Speaking, reading and writing Mandarin Chinese is quickly becoming one of the most popular and important skills to learn in the Western hemisphere. As the mother tongue for over one billion people around the world, it is widely recognized as an essential language for use in business, finance and politics.
For non-native speakers, particularly in the West, Mandarin Chinese can be a fascinating but formidable language to learn, let alone master. To begin with, it’s a tonal language: there are four basic tones, each of which has its own distinct sound, and the definition of a word will change to an entirely new and different meaning if spoken in a different tone. In other words, when pronouncing a particular word, the correct tone must be used, or else the entire meaning of the word will change.
While speaking the language can be difficult, learning to read and write in Chinese is even more of a challenge, especially when you consider there are over a thousand characters in the language you will need to recognize and understand. Each character has its own distinct definition, and a single missing (or extra) stroke can change its meaning entirely. When one character is written next to another character, however, the new word can then take on a new and an entirely unrelated meaning from each of the original characters. Furthermore, each character in the Chinese language must be written using an order-specific series of strokes and marks, which follow a very particular direction when drawn.
To further complicate matters, there are two types of Mandarin Chinese: traditional and simplified. In the early and middle part of the twentieth century, a pared-down, “modernized” version of Mandarin characters was developed promote widespread literacy among the Chinese population. It was thought that more people could learn to read Chinese fast with simplified characters. Traditional Chinese was no longer taught n the schools, and entire generations we raised to learn the new, simplified version. Although traditional Mandarin is still used in Hong Kong, Taiwan and other countries with a sizeable Chinese population, mainland China itself now uses the simplified version, and it is the version of Mandarin Chinese most commonly used and accepted throughout the world.
There are a lot of potentially confusing differences between traditional and simplified Chinese. Through the efforts to simplify and standardize Chinese reading and writing, character strokes were reduced, words that contained two characters were now only written with one, and much of traditional Mandarin writing evolved and morphed to the point that it’s now almost entirely unrecognizable from its original form. In fact, even people who grew up reading and writing only traditional Mandarin oftentimes have trouble parsing many of the modernized characters, and some even take entire courses to learn to read Chinese fast with simplified characters. Fortunately, there is now an invaluable tome to assist anyone who wants to learn simplified Chinese quickly and permanently, whether it’s a newcomer to the Mandarin language, or an intermediate-level or advanced student.
Simplified Characters: Master 2,197 Characters in No Time, Second Edition is an indispensible resource for anyone studying and learning simplified Chinese. Dr. Alan Hoenig has developed a special memory technique that allows the reader to understand and forever retain the meaning of more than two thousand Chinese characters — over 96 percent of simplified Chinese — at a faster-than-average rate. By increasing the speed and intensity of the reader’s ability to remember basic characters, the book then builds upon this fundamental knowledge to teach other, more advanced characters. In this way, the reader may be able to recognize and correctly write up to 2,197 within only a couple of weeks.
This updated edition has a brand-new, easy-to-follow format, which includes detailed illustrations and clear diagrams explaining the order and direction of each stroke for every simplified character –- basic and advanced — as well as the definition and correct phonetic pronunciation (including tone) for each one. This is an important feature since, as noted above, each stroke in a single Chinese character, simplified or traditional, follows a specific direction, and it is as crucial to follow the proper form and direction in writing a word as it is to use the proper tone when saying it out loud. Additionally, as in the previous version, there are plenty of accompanying texts to help the reader understand the meaning and context of simplified Chinese writing. However, in the new edition many of the existing narratives have now been revised to read more clearly and concisely, making it easier to understand, absorb, and review. Furthermore, and perhaps most significantly, a number of new characters have been introduced for the reader to learn. The book still retains the special, little-known method by which to remember them, so although the reader’s education will now be far more robust, the subject matter can still be absorbed in a very short period of time. This is a great advantage to those who are in a hurry and don’t have the time to devote to a lengthy reading and writing course.
Since the only way to get good at something – especially learning a new language – is to practice, practice, practice, one of the best additions to the updated version is the inclusion of website urls to access free downloads of flashcards and review materials from the Internet. This is a wonderful addition to learn to read chinese fast simplified characters, as it allows the reader constant application and review of the invaluable content in the book.
Although learn to read chinese fast simplified characters is a thorough and essential resource for learning simplified Chinese, it’s important to note that it’s not a language study guide per se; nor is it a history on the evolution and modernization of simplified Mandarin Chinese or a quick, handy reference for Chinese phrases. Rather, it is an essential asset for anyone who needs a profound understanding of simplified Chinese but only has a small amount of time in which to learn it. What the book actually does is provide a key system for the reader to quickly and efficiently memorize the appearance, definition, and proper writing of simplified Chinese characters. If you are looking for an excellent way to quickly and thoroughly understand simplified Mandarin Chinese, Learn to Read Chinese Fast! Simplified Characters, Second Edition is for you.
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