Get equipped!

As a learner of Chinese in the digital age, you have a lot of excellent resources available to you.

At AllSet Learning, we’ll make sure you know about the most important ones. All AllSet Learning clients will be tutored on how best to use the following tools by their personal learning consultant. The following are some of the key tools you need to know about:

Browser

Use Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome (both available for PC and Mac), because not only are they the best modern browsers, but they also have the best choices for powerful extensions (also called plugins).

Browser Extensions

Add popups to the Chinese characters on any web page:

  • Zhongwen (for Chrome)
  • Chinese Perapera-kun (for Firefox)

    Make sure to follow the following steps to ensure that you have fully installed the Chinese Perapera-kun extension:

    1. First, click here and install this addon in Firefox (click “Allow” if it asks you if you want to grant it access):

    2. Then click here to download and install the Chinese dictionary (again, click “Allow” if it asks you if you want to grant it access):

    3. After you have installed both, you need to close Firefox and reopen it. Then you will see a little yellow star in the bottom right corner of your browser window. Click it to turn on the Chinese dictionary. Then just mouse over any words you see in your browser, and a popup will give you the pinyin and meaning. Very useful!

ChinesePod users may sometimes wish to view a version of the ChinesPod dialogues which doesn’t show English or pinyin. This Chrome extension allows you to do just that: aK ChinesePod. To use this extension, you’ll need to first load the “text version” (not the PDF) of the ChinesePod transcript, linked to in the left sidebar download section of each lesson, right next to the PDF link. After opening it, click on the extension’s button to cycle through the various display options.

Desktop Software

Wenlin 4.0 is available for both PC and Mac (but not free). It’s a “reader” program with built-in dictionary. This means the main way to use it is to paste Chinese text in, then mouse over the words you don’t know to see pinyin and English translations. It has very powerful interlinked data, making it a great way to learn new vocabulary, learn new characters and their compositions, and learn how to write characters. (See also: Recent review of Wenlin 4.0, old review of Wenlin 3.0)

Mobile Apps

The two best smartphone operating systems out there today are iOS for iPhone and Android. Although the iPhone may have the edge for the time being (more info), either is a good choice if you want your phone to help you to learn Chinese (and you certainly should!).

The software we recommend for your “on-the-go Chinese dictionary” is:

[More iPad app suggestions on Sinosplice]

Flashcard Software

Anki is widely regarded as the best flashcard program (PC or Mac) for learning Chinese. After instaling Anki, make sure you do the following:

  1. Install the Pinyin Toolkit plugin

    File > Download > Shared Plugin… > Pinyin Toolkit

  2. Make sure your deck is using the Mandarin model

    Settings > Deck Properties

  3. When you add new cards, have it set to “Recognition, Production”