How to Learn Chinese Characters

A Novice's Guide on How to Effectively Learn Chinese Characters

Chinese as a language has the most extensive script ever. An inane amount of characters could definitely drive you to confusion. Why not take a proper look at these Chinese characters, and maybe it'll lessen the confusion.
Penlighten Staff
Last Updated: Mar 10, 2018
If you take a good look into the subject, you will realize that even the authorities have acknowledged the fact that Mandarin is the toughest language in the world to achieve mastery over. It makes it this tough mainly because this language works with characters, as opposed to the alphabets that other languages resort to. Let's face it, 4,000 characters or more is no joke to learn. What's more is they are all about a certain intricacy. While it may seem hard to decipher or understand initially, upon close study you will realize it isn't quite such a task. If a fifth of the world's total population speaks it, there definitely must be more to it, right? When looking at how to learn any language, what you need is absolute patience and a natural flair for it. Without these two qualities, it could get a little excruciating. How about working with Chinese today? Without further ado, let us understand the technique.

Learning Chinese Characters

❏ Now along with the spoken part of it, you must also learn to write Chinese characters, or the language would render almost useless. The official language spoken in China and Taiwan, there are roughly twelve regional dialects of the language, some of the more commonly known ones being Mandarin, Cantonese, and Min.

❏ Chinese as a language is built up entirely with characters called hànzi. One of the best ways to get started with learning how to work the characters is by taking classes or lessons that teach Chinese calligraphy. Doing so will help you get a hang of the script. The fact that most people find the language a difficult one, is no surprise, but if a close look is taken at it, it is surprisingly more logical and easier to remember, than expected. It is equally important to remember that the best way to work around learning any language is by reading and writing at every opportunity that you get.

❏ Another good way to learn the language is by memorizing the characters in a manner like maybe relating each character to a certain mental image, which will help you recollect the characters as and when you need to. There is also the option of using the multitude of books that are available these days. Series which work around the concept of "learn at home", and the likes of it are yet another option to resort to. Old study methods, like the ones we must have used when a lot younger, are also a great way t work. What I mean here is flashcards. Nothing quite like the good old techniques.

❏ Other creative and definitely fun methods that could help serve your purpose would also be that of watching movies with Chinese subtitles, or if you feel like you wouldn't be able to cope with that, work on your own version of something like a word association game (in this case character association), and memorize every character before writing it at least twice so as to be able to remember it for a long time to come. Resorting to fun methods like these will help keep the boredom away when memorizing so many characters at a time too.

The above mentioned would definitely qualify as the most practical methods when you try to understand the Chinese characters. If you do know somebody who can give you some spoken practice too, do not hesitate to use the opportunity. After all, it is the best way to get used to any new language. Also, the classic method of using a dictionary at every step of the way seems like a fine idea. You will notice that the more you work at it, you will find a certain pattern that follows, and upon immense practice, it will get easier for sure. Try the suggested methods, and there's no way that you will not be a master of the language, just make sure you have the patience it takes, and that you do not give up.
Chinese dictionary
Woman writing Chinese characters