With Chineasy, ShaoLan created a groundbreaking visual way to learn Chinese by blending Chinese characters with storytelling and visual design. She simplifies the learning process by breaking the characters down into a series of building blocks, then pairs them with engaging illustrations. What becomes a fun and engaging way to learn a new language is also an immersion of sorts into a new world.
Now a popular and engaging way of learning Chinese in over 30 countries, Chineasy has revolutionised how people understand and interact with ShaoLan’s native country. All while, as she says, “bridging the gap of understanding between East and West” and penetrating the Great Wall of Chinese language.
“I hope this is something people can appreciate – not just the language, but the culture,” says ShaoLan. “Language is the secret to learn the culture. Everybody should care about learning another culture, whether or not you want to learn the language. With cultural understanding we can build more personal connections.”
ShaoLan developed Chineasy because she wanted her British-born children to learn her native language.
“When my children were really little, they would respond when I spoke Chinese to them,” she says. “But then, when they got a little older and realised that everyone around them spoke English, they started refusing to communicate in Chinese – they played dead.”
It didn’t take long, however, for her kids to become inspirational and invaluable partners on a journey that’s been an enriching experience for them all.
“Every time I have a new design idea, I discuss it with MuLan and MuAn (her daughter and son),” says ShaoLan. “They help me refine the illustration, and to them it’s a game. But the magical thing about it is that they’re also learning about their heritage. Most importantly, it’s a wonderful way to engage my children with my mission I believe in.”
“When we have fun as a family it will be even more fulfilling. I saw this as a family project and now it’s turning into something much more than that. It’s a work in progress. I would love for them to be fluent, I would love for them to understand Chinese philosophy. It’s an endless journey.”