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Chineasy: The New Way to Read Chinese [Paperback]

4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.95
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Book Description

10 Mar 2014
Learning Chinese is notoriously difficult and has long put off the most linguistically savvy Westerners... until now. Breaking down the Great Wall of language, ShaoLan Hsueh has unpicked Chinese characters and created a simple system for quickly understanding the basic building blocks of the written language. Working with renowned illustrator Noma Bar, she has developed a unique set of illustrations that are engaging and delightful, and offer a glimpse into the wonder of the Chinese language and culture. The books main section introduces the radicals the key characters on which the language is built and reveals how they can be combined to form a wealth of more complex words and phrases. In fewer than 200 pages, readers of all ages will have made the first steps towards a genuine appreciation of Chinese, loving every new character they learn.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Thames and Hudson Ltd (10 Mar 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500650284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500650288
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 18.6 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Taipei and now living in London, ShaoLan Hsueh is a creator, entrepreneur, geek, writer, traveller and dreamer.

Chineasy is based on a method that ShaoLan designed to help her two British born children learn to read Chinese. She launched Chineasy after a rousingly well-received TED Talk in Long Beach, California in 2013. Her aim with Chineasy is to help anyone in the world to understand China, Chinese culture and its language.

For her this is also an arts project, as she grew up in an artistic family, being the daughter of a ceramic artist and a calligrapher. She is connecting the dots by going back to her artistic upbringing, and connecting her life's journey through the East and West. and
Twitter: @ShaoLan_Hsueh and @Hello_Chineasy

Product Description


Graphically appealing, illustration-led new system for learning Chinese. --The Bookseller

Fear not, Grasshopper, learning Mandarin just got Chineasy ... may revolutionize the teaching of Chinese around the world ... In 25 minutes ShaoLan's method had done more for me than had two weeks of headaches clutching Collins's Easy Learning Chinese Characters. And that result probably speaks for itself. --The Sunday Times

If you've ever felt the urge to read Chinese but found the challenge overwhelming, help may be at hand. --The Wall Street Journal

Ingenious ... making learning Mandarin Chinese simpler ... fun, eye-catching designs. --The Independent on Sunday

Turns a fiendish world into a visual treat ... shines a spotlight of childlike clarity on the seemingly impenetrable world of Chinese ideograms ... beautifully illustrated. --The Guardian

An approachable introduction ... Chineasy succeeds in making familiar ideas memorable. It gives the beginner, confronted by a seemingly random scrawl of ideograms, somewhere to start in deciphering them. --The Economist

Could soon be unlocking secrets for everyone. --Metro

Filled with delightful illustrations. --Baby & Me

You'll love ShaoLan's Clever interpretation of Chinese characters! --Bored Panda

Easy peasy it's Chineasy! ... Not only does it look fantastic, thanks to the illustrations by Noma Bar, but it really works too. --Independent School Parent

Might be exactly what beginners need. --Travel in Taiwan

Brilliantly simple ... It is truly a very accessible system also for kids and I am already getting the hang of it. Don't miss out on this. Get the book, put it on your night stand and read a few pages every evening. It will give you access to a whole new world.

About the Author

Chineasy was created by the entrepreneur, investor, creator and author ShaoLan Hsueh. She launched this project after a rousingly well-received TED Talk in Long Beach, California in 2013. Several months later, she has built Chineasy into one of the most popular methods of learning Chinese across social media with more than 60 thousand+ followers across the Internet.
ShaoLan is an entrepreneur with extensive business experience in both Asia and Europe. At the age of 22 whilst studying for her MBA she wrote four best-selling books on software in Taiwan, which were awarded 'book of the year' after their publication. She co-founded pAsia, one of the major players on Internet in Asia in 1990's, aged 24. After a second masters degree at the University of Cambridge she began Caravel Capital which she founded in 2005 to advise young technology companies.
ShaoLan is active in the arts, education, current affairs and environmental matters.
She is a member of several management and advisory boards of non-profit organisations in the UK, including the Saïd Business School of Oxford University, Asia House, and the New School Network, an organisation backed by the British Government promoting educational reform.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
'Chineasy' is not, by any means, a book for learning Chinese, as most of its critics (judging from the negative reviews here and elsewhere) seem to believe. This fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose and function of this book can be blamed squarely on the author and publishers for promoting it as such (in TED talks, etc.), taking a charming little concept and hyping it up well out of proportion.

What this is, first and foremost, is an art book, something you can admire not just for the beautiful illustrations on the inside, but also for the way the book was put together and laid out. Secondly, if, like me, you are starting out on the nerve-wracking challenge of learning Chinese, this is a great way of demystifying the subject, presenting the logical thought processes behind what may seem like arbitrary and complicated symbols, and giving you an insight into the Chinese mentality. For these purposes, I couldn't recommend this book highly enough, and I've already memorised quite a few of the characters in its pages without applying any real effort.

But you can't possibly rely exclusively on this book to teach you the language. Aside from presenting an extremely small sample of Chinese characters, there's also the fact that they're mostly all traditional forms (most learners of Chinese will want to simplified characters, but even those who are after the traditional characters will find that some of them in here are simplified, as the author/illustrator picks whatever looks best for her purposes). Also, some of the characters (e.g. “argument”, p.47) are extremely rare or archaic forms that nobody uses anymore, as more than one of my Chinese friends pointed out to me when they looked inside. So, great book if you want to appreciate the art or use it as a supplement with real Chinese textbooks, but forget about it if you think it will be an “easy” way to learn the language.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy persuasion 26 Mar 2014
By Ilija
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A several people have advised me: "One must have a child imagination in order to learn Chinese characters". As an adult I have somewhat forgotten the ways of a child, but thanks to this book it's no problem at all. I'm just eager to finish the book and see the first results. I hope to see other and progressive continuation of the work of ShaoLan! Keep up with the excellent work!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple approach 20 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Easy to follow approach that made learning the language far less daunting than it had seemed before! Happy with the progress its helped me make but there is much more to learn than could be covered in one book.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is laid out very well and introduces you to the patterns and principles straight away. It's easy to follow and the complexity grows as you turn each page building upon your knowledge. I can't wait to get properly stuck in!
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Chineasy is a great book that teaches vocabulary in order of the visual construction of the characters, rather than in order of word frequency. Thus, you might learn 人 person (“person”, a standard introductory word) followed by 从 (“to follow”: one person behind the other) and 众 (“crowd”: three people), neither of which you would normally learn so early. I found this a very helpful way to learn characters quickly and remember them much better.

One downside to this is that you learn a lot of words that you are unlikely to be using any time soon, such as 人鱼 “mermaid”, 小鬼 “imp” and 公主 “princess”. Moreover, my Chinese friends tell me that a lot of words in the book are archaic, such as 犬 “dog” (which, in that case, I suppose might be translated more like “hound”?), and the book does not always mention this. That said, it is still useful to learn 犬 because the next character that follows is 吠, which is a combination of 口 “mouth” and 犬 and means “to bark”.

So while this character build up is useful, the book seems to miss on some obvious combinations and related characters that are a lot more frequent than, say, “mermaid”. For instance, it covers both 手 “hand” and 机 “machine” but not 手机 “mobile phone”; 酉 “wine vessel” (archaic) and 酒 alcohol (which adds 氵, the radical for water), but not the very common character 西 “west”; it covers both 明 “bright” and 白 “white” but not 明白 “to understand”, etc. In fact, there is very little overlap between the vocabulary covered in Chineasy and the vocabulary from the HSK vocabulary lists (which are organized by frequency).

Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this book and it helped me quickstart my character learning. I would recommend it and if a second volume ever came out I would definitely buy it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly, and heartily recommended this book ! 15 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have been wanting to learn Chinese for many years but have found previous teaching methods to be too dry and I had given up before gaining enough traction to move forward in the language.

I was intrigued with the methodology behind Chineasy and was tempted to give it a try.

What a difference !

Very soon you can even recognise everyday signs such as Exit, or Extinguisher - you can read a Chinese advert in a magazine and start to get the basics, and this is very satisfying.

Highly, and heartily recommended this book !
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beware of Kindle version 13 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Too early to say much about the contents and the method. Website is great. Found myself remembering the first basic characters after first viewing, so can't say fairer than that. I think there's huge potential for all sorts of learning materials based on this method.

However, no thought has gone into the Kindle version. Artistic design theme has been allowed to pervade the whole look and feel of book, therefore text is already very small, even in full sized book relative to the page. In Kindle version, the whole page has been bitmapped so unlike a normal Kindle book you have no zoom control, no control over text size at all. You can only ever display whole page and can't zoom it.

Problem - you need quite a large tablet, the size of a book, to be able to stand any chance of reading the text. e.g. on my Galaxy Note 3 phone - largest phone screen you can buy and as big as the smallest e-readers... not much smaller than an iPad mini...
it is impossible to read the tiny text.

Price of Kindle book was a no-brainer, but sadly its no use. Rather look out to see if they'll have a subscription website to learn from when on the move. Because there's no doubt portability is the key to this kind of learning. Probably teach me to buy real books, which I do prefer if possible, but they need to put a bit more thought into this.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars :0# Buy this first! :)# if you like ideogaphs ! :)#
Great for kids of all ages - explains clearly the reasoning and history for those who need to know how things work to understand
Published 2 days ago by Keith Hoyle
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very interesting!
Published 15 days ago by Patrizia Cohen
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book
Fabulous idea.
Published 21 days ago by natwest visa
4.0 out of 5 stars Good way to start
The illustrations are great but the book needs to be more cohesive, with chapters perhaps linking similar information. I found myself jumping around to validate the words.
Published 1 month ago by Dan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fantastic book already getting the hang of the basics, great for reviewing Chinese translations.
Published 1 month ago by J Stokes
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 1 month ago by jean hockey
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great for actually learning Chinese
Good but not great for actually learning Chinese. There are lots of irrelevant characters featured in this book that most native speakers of Chinese do not even know as they are... Read more
Published 1 month ago by J. Grimsley
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great product,will use again
Published 1 month ago by xanmeo
5.0 out of 5 stars Helping me with my studies!
Love this book. Thought it was a bit of a gimmick and bought it out of curiosity and as a bit of a talking piece on the coffee table, But, as I'm already learning mandarin I... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Miss Walton
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good book
Published 2 months ago by Tananuj Indrambarya
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