Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

self-taught-mba

Poll: Amount of time to learn a Chinese character

# of times, on average, you need to write out a character before you can reproduce it  

1 member has voted

  1. 1. # of times, on average, you need to write out a character before you can reproduce it

    • I am superhuman; I just need to look at them
      6
    • 1-5
      10
    • 6-10
      10
    • 11-15
      2
    • 16-20
      6
    • 21-25
      3
    • 26-30
      3
    • 31-40
      0
    • 41-50
      2
    • 51 +
      6


Recommended Posts

Czech Cara

yeah, learning characters is like carrying water in a bottomless bucket, learn-forget-learn-forget, what helps is to make up a story, memotechnical aid etc. Like 姻 is a man having a smoke outside, with another sitting inside [now can`t think of a less stupid one] Or try write a chain eg. 因为 为了 了解 解释 。。。。then try to write all characters containing certain radical or part, having the same pinyin... Learning Chinese can help you understand the understandable way Chinese people learn English sometimes...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

Lu

In the beginning I had to write them god knows how many times before I could sort of remember them, but after a few years there was a turning point when it became easier, and I had to write them down only once or twice. It also depends on the character, if it's made of some familiar components I can learn it quite fast, and if I like it I put more effort in learning it, which also makes it easier.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
simonlaing

I wanted to concurr with Czech cara. Just because Chinese students learn it by writing out characters a million times doesn't mean western students who are not in elementary school and have other skills can't find techniques to learn characters.

so learning characters that have similar radicals can help tremendously. So you look at the kou mouth radical and then learn Chi, to eat and He to drink and chang to sing that all have the the radical.

I think there are three bians that just need the middle to be changed but are otherwise written the same.

Also I like to write them on flash cards so I can test myself as I learn things and only continue when I write it perfectly. This maximises learning time as you spend time on difficult characters and less on ones you can write after two times. Plus it helps because ou can shuffle them and not keep writing out the same lists in the same order. I usually learn five flash cards at a time , and review after 30 -60 cards.

In China, I bought nice flashcard sized cards as blank business cards from copy shops around. It was easier to use those than index cards that I could only find at Big department stores.

Anyway think of language as training to be an athletic sportsman or woman. It requires training and practise . And you use it or you lose it.

Simon,

p.s. you can get a tutor to help too, www.chinesetutor.net

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
fulgentius
For the record I can tell you that repeated viewing of a character does not result in the ability to write though - otherwise I'd be scribbling off complete news articles with no problem.

A question to those who use flashcards for learning characters - what's your precise methodology. Are you looking at 跟 and saying to yourself 'right,thats 很 but with 足 as a radical', or are you making yourself write it, or trace out the strokes in the air, or what?

Well, actually I do "write" them as I do flashcards, if only by tracing them out in the air with my finger. I think this actually works better than literally writing characters out, because it makes more use of the visualization technique espoused here by another poster. I use the flashcard feature of Plecodict for sets of characters that I am actively learning (and then retire them to Supermemo for longer term study), and so I'll often just write the character on the screen in the little box provided if I'm feeling a bit lazy. Writing in the air probably works better, though, I suspect.

When I said I don't have to practice writing most characters anymore, I meant merely that the stroke order is usually obvious to me at this point, though certainly not always.

:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
self-taught-mba
In the beginning I had to write them god knows how many times before I could sort of remember them, but after a few years there was a turning point when it became easier, and I had to write them down only once or twice.

This and other posts made me realize that I asked the question in the wrong way. I should've limited for those that had been learning for certain amount of time i.e. less than one year less than two years if I wanted to be more precise. Too late to change it now I guess:mrgreen:

Of course the longer one has studied, the more components he or she should recognize and it should make the job easier. I am flat out amazed at the number of people who say that they only need to look at the character before considering it learnt. To those people I ask: does that mean you can recall it from memory and produce it on the paper?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
lau

self-taught-mba:

about just looking and recalling the character and reproducing it on paper later: yes, it works for some. For me, writing the character 100 times does not work at all - after first five times my mind wanders somewhere else, and thats just it. what i do is - i draw the character down realy pretty/weird/whatever, making each part (radical) stand out and look lovely. After that, i know the character for a day or two.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wushijiao
I should've limited for those that had been learning for certain amount of time i.e. less than one year less than two years if I wanted to be more precise. Too late to change it now I guess

Not necessarily. I’ve been learning Chinese for about five years, and just last Febraury was when I made my first serious effort to learn how to write by hand, I still think writing characters is an amazingly time consuming and demanding process that needs to be repeated again and again. I voted for 20-25. But then again, I was always the worst speller in English class back in elementary school, so I suppose my brain just isn’t made well for remembering small units of stuff. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
roddy

Second that - six years or so for me, and I still couldn't write a shopping list. I have periodic stabs at learning, but realistically I'm never going to actually need to do it on a daily, or even monthly, basis, so there's little incentive beyond perhaps exams.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
simonlaing

Hey,

Yes when doing flash cards I think visualization is very important. I sort of do the chinese thing about thinking about what kind of say Fang it is. is it the fangzi house fang or the difang place fang.

Oh the house often has guests, like kehu add a ju to the front of the fang.

Other ones like hen, or which ever, But I agree trying to visualize a character as 2-3 separate parts his helpful. So looking at the word shuo to speak, you think 4 parts , a speaking front radical, liang dian tou, two top dots, a kou mouth (cause you need your mouth to speak, and a bottom er (cause you have to have 2 people to talk otherwise people will think you are crazy.)

Making funny stories like that helped me a lot. Did other people do that? I also have issues being able to write again characters that I learn 3 years ago and haven't used since. Though I can still recognize many of them in reading.

Visualization, testing and retesting is the key I think.

What do you think?

Simon:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
simonlaing

Oh yeah and there are certain tips on writing that make your characters look much much better and easier to write.

I was traveling in Hangzhou over Spring festival, firework were crazy, and through former student who happened to be a bank auditor and had a friend who was the General manager for the Bank of China Hotel in Hangzhou and gave us free rooms and meals for like 4 days. The manager often ate breakfast and dinners with us. Sweetness.

Any the manager had been a highschool chinese teacher before he became the manager,

He taught me.

There are four different style types of characters and making the first part small and the last part big makes the characters beautiful.

So like on character that are written from left to right Hen very you should make the left side slightly smaller than the right side.. On up to down like zhong yao, serious you should write the top small to the bottom as you can make the bottom slightly longer. So like words that zheli (here) the inside of it should be small so the sweeping under can have space even though that character is written right to left. It is even more help full in characters such as yue (more ) in Yuelaiyue where making the left side slightly smaller can make the four storke right side easier to write. Or Huahua picture, which you write the inside before the outside.

(I know this would be better with the characters, but I am visiting my parents over christmas break and can't type in Chinese.) Perhaps someone can type the characters so people can better visualize it.

Have fun,

Simon:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
leosmith
Making funny stories like that helped me a lot. Did other people do that?

From a previous string:

I recommend using the Heisig method. This is a combination of the excellent methods mentioned in the other posts. It was designed for Japanese kanji, but will work for hanzi. There isn't a book out yet for hanzi, but you want to learn in a particular order anyway, so a book wouldn't be as helpful to you. Here is a pdf of the first 100 pages of Remembering the Kanji, by James Heisig:

http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/...RK4/RK4-00.pdf

To sumarize, you assign a name to each primitive (a primitive is usually a radical, but not always; its just a recurring group of strokes), as johnmck suggested. Then you invent a story that ties all the primitive names to the keyword (the keyword is the primary meaning of the character), something like bianfuxia's method. Next you draw the character onto a flashcard, as Yang Rui mentioned, remembering the story as you go along. On the other side of the flashcard write the keyword. When you get a stack of flashcards, drill them. Drill from keyword to writing only; you'll get plenty of practice in the other direction. You can read my review on amazon, which includes my learning method;

http://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/4889960...530915-4478462

A couple notes:

1. You can include the pronunciation of the character in your story, and/or put it on the flashcard with/instead of the keyword, but this is not advised. Most find it's better to learn pronunciation by remembering a word that contains the character.

2. After you feel comfortable with a set of flashcards, it is best to put them into a good electronic flashcard program like supermemo. You'll be making thousands of these things, so the only way to avoid huge periodic reviews is to use a program that knows which ones you really need to review and when. Every day the program will feed you only what you need to maintain 90% retention, which greatly reduces your workload.

Good luck,

Leo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron
I am flat out amazed at the number of people who say that they only need to look at the character before considering it learnt. To those people I ask: does that mean you can recall it from memory and produce it on the paper?

Yes, because I go over it until I can close my eyes and recall it from memory, and once you can do that, it's trivial to write it out. I don't just glace at the character and then it's magically learnt. Per character, I still spend approximately as much time as it would take to write it out several times. However, because I'm actively visualising the character (i.e. drawing out the strokes, or making it 'pop' into view with my mind), you don't get the 'autopilot' phenomenon that occurs when writing the character out several times. Also, like any other skill or technique, the more you practise it, the better you get, so the more time you spend improving your active recall ability, the faster it becomes to recall individual characters.

However, similar to writing the character out, if you then don't use the words you've learnt, then over time you do forget them. However, personally, I've found the forget-rate for characters learnt like this to be far less than when I used to write the characters out by hand. Reading is also great for helping to reinforce the active recall, because if you come across a word you've previously 'learnt', but which is still a little bit unclear, you can pause for a second or two, write the word several times in your mind to reinforce the memory, and then continue as normal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
muyongshi

To post or not to post on a thread that has not been updated in 11 months....

A what the heck, I have two cents laying around (even though they aren't worth much).

I am able to carefully look at a character and reproduce it from memory. And even sometimes those are able to stay in my long term memory and I never need to "practice" them. However, I also have character that I have to write upwards of 10 times before I finally can remember it fully. But I think on average it is 1-2 times for me. It's hard to say though as I have encountered many different situations and I always wonder what other factors there are in my ability to reproduce it. Sometimes ones with radicals I already know are the harder ones and the ones where I have no clue about it's similarity to other characters I have looked at and never written it wrong (like 偷 I remember in my 2nd month of study I looked at this character and have never forgotten how to write it). Also I think factors about how much you encounter in reading even has a factor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
calibre2001

Generally it gets easier once your character vocab has crossed the 1000 mark. It's probably because you would have a grasp of the most common strokes and radicals within characters.

In the beginning, I struggled writing 報紙,雜誌 and I remember writing these like 50 times each. Finally it sank in and I can now reproduce these words effortlessly. On the other hand, the more complex characters like 繼續 , 瞭解 or weirder looking ones like 矛盾 strangely required less writing to sink in. I guess it's about how frequent and how distinct the characters are. I relearnt writing 打噴嚏 3 times at different stages and guess what? I still cant reproduce it by hand!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
geek_frappa

cool question.

i voted 51+. i don't consider a Chinese character "learned" until i can write it about more than 50 times in a composition without thinking too hard.

when i first started writing characters, i only cared about legibility, but now i am conscious about penmanship for essays and report-writing (maybe too obsessive at times...). :)

just my 2 cents.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
m.ellison

You may be interested in a new book Matthews and Matthews, Learning chinese characters, which is similar to the Heisig book but better. (I have started a separate thread for discussing this book).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
magores

I learned 下 after 1 try.

Worse than "super-human", but better than "just plain stupid".

I can accept that.

Seriously though...

-For most characters that I know, I know it when I see, even if I don't know how to write it off the top of my head.

-Say a random syllable/character that I actually do know, and ask me to write it, and I'll have to stop and think

-Ask me to write something in context that includes that character, and its usually not a huge task

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...