My typical morning begins with browsing Instagram, which I use as a visual library for Chinese learning and educational inspiration. Since I’m trying to improve my Chinese skills, I need all the extra help I can get! In the morning, I have only a few minutes to scroll through Instagram before my kids wake up. Therefore, I am selective about following feeds with easy-to-read Chinese flashcards which prime my brain to think and speak Chinese.
If you don’t have Instagram, I highly recommend it! The social media platform is free and easy to use on your mobile device or desktop computer. This post is the first of a 3-part series about using Instagram as an educational resource. Here, I will share my 7 favorite Instagram accounts for Chinese learning. The second and third parts will detail my favorite accounts dedicated to children’s education.
1. Written Chinese (@writtenchinese)
Written Chinese shows words in both simplified and traditional Chinese with pinyin and English translation. The green “S” denotes simplified Chinese, and the red “T” indicates traditional Chinese. Behind the word is a beautiful, reaslitic, and unobtrusive photo which serves as memory aid. By the way, Written Chinese is best known for their Chinese apps. I have their dictionary app, and you can click here to learn more about each of their apps.
圣诞树 / 聖誕樹 (shèng dàn shù) Christmas tree 🎄 Swipe to see the traditional Chinese characters. Learn how to write, pronounce and remember ‘Christmas tree’ and tons of other Chinese characters in our dictionary app by clicking the link in our profile! #chinese #hanzi #learnchinesecharacters #learnchinese #chinesedictionary #china #studychinese #putonghua #mandarin #traditionalchinese #simplifiedchinese #christmastree #christmastree🎄 #christmas
2. That’s Mandarin (@linkwordchinese)
That’s Mandarin does a wonderful job presenting simplified Chinese characters with pictures as mnemonics. They also show pinyin and how to use the word in a sentence. In the photo below, “apple” is used as an example for 水果 (shuǐ guǒ / fruit). When you see China’s 5-star flag in the apple, you will remember that 国 (guó / country) has the same pinyin (but different tone) as 果 (guǒ / fruit).⠀That’s Mandarin is an online Chinese learning platform; click here to learn more about this educational company.
3. Mandarin HQ (@mandarinhq_)
Mandarin HQ shows samples of Mandarin Chinese video lessons, cultural snapshots, and language learning tips. The teacher, Angel Huang, speaks very clearly with subtitles in videos. Pinyin is also provided with flashcard posts. Click here to see a post with videos comparing northern versus southern Chinese accents. Below is an example of an educational video from her Instagram page.
4. Magic Chinese (@magic.chinese)
Magic Chinese has straightforward black-and-white flashcards with no pictures. Each post includes a Chinese word in simplified Chinese, pinyin, the English definition, and the HSK level. Magic Chinese also sells flashcards and books with translations in English, French, and Spanish on their website here.
5. Breezy Chinese (@breezychinese)
Breezy Chinese is an Instagram account for more advanced Chinese learners. Each post has a conversation with pinyin and English translation! It’s important to see new words in context, and Breezy Chinese consistently provides examples of real dialogue with audio! I often see other Instagram users asking other Chinese Instagram pages to add pinyin and examples of how to apply new words. This is one of the few accounts with detailed information!
6. Pardon My Chinese (@pardonmychinese)
Pardon My Chinese aims to teach Chinese in a simple way through content in business, tech, finance, science, education, culture and history. The flashcards have a distinct, predictable format with:
- Light pink background
- Dark pink font for simplified Chinese characters
- Black font for English translation (and sometimes pinyin)
7. Panda Cub Stories (@pandacubstories)
Panda Cub Stories is a unique account that uses art and storytelling to learn the most commonly used Chinese Characters. The artist explains the etymology of each characters! I also appreciate that simplified and traditional characters are shown with the pinyin pronunciation. You can learn more about the artist’s mission on her website.
Character Learning #0040 Traditional: 明［Míng］ Simplified: same ＊ MODERN MEANINGS: 1）bright 2) clear 3) next/following 4) to understand Synonym: 1) 亮 Liàng (for bright) 3) 下 Xià (for next) * CHARACTER EXPLANATION: The character 明［Míng］is an “ideogrammatic compound” or “會意huìyì” character. It uses two characters we’ve already learned: 日 (Rì) and 月 （Yuè）。 When the sun and the moon are placed next to each other, we have two celestial bodies shining in the sky – hence “bright” or “clear” (definitions one and two). When a day (日) and a night/moon (月) passes, you move onto the next day (hence the “next” or “following” definition three). When something is understood, it also “becomes clear” or illuminated – hence definition four. The character “明［Míng］” is another incredibly useful building block. See example usages for words you can form with “明”! COMMON WORDS & PHRASES (example usage) Tomorrow (next + day) — pinyin: Míngtiān — Traditional: 明天 — Simplified: same Next Year — pinyin: Míngnián — Traditional: 明年 — Simplified: same To understand (clear + white) — pinyin: míng bai — Traditional: 明白 — Simplified: same Unknown/don’t understand (not + clear + white) — pinyin: Bù míngbái — Traditional: 不明白 — Simplified: same To Explain (an explanation) (talk + clear) — pinyin: Shuōmíng — Traditional: 說明 — Simplified: 说明 Culture/civilized ( text/language + bright) — pinyin: Wénmíng — Traditional: 文明 — Simplified: same #pandacubstories #chinese #chineselearning #mandarin #typography #watercolor #panda #lettering #languages #illustration ＃hedgehog #hedgie #hedgehogsofinstagram PROJECT DETAILS: According to research, with a grasp of the 500 most common Chinese characters, you can read 75% of modern Chinese! For the first 100 days of 2018, I’ll take us through 100 of the most commonly used Chinese Characters – explaining etymology and providing examples along the way! After that, we’ll move on to the next 200, 300 characters etc My goal is to here is to help us reach basic reading proficiency by the end of 2019… and become increasingly literate going forward! I’ll be updating this Instagram (@pandacubstories) daily
And there you have it! These are my favorite Instagram accounts for supplemental Chinese learning! There are many other Chinese flashcard accounts on Instagram, but I have not included them if they do not post consistently or if they use distracting images or fonts.
What are your favorite educational accounts on Instagram? Please leave a comment, because I would love to follow them, too!
Stay tuned for the next parts of this series:
- Part 2: Inspiring Hands-On Chinese Activities on Instagram
- Part 3: Helpful Montessori Accounts on Instagram (TBD)
P.S. If you are looking for educational Chinese apps, click here for recommendations!
P.P.S. If you want to follow our Chinese learning journey on Instagram, click here to see my account @chalkacademy.