"In the last two months I have learned more using Clavis Sinica than I did in two years of
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.
|Lesson 1: Mountains and Stairs
A short, simple rhyming poem that introduces basic numbers and directions.
|Lesson 2: Zhongtian Rock
A brief account of a visit to a scenic mountain, with key vocabulary for expressing dates and distances.
|Lesson 3: Monkeys
The comic tale of a Daoist priest charged with feeding a group of hungry monkeys.
|Lesson 4: The Foolish Old Man
A famous story about an old man who is determined to do something about the two large mountains in front of his house.
|Lesson 5: Three Hundred Taels of Silver
A well-known parable about a man who was a little too careful about hiding his silver.
|Lesson 6: The Farmer and the Hare
A favorite story about a farmer whose good luck leads him into complacency.
|Lesson 7: The Blind Men and the Elephant
An ancient Buddhist parable about the limitations of human perception.
|Lesson 8: Duke Ye Likes Dragons
A nobleman boasts of his fondness for dragons, but when he gets an unexpected visitor he quickly changes his tune.
|Lesson 9: A Tooth For a Tooth
A favorite tale about how a clever young boy's sharp tongue helps him get the better of an arrogant court official.
|Lesson 10: The Old Frontiersman Loses His Horse
The famous fable about the unpredictability of fate.
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.