"In the last two months I have learned more using Clavis Sinica than I did in two years of college Chinese."
—Martin Colwell

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Learn to Read Chinese

Anyone who wants to learn to read Chinese will quickly discover three major obstacles that make Chinese more difficult to learn than other languages. First, since there is no alphabet, looking up Chinese characters in a dictionary is a tedious and time-consuming chore. Once you've found a character in the dictionary, learning why this characters represents the sound and meaning that it does is a baffling task. And even if you're able to grasp (or invent!) an explanation for the form of the character, committing it to memory is a third major challenge.

Clavis Sinica is a powerful software tool designed to help you overcome these obstacles and learn to read Chinese.The integrated Chinese text reader allows you to read any digitized Chinese text, whether it's a poem, a short story, a blog entry, or a news article from the web, without the need for a print dictionary. Just click on any character you don't recognize to display the sound and meaning of the character and the word of which it is a part. If you want to learn why a character is written the way it is, just click again to bring up a window showing how the character is constructed from its radical and phonetic parts, and allowing you to view lists of other Chinese characters using the same parts. If you decide it's a character you really need to learn well, just select the "Learn Character" option to add the character to a customized vocabulary list. When you're done reading, you can use the built-in flashcards tool to open up your list and drill yourself on the characters and words that it contains.

There is no easy way to learn to read Chinese. There are thousands of characters you need to learn, and learning them all is hard work, however you go about it. While it won't solve all your troubles, the Clavis Sinica software can make learning to read Chinese a much more efficient, enjoyable, and intellectually rewarding experience.

Clavis Sinica Features for Learning to Read Chinese:

  • Text Reader Window displays any Chinese text in clear, easy-to read format and provides one-click access to English translation of any Chinese character, word, or phrase.
  • Chinese-English, English-Chinese dictionary of more than 37,000 entries includes over 4,000 characters and over 33,000 multi-character compound words, phrases, and idioms.
  • Character Information Window breaks characters into radical and phonetic parts for ease in learning and provides helpful lexical and usage frequency information for each character
  • Radical Information Window provides definition and etymology for each radical, along with a complete, frequency-ordered list of all characters using that radical
  • Shared Phonetic Window shows all characters using any given phonetic part
  • Compound Window lists all compounds and phrases using any given character in any position
  • Powerful search functions permit searching the Chinese dictionary by character or compound pinyin, radical number, number and/or order of strokes, or English word or phrase
  • Built-in Flashcards Tool helps you master the words and characters on your own customized vocabulary lists