For foreigners, learning to speak Chinese is a hard task. But learning to read the beautiful, often complex characters of the Chinese written language may be less difficult. Taiwanese ShaoLan Hsueh (44) walks through a simple lesson (ShaoLan’s TED Talk at the end of this post) in recognizing the ideas behind the characters and their meaning – building from a few simple forms to more complex concepts. Call it Chineasy.
Created by ShaoLan, Chineasy is a visual-based learning system which teaches Chinese characters, simple stories & phrases. This building block system allows learners learn speedily with great fun enjoying Chinese history, classical and pop culture.
ShaoLan, living in London now, says that the project allowed her to reacquaint herself with her creative upbringing, having spent years studying and working in the fields of technology and business. “I grew up in an artistic family. My mother was a calligrapher and my father a ceramicist,” she says. “I used to watch my mother choose each character and spend time on it, so they are special to me.”
For the illustrations, she hired a team of designers to collaborate with her and the London-based Israeli artist Noma Bar, who was responsible for her book’s striking graphics. There is a good reason why she chose to work with non-Chinese speakers: “It would have been easier to hire those who knew the language, but I wouldn’t have been able to put myself in their shoes. My first task was to teach my team. I thought if I couldn’t teach them, then how could I convince a much wider audience?”
The ShaoLan’s TED Talk that started it all in 2013.