"I am thrilled with the program. It is a new and powerful tool in my study of Chinese."
—Jos Spapens

"I have been using the program for about 5 months now and I have moved from knowing a little over 2,000 characters to consistently scoring 3,000 or more on your on-line character test. More importantly I have finally moved from reading intermediate texts to on-line news I find on the WWW. Your program has turned out to be an amazing aid. I am now a huge fan."
—Brent Nelson

"Big thanks for the software! I just started learning Chinese here at the UN, and your program is just what I need. It lets me follow up what I learn in the classroom and then explore further."
—Nikolai Galkin, United Nations

More User Comments


Stepping Stones Lesson Two

Audio Immersion  |  Audio Practice  |  Vocabulary Study  |  Vocabulary Review
Reading Practice  |  Exercises  |  Stepping Stones Home

Zhongtian Rock

Study the vocabulary for one line of the story along with the English translation of that line. You may want to go back to the previous step so you can listen to the line and practice reading it aloud. When you can read the line comfortably and with full comprehension, go on to the next line.

中 天 石 Zhongtian Rock
九 月 九 日, On September 9th,
我 和老 方 出 门, old Fang and I left home
上 东 山 。   to climb the eastern mountain.
下 了 车, When we got out of the car
我 们 向 东 走 了 二、三 百 米, we faced east, walked two or three hundred meters,
就 到 了 山 门 口。 and already we had arrived at the entrance to the mountain. 
进 了 山 门, When we entered the mountain’s entrance
向 上 又 走 了 we turned upwards, walked another
八、九 里 路, eight or nine half-kilometers up the road,
我 们 就 到 了 and already we had arrived at
东 山 的 最 高 点 "中 天 石"。 the eastern mountain’s highest point, “Zhongtian Rock.”


New Vocabulary

Click on any character to see how it is written. Click on any character's pinyin to hear how it is pronounced.

While learning to write the characters is not essential to learning to read them, it helps a lot and is highly recommended. Practice writing each yourself 5-10 times, being careful to follow the stroke order shown in the animation.

For more help learning to write the characters for this lesson, try out our Character Trainer App for iPhone and Android.

month, moon
day, sun
I, me
and, with
[a surname], square
go/come out
[particle indicating completed action] *see grammar notes
vehicle, car
[particle indicating plural] *see grammar notes
already (in certain contexts) *see grammar notes
arrive, arrive at
opening, mouth
again, another
half a kilometer, inside
[particle indicating possession] *see grammar notes
the most, -est
high, tall
rock, stone
sky, heaven, day

Existing Vocabulary

Vocabulary Notes


Instead of having unique names for the months of the year, Chinese simply numbers the months 1-12.  The name of the month, therefore, is just the character for that month’s number followed by the character 月, which means month or moon.  So, in the passage above, “九月” means “September.”  The day of the month is indicated by the character for that day’s number followed by the character 日, which means day or sun (Note: In Chinese, the month is always indicated before the day.).  Therefore, the full date in the passage above, “九月九日”, means “September 9th.”  The character 号 (hào) is also commonly used in place of 日. [Additional Reading]


In English we sometimes see surnames that are also ordinary words in the English vocabulary.  In Chinese this is much more common, and, with the absence of capital letters, it is critical to be able to use context to determine when a character is a surname and when it is simply a word.  For example, in the passage above the character 方 is a surname, but in other cases it can act as the character for “square.”  In this case we know it is a surname because it would not make sense for an “old square” to accompany the narrator in climbing the mountain. [Additional Reading]

Once you've studied the vocabulary and can read each line of the story with comprehension, you are ready to go on to the next step.