Written by Hollie at WrittenChinese.Com
So you may have read recently that the popular English-Chinese dictionary, Nciku was taken offline. Regular users are now redirected to Line Dictionary; a ‘fresh start’ for Nciku. Sadly though, people moving to Line will find many of the functions that they loved about Nciku are now gone.
Perhaps finding a Nciku alternative is the answer…
It’s important for many learners to just use one dictionary, and since the demise of Nciku, maybe it’s time for some of their loyal users to take a chance with another model.
WCC Online Dictionary (WrittenChinese.Com) has all the features and tools a learner of Chinese needs in an online dictionary AND more, due to its proximity to other learning materials such as flashcards, videos and mobile apps.
Type a word in English, Pinyin and Chinese to produce an answer. Not just one top answer, but also other entries that may feature the character you searched for. So even if you search for the word ‘tea’ (茶), the dictionary also introduces you to other useful words such as 茶叶 (chá yè): tea leaves and 茶杯 (chá bēi): tea cup. (Find those examples here: http://bit.ly/1Bji6Bm)
Click the drop down button and get a ‘breakdown’ of each character or bigram, so you can learn the root of each character. It’s all good and well knowing that 土豆 (tǔ dòu) means potato, but wouldn’t you rather know that 土 is ground and 豆 is bean? (See the example here: http://bit.ly/1zYH3xD) Learning the root of Chinese words from the very beginning will really speed up your Chinese learning in the long run.
You can also take advantage of a whole host of information including viewing the traditional character and Cantonese pronunciation. Of course, it also displays the Characters pinyin using colors to denote tone, but if this is confusing, you can change the phonetic display to pinyin + number without color.
e.g. hàn zì = han4 zi4
The colored tones can be good for memorizing, however for a beginner the numbers may be more beneficial as you first begin to learn.
All the characters have .gif stroke animations that are at a slow enough speed to follow, learn and write your own characters; one thing Line Dictionary currently lacks.
The dictionary also provides a stroke count and displays the radicals featured in the characters; a pretty important feature for a serious Chinese learner.
In addition to the more obvious features that this free online dictionary offers, behind the scenes it’s also quite special. Written Chinese created an algorithm combining research done at MIT, open source libraries, and years of tweaking in order to give users the most accurate results for their searches. If you’ve ever learned a word wrong and then had to re-learn it, you know how it can really set your learning back. Chinese is complicated enough, and Written Chinese wants to give you ways to simplify the learning process. Accurate dictionary search results is one of the best ways to achieve this and it also reinforces correct vocabulary.
Regardless of whether you were an avid user of Nciku and are looking for a Nciku alternative, or you’re new to studying Chinese – Online Dictionary is sure to set you on the right path.