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

How long- on average- does it take to memorize a single character?


Hong Wei Bing

Recommended Posts

  • New Members
Hong Wei Bing

How long- on average- does it take to memorize a single character? How much per day should I spend on a single individual radical or full character?

 

I'm getting ready to move to Xian and while I've gotten myself enrolled in Mandarin classes for when I arrive there, I wanna "get ahead" so I don't have as much of a language barrier as I did when I stayed 3 months there in 2015. I've picked up Intermediate Chinese (textbooks, workbooks, audio CD's, and professor's answer key) and started working on my 40 radicals for an hour a day. I'm, you know, "getting there" but I'm still struggling with brush stroke order and while I can be like "Hey, that character means xyz in English!" I'm having trouble remember how to say it in Mandarin. E.G. I can remember "土" means "earth" but can't see to retain that it's pronounced "tǔ." I had the same problem when I first went to China in 2015- could recognize the English meaning of characters but couldn't tell ya for the life of me how they were pronounced in Mandarin!

 

What's the best way I can memorize all 3 aspects of an individual character/radical as quickly as possible? When I've studied Arabic and Russian I can usually pick up the spelling, meaning, and pronunciation within a day, maybe a week at the most, but of course Mandarin's a horse of a different color.  I started making flashcards today, here's to hoping they can help a bit more. Tips n' tricks appreciated.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...
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.

  • New Members

If all you want to do is learn characters, just use Anki with one of the "most common characters" decks: https://ankiweb.net/shared/decks/chinese

 

There's no way to measure how long it takes to memorize a single character. It might be months or years depending on the character. But you can instead estimate how many characters you can learn per month/year (your "throughput").

 

And I'll also warn you that knowing characters is not the same as knowing words.

Link to post
Share on other sites
abcdefg
On 12/7/2019 at 2:33 AM, Hong Wei Bing said:

I'm getting ready to move to Xian and while I've gotten myself enrolled in Mandarin classes for when I arrive there, I wanna "get ahead" so I don't have as much of a language barrier as I did when I stayed 3 months there in 2015. I've picked up Intermediate Chinese (textbooks, workbooks, audio CD's, and professor's answer key) and started working on my 40 radicals for an hour a day.

 

If you want to get a jump on your move to Xian, I think there are much better ways to go about it. Memorizing how to recognize and write radicals and even individual characters is not an efficient use of your time, in my opinion. Not at this stage of the game. 

 

Learn some tourist phrases and become fluent with them instead. Buy a phrasebook or two. Try to find one which has the phrases spoken so you can train your ear as well. (Recordings or tapes.) Spend all your study time on things like that now. This will give you an immediate advantage. Save the more academic stuff for when you are there and have a teacher to help. 

 

"Where is the toilet?"

"How much does it cost?" 

"I need a taxi." 

 

Having the ability to communicate some, even at a rudimentary level, will let you get out among native people and interact. It will mean you can escape the "foreigner bubble" a little bit sooner. That is extremely important, at least from my point of view. 

 

I've seen people come of China with half a year's worth of radicals and a smattering of characters at their instant command and be frustrated to tears because of their inability to communicate. Don't make that mistake. 

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
Flickserve

Select a menu with some of your favoured food that will be available in china. 
 

Learn how to order them by saying the dish and writing them out by hand which will help with reading.
 

Learning 猪,鸡, 鱼,牛,豆腐,菜 ,饭 ,面包,will be very helpful as a start. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a very steep learning curve at the start, but once you've got maybe 500 characters under your belt, patterns will emerge and that curve will flatten out considerably. You'll go from chugging up a mountain pass to speeding across a desert.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
anonymoose

I agree with pretty much all the previous posters have said.

 

I would also add that learning radicals, in my opinion, is a waste of time. Whilst they do give clues to the meaning of characters, they are, after all, only clues, the utility of which does not justify the time investment in learning them. The thing is, as you learn characters, you will very quickly recognise the common components, and before you know it, you will know all the radicals anyway. Same goes for pinyin.

 

I think it is difficult to memorise the pronunciation and meaning of characters at the same time. If you can't I wouldn't worry about it. Learning is a gradual process. You won't retain everything the first time you learn a new character anyway. After lots of repetition, all the parts will eventually come together. The key is just to practice and revise frequently.

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...