When you’re first getting started learning Chinese, it’s very important to start reading as soon as possible. Reading helps you contextualize the language so that you reach your maximum language acquisition potential. If you want to learn more about this method, you can some research further into Stephen Krashen and his “Input Hypothesis.” But in this post, I want to skip over the details on why reading is so important and discuss more about how you can get started with your reading by finding content.
Once you’ve gotten over the initial plateau of reading Chinese characters. It’s important to have go-to resources on hand for content that you are truly interested in so that you can pick out a book or article at any time and start reading on the fly. Dump the textbooks as quickly as possible and get going with some of the following resources:
- News Sources
- General News
- The New York Times: http://cn.nytimes.com/ –my favorite because you can read articles with side-by-side English and Mandarin text.
- The Wall Street Journal: http://cn.wsj.com/ – (subscription required)
- FT Chinese: http://m.ftchinese.com/– (subscription required for some articles), offers many long articles with high vocabulary level content
- Fortune: http://fortunechina.com/
- Baidu News: news.baidu.com
- Sina News: http://sina.com.cn/
- Tech News
- General News
- Print Books – I always think it’s good to have at least one physical print Chinese book around so that you can practice reading even if you’re tired of sitting in front of a computer screen all day. When you are first getting started and not used to navigating Chinese websites, I would highly recommend buying a Chinese version book on Amazon so you don’t have to deal with the complexities of the interface and checkout. For example, my favorite genre is biographies. So to find a book like this (or for any other genre you prefer), perform the following steps: go to Amazon.com, click the menu button in the top left, select “Books & Audible”, select “Hardcover & Paperback”, scroll down and look on the left side for the filter called “Language”, click “See More” and then select “Chinese (Simplified)”, finally scroll back up find the “Department” filter on the left side and select the genre you are most interested in. The most important thing here is to find a book you really want to read because you are interested in the topic.
- Wait But Why. www.waitbutwhy.com/wechat . This one is a little trickier to access because you will to set up a WeChat account first, add Wait But Why to your WeChat account by scanning the QR code, and then access articles by selecting View History and selecting from the Past Articles list.
- Lei Jun’s (雷军) personal blog（Chinese billionaire tech entrepreneur）http://leijun.blog.techweb.com.cn/
- Technical Content
- Zhihu: www.zhihu.com – Similar to Quora.com or StackExchange.com, a forum with questions and answers about a wide variety of topics. You can find the simpliest or most technically advanced of topics on this forum for whatever you might be interested in. Download the app for on-the-go reading. This will require you to set up an account by entering your mobile number.
I would also highly recommend you check out the following post from our Getting Started Series: Pick a Go-To Source of Chinese Reading Material. If you haven’t read through that entire series, you might want to visit it because it is packed with more information to help you along the way.