Aug 122011
Study tool: www.hskflashcards.com

Although the HSK Exam (汉语水平考试 / 漢語水平考試) changed in 2010, I still recommend the website www.hskflashcards.com. As the name implies, there is a built-in flashcard feature (not Flash-based!). The functionality is pretty basic: you see hanzi (traditional, simplified, or both) and you think whether you know the pinyin and English meaning. Flip to check if you were right and click 对 or 错 as appropriate. The flashcards are not limited to the old HSK. You can also test yourself on vocabulary from New Practical Chinese Reader, Practical Chinese Reader, or Integrated Chinese (2nd or 3rd ed.) The interface is pretty slick but not immediately intuitive, so here are some tips: Use the sliders to chose the range of words included in the test. While testing, buttons for flipping the card, moving forward and backward, marking correct or incorrect, etc. are hidden until you mouse over them. You can also use the keyboard instead … [read more]

Jul 192011
Ruby text in the browser?

This is a quick test of ruby display in web browsers. If your browser can handle it, you should see this site’s name 中网 with pinyin transliteration above it. Ideally the browser will display the hanzi and pinyin one over the other. As a fallback, you may see the pinyin in parentheses. 中 网 ( zhōng wǎng ) It should look like this picture: Here is the code used: <ruby> <rb> 中 网 </rb> <rp> (</rp> <rt> zhōng wǎng </rt> <rp>) </rp> </ruby> Note: WordPress does not seem over-fond of the html markup for this. If you switch to the Visual editor, the tags seem to get stripped out, but it displays the “fallback” option of having the contents of the rt placed in parentheses after the rb. Publishing right from the html editor seems to keep everything.

Mar 042011

The website translationzilla.com helps you learn foreign language vocabulary (the Romance languages, CJK [Simplified Chinese only at this point], German, Russian, Hindi, and Arabic, plus English) with a Flash-based typing game. I find it rather addictive (after each game I always think I can do a bit better on the next and so keep playing). There are two variations on the game, RollingZilla and PowerTranslator. In RollingZilla, little Zillas (I assume they are called that; they are round cartoon creatures) with words written on them drop from the top of the game screen and you have to type the translation before the Zilla reaches the bottom of the screen. As the game gets going, multiple Zillas may be onscreen at the same time; you can type in the translations in any order and let ones you don’t know go by (which count as wrong, but don’t take up time). You … [read more]

Oct 212010
Three Delivery

Three Delivery is an American cartoon for older children (rated Y7) set in an American Chinatown. It features three teenagers who have been taught kung fu by their adoptive grandmother so that they can re-assemble a magical cookbook and protect it from their grandmother’s former friend, now turned evil nemesis. The show does not overtly try to teach Chinese, but the characters do say the occasional word or phrase and you can pick up a bit by watching it. For example, an older brother frequently addresses his younger sister as 妹妹 mèimèi. There are also a good number of signs and things written with traditional characters. The plots also tend to involve items of cultural significance, such as terra-cotta warriors (兵马俑 / 兵馬俑 bīngmǎyǒng). The show has a nice website (unfortunately, Flash-based) that incorporates a lot of written Chinese; for example during the inevitable wait for the Flash to load, we get … [read more]