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

Larry Language Lover

Simplified and Traditional Characters?

Recommended Posts

Larry Language Lover

What are your recommendations for someone learning simplified characters who has decided to also learn traditional characters?  From your experience,  is it better to get really good at simplified first and then start with traditional or recognizing many simplified characters already (maybe toward HSK 3), go ahead and add traditional as well?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Weyland

Why not both?  - Why not both?   Why not both

Seriously though; there are two paths.
1. Study both at the same time, which is great for giving yourself more practice when it counts. But, might slow down your speed of progress (because you're practicing more).
2. Studying either one later because you want to consume "insert media here". Which will be more frustrating as you'll have to look up characters you're already familiar with. But, which might be more gratifying as you're finally properly immersing yourself in the characters as opposed to preparing yourself for a "potential scenario" like in path 1.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shelley

I asked this some while ago here https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/52057-going-from-simplified-to-traditional/

 

Short answer is: Its not that difficult to do both, once you get your eye in for the differences it will be easy peasy. A lot of the differences are as simple as the radical going from 讠 to  訁so its a simple matter of just replacing them whenever you see them.

 

They are not all so simple but so many are that its not a problem. 

 

I made the decision to concentrate on writing simplified but being able recognise and read traditional. I think for me this is a happy medium.

 

The Defrancis series has the first 15 lessons (IIRC its 15 )in simplified as well as traditional, a good way to compare and see just what sort of differences there are.

 

Its fun, enjoy.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jan Finster

For someone like me, who struggles with simplified characters quite a lot, learning  traditional characters on top of that would be the straw that breaks my back. If at some point I were super-duper comfortable with simplified characters, I would probably use something like TheChaiMansBao, which lets you switch from "s to t" and vice versa. So you can read the text simplified first and then re-read it in traditional.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
amytheorangutan

I'm doing both not because I wanted to but because I had set my mind on traditional but most teachers are using simplified and I went to classes that use HSK books. Honestly after a while I got a bit confused so I just try to get by with simplified but all my reading and exercises that I do outside of class I do in traditional. If I had a choice I would have liked to study one until I'm extremely comfortable with it before switching to the other. I heard from a few people that once your reading ability is at a high level in one it would not take long at all to switch.

 

My problem with starting since low level is that sometimes when I'm encountering new characters in simplified, my mind would get confused and think is this just a character I knew in traditional that has been simplified or a genuine new character. Saying that, I don't think it's a crazy struggle to learn both, my brain just likes to focus on one thing at a time. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Beelzebro

I started with simplified until ~HSK5, then added traditional too. It did take a while for me to become fully comfortable with the latter (not because it's harder but just because it was different from what I was used to), but it's definitely worth doing. I do think it's better to focus primarily on one system until you get to a decent level (~HSK5) with it. That's not to say you can't dabble in the opposing set, maybe learn some of the most common characters that differ between the two sets etc, just that the bulk of your time should still be spent on the set you started with.

 

I'm at a point now where I'm comfortable with either set and it's nice to be able to read everything. I find myself more interested in Taiwanese media, internet etc and my gf is Taiwanese so naturally these days I'm mostly exposed to traditional characters.

  • Like 1
  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jannesan
1 hour ago, Beelzebro said:

 

I started with simplified until ~HSK5, then added traditional too.

 

 

May I ask how you added them to your study routine? I'm in a similar position to you, feel more interested in Taiwanese media and also planning to go to Taiwan for a while in a couple of years.

 

For now I'm still waiting to get started with traditional, but already trying to work out how exactly I will go about adding them to my study/reading routine.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
feihong

I was in a situation where I focused on simplified, but a lot of my reading material was in traditional (translated manga). I did two things:

 

- Make sure to know the radicals well enough that I could see each character as a collection of radicals rather than a series of strokes.
- Did not bother with traditional characters until I was at a high enough level to read relatively easy manga. And even then, did not actively drill traditional characters in my flashcards until later.

 

Eventually I switched over to having all my flashcards be in traditional. In an ideal world, I would’ve started in traditional from the outset, but at the lower levels my learning materials were mostly in simplified (in-person instruction, ChinesePod, video games).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shelley
45 minutes ago, jannesan said:

May I ask how you added them to your study routine

 

The way I added them was through Pleco. Pleco shows you both (if there are both) for each entry. So when I add a new card to my study list I learn to write the simplified but also acknowledge the differences and learn those too, but spend most of my time practising simplified. 

 

You can learn both at the same time with Pleco.

 

When you learn one change it is often applied across the board to many characters and so you learn more than just one character. As I mentioned in my earlier post - A lot of the differences are as simple as the radical going from 讠 to  訁so its a simple matter of just replacing them whenever you see them.

  • Like 1
  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Beelzebro
1 hour ago, jannesan said:

May I ask how you added them to your study routine?

 

I basically learned all the transformations of common radicals, then went through the most common few hundred traditional characters and made sure I learned any that were structurally different from the simplified versions. After that it was just a matter of reading some short stories or internet articles in traditional characters and gradually increasing my comfort level/reading speed. 

 

The reason most people say to learn one character set well before adding the other is because beyond the first several hundred most common characters, the simplified and traditional sets only really differ in terms of radicals which are strict transforms and therefore small in number and easy to remember. So if you already know for example 3000 simplified characters, learning a few hundred new traditional variants and perhaps ~100 radicals is not a big deal. But if your pre-existing knowledge is only like 500 simplified characters, then it will seem like a huge task to have to roughly double that knowledge just to get to the same level with traditional. And also, you're far more likely to get confused between the two sets and with new characters you don't recognise, because your character knowledge isn't strong enough yet.

 

So basically, the better you know one set, the easier it is to learn the other set. So in that sense postponing it is a good idea. On the other hand, the trade off is that you also delay your ability to start consuming Taiwanese media. If you would like me to suggest a specific number, I'd say make sure you know an absolute minimum of 1000 simplified characters first.

  • Like 1
  • Helpful 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Larry Language Lover

Thanks guys,  I'm really appreciating your input.   Even though I'm learning simplified,  my biggest Chinese connection right now is a Taiwanese fellow.  Even though he is helping me with simplified,  because of him I feel a real pull towards traditional.   I've had such positive experiences with people from Taiwan.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Beelzebro

For sure! I've got some awesome Chinese friends too and enjoyed the time I spent there, but I think Taiwan is really where my heart lies. Such a chilled place and the people are so kind.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Takeshi

I'd say just don't particularly worry about it, and learn whatever you need to use at the moment.

 

I started off learning traditional in high school and university, then I went on exchange to mainland China where we used simplified, then later moved to HK where I mainly used traditional (but still use simplified for mainland-related things).

 

The transitions weren't particularly challenging for me. When I first got to China, I had to catch up on simplified a bit, and after a while I had this funny phase where I had a stronger background in traditional, but only learnt new words etc in simplified, so I wasn't able to use 100% of my vocabulary in either simplified or traditional (because there were lots of words where I only know the traditional or only knew the simplified), but I didn't really fuss about it and after a while it all just came together and I could do both fine.

 

If you ask me now, I'd say I probably prefer reading traditional, but probably prefer writing simplified (for obvious reasons). But I'm fine with both. In my everyday life I probably use about 80% traditional and 20% simplified.

  • Like 1

Share this post


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...