Recommended material/resources to use along side HanziHero?

Ref the title: Do you guys have any recommendations on resources to use along side HanziHero?

Disclaimer I just started learning Chinese the last 1-2 months, but any tips for the potential future is also highly appreciated :smile:

I’ve been thinking about trying out some anki decks like Spoonfedchinese and some others ones that gives you sentences with just some new stuff for each card. (When I learned Spanish and a tiny bit of German I quickly noticed that anki decks with sentences are much better than just single words in general, with respect to learning potential due to context and motivation.)
Do you have any specific anki recommendations?

I’ve also been using the hellochinese app a little - I just hit the hsk1 mark the other day, but the gamification apps can be a little bit hard for me when it comes to motivation.

Recently I’ve been thinking about finding a Chinese grammar book that is kind of equivalent to the Japanese Genki books - as they seem highly recommend.

So… Do you guys have any good recommendations? Books, anki decks, apps or otherwise? :smile:

Is there any aspect of Chinese you want to focus on more than others? For example, focusing more on listening over reading. That can help me give better recommendations.

If you are learning traditional characters or focusing on Taiwanese accented material, I think any of these two book series are pretty good:

  • Practical Audio-Visual Chinese
  • A Course in Contemporary Chinese

I’m sure the most popular simplified/mainland book series equivalent is equally good. Really, most of these textbooks are quite similar in the end.

If you go through any textbook, I recommend you focus on audio via the method I outline in this post

I haven’t gone through any grammar resources. But just the AllSet Grammar Wiki alone should be a good starting point!

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For grammar I’ve been using “Basic Chinese: A Grammar and Workbook” by Yip Po-Ching. It’s a good mix of being beginner friendly, but teaches from an analytical/linguistics perspective. I like this approach because it gives you important insights that any native speaker would have internalized, but not consciously realize and teach you about. The downside is it doesn’t really focus on chinese-101 esque phrases like “hello”, “my name is”, “where is the bathroom?”, if you want to dive right into speaking.


Welcome tuobiyasi!
Great choice.
What are the main reasons you started to learn Chinese?

I’m trying to learn Simplified Characters, and the focus would be the most generic Chinese accent in China and appropriate for learning Chinese for communicating in China. Of course learning Traditional Characters and learning the Taiwanese accent would be cool too, but that would be after I get a grasp on the former :sweat_smile: And Traditional characters would probably just confuse me more at this point :grey_question: :grey_question:

I’m focusing on both reading and speaking, but given that I don’t live in China a decent reading proficiency would probably be easiest to achieve. But I’ve been watching shows like King’s Way (Netflix) and Qin Empire (Netflix) and my pronunciation and basic understanding seems to be improving according to my Chinese friend. Of course I’m very basic still, but apparently I’ve improved much more than was expected :nerd_face: :sweat_smile:

One of the motivations for learning Chinese would be that in the recent 1-2 years found it quite fun and challenging to learn new languages, and after somehow becoming (semi-)fluent in Spanish (according to maybe too friendly Spaniards and Latinos :eyes: ) I thought why not try to learn the hardest language to learn for an European like me - according to the interwebz. And also travelling to China for some months and being able to survive with (and improve) Chinese would be really cool :star_struck:

Thanks for tips @kevin and @lorentz ! I will check them out!

Yep, the number way to improve pronunciation is simply listening as much as possible!

I’ve read many blogs and other sources of anecdotal information over the years. The common trend seems to be those that have a great accent simply watched a bunch of YouTube, TV, etc.

Unfortunately, the other side of this is that those who focus too much on reading end up having a more unnatural way of speaking. So it is not uncommon to meet someone who can read a book in Chinese with ease but have trouble both hearing and speaking Chinese!

I myself prefer reading, but after discovering the importance of listening w/r/t pronunciation, I made a pact with myself that I will never read more than hear in a day. I think it has worked out for me. And like anything, the more you do something, the more enjoyable it becomes. Now I prefer watching Chinese YouTube and the likes more than reading, and have to sort of intentionally carve out reading time. Before it was the opposite!

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Btw, I wanted to add that I just started listening to the Learn Mandarin Chinese with Paul Noble for Beginners. And it seems really good for starting to learn basic spoken Chinese and grammar. I had been planning on doing the Chinese course that Language Transfer ( ) is supposed to release with their new platform, but I’ve been waiting for a while. I’ve also been considering Michel Tomas (Learn Mandarin Chinese – Learn to Speak Mandarin Chinese with the Michel Thomas Method Mandarin Chinese audio course) , but it seemed kind of expensive for just trying it out. I actually found the first Michel Thomas Mandarin course on Audible split into 9 books though - sadly no one in all for 1 credit :eyes: .

Two places to get Learn Mandarin Chinese with Paul Noble for Beginners (I’m currently using Scribd after having used Audible for many years, there are pros/cons for both, but on Audible you would get the book permanently for 1 credit without having to continue subscribing I think - if i remember correctly :thinking: )

There are also intermediate courses available

And this essential thingie which I dunno if is a short basic or what it is :thinking:

I’ve been a fan of Language Transfer the last year, especially since they do it all for free which is kind of interesting, but also probably detrimental to further content creation - until the new idealistic platform is launched though :star_struck: And after googling some Language Transfer, Paul Noble and Michel Thomas seems to be kind of teaching in the same way which I enjoy a lot - which other people probably can explain better than me… But anyways I think any of those three probably would be a good supplement to my(/our?) Chinese learning journey, as they kind of give you a private tutor (through audiobooks), which for me is the secret sauce for keeping motivated and knowing what core stuff to learn to build further on.

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My current plan - which will probably change a lot over time:

  • Keep doing HanziHero (until done and then some, maybe do some breaks on new content along the way :thinking: )
  • Aim to finish Learn Mandarin Chinese with Paul Noble for Beginners
  • Put HelloChinese on hold as I find doing it soooooooooo tedious - dunno if it’s the phone or what it is that makes me so mentally tired from using HelloChinese. It was the same for me with Duolingo/LingoDeer/etc (anyone else in the same situation?)
  • Keep on watching Chinese tv shows that I find interesting. About to finish Qin Empire season 3 on netflix (can’t find season 4 anywhere), and I don’t really know anymore cool ones to watch :scream: I really loved Qin Empire and King’s Way, I like history dramas with the added bonus of learning some Chinese :sweat_smile:

Next steps:

  1. Do Paul Noble intermediate course
  2. Do Langauge Transfers Chinese course (if released)
  3. After finishing all Langauge Transfer and Paul Noble content, consider splurging on Michel Thomas :thinking:
    ?. Somewhere in here consider getting a Chinese grammar textbook

Any tips or thoughts are highly appreciated :smile:

Yeah, I also found HelloChinese no better than Duolingo (which is to say, not great for me) when I tried using it years ago.

For finding TV shows, you can always check out the Chinese equivalent of IMDB:

I also found MyDramaList to be pretty decent for finding notable Taiwanese dramas.

I think your plan sounds good, though I haven’t used many of the courses you have mentioned. You have the right idea on involving native content as early as possible, if for no other reason than to serve as a motivational backdrop. My personal learning path was:

  1. Listen to textbook dialogues and podcasts for learners repeatedly
  2. Use (an early verison of) HanziHero to slowly grind out characters each day, indefinitely
  3. Watch dubbed anime repeatedly with every spare minute once I could understand >50%
  4. Practice reading here and there by either reading Japanese manga translated into Chinese (that is what everyone reads in Taiwan) and, earlier on, the famous DeFrancis series of graded readers.

Most of that applies across both script types. But the DeFrancis readers and manga one can find easily online is all traditional. I think Bilibili has a manga section now that will have simplified translations, but that requires a VPN and such to set up which I have never tried to do.

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May I ask, how did you find deFrancis? I almost finished its first volume, stopping near the end, somewhat overwhelmed by the sheer amount of reading. I do feel that going through the whole series would be very useful as it does a great job drilling characters into the brain. Plus, occasional bits about China in the 70-ties, contemporary recordings… One of my Chinese colleagues, now retired, had a similar voice cadence, which I found really peculiar.

Most graded readers use simplified Chinese, so there were not many to choose from. I stopped towards the end of the second book. I think in retrospect just the first book alone gets you most of the benefit, as it gets you used to reading Chinese, and the sheer volume reinforces it by allowing you to focus on reading instead of massive amounts of characters and words.

After that I just went straight to manga, starting with Yotsuba& (四葉妹妹).

I never used the voice recordings that are available, out of a perhaps misplaced obsession about only hearing Taiwanese accented Chinese. Almost certainly should’ve in retrospect.

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Status update I suppose :sweat_smile:

I ended up finding the Qin Dynasty Epic tv series, which might actually be the Qin Empire season 4 I saw mentioned somewhere - as it starts directly after Qin Empire season 3 (or actually a little bit before, but focusing on also new important characters for the future of the Qin Empire). The romance of the three kingdoms tv series is in my backlog, I know there exists at least two versions. I’ve also added the a simplified version of the Journey West to a reading list somewhere when I have a larger vocabulary, this one I think.

And I’m finding Learn Mandarin Chinese with Paul Noble for Beginners very good, and in just 2 hours it’s making me much more confident in speaking than HelloChinese ever did. But I do notice that I did pick up relevant vocabulary from HelloChinese which helps me pick up things faster both in Paul Nobles lectures and HanziHero. So I don’t think it necessarily was time wasted (reached HSK1 waypoint), but I think these other resources - Paul Noble & HanziHero - teach me the most relevant stuff at a faster rate.

So my current regime is

  • HanziHero
  • Paul Noble
  • Consuming Chinese media - At the moment: Qin Dynasty Epic
  • (And oppressing Chinese acquaintances by practicing my Chinese with them when I meet them - the reactions varies from mildly annoyed :sweat_smile: to very excited seeing someone learning their language.)

I still haven’t touched a grammar book, but maybe that can wait until I’ve atleast finished HSK1 (closing in :eyes: ) or 2 at HanziHero, or that I’ve finished the beginner Paul Noble course. Mildly annoyed that the new HSK levels contain so many more characters, but it seems to make sense and just pushing myself to follow the new HSK levels will probably just lead to more and better learning :nerd_face: (given that the motivation holds up :eyes: Current milestone goals are learning 300-600-900-1200 characters)

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Planning on checking out the above mentioned book after a while. Also this distribution mentioned in this quora answer is interesting (couldn’t find the source)

Though different analyses may vary in results, the character frequency investigation is the methodology for finding the answer to your question. I’m not an expert on this topic and I haven’t known any research that is focused on the “newspaper corpus”, but anyway this statistical material for general text from Tsinghua University would be of some help

Char Cumulated Frequency

500 78.53202
1000 91.91527
1500 96.47563
2000 98.38765
2500 99.24388
3000 99.63322
3500 99.82015
4000 99.91645
4500 99.96471
5000 99.98633
5500 99.99553
6000 99.99901
6479 100.00000

This seems to be a free Playlist of this “easy” version and more hopefully “easy” versions of other classical Chinese literature - like Mulan (I heard they supposedly hate the Disney version over there :eyes:)

Note: Journey to the west book 1 is at the bottom of the Playlist

For pronunciation, I found AllSet Learning’s Chinese pronunciation wiki useful:

For example:

Just look at each phrase, press the button, say it yourself and repeat!

And if you want a teacher to go through pronunciation with you, they do courses (10 lessons of 30 minutes each) just for this:

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hi guys, thank you for the service, it is amazing, i am studying daily for couple months, for now I know already about 150 characters\words (plusminus).
I can say the memorisation technic is pretty much effective, i can answer upto ~92% correct items during review session, however it seems like i am creating successfully connection between written characters and meaning+pronunciation, still never really do same to connect meaning and pronunciation, so each time i need to remember how to say each word I need to remember characters and then i can remember pronunciation and vice versa.
Has anyone faced similar situation, what resources i can use with HanziHero to resolve it? Or what resources are recommended at the stage (150 words are below HSK1)
Thank you in advance!

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My understanding of your question is that you find the recall of words/characters when speaking to be difficult, as you need to mentally picture the characters and so on.

This is a pretty advanced topic, but I find that listening/speaking are completely different skills than reading/character-memorization. This makes sense when we consider that one can be illiterate but still speak perfect Chinese and understand all that is said. Likewise, I’ve met people who read Chinese literature without much difficulty Chinese but have trouble reading aloud with good pronunciation or holding a smooth conversation.

In my own experience, the best way to improve speaking is to first improve listening. In fact, it is sort of required, since the main reason to practice speaking is for communication, and this benefit is substantially less beneficial if we cannot fully understand the replies to what we say. For listening resources, there should be a bunch of beginner-focused YouTube videos you can watch. I found listening to the audio recordings that come with textbooks to be the best resource as the difficulty is very manageable and can be adjusted by going to latter or earlier chapters as needed.

After that, for speaking alone, the usual recommendation is to listen to audio and repeat after it. This takes the form of either “shadowing”, which is to do this in real time in short bursts, and “chorusing”, which is to repeat the same phrase again and again after a tidbit of native audio. I’ve found good progress with both. As I practice with these methods, I find the pronunciation of the words I repeat really gets cemented in my mind as well, which addresses the original question you had.

Hope that helps.