The English alphabet has 26 letters. The exact shape of the letters varies from person to person, depending on typeface and writing style; especially cursive. But, all things equal, there are 26 letters.

Now, let’s have a look at Chinese. There are about 20,000 characters in contemporary written Chinese. A basic understanding of the language and literacy is set at 2,000 characters. Memorize 4,000 of them and you’re thought to be well educated.

In an effort to make Chinese more accessible for Westerners and non- natives, London-based entrepreneur, software writer, and TED presenter ShaoLan Hsueh is creating a new system for teaching Chinese characters.

Chineasy utilizes approachable, minimalist posters as an educational tool to teach users the most essential Chinese characters. ShaoLan identified these essential characters using custom software she developed to dissect Chinese culture, literature, and restaurant menus. Then, the most common and essential characters were used to create pictographs that serve as the foundation of understanding the language.

Of course, building an illustrated guide to 20,000 characters is a formidable task. That’s why the team at Chineasy is planning to use the funding from a successful Kickstarter campaign to add an additional 300 characters in the system.

Learning Chinese With Minimal Pain And Posters | Fast Company Co.Design

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