Learning Chinese

Here are a few resources that I’ve found helpful over the years.

plecodict.com  — an amazing dictionary for IOS and Android devices, a little spendy, but totally worth it

chinesepod.com  — online Chinese classes

dict.youdao.com — online dictionary, no pinyin

Pimsleur software — language learning software that uses scientific memory sequences, way better than Rosetta Stone

chinasmack.com — news site with articles posted in both Chinese and English, good for reading comprehension

mylanguageexchange.com — site where you can find language partners based on language pair and either meet up or use Skype

That’s Mandarin — A school that offers online, one-on-one classes with trained Chinese teachers who work with your schedule.  I haven’t personally used this, but I have lots of friends who have and who all love it. I plan to try it starting in the fall.

Youku — Chinese “Hulu,” a great site for watching videos, movies, and TV shows. I love watching Chinese TV shows. Some of my favorites are 中国式离婚,夫妻那些事,and 裸婚.

Radical Chart — a clear and concise chart that shows the meanings of Chinese radicals

http://www.thechairmansbao.com – a website full of a wide variety of news articles that you can read in Chinese, look up characters you don’t know, or have them read to you. The articles are sorted by HSK level.

Chinese Grammar Wiki — Basically an online grammar text book that provides tons of examples for using different grammar structures. Grammar structures are divided into sections based on the European Common Framework and are equated to their corresponding HSK level, which is helpful for anyone preparing for a test.

This awesome chart that explains different Chinese family member titles:

chinese-family-tree

Remember, learning Chinese isn’t easy.  The key is going to be hard work, no matter how smart you think you are.  Anyone who claims (Benny the stupid Irish Polyglot) that you can learn a language, especially Chinese, in only 3 months is a madman and a liar.  I’ve been learning for about 10 years and I would not call myself fluent.  Of course, I suppose that depends on your definition of the word “fluent.”  To me, native speakers are fluent…that is a pretty tough standard to hold yourself to when you consider how deep a language can be.  All of the connotation of one word over another, the implication of words and tone of voice, innuendo, etc etc.  It’s not all just on the surface and a simple matter of knowing words.  There’s a deep cultural connection and requires an ability to know how your words are coming across to others.  Maybe a better way of looking at it is whether or not someone is fully effective in a language, meaning that they can get through most situations without an interpreter, with the exception being situations where you’d need help understanding even if it was your native language.  For example, I suck at technology and if someone was trying to explain computer programming to me, I wouldn’t understand it in English, much less Chinese.  I would say I am fully effective in Chinese.

Also, I’m going to just throw it out there that one of my biggest pet peeves is people who put on facebook or linkedin or whatever that they know 5000 languages when what they really mean is “I know a word or two in a few languages and I just heard the other dozen or so spoken a few times by people I knew.”  I don’t take the sentence “I know _______ language” lightly.

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