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Dan Bang

How to learn Hanzi

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Dan Bang

Hi,

I'm a total beginner when it comes to Hanzi (and Chinese) - and I'm really strugling with the characters... I was wondering which methods and techniques you guys use to remember the characters and so on? There must be some useful experiences out there that could become handy for an ignorant person like me... Thanks in advance!

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Alhazred

Just as if you were back in elementary school, practice writing some every morning and try to read as much as possible. I personally write two new characters 20 times each every morning and I do exercises in a Chinese textbook and look each character I don't know in a dictionnary... As time goes, I open my dictionnary less often ;)

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xuechengfeng
Hi' date='

I'm a total beginner when it comes to Hanzi (and Chinese) - and I'm really strugling with the characters... I was wondering which methods and techniques you guys use to remember the characters and so on? There must be some useful experiences out there that could become handy for an ignorant person like me... Thanks in advance![/quote']

Repetition is key. You can also take time to try and learn all the radicals. If that is no good for you, sometimes when I was just beginning, I would try think of what little aspects of the character looked like to me, and remembered that.

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Jose

I suggest that you should pay a lot of attention to the component parts of the characters. For example, if you're learning the character 海 hai3 (sea), never try to learn it by heart as a sheer sequence of strokes, but rather analyse its parts. In that way, you will realise that it is based on 每 mei3 (each), which, in turn, is an extension of 母 mu3 (mother). So, you can remember these three characters as a sequence, 母 -> 每 -> 海, where each character adds a common stroke pattern to the previous one.

A good reference for learning characters (in traditional script) is Rick Harbaugh's dictionary, available online at www.zhongwen.com. Characters are arranged in trees according to their components. In my opinion, that's exactly the way you should try to organise the characters in your head.

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wix

Hving exercise books with little grids to practice writing the characters in is a good idea. It helps you to keep all the radicals in proportion and eventually you will be able to write nice neat, square characters without the aid of a grid.

Repitition is not very exciting, but it works. Just sit down and write out each character a few hundred times.

If you are interested learn how to write calligraphy using ink and a brush. Chinese was originally written this way -- the way the strokes and radicals are organised is because of the way you write calligraphy with a brush. Hence if you learn calligraphy you will really learn how to write Chinese!

These days it is less important to learn how to write because of computers but still worth the effort. Once you discover the ease of writing Chinese on a computer though it might be easy to get lazy and not bother learning to actually write.

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gougou
Once you discover the ease of writing Chinese on a computer though it might be easy to get lazy and not bother learning to actually write.

However, the more you practice writing, the faster your reading will become (which even in the computer age you'll be doing by yourself mostly...)

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wang0109

we learn hanzi from the structure of hanzi. that means we learn simple hanzi and parts of hanzi instead of learning the comlicated structured hanzi. learn the easy part first and try to understand how a hanzi is formed from these parts. and the meaning of hanzi is often related to the parts and the structure. the rules are not always true, since there are many exceptions that you should learn by heart in practice and reading.

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GCZ

I would agree mostly with Jose.

If you learn what is making up the characters you are learning it will aid memory. It is a sharp learning curve as they are nothing like we are used to writing before.

If you use this method then it will reap rich rewards later. sooner or later you will need to do it so it is best to start early.

McNaughton has a great book called Reading and Writing Chinese. Alghough it does give the simplified characters as well it deals mainly with traditional. I believe he has just released a second book which deals with simplified characters.

Which ever way, you can't really avoid repetition.

Flashcards are great for recognising characters, which helps with writing too.

All the best. :wink:

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