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Updates for Chinese course

Have been taking the Chinese course (mostly congrats, as I can see the difficulty in doing such a language), however I find that when matching pinyin to Chinese characters, I have no idea what they mean in english as it is never stated. Aware that it is a little difficult to translate each character individually, however I feel in its current state I am only learning something from translating a sentence from Chinese into english.

Perhaps instead of being asked to recognise the sounds of individual characters and match them, we are asked to recognise the sounds of a combination of characters so that we can recognise patterns and that can be written in English at the bottom once we press 'check'. The only one this does it for is hello/ni hao/ 你好 (but again, written in english when one presses 'check')

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

January 17, 2018



I agree that it seems we are just learning abstract sounds and no meaning.


Agreed, would be nice to see what the characters mean and also would be nice to switch between traditional and simplified characters.


They could teach the relation between the Chinese characters and their components so the learners could predict meaning of characters or identify the correct character by their components. The chinese characters is a semanto-phonetic writing system so a characters indicate both the pronunciation and meaning of their word. The sound-spelling has become irregular from language change. The meaning-spelling has also become irregular but to a lesser extent.


If you want to know the translation of individual characters while studying (in Duolingo or any Chinese text etc., or German etc.), there's a way to do this: verify that your computer's local dictionary is set up to accept the built-in English/Chinese-Chinese/English dictionary--or German etc. --. Don't forget to add Simplified Chinese (or German etc.) as one of your input sources for the keyboard. Once set up and verified in your computer's preferences, it should work like this: any time you want to know the meaning of a word, - for a Mac: highlight the character in a text or yes, even the large graphic DL uses for the audio segment-- , then hold the control key down while clicking on the highlighted character: It gives you a choice to look it up in the installed dictionary. For Simplified Chinese, it even gives you a choice to transcribe it in Pinyin, or Kanji, or bopomofo, etc.... - For a PC: same procedure, replace the "Control" key with "Alt".""

PS: for Chinese, some characters are "bigrams", meaning you have to highlight two at a time to actually find the real meaning of it. Try one, if not satisfied, highlight two and see what your dictionary comes up with. Eventually, you get a sense when characters next to each other are bigrams or not.

Ever since I've discovered this trick, my learning curve has improved dramatically: I still forget all the time, but after a number of "recalls, some of that stuff finally sticks!



this is a list of Chinese characters and their meaning sorted by duo lingo lessons someone made. I always have it open when doing Chinese lessons on duo lingo.

Some people argue for the way duo lingo does it, saying it is more difficult to remember the sound than the meaning. this is kind of true but i prefer getting the meanings.

some people argue it is useless learning the individual characters meaning, that is not true. most individual character meanings make a degree of sense when combined:

电话 = telephone 电 = electric 话 = language/speech so telephone is "electric speech" in Chinese.

this can also help with slightly abstract concepts like 中国 or "middle nation" (china)

the 2 times individual character meanings don't help is when they are used for phonetic reasons:

加拿大 "jia na da" or "Canada" which literally translates to "add hold big".

and completely abstract things that don't make a lot of sense in western ways of thinking like:

认识 = to know 认 = to recognize 识 = to know i found it confusing trying to learn each individual character when 认识 is used infanintly more in Chinese than the characters by themselves and found it was not worth the confusion.

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