Resources for Mandarin learner?
November 3, 2014 2:09 PM   Subscribe

I'm taking on the pain in the ass that is trying to get conversationally fluent in mandarin. I have a girlfriend (and her family) I can practice with, so obviously that's immensely useful. That said, I'm curious if there are any good resources people can recommend.

Some ideas:
- a good English/pinyin dictionary (online and physical and apps all welcome)
- good resources on how to pronounce things, how tones work, etc (would love something that gets into tongue position and stuff)
- any good resources (anki decks?) for vocab, numbers, etc
- a good book/website explaining the grammar in detail
- a good list of counting words and ther uses
Thank you
posted by wooh to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Dictionaries: Pleco is available for Android and iOS and it is MAGIC. You get a lot with the free version, but there are a lot of add-ons that you can buy, including the ABC Chinese-English dictionary which is my top recommendation for a paper dictionary (but it's a very heavy hardcover, so just get it electronically.) You can search for words by pinyin or by drawing them with your finger or by OCR recognition with your camera (that last one you mostly have to add as a paid add-on.)

The Sinosplice blog has a good section on Mandarin phonetics and pronunciation.

When it comes to tones, nothing worked as well for me as just listening to slow Mandarin while reading a pinyin transcription (podcasts aimed at beginners, like the early levels of Chinesepod, work well for this) and consciously listening for the tones.

Yufa is a good grammar book but very comprehensive -- it's much more a reference than a textbook. The best textbook series I know of is Integrated Chinese, which is available both electronically and in paper.

A resource that I really like is Skritter, which is an Anki-like flashcard-management system specifically for Chinese and Japanese. I like it because it lets you practice writing, and the spaced repetition algorithm is very good, and it has a lot of built-in word list packs that you can add. It is a somewhat pricey monthly subscription, though.
posted by Jeanne at 2:28 PM on November 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

Seconding Pleco, it's really worth paying for the extra features. It has a good flash-card system which I used a lot.

There's also a Chrome add-on called Zhongwen which pops up a translation when you hover over any Chinese word.
posted by flora at 3:44 PM on November 3, 2014

MDBG is also a good online dictionary. Nice tags, btw.
posted by flora at 3:45 PM on November 3, 2014

John, the guy who writes the Sinosplice blog mentioned above, now maintains the Chinese Grammar Wiki, which is a really good resource for beginner to intermediate students. He also made an iPhone/iPad app for Pinyin study.
posted by bradf at 3:48 PM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

did you check out the resources listed in this recent post? I recommended the Popup Chinese podcasts there and definitely still do recommend them.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 5:09 PM on November 3, 2014

I reaaaaally like the nCiku Chinese dictionary. The app is not absolutely fabulous, but the website is. What I really love is that it has a massive database of "example" sentences -- so for any phrase/word you get 10+ sentences in which that word is used. So helpful for intermediate level learning.
posted by krakus at 5:13 PM on November 3, 2014

Chinese with Mike has a youtube channel, as an introduction.
posted by the letter at 8:16 PM on November 3, 2014

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