Learning Chinese Characters

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Input tools and apps for Chinese characters using pinyin input on computers, smartphones and tablets

Writing Pinyin

Online resources for learning Chinese characters

Chinese - English / English - Chinese

Online videos for learning Chinese characters

Online video courses for learning Chinese characters

  • YoYo Chinese characters course (two parts of 300 characters each so far, 600 characters altogether, only a few free losing, the rest costs money)
    • Yangyang Chang mentions some memnomics there and tells you how to use the Chinese characters in sentences. She also compares similiar characters and show how they differ. In the first course she introduces many radicals 部首, too. The second part of the characters course is presented by a younger Chinese woman who also explains very well and uses the radicals from course one to teach more complicated Chinese characters.

The advantage of the video courses are that you are exposed to spoken Chinese and can repeat this. It is easier to remember experiences with persons than you just learning from a book.

Course books for Chinese characters

    • The composition of the characters (radical for meaning and pronunciation component) is explained, similiar looking character are shown, too. There are also sample sentences. The books are very big, heavy and rather expensive. Audio and PDFs are included.

Books on simplified Chinese characters

The following two books series are used in courses for Learning Chinese characters with a teacher, e.g. at Confucius institutes. Instruction by a teacher or a native speaker is required, because the explanations in those books are not sufficient.

Mrs Zhang

Experiencing Chinese characters

Easy Way to Learn Chinese Characters

  • Easy Way to Learn Chinese Characters names the strokes used for drawing Chinese characters and explains the radicals. The other books about teaching Chinese characters are for learning Chinese characters in a course with a teacher, but this book explains a lot about the background of Chinese characters like naming the strokes and showing the structure of Chinese characters (meaning and sound component). The author of this book also gives some hints on how to improve remembering Chinese characters. So you can also use this book as a selflearner and don't need a teacher. , Seller: Purple Culture

Fun with Chinese Characters

The series comprises of three books, 1-3, Seller: master-comm.com Those books contain funny drawings showing the meaning of Chinese characters. Those drawings were originally printed in a English-language Singaporean newspaper, The Straits Times. Each page introduces one Chinese character. There are explanations regarding the meaning of the Chinese character and the historical background in Chinese culture. The traditional Chinese character is used for explanation. The traditional Chinese character is shown in brackets as big as the simplified one. There is always an example sentence in which the character is used and several words are listed in which the Chinese characters occurs. The stroke order for the simplified Chinese character is shown, but there are no hints how to draw the strokes (where to start and where to end the strokes). You have to ask a native speaker to show you how to write properly or watch a video on the web. The Pinyin index for the Chinese characters presented in the three books is at the end of volume 3.

500 Basic Chinese Characters

There is one Chinese character on each page. There are explanations, severals words in which the characters occurs and an overview of the historical development of the Chinese character. The simplified Chinese character is written very big, but the traditional one is shown much smaller next to it. The stroke order for the simplified Chinese character is shown, but there are no hints how to draw the strokes (where to start and where to end the strokes). You have to ask a native speaker to show you how to write properly or watch a video on the web. There are also some exercises in this book for training and repetition, e.g. counting the strokes in Chinese characters in which the newly learned one occurs as a component. There is an answer for the exercises at the end of the book. The books is very big and heavy.

Tuttle Learning Chinese Characters

Tuttle Learning Chinese Characters was written by Allison and Laurence Matthews. Seller: amazon.com, amazon.cn Tuttle Learning Chinese Characters uses a mnemonic to help you remember the Chinese character which does not have anything to do with the graphemes of the Chinese character. There is a page comprising several pictures. In each of them a Chinese character is integrated, but the pictures aren't always helpful, because the Chinese chracters is sometimes just decoration. Two or three Chinese characters are shown on each page and there are only a few examples for usage in context with other Chinese characters, sometimes just one or two. The traditional Chinese character is shown in a square right of the simplified one, but much smaller. The stroke order for the simplified Chinese character is shown, but there are no hints how to draw the strokes (where to start and where to end the strokes). You have to ask a ntive speaker to show you how to write properly or watch a video on the web. The book Tuttle Learning Chinese characters (800 Chinese characters up to HSK 3) uses a similar system as Zizzle, but they use a giant for first tone, a fairy for second tone, a teddy bear for third tone, a dwarf for forth tone and a robot for neutral tone. They tell short stories to make it easier to memorize the Chinese character.

Free Book

  • Zhongwen (Free PDF-Files, aimed at children) 中文 Audio Files (Overseas Chinese Language And Cultural Education Online)

Apps

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Browser-Plugins for Reading Chinese Characters

Dictionaries for Writing Chinese Characters

Dictionaries for Looking Up Chinese Characters

Books

  • Xiandai Hanyu Cidian (all Chinese), Seller: Purple Culture
  • ABC English-Chinese Chinese-English Dictionary (ABC Chinese Dictionary Series, English/Chinese, Chinese/English), Seller: Amazon
  • Far East 3000 Chinese Character Dictionary (Simplified Character Version) (English/Chinese, Chinese/English), Seller: Amazon
    • Far East 3000 Chinese Character Dictionary (Traditional Character Version) (English/Chinese, Chinese/English), Seller: Amazon
  • A Learner’s Chinese Dictionary (Chinese/English), Seller: Amazon
    • German version: Chinesisch-Deutsches HSK-Lernwörterbuch: 3000 chinesische Schriftzeichen, 32000 Wörter und Ausdrücke (Chinese/German), Seller: chinabooks.ch

Visual

  • DK Mandarin Chinese English Bilingual Visual Dictionary (DK Visual Dictionaries, the pictures are Western ones, not Chinese ones, so there are no words for specific Chinese fruits, vegetables, meals or musical instruments (e. g. chopstics is not included) , but you can listen to the words by an app), Seller: Amazon
  • Tuttle Mandarin Chinese Picture Dictionary (with short example sentences for different topics). This book shows European/American counting with two hands, but not Chinese Counting with one hand. Seller: Amazon
  • My Chinese Picture Dictionary (This book shows Chinese culture and the right way to count with one hand in China. It is more detailed.), Seller: Amazon
  • McGraw-Hill’s Chinese Illustrated Dictionary (with CD) Chinese visual dictionaries
  • The Usborne Internet-Linked First Thousand Words In Chinese (Quicklinks to the pronunciation of the Chinese words in the books)

Apps

Internet