Improving your Mandarin reading and listening without having to learn lots of characters

LingQ is about input, not about memorization. Learning the Chinese characters requires memorization. Therefore, I am striving to attain basic fluency in Chinese before concentrating on the characters, and I’m currently using what I consider to be a pretty innovative method to improve my extensive Chinese reading and listening skills without having to learn the characters:


1) I translitere the LingQ podcasts, which are beyond my current level in Chinese, using (which has the best transliteration software I’ve found so far, parsing the words correctly 99% of the time) and print the pinyin text on paper with a space between each line.


2) Once I’ve listened to the text and read along with the rough English translation, I go back and read the text on LingQ and write the definitions of the words I don’t know (highlighted in blue and yellow) above the pinyin in the printed paper text – you could also write them on the side.


3) Once I’ve finished that, I listen to the text again while reading along in pinyin and looking above the unknown words (or on the side of the text) for the definitions.


4) When I can understand the words while reading without looking at the definitions, I just listen, without reading.



I find that this is a great way to improve your listening and reading skills without have to know a lot of characters, as my brain still remember words written in letters better than in the characters. This will also help you to ‘pick up on’ words in your other listenings and readings.


Besides that, I find it more effective anyway to go back and learn the characters in a context you’re already familiar with and for words you already know on LingQ after using this method.


The Popup Chinese pinyinization tool can be found here



or simply by going to the homepage and clicking on ‘chinese tools’.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jbudding
    Jan 15, 2010 @ 15:38:34

    Hi David,I saw on your preposterous blog that you have been working with ChinesePod. Is that the same as ChinesePod101? In any case, how long have you been listening to this podcast and are you a free, basic oor premium subscriber? I have been thinking about signing up for this podcast and I would like to know how you like it.Thanks. John


  2. Trackback: How I learned to understand 1000 words of Mandarin in 1 month « Mandarin From Scratch
  3. Trackback: Learning the spoken language before the written, focussing primarily on audio input « Mandarin From Scratch

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