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Help with learning chinese


I recently finished a textbook/workbook series called Chinese Made Easy, and I can now read/write about 1700 characters, but I want to be able to read 3500 to read newspapers, etc. What should I learn next? How would I study to get to the 3500 mark? Should I do another textbook series or HSK textbooks or what?


Congratulations on getting to the 1,700 words mark! At this stage you might want to think beyond the textbook question. I am not sure your “bottom up” approach will serve you as well for the next couple of thousand words. Newspaper editors don’t limit themselves to frequency lists, so you are always going to come across unfamiliar words. I suggest you take a top-down approach, similar to they way ChinesePod “infotains” you with a smorgasbord of lessons from which you choose the content that interests you and suits your level. That way you will be learning the vocabulary most likely to appear in articles on topics that you actually have an interest in and want to read.

To that end, you can check out:

  1. The “Du Chinese” App. I use it on iPhone / iPad and it is excellent for practicing reading while making the learning of new vocabulary incidental.
  2. “The Chairman’s Bao.” (app and web site) Same idea: curated content you can sort by level with handy learning tools.
  3. For reinforcing and retaining characters, writing with Skritter. This is a good way to leverage and extend your ChinesePod experience, because the two services are compatible. ChinesePod gives you a “Skritter Lite” writing pad to practice vocabulary in each lesson, and if you subscribe to Skritter you can access the vocabulary lists from the ChinesePod lessons you are studying. It has iOS, Android, and web based platforms.

Yoo… there’s this thing called ChinesePod… it’s like really good. They have thousands of lessons with the transcript. Yeah man, it’s only $14 per month. You should totally already be subscribed…

HSK? what does that do? Do you want a piece of paper to hang on your wall? Do you need confirmation of your hanyushuiping?

Studying some arbitrary list or textbooks isn’t going to bring you to literacy. Why not try reading with those 1700 characters you know? Even when you get to 3500 characters you still might not be able to comprehend what your reading. So start reading. I’m reading this book right now called 撒哈拉的故事 by 三毛 you can download the PDF online for free, if you start using those characters you know outside of the textbook. There’s this website called Google, it’s really great for finding information, also there’s another site called baidu it also works really well. Oh and sign up for ChinesePod it’s pretty good.


For a foreigner, reading newspapers is the most difficult task. It is not only a question of knowing a great number of words .

but there are specific expressions that you will not find in a dictionary. You sometimes need the help of a native to explain you some expressions. Here are some examples :

习马会 meeting between Xi Jin Ping 习近平 and Ma Ying Jiu 马英九 incidentally in Taiwan the same event was refered as 马习会

一国两制 one country two systems refers to the situation between China and Hong Kong

九二共识 refers to consensus in the relations between China and Taiwan agreed between the two parties in 1992.

一代一路 the new silk road

两岸关系 the relations between the two banks (Taiwan and China mainland)

两岸三地 两岸 refers to the relations between Taiwan and China mainland 三地 refers to Taiwan HongKong and Macao.

台独 (abridged from 台湾独立) Taiwan independence

双十演讲 the speech done on the 10th of October