Beginner in Chinese?

Sign up to get a free basic Chinese course complete with MP3 audio, 
plus learning tips and video lessons! 

How To Read Chinese Texts Easily Using Software

Reading Chinese texts is a significant obstacle for any Chinese learner. Beginners will often have worked through a textbook that has introduced some characters, and they may be able to recognise or read a few. They may also have looked through flashcards to get to grips with basic characters. However, learners of any language often find that reading ‘real texts’ requires so much vocabulary than they have learned at the beginner level, and reading can often be slow or require a lot of looking up words in the dictionary. Chinese is no different in this aspect, and some people find characters a lot more daunting than words in Western languages.

This is where Dimsum Chinese Tools and Wenlin come in. They are great tools to use as as a reading aid or dictionary, to help you read Chinese texts without making it a painful process. Dimsum Chinese Tools is free and easy to download. When you run the software you will be faced with a blank screen, and you can copy and paste a Chinese text from any source into the box.

If you want to look up a word in the dictionary, simply move your mouse over the characters, to see the Pinyin pronunciation and an English definition.



You can also type words into the program using Pinyin input and get English definitions for words, just by knowing how they are pronounced – which is much quicker than using a paper dictionary and is great for expanding your vocabulary and checking words during listening practice:




The dictionary in DimSum is not that extensive, but it is adequate for the intermediate learner. If your reading ability and knowledge of characters it at an intermediate to advanced level, there is a much more powerful piece of software that you can use – Wenlin. It is not free, however for the long term learner it well worth the price, as it contains the excellent ABC Chinese-English Dictionary which is very extensive and gives accurate definitions, and it also has a great feature to show you how to write characters.Not only that, Wenlin also breaks characters down into parts and gives you etymologies of characters, so you can understand how they are put together and how they have evolved.




By using these tools, you can read much more in a much shorter time, boost your comprehension, and accelerate your Chinese learning. I hope you find them useful!