Learning how to read and write

I am from Taiwan but I grew up in America so basically I am an ABC without having been born in America. However, my mandrin speaking is pretty fluent and I can speak about everyday things alright. I am more interested in reading and writing and expanding my vocabulary.

I’m currently enrolled at NTNU MTC, my first session, in the Beginning Chinese Readings class. Has anyone taken this class? Did it improve your reading and writing skills? Did it expand your vocabulary?

Anyone have any input on learning reading and writing? Is the MTC any good for this kind of thing?


I believe there are some threads about this already – you might also want to run the Search function and specify the school name, select ‘topics’ and the Learning Chinese forum, and then dig in for some reading.

I have searched for this but haven’t found anything for reading and writing specifically. More about the quality of the school and more pertaining to speaking and such. I’ll look again, if you see anything that might help please link.


Don’t search for “MTC”, just search for “reading” and “writing”. There’s lots of stuff, although most of it is geared to students who have to acquire the language as they learn to read. You’re at an advantage as you can go right ahead to recognizing things you already know how to say and understand. The downside is that your Mandarin brain is more sophisticated in spoken language so keeping it “back” with your Mandarin reading brain’s level could be frustrating.


I think the part about being frustrated with the level of chinese learned compared to my current vocabulary is the primrary reason I found it so hard to learn how to write in the States. I do recognize a handful of words from my past classes. Thanks for the search tips, I’ll look into it.

If you want something to read before your character-recognition skills reach a higher level, there’s always romanization.

Y.R. Chao’s three books in the Readings in Sayable Chinese series are terrific. But you’ll need to learn Gwoyeu Romatyzh in order to read them, as only a little has been put in Hanyu Pinyin (notably the Humpty Dumpty section from Through the Looking Glass). The Wikipedia article on GR is actually pretty good. (BTW, yes, the photo there is from my site; but I was asked first.)

Then there’s this short story: La Tui.

And a great essay: Hanzi Bu Tebie Biaoyi. (PDF)

If you know zhuyin, you can buy the Guoyu Ribao here in Taiwan.

There are discussions on how best to learn in this thread:
forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopi … 57&start=0

Discussions of textbooks here:
forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopi … 19&start=0

Intensive character acquisition here:
forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopi … 78&start=0
forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopi … 36&start=0

Flashcard help here:
forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopi … 59&start=0

and so on. You’re still welcome to ask questions and continue the discussion, of course, if you don’t find what you want by searching. :slight_smile:

I’m not sure I fully understand – do you mean you’re ahead of, or behind the class in terms of vocab?

Also, Fortigurn is doing a very good job of learning characters right now – perhaps he could give you some input?

Personally I found that the keys to learning to read are:

  1. being highly motivated to read, read, read
  2. having good dictionaries (more than one, for lookups by bu4shou3, pronunciation, etc.)
  3. having an electronic dictionary that lets you write the character on the screen to find it
  4. learning the bu4shou3 and other constituent elements in compound characters
  5. having a good language exchange partner on the side to answer a million questions,

and the keys to learning to write are

  1. being motivated to write, write, write
  2. having someone to review your writing and correct it
  3. if you want good penmanship, a calligraphy class

The frustration was that the vocabulary at the beginning is pretty simplistic as it pertains to everyday language which I speak almost daily at home. I found that I remember alot of words I forgot back home living in Taiwan for a week. :smiley:

Thanks for all the links, I’ll look through them.

What I was most interested in is what people felt about the schools and how NTNU MTC compared to other programs like a private bushiban or CCLC or what have you. More specifically how they teach reading and writing. More for business applications such as translating jobs. I was working at a gaming company which brought games developed in asian countries over to North America. I was mostly in customer service but was interested in getting into the translating side of things. Also, I was working at Blizzard which had Chinese liasons in China to help them with running World of Warcraft in China which would have been a very fun job for me if I knew how to read and write as well as business speaking translation, which I find is a little different then everday speaking.

If you can pick up zhuyin fuhao (“bopomofo”), you could buy the Guoyu Ribao which does have a few articles of interest. I used to black out the bopomofo next to the characters that the student had supposedly learned to recognize, one year when I had an ABC in an “English reading” class who read as well as I did in English (obviously), so that he would be learning something useful. (Although my understanding is that he managed to graduate from a four-year university program in Taiwan without ever learning to read much of anything, let alone write. Let’s hear it for student solidarity. It always amazes me.)

If the class is going too slowly for you and you already know much of the vocab, it sounds like all you need to do is either be transferred into a higher-level class, or supplement what you’re learning with additional materials. There’s plenty of stuff in bookstores like Lucky across from Shi-Da for intermediate to advanced students, for example, and I also have a bunch (many unused) I’m selling at a steep discount; if you’re interested, PM me. The newspaper Ironlady suggested is a good bet too. And do seriously consider taking a calligraphy class. I learned a lot of characters that way, and learned how to write them with better balance and proportion at the same time.