Beginner Chinese: Help!

Is there pinyin available? Also English translations? I have no idea what the characters mean and cannot work out what the audio means,

I suggest you search contents in our library that have pinyin and translations. Click on “show more filters” in the LIbrary and then go to “Resources” search for lessons that have script conversion and translations. You will also need to get a book that teaches you the characters.

Start with “Damn Simple Chinese” —> Login - LingQ

Afterwards you may try “ChinesePod Newbie Lessons” —> Login - LingQ

Both sets have Pinyin and English translations.

This Wikipedia article is an excellent introduction in Chinese characters:

There are more articles about the topic, just follow the links.

All characters can be found via this Pinyin index:

E.g. guo2 = 国 = country, etc.
There you’ll find stroke order and all other infos about a character.
See File:国-bw.png - Wiktionary

This book tells you everything about characters (simplified):

The best online dictionary is:


Squaring this post away with the “improve the library” post.

The Chinsepod newbie lessons on Lingq are ok, but only for the first week or so. After that, they are boring and not effective (note: the Damn Simple Chinese series are all Chinesepod newbie lessons).

There is a big gap between these newbie lessons and (useful/interesting) intermediate (B1-B2) lessons such as Slow Chinese and Clavis Sinica.

As the OP notes, there is also little in the way of transcripts in pinyin and English. Having a glut of elementary dialogues (with pinyin and English transcripts) is useful for gaining confidence in the first few months, as you find your way with mandarin.

Then there is another big gap, at Lingq Chinese, to good upper intermediate/ advanced lessons such as the Wolf and Hua hua series.

The bulk of this content gap, at Lingq Chinese, is currently “filled” by content that is neither natural, nor effective, for learning quickly (HSK preps, Chinese University course with painfully stilted dialogues).

A user cannot use the Lingq Chinese library to quickly, and effectively, learn Chinese. The key issue is content; the amount of available “natural dialogues” and transcripts at an elementary level (A2-B1), and available “natural” content at upper intermediate (B2).

I would recommend this approach to go to intermediate in Chinese quickly:

I would then recommend getting all the intermediate, upper intermediate, and advanced dialogues and transcripts from: Slow Chinese, Clavis Sinica, Visual Mandarin, Popup Chinese, FluentU and ChinesePod and working through these, once you get to intermediate level.

In this day and age, it only takes a short time to get to a C level in spoken Chinese. But most people get discouraged by available content, from any one provider.


I want to improve our library. If you any suggestions on how to improve our Chinese library please let me know. Natural dialogues at any level in any language are hard to come by.

I do know some Chinese people here in Vancouver. Tell me what you would like and I will see what I can do.

iaing wrote:
"There is a big gap between …
Then there is another big gap, …
… gap … is currently “filled” by content that is neither natural, nor effective, for learning quickly (HSK preps, … with painfully stilted dialogues). "

What do you mean by “natural”? …by “effective”?
Two Chinese peasants talking in some dialect about the weather???
Sorry, but I prefer (sometimes) unnatural, but clearly spoken dialogues using really high frequency (=effective) words.

iaing wrote:
"In this day and age, it only takes a short time to get to a C level in spoken Chinese. "

I disagree. Compared to European languages it takes a lot of effort and time.

The quickest and easiest way to improve the Chinese Lingq library would be to put all pre-Sep 2008 Chinesepod Mandarin-only dialogues onto the site along with their full transcripts (characters, pinyin and English).

This would add 400+ newbie/elementary Mandarin-only dialogues, and 400+ intermediate->advanced Mandarin-only dialogues. This is a wealth of free and readily available dialogues and transcripts, most of which is not on the site, at present. Just these dialogues alone are enough to get any dedicated learner well past B1 level in Mandarin, in less than a year.

I would then recommend adding all of the Slow Chinese dialogues and monologues (many of these are missing from the library), including their Mandarin and pinyin transcripts (I understand Xinyu is happy to release all the transcripts).

I would then clearly organise, and prioritise/highlight, what is worth listening to in the library:

A1 - Cpod newbie files, Lingq greeting
A2 - Cpod elementary files, Lingq greeting and eating out,
B1 - Cpod intermediate, shorter Clavis Sinica files, Slow Chinese (short dialogues)
B2 - Cpod Upper intermediate, Slow Chinese (long monolgues), shorter Wolf and Hua hua dialogues, longer Clavis Sinica files,
C - Chinesepod Advanced files, longer Wolf and Hua hua dialogues

I would then look at an agreement with popup chinese or visual mandarin to use some of their best dialogues and transcripts (as a form of promotion, for example) to pad out the B1, B2 and C1 content.

This is all anyone needs (if dedicated enough), to go from 0 level to between B2 and C1, in a year or two.

Apologies to U50623, but most of the remaining files (ie the vast majority of the Lingq Mandarin library) are just not best for learning Mandarin. One shouldn’t have to wade through it all, to find what is best.

iaing wrote:
"Apologies to U50623, but most of the remaining files (ie the vast majority of the Lingq Mandarin library) are just not best for learning Mandarin. "

I only hope you are not allowed to delete the “remaining files”. I disagree that ChinesePod, SlowChinese, Clavis Sinica is good and everything else is bad. Even ChinesePod can be quite boring after 50 lessons. It’s good if one can choose…

We are not going to subtract from our library. Rather we hope to add to it more natural content. I hope that in 2013 we will add more Chinese members who can help us do that.

If anyone has the ability to contact the various providers mentioned by iaing to obtain permission to use their material please go ahead and add these to the library.

We know that different people like different lessons at different times. If they particularly like a lesson they can “like” it with a rose. In time the most popular lessons will naturally be more prominent.

Members can also create Playlist at different levels of the lessons they particularly like. Playlists can be share.

If we all work together we can improve the Chinese library.

Help! We need a Chinese Vera! Actually, we need several.

Chinese members, if any of you can take the time to make some lessons similar to the ones those made by Vera for German, please do make some in Chinese! Vera has made many lessons on her daily activities and other themes. They are all interesting and useful.

Tell us, for example: How you get ready for work in the morning? How do you go to work? How you prepare tea? How do you prepare supper/dinner? How do you get dressed and what do you wear? What do you talk about with your friends? Have you had any interesting experiences recently? Short narratives, or conversations with a friend or family member, would be wonderful learning material for learners. Any genuine material from our members would be much better than lessons from books. Just try making one lesson and promoting it on the Forum. Any would be appreciated! Please write in simplified script and include a Pinyin transcript. Speak at a clear normal or slightly slower speed. You will gain points that you can use to speak with speakers of the language you are learning!