One of the most important things for learning any language is having access to content that you are interested in and want to read, watch, or listen to, regardless of the language. By immersing yourself in content you truly enjoy, you are using the language for it’s intended purpose: to communicate thoughts and ideas. The language should be merely the medium through which you accomplish that goal. By following the steps in this guide, you will quickly become familiar with 80%-90% of the characters in Chinese texts so that reading this content will be much more approachable.
I prefer reading news from cn.nytimes.com and techcrunch.cn. I especially like the New York Times because it offers side by side Chinese-English versions of almost every article. Not to mention, it doesn’t require a subscription! It’s going to be really important that you are trying to read difficult Chinese text as soon as possible. This will help you not only gauge your progress, but also help you see for yourself how much Chinese you can recognize very quickly simply by focusing your learning in the most efficient sequence.
To accompany your reading, I would highly recommend that you install the Google Chrome Browser extension called Zhongwen; it is a must-have for learning Chinese! This will allow you show the pinyin, tone, and definition of all words that you encounter online by simply hovering your mouse over the word. It’s pretty amazing! This will remove any time that you would normally have to waste looking up definitions in a dictionary. Similarly, for mobile reading you can use the Pleco app Add-On we already discussed in the iPhones Apps post of this course. With Pleco Web Reader, you can just tap on an unknown word for a quick definition.
Lastly, there is another great tool to help you read in Chinese: LingQ. LingQ is an app and website that allows you to read content in your target language, including Mandarin. Each word in an article or book is highlighted and stored in a database based on your current knowledge level of the word’s meaning. This information is shared across all of the articles you read on the app. As a word becomes more familiar, you can gradually reduce its highlighting. Eventually you mark words as Known and the highlight complete disappears. And the best part is, you can import articles from pretty much any website to the platform for easy reading. This is a paid platform ($12.99/month). I’ve found I gained the most from it after I was already familiar with top 1000 high frequency characters, so that might be something to keep in mind.
In future posts, I plan to discuss more of my favorite books, music, websites, and YouTube Channels in the hopes that this will save you a lot of time.
*I have no affiliation with either of the tools discussed in this post.
Next up: Beginner Series Summary