24 May 2023

5 tricks to learn Chinese characters

5 tricks to learn Chinese characters

Learning Chinese can be overwhelming for many students with more than 50,000 characters in the language. While many of these characters may not be often used in daily conversation, a solid knowledge of several thousand characters is still crucial to ensure proficiency in reading and writing Chinese. Despite the complexity of these characters, there are still some tips and tricks to leverage that can help you memorise them and make the learning process more manageable. In this article, we will share five tricks that can facilitate a more effective process when it comes to learning Chinese characters.

1. Create visualisations to memorise characters

For this technique, associate each character with an image or scene to help you remember its meaning and pronunciation. Visualising each component separately and then combining them to create the full character makes it easier to learn characters with complex components. For instance, if you are learning the character for “tree” (written as 木), you could make the character more memorable by visualising it as a tree with a face. Should you require further guidance, consider signing up for a Mandarin language course in Singapore, ensuring a more systematic learning experience.

2. Identify the Chinese radicals

Radicals refer to smaller components that form the basis of the character. They make up Chinese characters, and help you identify the meaning and pronunciation of characters. There are over 200 radicals in the Chinese language, including the radical for “water” (氵), which appears in many characters related to water, such as “river” (written as 江) and “sea” (written as 海). Once you can identify the radicals, you should be able to recognise the meaning and pronunciation of many characters quickly.

3. Watch Chinese media with Chinese subtitles

No doubt, watching Chinese media helps you to improve your listening and speaking skills. Taking it a step further, watching it with Chinese subtitles can be helpful in learning Chinese characters. Pay attention to the characters on the screen, hear it spoken aloud and associate it with its pronunciation and meaning. This technique reinforces your knowledge of characters that you have learned.

4. Write down the characters

Whether you are learning Mandarin online or attending physical language classes, writing characters by hand aids in effective memorisation. This technique engages your motor skills and your visual memory, easing the memorising process. It also provides you the opportunity to recognise the strokes and components that form every character.

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Learn more: 4 advantages of learning Mandarin online

5. Read parallel texts

Reading parallel texts revolves around learning the characters by associating them with their pronunciation and meaning in context. It involves reading the same text in both Chinese and your native language. Not only does this improve your reading comprehension, the technique also brushes up your grammar skills. If you encounter an unknown character, you can always refer to the translation in your native language to understand its meaning.

All in all, learning Chinese characters does not have to be difficult. With the 5 tips above, you can now enjoy the learning process and improve your overall language skills.

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