"In the last two months I have learned more using Clavis Sinica than I did in two years of college Chinese."
—Martin Colwell

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Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones is a series of lessons in written Chinese for adult beginners. The goal of the series is to provide a systematic introduction to the 300 most commonly used Chinese characters, which together account for 65% of the characters typically found in modern Chinese texts. After completing the 15 lessons in the series, the student will be able to read, write, and pronounce these characters and some of the basic compounds that they form.

In keeping with traditional Chinese practice (and with what all kids do in learning their first language), the Stepping Stones series emphasizes the importance of listening and memorization. Each lesson presents a short, simple reading--usually either a poem or a simplified version of a famous Chinese story--and encourages the student to master first the sound of the characters and then their meanings and shapes, much as children do in China today.

Every lesson includes audio recordings, stroke-by-stroke character animations, automated flashcard review sessions, grammar notes, and exercises. The vocabulary in each lesson builds on the previous ones, gradually increasing in complexity while providing regular opportunities to review what has already been learned.

The series currently consists of the following lessons. Additional lessons will be added as they are completed.

Students who have already mastered the first 300 characters might find the audiotexts collected in the Chinese Voices Project a useful resource for additional reading practice.