company. I understand the impule to be protective, but disagree. It individuals want privacy, I can respect that. If it was company culture, frankly it only makes things more difficult!
Chinesepod is still a great product, with regular improvements and new lessons. Although changes are difficult, I'm confident users will adjust, teachers will adapt, and Chinesepod will continue to be a leader in online Chinese langauge and culture education. In spite of changes, I for one am planning to stick around! Best wishes to Jenny and David!
jiazhou_aimeiliJanuary 26, 2015, 06:11 PM
I'm also sad to hear this! Jenny and David, we will miss you.
I don't comment or post really ever, but I've been a Chinesepod.com user since January 2006 (just went and had a look when I started!) I studied abroad in Xi'an in 2007 and the Chinese I used the most was what I learned on Chinesepod. Thank you for that, Jenny!
I've been using the speaking classes for the last 2 years and my Mandarin has progressed leaps and bounds. The changes in the speaking class price point are huge - double the cost from previous years, and it looks as though many of the previous teachers have left. I have also noticed declining audio quality in the podcasts. I am determined to keep progressing in my language - I hope that the new Chinesepod keeps innovating and keeps up the quality we've all come to know and expect.
kackvogelJanuary 30, 2015, 04:24 AM
I will miss you guys. ChinesePod was for more than two years my primary source to learn Chinese. I prepared my internship in 珠海 with ChinesePod and even as of right now I sometimes feel a rush of nostalgia and I have to listen to some of my favorite episodes.
I remember the first time I could grasp the gist of an advanced episode (namely 南北差异), what an unforgettable moment that was and it still gives goosebumps just by thinking about it.
You guys also drove my flatmate nuts, mainly because of my constant replay of ChinesePod episodes during the night haha, but even after more than 1 year of passive listening he only remembered one word: 对. Probably the worst passive Chinese student of all time.
You enriched my life forever and opened a whole new world for me, I thank you for that, you really made something extraordinary.
Thank you 朱琦与徐州
veronique21February 02, 2015, 07:29 AM
I thought that a video about the new team was to be released in January. Did I misunderstand or miss something ? Is there a video ? If so, where is it ?
bababardwanFebruary 19, 2015, 02:28 AM
mgaleanoMarch 03, 2015, 11:04 AM
I was trying dig through the old lessons. When was the first lesson John did? Was it around may 2006?
162442789October 29, 2016, 03:05 PM
Things change. Also, the move to Taiwan will not be bad. Someone with good Chinese in Taiwan actually sounds like Jenny's Chinese. She does not have a Beijing accent. I think the people complaining have probably not been in China to know there are also hundreds of accents there, too.