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chubito

Advanced Speaker, Crap Writer

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chubito

Hi,

 

I lived in China for a long time and have an advanced level of spoken Chinese. I have recently returned to University to study Chinese and have been put in an advanced class, but I am pretty crappy at writing. Basically, I am looking for some advice from people who have been in my situation and have a good system for learning characters. My reading isn't bad, I passed HSK 4, but I I always forget how to handwrite characters and have to intensively study before an exam or test to remember how to write.

 

I was thinking about using the Heisig system, but coming using Chinese keywords and stories, rather than English. Any advice? I could actually live without handwriting, but it is required for my course to write essays in Chinese for exams.

 

cheers for any input in advance

 

 

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889

I gather your problem isn't composing written Chinese, but remembering how to write the characters out. In which case my approach has always been just to take printed texts and write them out by longhand, for hours on end. Not sure there's any quick route to proficiency.

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Shelley

I might be considered old fashioned but I think you just have to write lots and lots.

 

Try Hanzi Grids, print out sheets of characters that you need to learn and write them lots. Have a look here https://www.hanzigrids.com/

 

Its worth the small price to go for the full version.

 

I think its best to practice with pen and paper to help with the "muscle memory" but if cost is not a problem then you could try Skritter it is very good for learning characters but IMHO doesn't replace pen and paper.

 

There are no shortcuts, write lots, use grids or copy out texts and try without guides as often as possible, carry paper and a pen and just randomly write characters while waiting for a bus or something.

 

 

Edit: P.S. I really dislike the Heisig method. It seems like an extra layer of complexity. Just concentrate on writing and memorising. As you write each character say out loud its sound and meaning to cement it to the character

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Angelina

So it is more of a handwriting problem and less of a composition problem?

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CathaySpecific

chubito,

You might also try this app to practice handwriting in a fun, interactive way.  Full disclosure, I developed this app for Android, based on my own experience learning to write, after achieving a basic level of conversational Mandarin.

 

https://www.facebook.com/TraseeChinese/

 

I started practicing writing over a dozen years ago, before apps & other electronic tools became commonly available.  I did a lot of paper & pen repetition, and built my own lists as I found that learning by association was a very effective way of studying.  My app also emphasizes word combinations rather than studying characters in isolation.

 

My approach retains the essence of writing by hand - it is based on hand-written templates of Chinese characters.  It encourages you to discover patterns - visual, phonetic, grammatical - that let you mentally group similar characters.  

 

 

4dots-logo.png

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Mouseneb

I tend to boil all of these types of problems down to:

"I'm bad at X."

"Do X more."

That being said, I'm terrible at handwriting too. Some things that I should probably do to improve my handwriting:

Only use the handwriting input on my phone when I want to write Chinese. No pinyin input! Bad pinyin. No biscuit.

Write all personal notes (shopping lists, journal entries, reminders, appointments, etc. in Chinese. Whether on paper or electronically, this must be handwritten.

Pay special attention to chronic problem characters. Personally, I like making art collages combining the elements of the character. This forces me to deeply consider the components and their relationship to each other, both semantically and physically. Other people have other methods of dealing with problem characters, mnemonics, making elaborate stories, copying the character out X number of times, etc.

Read more. Passive character recognition isn't the same as writing, of course, but I find it does help, as part of a well balanced diet. Of study methods. Good luck!

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CathaySpecific

Mouseneb, "No biscuit ... part of a well balanced diet"  Lots of food analogies, I like the way you think.

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Yadang

You might check out the dictionary Outlier Linguistics is working on... It's not done yet, but there should be something usable within the next 3 months.

 

They're going to have a bilingual English-Chinese bilingual version (as well as a German-Chinese version) so you could use Chinese to study like you were planning to do with Heisig. They are trying to make something helpful to the learner, while still saying etymologically accurate - something that any other method I've ever seen (Heisig, Harbaugh, decomposing the characters with radicals, etc.) fails to do.

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LinZhenPu

Full disclosure, I developed this app for Android, based on my own experience learning to write, after achieving a basic level of conversational Mandarin.

Cathay,

That seems like a pretty cool app but according to the forum rules, you are not allowed to advertise your products on other threads.

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imron

Just for clarification, you are not allowed to advertise them unless they are directly relevant to the topic of the thread.

It's an app for handwriting and this is a topic on improving handwriting so in this case I think it's acceptable, especially as there is full disclosure.

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imron

No worries.  Full details of our policies for commercial posters can be found here.

 

Generally speaking, make sure you disclose any affiliation you have with a product, make sure your posts are relevant and on-topic, and make sure you don't go posting in every old thread you can find that would be on topic.

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CathaySpecific

Thanks imron, and thanks LinZhenPu also for being vigilant.  A few other tools were name-dropped in this thread, Skirtter, Outlier etc. so why not allow the little guy, especially if it's an app developed by a member of this forum.

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imron

I think the big difference is that the people mentioning the other tools are not connected with them except as users.  People generally get more suspicious of people promoting their own products.  That being the case, like I mentioned above 'little guys' promoting their own products are fine as long as they stick to our sites guidelines for commercial posters.

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