The Holy Grail of Learning to Read Chinese2014.07.26. // Recent news

So you want to really learn how to read Chinese huh? Here’s what you’ll need:
a good Chinese – English dictionary (see this post for recommendations)
a pen or pencil
Chinese comic books

Yep, you read that last one right: comic books! When my Chinese classes in China got started, it was instantly obvious that my reading skills were way behind my classmates (who were mostly Asians who had grown up studying Chinese characters in school). So, tired of being the illiterate fool in class, I determined to catch up with them as best as I could.

Here was the dilemma I ran into though:
my textbooks were so boring (no pictures, lame stories if any at all) that I had absolutely no motivation to read them. This meant I hardly looked at them (and even when I did I would fall asleep) and therefore got very little out of them.
Chinese novels and magazines were more interesting (pictures & topic-wise), but they were so hard, that it took me literally 30 minutes to translate one sentence! This again meant I hardly looked at them (and even when I did I would fall asleep) and therefore got very little out of them.
Next, I tried Chinese kids books, which were much more in-line as far as level of difficulty. However, I found that they were too easy as they always had Pinyin directly above each character (so my Western-trained eyes would be involuntarily, constantly reading the Pinyin rather than the characters) AND the stories (again, if there really were any) were completely uninteresting. And yet again, this meant I hardly looked at them (and even when I did I would fall asleep) and therefore got very little out of them.

Finally out of some stroke of genius or luck, I happened upon the Holy Grail of learning to read Chinese: (cue glorious king marching in trumpets) … Chinese comic books! They had all the benefits of the previous material combined and none of the detriments:
Not boring: they were composed of interesting, bite-sized stories, with pictures that would always let me in on the plot, even if I didn’t understand every character. Unlike the other books, I would look forward to being able to read them and whenever I had any free time (on the bus, eating lunch, riding my bike through rush-hour traffic:-), I was always eager to read up on the latest adventure.
Not too hard, not too easy: they were on the level of middle-schoolers which meant no Pinyin, but it was challenging. The fact that these stories were 1. constantly switching settings and situational contexts meant that I got exposure to the important vocabulary from many different areas and 2. the stories were bite-sized meant that that vocabulary was repeated sufficiently throughout the story for me to retain it. (see What’s it Really Mean to “Learn” Something?)

Tang Sancai Art – An Energetic Camel!2014.07.26. // Chinese Arts

Tang Sancai Art – An Energetic Camel!
This Tang Sancai camel was made in Tang Dynasty with the height of 90cm. Both the mouth and the eyes of the camel are open in alert watchfulness. His body is shaking because of his scream, the camel seems majestic and imposing, seen from him, you can feel the great power of life, so natural, pure and moving! This Tang Sancai camel is absolutely a piece of art, you can either keep it yourself or give it to others as a gift!

Tang Sancai Art – A Quite Symbolizing Camel!

Tang Sancai Art – A Quite Symbolizing Camel!
Single packet camels symbolize ambition, seizing every chance and great success. Such camel Tang Sancai arts have not only been popular domestically, they are well-liked abroad. Thinking of its great symbolization, providing that you do not give up hope, and are willing to devote all your effort to that dream, it is unlikely that you can’t make it! Chances are only for those who are well-prepared, enrich your life and yourself day by day! Keep this single packet camel, and learn from it, or give it to the friend to stimulate the best out of him!

Tang Sancai Art – A Splendid Camel!

Tang Sancai Art – A Splendid Camel!
This Tang Sancai camel is in good figure and condition. It works to avoid the evil spirits! The camels in various poses and styles reflect the prosperity of Tang Dynasty. Tang Sancai makes a strong appeal, thus the camel is splendid and spectacular! This Tang Sancai camel works well as a gift to friends or personal storage!

Tang Sancai Art – A Camel Fit For All Uses!

Tang Sancai Art – A Camel Fit For All Uses!

The camel in this Tang Sancai art is the symbol of wealth, strength and peace. The body of the camel seems clean and refreshing, the way he walks is energetic! Overall, the camel seems lively and authentic. It is well-designed and in good quality, no matter where you put it, home or office, it fits! If you send it to friends, it pleases everyone!

Learning Chinese
Plugin for translation

Simply put, this is the #1 ultimate online tool for learning Chinese! Just install the plugin, turn it on, go to a site with any Chinese (it handles both Simplified & Traditional), and hover over any of the characters to see the pinyin, tones, and English translation. It’s like surfing the web with x-ray glasses!

Google Translate

What can I say? Google is pretty much awesome at whatever they do and Google Translate is no exception. Not only can it handle English -> Chinese & Chinese -> English, but any other language combination as well. I must say however, that I don’t recommend this tool for translating more than simply words or phases, especially if you’re thinking of sending someone a note in your foreign language – they’d could probably decipher your intended meaning, but it will not be spoken like a native speaker. So is there room for improvement? Certainly, but seeing as how they’ve already made cars that can drive themselves it’s only a matter of time before they figure this out too.

Chinese Video Websites

Here in the West, we have YouTube and Vimeo, but China has its own set of popular video hosting sites such as YouKu and Sohu. Whether you prefer watching movies or TV shows, here not only can you watch them in Chinese, but you can be sure that they’ll all have subtitles (Chinese subtitles that is, not necessarily English!).

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