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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Online Comprehensive Chinese-English Dictionary

My daughter and I are now learning the final 800 words from my daughter's Preschool Chinese Reading Series from Odonata Publishing that was recommended by other bloggers.

I become frustrated at the difficulty in searching for words in our printed Chinese-English Dictionaries. We have two at home. Its difficult to search for compound characters. Chinese Characters are so complex (to me), they take a whole new meaning when you put two different characters one after another. Searching for the Chinese characters individually just won't do.

I was taking so long searching for the words in my printed Chinese-English Dictionaries that I turned online to search. Usually I use Mandarintools.com. I like it because it is simple and easy to use. There is another dictionary at Zhongwen.com but I find that one a bit complicated.

However, I still had trouble searching for the compound characters.......until I found the Chinese-English Dictionary at Nciku. I am really excited about this dictionary. So excited that I must share it with you.

I know that there are many other mothers like me who do not know Chinese but who wish to guide their child who is learning Chinese in school. I think this is perfect for us. It is easy to search. I like to use the search in Pinyin. I searched for the compound words by typing in pinyin. You can even do a search in handwriting using your mouse with the Handwriting Recognition tool.

When I used the dictionary last night, the page was slow to load and the handwriting tool didn't work very well but this morning it is fine. (Maybe its just my lousy internet connection). When you write the characters in, the dictionary will show you a list of the characters it thinks you are trying to look for even as you write.

You can listen to the words you look up because text is translated to speech so you can check your pronunciation. You can check your stroke order too. You can view the definition of each character using the Collins Chinese-English Dictionary, the Comprehensive Chinese-English Dictionary or the Contemporary Chinese Dictionary with lots and lots of examples and you are able to listen to the sentences. Sometimes there is even a picture to go with the definition. The auto complete tool when searching for words is extremely useful too. And I like the fact that you can search for idioms too. Chinese writing is full of idioms and I can't find it in regular dictionaries.

You can even save the word you looked up in your own vocab list for easy reference later on. And.... take memorization tests to see how well you have learned the word. It is amazing. I love it. I am definitely going to bookmark this dictionary right here.

The dictionary which is in Beta, has the tag line "More than a dictionary". I think its very appropriate. Its certainly more than a dictionary for me. Its a Chinese Learning tool and dictionary all rolled up into one.

I won't make this post too long and descriptive. The best way for you to find out more about the dictionary is to go over to the dictionary and explore it yourself. I just signed up for an account myself and have yet to explore all the things I can do with it to help me learn Chinese. There is a help center for learners or users but I have not managed to check it out thoroughly yet.

So far, I find this dictionary the best dictionary for English speaking users who are trying to learn Chinese. I don't use other dictionaries like iciba.com or Dict.cn because they are filled with Chinese words which I don't understand.


  1. Thank you mumsgather for the great review! This is Dustin from the marketing team here at nciku. We feel very happy that we can assist you and your family with your Chinese language learning. You were on point when you mentioned our slogan "More than a dictionary". We pride ourselves on becoming the one and only dictionary for Chinese with innovative features and services to aid as you study! You can always get updates and news from our nciku blog! Once again thanks for the great review!

  2. Hi Dustin,
    The dictionary is fabulous. I am so happy to have found it and I will be a regular user from now on. :)

  3. Wow!! Thanks for sharing! It certainly helps! I do not know how to start coaching Damien Chinese, though I have no problem in reading and writing Chinese, but to teach is a totally different thing!!

  4. blurblur,
    After you create an account, you can save the words that your are teaching Damien in a Vocab list then test yourself or Damien using memorization tests for those words. There are 4 types of tests available. You can find out what they are from the help center link in my post.

  5. thanks a lot for sharing...
    I am one of the banana parent who will definitely need the help of those dictionaries, hehe...

    recently I just bought a chinese-english dictionary from MPH, it's from Learners publisher. I see it's quite complete and easy to use.

    wow, your daughter must have recognised a lot of chinese words. I just started my 5yo boy with the 100 words Odonata...

  6. Oh, no worries Martini. Your boy has plenty of time to go. I only started my girl this year at age 6.

  7. Hi mumsgather,
    That must be pretyy fast to finish till 800 words. I am just starting 100 and we are very slow cos not reading regularly. Would you be kind enough to share with us how you got through the 800 words? how much time do you spend each day and besides reading, what other methods did you try to encourage her to memorise the words/
    fr mei shi

  8. Hi Mei Shi,
    First I read the book myself and listen to the CD. I check all the meanings of the difficult words. Then I get my girl to read it page by page and translate it to her as we go along. Then I ask her to listen to the CD herself to get the pronounciation right. Then we move on to the next book. It helps that she has a good memory. We don't have a set schedule. Sometimes, I even take out the book and read it as a bedtime story because we don't have time to read it during the day. :P We had started earlier on but I wanted to finish this before she starts school so this school holidays we probably read 1 or 2 books each week. Hope that helps.


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