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TheWind

Considering not learning to write --- looking for input

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TheWind

So I've been studying for about 1.5 years and am at a pretty decent level, that is except for my writing. I can type it and read it, but I have trouble hand writing it. 

 

I've mulled this decision over in the past many times before, but I always comes to the same conclusion –– I may use this skill for a job one day in the future, so if I'm going to learn it then I should learn it right. 

 

Unfortunately, I feel like I could be doing a lot more with the time I spend practicing my hanzi. I don't however want to be in the hypothetical situation in 3 years where I'm applying for a translators position and I don't get it because can't write the language. 

 

All feedback and input is appreciated

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querido

Rule number zero could be that, having decided to learn how to handwrite, you can politely ignore anyone who tells you it's a waste of time.

 

I don't have time for a long post. A short list of rules could be: 

1. It doesn't have to be pretty at first. It'll get prettier as your hand gets more fluent.

2. In my case, very early I chose a font to look at and I stuck to this font every place I could (my text editor, my browser, etc). My choice was a kai style and when I found STKaiti I stuck with that. (You can use it in Anki and Pleco too, and Skritter is kai style.)

3. Use Skritter at least long enough to ingrain stroke order. Feed it the words you already know and keep feeding it those. (Keeping the words whole and not breaking them down into characters is for other reasons and is just my opinion.)

4. Next (perhaps waiting until after you have done the above for a while), make flashcards (maybe using a tool like Chinese Text Analyser (no I don't work for them)) with a cloze sentence or more on the front (enough that the word it's asking for is unambiguous) and just the character/word on the back, requiring that you write the word correctly before revealing it. "Correct" should probably be: every stroke is present and in the right place and touches/intersects every other stroke that it should, so the information is there. << This is the minimum standard, not appearance.

I don't have time to write any more now. I just wanted to help you before the critics show up. :-)

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Demonic_Duck

I don't however want to be in the hypothetical situation in 3 years where I'm applying for a translators position and I don't get it because can't write the language.

This won't happen. No company in the world is going to require large amounts of handwriting for a translation job.

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querido

Oh, sorry, I just noticed that the title of the thread is "considering NOT learning to write". Y'all carry on with the usual thread about not writing, then.

 

I don't doubt that the above poster is right about that.

 

Even if you don't want to handwrite, a much lower but still very valuable standard is being able to write enough to make some strokes into a touch screen until you see the character you want pop up in the candidate list. If you can see the char in your mind (and learn just as much stroke order as you need with Skritter or some other method) then you should be able to make the first few strokes.

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Demonic_Duck

I should note that I'm not encouraging never learning to write, just saying that it's not at all necessary to learn for the specific task of translation. I agree that at the very least learning general stroke order rules is invaluable for touchscreen character lookup. I also agree that learning to handwrite isn't a waste of time. If you expect to still be using Chinese in a couple of decades, learning to handwrite will almost certainly come in useful. It just depends how much (or how little) you want to prioritise it.

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li3wei1

Kinda hard to tell what the OP wants, input on how to learn to write, or how to learn without writing, or just confirmation that whatever decision he's made is good (if you're there, OP, whatever decision you've made is good, get on with it).

 

Agree that translators will probably never need to do a lot of handwriting, but they may well have to read a lot of it, and I think learning to write helps you read handwriting even more than it helps you read print. Another job where handwriting is useful if not critical is teaching. If you are teaching Chinese, or anything else in Chinese, in a classroom with a whiteboard or similar, unless you want to rely completely on prepared stuff, you'll want to write stuff on the board. Maybe technology will change, and they'll invent a board that recognises the teacher's voice, or takes pin yin input somehow, but I suspect that large parts of China won't be seeing that technology for some time.

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Naphta

I think hand writing really helps in learning new characters. I personally  forget more easily those words and characters that I have learned only passively. A friend of mine, a translator, used to say the same thing, that she would never really need to write characters so she just learned passively. The fact is that after a (relatively short) period without much practice, she had forgotten lots of characters and actually found the simplest texts really hard to read. I do not know which other factors may have played a role in her forgetting, but I guess not having learned how to hand write is one of them. This has something to do with muscle memory, maybe... Some other people I met refusing to learn how to write were not even interested in reading, but that is perhaps a different approach.

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Pokarface

You'll be using a hypothetical computer to type instead of handwriting.

When was the last time you hand-wrote something for your job?

I can hand-write 180 traditional characters, but I can read way more. I learned how to handwrite them because it is impossible for me to remember them at first just by looking at them (reading, typing on the phone)

 

Another advice that I can also give you is to not worry about the future too much (seriously). Because when your life in the PRESENT REQUIRES you to be good at one skill, you WILL do everything you could possibly imagine to master that skill that pays the bills ;-)

 

Enjoy the ride will it's fun.

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TheWind

Li3Wei1, I'm looking for peoples input on how important they think knowing how to write by hand is. I just want another viewpoint to consider. I don't need your validation on anything. 

 

Pokerface, I write by hand every day at work, but that's English not Chinese. I'm not sure how much I can write, probably around that number. 

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Pokarface

I meant handwrite and share what you write with others. Granted, I never asked what you currently do for a living. You might be a freelance writer for a magazine and handwrite a lot of drafts. Do you hand your handwritten drafts to your team or current employer? I generate all my flowcharts and documents through my PC. I doubt anyone wants to read a novel handwritten by me. They could read a couple of sentences I handwrite, but why would I write a couple of sentences when I can simply tell the information in their native language? (Note: I AM learning how to hand-write Chinese)

 

My advice is still the same. You never mentioned that you will live in a country where 普通話 is an official language and be a translator there, so chances are that if you stay in your current country as a translator it will be very unlikely for you to need to handwrite. This possibility increases lightly if you live in a country with Chinese is an official language. Sure you can hypothetically get a translating job in 3 years, the same way you could hypothetically win the lottery, get married, change your priorities in life, etc. 

Please mention what could you be doing with your free time instead of learning Hanzi.

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Shelley

If you do learn to write: 1) You will have the pleasure of having achieved something,

                                     2) It helps a lot with remembering characters.

                                     3) You will have something on your CV that might just help get you the job.

 

If you don't : 1) You can spend the time doing something else.

                     2) You will have to take a smart phone everywhere in case you need to write something.

                     3) You will have a space on your CV.

 

I am learning to write because I don't consider myself as learning Chinese unless I do. I also think it is very beautiful and worthwhile endeavour.

 

If you learn as you go its not such a high mountain as it would be if you decided to learn later.

 

Personally I would highly recommend you learn how to write, but in the end it really is down to you how much effort and time you want to put into learning chinese.

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li3wei1

We really need a new word in English, as 'write' can mean two very different things: a) string words together meaninfully and in permanence in order to communicate with someone at a distance either geographical or chronological, and b) do the above with a pen, pencil, brush, crayon, chisel, bloody finger, or some other tool that does not 'help' you form the letters or characters. I nominate 'calligraph'. You can definitely learn to write (a) without learning to calligraph (b).

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geraldc

If you learn to write it's a lot easier to read people's handwriting. I have no problem reading a typed up shopping list, when the other half writes a list, a lot of the time, it's pretty much illegible to me.

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eddyf

I learned to hand-write about 1600 characters and it definitely helped my reading a lot. Earlier I would only see the "general shape" of characters which led to a lot of confusion between similar-looking characters. Now I'm really confident that I know which character is which. Also, I found that the extra work required for learning to write a character once I've already learned to recognize it is actually really small. So I think you should give it a try. Maybe it's not the most important thing but it will help take your reading to the next level.

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abcdefg

#12 -- @Li3wei1 --

 

We really need a new word in English, as 'write' can mean two very different things: a) string words together meaninfully and in permanence in order to communicate with someone at a distance either geographical or chronological,

 

I do that a lot and find it useful. 写文章 is what my teachers usually call it. "Simple composition" would probably serve the purpose in English. But, in any case, I use a computer and not a brush or pen.

 

#13 -- @Geraldc --

 

If you learn to write it's a lot easier to read people's handwriting.

 

That's important to me also, so I plan to bite the Skritter bullet again soon.

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Demonic_Duck
3) You will have something on your CV that might just help get you the job.

 

Which job, exactly? For 99%* of even those jobs which directly involve Chinese, you won't need to handwrite. Sure, any skill looks good on your CV in a general sense, especially a skill which requires hard work and dedication to perfect... but I'm finding it difficult to imagine a scenario in Chinese handwriting would be the deciding factor.

 

*Made-up statistic

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realmayo

I think there's value in learning how to write-from-memory 365 characters, using an SRS programme like Anki, and that's enough. After a year of very modest effort you'll have a base which will take even less effort to maintain. 10 minutes a week? And you have the option of building that up rapidly at some point in the future if you choose or need to. Or indeed just adding another few hundred or so if you feel it's useful and worthwhile.

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Flickserve

If you can write, it impresses people no end. I like to copy out words. It helps the imprinting and recognition. I do think having some knowledge of the stroke technique is important. Otherwise, your written character doesn't have the aesthetic quality and possibly not the same imprinting effect into your memory.

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889

As said, learning to write yourself is part and parcel of learning to read cursive Chinese. You recognize cursive characters because you know how they're written.

You want to be a professional translator, and from time to time things will come across your desk with cursive Chinese, such as marginal changes on an otherwise printed document. How can you hold down that job if you have to tell your boss, "Sorry, I can't read Chinese handwriting"?

I'd also strongly suggest you work with a native speaker so your handwriting looks natural.

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Angelina

Hm, I studied translation and would be able to work as a translator, but not when it comes to Chinese. Even though including Chinese in my language pairs would increase my salary, I don't want to go through the ordeal of having to memorize Chinese characters.

Yes, most adult Chinese people don't have to do much handwriting nowadays. After spending years learning how to write that is. If you want to reach that level of fluency, you will have to do the same. Once you become fully literate in Chinese, you will probably do more typing than handwriting.

You can continue learning Chinese without bothering with handwriting, you can learn pīnyīn, spoken language, even composition. However, I am not sure if you will work as a translator one day. Which is fine, you don't have to. I do not feel the passion needed, so I won't force myself.

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