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6 Best Ways to Learn Chinese Characters

Are you looking for the fastest and most efficient way of learning Chinese characters? The Chinese characters are like the building blocks when you’re learning Mandarin. Though the Chinese characters can be accumulated, for the time being, it could be quite annoying if you can’t master them adequately from the beginning of your Mandarin learning. In today’s post, I will share the 6 best ways to learn Chinese characters for you.

Way 1 learning the building blocks of Chinese characters – radicals and components

Chinese characters are about a simple drawing of strokes; it consists of different radicals and components. It’s just like permutations. When combining different radicals and components, you could form a new Character. And once you have known all the radicals, which are around 200 in total, you would have a solid foundation for breaking down any character you may encounter.

To master radicals well, you don’t have to learn their pronunciation but should focus more on their appearance and written patterns and meanings. Your ability to recognize Chinese characters will become fairly straightforward after having learned the most commonly used radicals.

As to components, most characters have both semantic (meaning) and sound (phonetic) components. Based on this rule, you can learn Chinese characters by breaking them down into basic parts to learn the meaning and structure of the character better. Besides, it can also help you memorize the writing pattern of a specific character, so it will be easy for you to recognize the character when you see it again.

Way 2 Writing Chinese characters in the correct order and keep practicing

Besides paying attention to the above two basic Chinese characters, it’s also important to study how to correctly draw the strokes. When practicing writing the Chinese characters, you’d better not copy the character stroke by stroke, for it won’t do any good for your learning.

You should practice writing on paper with squares of a suitable size. The purpose of practicing writing is to remember the structure of the specific Chinese character. So when practicing writing the character, you should try to remember its stroke order and the Character in a whole structure. It is better than remembering only every single part of radicals or components.  

Way 3 Make your character learning diverse.

You can do this in many ways, such as downloading a flashcard program on your phone, creating paper flashcards (WHY KEATS USES FLASHCARDS IN CLASS), pasting the characters all over your apartment, and writing them on your hands are all good places to start. Studying isn’t only done in front of your desk. Diversifying your learning will vastly increase the time you can spend learning characters.

Way 4 Adding your Reading input as much as possible

By learning each Chinese character in isolation, you wouldn’t go so far in your journey of Chinese learning. Characters are the building blocks of language, and the more you use and encounter them in a meaningful context, the more they will stick.

Reading could be challenging for a beginner, so when you do Chinese reading, you may expand your reading materials to a wider range and get whatever interests you most to read and learn. 

If you just start learning, then it could be easier for you to start with a textbook or graded reader at your level with topics that engage you. Or you can find a specific theme with relatable characters to learn, so you can learn characters with their practical meaning at the same time. 

Blogs, frictions, and magazine articles are better for intermediate or advanced Mandarin learners. The key to selecting reading material is to choose those with topics that intrigue you most. 

Likewise, watching Chinese movies or shows with Chinese subtitles solidifies the connection between written and spoken language.

Way 5 Social media and platforms also help.

In this digital era, most of the social interaction happens on social media and platforms. Using them wisely would be very useful to develop your reading, writing, and also typing skills.

There are some Chinese social media apps widespread in China that can assist your Chinese character learning: WeChat, Microblog, and Tik-Tok. Most of the social media incorporates chat functions and provides many materials for you to practice Chinese character reading and recognizing.  

Sending a message with a native Chinese speaker is also helpful. Whether it’s your friends, family, language partner, or teacher, when you can practically apply Chinese characters, you would expose yourself to those Chinese characters that are not often seen in print.  

Way 6 Work on learning Chinese characters every day by reviewing and writing

Repetition is an unavoidable part of learning Chinese characters. Applying the most appropriate method and devoting 15 to 30 minutes each day to your Chinese character learning. Because it’s easy for you to forget the Characters you have learned when you just starting out and still have no clue how to memorize systemically.  

Writing characters is certainly important. When you just start learning, writing forces you to consciously break down each character into its components. This enables you to actively produce and recognize them. 

As you progress, learning new characters will become easier because so many elements repeat in the characters. You can review your Chinese character through writing if you’re an intermediate or advanced Mandarin learner. 

Reading this post to know more pieces of advice about Chinese writing: 6 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR MANDARIN CHINESE WRITING SKILLS.

If you have done your research, you will find several methods for your reference for learning Chinese characters faster and remembering them better. You need to test out all these methods to find which one is suitable for you.

Chinese learning is a long-term journey that you have to keep investing time and putting great effort into it. Persistence is the most difficult part, especially when it related to learning Chinese characters. So don’t drop off your learning on the halfway. The complexity of Chinese characters is also what makes them so beautiful and fascinating. You will eventually approach to your target sooner or later if you can apply these 6 ways smartly and continuously.

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