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I wish I were learning Chinese now, instead of back in the Dark Ages…

March 5, 2022

My kids are prone to say things like, “Back in the 1700s, when you were in school…” and there are days when I look at the fantastic options available to learn Chinese today and it does indeed feel like I was in college hundreds of years ago.

My day job is keeping me far too busy to take Chinese back up again, but if it weren’t, I’d be reading books like the ones put out by our friends at Imagin8 Press.

They’ve got a nice new one called Easy to Read Chinese Short Stories composed of the Best Short Stories and Poems from the 2021 MSL Master Chinese Writing Contest, a Mandarin school in Hong Kong. It’s a collection of 17 very short stories and poems written in simplified Chinese using a total of just 320 different Chinese characters and also available as a free audiobook.

Early in 2021, Chinese learners worldwide were invited to participate in the first Chinese Writing Contest organized by MSL Master. Entries were limited to using 320 unique Chinese characters.  Out of 82 submissions, 17 of them were ranked the highest in a public vote on Twitter. These top-ranked works are included in this book. There are stories, poems, and even a short play.

At a time when the world seems far more fraught than it has been and when connections between people are all the more important, I love the statement they’ve got on their website:

We are dedicated to promoting a peaceful world by bridging the divide between different cultures. Our sole focus is on publishing high quality, enjoyable books for English speaking people who want to read and understand Chinese.

You can see their full list here. As a big reader, I really do believe that reading in Chinese helps language acquisition by leaps and bounds. Having books like this (which didn’t exist when I, or my kids, were first learning Chinese) really makes a difference.

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