With Wenlin, by pointing at any Chinese word on the screen, you can see the definition in English. In this illustration, the student is pointing at the first character in the two-character Chinese phrase meaning 'once upon a time'. (Notice the mouse pointer , which looks like a pointing hand; and the English definition, which appears on the bottom line.)
If you were using Wenlin right now (instead of just looking at a picture of Wenlin), you could point to any of the Chinese words and see its English definition just as easily. This works with practically any Chinese text which you could find anywhere in electronic form (including Chinese texts which you can download from the Internet).
By clicking on a word (rather than just pointing to it), you can easily access more detailed information.
Wenlin's electronic dictionary includes pictures of ancient and modern forms of Chinese characters, along with explanations, to help you understand and remember the shapes of Chinese characters.
Here we see that the Chinese character for 'day' is also the character for 'heaven' and 'sky', and it originally depicted a human figure.
By clicking on the pronunciation (which is tian, pronounced in the high level tone), you could hear recordings of the pronunciation (in both male and female voices) (Wenlin includes recordings of all the Mandarin syllables).
Below the explanation, two "triangle buttons" are visible. By clicking on the triangle labeled "stroke... (4 strokes)" you could see how to write the character stroke-by-stroke. (Wenlin can display over ten thousand different characters, using their conventional stroke orders.)
Another triangle button gives you the option of viewing a list of all the Chinese characters which contain the 'heaven' character as a component. This kind of list can help you learn the differences between similar looking characters.
Other interesting and useful features are available by scrolling down and clicking on more triangle buttons.
By clicking on the the button for listing all the words and phrases containing a character, you can see a list like this one for the 'day' character:
The entire list has 490 items in it (in version 1.0 it had 67 -- how's that for an improvement?); only the first few are shown here. The list is ordered by frequency of usage, with the most common vocabulary at the top. Notice the words for 'today' and 'tomorrow'. An ordinary dictionary would not list these words under the character for 'day', because 'day' is not the first character in the word. (If you prefer, you can also list words and phrases starting with a character, in alphabetical order, like an ordinary dictionary.) But Wenlin lists mingtian 'tomorrow' under both the characters ming and tian. If you wanted to know more about the first character, ming, you could simply click on it (--if you were actually using Wenlin, instead of just looking at an illustration on the Web).
Suppose you'd like to see some examples of how the word for 'tomorrow' is used. You could invoke Wenlin's Search Files feature to search through a huge collection of Chinese literature for examples.
This is what you would see if you used Search Files to find examples of mingtian 'tomorrow' in a collection of stories and essays by the famous 20th-century author Lu Xun, if you suspended the search after four occurrences had been found. (You can suspend a search at any time, and then resume it at any time.) The window displays the name of each file, the position of the occurrence, and the line that contains the occurrence. To open one of the files and see the full context of an occurrence, you could click on the triangle button next to the file name.