Stroke order principles for learning how to write Chinese characters correctly are available here.

Readings in traditional Chinese characters are available here.

Flashcards to accompany the above stories are available here.

K-12 Chinese here.

Learn Chinese -- with no English to interfere. "Wok" just means "wok," not "concave frying pan." Directly understand Chinese words! Chinese Direct Ⓒ 2011 Patrick Edwin Moran

Chinese is a tonal language, and Mandarin (standard instructional) Chinese has four tones plus an unaccented version of syllables that is called "neutral tone" or "light tone."

Graphical representation of the four tones.

One way to introduce these tones is to explain the meaning of the sound spelled out as "ma" when it has each of the four tones, and when it is in neutral tone.

first tone: mā        "mother." (māma is the ordinary Chinese way to say "mama.")

second tone: má    hemp.

third tone: mǎ        horse

fourth tone: mà      to revile, to scold. 

neutral tone: ma    (this sound at the end of a sentence makes that sentence a questsion.)

Note that the little superscripts over each of the first four words listed above are simplified versions of the frequency vs. time graphs in the big chart.

Do not be too concerned about how to use tones. In the beginning, reading syllable by syllable, they may feel a bit awkward. However, if you always do your best to reproduce the sound that is presented in the vocabulary pronunciation file, you will form good habits for their production. When you learn to speak more quickly you will naturally begin to glide them together. Do not imagine, however, that you can just ignore them. Sometimes when you get them wrong you can unintentionally say something that has an unintended meaning that you would not want to convey.

Lesson 01.  A dozen vocabulary items, and the idea that (as in English) single-syllable modifiers come directly before the noun. The speech sounds not found in English, xi, sh, ri, and yü, are used for the first time.

Lesson 02. Lesson two introduces some common kinship terms used within the family, for instance, "mom," "dad," and terms for elder and younger siblings. It also introduces two different kinds of sentences, (1) Subject + attribute (and no copula), and (2) Subject + set inclusion operator + name of set (Rover belongs-in-the-set-of dogs). 

Web Version. (In progress.)

When two syllables are closely connected in speech, the first syllable takes precedence and the second syllable may not have an easily distinguishable tone.  When two or more third tones, e.g. as in "mǎ," the first one of them becomes a second (rising) tone, e.g., "mámǎ."  A similar thing happens with "bù" (meaning no) when it comes before another fourth tone. The word "bù" is then pronounced as "bú," so that "bù shì" has to be read as "bú shì." Furthermore, commonly used expressions such as "bú shì" usually lose the tone of the second syllable except when being very carefully pronounced under special circumstances. So "bú shì" usually appears as "búshi." (There is no pause between the two syllables.)

Lesson 03.