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TheWind

How useful do you think handwriting is (手写)?

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TheWind

Just curious to learn the thoughts of others on handwriting characters. 

 

I personally stopped practicing writing after the first year of study.   I figure(d) , how often will I honestly need to hand write something in my day to day life in Chinese?   If the situation occurred, phones and computers are everywhere. 

 

Occasionally however, i will consider picking it up again. Generally speaking though, unless you work as a translator, or some job that requires it, I don't really see the benefits of writing from the additional amount of hours needed to become well versed in this aspect of the language

 

who knows, maybe I'm over looking something. 

 

note: i can read and type Chinese.

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889

The point is, if you regard yourself as moderately fluent in Chinese and spend enough time in Chinese society, there's going to come a time or two when you need to fill out a form, write out a CV etc in Chinese. Sometimes people just slyly want to test the foreigner, as well: it's Chinese New Year and you're invited to pick up a brush and write a 春联. Anyway, it can be a big personal let-down if you fail the test.

 

Of course, if you don'f have any pretensions about your Chinese, this isn't a problem.

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feihong

For some people, knowing how to write is quite useful for mnemonic reasons. If you have trouble remembering a specific character or word, it might help to add a flashcard to your deck that challenges you to write it out.

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Dlezcano

I love handwriting. I always take notes of everything in Chinese, and I have realized that my calligraphy has improved greatly within years. Personally I think it is very important to be capable to write characters with a pen, because sooner or later you will encounter situations where you have to use it. On the other hand, your competence recognizing and learning new characters will improve greatly if you can write a good amount of them since you will understand the structure of Chinese writing much better. In my opinion, stating that handwriting is not important is 掩耳盗铃.

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vellocet

Heck, I don't even handwrite in English any more.  

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mungouk

At first I was using Skritter and focusing on radicals (which I later decided wasn't helpful).  Then working on writing the characters I was supposed to know for HSK 2.

 

I found this way too slow for learning the vocab I needed for HSK 3, so I stopped working on writing strokes and concentrated on recognising/reading characters.  As others have noted, we mostly type these days and obviously for Chinese this means entering something like pinyin.

 

I still think I've lost something though... I've tried to go back to writing characters recently, this time using TOFULearn because it's free.  I was hoping that learning to write the strokes would help in the recall of characters because of using the kinaesthetic modality (or "muscle memory" if you prefer), and it probably does.   But again it feels like its slowing me down because I'm trying to keep up with my lessons and the chapters in my textbook.

 

To answer the question, I think it's helpful and important, but I'm still struggling with how I fit it into my learning regime when it slows everything down so much.

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mungouk
11 hours ago, 889 said:

there's going to come a time or two when you need to fill out a form, write out a CV etc in Chinese

 

Yes, and this of course.  

 

When I had to leave someone a note on a Post-It recently, and the best I could do was to copy out the characters after typing them on my phone, I felt pretty unhappy with what I could produce.

 


 

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TheWind
12 hours ago, 889 said:

if you regard yourself as moderately fluent in Chinese and spend enough time in Chinese society, there's going to come a time or two when you need to fill out a form, write out a CV etc in Chinese

in total I've spent about 5 years in China, 4 actually practicing the language. Mostly in smaller cities so I was forced to use the language -  I've yet to run into such a situation.

 

 

12 hours ago, Dlezcano said:

your competence recognizing and learning new characters will improve greatly if you can write a good amount

yeah, this is definitely a benefit.  sometimes I find myself getting confused between 2 characters that sound similar. This would be a good reason to learn.  

 

12 hours ago, Dlezcano said:

I have realized that my calligraphy has improved greatly within years.

I'm personally not too interested in calligraphy but I understand the use of writing in such a situation. 

 

1 hour ago, mungouk said:

it feels like its slowing me down because I'm trying to keep up with my lessons and the chapters in my textbook.

yeah, i have similar feelings.  I could learn 3 chapters worth of words in the time it would take me to learn how to write 1 chapters worth, as an example.

1 hour ago, mungouk said:

When I had to leave someone a note on a Post-It

another situation I've never run into due to the advancement of modern technology.  I'd probably just text the person or give them a call 

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Jim

I had to fill in consent forms only recently and there's been at least three instances in the past year where handwritten forms were pretty important, setting aside the more minor stuff like signing back into the village just today. Definitely something you do encounter if you're living largely integrated into Chinese society - health system and so forth. 

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TheWind
2 hours ago, imron said:

which is a useful skill to have.

that's true, reading characters in a book is signicantly easier than reading your teachers handwriting

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arreke
On 2/1/2020 at 8:55 PM, TheWind said:

I personally stopped practicing writing after the first year of study.

 

One way to remember characters while typing is by replacing 拼音输入法 with 笔画 on mobile phone and 五笔 on PC.

I learned 五笔 from my old coworkers who started working in IT industry long before 拼音输入法 started to become popular, at that time 五笔 was popular, so they mastered it and stuck to it. It is hard to learn 五笔 at the very beginning, especially for a foreigner, but once you master it you will type Chinese almost as fast as you do it with 拼音。

The main difference is you will think in 汉子 when you type, not in 拼音, so basically to be able to type Chinese character you have to remember what radicals or strokes it is made of.

Of course it is not the same as handwriting, but it definitely helps a lot to remember the characters.

 

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anonymoose

To a certain extent, I sympathise with the argument that hand-writing has become less relevant in modern society with the emergence of new technologies. However, this depends a lot on what your role in society is.

 

I accept that as a foreigner, your need to handwrite Chinese is very limited. For an English teacher living in China (who barely even needs to understand Chinese to survive), clearly there will be little call for writing in Chinese (and the employer will usually provide help for those occasions that require it). On the other hand, if you are a student on a Chinese course in university, handwriting is indispensable. Even if you take notes on a computer (which only a minority of students do, and to me seems cumbersome), as far as I know, no institutions allow exams to be taken on computer (save for specific courses involving computing).

 

No one can say that handwriting is completely redundant. The question is just whether the cost of acquiring this skill is justified by the amount that it will be used, which obviously depends on each person's individual circumstances. You have to make this choice for yourself. For me, I could not have got to where I am without being able to handwrite in Chinese. And incidentally, I still handwrite in English on a more or less daily basis.

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imron
6 hours ago, arreke said:

is by replacing 拼音输入法 with 笔画 on mobile phone

A better idea would be to replace pinyin with handwriting input.  I've never liked 笔画, it's far too cumbersome.  I am however also a big fan of 五笔 on the PC, and think foreign learners should learn this (or Cangjie) once they have a large enough base of characters to work from, because it helps you break down and remember characters by their component parts, and makes you think in characters when typing.

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TheWind
1 hour ago, arreke said:

One way to remember characters while typing is by replacing 拼音输入法 with 笔画 on mobile phone and 五笔 on PC

never really thought about this, but it makes a lot of sense considering how much I text in Chinese

 

What's the difference between 五笔 & 笔画?I usually just use 拼音 for both PC & mobile devices

14 minutes ago, imron said:

A better idea would be to replace pinyin with handwriting input

isn't 笔画 the same as handwritten input? 

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arreke
1 hour ago, TheWind said:

 

What's the difference between 五笔 & 笔画?I usually just use 拼音 for both PC & mobile devices


五笔 is based on the structure of characters, because it requires many buttons on the keyboard, it is more suitable for PC :

649772613_ScreenShot2020-02-03at16_24_35.thumb.png.2cf67df53bd0748aeb04afff557299d5.png

 

笔画 is based on stokes, only 5 strokes required to type any character, because it takes only 5 buttons on the keyboard, it is suitable for mobile phones :

IMG_20200203_162039.thumb.jpg.feee7af35b42f8df18811d72820dec62.jpg

 

3 hours ago, TheWind said:

isn't 笔画 the same as handwritten input?

 

I am not sure, but I think handwriting input is called 手写

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imron
1 hour ago, arreke said:

it is suitable for mobile phones :

Back in the day when mobile phones had a keypad and no touch screens.  With the prevalence of capacitive touch screens, it's mostly a historical relic now.

 

4 hours ago, TheWind said:

isn't 笔画 the same as handwritten input?

No.  The link @arreke posted above describes the system in detail.

 

@arreke if that's a screenshot from your computer, I would highly recommend switching from the default macOS Wubi Xing to 清歌输入法.

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TheWind

I just switched my mobile input to handwritten - it takes much longer to type/write things at the moment but I can see how I could quickly become accustomed to this. 

 

 

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imron
10 minutes ago, TheWind said:

it takes much longer to type/write things at the moment

Like everything, it is slow and awkward when you first try it, but the more you practice it, the better you'll get.

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mungouk
7 hours ago, imron said:

A better idea would be to replace pinyin with handwriting input. 

 

This is a good tip... it nudged me to finally get around to buying the full-screen handwriting recognition add-on for Pleco. 

 

(The standard one built into iOS is way too small to be useful, at least with my fingers.)

 

I guess I should wean myself off using Pleco's OCR features now, wonderful though they are.

 

 

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