Pinyin not included

I was wondering when you stopped writing the pinyin on the learning material. It seems that’s only for HSK4, is that right?

Maybe you could start offering it earlier… I see that this was a hot topic a while back. I come down very much on the side of no pinyin.
Discover China book 2 has no pinyin. But then that series of books is a bit bonkers and all over the place (although beautiful and exciting to look at).

Maybe a little bit before HSK4 as long as you add the pinyin for new words?

Once you get passed HSK1 (old one) I feel students should know how to read the first 150 characters of HSK1.

As soon as I started learning Mandarin, I started learning the characters. I did freak out at first, but there are a lot of great books out there which explain the etymology inside each hanzi, the components, the first most important 100 radicals and how they are the key to understanding and memorising hanzis etc.

I wonder how other people feel about this. And I really disagree with Andreas about pinyin helping you make a connection… maybe it worked for him, but the connection happens through hanzis. When I look at notes on a page, I recognise what they mean because I’ve got the training. I don’t need to write them out in letters or even play them. The dots are music to me.

I recommend Tintin and the Blue Lotus 蓝莲花 in Chinese for training your eyes. It’s a great read!


丁丁is a great suggestion! I’m quite busy with 哈利·波特 but definitely will add 蓝莲花 to my list.

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This 丁丁在美洲 is great for both listening and reading practice!


Oooh fantastic, thank you for the youtube link! I was going to ask, how do you get to listen to 丁丁…
And Harry Potter, what a great idea… did you order the Chinese version straight from a Chinese bookseller? I wonder whether they have their own Stephen Fry to record the audio version. I will investigate.
I love 蓝莲花 also because of the whole history behind it, how Hergé met his friend the artist Zhang Chongren, who helped him write the book and how he becomes Chang in the series.


I ordered my copy of Harry Potter on Amazon. They have Chinese as well as bilingual versions.

For anyone interested, there are also free audiobooks:

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Amazing, thanks for the audiobook link. What a great resource!

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Hi Pascales, we stop Pinyin from HSK 4 and above. In these levels, only new words have pinyin.
From Intro - HSK 3, we have pinyin for everything. I’m glad that you started learning the characters. I’m also learning Mandarin and character is definitely the biggest problem I have with Mandarin. It’s also helpful if you can share for beginners like me about how to overcome the character :smiley:

Ah don’t tempt me… I use the 8-box system. It’s based on Leitner system - Wikipedia

but because with Chinese characters there’s so much more to learn it’s been turned into an 8 box rather than 5.

Whenever I’ve shared it with a class, I’ve seen my reputation as a completely crazy woman shooting through the roof.

But I’ll share it with you if you want and you can check for yourself. It was devised by a Sorbonne professor called Kyril Ryjik. Get your flashcards ready!

The Leitner system (and @Pascale-Mandarin_Simplified_HS) is definitely not crazy, except that it’s hard to use paper flashcards once you learn over 100 words or so. We absolutely need to use space-repetition software like Hack Chinese, Skritter, Anki, Quizlet etc.

Here are Professor 本家明’s 5 secret steps to “overcome the character”:

  1. Learn the most common radicals. If you’ve learned the alphabet before, you can learn radicals too.
  2. Decompose each new character to understand it’s components, radical etc. Characters are built together like lego blocks - it’s a lot of fun!
  3. For each new character make up a story about the lego blocks you discovered and how they fit together. The crazier, the better.
  4. Use the new character in a phrase, a new phrase in a sentence, and a sentence in context.
  5. Do a daily review of the new character/word in a space repetition app of your choice. This is why the study decks from LTL are so important!

99.999% of people who rely purely on memorization instead of following these steps will fail to learn Chinese :wink:

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I agree! just daft repetition of a character 300 times doesn’t work.

I have a list of the 100 most common radicals that I printed out. For me, doing everything digitally doesn’t work. I need paper and ink!

I use one online dictionnary though: MDBG for the clever way they cut the character into its components and teach you the etymology.

This book also explains the components and the story within the character very well.

For instance 喜 is a drum, joyful and raucous, over a mouth. And the drum bit is made of a scholar on top of a mouth multiplied by 8, on a yi. If by now you don’t have a happy image in your head…

The paid up version of Pleco also has a great character breakdown tab.

Characters have a history or they tell a story. Sometimes I don’t understand and I realise it’s because the simplified version simplifies too much… such as 写。。。 so embarrassing, not being able to remember how to write 写。Then I looked at the components in the traditional and I could remember that one 寫!! = under a roof, hands and a mortar grinding ink.

Yes, it’s a lot of fun!

Where’s the LTL study decks?

I cannot state enough how useful it is to break down characters and guess logically using the radicals.

I’m currently very much back into my Hack Chinese after getting a bit rusty and it’s amazing how many you can guess right, or if not correct, very close, by simply understanding the building blocks of the character.

When seeing 忄I know to think of something related to emotion, when seeing 讠I know to think of something related to speech and 钅would be related to materials or metals of sorts.

If you are a beginner or early intermediate. Get those radicals down and it’ll change everything!

My two pennies :slight_smile:

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You can find them here - Anki Decks (FREE Downloads) | Mandarin, Japanese, Korean & More

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