ChineseMe

The integrated Chinese course
for committed learners

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default screenshot me screenshot audio screenshot dialog screenshot pronunciation screenshot help screenshot exercise screenshot calligraphy screenshot stroke screenshot etymology screenshot
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Everything you need in one course

personalized vocabulary icon Personalized vocabulary
audio icon Audio
dialog icon Interactive dialogs
pronunciation icon Pronunciation training
ask experts icon Ask the experts
exercise icon Exercises
calligraphy icon Calligraphy
stroke order icon Stroke order
etymology icon Etymology

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as well as the latest news about the project.

Why ChineseMe?

Teleport yourself into Chinese reality

If you want to understand a country, learning words and grammar is not enough - you also need to understand culture and social norms. Every text and illustration in our book contains cultural clues to help you socialize and make friends in China.

“Chinese culture is so rich, understanding how to behave in China is an eye-opener.”
“Chinese culture is so rich, understanding how to behave in China is an eye-opener.”

A course that adapts itself to your interests

In the first lesson, we will help you find a Chinese name for yourself. As you go through the course, you will continue to learn specific vocabulary directly linked to your personal ambition and interests.

“I’ve never seen a textbook like this. Learning to say my own name on the first page was a real surprise!”
“I’ve never seen a textbook like this. Learning to say my own name on the first page was a real surprise!”

The book is the interface

The ChineseMe experience is based on an interactive textbook. Sure, apps with games and other gimmicks may help you to study a foreign language – but the most fundamental tool is always having a pedagogically organised reference textbook with useful and fun dialogs. ChineseMe is totally personalised; you can follow the lessons at your own pace while enjoying the interactive content.

"The format is a super combination of a printed textbook format and an app. I always know where I am, and I can go back to check things I learned previously, but everything is interactive.”
"The format is a super combination of a printed textbook format and an app. I always know where I am, and I can go back to check things I learned previously, but everything is interactive.”

Research-based pedagogy

Every lesson has been carefully developed to help you learn things in the right order. Words come back regularly, before you can forget them. Pronunciation, vocabulary and sentence patterns are continuously reinforced through integrated interactive exercises. We believe this method is by far the fastest and most effective way of mastering Mandarin Chinese.

Lessons are structured around key elements such as Pronunciation, Patterns, Characters and Dialogs.
"Lessons are structured around key elements such as Pronunciation, Patterns, Characters and Dialogs."

Learn to speak - and understand - Chinese!

Mastering pronunciation right from the beginning is crucial to making progress in Chinese. We focus on teaching you the sounds of the language and not just how to spell them in pinyin. Every character, word, example sentence and dialog comes with audio recordings by some of China’s best-known radio hosts, so that you learn the correct, official accent. Audio files are available at two speeds - “slow" and “natural" – and we use several voices to get you used to listening to different people.

“The pronunciation parts are perfect! I find it hard to learn things if I don’t know how to pronounce them.”
“The pronunciation parts are perfect! I find it hard to learn things if I don’t know how to pronounce them.”

Crystal clear explanations

The course is built on sentence patterns - the ideal way of learning Chinese grammar without complicated theoretical explanations. And when we do explain grammatical structures, we use terms and ideas that have been developed especially for Mandarin Chinese. Every word and example has been carefully selected for maximum usefulness, and we continuously incorporate student feedback to improve the course.

“You really know how to explain difficult concepts.”
“You really know how to explain difficult concepts.”

Calligraphy and stories to help you memorize characters

Chinese characters take a lot of effort to learn. We try to make this easier by focusing on the most common characters first, and maximizing the words you can build using already memorised characters. We are also the first course ever to integrate both calligraphy and character etymology as mnemonic aids.

“I loved Johan Bjorksten’s book on calligraphy. But seeing the videos is even better!”
“I loved Johan Bjorksten’s book on calligraphy. But seeing the videos is even better!”

Exercises and feedback

Every lesson comes with interactive exercises that help you understand and remember the elements and concepts you learn in the course. You decide which exercises, and how many, you want to do. When you feel ready, you can take an exam to make sure you've mastered the lesson.

“The exercises are like a mix of DuoLingo and my favorite teacher.”
“The exercises are like a mix of DuoLingo and my favorite teacher.”

About the Team

Photo of Johan Björkstén, author of the ChineseMe course

Johan Björkstén

Co-founder and Author

Johan is a Swedish entrepreneur, a prolific author as well as a radio- and TV host and the founder of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in China. He is a dedicated language learner and speaks six languages. After learning Russian at the Swedish Armed Forces Language School, he studied Chinese and then spent two years at Peking University (北京大学) studying Chemistry and Mathematics as the only non-Chinese student in the natural sciences department. He later founded several companies in China, including a record company, a radio and TV production business, and the PR firm Eastwei Relations, which became one of China’s largest communications consultancies with over 200 employees in four cities. He also worked as a radio and TV presenter for eight years, hosting over 400 of his own weekly Chinese programmes. Johan has a Master’s degree in Physical Chemistry from Uppsala University.

Bibliography

  • Lär dig skriva kinesiska tecken (1992) - in Swedish only
  • Learn to Write Chinese Characters (1994)
  • Doing business in China today (2005) - in Swedish only
  • In the Middle Kingdom: The Historic and Modern China (2006) - in Swedish only
  • PR, Chinese Style (2006)
  • Catching Up Fast: PR and Marketing in a Web 2.0 China (2007)
  • Chinese - language in the Middle Kingdom (2007) - in Swedish only
  • How to Manage a Successful Business in China (2010)
  • Mandarin Chinese - Language of the Middle Kingdom, Beginner's Textbook (2018)
Photo of Timothée Astier, co-author of the ChineseMe course

Timothée Astier

Co-founder and CTO

Tim is a French entrepreneur and language nerd who started learning Chinese at the age of 14 and immediately fell in love with the Chinese language and culture. Three years later, he moved to Taiwan and spent a year studying Chinese at the National Taoyuan Senior High School (國立桃園高級中學). During his business studies in Paris, focusing on entrepreneurhip, e-business and web-marketing, he developed the initial blueprints for the ChineseMe concept. He is now CTO at ChineseMe, responsible for technical development and marketing. Tim has a Master’s degree in Management Science from leading French business school ESSEC and an MBA from Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management (光华管理学院). To learn more about Tim and the ChineseMe project, watch his 2016 interview on Chinese National Television news program CCTV News.

Testimonials

Avatar

Cecilia Lindqvist

Author of China – Empire of Living Symbols and Guest Professor, Beijing Language and Culture University

"Finally, a systematic textbook in Chinese where pronunciation, sentence patterns, character etymology and calligraphy are integrated pedagogically. I have been waiting for years for a course like this!"

FAQ

IS IT DIFFICULT TO LEARN CHINESE?

Some people claim that learning Chinese is more difficult than learning other languages. Mandarin Chinese is exotic and different - but many people learn it surprisingly quickly! The key, in our opinion, is to focus on the right things, and use concepts and methods that are especially designed for Chinese rather than adapted from courses in Western languages. So if you like challenging yourself and learning things that are completely different from what you are used to, learning Chinese is not difficult. It's just different.

I JUST WANT TO SPEAK CHINESE. DO I HAVE TO LEARN CHINESE CHARACTERS?

Some language learners try to focus on pīnyīn, skipping the characters entirely. This might look like a reasonable choice if you focus on speaking and are not so interested in reading and writing. But in our experience, it is more difficult to memorize Chinese vocabulary without understanding the meaning of the characters that make up each word. If you want to go beyond a few basic tourist phrases, you will need to be able to read characters.

DO I NEED TO WRITE CHARACTERS? MY CHINESE FRIENDS JUST TYPE THEM.

Just like us, people in China write mainly by using electronic input methods. If you have great memory for pictures, you can choose to skip writing characters by hand, and simply learn how to recognize them. That way, you can type characters on your devices. But most people find it easier to remember the characters if they practice writing by hand.

SHOULD I LEARN CHINESE CALLIGRAPHY?

Practicing calligraphy is not something you have to do to learn Chinese. But many people find it enjoyable. The aesthetic principles help us develop a feel for the logic of how Chinese characters have been put together; the rhythm of writing each stroke makes the whole character come alive. After just a short while of practice, this will help you to see the characters in a new way.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE IN CHINESE?

Some people have been in China for ages and speak little or no Chinese. Others have good grammar and vocabulary but their pronunciation is so bad that Chinese people can’t understand even their most basic sentences. But the structure of Mandarin Chinese is not difficult - with the right method, you can quickly start to communicate on basic topics. If you focus on the right things, such as pronunciation and characters, you will get a good feel for the language within a few months to a year. After that, all you need to do is grow your vocabulary.

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO LEARN CHINESE?

We think a carefully structured course integrating pronunciation, vocabulary, sentence patterns and culture in a single package is the most effective way of studying Chinese. This is why we created ChineseMe - the “anti-Duolingo” of Chinese language learning!

WHICH ARE THE BEST FREE RESOURCES?

Trying to find the best online resources for Chinese is like panning for gold. There are hundreds of sites, some of them with slick design, claiming to “make Chinese easy”. Few are very useful, but it can be hard for beginners to tell the difference. Below, we highlight a few gold nuggets.

How to study - meta strategy for learning Chinese

  • Olle Linge’s blog Hacking Chinese is our favorite “how-to” guide for students, telling you what to focus on, where to find the best resources, and so on.

Pronunciation

  • Yoyo Chinese has attractively packaged youtube videos on Chinese pronunciation. Some explanations should be taken with a grain of sand. Here is Yoyo’s pronunciation playlist.

Vocabulary

  • The best dictionary for Chinese is Pleco; its free version is good enough for beginners, and the paid add-on dictionaries are great value for money if you are serious about learning Chinese.
  • Our favorite review app is Anki, an open-source flashcard app with space repetition algorithm. The desktop and web-based versions are free and it is available on mobile as a paid app.

Forums and volunteer sites

  • Chinese-forums has a strong community of language enthusiasts sharing advice on China and the Chinese language.
  • Chinese StackExchange is relatively new, so the community is not yet as strong as that of Chinese-forums, but it still contains useful content.

These are free of charge as long as you help others correct assignments in your own language.

  • Lang-8 provides native Mandarin Chinese speakers who will correct your writing assignments, usually within the day. Be aware that volunteers are not professional teachers, so they may miss errors or make corrections that are not really relevant.
  • At RhinoSpike, you can upload phrases or entire texts and have native Mandarin Chinese speakers record them for you within a day or two. The quality is usually high.