Jump to content
linguaholic

Studying Chinese Characters // Study Approach // Methods // Techniques

Recommended Posts

How do you learn/memorize Chinese Characters / Study Methods of Chinese Characters

There are of course several ways of Studying Chinese characters. Maybe the most common way is to simply write down the characters over and over again until you memorize them. I would call this the „classical approach“. Another method, formerly introduced by Dr. W Heisig, is memorising the characters with help of a so called „imaginative memory“. Each Chinese Character and each radical are associated with a keyword A Chinese Characters written form and its keyword are associated by imagining a scene or story connecting the meaning of the given character with the meanings of all the primitives/radicals used to write the Chinese character.

This method requires that the student needs to invent his very own stories to associate the keyword meaning wit the character in written form. However, at the beginning of his book „Remembering the Hanzi“, the stories are already made (to give you a good start). At a later stage, you will need to invent your own stories though.

It is indeed a very interesting approach and I used this method a few years ago to learn 800 Hanzi. I was able to memorize all of them in just 3 weeks. However, a few month later I forgot most of the characters and I got sick of making up stories. Still, I do believe that this method can work out fine and it was, especially at the beginning, a lot of fun :=)

PS: Of course, when using the „classical approach“, you might want to study all the radicals first. This will help you a lot to understand the „construction“ and the meaning of the characters. Also it will help you to memorise the written form (it’s logical; all the characters include radicals).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess method of studying a language is almost all same, it's just learning and practicing, the more you learn, the more you know. The more you practice, the more fluent you become.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember when I used to learn Chinese, I would try to recognize the characters while walking on the streets (it was easier since I was in China). I would apply whatever I learnt in my daily life. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know, I learnt them by making up stories to remember as well. There are some good books on the market for learning hanzi or kanji by this method. For example, in the book I read, the Chinese word for "every", 每 was made up of "man" 人 standing on top of "mother" 母. Imagine the "man" standing on top of "mother" and then the "mother" squishes him upwards so that his left leg extends in a straight horizontal line. What this means is, "every man has a mother to support him and mould him". Hence, 每 for "every" or "mei".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember one of our Chinese teachers use to teach us tricks for remembering chinese characters. I'd like share one among all the tricks she showed us: look at the character 大 which means big in chinese. So, imagine a man standing spreading his arms and legs on both sides trying to be big.

Another example is the character 男 denoting male so imagine a man extending his hand for to shake hands!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The character for man (male) 男 is really easy to remember because it basically shows a field (the square with the cross in it and the part above which is 力 and stands for power, strength. So combined it shows a field and the attribute strenth/power, which of course is referring back to the time when men (mostly, but not only of course) had to work hard out in the fields.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't really have any technique on memorizing how to read and write Chinese characters, but I think it really helps to turn on Chinese subtitles when you're watching Chinese movies. You will slowly be able to remember those characters that keep popping up.

As for writing, I strongly recommend getting one of those Chinese character notebooks with the squares. Those are really helpful in making my characters straight and with those notebooks, you will notice your mistakes faster because everything is so aligned.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to suggest another completely different method now. This method is really quite ingenious and can get you learning more Chinese characters and words and even expressions faster than anything. It's also very devious and you need to prepare yourself for some of the possible side-effects. 

The method itself is quite simple to implement. It involves changing the language settings on your computer over to Mandarin and let the fun begin! This can also be a good time to learn how to swear properly in Chinese. Yet another level of complexity is added when someone else does this for you in such a way that you cannot figure out how to switch it back!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 14/7/2013, 2:17:50, linguaholic said:

How do you learn/memorize Chinese Characters / Study Methods of Chinese Characters

 

There are of course several ways of Studying Chinese characters. Maybe the most common way is to simply write down the characters over and over again until you memorize them. I would call this the „classical approach“. Another method, formerly introduced by Dr. W Heisig, is memorising the characters with help of a so called „imaginative memory“. Each Chinese Character and each radical are associated with a keyword A Chinese Characters written form and its keyword are associated by imagining a scene or story connecting the meaning of the given character with the meanings of all the primitives/radicals used to write the Chinese character.

 

This method requires that the student needs to invent his very own stories to associate the keyword meaning wit the character in written form. However, at the beginning of his book „Remembering the Hanzi“, the stories are already made (to give you a good start). At a later stage, you will need to invent your own stories though.

 

It is indeed a very interesting approach and I used this method a few years ago to learn 800 Hanzi. I was able to memorize all of them in just 3 weeks. However, a few month later I forgot most of the characters and I got sick of making up stories. Still, I do believe that this method can work out fine and it was, especially at the beginning, a lot of fun :=)

 

PS: Of course, when using the „classical approach“, you might want to study all the radicals first. This will help you a lot to understand the „construction“ and the meaning of the characters. Also it will help you to memorise the written form (it’s logical; all the characters include radicals).

I sometimes get bored writing them down. To test my mastery, I'm taking a chinese article from the internet and encircle all familiar characters that I recognized. Is it really important to write characters, step by step? My chinese tutor told me to write it in a more convenient way as following the radicals could be confusing and more difficult. Is there a hidden reason for following the radicals? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A Very Simple Way to Learn and Memorize Chinese Characters.

The easiest and a very simple way to learn and memorize Chinese characters is to learn Chinese radicals and Chinese character  decomposition!

Decomposition of the Chinese character  shuǐ ‘water’  

jué hook

丿 piě slash

zhǔ dot      

  shuǐ ‘water’         

亅丿丶

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   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.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...