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realmayo

How did you get to 3000 characters?

3000 characters  

19 members have voted

  1. 1. Did you basically learn a small number of new characters every day for 2-3 years?



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realmayo

I'd like to ask people who have learned 3000 characters: did you achieve this mainly by a slow and steady process of learning a small number of characters every day?

 

I know that this sounds like good advice in theory, but I'm curious who has managed it in practice. Something like three new words a day, 20 a week, 1000 a year, three years to learn 3000.

 

Personally I didn't have the willpower or patience to learn that way. But I didn't start reading/writing until after I'd already been in China for a couple of years. Perhaps the slow and steady method works best for people following a structured, ordered course or curriculum? I was more like: 0-50 easy and fun / 50-500 heavy mnemonics and flashcards/ 500-3000 a few binges over a year or so.

 

 

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Mati1

I have not (yet).

 

I am also curious. I have begun learning characters several times, in the past always failing the slow and steady method. Learning intensively is very interesting but seems to burn everyone out and without the steady reviewing you forget so much again. If I had had the willpower to learn slowly but steadily from the beginning I would be a character expert by now; well, from a Western point of view.

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imron

I didn't learn that way initially, but I wish I did.

 

I *did* however switch to do this several years in, learning from 5-10 words a day and found it to be very helpful.

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yueni

I just learned the words I used most often in the subjects/books/media I was learning/reading/listening most often. I tried the flashcard method when I was studying advanced Chinese at BLCU for a year, but it didn't work for me. 

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滕腾勝

I learned to read by recognising characters from SRS flashcard decks, without any writing, for the first three years of living in China. this year I thought to myself this is ridiculous, i can't write anything despite being able speak and read. went and got a copy of heisig 1+2 and ran through both doing 50 character mnemonics a day. i took a month to review in between book 1 and 2, and two after finishing both. in all the journey was roughly 5 months. I discovered from flashcard recognition I knew about 2500ish characters. when I say know, I mean i could give a quick selection of English translations, maybe 2-3 connotations, and compound words it most often appears in. I could literally only write numbers when i started, plus the most basic 知道 etc.

 

now I feel confident I can write pretty much anything I can say or want to write. getting over the 3000 mark, I wouldn't have done it a different way. I found passive reading put very little pressure on myself, then when I finally had time to properly study writing characters it felt very natural and comforting as I was so familiar with what I was learning to write. when I did come across I character I didn't know it also felt encouraging i was still improving and gaining new knowledge.

 

sum up: learnt to read in three years. finally learnt to write in an intense additional five months.

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stapler

I was actually addicted to Skritter for a few years. At first I just did word lists from NPCR. After a year I realised that adding words was taking up too much time so I deleted everything except for single characters. After the first year I added traditional characters. By the end of three years I had about 7000 characters under review (both that was both simplified and traditional so around 3000-4000 'unique' characters?)

 

I feel lucky that learning characters was never a chore. Basically half an hour on Skritter every day (averaged out. I would tend to do binges on some days and nothing for others), while doing heaps of reading, and looking up characters and words I didn't recognise in Pleco as I went. 

 

I stopped using Skritter a while ago as I feel no need to maintain my handwriting ability. The few times I have had to hand write I've struggled with most of the characters I recognise (eg I forgot how to write the simplified version of 邻 the other day). But again, recognition is enough for my purposes.

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roddy

Honestly, it's kind of lost in the depths of time. I never did sit down and write them down over and over, or at least not in any sustained manner. I suspect my main character learning push was aided by piles upon piles of old HSK vocab flashcards I got colleagues to help make up. I think it was a case of chucking a load of new vocab in and then cycling through it, the easier ones shifting to the 'known' pile and the others coming up again and again until they also graduated. Not the most efficient way of doing things. 

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mlescano

I first learned to write (not read) the Japanese Kanji using Heisig's method back in 2004-2005. I used Stackz!, a Leitner-based flashcard software, for reviews. Years later I learned a lot of pronunciations, not thanks to RTK2, but thanks to copying JLPT3 vocabulary lists to Anki.

 

Forward to 2012: I never became fluent in Japanese (lost motivation shortly after 2005), but in this year I took a 60-hour introductory course to Chinese. Since I was already familiar with many characters, I didn't bother to actually learn the Hanzi at this time. I just winged it.

 

Forward to mid 2015: I haven't really made a lot of progress in Chinese, and I rely heavily on pinyin. I meet, for the first time, a westerner who can read Chinese perfectly, and this prompts me to order both volumes of Remembering Simplified Hanzi and start studying like crazy, at a pace of 40 characters per day (later lowered to 20), using 3, 4, or sometimes even 5 hours every day in this task. By the end of the year, I had learned to write (from Spanish keywords + pinyin) all 3,000 characters, with Anki's help, plus I was able to pronounce most of them thanks to a steadily growing Pleco flashcard deck. I had also added HSK 1-3 and part of 4 cards to the deck. I already was able to read aloud in front of an audience, but only with several weeks of "chorusing" preparation with slowed-down native reading recordings chopped into ~6-second Anki flashcards. But I didn't do any writing practice beyond writing individual characters from Heisig's keywords.

 

Forward to 2017: Following the recommendations in this forum, I started transcription exercises by hand. This has been the first time I have been writing so much by hand since elementary school, and the first time I actually write by hand full sentences in Chinese. This has helped a lot both with writing confidence and with reading. I'm also tackling my Pleco SRS overdue backlog, and to make it more interesting, I'm using a fill-in-the-blanks test mode alternating between reading and writing. This has also helped a lot.

 

My current level is: I can read Chinese Breeze and Mandarin Companion levels 1-2 with almost no help.  I can read materials written by my organization (with lots of recurring vocabulary) with a little bit or some Pleco's help (depending on difficulty). For everything else, including news, manhuas, dramas, etc, I still rely heavily on Pleco and can't really read fluently.

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anonymoose

I think my learning was fairly irregular. There would be binges, but I think I learnt most just as and when I came across them. During my first couple of years in China,  I always used to carry around a notebook with me to jot down any new characters or useful phrases (or sometimes things in English that I had thought of and wanted to check how to say them when I got home).

 

I think I must have been in the 5000 character range a couple of years ago, but I've lost some since returning to the U.K.

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dtcamero

heisig + anki before anything else was a strategy that worked really well for me studying japanese, so I did that with chinese too... only i included readings in my SRS practice for chinese. 

just buckled down and spent the first year of study punching through RTH 1&2... and reading NPCR, then chinese breeze. 

 

Finished all 3000 after about one year... that made the rest of the journey pretty cake really. I've been adding one new hanzi flashcard every day to anki, am around 3800 or so currently. I figure 4000 is minimum for reading novels so that's my intermediate goal.

 

after 3 years study, 6 months of which spent in country, I can read through 繁體字 manga pretty fast now, even though I'm better with simplified.

 

adult novels are still out of reach, and I was kinda stumped for a while what to read next... but last time I was in 上海书城 I found a nice series of simplified versions of chinese classics. They're at a good challenging level for me at the moment. I'll include a link for the four main classics

 

西游记 https://www.amazon.cn/gp/product/B00SML070M/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_3?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=QYB5RV72E1PG2J2E5TGW

三国演义 https://www.amazon.cn/gp/product/B00SML0SB0/ref=pd_sim_14_3?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=JSSBH9Y6S4S1NFEQZT8K

红楼梦 https://www.amazon.cn/gp/product/B00SML00OU/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_3?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=JSSBH9Y6S4S1NFEQZT8K

水浒传 https://www.amazon.cn/gp/product/B00SML1LA2/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=JSSBH9Y6S4S1NFEQZT8K

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realmayo
On 9/30/2017 at 4:41 AM, dtcamero said:

I figure 4000 is minimum for reading novels so that's my intermediate goal.

 

I found plenty of novels readable after maybe 2500 characters but of course a simple character count doesn't take account of actual words or sentences understood.

 

 

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realmayo
On 9/28/2017 at 3:06 PM, imron said:

I didn't learn that way initially, but I wish I did.

 

I *did* however switch to do this several years in, learning from 5-10 words a day and found it to be very helpful.

 

I kind of know what you mean. But I'm a big fan of binges, or intense short-term focus, to move to a new 'level', whatever that may be. However that all becomes worthless if you don't review, and reviews have got to be slow and steady. 

 

Also for me words are a bit different too in that -- I don't know why -- I think they need more time to 'settle down' in my mind; characters on the other hand can be more easily shoveled direct into the memory (once you understand and have a feel for how characters work).

 

Binge-learn, steady review, should be my motto :P

 

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叫我小山

I'm about halfway through, at 1,400 characters. Only about a third have a 繁体字 related to the 简体字, so that includes 1,000 traditional on top of the 3,000. But I learn 10 new simplified characters a day, and 3 traditional. I use Anki. I don't bother to write them, just recognition, but that's a whole 'nother thread.

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realmayo

Good work ... probably one for the 'fast and steady' rather than 'slow and steady' bucket given that you're on track to be all done within a year :clap

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陳德聰

When I first started learning Mandarin, I borrowed an old textbook from my friend’s little sister who was in those Saturday/Sunday Chinese classes for people who speak Chinese at home, and all I remember is that it had some sort of glossary of characters in the back. I spent the entire evening copying out every character in the glossary, which was in alphabetical order by pinyin. I basically performed some sort of similar exercise every few weeks for the rest of my studies for a few years and then I was at HSK5 and off to China to study.

 

While I think I could have been more efficient, I lack discipline. So cramming for tests the night before has been my main form of word accumulation.

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Xiao Kui

I have about 3000. I question the necessity of learning 3000 unless you are dead set on HSK 6. I think you can read quite a lot with 2000+ and there are diminishing returns after that (ie. you are learning characters/words you will seldom encounter unless you are regularly reading advanced level materials.)  I quickly got the first 1000 through Yip Po Ching's Essential Grammar + games/flashcards intended for Chinese children.  A Chinese family let me borrow a neat Leapfrog type game which you inserted different cards into and it would pronounce the words on the cards.  The cards were different categories like fruits, animals, etc, and had the characters and pinyin printed on them along with pictures. I'm sure now there is an equivalent/superior app for that, so I would recommend downloading some kids' apps.

 

I think my characters made the most progress through a delightful graded reader series that is now out of print, though probably any graded reader series would do.  I also took my language enthusiast Mom's advice to write the new characters 5x each, and then did the same for new words. I think writing is an invaluable tool for learning the new words. For the first year I was not even aware of stroke order and just wrote the characters my own way - this was worthwhile in spite of my ignorance, and aided memorization tremendously.  I also hand wrote a few hundred flash cards, but these were for words, not characters.

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Tomsima
2 hours ago, Xiao Kui said:

I question the necessity of learning 3000 unless you are dead set on HSK 6.

 

+ reading native material.

 

Whether it is a newspaper, a book, a sign on the street or a wechat moment, if you arent working with at least three thousand you're gonna have an uncomfortable time. in this regard, I feel there is no question to the necessity of learning 3000.

 

i finally reached my 'learn' 3000 goal earlier this year, and since then have realised that it really is the bare minimum if you are aiming for consuming native material. I've now accumulated around an extra 200 or so characters, and every day still bump into new ones (where you think to yourself 'how did I not know how to write that!? todays was 罔顧的「罔」:wall).

a

 

I'm guessing around 3500 makes casual reading a relaxing experience, 4000 for academic level reading and writing. that being said, it's just a rough guess, there are others in this forum who have much more experience and could probably give a better estimate.

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imron

According the JunDa frequency list for modern Chinese text 3,000 characters will get you 99.1774201815% coverage of a text.

 

A typical Chinese novel has 500-600 characters per page, so with 3,000 characters, you'd expect to encounter 4-5 new characters per page of modern Chinese text.

 

To get only 1 new character per page, you'd need to know 99.8% of all characters, which going by the above linked JunDa statistics, you'd requires 4,200-4,600 characters depending on the sort of content you are reading.

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happy_hyaena
9 hours ago, Xiao Kui said:

I have about 3000. I question the necessity of learning 3000 unless you are dead set on HSK 6. I think you can read quite a lot with 2000+ and there are diminishing returns after that (ie. you are learning characters/words you will seldom encounter unless you are regularly reading advanced level materials.)

 

55 minutes ago, imron said:

According the JunDa frequency list for modern Chinese text 3,000 characters will get you 99.1774201815% coverage of a text.

 

A typical Chinese novel has 500-600 characters per page, so with 3,000 characters, you'd expect to encounter 4-5 new characters per page of modern Chinese text.

 

To get only 1 new character per page, you'd need to know 99.8% of all characters, which going by the above linked JunDa statistics, you'd requires 4,200-4,600 characters depending on the sort of content you are reading.

 

People talk a lot about diminishing returns as you learn more and more characters/words but what they never mention is that once you're at that level in a language, you will be reading those lower frequency words at such a high speed that they don't really matter as much. By that I mean that if you are reading a page of 500-600 characters, those HSK1-5 words that you know by heart which cover 60%-70% of the text (or whatever) will only take up 20%-30% of the reading time. The remaining 70%-80% of the time will go into dealing with the low percenters - time spent wracking your brains, re-reading, guessing, looking up the word, etc.

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