Learn how to read and write Chinese with free online video lessons, presented by Chinese teacher April Zhang.
Starting with strokes and stroke orders, she will gradually publish a series of video lessons based on her Chinese Reading and Writing series, teaching you a total of 320 most frequently used Chinese characters and how to read and write Chinese texts using these characters.
This online Chinese course is the best for people who have learned some Mandarin Chinese using pinyin but not yet learned any Chinese characters, or have learned some individual characters but not done any coherent reading and writing practice.
These animated explainer videos feature a handwritten style which can be emulated with a pen or a pencil, and has a different look and feel from the printed fonts.
Free Online Video Lessons
Chinese Reading and Writing 1
The following videos lessons are based on Chinese Reading and Writing 1, the first step for non-Chinese speakers to learn how to read and write Chinese. This book contains one preparation chapter, five lessons, and one review, presenting 70 most frequently used Chinese characters, 150 words and expressions, 83 sentences, 4 conversations, and 1 short paragraph.
Following this book, students will be able to get the fundamental idea of what Chinese writing system is, and start building up their Chinese reading and writing skills.
Welcome to our first online lesson! A baby step towards Chinese language fluency.
This lesson teaches you six basic strokes, variations of some basic strokes, combinations of basic strokes, combination variations, and stroke order rules. Understanding the concept of strokes and stroke orders will prepare you well for reading and writing Chinese characters.
April also pointed out that stroke orders are not the most important factor. The success of learning Chinese is to practice writing frequently.
Learn 15 the most frequently used characters in the Modern Standard Chinese. These characters contextualise the strokes and stroke orders taught in the previous lesson, and enable students to understand how the stroke order rules are applied when writing Chinese characters.
Also, learning characters offers great benefits which pinyin can not. For example, in Chinese, “he” and “she” have the same pinyin. But characters can help you tell them apart.
The connection between pictures and Chinese characters is also discussed.
After you have learned 15 Chinese characters, the next step is to use them to express something.
In this lesson, you’ll learn 32 words and expressions, and understand how new meanings are created by combining old characters. This is definitely an advantage which makes learning Chinese characters very economical.
Practice writing these words and expressions until you are fluent, and come back for the 2-minute challenge at the end of the lesson.
After preparation chapter, we are ready to start lesson one in Chinese Reading and Writing 1.
In this lesson, you’re going to learn how to write 14 Chinese characters, all related to numbers.
If you have ever wondered how to write “ten million” in Chinese, you will get your answer in this lesson, where April shows how to read and write numbers bigger than eleven in Chinese.
This lesson also includes an end-of-chapter challenge for you to check your progress. Make sure you have sufficient practice before you try it.
In this lesson, April teaches 12 new Chinese characters which are the first step to learn how to express days and dates in Chinese.
You’ll also learn that there are two Chinese characters for the number “zero”, 零 and 〇. Both are recognised and used in our Chinese reading and writing course. There are also two Chinese characters for “two”, 二 and 两. They have different usages. Find out the differences between 二 and 两 here.
In this lesson, a list of 50 words and expressions are presented to express days and dates in Chinese. Some expressions, such as “today”, can be written in two slightly different words, 今天 and 今日. April explains the difference is not its meaning, but whether it is used in spoken Chinese or written Chinese.
In this lesson, the focus is on reading full Chinese sentences!
Using English as an analogy, April explains what the deconstruction process is, and why reading Chinese texts, not accumulating individual Chinese characters, is so important for developing solid Chinese reading skills.
This lesson concludes Lesson 2 in Chinese Reading and Writing 1. There is an end-of-chapter challenge at the end of the lesson. Make sure you have sufficient practice before you come back for the challenge.
This lesson starts Lesson 3 in the textbook, Chinese Reading and Writing 1, teaching you how to read and write ten new Chinese characters which are frequently used in time expressions, such as “morning”, and “two o’clock”.
Practice writing these characters until you’re fluent.
How to write “five minutes to nine” in Chinese? This lesson is going to answer that question.
This lesson’s focus is a list of 27 time expressions and how to ask time related questions in Chinese.
Two words, “中午” and “一点” are singled out. April explains the exact meaning of 中午 in Chinese, despite it is translated into “noon, midday”, and the ambiguity of 一点.
The Exercise section of Lesson 3 consists of 17 sentences, listed under 9 index numbers. In this lesson, April picked two sentences to demonstrate the deconstruction process when reading Chinese. She also points out the logical sequence in Chinese time expressions.
Read and write all 17 sentences until you have a good grasp, and come back for the two minute challenge at the end of the lesson.
This lesson starts Lesson 4 in Chinese Reading and Writing 1, teaching you how to read and write nine new Chinese characters and their many meanings. These characters are very useful to express daily activities in Chinese, such as “go to work”, “have a lesson”, “eat a meal”, and “read books & newspapers”.
In this lesson April presents 18 highly useful words and combinations expressing essential daily activities in Chinese, such as “go to work”, “have lessons”, and “read books & newspapers”.
Practice writing these words until you’re fluent.
The Exercise section of Lesson 4 contains 12 sentences, and, for the first time in the Chinese Reading and Writing series, two conversations. That is an exciting progress.
In this lesson, April explains the longest sentence in the Exercise section, and introduces a unique Chinese punctuation “Dun Hao”, which is often seen in Chinese texts.
Moreover, one of the conversations is made into a “silent movie”. It is an epic story for any beginner students who can fully understand it. Have fun watching it!
An end of chapter challenge is at the end of the lesson. Once you have a good grasp of the entire lesson, come back and complete the task.
In this lesson, April presents the final ten new Chinese characters in Chinese Reading and Writing 1. She also mentions that 很 is often translated into “very”, which is not entirely accurate. However, it is the best we can do. For a more detailed explanation of the meaning of 很, read here.
In this lesson, April presents 16 words and combinations, including some countries and nationalities, greetings, how to ask a question in Chinese, and some handy expression. After this lesson, you’ll understand why China is often referred as “the middle kingdom”, and from a Chinese language point of view, the USA becomes a “beautiful country”.
If you want to have a copy of Chinese Reading and Writing 1, order it here.
In Chinese lesson, April points out that the usage of “你好吗?” is not prevalent in Chinese speaking societies. However, it does not mean that beginner students can not use it until they’ve learned more popular greetings.
April also explains that, when reading any Chinese texts, beginner students may find it hard to recognise Chinese names. Sufficient practice will make it easier.
This is the last video lesson of Chinese Reading and Writing 1. Look back, we have learned 70 the most frequently used Chinese characters, 150 words and expressions, 53 sentences, and 4 conversations. It’s time for you to check your progress.
Review 1 contains all 70 Chinese characters, 30 sentences in Exercise 1, and a short paragraph in Exercise 2. If you understand all of them, you’ve done well!