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nipponman

Techniques for learning characters

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nipponman

Ok, in light of the recent demand for these techniques, I've decided to put them here in a new post. Before I begin, I would like to emphasize something I feel is critical to learning new characters. And that is that there are three separate aspects to learning a new character, three things you need to know before you can say it has been memorized.

1.You need to know the shape/form of the character.

2.You need to know the pronunciation and tone of the character.

3.You need to know the meaning(s) of the character.

And my technique deals with all three of these in a different way. Some people suggest you do all rote, rote, and more rote, but I have found that this doesn't really work too well. So what you need to do for #1, you must write the character over and over again, that will solidify the shape in your head. Get a chalkboard/EZ-board, or some lined paper, and fill it up. Now for #2, everytime you write the character, say outloud its pronuciation including its tone. Seem familiar? Well it might for those who have done rote before. Now here's the new part, for the meanings, don't say anything. This will only make things monotonous and you will quickly start thinking about something else. Instead, envision, in your mind, first the number of the tone, then a picture of the meaning(s). That's basically it. Pretty simple huh? Well it works. Now for an example: I just relearned** this character, 渾, maybe 5 days ago. And it still screams in mind. the way to memorize this would be to write it out, then say outloud hun2, then, in my mind, envision the number 2 (its tone), then I envision flowing mud (meaning #1=muddy), somebody saying duhhhhh(meaning#2=stupid,foolish),

and finally the character 全(meaning #3= whole***).* Thats basically the technique, hope it helps all who use it.

nipponman

* I chose 全 here because at the time I couldn't think of a better way to describe, "whole." Although there are many better pictures I could have envisioned, I can't change it now because this character, and the others that I relearned, etched in my mind, as are the images I used to forge them.

**Why do I have to relearn characters if this system is so great? For two reasons, firstly, when I originally started learning chinese, I used rote, and there are still some characters that I have forgotten thanks to that method. Secondly, I may never come across that character or use it, so I forget it. Don't be mistaken, this isn't a way for you to memorize the whole table of hanzi and be able to recall it from memory. Rather, it gives you a solid memory base, and the more characters you use, the less you will forget.

***An example of this usage is 渾身=whole body.

****More characters I relearned that day that still scream at me are:薄措扮賓乙乏醜介. Belive it or not, I haven't used these characters often enough or come across them, maybe I should do more reading.

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nipponman
Originally posted by Skylee: That should be "in view of", right?

Yeah, I thought "in lieu of" meant something else.

Originally posted by Skylee: I think whether or not one can memorise a new word (Chinese or English) also has to do with one's age (more or less). It is easier if you are young(er). I don't seem to be able to memorise new words now. :x

:lol:

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nipponman

Also, I forgot a very important aspect of this system. You have to review. When you review, think of the pictures you've created (tone and meaning) and if you forgot a picture, rememorize.

nipponman

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Liang

Techniques for remmeber how to write the characters is not the only thing. I would need a good book/website to tell me more about the possible meanings and usage.

When I learn a character, I want to know what they mean in combination with other characters.

For example I already learnt 国 (my book told me its country) and I know 作 from 工作

then learn the word 家 house, family but cant figure out the meaning of...

国家 - Country's home? Country family?

作家 - work-house?

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nipponman

Wow, someone actually replied to this thread!:clap Anyway, that is a different study altogether, the study of vocabulary. There is no way to determine, without previous knowledge, the function of a character in a word. You can guess, but you can't be certain.

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HashiriKata
国家 - Country's home? Country family?

作家 - work-house?

I think your first & best step in finding out the meaning of a word is through the dictionary (or similar means). Trying guesswork for its meaning is only an aid, and can't be relied on unnecessarily.

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