I have to admit, I’m not entirely sure what Learn Chinese from Movies is or how it works. But it sounds intriguing… The site says it uses “magic subtitles” that will “learn Chinese for you”. I like the sound of that! Here’s a link to the site. Let me know if you try it. I’d [...]
I started using Rocket Chinese in February (when I first began my Chinese studies) and it has helped me enormously. I highly recommend it to both beginner and intermediate students looking for fun, interactive lessons. Each interactive lesson lasts about a half an hour. I do about 3 or 4 lessons a week. I prefer [...]
I’ve been using Babelfish to translate Chinese text to English, and I’m pretty happy with it. Babelfish has been my favorite translation tool for years, for all languages.
Admittedly, the results around perfect — especially for Chinese — but they’re good enough for me to get a general understanding of the text or website I’m translating. As an added bonus, occasionally the results are unintentionally hilarious!
As you may already know, the dialect spoken in Shanghai is somewhat different from standard Mandarin. If you are planning a trip to Shanghai it would be useful (and fun) to learn a few Shanghainese words and phrases.
The Confucius Institute is an organization funded by the Chinese government to promote the Chinese language and culture throughout the world. They offer courses in dozens of countries and even have an online institute where you can find free video lessons.
Some of the online video lessons seem a bit peculiar to me. Even the website’s “about us” information is a bit off:
“The Confucius Institute is devoting to satisfy the need of people who are interested in Chinese learning all around the world, promoting the understanding of Chinese language culture, enhancing the educational and cultural cooperation between China and the world, developing the friendship between China and other countries, to help developing a multicultural environment and building up a harmonious world.”
Nevertheless, the website does have some useful lessons and resources like flashcards.
I have not yet met anyone who has studied in-person at a Confucius Institute and I am extremely curious about the quality of their courses, what textbooks they use, and whether the courses are good value for money. If you have studied at a Confucius Institute, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.
English names are difficult for Chinese to pronounce. I think one of the first things you should do as you begin your quest to learn to speak Chinese is get a Chinese name. Don’t you think it will make it more fun, taking on a new name and perhaps even a new persona?
When I took my Chinese name, I asked my Taiwanese tutor for suggestions, based on my English name and my personality. The result? Cheng Kai.
Some business people try to get their Chinese name to sound as close to their English name as possible. Others choose completely new, fun names that they just happen to like.
Here’s an online tool you can use to suggest possible Chinese names based on your English name, gender, and basic character traits. It’s a good starting point and a source of ideas. However I would consult a Chinese friend before making a final decision, just to make sure the name is appropriate.
I recently came across an article about Skritter, which is an online tool that you can use to learn how to write Chinese characters. I tried the free demo lessons and it looks to be fun and effective.
Using Skritter, you simply follow along the interactive lessons which show you how to write Chinese characters stroke by stroke. I used the trackpad on my laptop, but I think it would be best if you had a tablet since that would more accurately simulate a writing instrument.
For me, writing Chinese characters is not currently a priority. Right now I am focused on conversational Chinese, though I plan to learn the characters at a later time. But if I was learning characters, I think I might give Skritter a try (even though it costs $9.95 per month).
Not everyone who learns to speak Chinese will take the time to learn to read Chinese characters. But if learning to read and write Chinese is part of your study routing, you’ll want to check out Zhongwen.com. (“Zhong wen” of course means “Chinese language”).
According to site creator Rick Harbough, Zhongwen.com is designed to “help students understand, appreciate and remember Chinese characters, one of humanity’s greatest and most enduring cultural achievements.”
Part of what I like about this site is that it has such a simple-yet-unique (and highly functional) layout.
The information is serious, accurate, useful and absolutely fascinating.