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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.

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