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Etwood

Memorising characters

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Etwood

Learning to read and write Chinese characters is obviously a huge challenge. I was wondering, what method do you guys use to memorise characters? My Chinese teacher said she had to write rows and rows of the same character at school. What do you think about that?

Etwood

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woliveri

That's what I do and I still forget although it's getting better. I think the only way is to write, write, and write some more.

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marcopolo79

I agree, don't touch Chinese software at all for the first year or two, just practice like the Chinese primary school students do: write, rewrite, memorize, memorize. It's the only way.

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Ah-Bin

I think that after about one hundred characters things get easier to remember as common components keep recurring, like the right-hand side of 清 情 and 請 (请)for example. From then on, it's only the new components that cause trouble.

After rote memorisation, you can go on to memorisation by radical (水)

(心) (言), and then, when you know many characters so many characters with the same radical that it is hard to keep track of them, you can start memorising them by their sound components. (青)

Of course, it takes a few years of constant study before you can start doing that.

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geraldc

In the early days I did stupid things like rename radicals to names I could remember, normally it was stuff like variations of hats, e.g. davy crocket hat, beret, coolie hat etc.

But basically write each character out a few dozen times. Then to help them sink in, try and read something everyday.

We had dictation tests every week too, that really focuses the mind.

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ysaritoh

Hi all,

I think the best way to memorize is pratice and practice :clap .. there is no other way to learn it.

And after you have learned the words.. keep using it, coz if we don't use it in everyday life.. we will forget the words easily.... :wink:

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confucius

I believe the first thing you need to do is find a good book on Chinese character etymology. There are some good ones published in Singapore that feature humorous animations to help illustrate the character's origins.

One such book is "Fun With Chinese Characters" Another one published in China is "Han Zi Tu Jie Jing Dian" There are likely several other similar books out on the market. I have not checked recently.

Once you gain a better understanding of Chinese character origins then you may discover that you only have to copy new words 10 times instead of 100.

Here's an anecdote that you might find amusing. I used to carry a pen with me everywhere (but not in my shirt pocket!) and write new Chinese characters from memory on napkins, newspapers, bathroom walls, etc. You get the idea. Of course it's best to put your writing skills to use in a more creative manner, such as writing letters to Chinese friends or composing funny song lyrics. Hopefully you can advance to that stage before getting arrested for graffiti.

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woliveri

or start a ShuFa class (Chinese Calligraphy) which I'm going to start this spring.

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Etwood

Im really into 書法﹐ but it's pretty tricky. Also, if there is paper and a pen/pencil handy, chances are I'll start writing some or other Chinese character. I used to think I was losing it.... :mrgreen:

And I'm beginning to see how the radicals make it easier to learn characters. The tricky bit is putting the pronounciation and tone with the character....but that's another topic, I think.

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seesaw

First reading then writing may be a good idea, I think.

Before entering a primary school, my father taught me reading some simple Chinese texts. The way he trained me was what he called "shi zi ka pian" (识字卡片). He made a lot of cards and wrote one character on each of them. When he wrote the characters, he taught me what they were. After that he showed me the cards one by one checking if I could read them. If I couldn't, he would teach me again. Several such checks would be done. Those I could hardly remember would be classified as "hard" and the rest be "easy". We went over the hard ones frequently and the easy ones occasionally and moved the hard ones to "easy" bit by bit. It was not long before I could read and basically comprehend some texts in newspapers.

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johnmck

I find the www.zhongwen.com site handy for remembering characters. If you go to the chat page it has a dictionary lookup in which you enter pinyin. The dictionary gives you the character along with an explanation for its form. I find knowing the reasoning behind the form of a character helps a lot with remembering it.

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nipponman

Hmmm, Well the way I learned only took me six months, your results may vary for this method. I inveted it myself because, erhem, lack of finances for anything else. 1.(Optional) First you may have to write the lists yourself by downloading both NJStar Wordprocessor and CQuicktrans. Then set the hanzi to sort by grade, and select grades 0-9.

Copy into NJstar and look them up and write down the meaning, e.g

盯 ding1 to stare; to gaze. 2. Then you should get some paper (or a black board) and write them down one by one until you reach ten, while saying the meanings (don't get repetetive and start thinking about something else, focus on the character). 3 Go over the ten you went over again, and make sure you remember them. Then the next day learn some new ones and repeat. At the end of the week, go over all 6-7 sets of characters and you will have learned 60-70 characters (barring any forgotten ones) gradually you can up the number (I once learned 120 hanzi in a day by this method) again your results may vary.

Happy trails,

nipponman

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trevelyan

Ok, I'll be the controversial one and tell you not to worry about it. Studying Chinese takes AGES. And twice that if you practice writing out new characters line after line after line.

Better to spend that time in more productive ways -- like reading things besides your textbooks, listening to Chinese pop music, watching movies and figuring out ways to keep yourself entertained.

Computers are making writing Chinese much easier, and many of the Chinese people I know will forget how to write words regularly. So if you're just starting a good place to aim for is to be able to identify words once you see them, and not get confused between the different radicals. You'll automatically start remembering characters this way... it just may take longer.

Be realistic. The HSK doesn't even test written Chinese until the advanced level, and the placement tests at most Chinese universities explicitly avoid it because they realize it is no real test of fluency. Unless you are studying just TO learn to write, I don't think rote repetition is a good thing to do (unless you're on the subway or bored).

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woliveri

Writing rows of characters is not so much for memorization but to improve the quality of writing the character. So after that you need to try to compose sentences, make up sentences and then paragraphs. That should help with remembering characters.

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nipponman

Yeah, and also it prevents you from forgeting the characters. It happens all the time, and believe me, it is the most frustrating thing in the world (maybe not that bad! :wink:) to be able to read something, and then try to write it and make a complete mess of things. Only rote memorization, and the techniques I've listed above (for me at least) will work, and heck, it only took me six months to learn chinese after taking one year to learn how to write Japanese (relatively same method, but less refined) and they have about 1000 less characters! Think of the poor Japanese kids who have to wait years before they can write fully. So, I think that memorizing them is like mastering the language, also it helps you to associate a tone with the word, the word with the meaning, the meaning with the character etc.

Happy Trails,

Nipponman

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woliveri

nipponman,

I haven't been able to get the characters from CQuicktrans to NJStar. What's the trick. I get symbols like I don't have Chinese installed on my pc.

Right now I can write characters in Word using IME and also get the pinyin toned words from NJStar. Just can't get the stuff from CQuicktrans to NJStar or any other software program.

Thanks,

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thepokergod

The way I do it is to write the new word out about 10 times then write a few sentences using it. This also uses other characters and keeps are more broad range of vocab stored in your head. I am learning Classical vocab at the moment which is an arse since they are complicated and easily confused with modern meanings!!!

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nipponman

Hmm, I think I encountered a problem similar when I first started out, but let's see. You can't directly take the characters from CQuickTrans to NJstar, but you select your characters (right click select all) then you drag them up to the Input Area in CQuickTrans, then you copy them there (CTRL+C) and paste them in NJstar. Thats how I did it.

Happy Trails,

Nipponman

P.s. Not to advocate my postion but, I suggest going with traditional since the character and dictionary coverage for the simplified character is not great.

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woliveri

Nice,

Thanks. That works. Now I can copy it directly into MS Word and choose whatever font I want (traditional or simplified).

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