• Tourist Guides — You can now able to read all the entries correctly.
• Dictionaries — make sure it uses pinyin, and has both traditional and simplified characters.
• Self-teaching Guides — they are in many price-ranges, depending on if you want to learn characters or only the spoken language. Some have CD’s. Just make sure the books are really using pin yin. If you see a letter “Q” in use, you know it is pin yin.
To get a Chinese dictionary with many features, type “Pleco Chinese Dictionary” in the iTunes search box. The introductory package is free, but you can later buy additional functions, such as being able to draw a character on your screen and finding the meaning and sound.
If you find a partner to practice with, it will probably be up to you to provide a learner’s book at your level and have your friend walk through it with you. Or, you can list the things you want to learn how to do, and ask your friend to teach you one at a time. Ask if you can record your conversations.
This website lists Chinese speakers who are looking for students to tutor:
You can profit from just about any “Learn Chinese” software. You should buy one that introduces the language to you step-by-step before buying one that has only listening examples. Here are some current good websites for teaching yourself Chinese:
• Go to http://www.chinapage.com/learnchinese.html where many sites are listed.
• Go to http://chinesepod.com/ and click on “tour.”
• Go to http://www.transparent.com/learn-mandarin-chinese/
• Go to http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/e/languages/mandarin-chinese/index.html
Interzon has been described as “the best role-playing game for studying Chinese. Visit http://zon-labs.com/something-has-changed/.
There is an Online Dictionary called Yellow-Bridge that lets you look up words by approximate spelling, and by drawing the character:
Here’s how it describes itself on its home page:
The web’s most comprehensive Chinese-English Talking Dictionary. Only site to feature both word and character decomposition.
o Listen to words pronounced on your computer.
o View sample sentences to really understand the use of a word in context.
o Search for a character just by drawing it.
o Quickly locate any character if you recognize any of its components.
o Use fuzzy pinyin match to locate a word even if you are unsure of its pronunciation.
o Find the most common related words for any word.
o Check out our very cool Etymology Explorer.
Easiest to use Chinese Flashcards. Customized for some of the top textbooks, including Integrated Chinese and New Practical Chinese Reader. Other word lists available too.
Chinese Memory Game. A fun alternative to flashcards.
YellowTip popup word translation allows you to read Chinese text even if you don’t know all of the words. Our new improved version will even let you annotate your own text or any webpage.
DO YOU WANT TO LEARN CHINESE?
With your background, any of the learning programs on the market will serve you well. Knowing the following guidelines will smooth your path:
GUIDELINES FOR LEARNING CHINESE
Chinese never uses “the” or “a.” But English requires using those words, so you would add them when translating from Chinese to English. For example, Chinese “I see bird” is correctly translated into English as “I see a bird.”
You never add a grammatical ending to a Chinese word. The word itself never changes. You would show past tense by adding a word to the sentence. For example, Chinese “I yesterday go Denver” is correctly translated into English as “I went to Denver yesterday.” To make a plural, you need to add a number, or the word for “several.” For example, Chinese “I see 2 bird” is correctly translated into English as “I see 2 birds.”
Rather than grammatical endings, the focus in learning Chinese is on “sentence patterns.” An example of a sentence pattern is “first time, then place.” (That’s the opposite of the word order of English). For example, Chinese “last year in Denver I meet you” would typically be translated into in English as “I met you in Denver last year.”
Chinese typically puts a “measure word” in front of a noun. We sometimes do that in English, for example, in the phrase “one loaf of bread,” “loaf” is a measure word. But Chinese has a measure word for everything. The English sentence “I see a car” becomes the Chinese “I see one car-measure-word car.” There are dozens of different measure words.
To show that a word is an adjective, you follow it by the word “de,” (pronounced duh). To say “my car,” you need to say in Chinese “I de car,” which has the same meaning as “car of me.” To say “cute child,” you would say “cute de child.”
In a long Chinese sentence, most of the words will be compound words, that is, words made of two words. This is easy to see in pinyin, because the words are touching each other. For example, the word “keshi,” means “but.” It is made out of the “ke,” which means “could,” and the word “shi,” which means “is.” You have to memorize the combination separately as a vocabulary word. When written in Chinese characters, there is no change in the size of the space between the characters to indicate that it is a compound word. Here is the word “but” in Chinese characters: 可是
Chinese characters occur both in traditional and simplified form. The simplified form was invented on mainland China after 1950 and is still used there. The traditional form is still used in Hong Kong and Taiwan. You should probably learn simplified, unless you already know that you will be living on Taiwan. Most of the characters are the same in both methods, and it is only the more complex words that became simplified. Here is the word for dragon, first in traditional龍and here in simplified 龙