What is the most effective way to learn Chinese characters? – Quora

Sometimes the connection between the characters pronunciation and its sound component isnt very obvious. One example is g, which is the sound component in l. The dictionary were working on will have explanations and simple formulas which explain these relationships.

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A sound component gives a hint about the pronunciation of the character. In the example above, xing serves as the sound component for xing.

Outlier Dictionary of Chinese Characters

Pay attention to its pictography and ideogram, which are meaningful and beautiful. You enjoy the cultural contents, easy to remember, and never forget.

So what aboutpredictive ability? Well, lets use that same character. Say you havent learned it yet, and you encounter it in something youre reading. Same concepts apply, but now youre using your knowledge of how the writing system works to make an educated guess at what the character means and how its pronounced. You know that is nearly always a meaning component, so this character must have something to do with the head. That leaves a high probability that is functioning as a sound component. Maybe its chun, dun, or tun. Youve already gone a long way towards figuring it out, and depending on the character and the context, that might be enough for now, allowing you to understand what youre reading and move on.

For example, I recommend you this sitethat nowadays is one of the most effective and complete methods online to learn chinese quickly.

2) William McNaughtons Reading and Writing Chinese (simplified characters or traditional) is a better choice if you have already learned more than 200 characters and taught yourself how to make mnemonics based on the character parts. This book is also guided by frequency and teaches you more than 2200 characters but doesnt feed you the stories.

Ive studied Chinese to a professional/academic level, and Ive studied and researched the Chinese language and writing system at the graduate level in Taiwan. Ive gained some significant insights about how to learn characters along the way.

Chineasyis also a vivid and interesting way to learn some basic Chinese characters. Here is an interview of the founder:Interview with Chinese Characters Magical Designer: ShaoLan. It will guide you to know the program better.

1) Alison and Laurence Matthews Learning Chinese Characters proposes pictures and stories to go along with every character and the stories will even help you remember the pronunciation and the tone if you choose. On the down side, this book only covers about 1000 characters, sorted roughly in order of appearance in textbooks (!); its really great as a textbook companion for a beginner with little prior knowledge of characters and methods.

For the purpose of learning a large amount of characters this way (I memorized almost 2500 in one non-intensive year), it makes sense to go from basic characters to more complex ones, also so that you dont have to memorize all possible basic elements at once. Unfortunately quite a lot of frequent words involve characters that are complex combinations of 4 or more elements. So character study has to be somewhat separate from regular textbook study at first, until you have a foundation. It is possible to go this path alone;gives you an analysis of each characters components. But I dont recommend it, because then youll encounter the issue of having one peg word corresponding to several characters, or inadvertently learning out-of-use characters, or learning complex characters before learning the parts that theyre made of.

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What is the most effective way to learn Mandarin?

What you learnt is a picture, writing is like drawing. How could you feel bored to draw very beautiful pictures?

3) T.K. Anns unabridged Cracking the Chinese Puzzles is for the pros, sinologists and the like, covering almost 6000 characters, basically all that youll ever need, even when reading literature. The book doesnt give stories so much as etymology – etymology with a bit of fantasy filling in the gaps – usually making characters very memorable. On the down side, you will find frequent characters mixed with infrequent ones, so getting this book only makes sense if youre planning to learn all characters anyway, and if you have time to wait e. g. till the end of the first volume to learn some characters that will come up in the first few lessons of your Chinese textbook. T.K. Ann also provides lists of words using the characters, but again you have to be careful – some of these words are clearly literary or outdated, without being marked as such.

goals for every month, every week, and even every day; know how many hours you will spend writing characters.

This is a long post, so first I want to start with some…

, BLCU for 6 wks, 2 semesters in Germany and a lot of self-study

And there you have it: a simple overview of how Chinese charactersreallywork. A lot of resources out there talk about sound and meaning components, but form and empty components might be new to you. But as I mentioned earlier, a correct understanding of how the characters work as a system is one of the best ways to increase the efficiency of your learning.

3. Keep practicing until you get the feel for the character.

The Chinese written system is based on a series of written characters or pictograms. Different tones are used to add different meanings to an individual word. Any online tool that helps you learn the language will help you understand the culture of the people and their way of life. Numerous websites are dedicated to learning the language online. The benefit of online learning or e-learning is that you can access ample information regarding the basics of the language. Different courses are available for learning the language and these may be in the form of video courses, audio courses or programs conducted by the best teachers of the country.

As a Chinese teacher myself, I recommend learning smarter not harder. Many will claim repetition is key. This is incorrect since most of you reading this now are not children and wont be in a classroom setting for years on end, taking your time.

Thats it? Ive heard that before.

Let see its shell bone script (before 3000 years ago)

A meaning component adds itsmeaningto the characters meaning. In the example above, we have small over big, which expresses the meaning sharp or pointed. Note that the character is using themeaningof here (big), not the form (a person).

and others have endorsed our project, and Dr. Moser (Director of Academic programs at CET Beijing and author of Why Chinese is So Damn Hard) called it easy to use, user-friendly, very clear but at the same time correct and comprehensive. He also said it was the wave of the future in Chinese character pedagogy which represents the next stage in the study of Chinese characters, and maybe even the next stage in the digitizing of Sinology itself. We have a

(Please follow the order, otherwise you may feel a little bit difficult to understand for some characters.)

I wasted a lot of time trying to learn characters the Asian way, by writing them over and over and over again. Writing them like that commits them to muscle memory – your hands can trace them, like your PIN at the ATM, even if your brain cannot remember their shape. However, muscle memory only works with very regular re-inforcement and I dont hand-write Chinese often enough for that to be viable, at least not beyond the most common 600 or so characters (it explains why this method works for Asians though, or used to work, getting weaker with the advent of computers and cellphones).

4) I guess I should mention James Heisigs Remembering the Hanzi (with traditional or simplified characters) for completeness sake, but I would not recommend it except possibly if you already used Heisig to study Japanese Kanji. His book has several drawbacks. The biggest is that he doesnt provide Pinyin (pronunciation) with the characters, even though in Chinese it makes sense to learn pronunciation at the same time (characters with the same elements usually have a very similar pronunciation and characters usually only have one possible pronunciation). Also, Heisig made the mistake of largely copying his Japanese Kanji book for this, giving little thought to how frequent/useful these characters are in Chinese, or whether a different order of introduction might make sense for Chinese.

Heres what I mean bylong-term recall: Say theres a word or character you need to write, but you havent had to do so in a year or two. Of course, you know the word, but simply cant recall how its written. Well, what is a word? A combination of sound and meaning. What are Chinese characters composed of? Phonetic and semantic components. So you can use the sound and meaning of the word to trigger your memory and recall the functional components that a character is composed of.

1. You must start with a correct understanding of how Chinese characters work.

Set specific goals. Dont say to yourself: I want to learn writing effectively or better than I now know. Dont be vague about how much you will learn and in which method. Your goal should be laid out in such a way:

One tool I can recommend is on YouTube called ABCs of Chinese and uses mnemonic devices such as drawings togive a character life.

The dictionary were making (heres a Demo, and you can order on oursite) represents the first time a resource like this will available for learners. Much of the information cant be found in English. Even in Chinese, youd have to read some pretty heavy academic books to find it all, so this is the first time all this information has been brought together anywhere.

You can combine mnemonic techniques with a correct understanding of the writing system for the most powerful approach.

Online training will make you acquainted with different alphabets of the language. Start by mastering the pronunciation of the alphabets. The first step through which you can learn the language is through the Chinese Pinyin which comprises all the phonetic Chinese alphabets that are required for pronouncing the Chinese characters. Students can learn to distinguish the various tonalities of the language by paying keen attention to the different types of reading the Pinyin letters, initials, finals, or other tentative combinations.

find a qualified tutor who can check, test and inspect your progress, find a partner that also makes your study more interesting.

4. Practice pronunciation and meaning at the same time.

You need to know the origin and developing history of Chinese characters first. It will help you master them better. Before you learn Chinese characters, you need to know the six categories of Chinese characters: pictographs, pictophonetic characters, associative compounds, self-explanatory characters, phonetic loan characters, and mutually explanatory characters. Here it is:Four Main Types of Chinese Characters

Which is very similar to the bronze script.

Plecodictionary (for iPhone or Android) is a fantastic learning aid. Get the Pleco App. Download HSK Flashcards Add-On. Having this on your phone means you can use it whenever you have a few minutes to spare, waiting for a train or in a cafe perhaps. Here is also a review of Pleco on DigMandarin:Using Pleco as Your Guide to Daily Life in China

Some resources get it partly right. Maybe 70%. But thats a far cry from optimal. And if your goal is literacy in Chinese (no small task, believe me) its extremely important that the character learning system you use gets it right.

The following information I sourced from one of my favorite blogs. Here is more information on the breakdown ofChinese characters.

It is a picture or sketch decribing a person who sit there, teaching a child how to count. It is very meaningful and beautiful.

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So youre trying to remember how to write the dn in dn. You cant remember how, but theres a 95% chance that its composed of a sound component and a meaning component. You know that this dn has something to do with the head, so you think of components to do with the head: , . The latter rings a bell. Now, what are the sound components that can be pronounced dn? , , and come to mind. Put them together with and see if anything looks familiar. Oh! Its ! !

In summary, make a plan, get some tools, stay motivated.

Nothing currently out there for learners teaches how Chinese characters actually work. The people doing the teaching dont have the academic training to get it right, and the academics who know how it works are more concerned with their research than with teaching non-natives how to read and write. Thats understandable, but its the learners who suffer.

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The bronze script (about 3000 years ago) for character Learn is

What is the most effective way to learn Chinese characters?

It looks very complicated, to hard to memorize. But it is simple if you understand it pictography and ideogram.

, Chinese and Chinese calligraphy teacher (6 years) in weekend Chinese schools

Facebook pagesSocial media websites such as Facebook can play an important role if you wish to learn another language such as Mandarin. For free help try visiting: top five facebook pages for learning chinese

5. Once you know the character, dont put it aside. Take opportunities to repeat it.

If you didnt know the older script, you would not know why it is written like this. After you knew the older script, you could figure out that the middle vertical line with a hook at the bottom is the river, the sides are flowing water. It is easy to remember because you understand the meaning of its pictography.

According to Dr. Kenneth Higbee, the first principle of effective memorization is meaningfulness. Your mind must be able to attach meaning to it in some way. Thats why, if you have to memorize a meaningless strand of letters, it helps to attach a word to each and make a sentence out of them. Its also why mnemonic devices are so powerful for learning characters.

Learning Chinese is a part of the curricula for a lot of people, whereas some may like to take it up as a hobby. Touted as one of the most difficult languages to learn, Chinese can be learned from experts. The best and easiest way is to learn the language online.

which is still similar to older scripts, also to the current traditional character.

They work for most students, but you may have a different way of learning. As long as you are feeling your way, it is good. You can also learn Chinese characters with an online teacher, which is way faster than the other methods. If you are considering this, MeetMandarin is a good choice. They offer a free demo class without obligation. You can give it a try!

Chinese Pronunciation 101: Where to Start

The following are some of the methods that I use during my teaching:

What is the best way to learn the most frequently used Chinese characters?

Join a Chinese online community, writing a short piece each day will really help you to understand the language and improve your communication skills.

How to learn Chinese characters more effectively

Read Chinese news.Online news bulletins are usually relatively short and to the point. They will normally be well written and easy to understand with few difficult words.

Learn Chinese character components and structureChinese characters have different types: single-component characters () and multi-component characters (). Complicated types contain more strokes and components, such as , which consists of three .

) which is a Pleco add-on focused on increasing learning efficiency while fostering a correct understanding of how the writing system works. We have extensive academic training in the history and development of the Chinese language and writing system, as well as in pedagogy. Were also language learning enthusiasts ourselves, so were taking all that knowledge and distilling it into a tool we wish had been available when we started learning Chinese. People like

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I recommend getting a book to guide you. Depending on your background, there are three books I can recommend for learning characters:

, B.S. Chinese & Teaching Chinese as a Second Language, Peking University (2012)

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A form componentdepictssomething. In the example above, we have a depiction of a hand grabbing an ear .

Watch Chinese Television Programs with subtitle.You should try to follow the text and match it to the words being spoken by the actors. You may find a bit quick to begin with but it can really boost your confidence when you begin to recognize some words.

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The character evolved to small seal (before 2000 years ago)

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Unfortunetally, there is no any book or any teacher who is teaching Chinese this way. But I have created a blog Amazing Chinese Characters, introducing the most pictography, and meaningful Chinese characters in this way. If you are interested, you may click the following link

My company is trying to solve that problem by building a new way of learning Chinese characters (

Plenty has been written about the second so I wont spend much time there, but as for the first, (get ready bold claim) there is not a single resource out there for learners which teaches how Chinese characters actually work. Not one. Weve done an exhaustive review.

I learned Chinese primarily because of the characters, which are exceptionally beautiful. However, that doesnt make them easier to learn, it just gives you the motivation to keep going.

What is the most effective way to learn the alphabet?

Well, if we learn it from its original pictography, it becomes much easier.

Of course, these concepts are familiar to most people who have studied Chinese characters for any real length of time. However, its not the whole picture. In reality, there are4 types of functional components(note:not radicals!). There are two kinds of semantic components: meaning components and form components. And theres a whole category thats simply never discussed: empty components.

Understanding form components allows the pictographic origins of the Chinese writing system to come alive, which really helps with memorization. An example frommy answer to Chinese Characters: What are some Chinese characters with a great story or interesting etymology behind them?:

Water is a simple character. Lets see a complicated one – Learn.

What is the best way to learn Chinese?

Still have a question? Ask your own!

What is the most effective way to learn the alphabet?

The two X in the middle of top are counting sticks, the sides are two hands holding the sticks, the middle Door-alike part is a persons legs, the bottom is a child.

Note that you probably wont need to graduate e. g. from Learning the Chinese Characters to Reading and Writing Chinese Characters to Cracking the Chinese Puzzles when youre ready to learn more – once youve learned 800+ characters this way, the method and the meaning of basic elements should be so ingrained that you can learn all future characters on your own as you encounter them. The main advantage there would be if youre making a push to learn lots of characters BEFORE you encounter them.

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Increasing your understanding of how the Chinese writing system works is tantamount to increasing the effectiveness of your learning.

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Its important to note that is not adding meaning (sheep) or sound (yng) to the character, nor is it depicting a sheep. This is why we call it anemptycomponent. Its simply substituting for the headdress in the older form.

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2. Dont copy characters stroke by stroke. Break them to components.

Unfortunately, the way these mnemonic techniques are applied often obscures how the writing system actually works. And a correct understanding of the way the writing system works will fosterlong-term recallandpredictive ability.

I used these guides to initially memorize the characters and then Anki to put the characters in my long-term memory

Its entertaining and perspective changing

Textbookwill also help you learn the language with a systematic way.Chinese Textbook Reviews – Learning Chinese Charactersis such a good choice.

[jinto inspect] was originally a person looking into a vessel of some sort. So in this character was originally an eye, and the part on the upper right was a person.

6. When you see several characters with the same component, organize them to a group.

This understanding can be combined with mnemonic techniques of your choice to make an incredibly powerful system for learning and remembering characters. For instance, a mnemonic for might be to visualize a beautiful woman wearing a sheep-like headdress. To emphasize that the sheep is an empty component, perhaps it could be made of glass, not a real sheep.

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The Solution for Analytically-minded Westerners

, CEO/Co-founder at Outlier Linguistics, Professional proficiency in Chinese

What advice would you give to a beginner learning Mandarin?

There are two things which I think will greatly increase your character learning effectiveness.

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In the current teaching method, your teacher or the learning book will tell you the character Water is . You have to memorize how to write it.

What is the most effective way to learn Mandarin Chinese in the US?

Whats left is trying to commit the characters to your real memory, so that your brain can recall how to write them when your hands cannot. Thats where it helps to have a photographic memory, or even any kind of memory thats good with pictures – I dont have either, I think in abstract terms only, and yet I really wanted to learn Chinese characters!

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Then it changed to clerical script (about 2000 years ago)

This works for complex characters as well, and for each character you can choose into how many parts you split it, e. g. if you want to think of meaning thief as (person + making a canoo) or as (person + Chinese roof + moon + knife) – I went for the latter, with a story involving a thief on the roof of a house in moonlight, knife in hand, in order to climb into one of the windows and steal stuff. Stories can be colourful, absurd, racy, nonsensical even, as long as you personally find them memorable.

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That example actually happened, by the way, during a PhD qualifying exam. My companys co-founderAsh Hensonforgot how to write that character and then used his knowledge of the writing system to recall it back to mind.

It evolved to small seal script (2200 years ago)

First, stop seeing the characters as a series of almost-random strokes. Familiarize yourself with the basic elements and their inate meaning. This will also help you distinguish (king), (ancient burden) and (jade) or (ground) and (knight). You will notice that the vast majority of Chinese characters are not new, they consist of two or more of the basic elements. If you know the basic elements, you can then construct a mnemonic to link the elements to their meaning, a little story to help you remember or even a downright explanation. For example, the character meaning bright consists of sun and moon – not difficult to remember, is it? The character meaning to rest consists of a person and a tree – mentally fix the idea of an exhausted hiker resting against a tree and youll never forget this character again.

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An empty component gives neither sound nor meaning. Some empty components serve as substitutions for a sound, meaning, or form component in an older form of the character, while some serve merely to distinguish two characters from each other. In the example below, yng, which usually means sheep, is a substitution for an earlier form a headdress. So in we have a person () wearing a headdress (, a substitution for an earlier form a headdress).

You can try various learning tools. All in all, the most suitable is the best.

which is a picture of flowing water.

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2. Use a mnemonic system to help get the characters into your head.

There are more than tens thousands Chinese characters, even you may only need thousands to be able to read most of books, newpapers. But thousands is still too much to remember.

(I originally posted this advice on my blog. Do check it out for more language-learning advice. Also note Im working on a new site for learning Chinese using a similar approach as Duolingo or Khan Academy; find it atIs this answer still relevant and up to date?

It became later to clerical script (2000 years ago)

Which is very similar to current character.

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