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Learn Chinese in China

My Chinese Learning Blog

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My Learning Materials and Resources



I am a big fan of New Practical Chinese Reader, I use this as my core textbook.

I am using the first version of NPCR, one reason I like it is that when I first started studying I used the Practical Chinese Reader and got to know Gubo and Palanka very well :) So it seemed natural that I should choose the NPCR when I decided to start from the beginning as I felt my many years of some private lessons, some University evening classes and lots of self study had left many holes and confusion.

NPCR has textbooks, work books, audio mp3's, and videos available on youtube (I don't know if they are available on youku) I have described how I use NPCR in an earlier blog.

I use Hanzi Grids for character writing practice, this is a good little program that allows you to input you words/characters and choose a font, colour and style of grid. You can also choose simplified or traditional, how many characters you show in light grey to trace over, and how many blank squares. I like this program because I really think actual writing with a pen and paper is the best way to learn stroke order and characters. It is a very reasonable cost, you don't have to pay but it is well worth the small sum to unlock all the features. You can have a look here http://www.hanzigrids.com/.

In addition to NPCR I use Schaum' Outline of Chinese Grammar to help clarify and help understand the grammar notes in NPCR. I did a review of this book when I did a comparison between this and Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar here post #84. http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/46180-intermediate-chinese-grammar-online-edx-course/page-5


One of most indispensable tools is Pleco on my tablet , I feel having this has more difference to my progress this time round, I had Pleco on my old windows phone way back when it first came out, it was good but having it bigger on my tablet is really helpful. To get the best from Pleco you really need to have the full version, the free version is good to get an idea of how it looks and works.

I have a category for each lesson and put in all the words/characters from each lesson. This way I can learn and test on the current vocabulary without my "deck" getting too big. I can go back and review old lessons, which I do every so often. I test with each possible combination for each lesson for the first time and then for review only test remembering characters and their meaning, stroke order and handwriting. Pleco has so much I am sure I am not using it to it's fullest but the more I use it the more I learn.


I also use paper flash cards I use the Chinese in a Flash by Tuttle, I sort out the latest lesson's new words/characters and review these when I have a little bit of time. I do just go through them checking if I know the meaning and pinyin for each one. I also use them to play a sort of game, how many words and sentences can I make using the cards from the lesson. I also use the set of flashcards that accompanies the textbook Elementary Chinese Reader.


Tuttle also make a practice pad, A Chinese Character A Day Volume 1 and 2 so there are 730 that correspond with the flash cards so I use these to practice writing.


I have a few apps on my tablet that I use. I have Skritter but my subscription has lapsed but I can still practice the characters I have already.


I have WeChat, I had hoped to use this to practice speaking/writing chinese but I don't seem to be able to find anyone to talk to. But I have got some Subscription Accounts (they are free) one is a news feed from CCTV with video and pictures and text in English with some chinese. The other is Learn Chinese from chinese times school. This has little snippets about grammar patterns, vocabulary and general interesting bits and bobs about china, and the chinese language. Its good for some "light" reading but keeping it chinese based. There is another one but it posts irregularly and seems to be about one school in particular, it's called MY Chinese study it has a wide and varied selection of articles from finding a job (networking) to voting for your favourite chat app.


There is the little app that came with the edX course I did (also did a blog about that too) it's called Pinyin Puzzle, it is to help you get your tones right and learn pinyin.


I have recently started using a great little app called HelloChinese - Learn Chinese Mandarin. It took me a couple of goes to find the right one, you need put in the whole name to get the right one.

This is good because each lesson is on a topic like food, or numbers or measure words etc. It teaches usage, grammar, vocabulary, speaking and writing. It allows you record yourself and it marks how well you have done or not. You can make one or 2 slight errors, it will tell you but you can move on but if it is really bad it makes you do it again till you get it. This is the most useful part as I have absolutely no speaking practice at the moment. Even if all it does it make you speak out loud its helpful :)

I also have Go Keyboard so I can write in chinese in notes to practise writing, I like to write little stories to use the new grammar and vocabulary and I use this to write using pinyin to characters, so I can concentrate on the grammar and vocab. It also has handwriting input so I can write directly in characters for more practice. I like to use a stylus for this and not my finger because its more like a pen and paper.


I understand that Playstore is not available in China so some of these apps will not be available to all but Pleco is available without the Playstore.

So that's about it for now, if I discover any new good apps or learning materials I will add them, I hope this is of interest or help for people. Feel free to comment, good or bad. Or suggest any good apps etc.

P.S. I also have WenLin which is a PC based Chinese dictionary, character etymology, character writing practice, translation of text and lots more that I have not explored yet.


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Shelley, it's very kind of you summarizing so many useful resources to help others! 


Some quick thoughts on organizing the resources. Since many textbooks/tools/apps are mentioned here, you might divide them into different categories.  I think in this way it's easier for people to quickly find the resources they are interested in.   :P

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Thank you for your comments. I tried to organise it by paragraphs. I tried to keep books/tool and apps together.


I didn't want to just make a list, that feels a bit boring. I suppose I could do a summary with a list in groups so its clear what I have included.


I will try and do that soon.

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Great post!

For WeChat, have you tried using the "Look Around" function to add contacts?

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Thank you for reading it.


Yes I have tried it but to be honest I am not sure random people is what I want. I guess I am a bit scared of what might happen. I do look at the people around but they seem to be so young (compared to me) I wonder what we would talk about, especially with my limited chinese.


But I will keep trying :)

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Shelley, don't get me wrong, but if in 10 years of learning (you've been registered here for 7 years and I guess you've been studying Chinese for longer than that) you didn't progress past "lower intermediate", then perhaps there's something needs to be changed in your learning materials? Or is it purely an issue of motivation?

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@werewitt I have actually been studying for more than 30 years.


I haven't taken any exams lately so I don't know my current level accurately. its not too important for me to know.


I learn for pleasure and self improvement. Chinese and China are my passions.


I have no need to use chinese in my everyday life, and I have no one to speak chinese with.


I have some minor health problems (lung condition) that prevents me from travelling to China so I have no urgency to my learning.


Also I haven't thought about changing my details in my profile for ages, maybe its time for an update. I wonder how many other people have not updated their profiles.

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