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Guest Yudian

Learning Characters/Taking exams in Chinese

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Guest Yudian
I'm also new too. This is a great forum...people actually post stuff and have a lot of enthusiasm for learning Chinese. I just started my college Chinese course. It's not that bad but the worst is yet to come. We're supposed to learn 250 hanzi by the end of the semester. I hope I can memorize all those characters....

I just finished a Chinese immersion program where we did a full academic year in 9 weeks (over 550 characters to learn). It was crazy. For the last final I changed how I memorized the characters and my test score went way up. We had to learn pinyin and characters, so I learned all the pinyin of the new vocabulary plus how to recognize the character first. I didn't worry about memorizing how to write the characters until later. That way, if I didn't know the characters to respond to a question on the test, at least I would understand the question and be able to respond in pinyin. I got a lot of partial credit that way and the professor knew that I could read and speak, even if my writing was lagging. Next I would memorize the easier characters and plug away at the harder ones over the days. Also, if you haven,t bought this book you might take a look at it: "Reading and Writing Chinese, a comprehensive guide to the Chinese writing system," William McNaughton and Li Ying, Tuttle Language Library, Tuttle Publishing, Boston, 1999. ISBN 0-8048-3206-4. Good luck! :roll:

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Guest Anonymous
I didn't worry about memorizing how to write the characters until later. That way, if I didn't know the characters to respond to a question on the test, at least I would understand the question and be able to respond in pinyin. I got a lot of partial credit that way and the professor knew that I could read and speak, even if my writing was lagging.

That is a wonderful tip for beginners who don't have the luxury and sparetime to learn how to write each character they are taught.

Even for native speakers or those who are fluent in the Chinese language, forgetting how to write uncommon characters is quite common, just like how sometimes we forget how to spell certain words that we don't use often. However, as computer Chinese input methods improve, it becomes easier and faster to type Chinese rather than to write. The most popular method of inputting Chinese is with Pinyin. As long as you can read the characters, you can select them from a list.

Keep in mind that I'm not saying knowing how to write Chinese isn't necessary or unimportant. It's ideal to be able to write, read and speak fluently but when you simply don't have the luxury or time, make sure at least you can speak and read. Besides it's much easier to be able to speak and recognize characters than to memorize how to write all of them.

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