Mandarin Chinese Resources

Learning resources I have collected over the years. Categorized, and with comments or mini-reviews.

I’ve used almost all of these at least a little throughout my studies. Share the link to this content to anyone who may find this useful!

DISCLAIMER: I won’t claim these are definitive, top resources. I may praise some of them but there could be better sites out there. These are simply what I’ve come across and have indeed found useful and worth keeping.

PLEASE REPORT BROKEN LINKS!

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Contents

  • General Resources – Things on culture, encouragement and anything not really for learning the language per se.
  • Top Sites: A few highly recommended sites, usually for serious study.
  • Pronunciation – Pinyin &Tones: If you’re looking to explore, start learning, or perfect your pronunciation and/or pinyin knowledge, go here. Subdivided into Pinyin and Tones.
  • Dictionaries: Good online dictionaries and their features so you can pick a few that will serve you best.
  • Structured Lessons  / Courses: Sites that attempt to teach you through a sort of curriculum.  They may be articles, video lessons, podcasts, TV shows, etc.
  • Random / Unstructured Lessons: Either collections of content that do not really work as a teaching curriculum, or random, single-topic lesson I found that were good and could be useful. I picked out those I thought were particularly good, especially if they cover a topic that is normally a little hard to find or understand. Subdivided into Grammar, Phrases, and Vocabulary.
  • Learning Characters: A few resources specifically to help learning to read or write characters, but no real lessons here at the moment.
  • Practice Listening, Reading, etc.: A few resources to help you practice.
  • Hanzi Etymology: For those interested, a few resources on learning about why characters look the way they do, either because you’re curious or because you want to learn it as a study aid – although it is usually not the best learning aid and should only be used as such if you have real interest.
  • Hanzi IME: How to type Chinese on your device.
  • Hanzi Online IME: How to type Chinese using online tools, for when you’re not on your personal device.
  • Flashcard Collections: Just small bank of flashcard collections or resources if I run into them. Not a lot here because in my system of study, I make my own cards.
  • Un-reviewed Resources and Other links: Potentially useful links (including some huge resources) that I have not yet evaluated. I will slowly review them over time, emptying this section and moving them to the appropriate category.
  • Software and Other Learning Programs: I use a lot of language learning apps (it’s the main reason I got a smartphone), but I haven’t listed many here yet. Will be doing so.

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General Resources

Fluent in 3 Months: Why Chinese isn’t as hard as you think  – “Over 8000 words of encouragement for potential learners”; I think the title and subtitle explain it enough.

TravelChinaGuide.com: Chinese Greetings
– Greetings including rhetorical questions used as greetings (phatic expressions) and some related comments on culture.
Noooooo, You Can’t Say That: Navigating Chinese Ambiguity – On Chinese indirectness, especially when expressive negative messages.

Wikipedia: Chinese Number Gestures
– How to count from 1 – 10 with one hand – the Chinese way.

mandarin.about.com: Number Gestures
– Shows other alternative number gestures.
Yoyo Chinese: Counting Numbers in Chinese Using Finger Gestures – Watch some cute kids do them, and then an adult show you them up close.

hisnibs.com: Uranus 2018 Multifunction Pen
– Affordable pen, one side ballpoint, the other foam brush. Not the exact feel of authentic calligraphy, but a great portable option that can give great results.
ChineseStudyLounge.com – A blog with a whole lot of good resources and links to useful or fun materials. Check it out.
How do Chinese People say Goodbye on the Phone – Customs when talking on the phone
Taiwan Postal Address – How to write a Taiwanese address when mailing something
How to Write a Postal Address in Chinese – As the name says; he recommends that anytime you’re sending anything to mainland China or Taiwan, you should write the address in Chinese.
Sinosplice.com: Junk Food Review 2 – Mini reviews of different snacks sold in China.
The Manchus ruled China into the 20th century, but their language is nearly extinct – A little article about the Manchus and their language.

Top Sites

For serious study. More coming soon

Considering how many links came from the same sources, and Mandarin being the language with which I have the most online-learning experience, I feel I may be confident enough to mention full sites and give them a mini review.

Omniglot: Useful Mandarin Chinese Phrases – Omniglot is always a good place to start if you want to look up basic phrases for a language. They have a standard table of phrases given in English, and the translation is in both native script and romanization, and usually has audio (there’s even a link at the bottom to conveniently download them all if you want). Audio quality may vary though, and since it’s just a table with no explanation, it’s always better to ask someone or go through a lesson somehow to grasp any nuances – but it’s a great resource I use very often when I’m new to a language.
Yoyo Chinese.com – This will seem contradictory: I actually have little experience with this website – BUT, I know of enough helpful content, because she has a Facebook page, Google+ Page, and Youtube Channel, which offer a lot. She’s already been listed under my Facebook page’s “likes,” and Benny Lewis of Fluent in 3 Months – someone who’s language advice I respect and share a good bit – has his own good words to say about her; a little quote of his is on the site, and there’s also this interesting Skype interview. Now, what is it that I like?
  • Promotes paying attention to the tone contour of full phrases when practicing, rather than over-focusing on individual words, as she may do to train actors who don’t speak Chinese.
  • On a related note of using music, she even gave 2 lessons at the piano, the first being a song to teach some phrases you’ll probably want if you ever want to tell someone that you have good news.
  • The YouTube channel has various great video for teaching certain vocabulary, phrases, etc. Despite relatively short lengths, they have pinyin, characters, good examples, balanced pronunciation speed, and clear explanations made me find many quite worthwhile. Here’s one of first ones I saw; how to say “hate something,” including the word’s extra usage of annoying, and how to say “so what?” There are also grammar videos.
  • There are also some videos of “tips” which seem to be lessons based on a common mistakes such as what to call your children and not using shi4 是 with adjectives, and using rang4 让
  • Has recently (as of August 2013) starting doing live streams with Q&A’s, so she expanding the kind of content available. One of them is linked to and described below, under the Pronunciation section.
  • The website has full courses under a premium account, but still has a lot of other videos which may or may not be on YouTube (I haven’t checked). One sort of video I always like running into is the hand gestures for counting.
  • Facebook page regularly posts picture with advice, quotes, vocabulary, places in China, cool and fun info graphics, video updates, and more.

 

Pronunciation – Pinyin & Tones

The first four links are my top picks for starting out. They rest are extra/auxiliary.

Pinyin

Wikipedia: Pinyin Rules in Terms of English pronunciation – A very nice guide to pinyin and its pronunciation. Pretty good to start out with, especially as a quick-start.
Youtube: Pinyin pronunciation, with mouth closeup; a top choice

Youtube: Pinyin pronunciation
, includes tones. (Weird kiddy video warning!) Goes fast, but it’s also good that you get related sounds said in a row so that the differences can be compared.
Youtube: Yoyo Chinese: How to pronounce “zi ci si zhi chi shi ri” Google Hangout – Yangyang does a great lesson focused on this sounds problematic for some. She even includes samples with tones and vocabulary. End with a short Q&A that includes slang word niu2 牛 and the various words for hotels – another source of confusion. Top notch video.

Chinesepod.com: Pronunciation Guide
– Very nice, more in depth explanation on how to pronounce all the sounds. Includes audio and sometimes pictures (ie, tongue placement). Navigation is on side bar on the right.

SinoSplice blog: Pronunciation of Mandarin Chinese
– Possibly best description of pronunciation, though it doesn’t say widen mouth for x, q, j.

LivingChineseSymbols.com: Chinese Pronunciation
– Another decent overview of all pinyin initial and final sounds; explains -an vs -ang, though not too clearly, it point it out.
The pages at the Centre for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language are similar to the Chinesepod resource and also include audio, but it’s not as clearly or nicely organized:

China-On-Site.com: Pinyin
– Downloadable MP3’s of pinyin sounds. I recommend you ignore the English words given for supposedly English equivalents of the letters; they’re not good.

LearnChineseABC.com: Chinese Pinyin System
– Haven’t looked at it much. Seems pretty nice with its pinyin, tone, and pronunciation guides. Lots of the pinyin words are click-able for audio and there are some audio samples within the articles as well. Covers just about everything, just not too deeply.

Tones

Wikipedia: Mandarin Phonology: Tones – Short, sweet, concise, good.

InstantSpeakChinese.com: Pinyin TonesBROKEN LINK; will keep the link in case site returns. If I remember correctly, this was the source for the Wikipedia content.

Wikipedia: Mandarin Phonology: Tone Sandhi – A very good explanation to the small exceptions when tones change.

InstantSpeakChinese.com: PinyinChangeOfToneBROKEN LINK; will keep the link in case site returns. If I remember correctly, this was the source for the Wikipedia content.

Tone Sandhi [change] Discussions:
Note: There are various explanations on how to say the third tone in different circumstances (called tone sandhi) – it may sound like people say different things about it but it’s more on how accurately they describe it. For one example, some will say “use 2nd tone” vs “it’s a half tone” vs. “normally ___, but sounds like ___ if said fast,” etc.). I do recommend being aware of it but don’t worry about it much, just get the general idea and apply the basics. Everyone says you’ll pick up on it and it should kinda happen naturally.

Dictionaries


YellowBridge.com’s Chinese Dictionary
– My top Chinese dictionary. You can search with any kind of pinyin, paste in the character, OR click handwriting input button to draw it in (box is a tad small, though). It will get you definition, parts of speech, audio pronunciation, trad/simp variants, etymology, common words, example sentences, and animated stroke order! If it’s as good as it seem, this could be your main or only dictionary. However, it uses java for some things(which takes time to load), so if you know what you’re looking for and want a faster site to find it, you may opt to use one of the others listed below; that’s what I do. [not anymore; maybe I should, haha, especially when Im on my phone]
NOTE: They also have a Cantonese dictionary in Beta. It’s hidden. When you search a character, look at the url and you will see “&dialect=M.” Change M to C, and voila.

Wiktionary
– As I said, sometimes you want another option; I mainly use this as a quick [character] dictionary because it’s quick loading and search is as flexible as YellowBridge; eg., you can search “木”, “mù,” “mu,” or even “mu4.” Sometimes has example sentences. My best use for it is as a quick look-up for a character I’m familiar with, like to confirm I know the meaning or pronunciation.

Popupchinese.com’s Dictionary
– search is almost as flexible as wiktionary (you can search “木”, “mu,” or “mu4” but NOT “mù.”); special things to note is that it also has radical search, pinyin chart, and simplified-traditional converter.
iCED – for iOS (only?) is my favorite dictionary, but gives no example sentences. A better review will be coming. nciku (listed just below in this list) has an app too, though it runs a little slow for me.
Pleco – (iOS & Android) – is another dictionary alternative, though I don’t like the layout of the results. However, the big plus side is you can install / buy extra modules, including a really great OCR module. Benny Lewis demonstrates / reviews this in this video, where it uses your phone’s camera to read Chinese characters and give you info from the dictionary. The free trial of the module only gives you the pronunciation – which is sometimes helpful enough, so that you can look it up yourself. However, if you need the speed and convenience (like if you’re traveling), you’ll want to buy the module.

Google Translate
– like Wiktionary, I tend to only use as quick reference, a character I’m familiar with, or quick/vague idea of a character meaning. The more you understand Mandarin grammar, the more effective this is for full-sentence translation since you are able to tweak translations or translate in pieces. Can also convert simplified to traditional and vice versa.

Instantspeakchinese.com’s Dictionary
– another dictionary with audio

cojak.org
– hanzi dictionary (radical search)

zhongwen.com
– supposedly good dictionary (though has more than just dictionary). However, I find it really funky and have a hard time using it – and I hate that I can’t highlight and copy anything on there.

nciku.com
– has handwriting input and sound for the entry. There is a Japanese version, and seems like it works as a study aid if you register (don’t know if free or not)

ichacha.net
– seems to have many decent, example sentences. Compare with nciku sentences (same or different databases?).
HackingChinese.com: 21 Essential Dictionaries – This article serves the same purpose as the one you are reading right now – only better, with clear pros and cons for each resource listed.

Structured Lessons / Courses

ChineseClass101.com – one of the many LanguagePod101 series of websites by Innovate Language Learning Inc., I cannot speak much on it’s quality, since they have the most for Japanese and things may have changed. However, the good thing is you can sign up for free to get every or almost every new lesson podcast for free in something like iTunes, and you will have a 7-day free trial of the premium content. Paid subscriptions can be fairly cheap – but really only if you consider something relatively long-term as a monthly cost (which they do), but it’s actually paid all up front. Still, I personally had little reason to go higher than a “basic” subscription, which amounts to only $4 a month if you sign up for 2 years. They also have some video on YouTube and they’re Facebook page is pretty good too. Check out the Software section (final section) of this page for a word on their Word of the Day app. Check out the Structured Lessons / Courses section of my Japanese Language Resources page for a slightly more in-depth reviews of my experience with the Japanese version.

CCTV’s Video Lessons & Shows
– CCTV has a few different series for learning Mandarin that have been aired on TV; check the sidebar on the right for the listing of individual series by learning level. Haven’t checked them out much.

Confucius Institute: Happy Chinese
– Video lessons with text, aimed at pre-teens / young teens.

LearnChineseABC.com: Learning Chinese Lesson and Practice
– a lot of different phrases (they claim thousands?) for various situations, but beware there’s no explanation on them; no analysis or discussion of context. Organized by situation, but not very neatly. What you find at this link are pages with a table of pinyin expressions, audio, and english translation. However, it SEEMS like they are all also listed under Major Sentence Patterns, and here they include the hanzi.

Asking about birthdays and dates – how to ask a date (ji3 yue4 ji3 hao4) Not yet checked out; phrases? with proper pinyin & hanzi.

mandarin.about.com: Mandarin Particles – Short lessons on various particles. Very good, do not ignore and study these early on. They are short, applicable, important.

Voice of America: English Teaching – These are actually English lesson for Mandarin speakers, but you can use them as well to learn in Mandarin the very same things they are teaching, or to practice listening, pick up new vocabulary, etc. Audio lessons are on the left, and video lessons are listed on the right. All the audio ones seem to have full transcripts, and the videos seem to be sufficiently subtitled. As its name may have already warned you, the “OMG! 美语” features…. quite a bubbly host. Still, there seem to be some decent videos there despite each being only a few minutes long. NOTE: Any of the series with the note of “No records available” seem to have the audio missing, but the transcripts are still there.

美语怎么说:放鸽子 (How to say in American English: Standing Someone Up) – Just giving this link as an example. This is lesson 1 of a series teaching American English idioms and other expressions. You can thus also learn the Chinese equivalents.

美语怎么说008讲:方鸽子 – Essentially the same lesson as above, but there’s something wrong and while the transcript is on “standing someone up,” the audio lesson is actually on phrases of one’s workload, such as “I have a lot on my plate.” So I guess you can consider this two lessons in one?

Random, Unstructured Lessons

Here, comments, yes; reviews, not so much; they’re here because I approve.

Grammar


Living-Chinese-Symbols.com: Chinese Grammar
– nice overview with examples.
AllSetLearning.com: Word Order – A quick overview on Chinese word order, including the position of question words. Includes place words, time words, question words, adverbs, indirect objects, etc. Simply and clearly done.
How to Say “Hello” in Chinese – A nice collection of phrases for saying hello, once you want learn more than Ni Hao. NOTE: The YouTube video only teaches Ni Hao. The next link includes a video that covers both hello and goodbye.
How to Say “Goodbye” in Chinese – A nice collection of phrases for saying goodbye, once you want learn more than Zai Jian. NOTE: The YouTube video at the top only teaches Zai Jian, however, there’s a video at the bottom that teaches various greetings related to both hello and goodbye.

Wiktionary.org: 什么
– Wiktionary’s entry for shenme (what) has some good examples of less-obvious uses

ctcfl.ox.ac.uk: Jiu & Cai
– use of  就 and 才

chinese-tools.com forums: Difference between « 没 » (mei) and « 不 » (bu) ? 
– Forum discussion of negation with mei2 vs. bu4; last replies are best.

mandarin.about.com: Yao & Hui
– using 要 (yao4) and 会 (hui4) for future / will do or plan to do.

Transparent.com: Two Crucial Characters
– Lesson on various uses of shang4 & xia4.

Chinese-Forums.com: 么 vs. 吗 – Short discussion on different between 么 vs. 吗 in questions. (Quick answer: 么simply represents spoken style or accent)


Wikipedia: Chinese Particles
– Summary on the most common particles; very short and good for quick-reference.

about.com: Keyi
– Asking permission with 可以 (ke3yi3)

Yale University: shide
– detailed explanation of the “shi….de” construction when emphasizing a detail of something in the past.
Chinese grammar: The 是…的 (shì…de) construction in Chinese grammar – Possibly an even better overview on this construction, and may include even more details.

EastAsiaStudent.net: Four Kinds of Le/
  – Great lesson on 4 main uses of 了 ; includes the situation of two 了 in one sentence to mean so far, or up to now.

ChineseGrammar.Info: Ba Structure Basics – A primer on using ba3 construction.

ChineseGrammar.Info/Ba3 Common Mistakes – Usage details of Ba3, also showing common supporting words for ba3 constructions.
Learn Chinese Characters that Look so Darned Similar – Shows differences between various similar-looking characters. Note that there is a 2nd article to covers even more.
Learn Chinese radicals that Look so Darned Similar – Similar to the previous lesson, but focused on radicals. Good for people who are either learning radicals, or simply trying to make sure they know how to write the characters they know.
How to Use “Once…” Sentence Pattern – Use of  一旦… 就…
ChineseGrammar.info: Zai4 After the Verb – Cases where 在 comes after the verb.
ChineseGrammar.info: Suan Suanshang Suanle – Comparing and contrasting the usage of these 3 words.
EastAsiaStudent.net – Suffixes & Prefixes – A list of common suffixes and prefixes.
Chinese Grammar Wiki: “Within (it/them)” as “qizhong” – The usage of 其中 to mean something like “among the aforementioned” or “among which.”
ChineseGrammar Wiki: Verb + 出来 (chūlái) construction – Uses of this 出来 that have a sense of coming out. Luckily, I feel most of these examples can also have the “out” feeling in English, whether it’s “take out,” “guess” or “recognize” figure out), “calculate” (work out), “answer” (come out / up with an answer), or to come up with an idea.
The 一 … 就 pattern in Chinese grammar (yī … jiù): as soon as, once, whenever – The idea that as soon/once/whoever something happens, something else will happen.
Chinese Grammar Wiki: Indicating the whole with “quan” – How 全 (quán) can be used with certain nouns to mean the whole of the noun (family, world, etc.)
Chinese Grammar Wiki: “Let alone” with “bie shuo” – Petty simple structure here that can make a good statement; luckily it’s so simple an obvious that if you didn’t know it before, you may have been able to come up with it yourself  – or something close enough.
EastAsiaStudent: Getting angry in Mandarin – 为 … 对 … 生气 – How to say you’re angry with someone because of something.
AllSetLearning.com: “never” with “conglai” – Using “conglai” to say you never do something or have never done something.
Chinese Grammar Wiki: The difference between 想 (xiǎng), 要 (yào) and 想要 (xiǎngyào) – Differentiation among the uses of these words since they can all have the sense of “want.”
ChineseTools.eu: particles – List of grammatical and phonetic particles as well as some related words. An exhaustive list NOT worth studying (there are many rarely-used or old ones), but may be fun to read through or use as a reference.
Chinese Grammar Wiki: Expressing “almost” using “chadian” – How to say that something almost happened.
Related: Expressing “almost” using “chadian mei”

A few more examples of expressing that something almost didn’t happen.
Related: “Nearly” with “jihu” – Another translation for “almost,” but is more for the idea of something reaching a certain level. Still, some uses may be similar to those that use chadian.

Chinese Grammar Wiki: Approximations with “chabuduo” – Using

差不多 to say things are about the same.

Phrases

ChineseLearner.com: Basic Chinese Expressions– a collection of expressions (they’re not really lessons, despite labeled as such). The lists are pretty decent, showing many different ones, so it may be overkill learning all at first (they don’t provide much context, after all), but definitely good to check back once in a while as your progress in your studies.

Chinese-Tools.com:
What’s your name? – Phrases for meetings and introductions.

TravelChinaGuide.com: Chinese Greetings
– Greetings including rhetorical questions used as greetings (phatic expressions).
mandarin.about.com: Do You Speak Mandarin? – Basic phrases asking or expressing the ability to speak Chinese.

Chinese-Forums.com: 28261-What-Are-You-Supposed-to-Say-When-Chinese-Pay-You-Compliments
– Discussion on responding to compliments. Read thoroughly; some early replies are not good.
EastAsianStudent: Favourite Chengyu: Yin ren er yi – A good little phrase, easy to understand, and could be useful. It’s basically the idea that everyone’s different.

Chinese for MMORPG’s
– Haha, Mandarin for MMORPG gaming; however, it’s toneless pinyin. :(

Yahoo Answers: Does “wo ai ni” mean the same as “wo xi huan ni” in everyday use?
– The usage of “I like you” and “I love you” in Chinese and difference with English.

不见不散(bú jiàn bú sàn) – An explanation of the usage of this phrases
“不见不散”怎么翻译?– Discussion on the phrases, mainly in how it does not have the same meaning as the English phrases typically considered to be it equivalent.
Voice of America: Standing Someone Up – English lesson for Chinese speakers. If you already know a bit of Chinese, you can learn the Chinese equivalent to the English phrases they are teaching.

Vocabulary

CJVlang.com: Days of the Week– Good explanation of 3 different ways to say the days of the week plus their history; if you know your numbers, you can learn the days of the week in under 2 minutes!
Transparent Language Blog: Daily Activities in Chinese – A few nouns and verbs on common household activities such as watching TV, doing laundry, or eating a meal.

Videojug.com: Pronouncing Days of the Week
– includes couple sample sentences with verb for go (qu4) and how to ask when.

Top 10 Lucky Symbols
– Happiness, Fortune, Longevity, etc.

AssociatedContent.com (reposted): Top 10 Mandarin Words that you Should Know.html – All words are used in most Mandarin-speaking areas, but “laojia” may be more typical of Beijing. See next link:

Excuse me, Beijing Folk Say it Another Way
– use of laojia in Beijing.

Wikipedia: Chinese Numerals
– Includes the financial variants you may see but not use, and large numbers.

about.com: Mandarin Time
– A quick run-down on the most important words for telling time.

University of Gothenburg: Nonverbal Communication
– Some useful Chinese gestures, but not too many. Make sure you skip over the “dead gestures.”

YouTube: ChengTsui’s videos
– The official YouTube channel of the company responsible for the Integrated Chinese textbook series. I mainly point it out because they have a few videos on slang – if you tolerate (or skip) a relatively long skit and its bad acting.

ywb.ujs.edu.cn/4/40101.htm
 – Beijing accent sample words with audio. (BROKEN LINK; will keep in case it returns)

3000hanzi.com: Chinese Measure Words
  – A good, short explanation on the types of measure words.

carlgene.com: “Untranslatable” Words in Chinese
– Certain unique words that are difficult to translate.

InterestingChinese.com: What People Call Each Other
– Addressing others; family terms and titles.

Chinese Opposites Words – Words that are formed with two characters that are opposites.

Learning Characters


Zhongwen.com: How to write Chinese Characters
– Hanzi stroke order; starts with the Eight Principles of Yong though it doesn’t tell you it’s called that, but it’s basically the 8 basic strokes in hanzi.
Simplified/Traditional conversion for web reading from this message board post by user “OneEye” (I haven’t tried it yet):
“…if you want the list in traditional, an easy way is to use an add-on for Firefox called TongWenTang. It allows you to convert whole pages to either character set, and you can even set it to automatically view every page in either simplified or traditional.”
 

Practice Listening, Reading, etc.

Mandarin Tone Drill – Nice, simple little exercise! Hear a syllable, then pick the correct tone!
Mandarin Dual-Tone Drill – Hear TWO syllables, try to guess the correct tones!

http://www.ctcfl.ox.ac.uk/Chinese/
– Supplementary “lessons” for someone who’s been studying for a couple of months and should be able to work through a few basic exchanges. I put lessons in parenthesis because they don’t seem organized well for teaching, but each lesson (I would really say chapter or module), seems to have enough to help you understand the dialogue. Even if you’ve studied a good bit, it’s a good thing to use as review to check back to and see if you understand and know everything that is covered.
Mi5: Check Your Skills – The United Kingdom’s Mi5 has a couple of tests, intended for you to check yourself to see if your level is enough to consider working for them.
EastAsiaStudent: Putting WordPress into Chinese, Japanese, or Korean – If you use WordPress for your person website, here’s how to change the language.
Practicing Tones: Adding tone marks (w/o pinyin) Above Characters – How to annotate some Chinese text with tone marks.

Hanzi Etymology

Note: I could write a whole essay discussing whether or not it’s worth learning etymologies. It is less useful now that people are learning simplified, and thus may not help as much as one would like, so mnemonics are more commonly used and taught rather than etymology – keep that in mind, because a lot of people may “explain” a character to you but it’s actually the mnemonic and not really how it was derived. So it’s up to you how much etymology you look up, but at least check it out once in a while; it’s cool stuff. If you do, always check out more than one source because different places may sometimes claim different things.

ChineseEtymology.org (seems more trustworthy [provides pictures of evolution], most complete, but explanation not always clear and may be hard to follow because you need to understand what some terms like “remnant” and “signific” mean.)

KanjiNetworks.com’s Etymology Dictionary (best, most clear explanations – but only Japanese characters. Includes pictures.)

Wiktionary.org – Seriously; sometimes has etymology.

YellowBridge (see Dictionaries section of this email) has an etymology section, but it is NOT real; it’s more of a visual look at the character’s components.

Hanzi IME (input method editor)

This is for typing.
Pinyin Joe – How can you type Chinese on [fill in the blank with a device]. Pinyin Joe has you covered with simply tutorials to set up your device.
EastAsiaStudent.net: Handwriting Practice Android – Setting up Google’s IME for Android devices – while the pre-included options don’t have handwriting (natively supported on iPhone), this one does.

Hanzi Online IME (input method editor)

You should be using Chinese input on your own computer; you type toneless pinyin and then hit a number or space bar to pick from the pop-up list. if you have the right one installed (might be hard to find), it supports drawing with mouse as well, using an “IME pad.” Luckily, if you’re not at your own computer, and just want quick temporary access, now you can use….

Google Translate
– if you pick Chinese as input language, you are now able to “type phonetically” (toneless pinyin), so you can write full sentences in hanzi with this.

chinese-tools.com
: IME, dictionary, thesaurus, and even more things I haven’t looked into yet.
Write words or sentences in hanzi by typing toneless pinyin  (like Google translate or your computer’s IME)
Write words or sentences in proper pinyin by typing toneless pinyin + tone number
Draw characters with mouse to get definition and pinyin for a single chracter
Reminder: You can also hand-write with mouse using handwriting input at YellowBridge.com (see Dictionaries section of this email)

Flashcard Collections

To make your own Flashcards, there are many options, but I use and am happy with Repetitions Free on iOS, by the same creator of Mnemosyne (in fact, it can pair up and sync using Mnemosyne). I’ll have a full review on a different page covering language software. The only thing bad is that most or all buttons are icons that aren’t easy to figure out intuitively, so you’ll have to learn.
I am NOT a fan of pre-made flashcards, UNLESS they are small sets like numbers, the seasons, or if you really want to learn vocabulary of a certain subject. Otherwise, I stay away from them because I believe you learn and progress better and faster if you study what is most useful, so I prefer creating your own flashcards out of words you’ve found you need to learn. Still, here are a few links if you DO want to look for pre-made sets.

Un-reviewed Resources and Other links


http://www.traveltripreport.com/chinese/
 – only two blog posts but the resources and links might help. In case of removal, here are few that stuck out for me. NOTE: I am copying and pasting; the comments in the following list are NOT mine.
  • Confucious Institute Online offers lots tools in learning Chinese.  I went ahead and bought the 3 books, Kuaile Hanyu (Happy Chinese) , to follow the 24 lessons.
  • Chinese Dictionary and Translator This is another priceless resource.  It translates words in Chinese/English.  It also has sound aid.  I use this a lot to learn new words.
  • How to Say is another resource that I use to translate some come terms like “close your eyes”, etc…
  • Change of Tone is great to understand that the absolute tone of each word changes when put together with other words.

SocialMandarin.com – A site aimed at collecting resources.

Software and Other Learning Programs

These will later be put on a different page dedicated to learning software.

Living-chinese-symbols.com: Pimsleur Chinese Mandarin – recommendation for Pimsleur as a learning method; one of those 30-day things but theory might be good and claims should be free trial. I would check other reviews, and keep in mind you should not stick to a single method, and there’s more than enough free stuff out there.

www.skritter.com – (Paid service) Learn and practice drawing characters and learn a few words along the way.

For institutions: http://www.skritter.com/institutions

Mobile apps:

iCED – (for iOS only?) is my favorite dictionary, but gives no example sentences. A better review will be coming. nciku (listed above under dictionaries) has an app too, though it runs a little slow for me.

Pleco – (iOS and Android) is another dictionary alternative, though I don’t like the layout of the results. However, the big plus side is you can install / buy extra modules, including a really great OCR module. Benny Lewis demonstrates / reviews this in this video, where it uses your phone’s camera to read Chinese characters and give you info from the dictionary. The free trial of the module only gives you the pronunciation – which is sometimes helpful enough, so that you can look it up yourself. However, if you need the speed and convenience (like if you’re traveling), you’ll want to buy the module.
Gengo Word Power Word of the Day by Innovative Language Learning  (creators of the Language Pod 101 series of websites) – mind boggling-y huge (at least 400 MB), but really good since you get a random word each day. As long as you open the app each day, the word for that day will be saved. However, you can ALSO add your favorites / most critical to a wordlist that you can review normally or as flashcards. All words have audio and most have many example sentences with different voices. No need to buy the paid version – that’s only if you want more starter / pre-included flashcard sets.
Chinese Number Trainer by trainchinese, published by Molatra – Study all you want; you can know all the Chinese numbers and have no trouble writing, reading, or maybe even speaking them, but even in your native language, a string of numbers can be too much if you’re not paying enough attention. It’s only worse trying to understand even a number below 100 if it’s a foreign language, so train your listening with this simple app.

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