#107 Reading and Remembering Chinese Characters
As much as Pinyin is important, the root of Chinese language is its characters – 汉字.
Chinese characters is made up of strokes and radicals that when combined together, produce the pronunciation of the word. In some circumstances, you have to remember the characters and how they are pronounced.
This is one of the difficult part for all levels of learners as there is just way too many characters! So how to you go about juggling how to remember the endless characters and their pronunciation?
1. Be familiar with the fundamental strokes and radicals
Strokes such as the horizontal, vertical, downward, upward and dot are the basic of writing Chinese characters. Radicals, on the other hand, can be read by themselves as one word, or paired with other characters to form new words. For example, 日 (sun) and月 (moon) together will form – 明, which means bright. (sun + moon = bright). This is one way to help with remembering how certain words are form and their meaning.
2. Devise a mnemonic plan to help you memorise
Different people have different learning styles. It is hence important to find out which is the most suitable style for you to aid in effective learning. If you are a Visual learner, you would find it best to learn Chinese characters by using images, drawings or making up a story. For example, a good way to remember 口 (mouth) is by thinking that it looks like the shape of an opened mouth.
If you are a Aural or Verbal learner, then you would probably learn better by listening to native speakers and practice writing the characters by using practice sheets.
3. Type, Write and Read
With a smartphone in hand for almost everyone, one of the best way to practice Pinyin and Chinese characters is by typing messages to your friends or just practicing on your phone in general. Even when you have a blurred memory of how the character look like, you are able to find in by typing in its Pinyin. Convenient way, isn’t it? (:
Another way is to improve is by writing a few characters each day. This is to train your brain and muscle memory in remembering the strokes and steps of the characters. The same as studying for exams.
Reading helps you get familiar with the words as well. There are plenty of books with characters and Pinyin together for Beginners. As for the more advanced learners, newspapers and novels are great choices. Reading aloud can also help with your confidence of speaking Chinese (: Killing two birds with one stone!
You don’t have to rush yourself into learning every single character, the important thing is to first learn those you will use the most in daily life. What is the most natural way of using them and their different meanings when used differently. One step at a time, always keep a hardworking heart and it will pay off!