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xuechengfeng

How important do you consider writing for a foreigner?

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Lu

I understand foreigners concentrating on learning to speak and understand, and then maybe read, and don't think it's important to learn how to write. It's true that nowadays you usually don't need to write much by hand. You can get around in China quite well without learning. But still, this means you basically make yourself an illiterate in a language.

Chinese people will, I think (and hope), continue to learn to write by hand. Even if many people start forgetting characters later on because they only write by computer, you can't just make an entire written language depend on computers.

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wiley

For everyday communication, writing is probably not that important.

If native-level communication is a goal, however, then I'd say the knowledge you gain by writing is critical. Writing is also a huge boon for reading, when you can start to break characters down by radicals. I usually feel like I have totally mastered a word when I can write it.

What helped me turn the corner in writing was starting to use Wenlin on a daily basis. My favorite aspect of the program is the ability to look at all characters that have a given radical. It also gives you a lot of incidental information about each character's history. It was so much easier to remember characters when I had a little more context in which to place them. Instead of geometric squiggles they became animated...uh...characters almost with personalities and little histories.

Anyway, my mantra for learning chinese in general and written chinese in specific (if you have no chinese background) is to get as much "context" as possible. That means watch movies, read history, current events, and definitely get wenlin. That way when you learn a new character or word it potentially has some other piece of information to "stick" to.

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atitarev

I can say many times - writing is important and I want to be able to write by hand but it's SO time-consuming when you work, have a family, other things and still try to fit regular Chinese studies. My hand-written Chinese is so much behind and ad-hoc writing spates, where I copy a few pages don't really help. I am sacrificing my writing skills for other skills I need when learning Chinese in the hope I can catch up later :(

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rose~

I am not sure I would agree about how essential Wenlin is. I think most of the features are available more cheaply or for free elsewhere, for example the features of the text editor are all available with Word nowadays. Handwriting recognition comes with Windows IME.

A way of looking at characters by silmilar radical can be found in :Chinese Characters: A Genealogy and Dictionary. for 20 USD.

-Animated characters are available here:

bluetec.com

estroke costs 23 USD.

-Reading a text with pop-up hints is available for free from:

Adsotrans

Popjisyo.

-Flashcards are available from:

flashcardexchange

Yellowbridge

Chinapage.com

Adsotrans Vocab

-Reading texts are available from NewsinChinese.com (News)

Oneaday.org (成語)

http://ipl.si.umich.edu/div/subject/browse/hum60.60.60/

-English-Chinese dictionary

tigernt.com

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs.cmu.edu/user/mjchan/www/clookup.html

-Chinese-English dictionary

zhongwen.com

Lin Yutang's dictionary

-Character etymology

http://www.internationalscientific.org/chin_home.aspx

That means watch movies, read history, current events, and definitely get wenlin.

Also, I myself need to work on my written Chinese and I don't think Wenlin would help beyond helping my reading comprehension as it is computer-based.

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gato

I agree that Wenlin is not so essential today because of all free software that's available today, which weren't available when Wenlin first came out. I would say that PlecoDict on the Palm/PocketPC is a much more essential investment than Wenlin. Its features are not available from anywhere else. I use it both as dictionary and as a flashcard system for learning new words and practicing writing words I already recognize. Having something so portable and yet so powerful is invaluable. For example, I often turn on the PlecoDict flashcards whenever I have a long cab ride. I now use PlecoDict much more frequently than I use Wenlin.

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got_no_jaffas

i've decided to cut down on writing hanzi & concentrate on speaking which means to concentrate on pinyin, also i use a computer to write as well so i need the pinyin. in my beginners class at blcu there are some foriegn students who are good at writing & reading, the 2 go hand in hand, but still can't order food in a restaurant & their spoken is so bad even the teachers have a hard time understanding their chinese!!

i can learn to write on my own back in london, but here in china i should use the opportunity to speak & hear as much as possible. when that is a good stage, then i think i will look into writing.

i had an argument with another foreign student about writing hanzi, his opinion was to do business in china you need to write. my argument was, if i was doing business in china, my secretary or personal assistant would be doing the writing! let's face it, when we foriegners write hanzi, it is rubbish!!

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Long Zhiren

It also depends on how much business and correspondance you want/need to do.

I write letters to Hong Kong and Taiwan every now and then. I often write (er um type) in Chinese especially if the recipient doesn't understand English well. Talking over the phone doesn't work if it's a Cantonese speaker; we don't have a common spoken language; and the correspondance is quite detailed. I type because it's faster and I can edit stuff easier. When I address envelopes, it's bilingual to ensure it gets to the right place and so that the postal workers on both sides of the ocean can figure out where it's going.

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charlescpp

But, studies have shown that less than 40% of American college graduates aren't literate enough to understand a newspaper editorial.

Really? What kind of newspaper 60% of them can't understand? To know the exact meaning of every words orjust know the general idea?

I rememberd I learned many many characters in primary school but much fewer in middle school. These characters learned in middle school and high school are not often used, even some of which I have never seen. So, I think a chinese high school student are able to read newspaper definatly, except some rare used characters in person's or place's names.

You may be suprise that i'm talking about characters, not words. Yes, but in chinese people's views, whether one can understand newspaper or novells, depends on how many characters he learned. I guess it's very different from westerns' thought.

Sorry for my bad English. I hope you can understand me. :)

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mandarinstudent
But, studies have shown that less than 40% of American college graduates aren't literate enough to understand a newspaper editorial.

Ok, I think Im going to have to call, "bullshit" on this one. I'm an American college graduate and I have yet to meet another college graduate that couldn't read and understand a newspaper editorial. What kind of newspaper are they using in those studies, "Quantum Physics Weekly"? I think that pretty close to 100% of college graduates are able to understand a normal newspaper editorial.

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Josh-J
Ok, I think Im going to have to call, "bullshit" on this one.
Really? What kind of newspaper 60% of them can't understand?
But, studies have shown that less than 40% of American college graduates aren't literate enough to understand a newspaper editorial.

Less than 40% are not literate enough... so in other words more than 60% are literate enough. More than 60% could even be 100%. I'm not sure exactly what the point of this is, but its not saying that only 40% can understand a newspaper article, or even that 40% can't.

(this is confusing me now...)

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mandarinstudent
Less than 40% are not literate enough... so in other words more than 60% are literate enough. More than 60% could even be 100%. I'm not sure exactly what the point of this is, but its not saying that only 40% can understand a newspaper article, or even that 40% can't.

Well, based on the tone of the post, Im assuming that the person who posted this made a typo. He/she probably meant to say something like, "Less than 40% are literate enough...," or, "Only 40% are literate enough..." Whatever the percentage is, I'm pretty sure that it is wrong. I don't know any college graduates that can't read a newspaper...:roll:

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Josh-J
Well, based on the tone of the post, Im assuming that the person who posted this made a typo.

Heh, I assumed that because 40% literacy is so low that it isn't a typo. What did you mean, wushijiao? :)

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wushijiao

As far as the 40% aren’t literate enough statistic, I read that somewhere and it very well could be wrong. That stat may very well be BS. After all, the education industry, as with any other industry, has an interest to produce statistics that will make it seem urgent that they need funding. Here is an article I found on Google, talking about the problem (whether it is true r invented):

http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2006-01-19-college-tasks_x.htm

In any case, my point was that cultural literacy is an issue in understanding more complex forms of written English. Personally, I think cultural literacy is even a more important issue in Chinese, mainly because written Chinese has a more historical depth, and classical written Chinese is hard to understand without prior background knowledge and is terse in form.

Of course, this doesn’t have much to do with the original debate about whether or not to learn how to write. It's my fault for getting us off topic! :oops:

I’ve been thinking of switching to a cell phone that will allow me to write characters by hand. Maybe if I write most Chinese texts by hand, my writing will improve. I think the more one writes, the more one's ability to read handwriting improves as well.

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flameproof
"Only 40% are literate enough..."

I guess the students were give spanish newspapers....

But coming back to the topic of: "How important do you consider writing for a foreigner?"

My answer is: very important! In English that is. Writing in Chinese is not important at all. Reading could be usefull, but you still get wonderfull around with reading skills. And for those few which can write, I wonder if their skill is much use in business communication. And while we talk about business communication, who does actually 'write'? We all use PCs and type. And that's far easier then doing handwriting.

Even speaking becomes less important as more and more Chinese are able to communicate in English. And a tourist getting stuck somewhere will usually find a helpfull local to bail him out.

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Quest

flameproof, if that's the case, why learn Chinese? English is all one needs to know.

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rose~

After thinking about this question some more, I realised that apart from my own laziness in not putting in more effort into learning to write, also, I have never actually been taught writing, either. All my classes over the years have focussed on comprehension and speaking to the exclusion of writing.

For example, I studied at BLCU and we never had writing lessons there. We studied listening, speaking, reading and one other with a strange name which I have forgotten. And the situation was the same at University at home. We requested writing lessons, but they said it would be too expensive to teach.

If anyone knows of a very capable teacher in Shanghai who could teach me writing then please let me know. They would have to be really excellent, as every time I have started with a new teacher in different places I have lived in, I have told them I need to learn to write but it has never worked out. I think it needs an exceptional teacher, and one who would not fall back on the easy route of reading comprehension.

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skylee
For example, I studied at BLCU and we never had writing lessons there. We studied listening, speaking, reading and one other with a strange name which I have forgotten.

And even at exams you didn't need to write in chinese characters? And that was a university?

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rose~

Yes, we had to read but not write. Questions were multiple choice where you tick a box. (I didn't study for my degree there, by the way).

I would be writing my vocabulay down through the classes, but still, it does not teach you how to actually write a composition, structures and so on.

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flameproof

>why learn Chinese?

Why not? Why eat an apple and not an orange? There can be all sort of reasons. Talking about writing, one should not forget that Mandarin reading and writing is a MAJOR effort. A 6 week course with writing will not bring you very far. I assume (I might be wrong) that a business communication will take at least a year of intensive study. And for what? You will not get higher paid.

I look at characters, but more out of interested and not with the target to master them one day, which I know, will not happen.

OK, I admit, for those (like me) who take busses on a regular basis it's a major advantange to recognize destination names.

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Jake Perry

ten zì that sound the same

are way easier to deal with

than one pinyin syllable

that means ten different things.

humans are visual learners

a picture is worth alot of words.

just practice on your own

十 字 a week add up. fast.

off topic...

finding a topic on this site is HARD

i need a mac version of the XP IME

but the search function here only uses

search terms separately, not together.

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