Resources for learning/using Taiwanese/Taigi/Holo/Hoklo

I just want to maintain a list of useful tools and resources for those who are interested in learning Taiwanese/Holo/Hoklo. I self-taught Taiwanese to myself when I was still in the US. I went from not being able to speak at all, to being capable of reading/writing/saying full sentences. My Taiwanese is by no means perfect, but I’ve come a long way. I think learning romanization is a great gateway for us non-native Taiwanese speakers.

The official romanization system is Tailo (Tâi-ûan Lô-má-jī). I highly recommend Tailo system, because some of the POJ’s phonetics is a bit ambiguous (o representing multiple sounds for example), but there are more people who use POJ. Although the two systems varies very little, so I would suggest learning Tailo, which helps pronunciation, and then look at the comparison table once, and you’ll have no issue reading POJ.


Ohtaigi sub-reddit
An English community for studying Taigi.


English/Taiwanese and Taiwanese/English dictionary. Uses Tailo.

FHL Taiwanese dictionary
This dictionary is translated from the original Japanese/Taiwanese dictionary. It currently is a Taiwanese/Taiwanese dictionary with links to the original Japanese/Taiwanese texts. Taiwanese dictionary in POJ and Tailo. User can select Unicode or pictures or numbers for the tonal label.

Online Taiwanese character dictionary
This is a Mandarin/Taiwanese character dictionary. It is useful for looking up individual characters. Each look up provides a link to entries in the next dictionary. This dictionary uses POJ.

Online Taiwanese dictionary … Taihoa.asp
This is a Mandarin/Taiwanese dictionary for word and phrases. This dictionary uses POJ.

The government’s Taiwanese dictionary
A Mandarin/Taiwanese dictionary ran by the government. It Uses Tailo.

A group of hackers decided to make government resources more accessible to the public. One of their project is the moedict which streamlined the government’s Mandarin/Holo and Hakka dictionary into one friendly interface. The Taiwanese section is mostly a Mandarin/Taiwanese dictionary. This is a Tailo dictionary. Comes with Audio for each word or phrase.

To learn Tailo:

NTCU’s Tailo guide
the site mostly in Chinese… but I find it a decent site for learning Tailo.

Wikipedia … ion_System
always useful

Often I find trying to write is a great way to learn a language. With a good Taiwanese input system, you can write and learn at the same time.

To type Taiwanese (in both Tailo or POJ):

For Windows, Mac:
There’s “English Version” right near the top. supports Windows and Mac. It is so far the best tâi-uân-uē input system I’ve used. It is unfortunately that since I stopped using Windows, I could no longer use that great software. For me writing/typing helps me learn the language. That’s why I am suggesting it.

For Android … ry.taigime
supports Tailo/Zhuyin extension, but not perfect yet…

For Linux
I personally use a self-modified cin table together with hime or gcin. The cin file needs to be converted to gtab format to work with hime or gcin. However, currently the cin file has many flaws, I’ll modify it and share when I have time.

Tools for Hanji/Lomaji conversion

*Hanlo means writing in mixed Hanji and Lomaji

Hanlo to all Romanization (with option to transliterate to POJ or Tailo)

All Romanization to Hanlo

Romanization conversion tool - From POJ to Tailo or other forms of romanization

Ruby Creator - input Hanlo, and exports Ruby code. Ruby displays annotation of Lomaji above Hanji and works with IE and Chrome by default, firefox needs an extension.


has a lot of great Taiwanese resources.

Taigi Bibles A great place to get both Tailo and POJ reading material: … efault.htm

I am not a Christian, but there’s a bible site that might be useful.
Select 紅皮聖經全羅 紅皮聖經漢羅 and BBE
Select 台羅UNICODE
Click 閱讀
You will get a side by side comparison of the all romanized Taiwanese version, the Hanji/Romanization mixed version and the Bible In Basic English version.

(If your computer does not support unicode, ie. Windows XP or older and you want to learn POJ (based on kàu-lô Church romanization) only)
Select KJV 紅皮聖經全羅 紅皮聖經漢羅
Click 版本對照
You will get a side by side comparison of the King James version, the all romanized Taiwanese version, and the Hanji/Romanization mixed version.

Website documenting Kua–á-hì (歌仔戲) lyrics in both Hanji and Tailo.

There’s a database documenting POJ writings from Qing period to modern period:

I think it includes many articles from Thomas Barclay’s Tâi-oân-hú-siâⁿ Kàu-hōe-pò (Tainan Church News)

Taiwanese Grammar, an English blog dedicated to teaching Taigi grammar:

Audio Resources:

Type lomaji into the text box and have a robot read it back to you:

Taiwanese Wizard (台語兒):

This is a new Firefox addon/Chrome extension that can turn any Chinese text into Taigi:

Firefox addon: … esewizard/
Chrome extension: … faofenfoja

After installing the extension/addon to your browser of choice, navigate to any Chinese website, highlight a section of text, and right click and select 台語兒 from the context menu. Wait for the translation and it will automatically begin reading the text in Taigi. This addon uses as it’s engine.

It’s a translation and not just character by character context-free pronunciation. Few examples of why it’s a translation:

  1. It uses sandhi correctly.
  2. I tried the addon on this news, and where the Mandarin text says 曾經, “bat (識)” is read instead, where the Mandarin text says 檜木, “hinoki” is read instead.

The translation is limited to vocabulary, and it fails to turn the text into Taigi grammatically.

Video Resources:

The best intro to Lomaji video ever:

Taiwanese 8 tones: The guy talks about 1 minute before actually saying the tones, so the link below take you directly to where he teaches the tones.
[url]台灣字kap台語聲韻B3(第7課 聲調) - YouTube

Harvard Taiwanese

A whole series of 101. This is the first lesson

This guy uses music to explain the 8 tones. It’s all in Taiwanese, but it’s really fun if you can stick to it.

Tailo, POJ comparison table:
(only 6 differences between Tailo and POJ)

[ts] ts ch
[tsʰ] tsh chh

[ua] ua oa
[ue] ue oe

[iŋ] ing eng
[ik̚] ik ek[/quote]

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Thanks hansioux. A couple of months ago I had the bright idea of trying to study Taiwanese, so my friend loaned me his textbook published by Maryknoll, which I’ve heard is one of the best resources for English-speaking learners.

The extensive tone changes is a deal breaker for me at this point. Besides a tone mark, almost each word has a superscript number to indicate the new tone (see the photo). Trying to wrap my head around that gives me a headache; I’ll have to tackle Taiwanese at a later date.

Don’t let it get you down Steve. You’ll never get the tones down in any tonal language from numbers in a book. Do tapes or CDs come with it? The more you listen the more you’ll get it. It’s a pain but if your tones are off at first, and they will be, it’s not going to be that big a deal.

You are not going to go straight to reading. Getting used to the phonetics, especially get to know the tones without sandhi first. Listen to examples such as
東 tɔŋ1 董 tɔŋ2 凍 tɔŋ3 督 tɔk4 同 tɔŋ5 董 tɔŋ2 洞 tɔŋ7 毒 tɔk8

until you can pick up any sound and assign 8 tones to it.

At that point you can try to read the texts, and sandhi just comes with listening and experience. I don’t care how well someone can remember the sandhi graph, no one is able to apply that graph when they are trying to speak the language.

As for me, I learned Taiwanese based on pronunciation only, without actually studying the proper tones for each character, nor the tone sandhi rules. I gained a decent grasp of the tones however by just listening how they were used in context. There are a large variety of Hoklo dialects spoken across Taiwan, the southern part of Fujian province in China, as well as all over SE Asia, and often they vary in tone, so the average Hoklo speaker could probably understand what you are saying in the midst of your butchering his native tongue’s tones :wink:

I agree. My Mandarin is bad,however the small amount of Taiwanese that I have learned,appears to be easier for Taiwanese people to understand…bad Tone or not !
Once they are over the initial disbelief that any Foreigner would actually know a little Taiwanese.(also great to mix it up with Mandarin…as is normal !)
I am seriously considering concentrating on Taiwanese,as people seem to understand with more ease, I can just learn it Phonetically and hear it spoken every day.
My worry is that ,certainly in Tapei, it is not popular and seen as “lower class” to use it,which is a real shame IMO. I also worry that when {if) I ever leave Taiwan,Mandarin would be a much more sensible,widely used language ,to have learned.

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Taiwanese 8 tones: The guy talks about 1 minute before actually saying the tones, so the link below take you directly to where he teaches the tones.

This guy uses music to explain the 8 tones. It’s all in Taiwanese, but it’s really fun if you can stick to it.

Also found video lessons, this is the first lesson

I love learning languages, but I’ve never really had an interest in learning Taiwanese. Why?

  1. Crappy resources for learning the language.
  2. Everyone speaks Mandarin anyway.
  3. The insane tone sandhi scares me.
  4. The way it sounds is… how can I put it charitably? Aesthetically unappealing.

Why do they use an acute accent mark (e.g. á) to represent a falling tone?

Exactly how I feel too, at least at this point.

Yep, I’ve wondered about this myself.

Many languages and phonetic systems uses acute symbol to represent stress.

Also, the current tone diacritic in POJ and Tailo were invented by Elihu Doty and John Van Nest Talmage, both were American missionaries. They came up with the system in the 1850s, replacing previous systems produced by Dutch and Spanish missionaries.

How did you go about it?

What learning resources did you use?


At first I bought a book that came with a CD. The book was designed for Taiwanese teachers to learn Tailo or POJ. I actually never got very far with the book or the tape. But I learned about how to read out romanization, and most importantly, I finally grasped the 8 tones from the tape. That was my “in” to learning holo. All my learning experience was built on knowing how to pronounce romanization and the tones.

From there it was reading what I like to read about online. For a short period back in the early 2000s, there were a lot of bloggers writing in POJ or TLPA. And when they do they usually do it in 3 formates, All TLPA or POJ, Mostly romanization with partial Hanji, or all Taiwanese Hanji. Sometimes they even include a Mandarin translation. I would read them one by one out loud. During that time I also read A LOT about which romanization is better… when Tailo came out, I came to the conclusion that Tailo is the way to go. There are still a lot of Tailo/POJ websites/blogs out there, some are focused on technology, which is pretty interesting.

When I found FHL Holo input, I tried to write, and since the IME is very clever, I learn a lot of stuff wrong it. I also tried listening to Holo songs, type the lyrics in Tailo.

Finally, when I came back to Taiwan, I went from not understanding 90% of what is said in Taiwanese, to understanding 80%. As I try to use the language on people who speak it (such as my grandparents, I really learned the language because I wanted to be able to speak with them. I never could as a child and I always regret it), I get closer to knowing most of the stuff said to me/around me. And I make speak in full sentences. Even though my Holo isn’t 100%, but it’s a learning experience.

Oh, so your grandparents speak it.

Does that mean you grew up speaking some other Chinese dialect?

Sorry for the late reply.


Just my little try at adding characters to the lomaji. :slight_smile:


While reading a Wikipedia article on Singaporean Hokkien, I found one on Taiwanese Hokkien.

Anyone know of an online tool for transliterating written Taiwanese? Google Translate doesnt do Taiwanese and I need something that returns the pronunciation for each character in Taiwanese… in any romanization system… multiple searches but so far havent turned up anything. :aiyo:
This site does tranliteration of Hanji and Romaji (POJ)

In case the link above is still broken, here are the same transliterating tool at a different URL:

*Hanlo means writing in mixed Hanji and Romaji

Hanlo to all Romanization (with option to transliterate to POJ or Tailo)

All Romanization to Hanlo

Romanization conversion tool - From POJ to Tailo or other forms of romanization

Ruby Creator - input Hanlo, and exports Ruby code. Ruby displays annotation of Romaji above Hanji and works with IE and Chrome by default, firefox needs an extension.