That's "thanks" in Mandarin. With the Olympics on the way, a burgeoning adventure travel scene (dutifully served by Outside's newest foreign-language edition), and even a minister of action sports minding the country's gross national stoke, China either is on your itinerary or will be soon. So it's time to start learning the language.MARA HVISTENDAHL
Before hopping on a plane, try learning a bit at home. Pimsleur's audio method (pimsleurapproach.com) is good for informal, fast-track (read: character-free) learning. For a more solid foundation, try Berlitz.
Don't freak out. Your ear is already trained for tonal language. Think of how different inflections can turn the word dude into a question, greeting, warning, or admonishment. That's how tones work in Mandarin. Sort of.
It's easier to stay focused when your instructor is a kung fu master. World Link Education (worldlinkedu.com) offers mainland language-and-martial-arts classes lasting from one week to one year, some of which include trips to the Shaolin Temple.
LESSONS ON THE GO
ChinesePod.com provides free podcasts on topics ranging from the Olympic marathon to ordering at a bar. Follow along while grocery shopping, driving to work, or jogging. Ignore the stares.
Do you rent fat skis?
Nimen zhè'er zu kuande huáxueban ma?
Tài bàng le!
I dare you to huck that.
Wo liàng ni ye bù gan nàge.
That looks like it hurt.
Kànq¦lái haoxiàng hen téng.
This isn't water in my glass.
Wo de beizi limiàn bú shì shui.
You paid 5,000 yuan for tickets to an equestrian event?
Ni mai mashù ménpiào hua le wuqian kuài ya?
Is that Ziyi Zhang?
Nàge rén shì Zhang Ziyí ma?
and Be iLingual
You learned to conjugate irregular verbs and did the rural immersion program, but now you're back home in the monolinguistic grind. Luckily, if someone speaks it, someone's podcasting in it. Keep your new language skills sharp for that next trip abroad with refreshers like these. SARAH HUBBARD
Includes suggestions for music, books, and movies to inspire you
Topics range from buying a Ferrari to schussing in the Alps
From beginner basics to slang and culture
Focuses on reading and writing, with an eye toward studying the Koran
Offers a 110 percent yen-back guarantee
Run by a high school Spanish teacher; sure to guilt you into studying