Read! Read! Read! - The only way to help you fly off the ground on your Chinese learning

When it comes to language learning, most people would work on three language skills altogether: reading, speaking and listening. Since they are three essential ways to communicate with others in any languages, no doubts about it.
However, when it comes to Chinese, people start to hesitate. Can I just learn how to speak? Can I only learn reading in pinyin? Could any learner eventually be able to read and understand a novel in Chinese?
The bottom line is, to be able to read Chinese articles and make the sense out of each word is an endeavor that is comparable of climbing a snow covered mountain. :-)
I'd like to challenge it by putting out a mini novel that is purposely written with Chinese learners in mind. It is presented with pinyin, English translation, and also vocabulary table. You don't need to look up new word in a seperate window if you don't have pop-up dictionary, each single word can be looked up in the vacab table.
The story of the mini novel is simple concept too, though it is a good story in my opinion. The whole mini novel is devided into 6 posts with only two to three paragraphes on each post to make it easy for you to read in a limited time slot each day. People are extremely busy nowadays ... aren't you? :-)
You'll come across words and idioms like this in the story:
战斗 戰鬥 zhan4 dou4 to fight; to battle; CL:場|场[chang2],次[ci4];
故事 故事 gu4 shi4 old practice; CL:個|个[ge4];
深深 深深 shen1 shen1 deep; profound;
吸引 吸引 xi1 yin3 to attract (interest, investment etc); CL:個|个[ge4];
并且 並且 bing4 qie3 and; besides; moreover; furthermore; in addition;
悄悄 悄悄 qiao3 qiao3 quietly;
爱上 愛上 ai4 shang4 to fall in love with; to be in love with;
Hope the tiny novel can help you learn and reenforce these vocabs among others:
Give it a try and let me know how I can improve? Any suggestions are very well welcomed!
This was originally published on the Study More Chinese Blog

(photo credit #eelco)

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Comment by Grace on August 21, 2012 at 3:28am


That’s a smart choice to learn Chinese on comics, with the help of illustrations … but be aware that sometimes sentence on comics are too oral or shortened that it is even harder to “decode”.

Nevertheless, the more reading practice you have, the stronger feel of language you get… 

Feel free to feed back on my mini novel if you got a chance to read it... thanks...



Comment by Pamela Y (楊梅) on August 20, 2012 at 11:27pm

Thanks! Lately I have been trying to tackle some of my chinese comics and like you said it is terribly hard. I will defiantly be looking out for these thanks so much!

Comment by Grace on August 18, 2012 at 12:02am


Take your time to finish, there's no rush here. I do appreciate your help in my writing ... that's a very good learning experience for me too.

I've updated my post with the one you edited (with your name addressed in the thank you note). Whenever you have new versions, please let me know so I can update on my site.

Much appreciated ...


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Comment by Thomas Doherty on August 17, 2012 at 7:44pm

I didn't really finish.  There were a few lines that I ignored entirely so far since they sounded OK but I did not compare those lines with the Chinese yet.  But if you want to use this version in your post go ahead and if we agree on more changes later we can just replace this version also.

Comment by Grace on August 17, 2012 at 11:21am

Wow, Thomas! Thank you so much for helping me out on my English writing!

I did a comparison between your translation and my own and did see the fixes you did. :-) 

I'm really happy to see a fluent English translation of my own writing work. If you don't mind, I want to use your translation in my post. Please let me know whether it's OK...

I was struggled quite a bit on translating the sentence of "英模的演讲". It is interesting to see the way you translated it: "presentations of the soldiers' medals". Give me 100 more chances I wouldn't think about that phrase!! Urrrh... imagine how frustrated one could get after 26 years of English study :-((

Top Member
Comment by Thomas Doherty on August 17, 2012 at 10:25am

Here is my fast translation with respect to your translation.  I will spend more time on it.


She was a gentle and good looking girl raised by an adoptive family. Her adoptive parents couldn’t bear child of their own. The couple loved her as their own daughter.
That year, Vietnam was having a war with China on the border. School students were organized to visit military hospitals and attend presentations of the soldiers' medals. They visited the wounded soldiers in the wards afterward.
Growing up in the city, she was deeply drawn to those bloody battle field stories. She even fell in love with a guy, who had lost both legs in the war.
She volunteered to take care of him in the hospital. She talked with him, and helped him to stay clean. The two young hearts became closer and closer. On the day he was released from the hospital, she made an announcement to her family that she decided to give up her studying and to marry him. She would go with him to live in the remote mountain area.

Comment by Grace on August 17, 2012 at 4:21am

" I try and identify repeating patterns in characters and learn to use them like building blocks. " That's definitely a good method. If you can combine that with pronunciation pattern and "meaning" radical, it'll be even more efficient. I'll publish a post on that soon.

As for you classmate, he's taking one step ahead on his speaking rather than writing, which is fine to start with. But sooner or later, he'll meet the bottleneck if he wants to have his language skill pushed one ladder up. Just like you mentioned... :-)



Comment by Ruaridh Maxwell/麥儒叡 on August 16, 2012 at 8:13pm

For my own learning, I try and identify repeating patterns in characters and learn to use them like building blocks.  I did have one classmate who had worked in Shanghai for a year, and had become quite proficient in spoken Chinese, however, had never bothered to learn the characters.  Sufficed to say, he struggled significantly in the written work that we were set.

Comment by Grace on August 16, 2012 at 11:14am

Hi 麦儒锐,

Thanks for your commenting! I do feel the vocab table is a bit too long. However, to cover each single word in the few paragraphes is not even possible to be short. That being said, I'll probably review the table and make some cuttings.

As for learning Chinese characters, it might look a bit challenging at the beginning. With the right methodology and a bit of persistence, it is absolutely doable and rewarding. Honestly, I don't understand how could anyone grasp Chinese without being able to recognize characters.

The key point here is, you don't have to be able to write Chinese characters by hand, be able to recognize them is totally sufficient. However, writing them on paper is a good practice for one's brain to memorize them. 


Comment by Ruaridh Maxwell/麥儒叡 on August 16, 2012 at 1:20am

Wow!  Loads of new vocab to learn in that story, but good experience nonetheless.  I've found that a lot of what you said is true when it comes to learning Chinese.  Many students are very hesitant to take up characters, as it's such a different writing system to the ones that they're familiar with, and they often end up using pinyin as a crutch.

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