Monday, October 26, 2009

How to help your students practice typing Pinyin on a computer with FREE tools and native computer input methods

I've talked with quite a few teachers about how to help the students practice typing Pinyin as part of their Chinese language learning experience. Many teachers believe that they will have to purchase one of the products on the market for practicing typing Pinyin.

Let's think about this - the reason students need to learn typing Pinyin is because at certain point they need to be able to "type" Chinese characters on the computer. If that's the objective, why don't we get them to use the native Pinyin input already available on Windows and Mac, instead of using a third-party tool that is not going to be used in real life for inputing Chinese?

Some teachers would like the students to see the Pinyin annotation along with the Chinese characters. That capability is also available online for free. Why spending hundreds of dollars buying a piece of software while you can train the students using Pinyin in the natural way for no cost? This blog explains how.

First, you need to set up the computer operating system to allow students to type Pinyin to enter Chinese characters. Click here for the FAQ on step by step instructions.

Once set up, students can enter Chinese characters in MS Word or a text editor with Pinyin.

To see the Pinyin annotation along with the Chinese characters, we recommend the following free on-line tool.

Make sure you use the following options:
You can then have the students input Chinese in the text box with Pinyin input method available with Windows or Mac.

Once they finish inputing the text, they can press the Go button to get the Pinyin annotation. See the example below:

There are some other nice features like mouse over to show English translation. Next to the Go button, there's a button to bring up the character writing/recognition interface to allow students to enter Chinese characters through a writing pad and character recognition.

Hope your students will enjoy using the tools and learn the Chinese character input skills that they can truly utilize in the future. In today's economic environment, being able to do this without costing anything is certainly a nice bonus.

I look forward to hearing your feedback of my blog. You can use the comment link below to provide your input and ask me questions.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mid-Autumn Festival (October 3rd, 2009)

Lunar calendar August the 15th (October the 3rd) is the traditional Mid Autumn Festival in China. The festival is the second most important festival to the Spring Festival to Chinese people. Watch this video and learn how Chinese celebrate the festival.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

ActiveChinese Mobile App is one of the three finalists of Nokia global competition

We are honored to be invited by Nokia to receive the 2009 Calling All Innovators contest award in Stuttgart, Germany on September 1 and demo the app at Nokia World. Our app will also be featured in Nokia's Ovi Store. ActiveChinese was chosen from over 1,700 submissions from developers in 85 countries.

Click here to read the full press release from Nokia.

Click here to check out our mobile app and cast your vote of our app as your favorite.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Chinese Teacher Support Resources

We know that Chinese teachers work very hard scouting materials on the Internet and elsewhere to make the classroom interaction more fun and engaging for the students. At ActiveChinese, we want to do our share to support the teachers. In addition to the many teacher resources already in the ActiveChinese programs, we will use this blog to share with teachers classroom activities and multimedia materials that can be used in classroom. We will also try to publish the support materials to match holidays and current events in China. Here are some tips that we hope teachers can use for the beginning of the school year:

- PPT for Pinyin introduction: we built a set of PowerPoint slides to help teachers introduce Pinyin in the classroom. To download these slides, you can sign up for free trial of the ActiveChinese School Edition at and look for the slides under teacher resources after you log in.

- Classroom activities using the Communicative Approach. We participated in this year's Startalk Program at University Hawaii and had the opportunity of observing how Cindy Ning and four master teachers conduct Chinese classes using the Communicative approach. In fact, Cindy has a great teacher book with an excellent introduction of the approach and many classroom activities. Better yet, the book can downloaded online FREE from the Yale University Press website. Here's the URL:

Have a great new school year and happy teaching.

Friday, August 14, 2009

ActiveChinese Culture Shocker #1 - Exchanging Business Cards

Alternative content

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Click on each frame above to get a larger view of the picture.

The way to give business cards in China is to both pass and receive a card using both hands. The person giving the card will also present the card with the words facing the receiver. This way the person receiving the card will immediately be able to read it.

It is also polite to address the person with their job title and name directly after receiving the card.

I'd like to hear the "culture shocker" that you have experienced.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Culture Shocker

Welcome to the ActiveChinese blog!

We hope that this blog will enhance the learning experience of our interactive multimedia Chinese language learning programs and also foster community of learners and teachers of the Chinese language and culture.

We will start posting a series of Cultural Shockers -- comics about all sorts of cultural issues from exchanging business cards to leaving tips at a restaurant.