Chinese|March 21, 2011 5:03 am

Learning Chinese Characters: 3 Essential Tips for Mastering Hanzi

Mt. Emei, Sichuan Province China

The degrees of success people have when studying Chinese characters depends largely on how they structure their learning. When learning Chinese characters, it is imperative that you break everything down into individual components. This article is going to describe three important components you must understand to have a successful learning experience. Click Here to visit a great Chinese Language Course that has helped nearly 1,000,000 people become Chinese language speakers.

Understand Radicals

To beginning learners, each of the thousands of Chinese characters seems to be unique and different. This, however, is not the case. Most characters are, in fact, compilations of recycled parts, parts that can be recognized and simplified. These reoccurring parts are called radicals. Radicals are categories of thought developed by the ancient Chinese to describe the physical world around them. While some characters are radicals alone, most modern Chinese characters are a combination of a radical and a phonetic component. According to the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press in Beijing, there are 189 radicals used to organize Chinese Characters, fifty of which are thought to be essential for understanding basic communication with Chinese characters. Get to know these Chinese radicals, and you will open a floodgate of progress and understanding.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

This is old news, so to speak, in the education field—it doesn’t matter if you’re learning Chinese characters or Chilean cooking. The piece of advice is worth repeating here, however, because it is so important, yet so often ignored. If you fall into a pattern of sitting down, learning lots of characters, and then putting your book away for a week or two, you are going to be disappointed with your progress. Eventually, you will become frustrated and give up studying altogether. If you learn a few characters every day, on the other hand, without skipping days, you will slowly but surely begin to see the patterns inherent in Chinese characters. You will begin to see how the radicals work, how they repeat, and how you can use them to group and categorize characters based on their meanings. This type of understanding will only come to you if you work slowly and consistently, so do yourself a favor and be the tortoise, not the hare.

Write to Read

As stated above, Chinese characters are made up of individual components, as well as strokes. In order to understand the meaning of the characters, you need to be able to identify its components. For this reason, it is imperative that you practice writing the characters, even if your end goal is to be able to, for example, read a Chinese newspaper.

To learn how to write Chinese characters, you need to get a book; online programs are generally lacking when it comes to teaching writing skills. Make sure you get a book that explains, in detail, the eight basic strokes used to create Chinese characters. Be sure that it also explains the proper order in which the strokes are to be written. Finally, when practicing how to write the characters, use paper specifically designed for those learning Chinese characters—it has quadrants that aid you in writing correctly.

Final Thoughts

Learning Chinese characters can be an interesting and fun learning adventure, or it can be a lesson in frustration and failure. To ensure that you have an enjoyable and productive learning experience, make sure that you obtain a good understanding of Chinese radicals, learn at a slow and steady pace, and get lots of writing practice. Click Here to visit a great Chinese Language Course that has helped nearly 1,000,000 people become Chinese language speakers.

Good luck with this and all of your future learning endeavors.

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