Use this tool to add tone marks to pinyin or to convert tone number (e.g. hao3) to tone marks.

Although you can use the red buttons to add tone marks, we highly recommend you use the number method (e.g. hao3) for speed and placement of the accent above the correct vowel. [Hint: Type "v" for "ü"]
Note: You do not need to use this tool to enter pinyin in this dictionary.

Our Top Books for Learning Chinese

It will only take 8 minutes to read this post!

Whilst Written Chinese are big advocates of mobile learning we know that when you’re at home with a cup of tea (or coffee, I’m not discriminatory) nothing beats a good book to study from. During our time in China, The Written Chinese kids have acquired quite a few Chinese learning books to help with our Mandarin.

We also called on some of our Written Chinese Ambassadors to collaborate with us and tell us some of the books that have helped them on their Chinese learning journey. Whilst some of them, (the books not our lovely Ambassadors) may have sadly remained relatively neat and untouched, we have discovered some that have been scrawled upon (in pencil of course), bookmarked and abused which we would like to pass onto you. Not ours, you can buy your own here.

So don’t just take my word for it check out our collaborative list of top books for learning Chinese:

 

New Practical Chinese Reader

New Practical Chinese Reader: Textbook

Hollie says: I have personally used this book for my own studies (and with my Chinese teacher) and have found the topics covered relevant and useful. The exercises that follow each set of dialogue and vocabulary are brilliant for reviewing what you have just covered.
 
Nora says: New Practical Chinese reader seems like the go to book for Chinese teachers here in China – at least it’s been recommended to me several times. I do appreciate how it progresses – once you get to a certain level, they remove the pinyin and just put the tone mark above the character. Very smart way to reinforce the tones!

Note: There are 6 volumes in the New Practical Chinese Reader series.

Our Chinese Classroom

Our Chinese Classroom

Hollie says: This is one of my favourite Chinese study books because I feel as though my Chinese has progressed the most with these books. It covers a multitude of topics ranging from basic things from asking for directions to renting an apartment and then consequently complaining about said apartment (the authors of this text books obviously have experience with Chinese landlords). This is another book that really needs to be worked on with a Chinese teacher, although there is a CD included to listen to correct pronunciation of dialogue and listening exercises. Each chapter explains in detail specific grammar and correct usage of new vocabulary covered in the unit. There is also a writing section and then exercises, which are both challenging and useful as they not only recap that unit but reviews previous units vocabulary and grammar. Occasionally they sneak in a new word that you might not know, so keep your WCC Dictionary app handy to look up the words!

Reading and Writing Chinese

Reading and Writing Chinese (Characters and Compounds)

Nora says: What to get a little context and etymology when learning Chinese characters? This is a great guide for that and is laid out in a logical, easy-to-follow format with large character pictures. It will show you how to write the characters and will give you a bit of history for why the character is written the way it is today.

Ian says: I find “Reading and Writing Chinese” by McNaughton and Fan, published by Tuttle is really good for figuring out the characters.

Hollie says: I think this book is great if you want to learn about Characters. It’s simple to use and includes all the characters that appear in HSK. It provides a breakdown of the character, including stroke order, radicals and some example bigrams. Since i’ve started learning to read and write (kind of) I’ve become fascinated by the etymology of characters and this book provides a little insight into the meaning and history of Chinese characters without a lot of unnecessary fluff.

Reading and Writing Chinese also has separate Simplified and Traditional Character Editions. Find them here.

Chinese Colloquial Idioms

A Course in Chinese Colloquial Idioms

Nora says: A rare find for upper-intermediate students! This book is highly recommended for those looking to understand more subtle nuances in Chinese. It clearly explains idioms and common phrases as well as gives a glimpse into the Chinese mind. A true treasure trove for Chinese language lovers!

Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar

Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar: A Practical Guide

Hollie says: This is a relatively new find for me and I have to say this is a really cool book that I’ve spent time reading just for my own enjoyment. The book is split into two sections: Part A, Structures and Part B, Situations and Functions. Every unit has an explanation with examples including characters, pinyin and English. The example sentences are relevant and not just there to impress me, in fact the whole book is layed out and written in a simple manner so when I’m reading about modal verbs (which would normally make me cringe and run away) I really feel like I’m only learning how to write dog. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from this book already, and will definitely have it standing by on the coffee table if ever I have a grammar related question (which I frequently do). There’s also a nice workbook to go with the Practical Guide. Every unit has very relevant exercises to review what was covered in the guide.

Tuttle: Learning Chinese Characters

Tuttle Learning Chinese Characters: A Revolutionary New Way to Learn and Remember the 800 Most Basic Chinese Characters

Hollie says: Tuttle’s Book for Learning Chinese Characters is a really interesting introduction to Chinese characters. Aimed at beginners, it uses creative stories and images to teach the meaning, tone and pronunciation of a character. It’s a more educational version of Chineasy, As the title of the books tells, this book only covers 800 Chinese characters, but each character is dealt with in detail and it’s an enjoyable experience to boot. It’s fun and kind of genius to be honest, considering the worlds current love for all things fantastical (Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones etc). This is great for learners who need a little more than just words to grasp meaning.

Basic Patterns of Chinese Grammar

Basic Patterns of Chinese Grammar – A Student’s Guide to Correct Structures and Common Errors

Ray says: The book states it should be read as a supplement for other textbooks, and I would agree, it’s not a raw beginner’s book as some experience of Chinese is needed. For me, this is one to dip in to as needed.

Hollie says: This is pretty nice book to go to if you continue to make the same grammatical mistakes. I’ve found living in China, if you don’t have a Chinese teacher or friend who knows you won’t be upset if they correct your Chinese, you will unknowingly continue to speak grammatically incorrect sentences. This is a go to book for beginners to get you on the right path to learning Chinese grammar.

 

Chinese Cursive Script

Chinese Cursive Script: An Introduction to Handwriting in Chinese

One of the biggest challenges of reading Chinese is then moving on to reading cursive script. Similarly with all languages, no one writes clear characters and this book provides an introduction to reading Chinese handwriting.

Ian says: Chinese Cursive Script by Wang (Yale University Press that has been in print consistently since 1958!) helps figure out what the waiter wrote on his notepad about your restaurant order!

 

Learn Chinese With Mike

Learn Chinese with Mike, Absolute Beginner Coursebook and Activity Book

The Written Chinese Team <3 Chinese with Mike and his new series of books are brilliant.   Hollie says: I love the format of the Learn Chinese with Mike books and the course itself is extremely easy to follow. Everything is presented simply, without any complicated language which makes it a pleasure to complete activities. Of course, Mike Laoshi is known for his genius videos, which are incorporated into the book, along with listening tasks. The DVDs and CDs are included with the coursebook. The Absolute Beginner Coursebook is perfect for getting started on your Chinese learning journey. There is a second coursebook that you’ll definitely want to try afterwards, ‘Advanced Beginner to Intermediate Coursebook and Activity Book’.

 
For a further list of textbooks for learning Chinese that we have used to advance our Mandarin, go to our Book Shop.

I would like to thank the Written Chinese Ambassadors for helping us with this post!

If you’ve found another great book for learning Chinese, please leave a comment below or send us an email at support@writtenchinese.com

If you’re looking for stories in Chinese, the WCC Dictionary has a handful of short stories that can be downloaded to test your Chinese level.

 
If you want to find out more about our books and other features, you can check out our WCC Dictionary! You can learn more about our Chinese Learning Toolkit here! You can also click on the links below to download it for your iOS and Android devices!

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If you can’t access the Android market on your phone, you can just click here to download the WCC Dictionary APK file!

Facebook Comments

  • Vivien

    As a teacher, I’ve used New Practical Chinese Reader for years. I think Book 1 and 2 is good for foundation, Book 3 is a big jump! Have you heard of Discover China? It’s a good set very practical for conversational Chinese practise. We are http://practicalmandarin.co.uk, a Mandarin school in central London, would be great to connect with you.

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  • josh mackles

    NPCR was the first textbook I ever used, and I thought it’s method of moving from pinyin to characters with tones to characters only (no tones) was very clever. The problem with it, at least when I began using it in 2007, was that the stories were so old and out of date. The main character Dawei’s excitement in finding an apartment WITH a toilet seemed more appropriate in 1950’s china than today’s. Or the chapter devoted to chinese caligraphy and ink drawings that introduced a lot of pretty useless vocabulary about … ink. Ugh. I’ve been using the Boya series, which I much prefer due to its stories on modern china and modern chinese history – sun yatsen, the cultural revolution, etc.

    • Nora Joy Wilson

      hi josh, totally agree with you that switching to the characters with the tone marks is a great tool and about the stories being out of date. not to mention when they go to the bank and are able to exchange one British pound for 11.5 rmb. What is the Boya series? I’ve never heard of that before.

      • josh mackles

        Hi Nora, I’ve studied at two different schools that use Boya, CLE in Beijing and Mandarin House in Shanghai. Last summer I finished the Quasi-Intermediate 2, which is a nice buffer between elementary and intermediate level. Like most Chinese textbooks out today, it pays a lot of attention to HSK vocabulary. http://www.chinabooks.com.au/search.cfm?records_to_display=50&search_stage=results&search_string=Boya%20Chinese&keyword_form=yes One thing Boya did differently at lower levels is that when it told stories using both Hanzi and pinyin, the pinyin was not directly underneath the Hanzi, which I always found distracting because I always read the pinyin instead of the characters. Instead, the pinyin was on the opposite page so you could refer to it if necessary, but you did not rely on it to read.

        • Nora Joy Wilson

          Oh nice, that’s a good idea. It definitely takes a crazy amount of discipline not to look at the pinyin instead of the character when it’s right there below. Thanks for the response 🙂