How to Learn To Read and Write Chinese Characters Fast
When people think of Chinese, many think of the thousands of characters in the language. But how can you start learning characters and do it quickly? Here are 5 tips that can help:
Learn The Radicals
Characters are made up of several radicals, and these give the character part of its meaning. For example, 女is woman. 子is a son. Put them together, and you have the 好character for good. Because a mother and a son together is good.
Because there are much less radicals (about 200 common ones) than characters, that makes less to remember.
You can download a list of the 100 most common radicals with some examples here.
Becareful, though. Sometimes they only provide clues to the sounds and don’t carry much meaning.
Learn the Most common characters first.
This should come as a no brainer. Why learn characters that you’ll never see? Unfortunately, some textbooks still teach rare characters. Don’t make that mistake. You can check the list of the 1000 most common characters here.
Make a story with the sound
This is a well-documented mnemonic technique that helps with memorization. Take a character, and try to imagine how it looks like. Then, make up a story with the sound in it.
For example, 打means hit, and is pronounced DA. Imagine that you are trying to get into a baseball stadium but there’s a HUGE man blocking the way. So you hit him to get him to move. DADADADA is the sound you make.
Make a story with the shape
Sometimes, you can make a story with the shape of the character. For example, 人means person. Well, doesn’t look like a person?
This in an app that helps you associate characters with pictures and mnemonics.
Learn the background story.
Each character has their own background story. Knowing it can help you learn the character quicker. For example, in the old days, men were usually farmers. 力means power. 田means field. Together, they form 男 which is man.
Just because learning Chinese characters might seem cool doesn't mean it's the best way to start learning Chinese. There are many characters, and to learn enough of them to start to understand, say, the newspaper, or a restaurant menu, you'd need at least a year of learning.
If you'd like instead to start SPEAKING Chinese, learning a phonetic system called Pinyin and then using it to learn how words sound will be much more effective and speedy.
This is what we offer at WayMandarin. Click here to check out our online Chinese course.
Well, those were my top 5 tips for learning characters faster. If you liked it, please share this article with your friends on facebook and twitter through the buttons on the sidebar.
Additional Material: How to learn Chinese Characters Youtube Video
Until next time!