Reading and writing

Apr 182012
iOS app CS Xiezi updated

CS Xiezi – Chinese Character Trainer from Clavis Sinica (originally reviewed in this post) has been updated with more characters. Version 1.5 now helps you learn to write the characters from the first five lessons (as opposed to the three lessons of version 1.3) in Clavis Sinica’s “Stepping Stones” series. The total number of characters is now 135. Otherwise, the app appears unchanged. Note: when I first launched after updating, I got a weird error screen that wouldn’t go away. Deleting and re-downloading the app fixed it. CS Xiezi is available on the App Store .

Apr 132012
iOS app Flipboard adds Chinese content, social networks

Flipboard is a magazine-style news reader for iOS that offers regional content guides to help you find interesting news feeds. The latest update introduced content guides featuring Chinese language sources: you can choose from China, Taiwan, or Hong Kong. The guides are organized by topics like news (新闻 xīnwén), sports (体育 tǐyù), and technology and science (科技与科学 kējì yǔ kēxué). Flipboard can also pull in your social media feeds, not only Twitter and Facebook, but also Sina Weibo and Renren. These are available to users of the US and other editions of Flipboard, as well as the Chinese edition. You can change your content guide and add social media feeds in the app’s settings. Once you do, tap the red ribbon icon to see the content guide. You can add any Chinese news that you want to your Flipboard pages and they will appear alongside your English news. Read more on … [read more]

Apr 062012
iOS app for 清明节 Qīngmíngjié

This week was 清明节 Qīngmíngjié, known in English as the Tomb Sweeping Festival or, more literally, the Clear Bright (or Pure Brightness) Festival. The story of its relation to the 寒食节 Hánshíjié (Cold Food Festival) is told in the iOS app from Rye Studio called 清明节. This app has features similar to the Rye Studio Beast Nian app, reviewed in a previous post. The characters are: 晋献公 Jìn Xiàn gōng Duke Xian of Jin 重儿 Chóng’ěr one of his younger sons; later 晋文公 Jìn Wén gōng Duke Wen of Jin 骊姬 Lí Jī a favored concubine  (妃子 fēizi) of Jìn Xiàn gōng 介之推 Jiè Zhītuī a devoted subject, who followed Chóng’ěr into exile Here is some other key vocabulary: 祭祖 jìzǔ to offer sacrifices to one’s ancestors 扫墓 sǎomù to sweep the tombs (of one’s ancestors) 国君 guójūn monarch 太子 tàizǐ crown prince 流亡 liúwáng to force into exile; to be exiled; in exile The 清明节 story app is available … [read more]

Mar 042012
iOS app: CS Xiezi

CS Xiezi – Chinese Character Trainer from Clavis Sinica is an app that helps you learn to 写字 (write characters). CS Xiezi tests you on writing characters with the proper stroke order (note that it does not teach you the basic rules of stroke order). The characters are drawn from the first three lessons in Clavis Sinica’s “Stepping Stones” series. Upon launching the app, you first choose one of the three lessons and then one of three modes. In all modes you receive a prompt in pinyin (with or without English definition) and then you try to write the character (with or without a background grid). Strokes you make with your finger (or stylus) that are deemed corrected are converted to standardized ones. Otherwise, the modes differ as follows. Train In this mode, you can choose whether or not to have a grey outline of the character displayed, so you … [read more]

Feb 262012
Hanlexon online study aids

Hanlexon is a website offering a number of tools for the study of Chinese. All of the tools are used with “worksheets” that you create first. A worksheet is essentially a set of characters. It can be an actual text with punctuation, or just a list of characters (e.g. 50 most frequent). Worksheets can be organized into “lessons” and “classes.” One feature of Hanlexon, namely its ability to generate PDFs for practicing writing hanzi, is called the “writing” tool and was reviewed in an earlier post in comparison with a similar web-based tool, Hanzi Grids. This post will cover the other features of Hanlexon. The “reading” tool can turn the content of your worksheet into a PDF with the option of adding pinyin as a phonetic guide above the hanzi, creating an annotated (or ruby) version. The “reading” tool can also display the content of the worksheet right in the … [read more]