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Chineasy: The New Way to Read Chinese Paperback – 10 Mar 2014

4.3 out of 5 stars 149 customer reviews

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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: 18.3 x 2.1 x 24.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

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. --AllMyGoodness.com

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.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
'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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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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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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Format: Paperback
This is a beautiful book but it's misleading, and almost to the point of being irresponsible. It's no way to learn Chinese characters and, worst of all, doesn't even provide a foundation. Most of what you'd learn though this book would have to be unlearned if you ever wanted to make serious progress - there is no effort to convey how the language actually works and the logic of the writing system as it actually is. I feel sorry for all the people who've purchased this - who may begin a long journey in the wrong direction - and also some sadness at the cynicism of the author and the publisher.
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Format: Paperback
this is the 'hologram' method of superimposing real life equivalents onto the characters themselves. There is more emphasis placed on the English meaning than the Chinese which is counter intuitive. You wont be able to converse nor read Chinese nor write it. Modern Chinese is also disyllabic and not monosyllabic so another reason why this so called method is totally defunct. No tone, no method for writing or speaking nor reading in context. The one star is for the fact that using passive memory (ie when you see the character) you may be able to remember what it means in English. There will be nil ability of recall. This is what happens when rich chinese want to make even more money; they come up with superficial 'all form no substance' get even richer quick schemes without fully understanding the needs of their intended audience.
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