Practising Chinese Characters
Many people believe that Chinese characters are difficult, but that isn't actually the case. The only problem with Chinese characters is that learning Chinese characters takes a lot of time. However, so long as students persevere, they will eventually master Chinese characters.
At the beginning, studying Chinese characters is very difficult, almost painful. However, in time students will find that the more you learn, the easier it becomes to remember. On top of this, students should also be aware that they will forget at least 33% of what they learn, there is nothing they can do about that. Because of this, students should regularly revise what they have learn recently. In short, so long as students keep practising, things will eventually fall into place.
Do I Need To Be Able To Write Chinese Characters?
Because able to recognise Chiense characters, and being able to write Chinese characters are two very different things. Everybody has difficult needs, but I recommend that student are at least able to recognise characters, and be able to read.
Tricks For Studying Characters
1 - Don't learn they one by one.
I suggest that students use the study method mentioned above to learn Chinese characters, that is to learn them from context. By doing this students will find that they have an easier time remembering the characters.
2 – Write each character many times.
Every time students come across a new character, they should write it out many times.
3 – Use a ruler
When students are practising writing Chinese characters, I recommend that they try their hardest not to look at the character that they have just written, otherwise the whole exercise just becomes copying out what you have just written. In order to avoid looking at what you have just looked at, I suggest that students put a ruler over what they have just written so that they can't see it, they need to really think to be able to write the character. If students want to make their characters nicer, they can use something called “米格紙”. Students can use sheets of 米格紙 that have watermarks of the characters on them, and then trace the characters.
Something that I have learnt from experience is that the more often I review what I have learnt, the slower I will forget things. This is true, too, for the students that I have helped. If students write the characters that they are learning three times a day, once in the morning, once at lunch time and once in the evening, then the next day the student will remember more. Even if the student writes each characters only three times, I will still remember more.
Recourse For Writing Characters
ArchChinese.com is a really useful website. The website is a very comprehensive dictionary. However, it has another feature that, that is when you look up a characters, a picture will appear on your screem that will show you how to write the character. The website looks like this:
Student will slowly find that, after watching many clips about how to write characters, it will become easier to know how to write them, especially in terms of the stroke order. After seeing many clips, students will know how to write a character up first glance.
Regularly revising what one has learnt recently is very important. Given that students will forget what they have learnt after a period of time, I suggest that studuents review all of what they have learning after studying 5 lessons. Reviewing what students have learnt, or relearning it a second time will make it easier for students to remember what they have learnt.
Following the improvement in technology, there are now many more ways of studying than before. The previous generations had only pens and paper to study Chinese characters, while now studuents can use all types of apps to study Chinese, including Chinese characters.
The most famous piece of software is Anki, which is a piece of flashcard software. The software words like this: every day students can set a goal, for example today the student wants to review 100 charactes. Then, one by one, 100 characters will appear on the screen. Underneath every character, there will be a few buttons, one saying “I recognised this character immediately”, one saying “I have to think for a second before I could remember what it was”, “I have forgotten it a bit/forgotton the pronunciation/forgotten the meaning, I don't really know this character” and “I have never seen this character before”. According to your answers, the software will decide when these characters will appear for a second time, thereby creating a study plan for you. There are many “decks” on the internet. Students can download one that suits them and use that. Or, of course, students can make their own.
Another very useful piece of software is the phone app “Skritter Chinese”. Skritter Chinese is an app for studying characters. It is very similar to Anki in the sence that it has many different “decks”, which are split into different levels. Students can select a deck suitable for their level. Then a character will appear on the screen, however, differently to Anki, students need to use their finger to write the character on the screen. If students write it correctly, then they pass this round, if they write it incorrectly, then students can try again or give up. After the game finishes, the app will know which characters you know and which you don't, and will create a study plan for you based on this. Like Anki, students should play the game every day. However, Skritter is better than Anki is two ways. Firstly, students needs to write. Students can learn to write through using the app, while they will only learn to recognise characters through using Anki. Secondly, phones are more convient to carry around. Nowadays we all always have our phones on us, so whenever we have dead time, regardless of where we are, we can always play the game for a few minutes.（作者：Laurence Heyes（何安杰）；实习记者叶璐对本文亦有贡献）