Chineasy: learning Chinese easily through illustrations, by ShaoLan



ShaoLan, author of Chineasy

ShaoLan is a writer, entrepreneur, angel investor and traveller. Her new book Chineasy is a graphically appealing, illustration-led system that will enable all readers – from schoolchildren to adults – to grasp the concept of Chinese ideograms with ease.

ShaoLan has unpicked Chinese characters and created a simple system for quickly understanding the written language. Working with renowned illustrator Noma Bar, she has developed a unique set of engaging illustrations that offer a glimpse into the wonders of the Chinese language and culture. In fewer than 200 pages, readers of all ages will have made the first steps towards a genuine appreciation of Chinese, loving every new character they learn.


The Chinese language is traditionally taught through a series of between roughly 180 and 215 radicals. These radicals are then used to form the characters of the Chinese language. Chineasy has broken down this collection of characters into their most basic and recurring forms, allowing students to learn fewer and simpler radicals that ShaoLan has termed ‘building blocks’.


One building block (see examples) can be combined with one or more other characters to make a compound character.


Two or more independent characters can be placed next to one another to make phrases. This principle of building blocks is what makes Chineasy so easy!


‘The Chineasy team came to me shortly after Noma Bar – whose books Thames & Hudson has distributed – was brought on board to do the illustrations. I could see that the system and images they had created was fresh, educational and fun’ explained Lucas Dietrich, Commissioning Editor at Thames & Hudson. ‘It was exciting to be involved in building a brand from the beginning ­ exploring the range of applications with the Chineasy team has been a dynamic and rewarding experience. I would like to think this project embodies Thames & Hudson’s ongoing commitment to partnering with cultural institutions and commercial brands to create visually rich books and experiences.’

On signing up with Thames & Hudson, ShaoLan said on her Facebook page: ‘We have been excited about this for a long time… Thames & Hudson are the world’s leading publishers of illustrated books on art, architecture, design, fashion, archaeology and history. Their publications are beautiful and we knew that out of all of the offers we received that they would do our illustrations justice!’


Chineasy has already been endorsed by the likes of fashion mogul Victoria Beckham, screenwriter Spike Jonze and restaurateur Michael Chow, who have just awarded it the title of ‘Life-enhancer of the year’ in the Wallpaper* Design Awards 2014, choosing it over entries from Google and Singapore Airlines. ShaoLan also presented Chineasy to the delegates of DLD14 who were very impressed with the concept – one delegate, investor Bill Gross tweeted ‘Here at #DLD14 ShaoLan is showing us how to learn a LOT of Chinese in under 10 minutes using clever iconographics.’

Join the rapidly-growing Chineasy community on Facebook and Twitter:

Learn more about Chineasy on the website:

Watch ShaoLan’s video on YouTube here:


You can purchase Chineasy by clicking here – and support your local independent bookshop as the same time too.

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