If you’ve ever tried learning to read Chinese, you know how frustrating it can be! Is it even possible to learn to read and write Chinese without wanting to pull your hair out? Thankfully, as I have found out with graded readers like The Chairman’s Bao, there are some fun ways to do it. Let me explain.
If you are like me, you have spent hours upon hours memorizing Chinese characters and grammar to improve your Chinese reading with little success. If the secret to learning to read Chinese is to know as many Chinese characters as possible, shouldn’t hardcore memorization exercises and using flashcards do the trick?
Studies actually show the opposite! They point out that the true key to learning a foreign language is through absorbing the language by engaging in activities like graded reading – reading that uses words matched to a specific reading level.
Unlike flashcards where you generally review characters on their own with definitions in English, through graded reading, you are able to vastly expand your vocabulary by reviewing large amounts of characters suitable to your level at once and see them within their appropriate context. As this is far less tedious and more effective than reviewing flashcards, you are not only going to improve your reading level but also have fun in the process.
If you think about it, this exactly how a little child learns to read. Have you ever seen a kid pick up a copy of Pride and Prejudice and sit down with a dictionary to learn new words? OF COURSE NOT. They read at their level and move up as their vocabulary progresses.
Where Can You Find Good Chinese Graded Readers
So where can you find quality graded reading suitable to your level? There are a number of great books that you can pick up, including the Mandarin Companion series that I really like. These books are usually familiar stories that have good illustrations and plenty of good vocabulary.
However, of all the graded reading services out there, I’ve found that The Chairman’s Bao is top of the line and guaranteed to see your Chinese reading level soar to new levels provided you put in the dedication and hard work.
Here’s how it works: The Chairman’s Bao teaches reading through news based graded readers and caters to the learning needs of individuals and academic institutions. All articles are written by native Chinese speakers in accordance with the latest HSK word listings. As each lesson is associated with a specific HSK level (1 through 6+), learners are able to choose an article respective to their level and read the entire passage with relative ease.
Additionally, the Chairman’s Bao publishes 1,600 news-based lessons annually with up to 6 articles daily. With the amount of fresh content on the platform, you can strengthen the foundation of what you already know and continue to expand on it by continuous exposure to new characters suited to your level.
What is “The Chairman’s Bao”?
Before I had ever heard of the Chairman’s Bao, I begrudgingly relied on readers and other print materials to practice reading Chinese. When I encountered a difficult sentence without a teacher around, I had no way to fully understand the meaning of the characters or grammar structure within the sentence.
With The Chairman’s Bao, each article includes vocabulary lists and explanations on grammar in accordance with the targeted HSK level, making it an easy resource to learn on your own. In addition to the vocabulary list, you can also use the live dictionary where you simply click on a character to reveal the definition, pronunciation, and an option to save the character to your word bank.
I also really enjoy the spoken audio that can be downloaded for every article, the “learning hub” for studying vocabulary, character writing with stroke order instruction, and flashcard tests, which all together make The Chairman’s Bao a comprehensive source for improving your reading in Chinese.
My only criticism of The Chairman’s Bao is that it would be nice to have the option to disable the live dictionary. All too often whenever I stumble on an unfamiliar character, I refer to the live dictionary when instead I should try to guess the unknown word from the context of the sentence, which is crucial to improving my reading level.
Final Thoughts & Discount Code!
Overall, The Chairman’s Bao is hands down my favorite tool out there for those looking to improve reading abilities in Chinese. Put aside the flashcards and start investing your time into a method that will actually pay off in improving your Chinese.
They have new articles being published every day coupled with all the features built into The Chairman’s Bao, reading in Chinese will likely turn from a torturous experience to something far more enjoyable and fun. Best of all, they’re offering all readers of this blog 20% off of your subscription when you use the code TCC20!
Take the next step to improve your Chinese reading skills by investing in yourself. You’ll be glad that you did and best of all…if you’re like me you’ll have fun doing it!