Basic Chinese 500 Books & iPhone Apps

I bought the Basic Chinese 500 – Beginning Reader Book for Little Edison a few months ago. When I attempted to teach him for the very first time, it wasn’t quite successful. The main reason was due to his lack of interest, and secondly, I didn’t know how teach him in a more interesting manner.

At the end, we gave up and the books were chucked aside in the book shelf until I rediscover them again recently.

Unknowingly, as I read the last page of the book, it leads me to it’s website. Under the “Download” section, there is a very useful Basic Chinese 500 Parent’s Guide that is available for free downloading. After reading it, I gained a better understanding of the book and its structure.

As an introduction, the Sage Formula Basic Chinese 500 is specially formulated for young children to learn Chinese. It has selected 500 Chinese words which are most frequently used in children’s literature and most relevant to their day-to-day life.

The author has grouped and arranged these words into 5 levels from Beginning (the set that I bought for Little Edison), Budding, Building, Confident and Fluent. Each level contains 5 books that come with “han yu pin yin” to show pronunciation as well as English translation.

In each lesson, he learns a new word. This word will then be repeated in various scenarios and subsequent lessons so that he can grasp the meaning of it. The book emphasizes on one new word per lesson to make it easy for young children to learn. Gradually, he will understand how the book is structured, and he will be expecting one new word from each lesson.

Most importantly, the author also shared on how to start using the books on page 19 of the Parent’s Guide. This part really enlightens me on how to teach him more effectively. She has a suggested planned schedule here, but I derived my own by adding a little speed to it. Here’s my planned schedule:

  • Day 1: Read lesson 1 to 5.
  • Day 2: Repeat lesson 1 to 5, and add lesson 6.
  • Day 3: Repeat lesson 2 to 6, and add lesson 7.

From Day 4 onwards, I’ll repeat the last 5 lessons learnt and then add one new lesson. That makes it a total of 6 lessons per day, and I think our boy is pretty much comfortable with this speed now.

The author actually recommends more than 1 reading session per day. However, due to my work commitment, I can only arrange one session per day every night. One important note to share here is that it’s important to establish a regular pattern and follow the schedule faithfully every day.

We’ve been reading the book for the past one week, according to my planned schedule above. I’m glad to say that we’re gradually gaining the upper hand on the progress and our boy is showing interest again.

Last but not least, I’ve also discovered that the Basic Chinese 500 is available on iPhone and iPad. How amazing! I bought the iPhone Apps at a little cost of US$4.99 (cheaper than the books actually). So, at any time of the day, I can dish out my iPhone to do some revisions with Little Edison. Great, isn’t it?


The only downside with this Apps is that we’re unable to scroll from one lesson to another without returning to the main menu, which is quite frustrating at times. Hopefully, the developer can improve on this part in near future.


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Thanks for Sharing .. I also have one book n
I didn’t know it has a parental guide
Quite a failure thus far
But I realise my son seem more interested in the odonata series
Only selling in popular msia ( I Bgt the seecond series from
Popular at Jusco Ipoh )
N those books don’t come with hanyu pin yin so it’s good to force my illiterate Chinese self to also learn it at the same
Time coz I need to read .. Though you can also buy the CD which has proper pronunciation

I shall persevere again..just got the iphone apps and the mp3 recording from the website..
i shall not have banana son! never…its bad enough to have a banana mummy n daddy..



This is a good series for a start, my girl is in level 2 book 3 now.. one word per day.. she can read on her own but will forget some words from earlier book, so revision is required on the words learnt earlier.

Hi, there! Thanks for sharing! I bought a copy a million years ago but I was quite clueless how it worked. My son likes it but I didn’t since the pages didn’t flow very well so we kindda stopped. But it seems more interesting now that you’ve shared! Ha!


i am also using this series, i find it very useful, prefer this to si wu kuai du. My ger is at level 2 1st bk, she has been reading it for abt 8 mths now, we are taking ti slowly, hopefully b4 she enters Pri 1, we would hvae covered all the 5 levels . Haha.. if she can persevere..


Hi Emily,

Thanks for sharing the apps.

I have the books, but d apps download to iPad is much easier, she can read it anytime in any places. 😉

Sharon Toh

Hi, where can I get Basic Chinese 500 – Beginning Reader Book?