Feb 042012
Custom hanzi handwriting practice sheets

It may sound old-fashioned, but many people (including myself) still think that writing characters repeatedly by hand is one of the best ways to commit them to memory (this works by developing muscle memory). Normally, practice paper is divided into squares, each of which is subdivided with guides to help the student maintain the correct proportions of each character. In the past, I used to make my own practice grid sheets with a word processor template, but nowadays there are much better options, such as the two web tools: Hanzi Grids and Hanlexon. Both of these allow you to paste a text into a box, choose some options, and output a pdf with the characters from your text printed as a model for copying into empty squares on the sheet. Hanzi Grids is the newer of the two and is currently a beta release (Feb 24, 2012 update: Hanzi Grids is … [read more]

Sep 042011

This is the second in my series of posts for those of you just beginning Chinese this academic year (the first covered iOS apps for learning sounds and pinyin). Once again, the focus here is on free, lite, or low-cost apps (check out the iOS tag for more). Please remember that purchasing apps through the links on this site will help support it (for more info, see About Zhongweb). If you don’t have an iOS device, or just want more info on stroke order, please see the page on “Character stroke order websites.” Writing Chinese characters with proper stroke order Chinese Writer by Popup Chinese has a tutorial mode to teach you the basic rules and a practice mode (simplified or traditional characters). Can be a bit fussy registering your strokes. The inventory of characters is fixed. Chinese Characters First Steps by The Open University has a “writing practice” mode that shows … [read more]

Jun 092011

After I wrote my initial review of the Chinese Writer game from trainchinese, the developer posted a very detailed response in the comments, which I very much appreciate. A day or two ago they released an update which addresses some of my wish list: There is now a choice of  traditional or simplified characters. The game now displays the high score for each character pack in a nice little scrolling ticker. Other changes: The instructions, while clear enough before, seem improved (although my memory of them is not perfect). A “freeze” button has been added onto the more complex character which lets you slow down the speed. A change that wasn’t what I expected: One of the items on my earlier wishlist was to be able to add your own wordlist. I had thought from the update’s description (“build custom packs by searching for characters”) that users could now build a custom … [read more]