Linq as a tool for online reading
For the last year or so, I’ve mainly used three tools to help with reading Chinese online: Zhongwen is a great Chrome popup tool for being able to ‘mouse-over’ characters you don’t understand; Popup Chinese (formerly adsotrans) can be used for similar effect, but it’s amazingly useful for generating pinyin from Chinese text; finally, it’s hard to beat Google Translate in terms of continuing improvements— you can even click on the ‘listen’ button and hear a decent computer-generated reading of passages in the target language.
Another tool that I’ve tried in the past is Steve Kaufmann’s Lingq platform. Following my last post recognizing that I need to get back on the horse with Chinese reading/writing and pass HSK 6, I went back and set myself up with a basic membership and linked a badge to this blog.
If you’re looking for a new language-learning tool, you might want to take Lingq for a spin. They always seem to be tweaking the system and adding new features— it had been almost a year since I last used Lingq, and I was surprised to see the many subtle ways that the platform has improved.
To understand what the number of “known” Chinese words in my Lingq badge represents, you can take a look at the video below. It’s easy to imagine how powerful Lingq can be after you use it for awhile and accumulate words in your dictionary— the basic idea is that, after importing a new passage, you have an instant sense of how many unfamiliar words are present because they’re highlighted in blue. Words that you’ve marked as noteworthy in previous articles, for whatever reason, are highlighted in yellow. Admittedly, I will have to do quite a bit of mundane clicking of words I know before reaching that point.
Admittedly, this isn’t for everyone, but I quite like the idea of keyboarding (simply re-typing target language passages) as a language learning tool. Does it work? Why? How? I don’t have an argument to convince you, but somehow I find it useful. When I recently watched Everything is a Remix, I was interested to hear that “Hunter S. Thompson re-typed The Great Gatsby just to get the feel of writing a great novel.” (skip to the 1:00 mark of the video)— I had never thought of re-typing a whole Chinese book but maybe there’s something to this?
As for writing by hand, I wrote a post on making your own tracing pages earlier this year. Last weekend, in an effort to get back into the groove of regular writing practice, I pre-made tracing sheets for the week and worked on one every day. My writing can be neat if I take my time, but if you look through the completed sheets below, you’ll see that most of the tracing is scratchy and rushed. At this point, I don’t know if it’s better to try and do a better (neater) job on a smaller text, or stick with the current character count (repeat a 100-180 character passage twice) until I can comfortably get through the passage without feeling like my wrist is going to cramp.
Who knows? At this point, putting pen to paper every day is a success, so I’ll take it as a win for now.