Last updated 2007-06-17.
This page was put together in order to help other people interested
in learning Chinese with the aid of the Internet and the various
If you want to suggest changes, drop me a note.
The page legend is as follows:
- [国] Traditional Chinese, as used in
- [普] Mainland Chinese (普通话).
- [东] Cantonese (广东话)
- [拼] Pinyin (拼音)
- [听] Audio (音像).
- [好] Unicode.
- Zhongwen / 中文字典 [国] [普] [拼]
This site features character etymology, which is very interesting for
students of Chinese. Though the interface uses traditional characters,
it provides simplified equivalents in character definitions.
Character Dictionary [国] [普] [东] [拼] [听] [好]
This site is the only one I have found that allows you to paste in a
Unicode character and retrieve a definition. Supporting both
traditional and simplified characters, it is exceptionally useful.
- Kingsoft / 金山软件有限公司 [国] [普] [拼] [听] [好]
Started in 1998, Kingsoft is a mainland company that produces a range
of Chinese office software. One application, Kingsoft Xdict, is
a valuable tool for those learning Chinese. It's very widely used
by mainland Chinese, and is great for Chinese learners. It allows you
to move your mouse over any Chinese or English text on-screen and receive an
immediate popup translation, complete with computer-generated
pronunciation and a link to a dictionary definition. The software
recognises common multi-character phrases as well as individual
characters. You can download the trial
version online (afterwards, get the update).
If you find the program useful, please register. If you register
via iciba.com, the price is USD$39
for the Powerword suite, which includes Xdict. I think
you can register at a much cheaper 'peoples price' via joyo.com, too.
Sample Kingsoft Xdict popup translation for the
traditional character 'guo'.
- Windows Update [国] [普]
For all modern windows releases, Chinese can be enabled by clicking in to
your language control panel and enabling east-asian languages.
For Windows 98, if you go to windowsupdate.microsoft.com you should
be able to be able to download two Chinese IME (input method) packages. One is
simplified (supporting the changjie and pinyin input
methods), and one is traditional (supporting the bopomofo input
method). These work really nicely once installed - you just press
control-shift to flick between input methods.
A sample IME (input method) popup menu, from my old
Windows 98 system. I deleted the Changjie IME, so only English, the
standard Simplified Chinese input method (pinyin) and the Traditional
Chinese input method (bopomofo) are displayed.
With newer versions of the Simplified Chinese IME (comes with
Windows 2000, I'm unsure about ME, XP, etc.), you can input Traditional
Chinese using pinyin! I have version 2.0, which works as follows.
Left-click the second taskbar icon (the one that's a pen or a pen and a
pad, not the IME indicator icon) after switching to 'Simplified
Chinese IME' (icon should be shown as above). After clicking, make
sure the 'Show IME Status' option is checked.
On the status bar that appears, the fourth icon from the right (the one
after the keyboard) is a simplified/traditional toggle for the IME. If
you're anything like me, you'll find it extremely handy to be
able to input traditional characters with pinyin.
Version 2.0 Simplified Chinese IME in the IME popup menu,
This software is useful because it allows you to read obsolete
character encodings (GB, BIG5) in places your system isn't looking for
them. It also allows input in an impressive range of methods, for
Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Useful, but hopefully unnecessary soon!
- Zhongwen.com's Pinyin Chat [拼]
This forum is interesting in that it links the pinyin words in a
dialogue to the zhongwen.com dictionary, which helps when people type
characters that you don't understand. It is always busy, and I
recommend it as a place to while away a few hours increasing your
vocabulary. I only wish they would do a unicode version supporting
- Chat Dot 163 Dot Com [国] [普] [拼] [好]
Another Unicode chatroom with a GB interface.
- Skype, ICQ [国] [普] [拼] [好]
All modern instant messaging applications provide full unicode support,
which means that you can chat online with people in any lange you
please! It's very easy to find Chinese people with whom you can
practice typing and reading Chinese.
Introduction to Literary Chinese, Michael A. Fuller (Harvard
East Asian Monographs 176).
This is a heavy intermediate/advanced text, which assumes a fairly
strong basic grounding in Chinese history and (traditional) characters.
Various grammatical concepts from literary Chinese are presented with
the aide of real extracts from significant historical literature, such
as Sima Qian and Confucius'. I haven't worked very far through this
one yet, but I'd recommend it as a clear and logical introductory text
for intermediate/advanced students with an interest in reading dated
- Standard Chinese Course,
Peking University Press
Recent series from Beijing, the largest weakness of which is the
terrible structure of book one (very little context, and a lot of
memorisation). Other than book one, it is by and large similar to Integrated Chinese, below, with the
only serious deficiency being the continual use of pinyin in written
dialogues. Audio tapes and CD courses are available for use with this
series, however the CD isn't anything to write home about.
- Practical Chinese Reader,
The Commercial Press
A thick and badly printed series, straight out of Beijing. It's cheap
and it works, though it's perhaps not as fun to work with as larger,
better-presented texts. There are character workbooks that you can get
as well, though due to the tiny format they are annoying to write in.
- Integrated Chinese, Chen
& Tsui Company
Available in simplified and traditional, there are multiple books.
Level 1 Part 1, Level 1 Part 2, etc. The first level has character
workbooks for each part, as well as a textbook. I can recommend this
series, as the best graded I have seen.
- Basic Chinese Grammar and
Sentence Patterns, Wild Peony
Great book in traditional characters that includes basic grammar and a
goodly quantity of characters. Best used in conjunction with another
- A Concise Chinese Grammar,
Formal linguistic text, probably not what you want. Quite approachable
if you are looking for a grammar, however.
- A Reference Grammar of Chinese
Sentences, University of Arizona Press
This is an even more formal Chinese grammar.
This is the future character encoding for all of the world's languages.
It is definitely the only way to go these days. Use it
today, and help bury the lingering horrors that are GB and BIG5!
- Taiwanese Insults [国]
This is a list of insults from Taiwan, in both traditional Chinese and
- Computing Terms
A short list of Chinese computing terms that I have started to compile.
- You might be in China if...
Somewhat amusing text compiled from a thread at the ESLCafe forums, April 2003.
Hosted at Pratyeka (独觉).