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Why Learning To Write Chinese Is A Waste Of Time

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rezaf

From what I've read, I don't think many people disagree with that. What they disagree with is that this is the only or best way to learn recognizing characters and, and here we're back to the title of the original paper, whether that is time-efficient or not.

First of all I need to know if you agree with my definition of writing and recognising in my alst post. If not please write why A and B can't be the definition.

Based on the definition I can think of three ways to practise.

1-Visualise the Character in your mind

2-Write it with yout finger

3-Write it on paper.

I use the third one because as I said the muscle memory can help the visual memory and between 2 and 3 choose the third because after I finish I can see the result of my action but you guys can do what ever you want as long as the goal is A and B.

If we agree that "Writing hanzi is a natural practise for recognition of characters" is true then not doing it logically will result in decreasing our recognition ability.

As for time-efficient we should consider everything in the long run. You tell me which one is more time-efficient: spending ten minutes on writing a zi then forgetting it and spending another 10 minutes which will result in keeping it in your memory for the rest of your life or spending one minute just looking at the general shape then mistaking it for a similar zi and repeaating this kind of mistake lots of times for the rest of your life as there are many similar characters in Chinese?

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gougou

First of all I need to know if you agree with my definition of writing and recognising in my alst post.

I would have defined recognizing differently (specifically, I don't think you need to know where every component goes exactly for recognizing most characters - not even for simple writing such as note-taking, as many Chinese people actually only know the cursive way of writing a character and cannot reproduce the same character stroke by stroke ), but for the sake of this argument I am willing to use your definition as well.

As a matter of fact, I write all characters I learn as well. I find the characters one of the most intriguing things about the Chinese language, and I enjoy that way of learning a lot. But that doesn't mean I think it's the most time-efficient. I am convinced that it is the most effective (meaning, by no other method will you achieve the same high rate of recognition), but not necessarily the most efficient (meaning you get the most recognition for the time you put into it).

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rezaf

Don't you think that if you spend enough time learning to write a character properly you will waste less time in the future forgetting and relearning it?

Anyway writing Hanzi has so many benefits that I don't understand why someone willingly would want to deprive himself from it. My guess is that this whole argument of writing Hanzi being a waste of time is a simple excuse for covering up laziness. B)

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renzhe

I don't think that learning to write is a waste of time, but you should be aware that practicing writing will mostly improve your WRITING.

Even if you argue that writing characters will necessarily improve the recognition of characters, reading is not recognition of characters one by one. It's much more complex and needs to be practiced.

Personally, I believe that if your goal is to read and you don't need to write, then not learning to write is faster and more effective. In my experience, training recognition requires more repetitions, but the repetitions are much faster. It's much faster to read 20 characters than to write one. Learning this way requires consistent exposure, such as reading every day, as things do not stick as long as when you have clever mnemonics. But with sufficient repetition, things stick in your brain just fine.

Keep in mind that I'm not encouraging people not to learn how to write. It's great when people can write by hand. But I do not agree that you're missing a foundation and that you cannot possibly learn to read without writing characters.

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skylee

renzhe, what is your view about the ability to write in Chinese (say using a computer) and learning to write Chinese characters by hand? So you can read long novels without practising writing. Can you write something in Chinese using a computer? Would you be able to choose the right words among different options? Would learning to write by hand help? I don't know about these things as I learnt to write in Chinese back when there was no PC and no Chinese input methods.

Anyway writing Hanzi has so many benefits that I don't understand why someone willingly would want to deprive himself from it. My guess is that this whole argument of writing Hanzi being a waste of time is a simple excuse for covering up laziness.

I feel the same when learners raise the question of whether it is ok to just learn pinyin without learning Chinese Characters.

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renzhe

Personally, I think that in order to write good Chinese, you need to read good Chinese and write a lot yourself. I don't think that writing by hand or using a computer makes a difference. Personally, anything I can say outloud, I can also type on a computer, so this is not a problem. The bigger problem is my sucky Chinese so anything I say outloud is bad Chinese :)

I do agree that being able to write by hand is a good skill (though I have always hated handwriting and my handwriting is illegible). Even when you use an alphabet, you will notice how people are becoming unable to write a sentence without a spell-checker. I'm just wondering whether starting with character copying is the only way to approach it. What I've done (mostly due to circumstances and my personal interest, rather than because of a plan) is the opposite -- learn to read quickly, then get lots of exposure to native materials, and go back to learning how to write the most important characters later, when I have much more knowledge about the language. I've found learning to write much easier now than back when I was starting. It helps so much to know the radicals and phonetic elements.

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anonymoose

Anyway writing Hanzi has so many benefits that I don't understand why someone willingly would want to deprive himself from it. My guess is that this whole argument of writing Hanzi being a waste of time is a simple excuse for covering up laziness. B)

I feel the same when learners raise the question of whether it is ok to just learn pinyin without learning Chinese Characters.

I don't think you can tar everyone with the same brush. I mean, for many people, learning Chinese is just a hobby. Surely learning to read and not write, or even just to speak and not read or write, is still less lazy than the vast majority of people who don't learn anything about Chinese. Surely it is just depends on what one's motivations and goals are. I have spent a lot of time and effort to learn to write Chinese. Now I would also like to learn Japanese, but frankly I don't think I have enough time (or motivation) on top of all the other commitments in my life to learn how to write that too. So would I also be lazy if I decide, for Japanese, to learn just to read?

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rezaf

I don't think you can tar everyone with the same brush. I mean, for many people, learning Chinese is just a hobby. Surely learning to read and not write, or even just to speak and not read or write, is still less lazy than the vast majority of people who don't learn anything about Chinese. Surely it is just depends on what one's motivations and goals are. I have spent a lot of time and effort to learn to write Chinese. Now I would also like to learn Japanese, but frankly I don't think I have enough time (or motivation) on top of all the other commitments in my life to learn how to write that too. So would I also be lazy if I decide, for Japanese, to learn just to read?

As I said in my posts I agree that the level of proficiency that you are aiming at really depends on your goals but the the general aim of the education system should be pointed at the highest level which includes all the aspects of the language unlike what the title of this article suggests. Of course in a system like that you will be free to choose the areas that you want to work on.

Personally I have found life too short to do scattered activities and learning. I have just chosen 4 things to learn in my life (including Chinese) and I want to spend the rest of my life growing these 4 abilities so that I can enjoy them giving me back great results.

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chinopinyin

Reading and writing are very different mental process. You may be able to easily read a text, but be unable to quickly copy it.

You probably have seen this example before

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Does anybody know a Chinese version?

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rezaf

Reading and writing are very different mental process. You may be able to easily read a text, but be unable to quickly copy it.

You probably have seen this example before

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Does anybody know a Chinese version?

As you might know Chinese characters and the alphabets are too really different things. It takes more effort from the brain to write a Chinese character, to recognise it and to connect it to a sound and a meaning, that's why they say hanzi makes you smarter. Maybe in an easy text with a few wrong characters you can guess the corrct characters from the context but what if it's not a simple text. What if it's a complex scientific text or a classic text or a poem? Are you sure that you can guess? There used to be many character mistakes in the books ralated to Chinese medicine which resulted in doctors prescribing wrong medicine for patients. In the more recent dynasties it took many high level doctors and librarians to correct those mistakes. So It's really not a very small problem when it comes to hanzi.

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chinopinyin

As you might know Chinese characters and the alphabets are too really different things. It takes more effort from the brain to write a Chinese character, to recognise it and to connect it to a sound and a meaning, that's why they say hanzi makes you smarter.

I would guess that if you replace in a text characters by relatively similar ones the same effect can be achieved in Chinese

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Glenn
Does anybody know a Chinese version?

Not quite, but check out this post, particularly 大豙奷 and 塮塮伱门.

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anonymoose

I would guess that if you replace in a text characters by relatively similar ones the same effect can be achieved in Chinese

愛遈吥蕦葽讠語の...硪倁噵...妳...遈愛硪嘚

Like that, you mean?

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chinopinyin

Not quite, but check out this post, particularly 大豙奷 and 塮塮伱门.

Shouldn't it be 他豙奷?

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Glenn

愛遈吥蕦葽讠語の...硪倁噵...妳...遈愛硪嘚

Like that, you mean?

I at least can't make much sense out of that. And you got a の in there! That's not even Chinese! (not sure what it's supposed to be, either...) haha

I did at least get a wo zhidao, though. Ai hai bu xuyao yanyu? Love doesn't need language? I know?

Shouldn't it be 他豙奷?

Why do you think it should be that?

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rezaf

I at least can't make much sense out of that. And you got a の in there! That's not even Chinese! (not sure what it's supposed to be, either...) haha

I did at least get a wo zhidao, though. Ai hai bu xuyao yanyu? Love doesn't need language? I know?

Why do you think it should be that?

because this kind of thing doesn't work well in Chinese. B) Guess you got your answer chino

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rezaf

So how come most mainland Chinese people can recognise and read traditional characters, but they can't write them?

Because they have been well trained in writing simplified characters. This is totally another argument because the parameters are different. Gussing technique's success for simplified to traditional is very different from nothing to hanzi.

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chinopinyin

Because they have been well trained in writing simplified characters. This is totally another argument because the parameters are different.

So, again, they read something they cannot easily write...

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rezaf

So, again, they read something they cannot easily write...

This example doesn't fit in this argument as we are talking nothing to hanzi not simplified to traditional. Anyway an average mainland Chinese who doesn't have enough experience with fantizi is not comfortable reading a difficult classical text or poem in fantizi. Also another factor if we go back to foreiners learning chinese is that native speakers in the mainland have very high level natural skills in Chinese whereas for foreigners who are learning Chinese it will take many many years to develope those natural skills to be able to guess traditional characters according to the context(considering they have a good base in the simplified characters).

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anonymoose

Because they have been well trained in writing simplified characters. This is totally another argument because the parameters are different. Gussing technique's success for simplified to traditional is very different from nothing to hanzi.

It's not a different argument. You stated...

Knowing how to write and recognising a character are not two different things. Knowing how to write and recognising a character both mean that you know all the components in the character and their right place in it. If you can recognise a character you can write it and if you can write a character you can recognise it.

...and I provided you with a clearcut example demonstrating that that is simply not the case.

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