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Ninchanese

Learn Chinese characters in a new highly optimized way

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Ninchanese

Hi, Chinese-forum!

 

This is Jean-Rémi from Ninchanese. Today, we're incredibly excited to announce a new world on Ninchanese - the most advanced way to learn Chinese Characters. With the help of Dr. Loach and Dr. Wang’s findings, we give you the ability to easily learn Chinese characters in a new highly optimized way. It’s all in an all new world to explore on Ninchanese.

 

We all know, learning Chinese characters is not only daunting: it’s also inaccessible to most Chinese learners. For most Chinese learners, the majority of the time is spent in silence writing disconnected characters so learning Chinese characters is reserved to those who have the willpower to persevere until they've memorized them all. Furthering Ninchanese’s mission of making Chinese language education accessible to all, this new world is here to realize a dream for a lot of Chinese learners.

 

When Chinese characters make sense, they become dramatically easier to learn. By learning new characters and words in a science-based logical order, you optimize your learning efforts. In other words, the more components and Chinese characters you learn, the easier and faster it becomes for you to learn new characters based on the ones you know. It’s a breakthrough in how the Chinese characters are learned. You can read the result of this research here.

 

And here one of our first feedback:

Quote

"I think this is very useful. It helps me to distinguish similar sounds and characters and also characters that share the same sound. It also develops character recognition."

 

We like to think of this new world as your most effective way to learn the 10 000 Chinese characters that are on Ninchanese by learning first the ones that will give you the most benefits.

We're so excited to finally share this this ground-breaking way of learning Chinese characters with the world and as always, the Nincha team is here to answer any questions you may have.

 

多谢 !

 

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roddy

Form an orderly queue, everyone. 

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Shelley

In the interest of never leaving any stone unturned in hopes of finding something useful, I was going to have a look at your product. I was disappointed to find that I couldn't even find out what you had to offer without signing up, ok I thought I will take the plunge. Three attempts later and I gave up, it didn't tell me why but it didn't accept my password (I think) and so have not been able to even find out what you are offering. I see it is a beta version, but still this is basic stuff.

 

You don't say if this a paid app, or is it on line only or have you an android or iOS version.

How does it work? Can we have some screen shots? Some more about the teaching/learning methods would be good.

 

I am interested but feel concerned at the lack of information about these things.

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roddy

It's worth noting the research mentioned does look like it might have a more efficient order in which to approach learning Chinese characters and words. @OneEye might have some insight here, some Outlier data was used. What I'd query is

 

1) The need for the overblown marketing speak from Ninchinese. Save it for the Facebook ads and Youtube videos. 

2) How *much* of an advantage does this mean. A major factor, word and character frequency, is already taken into account, although less formally. Nobody sits down to write a textbook and thinks "Right, chapter 1, really obscure vocab" or starts learning characters with the ones with the largest number of strokes. I suspect changing the order around may well give marginal advantage, but what is crucial is the efficiency of the methods used and amount of discipline applied.

 

The actual data is in supplementary files provided alongside the academic paper, but it's in JSON format. 

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Ninchanese

You are right Shelley, I could add some more information about Ninchanese!

Ninchanese is a responsive web app (working both on desktop and mobile). We also have developed an Android version and we hope to release an iOs version. Ninchanese is all about Simplified Chinese from HS1 to HSK 5. We also have a Beta going on for traditional Chinese by invitation only for now.

 

The new world I presented today is all about learning Chinese characters in an optimized order that gives you the ability to learn new character with a minimal effort, based on Dr. Loach and Dr. Wang’s  study.

 

多谢 !is used in Chinese too. It means many thanks. :) Have no clue about Cantonese... :roll:

 

PS: does someone experience the same problem has Shelley? I just create a new account, and it's working fine on my side. Shelley, I'll try to help you to get started by sending you a private message.

 

 

 

 

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Lu

Ooh Roddy, is it my turn yet?

1 hour ago, Ninchanese said:

In other words, the more components and Chinese characters you learn, the easier and faster it becomes for you to learn new characters based on the ones you know. It’s a breakthrough in how the Chinese characters are learned.

This is pretty much how I learned my characters in the 2000s. From a textbook from the 1950s. Breakthrough indeed.

 

11 minutes ago, Ninchanese said:

多谢 !is used in Chinese too. It means many thanks. :) Have no clue about Cantonese... :roll:

All Mandarin is Chinese, but not all Chinese is Mandarin. But you're right that 多谢 is perfectly acceptable Mandarin.

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Ninchanese

 

1 hour ago, Lu said:

Ooh Roddy, is it my turn yet?


Lol, Is it a game to criticize post? :clap We want to present our last feature to the Chinese forum folk, that’s all.

 

1 hour ago, Lu said:

This is pretty much how I learned my characters in the 2000s. From a textbook from the 1950s. Breakthrough indeed.

 

We got a hipster over here! :P  And then, how did you do it? Did you write them over and over to learn them? Congrats. You are exceptional. Because it's hard and still a lot of folks struggle with only just that. Indeed, if it was simple, more people were able to read Chinese characters. That's one of the reasons we created Ninchanese. To simplify and optimize the whole process of learning Chinese. But more than only characters, you’ll find other feature (and world) to learn Chinese grammar, speaking and listening on Ninchanese for direct, real-life situation for immediate use. We had built algorithms that take characters component and frequencies in our curriculum. But this new study takes that in another level. That's why we implemented their result with our platforms.

 

BTW, we all know about learning radicals in the 2000s. Recent research shows more than a textbook from 1950. After radicals, we were interested in key components of characters and now we evolve to meaning components and phonetic components... The understanding of Chinese characters has evolved a lot in the recent past years, thanks to the help of brain-computer and the understanding of Chinese characters. I believe @OneEye can confirm that.

 

But the question here is "which character (radical, component, word...) should I learn first to get the most out my time spending learning characters?" We are talking about learning new characters and words in a science-based logical order in Ninchanese's SRS. If you want to understand more about that, I highly recommend reading the study or our article. It’s really interesting to understand the scientific process behind this.

 

@roddy

  1. We wanted to present this new world and method nicely. Sorry if you think we used overblown marketing speak. We’ll try to be more neutral (if it’s possible ;) ).

  2. It’s not only based on frequencies. It is also based on component and like they said in the study: This approach to learning to read and write Chinese has the advantage that the things being learned—the words—can be put to immediate and productive use in reading and writing sentences, activities that helps the learning process.

1 hour ago, roddy said:

A major factor, word and character frequency, is already taken into account, although less formally. Nobody sits down to write a textbook and thinks "Right, chapter 1, really obscure vocab" or starts learning characters with the ones with the largest number of strokes.

 

I hope not! And I never said that.

 

This new study optimized a learning order with the last information we have about characters. Like they said in the study, the characters and their components are introduced in hierarchal order only when needed to build multiple-character words or when the character forms a single-character word itself. See? Not only frequencies.

In short, it’s all about learning Chinese characters and words in a special order that takes into account character frequencies, word frequencies, phonetic components, semantic components (aka meaning components), primitive components, the number of strokes, relationship between them, and so on. This has a number of benefits. It’ll tremendously develop your character recognition and acquisition, and will also help you “distinguish similar sounds and characters and also characters that share the same sound.

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Shelley

Ok went and had a look. its not for me, way too basic and its a subscription system.

 

The audio in the opening video was way too loud and no way to turn it down except on my global volume control.

 

Pretty pictures, looks like it is aimed at children, young adults or complete beginners.

 

I hope you find your place in the market. Good luck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lu

I'd apologise for my snark, but the answer to it was so informative that I feel it was actually very productive snark. The program is not for me I think, but I now have a much better idea of what it is. Thanks for the explanation.

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somethingfunny

Today I saw an advert in a newspaper that said: "Like Clapham, before all the kale smoothies."  So I guess Lu's approach to learning Chinese is: "Like learning characters, before all the science."  Typical hipster.

 

I'm not interested in anything that says "Try for free" and then redirects to a registration page.  In fact, seems like pretty much anything I click on that website wants me to register.

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evn108
7 hours ago, Ninchanese said:

Indeed, if it was simple, more people were able to read Chinese characters

Isn't Chinese already the most commonly spoken language on earth

 

how many more do we really need

 

(just joking, seems like an interesting method, good luck)

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stapler
13 hours ago, Ninchanese said:

We all know, learning Chinese characters is not only daunting: it’s also inaccessible to most Chinese learners.

Do we? For advertising that constantly talks about being really "sciency" its quite funny to use a "we all know" claim!

 

13 hours ago, Ninchanese said:

It’s a breakthrough in how the Chinese characters are learned. You can read the result of this research here.

No, it's not. I looked at the article. The paper suggests a model for more efficient learning. But it hasn't been tested. Furthermore, as mentioned above, there is nothing novel about this basic approach to learning Chinese. For this approach to be a "breakthrough" I would need to see some actual experimental data that shows the use of the algorithm leads to the outcomes you and the authors' article suggest may be possible. Until then, I recommend everyone be really sciencey and logical and maintain the appropriate scepticism.

 

 

9 hours ago, Ninchanese said:

This new study optimized a learning order with the last information we have about characters. Like they said in the study, the characters and their components are introduced in hierarchal order only when needed to build multiple-character words or when the character forms a single-character word itself.... This has a number of benefits. It’ll tremendously develop your character recognition and acquisition, and will also help you “distinguish similar sounds and characters and also characters that share the same sound.

 

Again your claim that this algorithm will "tremendously develop your character recognition and acquisition" has neither be proven by yourself nor the article you use to sell your product.

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OneEye

So, we did contribute some data to that study, but that was a very preliminary version of our current data. A lot of our character analyses have changed since then, and I'd imagine those changes would probably affect the order in a fairly significant way. 

 

Also, my understanding of that paper is that it was basically a first step toward a much more sophisticated/robust algorithm for learning characters which takes into account which characters and words you already know to tell you (the individual learner) which character would give you the most bang for your buck to learn next. So the results of this paper were interesting, but they're not much compared to what they're working toward.

 

That being said, we have quoted the paper when talking to investors because it makes for a good sound byte.

 

It is true that "our" understanding of characters has significantly increased in the past few decades, as Jean-Remi says above, although I don't know what he means by "brain-computer." But when I say "our," I'm referring to people in the fields of paleography, Old Chinese reconstruction, excavated texts, etc. I don't know anything about Ninchanese's understanding of Chinese characters.

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somethingfunny

That research paper is actually quite interesting, particularly this bit:

 

"There is substantial debate in the literature on how characters should be taught and on the level of knowledge that is required at different educational stages [10–13]. This debate, as well as the importance of the problem, is reflected in the wide variety of learning methodologies found in different courses, books and apps. Here we are largely agnostic regarding the best overall approach. Rather, we consider a general question that is relevant to most of them and suggest an answer that is based on broad educational principles. The question we address is the optimum order in which Chinese characters should be learned."

 

Is the Ninchanese approach based entirely on the Loach and Wang algorithm?

 

Let's take a look at how it works:

 

59ccb3326d0ab_Learningorder.thumb.jpg.e2c5c946a7e806aeb096d72e8bd0a93e.jpg

 

So, I learn 34 components and now I know the following useful characters: 我,的,你,是,们,这,他,在 and 有.  Which, in no order can be used to make any useful sentences, except for maybe 我是你的他, which I don't think is high on the list of priorities of beginner learners.

 

I don't know, maybe I've misunderstood the way the whole thing is supposed to work.

 

I guess this could work for those interested in a highly systematic and comprehensive learning approach, but even then I'm not sure this is the best.  I know that on the Chinese program at SOAS they are pretty systematic, but there they first learn the 214 Kangxi radicals alongside their regular Chinese classes.

 

 

(Edit:  I hope @imron hasn't read this line: "The Chinese language abounds in homophones, syllables that have identical pronunciations but different meanings (it has many fewer distinct syllables compared to English, around 6 times fewer if one accounts for tones and around 20 times fewer if one neglects them).)

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Mati1

somethingfunny, this is exactly what I am doing to learn characters and it makes most sense to me.

I have started learning characters with Matthews' "Learning Chinese Characters", which introduces this technique. But the book has too few characters (800 + components) and some other minor problems. I am now applying this technique to McNaughton's "Reading and Writing Chinese". Unfortunately this involves some extra work because the order of characters is more random, instead of strictly building on each other; it's also missing the character breakdown which is really annoying. I am also often refering to the first book to compare the actual keyword / translation.

 

According to your example, after learning those 34 components you only know nine characters. If all you want to do in your first hour of a Chinese course is to cram as many characters or sentences as possible then you'd be faster just trying to remember the characters themselves by their general shape. But as soon as you go beyond learning X (enter arbitrary number) characters, the components you have learned will kick in and help tremendously.

 

The real questions to me are:

  • Which is the exact order the characters are introduced in? The usefulness of this depends a lot on the texts you have at hand for practising your reading.
  • How "useful" are the keywords / translations. This is a bit subjective.
  • Why are there no books and programs applying this technique, designed in a way that I think makes the most sense and looks best.

 

Btw. I have reverted to writing my own paper SRS and I love it. When I started learning characters I just went through my character book several times.

Regarding the original post, I haven't signed up yet to check the service.

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imron
1 hour ago, somethingfunny said:

I hope @imron hasn't read this line

 

I have, but I get tired of repeating my objections to this line of thinking :mrgreen:

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Shelley

Why does it matter what order you learn characters in? In my experience most text books start with 你好 and progress at what I consider a useful pace with characters added in an appropriate order. If you follow a course/textbook the order is usually relative.

 

What does need to be expounded on is the combination of characters and how they build to add to your vocabulary.

 

Learning components in an appropriate order would also make more sense. Then you can use these to build a useful list of characters. I think this is the list that needs working on.

 

 

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Ninchanese

 

Thank you all for your interest and thank you all for your encouragements.

 

I decided to choose Chinese-forums to be the first place to announce this new world and this study. I knew possibly that there’d be some friction, because you guys are demanding and exacting, and rightly so, but I also knew this is a place where we could have a conversation about this method and you’d let me know your thoughts. Again, I’m sorry. I used some inappropriate marketing words, and we’ll take into account your feedback about it to communicate better.

 

There are a lot of questions here, I’ll try to answer them in hierarchical order.

 

15 hours ago, somethingfunny said:

"Try for free"

 

Should we say "sign up for free"? Ninchanese is a freemium. Please refer to our pricing page to see what is free and what is not: https://ninchanese.com/pricing/ .

I would love Ninchanese to be completely free, but at the same time we are completely independent and having a 100% free platform is not possible for us. Even Duolingo has changed his business model to be a freemium. Having a platform like Ninchanese is costly (servers and services) and we always pay our people when they work on Ninchanese. And yes, we ask you to register, because what you learn and how you learn it is personal to you, and not something the site was designed to let do not-logged in. In the same time you can also use Ninchanese app without logging to use the dictionary (https://app.ninchanese.com/search) or to consult the grammar lesson (https://ninchanese.com/chinese-grammar-lessons/).

 

12 hours ago, stapler said:

maintain the appropriate scepticism

 

That’s very true, and indeed, we always should be skeptical. I’m really looking for your feedback and to see how we can have this method be as useful as it can be.

 

12 hours ago, stapler said:

"tremendously develop your character recognition and acquisition"

 

We've been testing the world with a pool of Chinese learners. They are the ones who said that, albeit perhaps not with the word ‘tremendously”. I used it too myself and I really think it helped me understand better words and learn faster new words. So, time will give us reason (or not) but the first results are really promising. Maybe I should have led with that :).

 

7 hours ago, OneEye said:

learning characters which takes into account which characters and words you already know to tell you (the individual learner) which character would give you the most bang for your buck to learn next.

 

 

Thanks John, that is clearly one of the strengths of this new method. I too have seen their goal is to devise a full algorithm and will be following their work to see what comes out of it. The order they've devised in their study works very well on Ninchanese, especially so when you have already learned new words on Ninchanese in the ‘classic” levels (story worlds 1-5).

 

It works that way, when you have learned words in the story mode, then stages of the new science-based world will be already almost completed - because you’ll have covered these words already in situational dialogues and such. So what you’ll have left to learn are the words missing to understand better the words you already learned. So basically, you are reinforcing what you already learned and this will help you gain a deeper understanding of what you already know.

 

7 hours ago, OneEye said:

I'd imagine those changes would probably affect the order in a fairly significant way. 

 

Interesting to hear. We’ll take that into account if the research is updated. John, we discussed before to work more closely and will be happy to work with you if we can do something interesting for the Chinese learner.

 

4 hours ago, somethingfunny said:

Is the Ninchanese approach based entirely on the Loach and Wang algorithm?

 

 

Good question. The new world that has been released is all about the Loach and Wang approach but Ninchanese has also 5 worlds organized differently. The other worlds are more situation-based, and cover grammar points and dialogues as well. The Loach and Wang approach is more systematic in that’s it’s fully dedicated to characters and words.

 

What I recommend is to do the “classic” worlds as they are designed and to explore the Character Universe World in parallel. Doing this world helps a lot to consolidate the words you already know by learning more about the characters, their components and the logic behind them. It is exactly what Mati1 as said:

 

3 hours ago, Mati1 said:

But as soon as you go beyond learning X (enter arbitrary number) characters, the components you have learned will kick in and help tremendously.

 

This question here is also very interesting

 

4 hours ago, somethingfunny said:

I guess this could work for those interested in a highly systematic and comprehensive learning approach, but even then I'm not sure this is the best.  I know that on the Chinese program at SOAS they are pretty systematic, but there they first learn the 214 Kangxi radicals alongside their regular Chinese classes.

 

I think we should learn direct situational lessons and complete the missing parts with the new world.  Both approaches are useful but have their pros and cons, that’s true. I feel they complete each other very well, and find that interesting to explore, however.

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somethingfunny
33 minutes ago, Ninchanese said:

Even Duolingo has changed his business model to be a freemium.

 

I just went to the Duolingo website and within one minute I was learning Spanish without having registered.

 

If I like it I'll sign up, but it would be good to know how the software actually works and what the learning experience is like.

 

I don't know if I'm doing something wrong, but all three of the Ninchanese links in your original post redirect to a registration page.  Even this one.

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