Hanzi - where to start ??
I would say Chinese pod is "the" go to place for learning spoken madarin, would you recommend some self learning website for learning written chinese?
pefferieMay 30, 2012, 04:36 PM
I cannot recommend a website, but the book http://www.amazon.com/Tuttle-Learning-Chinese-Characters-Vol/dp/080483816X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1338395494&sr=8-1 is worth every penny. You can download Anki (ankisrs.net) for reviewing - it already has the flashcards for that book.
As to Chinese Pod being "the" place, well... I find popupchinese more entertaining, but both places have their strengths.
tingyunMay 30, 2012, 05:33 PM
I think there are essentially three steps to a good program for getting started with reading.
First, learn a bit about the logic of charecters, and get used to understanding their logic by having some basic charecters explained to you. William McNaughton Reading and Writing Chinese is a great book for this.
Second, use this combined with some basic memorization to absorb your first bunch of charecters. Usually flashcards, whether electronic or paper (like the person above recomended) are useful for this.
Third, find some very basic reading materials, start reading, and the slowly increase level of reading material. Pleco makes this much more efficient for looking up while reading.
Be careful - I think most people make the mistake of lingering too long as the 1st or 2nd stage, and really hinder their progression. For example, there's no need to get too involved in reading the latest overlyanalytical breakdown of 1000s of charecters. Moreover, what many people seem to do, loading all the charecters they have learned into flashcard programs and reviewing endlessly based on some 'scientific' timed review principle, is an enormous waste of time. Reviewing a charecter in a flashcard program takes many seconds, yet when reading level appropriate material you will every second read a couple of charecters even at the very slow reading speed of a beginer, thus reviewing them in a more natural setting while at the same time absorbing grammer, word use, etc (and its more fun). And your reading speed will get faster and faster, making this advantage more and more significant.
Once you've got a collection of charecters sufficient enough to handle basic reading material, its time to relegate flashcard use to initially learning new charecters with 2 or 3 reviews at most of a card before it is deleted, if you use flashcards at all. Definitally not for review of long learned charecters. Either your reading material will naturally present that charecter at an appropriate frequency to review it, or you aren't ready to learn that charecter yet, over time you will master all the charecters appearing regularly in your type of reading material, and then expand into higher level or other areas...eventually you'll get to a point where it makes sense and is easy to learn that charecter through natural exposure.
"First, learn a bit about the logic of charecters, and get used to understanding their logic by having some basic charecters explained to you. William McNaughton Reading and Writing Chinese is a great book for this. "
I agree with this evaluation, McNaughton book does do this well. Although it is a good resource, I would be careful because I have found many mistakes in this book, mostly minor ones, but some big ones as well (at least the edition that I am using which was most recently revised in 2005).
Agreed. I wrote a review on amazon some time back discussing some of the mistakes and other oddities.
Though in the end incredibly useful resource despite the limitations, as you note. I was fairy critical in the review, but much nicer than I was to that terrible Rosetta stone product...
I use this book on a daily basis, and it has been a huge help. I am using the simplified version of the book, and only took a quick look at the traditional version of the book. Perhaps the problems are limited only to the simplified version? I don't know.
helzcurrahMay 31, 2012, 01:45 AM
I am currently using Weibo for Chinese reading and typing practice. Translating one tweet at a time isn't too much work, and the content is usually either humourous or topical, therefore more interesting. I also post things in (very bad) Chinese. If anyone wants to add me, my screen name is 孔海伦。
darkstar94May 31, 2012, 03:25 AM
For me I found learning to read a little bit helped before learning how to write. It prepared me in a way so that when I started writing I had a better understand of what I was writing. For this I just got a QQ account and starting talking to people. I started off having to translate a lot but now I rarely have to look up words.
rootJuly 13, 2012, 03:14 PM
I can totally recommend iknow.jp (formerly smart.fm) -- by far the best character learning site I've found in three years. Like at CPod , learning is full sentence-based, quality of content rivals that of here, and software is a million times better. Review is combined with testing, is fun, and has well varied modes. I think everyone owes it to themselves to give it a shot , if you want to learn to read hanzi...
Now, if only I could figure out how to load CPod sentences there to add them to my review, Chinese learning would be a nirvana.
Skritter is an ideal complement to ChinesePod since you can directly load CPod vocabulary list from each lesson and use that at the input for writing practice. The CPod lessson vocabulary lists are accessible directly from Skritter, so there is lots of synergy.
daenafJuly 21, 2012, 08:47 AM
What software do people use to write Chinese characters? We have a pad and stylus and I want to start writing in Chinese, but wondered what software to use.
Pad? Like a bamboo pad? SmoothDraw is a really great program for drawing with the Wacom bamboo pad, and it's also free. If you're talking about regular type-font 汉字, Microsoft has the keyboard available for download here, just follow the instructions:
(I'm just assuming you're using a Windows PC)
Now if you're talking about an iPad, there's an app called ChineseWriter that I use, and if you buy the very cheap membership you can change the lists of characters to practice from their extensive dictionary. Let me know if this helps!
Thank you for your clearly set out and helpful suggestions. I will download the keyboard and also try out SmoothDraw. I am afraid that I am quite ignorant of how anyone inputs hanzi into their computer, whether by typing on a keyboard or drawing on a tablet. I have a Windows PC, but my son has a flex design tablet, which I thought I might be able to use in the way my friend uses the screen of her 'phone. She starts drawing a character with her stylus and is offered a choice of characters to input. I wondered if there was software that served this purpose, recognising strokes drawn by hand on a tablet. Thanks again for your help, I am off to follow your suggestions now. Daena
Entering characters by installing an IME and typing will be much easier than using a tablet. It is easier to recognize characters from a pick-list than remember their strokes, and handwriting recognition software expects you to write quickly and know the basics of 书法 (stroke order, and direction mostly)
I guess on the plus side of using a tablet, if you learn to do it well, you will have thoroughly learned 汉字。
I agree with Mark, I think for a PC it is much more practical to input using pinyin. However, on my smartphone I have enable the handwriting input as well. It's really useful if you see a Chinese sign with a few characters where you don't know either the meaning or the pronunciation, then you can just draw them to look them up in the dictionary!
Typing into an IME is rather equivalent to reading in difficulty. Which is to say it is much easier than writing. My personal observations recommend starting to learn how to read after about 100 hours of study, and to write about 100 hours later. Neither of those things you will finish learning in a lifetime, but don't wait too long to start...