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An Introducton To Chinese Characters

The most difficult part of learning Chinese is probably learning the characters. As you can see, this course includes both pinyin, or rather pīnyīn, the Chinese transliteration alphabet, and characters, so you'll be able to gradually learn to recognize and write the characters.

Let's start with three common characters. Take a look at each one, and practice saying it aloud. If you can think of any mnemonic devices to help you, go right ahead. That's the best way to learn characters, especially in the beginning. We'll suggest a few for you in the first several lessons. For example, nǐ is pronounced similarly to knee, and there are lines that look a bit like legs. Hǎo is pronounced like how, and you might see something that looks like a question mark on the right hand side. Of course, these are just suggestions. If they don't work for you, come up with ones that make more sense to you!

hǎo good, fine
ma a question particle