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5 years ago I started to learn Chinese, but than dropped it after 3-4 month. Now I've started again, but the thing is, my new teacher is not native speaker, and I've already payed a tuition fee for month when I found out, that she doesn't know the stroke order or number in characters, and she simply copies them from book. She is a student majoring in Chinese and she kind of convinced me that knowing the stroke order in characters is not that important after all. However she criticizes my handwriting A LOT, saying that it is not just tedious to read, but also the characters I write are completely wrong. I know that my handwriting is bad, as my English or Russian handwriting, and my previous teacher critiqued it as well. But I just found myself unable to trust her critique, because of her lack of knowledge of certain things. So I need a second opinion on my handwriting))) I mean I'll work hard and really change it, if what she says is true. 

The one underlined with blue is my version of character you, from youyong (to swim), and the one underlined with red is what she thinks it should look like in the first picture. 

And my handwriting (second picture), all characters underlined are wrong in her opinion. 



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I agree with your teacher about 游.  In the  component, your horizontal line is too low.  See how the horizontal line is just below the bend?  In your version it's right down almost touching the hook.  Also note that your bend is more like a 'z', when it should be more like an upside-down triangle missing one side.


With the second picture I don't understand why your teacher has underlined some words and not others, e.g. for this level of handwriting 怎 seems within the bounds of acceptable to me, definitely more so than 忙 or your 听 in 听写 which not only has incorrect proportions, but is also missing a 口.


I agree with your teacher that you need to have more space between 抱 and 歉.


Finally, I would say that stroke order and number aren't that important.  They're important enough that you need to follow the correct stroke order otherwise the character won't look correct, but pretty soon you start to internalise the correct rules for writing, then you don't need to care about the stroke order so much because it just feels natural.


Stroke number is basically irrelevant unless you are superstitious and trying to come up with a name for your child.

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My handwriting sucks too. Sometimes my teacher used to joke with me about a character I'd write and go "ohh? is that a new word" because sometimes I'd put too big of a space between a single characters components.


Even so I think with handwriting stroke order isn't as important as correct stroke as well as spacing. It also looks to me that size is a bit of an issue for you. I would recommend getting those grid boxes, not like the one you're using now, but the one chinese students use, I can take a picture of the one I use if you want.


Also, when you wrote 要, she circled it because the top component that you wrote looks like 西, when it should just be two straight lines coming down.

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I am old school and I think both stroke order and number are important. I don't know about internalisation, but you just have to learn the rules. And stroke number is not just something about superstition. It is useful for using dictionaries, although some might argue that it is not necessary to learn it now.

As to your handwriting, it is ugly, like that of young school kids less than ten years old (and so is the last 游 on the right of the first pic you said was written by your teacher). But I can read the characters. We call the left part of 游 "three dots" so the strokes should not be that long. And the lowest stroke should go from left to right, not the other way around.

Practice is good. You will improve with more practice. Other learners might tell you that at this stage it might be better for you to invest your time in learning the other aspects of the language than learning and practising handwriting. I think this might be reasonable but as I did not learn Chinese as a second language I am not sure.

I think it is not important that your teacher is not a native speaker as long as she knows how to teach Chinese. But a student majoring in Chinese might not be good enough (I am guessing here). Get yourself a better teacher, if necessary, before you pay her again.

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I am old school and I think both stroke order and number are important

Stroke order is important to a point.  As I mentioned, it's necessary in order to have correct looking characters, but there's no point for example memorising the stroke order for each character, rather you're better off getting familiar with the rules, and then when you see a character you can work from the rules to determine the stroke order.  You shouldn't be sitting there however memorising individual strokes.


Likewise with stroke count - there's not point remembering the stroke count for each character.  If you need it, you simply look at the character and count the strokes based on the rules you know about how to write characters.


That is what I mean when I said they are not that important.  Learn the rules then you can figure out the stroke order and the stroke count if/when needed, but for the most part you can ignore them.

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I agree with both @skylee and @imron about stroke order. I think stroke order is important when you begin, because you don't know and haven't yet internalized the rules of writing. Once you have, you don't need to remember stroke order for every single character, because you know the rules already. At your level, I think stroke order is important, but you'll eventually move on to a point where it doesn't play as big a role in your study of the language. You'll have other bigger, more challenging, and more interesting problems to deal with at that point.


In general, stroke order is as follows:

- top to bottom

- left to right

- When dealing with three enclosing strokes like 月, outside first, then inside strokes.

- When dealing with a character with four enclosing strokes like 日, write the left, top & top-right strokes, fill in the inside, then close it up with the bottom stroke


I'd say study stroke order now. You'll figure out the patterns soon enough. Once you've got them down, they'll become second nature to you, and you'll be working on other language problems at that stage. Good luck!

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So if I have done my math correctly you have only been studying Chinese for less than a month after a 5 year break when you did 3-4 months. So in reality only about a month or so.


Well I would say that for that amount of time you are not doing too badly. It is not something that you will perfect in a short amount of time. Also it depends on why you are learning to write, is it to be able communicate with Chinese people or because you want become an excellent calligrapher.


I have seen native Chinese handwriting that is less legible than yours.


Having said all this i would also have to agree with all that has already been said.


IMHO stoke order is very important especially for beginners, this is because the correct order is the logical way to write it, it requires the least amount of direction changes and is ergonomic. It also is the best way I know to have your characters look correct and neat. It also helps with not omitting strokes.


I have not heard of memorising stroke number before. It seems a bit pointless, because the only real need for the number is when looking it up in a dictionary and then you can just count them. What is important is knowing what constitutes a stoke. One of the first things I learnt was that a Chinese box only has 3 strokes :)


Keep up the good work and remember learning Chinese is hard work but very rewarding. So practice, practice and then practice some more.


Oh and yes go look at Hanzi grids as suggested by Imron, here: http://www.hanzigrids.com/ 

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Stroke order is good to get straight early on so you have it internalized. It makes writing characters faster and it is enjoyable. Number of strokes is important if you are serious about written Chinese and want to use some dictionaries which list characters based on number of strokes.


I highly recommend working with Pleco on a tablet or phone. It has an excellent handwriting recognition system and an available stroke order tool. The dictionaries available turn it into the most powerful tool for translating Chinese available on the market.


I was a big fan of 4-corner lookup before Pleco, but with Pleco's HWR system I very rarely use my 4-corner paper dictionaries. Only an occasional dip into the Kangxi with 4-corner index or the big 4-volume Chinese Russian dictionary that has a 4-corner index (we share the background of having English and Russian and tackling Chinese).


On the topic of teachers, you could probably get a native speaker in China over the Web for less than you are paying a student for lessons.

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Thank you all so much!!! This was the most helpful forum I've ever been registered in. I will definitely use those grids, thanks for the link and info. Also I will most likely change my teacher and will consider the teachers from China over the web. 

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That is pretty bad.


The 忄's in 忙 and 怕 look like 小's.


The horizontal strokes should be more slanted at an angle. Not so much parallel with the horizontal grid lines.


Try copying the characters from a standard font example a few times. That'll probably help.



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and want to use some dictionaries which list characters based on number of strokes.

Except that's not the case because dictionaries don't list the characters based on number of stroke - they list the radicals by stroke, then they list the characters by the remaining strokes minus the radical.


So if you remember that 你 is 7 strokes, that doesn't help looking up a dictionary, because first you look up 亻which is under 2 strokes, and then you look up 尔 which has 5 strokes.  This is why I say memorising the stroke count is not important because you can just count it if and when you need it.

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