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Download our Chinese characters learning apps

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Learning to read and write Chinese characters involves two big challenges.

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Touch screen learning is ideally suited to learning a language like Chinese, sweeping away much of the uncertainty and cross checking. Rather than having a text book, audio CD and a notebook to practice in, the sound, instructions and writing are all brought together in one interactive experience.

Both apps can be used independently or as a revision tool for the 400+ characters taught on OUsL197 Beginners Chinese.

Why does Chinese sound so tonal? Dr Kan explains the myth of pronouncing Chinese characters.

China has a rapidly growing economy and a more influential role in international affairs: as it becomes a bigger player, more and more people want to interact in Chinas own language. Plus the Chinese language has more than 5,000 years of history and many of our students are fascinated by how the characters are drawn and the rich culture and stories embodied in characters.

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We launched our first Beginners Chinese course in November 2009. Many of our students work and study at the same time and some of them spend a lot of time travelling, and to be able to learn things in small bites on a mobile device would really help them make good use of their time.

Learn about Mandarin Chinese as a tool for communication and gain insights into Chinese society and culture. This free course, Beginners Chinese, provides a brief introduction to the Chinese language, its scripts and sounds, and how words are formed. You will hear short conversations where people greet each other, introduce themselves, describe where they come from and what they do for a living. Youll hear them talk about their daily activities and order food and drinks in a restaurant. This OpenLearn course will be easily accessible for those with some basic knowledge of Chinese.

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Why is an app an ideal way to learn a new language? Qian Kan, one of the team members behind the OU course Beginners Chinese and the Chinese Characters First Steps (Android only) and Chinese@OU apps (iOS and Android) explains.

For example, if you learn three single-character words for net ( wang), ball qiand to go on shng, you can then form three extra two-character words: tennis , to surf the internet and online . So once youve learned a handful of characters, theres a lot you can do with them.

If youre interested in learning Chinese, why not try a free course extract from Beginners Chinese:

The three elements are combined to help you recognise and remember characters.

Just like in other cultures, numbers have hidden meanings in Chinese culture too. Discover the philosophy behind the figures.

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Do you want to learn some basics in Mandarin Chinese? The tracks presented here are designed to give you a taste of Mandarin Chinese language and culture. Youll hear short conversations where people greet each other, introduce themselves and their families, describe where they come from and what they do for a living. Youll hear them talk about sports, ask for directions, buy things, order food in a restaurant, invite someone to dinner or simply share their experience of learning Chinese. Youll also find a track to help you with pronunciation and the use of tones. Finally, theres the chance to listen to interviews in English about Chinese-speaking cultures. Our guide to the language and culture of mainland China is Dr Kan Qian, who is chair of The Open University course: L197: Beginners Chinese You can also download transcripts for all the tracks.

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No, you do not need a special keyboard! You can easily enable Chinese font onto your computer, smartphone or tablet. And you can also add Chinese Handwriting onto most smartphones keyboard in order to use your touch screen to create typed characters.

Secondly, although some characters need only two or three strokes of the pen to write, the average character has around 12 strokes its a lot to remember!

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

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Chinese@OU app was released in April 2018 for bothiOSandAndroid. This is a much improved version of Chinese Characters First Steps. The design of more interactive activities was informed by our research (see Link innovation with teaching and research below for the research paper).The first 11 lessons of this app are free to download. The other 25 lessons will be released soon, five at a time, with a small charge.  The lesson numbers in this app correspond with session numbers in L197 books. To download the app, search for the App Store (iOS devices) or Google Play Store (Android devices), and click Install.This pdf has more details on the .

Firstly, there is the lack of correlation between the sound and the script: there are too many similar sounding words so one sound can be written in many different ways with different meanings.

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Download our Chinese characters learning apps

Chinese Characters First Stepsapp was first released in 2011. ItsAndroid versionwas released in 2014. Our OU students who have tried the app love it – one student told his tutor that it was the single most useful learning tool I have found. But we quickly discovered that there were many people who wanted to pick up the basics of Chinese without registering on a course. The app has had over 80,000 downloads. For example, some Chinese parents in the UK are using it to teach their children to learn to write characters. Also, in China when I showed the app to some parents, they like it too as they think this not only helps their children learn how to write characters, but also teach them the English words at the same time!

My teaching experience on Are our kids tough enough? Chinese school

Year of the Rooster: Chinese New Year

However, once you have built up about 100 characters, you will notice that you can use them to make up more words!

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Please note that the iOS version of this app no longer works with iOS 11+ but we have released an improved version (see below). The Android version of this app still works.The first five lessons, which contains over 100 characters and the related activities are free to download, and the other 15 lessons can be unlocked for a small fee. To download the app, search for Chinese Characters First Steps in Google Play Store, and click Install.This pdf has more information about the Android Chinese characters app.

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We would like to hear your feedback on Chinese@OU app.Please select this link to complete a short survey.

Download our Chinese characters learning apps

Ever wondered why 2008 Beijing Olympics opened at 8pm on the 8th day of the 8th month? Delve into the world of the Chinese language and culture with our collection.

You need up to a thousand characters to be confident in reading and writing. The app teaches you over 400 most frequently used characters, but also supports you in combining them to make new words and phrases.

As the Chinese celebrate the Year of the Rooster, why not learn how to write and pronounce basic Chinese words, or find out more about the people and culture?

How has research into childrens literacy shaped the iPad and iPhone Our Story application?

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You canread a research articleby Fernando Rosell-Aguilar and Kan Qian here on the design principles and learning outcomes of the Chinese Characters First Steps app.

From Duolingo to busuu, there are a variety of apps out there promising to revolutionise language learning – but how effective are they? Fernando Rosell-Aguilar explores…

They get a real sense of achievement when they can read and write simple texts in characters. If you travel to China or other Chinese speaking places, whether for business or pleasure, you can play with the app at the airport, and land in your destination able to recognise some signs and say some useful expressions such as computers and mobiles, the internet, shops, and travelling by train, taxi or plane.

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