It’s no secret that learning all of those Chinese characters is a difficult task. Fortunately, there are online tools available that can help. Whether you’re new to Chinese and looking for a place to start, an intermediate learner who wants a bit of practice, or even an advanced learner just wanting to find the right word, Nciku is a good destination!
Nciku is first and foremost a great Chinese dictionary. Offering a range of options for word lookup, it gives you many options for when you just can’t remember that tricky word. The dictionary goes both ways (English-Chinese and Chinese-English), and allows look up by English, Pinyin, Chinese character, or radical.
Each entry is accompanied by all the necessary basic information (and sometimes more). Translations, a picture representing the word, a phonetic transcription, a male and female voice recording of the word, examples of usage, and a clip showing correct stroke order for the Chinese characters are available for each entry. Some entries have videos representing the word, character decomposition, and synonyms.
Apart from the dictionary, Nciku also contains some learning tools to help you master Chinese. Short conversation snippets are offered up in the “Conversation of the Day” section, the “Learn Chinese Characters” section has a reel of characters with stroke orders of each character, the Q&A section allows visitors to pose and answer questions in a forum… vocab lists, quizzes, blog, free bilingual books, iPhone/Android apps… the list goes on and on.
Oh, and a Japanese dictionary is also forthcoming!
The only thing Nciku seems to be lacking is a stroke order practice section. For that, you might want to check out Skritter.