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Dear Readers:

I would like to share with you the tools I’ve found useful learning Mandarin and Classical Chinese.

5. Chinese Text Project for Classical Chinese

A good place to find side-by-side English translations for Classical Chinese. (Though they are all James Legge translations, so be aware of his particular biases.)

4. 百度百科

Baike is a great place to find commentary on Classical Chinese and information on everything else.

3. PPS

Programs like PPS are great for streaming Chinese (and Japanese and Korean) TV shows and movies. Almost everything has subtitles in Chinese!

2. Pleco for iPad/iPhone


Tied with Anki for best Chinese tool, Pleco is a free Chinese-English dictionary app that is really so much more. With a few upgrades it is the Anki companion tool I’ve always wanted. A document reader can be added for about $10, and a Chinese-Chinese monolingual dictionary (monodic) added for $30. Compared to the Japanese monodic, $40 may sound steep, but Pleco includes a fabulous word list function. It works like this: find something on the net you want to read in Chinese and copy it into Pleco. One button converts that into a file for the doc reader. While reading, you can touch words to look them up in the monodic, and hit a toggle to switch to English. Best of all, you can hit a plus button to add the selected definition–example sentences and all–to a word list that is easily exported. The English dictionary comes with more example sentences, so I usually add both the English and Chinese definitions to the word list, then copy and past the sentences and definitions from Pleco into Anki. That means when it comes time to add to Anki, all my information is organized in one place! Better yet, I can grab the original sentences from the text at the same time. Anki magic! (Dec. 2012 Update: Pleco has its own flashcard program that turns word lists into flashcards, and has an SRS function. For Chinese, Pleco is as indispensable as Anki.)

1. Anki

Use Anki to memorize sentences in Chinese. I started with the ten lessons in the “Mastering Chinese Characters” series, all available as Anki public decks. I deleted the individual hanzi cards, the vocab cards, and the reading cards, and only used the listening ->; hanzi cards (with the pinyin on the front).

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