Learning Chinese with pictures

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Foreign cultures can seem a little odd at first . People dress differently, the food tastes weird, they listen to different music, speak another language. On top of that, there sometimes is a different writing system like in many Asian countries that to the untrained eye often remains a mystery. In Chinese, for example, there are no letters but ideographs. We need years of elementary school to master 26 letters. A beginner in learning Chinese has to face much bigger challenges: 50.000 characters, about 20.000 of which are used. Just to read a newspaper, it’s necessary to recognize 2.000-3.000 (see here). This makes the ABC look like an incomplete prototype.

To teach her kids Chinese, London based ShaoLan Hsueh searched quite some time to find an appropriate learning method. As her efforts were futile, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She created Chineasy. The idea is simple: Since the Chinese characters are quite abstract, they become part of pictures that show their meaning. For example, the ideograph for ‘human’ gets a head, hands and feet. After having learned the first ones, you can base more complex concepts and even sentences on this basic set.

Colorful images explaining characters, syntax explained with components – that doesn’t sound that far off of elementary school teaching methods. Despite the differences between Western and Far Eastern languages, they have one thing in common: The best way to learn them is as a child would.

Foreign cultures can seem a little odd at first . People dress differently, the food tastes weird, they listen to different music, speak another language. On top of that, there sometimes is a different writing system like in many Asian countries that to the untrained eye often remains a mystery. In Chinese, for example, there are no letters but ideographs. We need years of elementary school to master 26 letters. A beginner in learning Chinese has to face much bigger challenges: 50.000 characters, about 20.000 of which are used. Just to read a newspaper, it’s necessary to recognize 2.000-3.000 (see here). This makes the ABC look like an incomplete prototype.

To teach her kids Chinese, London based ShaoLan Hsueh searched quite some time to find an appropriate learning method. As her efforts were futile, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She created Chineasy. The idea is simple: Since the Chinese characters are quite abstract, they become part of pictures that show their meaning. For example, the ideograph for ‘human’ gets a head, hands and feet. After having learned the first ones, you can base more complex concepts and even sentences on this basic set.

Colorful images explaining characters, syntax explained with components – that doesn’t sound that far off of elementary school teaching methods. Despite the differences between Western and Far Eastern languages, they have one thing in common: The best way to learn them is as a child would.

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