When my Aunt told me she was going to move to Hong Kong, I couldn’t believe it. It was so far away from London! They spoke a completely different language and had a totally alien culture. My 15-year-old brain could not fathom how someone could just get up and move to the other side of the world.
I am now 21, and I have visited my Aunt twice already at her lovely home in Hong Kong, and I can see exactly why she fell in love with the country and decided to move there.
It is such a beautiful island, with a strong identity, rich history and culture, and not to mention great food!
My Aunt was struggling to learn Chinese, especially because the alphabet is totally different to the one we are used to. At least in German or French, British people could at least attempt to sound out the word. There’s no chance of that with Chinese!
I remember my Aunt had a copy of the original Chineasy book. She flicked through it and showed me how the Chinese characters resembled the thing they were describing, and this made it so much easier to learn.
So, this September when I challenged myself to learn a little Chinese before I go to Hong Kong for the third time in November, I decided to contact Chineasy. I had worked with them before for an article, and they were more than happy to give me access to their app so long as I document my learning experiences.
The reason I want to learn a little Chinese now is so that I can engage on a more personal level with the country my Aunt calls home. I want to be able to understand what is on the menu, follow signs and directions all by myself around the island, and at least attempt a conversation with some of the locals.
I know I won’t be able to master Chinese by November, but I want to be able to have a basic understanding of common words and phrases I may come across.
Enter Chineasy. When I opened the app, I was struck by how bright and colourful it is. This didn’t strike me as childish in any way, rather just a bit of fun. Learning should never be a chore!
The iconic graphics used in Chineasy are detailed enough to recognise what they represent, but are simple enough to be remembered. I love the way the artists have made the words look like the item they are describing!
Chineasy is taught in levels, where they increase in difficulty and obscurity. I recommend doing a level per day, so it never takes more than 5 minutes and you are not trying to learn too much at once!
The first thing you learn is 人 or ‘ren’, which means person. The top point is the head, and the two lines kicking off that are the legs. This is a really simple character, and is very commonly used, and I feel like it is an excellent place to start.
Most language-learning apps or courses start with “hello, my name is”, but I like that Chineasy start by introducing and engaging the student with their image concept.
You are shown the Chinese character with the image, without, and then the word, meaning, and pronunciation.
I was then shown a few more characters and then tested. The mini quiz tests you on the sound, the meaning, the Chinese character, and the anglicised spelling. On my first go at level 1 I got 100% (woohoo!)
Once I have achieved a few more levels, I will write an updated post about my journey into learning Chinese, and how I find the app with more use.
This guest blog post comes from Evelyn Richards, an English Literature student from London. She enjoys blogging, reading, and baking. Evelyn is hoping to go into publishing once she finishes her degree.