Chinese Study

Over the years I’ve travelled to China several times, and now I’m working with large group of developers in Suzhou, Hangzhou and Hefei. A few weeks ago I was able to visit again, and that’s gotten me back in the mood to study Chinese. It often helps me to write down things as I learn them, and some of my Chinese coworkers read this blog and might help set me straight as I wander through their language like a bull in a China shop (as it were….) It’s a bit off the trail for Cocoa development, so feel free to use the Subscribe2 link on the right to take this category off of your email subscription.

I’m currently studying speaking with Pimsleur Chinese Mandarin I Comprehensive. I’ve found it useful so far, and it seems a good way to learn pronunciation. Of course that can get you in trouble. It is somewhat problematic to learn very well how to say “I don’t speak well” (我说的不好). It gives the impression you are being modest, when in fact it is about the only thing you know how to say. I would have done better to study “I don’t speak Mandarin” (我不会说普通话).

To learn writing, I’ve been studying Learn to Write Chinese Characters by Johan Björkstén. Reviewers have been very complimentary of its focus on the aesthetics of beautiful and correct drawn characters rather than simply how to print them like a book would. I trust them for now that the focus on beauty is also good for learning.

I’m still on the lookout for a good dictionary. I use Google translate and wiktionary a lot, but I don’t like either. I’d like to find a good online resource that will take a character and give the pinyin and translation, as well as the reverse. A book form would be useful as well of course, though I’m still working on stroke counting and order, so that makes it hard to look things up.