In major cities of China like Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, Nciku is fast becoming a household name among students, travelers, expats and just about anyone else who has an interest in learning Chinese. But now the word’s out, and sinophiles all over the world have also caught on to Nciku.
Though Nciku is an online dictionary, it looks like anything but a typical learning website. With a savvy looking interface and an innovative interface that boasts features like Nciku for mobile devices, an e-zine, handwriting recognition tool and a blog that has a loyal following, it’s winning over younger audiences outside of China.
One of the main appeals of Nciku is its extensive vocabulary lists in both Chinese and English, which even includes popular slang, something that many other online dictionaries don’t feature. It also offers conversation scenarios based on topic or location. Ranging from how to order Chinese food to opening a bank account, there’s a scenario to fit everyone’s needs. Users simply look up the conversation and read or listen to it.
Not only is Nciku an excellent word source for both English and the Pinyin system, it is also rich with Chinese characters. Reading and writing Chinese characters is often the biggest hurdle for those who are studying Chinese. Nciku’s latest online feature is an innovative character recognition tool that allows you to write strokes with your mouse and instantly bring up similar or related characters, along with the Pinyin and meaning of each.
Perhaps the most compelling aspect of Nciku is the fact that the entire service is free of charge and open to all public users. And because the service is completely online, it’s available to anyone, anywhere with an internet connection, include mobile devices.
With a website that’s filled with new and interesting ways of learning, Nciku has departed from the traditional ways of learning Chinese and modernized it for today’s society. Currently, Nciku is available in English, Mandarin and Taiwanese, but development is in process to add more languages in the future.
Nciku was founded in April, 2007.