Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

  • Why you should look around

    Since 2003, Chinese-forums.com has been helping people learn Chinese faster and get to China sooner. Our members can recommend beginner textbooks, help you out with obscure classical vocabulary, and tell you where to get the best street food in Xi'an. And we're friendly about it too. 

    Have a look at what's going on, or search for something specific. We hope you'll join us. 
Johnny20270

Back to whether to hand write or not?

Recommended Posts

Johnny20270

I have always been adamant that I won't hand write Hanzi due to the shear amount of time it takes to learn and I always felt its not a skill worth doing at this stage dues to limited time.

 

However ...

 

my teacher has always tried to encourage me to hand write as she thinks it will improve my retention rate for characters so eventually I said well I'll try anyway

 

I downloaded a trail version of Skritter and although its a nice app I am really not convinced its time well spend. Taken me a long time to learn how to write basic characters which in ANKI only come up about a months or so. I feel after a few days that i could have learn a lot more hanzi on recognition 

 

To those long term Chinese gurus, looking back do you think it was with putting all the effort in to hand writing? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

Hofmann

Handwriting supports development of orthographic sensitivity and recall of characters (Xu, Chang, Zhang, and Perfetti, 2013). However, writing might not be immediately useful to beginners. It is more useful to begin handwriting after one can recognize many components and some characters (周, 1999).

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kdavid

I've been studying Chinese for nine years. Lived in China for eight. Completed an MA in late imperial history on the mainland. Now doing a PhD (in modern Chinese history) in the States.

 

In all this time, I've been called on to write by hand (e.g. fill out of a form, jot down a list) probably less than a dozen times. Period.

 

It's a very time-consuming practice that I believe would be better spent on learning new vocabulary and/or reading. Sure, it's great to be able to write by hand, but you'll only get street credit with natives if your handwriting is better than a fifth-grader's. Otherwise, you might as well not be able to write at all.

 

And typing/texting is so much faster. For everyone.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
vellocet

You have to learn SOME handwriting.  Enough to make the characters make sense.  Moreover you can't always depend on OCR, you sometimes have to write unfamiliar characters using handwriting input to look them up.  But the old idea that foreigners need to learn handwriting all the way up to Chinese cursive is outdated.  Heck, I hardly write anything in English these days. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
querido

Not a guru but close to an old-timer: Listening comprehension and real conversation turned out to be so much harder than reading and writing that this is what I think: If I had been focused on listening comprehension from the beginning, and so had been slowed - realistically and beneficially - in my collection of words, there would have been plenty of time to learn how to write each one. My own experience is that the latter is comparatively trivial.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shelley

I believe that learning to write characters rounds out your knowledge of Chinese and helps you to memorise characters better.

 

I have learned to write almost from day 1, some 30 years ago when I started. Learning to write characters has always been my goal.

 

I don't regret putting in the time at all, I really enjoy learning to write characters.

 

It depends on what you really want to do, but I would recommend it.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
AdamD
To those long term Chinese gurus, looking back do you think it was with putting all the effort in to hand writing?

 

Yes. Entirely. It really did aid my retention of characters, as well as my ability to retain new characters super quickly.

 

Skritter is not the way to learn characters, in my view. Learn components and use mnemonics instead.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
msittig

Besides helping retention, writing the characters is also a cultural asset. Billions of Chinese have struggled with learning to write, developing their own handwriting style, and, like you, forgetting how to write certain characters. Going through a version of the same struggle helps you to (approximately) understand the language evolution of a native speaker.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
XiaoXi

Handwriting is a dying art in any language. In the future it will probably no longer be taught at all. Already I haven't written anything in any language for so long now. Just recently fellow student asked me to translate her Chinese to English for her and so gave me a pen and paper. I started writing but it just felt weird and slow so I typed out on my phone instead! I agree that with learning Chinese it can be beneficial to learn some writing, like at least get used to the stroke order. Sometimes when looking up characters in a dictionary your only choice is to handwrite it in so knowing at least the basics would help.

 

Words in any language are stored in our heads as pictures anyway and unlike English you can't 'spell out' and guess how a word might be pronounced in Chinese so there's even more reason to simply regard them all as pictures. Only learn writing if you really want to handwrite. The only reason handwriting helps you learn characters is because you are seeing the characters over and over as you practise writing and looking at each radical in detail, noticing the small differences between each one. The actual act of writing doesn't help.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
AdamD
The only reason handwriting helps you learn characters is because you are seeing the characters over and over as you practise writing and looking at each radical in detail, noticing the small differences between each one. The actual act of writing doesn't help.

 

For you maybe. Learning to write has given me motor memory of writing characters: often I'll forget a character, but starting to write it will jog my memory. Knowing the correct stroke order also helps when I need to use HWR/stroke input but can't remember the pronunciation. (And thank you to Hofmann whose evidence-based reply seems to have been missed.)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Johnny20270

good replies, thanks all. 
 
@Hofmann and Adam, yes there is no doubt in my mind that your retention rate better if opting for hand writing, However my questions is: is it worth all the effort. For example, if you spent X number of hours in a year and you managed to learn Y number of characters, how would that compare to simply spending the same X number of hours just on recognition and Learnt Z characters, i.e. in the long run would Z be much great than Y. or more simply as kdavid said

 

It's a very time-consuming practice that I believe would be better spent on learning new vocabulary and/or reading. 

 

 

my ability to retain new characters super quickly.

 
@Adam: That's interesting though!
 
 

Going through a version of the same struggle helps you to (approximately) understand the language evolution of a native speaker.

 

 @msittig I am so far away from the other aspects of Chinese language. First step is read and speak properly :)
 

 

I don't regret putting in the time at all, I really enjoy learning to write characters.

 

@Shelly, my class mate is similar to you. He really enjoys writing. For me is a nice-to-have but down on the list of priority at this stage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
AdamD
yes there is no doubt in my mind that your retention rate better if opting for hand writing, However my questions is: is it worth all the effort. For example, if you spent X number of hours in a year and you managed to learn Y number of characters, how would that compare to simply spending the same X number of hours just on recognition and Learnt Z characters, i.e. in the long run would Z be much great than Y. or more simply as kdavid said

 

Very much down to the individual. I learn by doing and have the patience to write, so writing made a huge difference to me. Some people will report otherwise because their personal style of learning is different.

 

Another factor is what you might retain over time. Will looking at characters yield the same long-term retention as learning to writing them?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hofmann

is it worth all the effort.

Yes, if you're actually paying attention to how Chinese characters are constructed, because with the orthographic sensitivity developed from learning how to write, you can look at new characters and remember how to write them without much effort.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shelley

Why not try it for awhile, if you hate it stop, you might however find it helps and you do not miss out on something that adds to your learning.

 

Try using Hanzi Grids and put in a few characters that you are finding difficult to remember and see if practising to write them helps you to remember them. Shouldn't take long and you will be able to make a better informed decision.

 

http://www.hanzigrids.com/

 

If you like it, it costs a small amount to have the full version, which is well worth it in my opinion.

 

Edit:  I should add make sure you use the correct stroke order.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Johnny20270

Hi Shelley, 

 

yes I have had several attempts in the past and the enthusiasm wore quickly. In an ideal world I would like to have the knowledge but given my time in China is limited I doubt it would be best use of time. I was told by my teachers that it would help with character retention which no doubt is true (and by what everyone says here) However as regards bang for buck, I am not convinced

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hofmann

Then you'll have to describe in more detail how you're learning to write. It's quite unusual for someone to take several attempts and take an unreasonable amount of time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Xiao Kui

This

my teacher has always tried to encourage me to hand write as she thinks it will improve my retention rate for characters so eventually I said well I'll try anyway

 

yes, I learned to hand write,and it definitely helped with retention of characters. I rarely write anymore, but I still know the 2500+ characters I wrote a minimum of 5 times each. (I also wrote many more 2-3 character words by hand to aid with memorization)

 

I won't hand write Hanzi due to the shear amount of time it takes to learn and I always felt its not a skill worth doing at this stage dues to limited time.

 

What's the rush? Mastering Chinese is an undertaking requiring years. I have been studying casually for 17 now and still learn new things every day. Take your time and enjoy everything the language has to offer. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Johnny20270

Then you'll have to describe in more detail how you're learning to write. It's quite unusual for someone to take several attempts and take an unreasonable amount of time.

 

 

 

Mainly using old fashioned pen and hanzi grids and this time skritter. We cover maybe 70 words a week in my language course, If I was luckly I could write 10 of those, but as a result of spending a lot of time on it I had to exclude other things such as reviewing the text, preparing for the lesson for the next day etc That had a negative impact of my learning as I was falling behind

 

 

 What's the rush? Mastering Chinese is an undertaking requiring years. I have been studying casually for 17 now and still learn new things every day. Take your time and enjoy everything the language has to offer. 

 

 

 

Indeed! I point sorely missed by many! Its a marathon. I am in china for a year and want to make best use of my time with the teacher hence I think  my above comment might appear to be the use of my time 

 

My original question was does it help with character retention and is it the most optimal use of time spent (in terms of remembering characters only). First part seems to be a resounding yes, 2nd part is debatable . I will; keep trying for a bit more and report back :)

 

 

Thanks all

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Xiao Kui
I am in china for a year and want to make best use of my time with the teacher hence I think  my above comment might appear to be the use of my time

 

 

Well in that case, if you only have a year in China don't spend the whole time holed up in your room writing characters. But maybe try to especially write the ones you have difficulty remembering because it will help!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
XiaoXi
For you maybe. Learning to write has given me motor memory of writing characters: often I'll forget a character, but starting to write it will jog my memory. Knowing the correct stroke order also helps when I need to use HWR/stroke input but can't remember the pronunciation. (And thank you to Hofmann whose evidence-based reply seems to have been missed.)

 

Yes of course it helps your memory with writing, what I was referring to is how it helps you to remember and recognise characters when reading.

 

Besides helping retention, writing the characters is also a cultural asset. Billions of Chinese have struggled with learning to write, developing their own handwriting style, and, like you, forgetting how to write certain characters. Going through a version of the same struggle helps you to (approximately) understand the language evolution of a native speaker.

 

Yes but that's just regarding the writing aspect. Let's not forget that Chinese all start with at least 5 years since birth of purely listening to Chinese before they even read or write anything.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...