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How the Listening stage works (and how to write using a Chinese IME)

Curious to know more about this new listening stage and the benefits it'll bring you? Read more about it on our blog.

Wondering how you're going to type in Chinese?

This should not come as a surprise to you: the Chinese don't write words like we do and use characters instead. Before you start imagining mile-high keyboards containing all the Chinese characters - that would be terribly impractical and would probably require an elevator, or stairs at least --, we'll let you into a little "secret": computers in China look just like our Western counterparts and have a classic QWERTY keyboard layout.

How do they write in Chinese characters then?

By using an Input Method Editor, called IME for short. The IME takes what you input in "regular" letters on your keyboard and converts it into Chinese characters. This is where all the pinyin you've been learning comes in handy as you, too, will be using an IME to write the Chinese you hear in this stage.
Don't worry, though, you don't have to change languages on your computer or install a new keyboard. Ninchanese takes care of all that for you. Our great Nincha Machine will convert what you type into Chinese as you type it. It's pretty meowgical.

But, you're free to use the one from your computer by going to your language settings and add a Chinese keyboard.

Here's how an IME works.

A walkthrough of how you type in Chinese

Say you want to type Hello in Chinese. You want to display 你好

  • You type nihao (tones aren't necessary here) on your keyboard.

  • A few different choices of characters will be displayed above the input bar.
    • If the characters displayed correspond to what you're looking for, confirm with the space bar : it'll enter the characters you picked.
    • If the first characters aren't the ones you're looking for, you'll need to select the ones you want (here: 你好).
    • To select the characters you want, move along the different options using the left and right navigation keys on your keyboard or by typing the corresponding number.
  • All done! You've written 你好!

Tips and shortcuts

Here are a few more tips and shortcuts to know when using the IME:

  • Need to write a word in English or in pinyin, without transforming what you write in characters? Press enter instead of the space bar. It'll input whatever you're writing without converting it to Chinese.
  • Not seeing the character you want? Use the left and right navigation keys on your keyboard to bring up new character options.
  • Press ctrl + space to hear the sentence again!
  • The letter ü isn't easy to type on most keyboards, so you can type a "v" instead and the IME will recognize you're actually trying to type a ü.
  • Already have an IME installed and want to use yours? Go ahead? Just switch to Chinese and type away! (note: the Ctrl + space shortcut won't work so you'll need to use your mouse to hear the sentence again).

Using an Android Phone? Here's what you need to know

The listening stages work a little differently on Android devices, and you'll need to install a Chinese keyboard on your device to be able to write in Chinese in those stages. Luckily, it's not hard, and here's how to install an additional keyboard on your device.

Chinese keyboards need to be downloaded from the PlayStore. One of the best currently offered on Android is Google Pinyin, which you need to download from the Play store.

  • Download your Chinese keyboard of choice,
  • Go to your settings and to the Language & Keyboard section.
  • Under Keyboard and input, you should now see the keyboard you installed as one of the input options listed. Make sure it's activated by clicking on it.

Then, you should be all ready to type in Chinese in the listening stages on your Android phone!

Fairly straightforward, no? Your turn now. There's nothing better to learn how to use an IME than to actually using it in this new stage!

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