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

"I have let my reading skills lapse since the last time I was in China, mainly because I can't enjoy reading when I have to stop to look up characters. Clavis Sinica takes the dictionary-induced eyestrain and boredom out of reading Chinese; it's made it much easier for me to read online news articles, and has really improved my reading."
—Eric Hayot, State College, PA

"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

More User Comments


Chinese Voices Project

Welcome to Chinese Voices, a collection of mini-essays with mp3 audio for students of Chinese language and culture. All of the selections are written by savvy young Beijingers and are read in their own voices. Each piece offers a perspective on modern life in Beijing you won't find in a Chinese language textbook or the China Daily.

Subject Areas

To get started, just pick a subject area from the list below and choose a lesson topic that interests you. You can view the Chinese text in a browser or copy and paste it into Clavis Sinica to learn the meaning, structure, and usage of any unfamiliar characters or compounds it contains.

Arts & Culture

Family & Friends

City Life

Computers & Technology

Consumer Culture


Foreign Affairs


Social Issues

Work & Money

Click on a subject area from this list to view all of the lesson topics in that category. Some of the entries provide a "Read and Hear" link that allows you to view and listen to the text simultaneously. Click on any Chinese character in the text reader to display the pinyin and meaning of the character and the compound word of which it is a part.

Some entries also provide a "Flashcards" link. Click on this link to drill yourself on the vocabulary introduced in that essay.

The two numbers after each title represent the piece's approximate difficulty level and length in characters. The difficulty level of each text is based on the usage frequency of of the characters it contains, with 1.0 being the easiest and 3.0 the most difficult.

You can also view a complete listing of all topics in order of difficulty, or join a conversation about your favorite essays on our new discussion board.

Recent Additions

Here are some of the latest new entries on the site:

Roast Duck and Pancakes (1.3 / 430)
Emily Fang
     The names of these two Beijing culinary specialties have taken on new meanings among foreigners and Chinese in recent years, as a shorthand for distinguishing who's hot and who's not on an increasingly public dating scene.


Boycott France (1.6 / 576)
Lynn Long
     Recent events in France in the wake of the Tibet unrest have led for calls for a boycott of French goods in China and demonstrations in front of Carrefour department stores. Many Chinese, however, reject such tactics, and urge a more open-minded consideration of the issues.


Visas and Vodka (1.1 / 505)
Joanna Hsu
     Beijng's Chaoyang district is known for its glittering highrises, glamorous shops, and ritzy cosmopolitan lifestyle. It is also home to a remarkable concentration of embassies and bars, all of which serve, in their own ways, the noble cause of cross-cultural understanding!


Looking for Love Online (1.4 / 406)
Lynn Long
      Dating websites have become very popular in Beijing, where posting the right kind of personals ad can yield dozens of replies within minutes. Whether their interest is the kind you're looking for is another question altogether.


I Love China (1.1 / 376)
Joanna Hsu
      With the help of the internet, a new patriotic movement has arisen in China as a response to recent unrest in Tibet and what are widely perceived as attempts to sabotage the Beijing Olympic games.


The Gay / Lesbian Scene in Beijing (1.5 / 438)
Emily Fang
      Attitudes towards homosexuality are rapidly becoming more accepting in China's major cities. Bars catering to "comrades" and "lalas" abound. For foreign visitors, though, the social rules may take some getting used to.


Join a conversation about your favorite essays on our new discussion board!

Reading these Texts with Clavis Sinica

You can use the Clavis Sinica software with these lessons to improve your Chinese reading and listening skills. Here's how:

  1. Listen to the podcast of the selected reading
  2. Copy and paste the text into Clavis Sinica's Text Reader Window and practice reading it through, with and without the recording
  3. Click on unfamiliar words and characters to learn their meaning, pronunciation, usage, and relationship to other words and characters you may already know
  4. Create a custom vocabulary list consisting of all the new words and characters you've learned, and then drill yourself on their meaning and pronunciation using the Clavis Sinica flashcard tool
  5. Practice reading the text through, with and without the recording, until it feels familiar and comfortable.

We welcome your feedback about this project - let us know what you think!