Learning Chinese: Your tips and comments…

We’re learning Chinese, here are some good tips, suggestions and more from the comments section here at Adafruit

And no need to worry about the tones too much. There are thousands of dialects in China, and each dialect has its own toning system. Like in a city named Tianjin(my home city), which is just 120 kms far from Beijing, people speak their own dialect, and the tones are different from Mandarin though. So the point is, when you speak a sentence people can always figure out what you mean even if you use American accent – Karl

I’m using the Fluenz dvd for mandarin 1+2. It has a variety of tests built in and once you figure out the shortcut keys, it is awesome. Also my live-in speaks basic mandarin so I get some phrases and tonal corrections from him . Fluenz isn’t immersion, it is for native English speakers learning a language (and the course uses pinyin). That said there are some immersion modes in the software quizes. Since I’m living in Germany and learned German on the street and with six weeks of an intensive course in a language school, I think my next step after the Fluenz dvd is to enroll in a local intensive Mandarin course – fbz

http://nciku.com is great for a dictionary (as stated above). If you use chrome, this extension can help a decent amount: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/kkmlkkjojmombglmlpbpapmhcaljjkde. If you have a smartphone, the best dictionary is http://www.pleco.com/ (the company is NYC based as well).
Finally, the best thing you can do is sign up for skritter.com (and get a tablet!). It’s the best site for pretty much anything – Mike

We’re still evaluating good iPad software to learn writing, we’ll keep you posted

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Lastly, here is the latest photo set from The Atlantic’s In Focus

China, now the second-largest economy in the world, is a vast and diverse country that is nearly impossible to sum up in a single photo essay. But here is an attempt — a recent photographic look across the nation. The ruling Communist Party is gearing up for its 90th anniversary. Massive growth and construction continue to raise environmental concerns. And three years later, residents of Sichuan are still recovering from the May 2008 earthquake that killed more than 85,000. This collection is only a small glimpse of events in China over the past month

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  1. Eh, sometimes, if the dialect is really distant, we’ll have problems figuring things out for a while. But if you’re really trying to learn, we usually won’t laugh (too much)!

  2. This is a bit of a worlds colliding. As someone who studies Chinese, and loves electronics, I have to say I don’t enjoy these posts. If Chinesepod, or Popupchinese (I can recommend both for listening at work) started spamming about their interest in learning to solder, it would seem similarly wrong.

    A brilliant resource for learning Chinese is surprisingly nciku. It is a great resource and reference. I can’t explain this frustration here. If a member of staff from any of these sites built up sufficient rapport with me, and posted about this stuff on their personal blog, I would be more than happy. I can’t express this right. It just seems weird.

  3. @pretendiname that’s a pretty mean thing to say, we’re sharing our business, our designs, pretty much everything we do *including* what we’re interested in learning, like mandarin and this is all you have to say? spamming? you don’t know spam works its seems.

    we try to set a positive tone here, please skip the chinese related posts if you think they’re “weird” – thanks.

  4. ni hao

  5. I want to learn Chinese, but it seems so challenging. The rules are so ridiculously different from English.

  6. My wife and I have both liked the materials developed by ChinesePod. We both learned to speak Chinese in China, and are using ChinesePod to keep familiar with it since returning. It does seem like their beginner materials would be a good place to start, and they seem to even have mobile-formatted content now.

    The great thing is that English will easily get you by in China. However, showing even a little effort in learning Chinese will be greatly appreciated locally. Dialects are certainly an issue and lots of the Mandarin developed curricula may be difficult to use to understand folks in parts of the southeast or rural west. However, they may understand you if you speak Mandarin.

    You should also see if you can find clips of Dashan for inspiration and for the inevitable comparison when in China: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dashan

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