Hanping: A Comprehensive Chinese Dictionary App Suite for Android

I’ve been using Android on my phone much more recently, which given me some time to check out the collection of Hanping apps, an old staple in the Android phone user’s repertoire. There’s six apps in total:

  • Hanping Chinese Dictionary (with both a Lite and Pro version):
  • Hanping Chinese SoundBox: Allows for practicing the sounds of Chinese.
  • Hanping Chinese Popup: A nifty popup tool that lets you look up Chinese words in any app.
  • Hanping Chinese Camera: Allows you to look up any characters through the camera, and it works offline.
  • Hanping Cantonese Dictionary: A Cantonese dictionary in the same vein as the Mandarin Chinese dictionary.

Let’s take a closer look at what the Hanping apps have to offer! I’ll be focusing on the first three on the list, since I have not used either the Camera or the Cantonese dictionary yet.

Continue reading “Hanping: A Comprehensive Chinese Dictionary App Suite for Android”

Learning by Listening

I came across this article, which, while dated (2009), it reinforces much of what I believe we already should know:

“Our ability to learn new words is directly related to how often we have been exposed to the particular combinations of the sounds which make up the words. If you want to learn Spanish, for example, frequently listening to a Spanish language radio station on the internet will dramatically boost your ability to pick up the language and learn new words.”

Source: http://phys.org/news/2009-01-revolutionize-language.html

I’ve always been a strong proponent of this methodology, and believe that learning the sounds first before learning any of the phonetic systems–regardless if you’re using Pinyin or Zhuyin–is far more valuable than starting with entire chapters devoted to initials, finals, etc. That is, it gives you even more immersion in the language until it becomes background ‘noise’ that actually has some benefits for concentration and learning.

There’s even an interesting study that was done (found here) that explores the benefits of ambient noise on cognitive ability. Often times, while at work, driving to take care of chores, or even while walking around, I’ll put on some sort of audio to listen to. I have a collection of news, music, talk shows, food shows, movies, and podcasts that provide enough variety to listen to on a regular basis without getting bored or sick of what I am listening to.

That said, I will still try and repeat what I listen to a few times so that I can become more and more familiar with what is being discussed and get used to the nuances in the way different people are speaking. It’s a really great method to get Chinese into your subconscious so you can still learn without necessarily focusing on it.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be putting together various sources and recommended items to listen to. I added a new section, Audio, where you can easily find more posts in this category and hopefully find some audio you’ll enjoy listening to to help practice.

If you have any you’d recommend, please share them in the comments below!

Vocab Friday: Tea

茶 (chá)

tea

茶壺 [茶壶] (cháhú)

teapot

紅茶 [红茶] (hóngchá)

black tea

(literally “red tea”, which was probably named for the color of the tea after brewed, while “black tea” referred to the color of the leaves from roasting)

綠茶 [绿茶] (lǜchá)

green tea

烏龍茶 [乌龙茶] (wūlóngchá)

oolong tea

普洱茶 (Pǔ’ěrchá)

Pu’er tea (my personal favorite!)

茉莉花茶 (mòlihuāchá)

jasmine tea

菊花茶 (júhuāchá)

chrysanthemum tea

抹茶 / 末茶 (mǒchá)

green tea powder, that is, Japanese matcha

茶具 (chájù)

tea set; the tools used to prepare tea (this includes the teapot, the cups, a tea tray and many other tools)

茶杯 (chábēi)

teacups

Measure word: 隻 [只] (zhī)

Mengdian (萌典)

As far as pure Chinese language dictionaries go, this is one of the best ones out there. It has a smart new interface and pulls from a larger variety of sources. It’s a good resource to have when you come across any ambiguities in the English definitions for Chinese characters or phrases. I often like to pop into this dictionary to verify that I understand the meaning of the characters that I’m using. They source this dictionary directly from Taiwan’s Ministry of Education. You can choose the phonetic system you want, but entries are in Traditional Chinese only.

Included in the app are also dictionaries for Taiwanese and Hakka, which are fun to reference if you happen to encounter those languages quite often (as happens in Taiwan).

Another really great thing about this dictionary is that you can get it for Android, iOS, as well as download it on Windows, OSX and even Linux.

Check out the online version here: https://www.moedict.tw/ There are links to the mobile apps at the top right of the page.

Pleco

It’s really hard to beat Pleco in terms of overall functionality, accessibility (both on iOS and Android), and the sheer number of add-ons that you can get. The variety of dictionaries available for purchase is also a huge asset that makes Pleco invaluable to any Chinese student. However, it is a significant investment to get in all of the features you might want to use (aside from a few dictionary options, pretty much all of the other add-ons cost money. For example, the app has a handwriting recognizing but costs $10 for the enhanced version). One of my favorite add-ons, however, are the Chinese <> Chinese dictionaries, seen in the first entry below.

Find out more about Pleco here.

 

Outlier Chinese

The Outlier Dictionary and accompanying posters started out as a Kickstarter project.

The app itself appears to still be in development, but from the previews online (see the image just below), it looks to be a very comprehensive and promising dictionary.

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 7.33.29 AM

In the meantime, they have two “Semantic Components” posters (not to be confused with radicals!), of which there are 100 in total. There’s plenty of detail on the posters, including the pronunciation, stroke order, variants, examples and more. These look great on the wall of any serious student.

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 7.35.44 AM

MDBG

MDBG has been around for a while, it is almost the staple online dictionary for Chinese language students. I started using it back when I first started taking Chinese in college, and have been using it ever since. Whether I am working on a translation, need a quick lookup, or just want to double check the Simplified/Traditional variant of a specific character, I find MDBG to be my go-to online dictionary.

It has these other great features:

  • handwriting recognition for writing characters if you don’t know the Pinyin to type it in;
  • looking up by radicals;
  • Chinese and Pinyin typing interfaces

Check it out here.

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 7.31.32 AM

 

Mandarin Poster

At the core, Mandarin Poster is just what it says it is–a poster for Mandarin. But it had a simple goal: create a study aid for the most basic Chinese characters to help beginners track their progress, while more advanced learners can see how they’re progressing as well as reference back to what they’ve learned before. So it’s a pretty universal tool, with fairly humble beginnings.

For starters–there’s now two character posters! There’s the original poster, which covered 1,000 characters, and now a second one which covers a further 1,000 characters. Not only that, but they also have a 1,500 character poster now as well.

They’ve also got an Elements of Chinese poster, which contains the most common components of the most common characters.

There’s more to be seen there, including self-print editions of their posters, typography maps, and a radical scroll (with both Pinyin and Zhuyin).

Hanping

I’ve already gone over this dictionary a bit in my Chinese Learning Apps for Android post, which you can take a look at here as well as in the recent tone colors post. The developer keeps the app updated regularly, and there is a whole series of related apps, including a soundboard and a Character popup reference tool.

Hanping is an Android exclusive app, but there’s a free version and a pro version available. The Pro version is totally worth the small investment, and opens up a bunch of great features, including AnkiDroid Flashcards and multi-dictionary support.

The free version is no slouch either, and includes handwriting recognition and audio pronunciation. So if you were on a tight budget, Hangping’s free version is a great option to start with (plus, no ads!).

Check out this more comprehensive review I put together, including the rest of the apps in the Hanping suite.

Check it out on Google Play here.