Chinese Learning plugin’s for Chrome and Firefox

dictionaryEven if your Chinese reading isn’t yet fluent (and who is?) you can already figure out quite a lot from Chinese news websites by just reading the articles. You just need some serious dictionary assistance. And wouldn’t it be nice if those pesky simplified / traditional characters would switch around?

In the “olden” days of casual news reading a Chinese dictionary wasn’t going to be much help  – unless you wanted to spend hour upon hour leafing through them in search of a particularly obscure character.  These days web browser plugin’s can provide direct translations of each character by just pointing your mouse over them.

For Google Chrome there is the ZhongWen popup dictionary, and for Firefox there is the Pera Pera popup dictionary plugin.  There are both based around the free CC-CEDICT Chinese English dictionary which contains over 100,000 entries.

It also does no longer matter if you are studying traditional or simplified characters (or both). By using the excellent New Tongwen Tang plugin you can change a website from traditional to simplified or the other way around. This makes a Chinese news website just as accessible as a Taiwanese one.

Google Chrome


Pleco releases Pleco for iOS 3.0

plecoPleco is a constant companion while I am travelling allowing me to sneak in a few more minutes of practice while commuting. Having seen other must-have software crash and burn after an update this update of Pleco came for me with a little dread.

Back in 2000 the company started with a Palm pilot version, these days the main versions are for iOS and Android. The software has over the years build up a loyal following of users who swear by it.

Pleco provides access to a total of 13 different Chinese dictionaries (the CC-Dictionary is free, the others are in-app purchases). There are also specialist dictionaries available for example Medical and Business use. 

Pleco can be expanded with a flashcard training tool that is designed to be used specifically for learning Chinese. Other expansions through in-app purchases include for example an OCR scanner, and male/female pronunciation. 

Was it worth the wait? 

The update was smooth and painless, the software looks nicely polished and obviously a lot of time has gone into making the experience as pleasant as possible. The old iPhone 3 style menu’s have had a necessary make over.

The most obvious changes are in how the dictionary entries are displayed, a lot of effort has gone into re-styling them and making them feel part of iOS 7.

Instead of quickly releasing a series of buggy apps and fixing bugs as they were reported Pleco has carefully tested each beta to a select group of users. That is something usually only the largest developers have the time and resources for and Pleco should be applauded for doing this. 

On the other hand, the number of truly new features is limited. If you used Pleco for all your Chinese dictionary lookups, you will still do so now. Flashcards also work exactly the same.

Just wait with upgrading until you have WIFI available, the basic update is some 74Mb, additional dictionary updates, speech etc quickly run up several hundred more Mb.

You can find Pleco for iOS in the iTunes store. Pleco also has posted a release guide on their website.

Moving to a new platform

The old media wiki was becoming slightly hard to edit; so I have decided to move all the content to a new WordPress site instead. Please bear with me for a little while , while I convert the content.

If you requested a link to a Chinese language related site before don’t worry — I will move all pages and convert them and keep the links! The wiki has been temporarily moved