In a previous post I’ve written about the online glossary at Chinesepod. This comes with words either on their own or in phrases/sentences together with sound files. The main limitation of this glossary is that the words/phrases all come from the 1300 + podcasts so there will be gaps.
For a more comprehensive online dictionary there’s http://www.nciku.com/. The main features of this site which are of benefit to the language learner are:
- The facility to cut and paste in characters or Pinyin from another source into the search feature.
- Words are put into a context, either in a phrase or a sentence.
- Animated characters which show how a character is formed, the stroke order and the number of strokes.
- The facility on the dictionary homepage to draw a character using the mouse (or pen on an interactive whiteboard) as part of the search function. This works in the same way as predictive text and a series of characters to choose from appear in an adjacent window as you write a character.
- Vocabulary arranged by theme in a kind of picture dictionary. This section has sound files and if you hover your mouse over the characters you can see the pinyin as well, so you can opt to see both or challenge yourself to recognise the characters.
- A huge range of sample conversations which are constantly being added to. There’s even one here on the Shanghai expo .
- It’s available as a IPhone or Itouch app from Itunes, although reviews suggest that this is not as good as the online version.
- Links to online radio, community pages and quizzes.
My one main criticism of the site is that the sound files are of an inferior quality compared to the Chinesepod ones. I suspect that they are computer generated text to sound files rather than having been specially recorded. That aside both I and my learners have found it an extremely useful site. Enjoy!