20% discount code for The Chairman's Bao contained in the review below! Read on to know more!
To begin reading Chinese, you obviously need to tackle the often daunting task of mastering Chinese characters and their corresponding pronunciations: We at Zizzle are doing everything we can to get you there.
What is The Chairman’s Bao [TCB]?
Ever since I started learning Chinese 7 years ago, my teachers have been constantly telling me to read Chinese newspapers in order to expand my vocabulary and to become more fluent. But how are you supposed to read a whole newspaper (for which it is believed you need to know at least 3000 characters) when you are still in the beginning and only have a limited vocabulary? Here’s the answer:
TCB is a comprehensive online Chinese news-based reader. It’s like a simplified Chinese newspaper with daily content adapted to your individual language level. The lessons are written by native Chinese speakers and cover a wide range of topics in accordance with the latest HSK (National Chinese Proficiency Test) word listings. TCB can be used across multiple fully synchronized platforms (website, iOS and Android) and contains up to six daily articles and around 1,600 news-based lessons per year.
How do you get started?
Before subscribing, you can try out TCB by reading the sample articles on their main page. There, you can choose one lesson per HSK level, read it in either simplified or traditional Chinese, listen to the spoken text and even download the audio file. At the bottom of the lesson you can find a list with keywords translated into English as well as grammatical explanations and idioms.
How does TCB work?
By clicking on the button “Become Premium” on the main page, you can choose from several individual or institutional price packages and subscribe to TCB. This way, you gain full access to the over 2664 available TCB lessons. As soon as you are signed in with your new account, you can search within the TCB database and filter the results by category, HSK level or date range.
While reading a lesson, you can bookmark it to your profile for further reference and you can select unknown words to look them up in the Live Dictionary. In the dictionary, which you can find on the right hand side of your screen, you can also check the stroke order of the selected word, listen to its pronunciation, practice writing the single characters and save the words to your personalized word bank.
The TCB tool Learning Hub allows you to learn from your personal word list, practice writing the selected characters and test your newly acquired knowledge through flashcards.
My favourite features of TCB
▪ As I will start a full-time job soon, I already know that I won’t have time to keep up with my Chinese learning and to spend several hours every day reading Chinese newspapers and looking up words in a dictionary. This is why I love to start making a habit out of reading the TCB news stories. Their various difficulty grades help me choose texts which not only match my current level of Chinese but also my daily mood. If I am rather tired at the end of the day, I can choose an easier text just so I have a relaxed read and keep practicing. If I feel more motivated, I can choose a more difficult text and learn a lot of new words.
▪ Purchasing one TCB subscription unlocks your account for any number of devices! That means you can study online at home or on the go via the TCB apps, all using one subscription. For me, this is especially helpful to beginners to help them overcome the initial “barrier to learning”. As an extra, you can get a special 20% discount on subscriptions now using the coupon zizzletcb2017. Don’t miss the chance!
▪ Since the TCB lessons are relatively short, it is very easy for me to squeeze in an article or two at the end of the day before going to sleep. The lessons are always fresh and entertaining and I’m looking forward to spending a few minutes in the evening seeing the new daily headlines and choosing what I’m most interested in.
▪ Not having to keep an extra dictionary at hand while reading the TCB articles is a real time saver. If I don’t know a word, I just select it and the Live Dictionary is giving me an instant translation and a ton of extra information.
▪ I tend to forget newly learned words very easily and I need to practice new vocabulary quite often before I memorize the words properly. This is why I like having the personal Word Bank to help me remember even the most difficult words.
My suggestion for future improvement of TCB
▪ The first time I used TCB I had some difficulties finding the flashcards function and practicing my saved words, on the website as well as in the app. It would be great if the function would be more obvious and easily accessible, for instance on the page where I have a list of all words in my Word Bank. However, the TCB team has assured us that they will release a tutorial in the coming month to better explain this feature, which I definitely welcome.
▪ If I’m reading an article online in which I have several unknown words and I don’t know exactly where one word ends and the other begins, the Live Dictionary does not recognize the selection of several consecutive characters which don’t belong together. Especially for beginners, I think it is important to be able to look up a series of characters and see in the dictionary which ones go together and form distinctive words. Again, this feature is coming soon!
If you are looking for a platform on which you can not only learn Chinese vocabulary and grammatical features but also see them within context while keeping up-to-date with China related news, TCB is the right place for you.
The news articles are short, so even if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, you can practice one or two lessons per day in accordance with your current HSK level. You can improve your reading and listening skills, learn new words and even expand your grammar knowledge. As each lesson is relatively short, you can learn it in great detail and easily memorize the new words and grammatical particles. We highly recommend TCB as a tool to consolidate your knowledge of Chinese characters which you have already acquired through Zizzle.
Alexandra from Zizzle