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Typing in pinyin with tones

If you need to type using Chinese characters, you can install a Chinese keyboard. But what if you need to type in pinyin, the writing system for Mandarin Chinese that uses the same alphabet as English? Oh, and you want to include the tone marks?

For example, what if instead of


you want to type



Happily, there is a solution for every operating system.

If you use a Mac laptop or desktop, follow the instructions from Pin Pin Chinese to install the U.S. Extended keyboard. (It’s call “ABC Extended” on my operating system.) You have to use some keyboard shortcuts to type the letters with the tone marks, but they are fairly easy to learn if you use them regularly.

If you use a PC, download and install Pinyinput. You can pay as much or as little as you like, and if you just want to try it out, you can pay nothing and come back later to pay what you think it’s worth. (There is also a Mac version, but you are compelled to pay AUS$5 to download it. It may be worth it if you can’t get comfortable with the keyboard shortcuts mentioned above.)

Here’s how you type using Pinyinput. Just type normally, then add the number for the tone before you press enter.

  • e.g., to type
    type “ni3hao3” and press enter.
  • to type
    type “lv4cha2” and press enter.

Betsy Lavolette

Betsy Lavolette is the director of the Gettysburg College Language Resource Center.

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Writing Essays in Language Classes

An unfortunate part of a student’s life is writing essays, but what can make writing essays more complicated is if you have to write them in a language that you are learning. Recently, I wrote a French essay for my French 305 class on a play that we read in class. In honor of this, I thought that perhaps making a list of how I write my French essays might help other people write essays in their language classes regardless of whether they take French or not!

First, I like to make a bullet point outline of what I want to say in my essay. Usually, I try to organize this outline by different topics in order to make the essay easier to write in the future. Often, I write this list in English unless there’s a specific word or quote that I want to use.

Then, I attempt to start writing the essay. Personally, I like to write as much as possible without using a dictionary first as it interrupts my thought process. Additionally, it is good to check and see if there are any specific grammatical structures you need to use in your essay such as the subjunctive. For these, it is best to incorporate them throughout the essay instead of just at the end of your paper.

Every once in awhile as a general rule of thumb, I will go back and reread what I’ve written to make sure it makes sense. However, essays for language classes can sometimes be complicated in the sense that you have to make sure your points make sense as well as your grammar and your vocabulary, which you most likely don’t have to try as hard to correct when writing essays for other classes.

Other tips to make note of: At least for me, essays for language classes take more time to write than for other classes, so I make sure to leave plenty of time to complete them (please don’t leave them to write at the last minute!). Also, it’s perfectly okay to use basic vocabulary and sentence structure (if there are no specific grammatical structures required). It’s better to be clear than to write in a way that you have no idea what you are talking about.

Though this was short, I hope that this helps some people in writing essays for their language classes. As a summary, first it’s good to check the requirements and outline your points, then write and as you go along double-check your work and look up unfamiliar words as needed.

On behalf of the LRC, I wish everyone a wonderful summer and bonne chance (good luck) on your finals!


Resources I use to write my French essays: ← this website is my go-to for a French dictionary! It also has dictionaries for Spanish, Catalan, German, Korean, Japanese, Italian, Russian, and various other languages! Additionally, my favorite part about this website is that it has a verb conjugator, which allows you to type in a verb and it will conjugate the verb in every mode and tense in the French language.

The Best Kept Secret

The LRC is one of Gettysburg College’s hidden gems that students are still discovering.  If you are looking for a place to study during finals week, then this is the place! While everyone is scrambling to find a classroom or a table to do their work, you could be doing work with plenty of table space and whiteboards!

Forgot your laptop?  That’s alright! We have computers around the room that are available for use, as well as headsets if you need them!

Tired of studying? Take a break by playing one of our many games, offered in multiple languages or relax with some tea, coffee, and candy!

If you really want to get creative, you can play with our legos in the back, where you can also enjoy a good book from our multilingual library.

Here at the LRC, there is a little something for everyone. We offer different clubs, such as the Spanish Reading Club and Japanese Reading Club throughout the semester, and we host different events where students can learn or talk about different languages. If you prefer to learn on your own, we have language-learning apps available on our ipads.

That being said, come check us out and we would be happy to help you with anything you may need!

A Semester in Review: LRC Language Workshops

Thank you to those of you who came out to our first ever Mini Language Workshops! This semester, the LRC offered beginner language classes in 11 different languages, taught by students on campus. If you are curious to see what you may have missed out on, you can see the product of our workshops down below:

For English subtitles, press the “CC” button.

We also want to give a huge thank you to those that taught the workshops! We couldn’t have done it without you guys! I am really grateful for the success that we have had and I hope that this will continue even after I graduate.

10 False Cognates in Spanish

“There are many ways to miscommunicate. When learning a language, it is inevitable that you will make mistakes. It is an important part of the learning process because it is from those mistakes that we learn how to communicate better. One part that makes language-learning easier is the use of cognates or words that resemble words in another language. However, there are words that could exist in a language that we are learning that resemble words we may know but actually mean something completely different. If you are studying Spanish, pay attention to these words:

Pretender looks like the English verb “to pretend.” Pretender is pretending to be the verb “to pretend.” In reality, it means has a few meanings. If you want to talk about pretending, use the verb fingir.”

See full post at:

The Transcendental Nature of Music

For a recent post, I wrote about how to listen to music in another language. Continuing that theme, on March 24th, I got to put those skills to the test in real-time as I attended a concert for BTS’s The Wings Tour at the Prudential Center. Now I do have a confession to make, I’ve only been listening to BTS since October 14th to be precise when it just so happened that a friend of mine showed my roommate and I the music video for “Blood, Sweat, and Tears.” At first, I thought the video was a little strange, but I remember liking the dancing and of course, full disclosure, the boys themselves are gorgeous. Eventually, the song got stuck in my head and I decided to watch the music video again and from that point forward I like to say that is when I officially fell head-first into the fandom affectionately known as A.R.M.Y. Flash forward to March 24th and I’m driving from Gettysburg to Newark, New Jersey to attend what I believe was one of the best experiences of my life thus far.

Picture taken before the concert from my seat!

In short, the concert was amazing. After having watched BTS videos on my computer for so long, it was a surreal experience to see them live. Over the years, I’ve been to numerous concerts including One Direction, twenty one pilots, and Imagine Dragons; however, I can easily state that K-pop concerts are somewhat different than other concerts. First, the fans are super dedicated. That’s not to say that fans at the other concerts I went to were not dedicated, but at K-pop concerts it is virtually a necessity to sing along and participate in fanchants. For most Korean pop groups this includes yelling the group members’ names during songs e.g. “Kim Namjoon! Kim Seokjin! Min Yoongi! Jung Hoseok! Park Jimin! Kim Taehyung! Jeon Jungkook! BTS!.” Additionally, many fans organize and hand-out banners for everyone to hold up that usually say some inspirational phrase or quote. K-pop groups also have light sticks that fans can buy and hold up during concerts, which creates what is known as an “ocean.” In BTS’s case, this light stick is called an ARMY Bomb. During the concert, fans had organized a “Rainbow Ocean” where we put different colored bags on our light sticks to create a rainbow throughout the arena.

The Rainbow Ocean created by the crowd during the concert. Photo courtesy of BTS_official (@bts_bighit).

In terms of the concert itself, the video interludes were well-produced and connected the various storylines that BTS had created with their albums. The performances were stunning as BTS really knows how to work a stage. It was clear that a) they are incredibly talented, b) captivating performers, and c) amazing dancers, singers, and rappers. Throughout the show, BTS would communicate with fans causing the decibel level to rise a dangerous level in the arena (I’m pretty sure I lost some hearing for a few days after). Often during songs, BTS would hold out their microphones thus causing all of us to sing the lyrics even louder. Considering that most of BTS’s lyrics are in Korean this is an impressive feat for an audience where most of the people don’t know what they are saying or how to say it correctly. Nevertheless, we tried our best to nail the lyrics, which earned us a few thumbs up from the members every so often.

Likewise, it was touching for me to hear them speak English, a language they are by no means fluent in, as they tried their best to convey their emotions and feelings. Member J-hope stated at the end of the concert that we are BTS’s wings and “we can fly higher together.” However, one of the most poignant moments for me was when member Rap Monster, the sole member who is nearly fluent in English, stated that “music and performance transcends language and countries and races” and “like a rainbow, [it doesn’t matter] if you’re red,…blue, orange, green, purple, or yellow either.” Afterwards, he decided to teach us the Korean word for together: “hamkke,” which he explained that “if we are hamkke we never walk alone.” As someone who fully believes in the power of music, I latched onto what Rap Monster said and I think that it will stick with me for a long time.

To reiterate my point in listening to music in a different language, it really doesn’t matter if you can’t speak or understand the lyrics to a song. As mentioned in my last post, there will always be translations available online somewhere and most importantly the lyrics may mean something different to each and every person. In terms of the future of BTS, I wish them the best of luck on the rest of their world tour and I look forward to hearing the new music and performances they will create.

BTS 101:

  • South Korean K-pop group
  • Short for Bangtan Sonyeondan or literally Bulletproof Boy Scouts translated into English
  • Seven members: Rap Monster (Kim Namjoon), Jin (Kim Seokjin), Suga (Min Yoongi), J-hope (Jung Hoseok), Jimin (Park Jimin), V (Kim Taehyung), and Jungkook (Jeon Jeongguk)
  • Debuted in 2013 with the song “No More Dream”
  • Latest albums Wings and Wings: You Never Walk Alone charted high on the U.S. Billboard charts
  • American leg of Live Trilogy Episode III: The Wings Tour consisted of five sold-out shows (2 in Newark, NJ, 1 in Chicago, IL, and 2 in Anaheim, CA)

Songs you should check out!

Cover photo courtesy of BTS_official (@bts_bighit).

Movie Review: 千年女優(Sennen Joyū)/ Millennium Actress

A movie I watched recently was a Japanese animated film called “Sennen Joyū” (or “Millennium Actress”), directed by Satoshi Kon. Without spoiling too much of the plot, this film was about two documentary filmmakers who are investigating the life of a really famous retired actress, Chiyoko Fujiwara. They found where she was living up in the mountains, hoping to interview her to find out more about her past and why she retired and went into hiding 30 years ago. As she tells them about her past, her narrative cuts into a film-like (cinema) flashback, in which both of the filmmakers are also a part of her journey, breaking the mold of what’s real and what’s not. During the flashbacks, it also occasionally shifts onto the sets of movies that she has been in, further blurring the line and difference between cinema and reality. The idea of combining both fiction and reality in order to tell a story is amazing. I really liked the concept and enjoyed the heck out of this movie. I really recommend anyone, especially people who likes to watch films that pull on their heartstrings, to watch this movie. You can find this film in our very own Musselman Library. I hope you guys will enjoy it as much as I did.


For more information about this movie, check out the IMDB page:

New Game at the LRC: Verba!

Hi everyone! We have a new game at the LRC in French, Chinese, and Spanish!

If you’ve ever played Apples to Apples before, this game is very similar. Each set has a list of colored cards and white cards. On each white card there is a noun with a picture of the noun on the card. On each colored card there is a simple sentence with a blank such as the examples below.

Like Apples to Apples, every player gets 7 white cards. One player is then chosen as the judge for the round and draws a colored card. Next, the other players put in white cards face down that they think best fit in the sentence. After that, the judge picks the best card. The white cards for that round are then discarded and the winner for the round keeps the colored card. The game ends when all the white cards have been used up and the winner is the player with the most colored cards!

For more information on the game here’s a link to the website:

Please stop by the LRC to play this fun and easy game with friends! Hope to see you soon!