The first thing about Deepling: I’m Chi Zhang, founder of Deepling. I started it in 2020 because I wanted to make a change. I want to make more people be able to read and understand Chinese, to get a second opinion about the world we live in.
2020 is/was a very different year. The pandemic changed the world to a far worse place than before. But what bothered me the most was a deep misunderstanding among all nations. It saddens me that countries did not learn from each other. They learned their lessons, one by one, on their own. And I am one of those what the media called: Oversea Chinese who played the game full time. I’m a Chinese German living in Berlin, Germany. I started Deepling to make the world better connected.
About Deepling’s past: How it started
It all started in 2014 when I quit my well-paid management position and started a crowdfunding project in Germany: CHI-NESISCH. Together with my now-husband, we made it work: It turned out to be a successful campaign. It’s hard to believe how much time has passed. But that was the start when I tried to bring more understanding and connection into this world.
There we gathered our first 143 users and started developing the course – in German and in Germany. We started developing the platform and course since then. In 2015, our project CHI-NESISCH went online. We didn’t manage to deliver, as promised, in January 2015. But we did make the launch happen 6 months later.
It offers an online Chinese course for Germans to learn spoken Chinese. The reason why I separated spoken and written Chinese, is that they are actually two different things to learn. While spoken Chinese has many different dialects, the written one is the same and hasn’t changed (apart from some simplification) for over 2000 years. So it’s like learning Latin while speaking English. (If it’s a topic that interests you, I have a longer one explaining “why is Chinese a language“.)
At that time, I thought the spoken language is far more important. I imaged people who go to China want to communicate. They want to speak and listen. The project went quite well. We made it on national TV and had some success. It became a niche learning tool and helped many Germans learn Chinese faster. If I’m being honest, I became a bit complacent with it.
Covid-19 changed how I see this project. I now see a bigger potential in it: I see how it can connect more people. At the same time, I value the written language more than ever. I didn’t get the information about the pandemic from my friends and family in China. I got it by reading the news, in Chinese.
About Deepling’s initiative: The problem I want to solve with Deepling
My husband is an extremely diligent news-reader, too. Unfortunately, he executed my idea strictly – a more elegant way to say he can’t read and write in Chinese. So he reads German news and I read Chinese news. All he got about China was political news. But I got holistic news in Chinese – not only about China. Even during the pandemic hit Germany, I got more advice in Chinese than he did in German.
I had three news resources: English, German, Chinese. Automatically, I receive three different views about the same incidents.
I want you to have it, too. I want you to be able to understand Chinese, both spoken, as well as written.
Even if it will take years to be able to read the news, understanding the first characters will open a new door to you. It will change your youtube search algorithm. You might receive recommendations you would never have received. And at some point, you will be able to read Chinese. You can use more apps that you wouldn’t have used. Being able to read Chinese brings tremendous value to my life. I want more people to have it.
What you should know about Deepling
I find it extremely helpful, especially in language learning. Sometimes the seemingly most stupid method works the best. People don’t use this method because it’s not sexy. It’s not even fun, probably. But when it comes to getting skills, sometimes you simply need to work.
And I will work on how to make the repetition fun enough. You will see the efforts in every post I make and every lesson published on this site. So check it frequently, or simply bookmark it.
But the key remains:
I will repeat, constantly. I will repeatedly put on words on the website, and you will practice. Hopefully, you will ignore the pages you’ve seen and gone to the next because you’ve mastered the former ones. This is how it works.
The timing about Deepling
China was the first country hit by Covid-19. Early January, I was following the Chinese news and bought some disinfectant and masks. I planned to send them to my mother who might have a shortage at home, in Shanghai. Before I could send them out, Covid-19 arrived in Germany. Since my mom had enough, it became my lucky reservoirs. I witnessed how it swept through the entire Europe, like a hurricane. Italy became one of the most wounded, followed by Spain, France, the UK …
Then it arrived in the United States and the rest of the world. I saw how Covid-19 took down these three extremely influential regions, one by one. And I experienced the anger twice: When it hit Europe, nobody listened to the Chinese advice. I wore a mask already at the beginning of the pandemic, and people told me masks don’t work. And when it hit the US, Europeans witnessed the exact same scene. Though Europe made it clear how serious it was, the US needed their own lessons before they executed the lockdown and further measures.
A connection saved us
But I couldn’t help notice how fast Germany undertook actions – right after Covid-19 hit Italy. Though they seemed to ignore advice from China, they learned from Italy. In Germany, we didn’t have to see how Covid-19 crashed the hospitals before we decided to lock down the entire economy. Because we saw what happened in Italy. Luckily, Germany turned out quite ok, compared to many other countries.
And that’s one of the most important things about Deepling: I believe the strength lies in the people. It’s each one of us who makes an impact that moves the country to good decisions. And this happened because of the deep connection between the Germans and the Italiens. Italy is where you go on vacation, every year. It’s like a second home for many Germans. When Covid-19 hit Italy, the Germans did not see it as another fallen country, it’s one of us. That’s why we learn. And it was the connection that saved us.
I want Deepling to connect us.
About Deepling: Our Mission
Help people understand Chinese. I believe connection is the real power of the human race, and language is the key to it. The more people understand Chinese, the less misunderstanding there will be.
About Deepling: Our vision
Help the world get more connected. This is truly the most important value about Deepling.
About Deepling: Our value
We are empathetic and pragmatic. We put ourselves in your shoes.
So far, it’s mostly only “me”. If you share similar value and want to make it to an “us”, please contact me to make it happen.