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Writing Chinese Characters - Resources to Learn

Hello there guys! ^^ As you know, Duolingo Chinese course doesn't teach us how to write Chinese characters. It only teaches us how to recognize them and type or read them. In this article, I wish to clarify some rules of Chinese character writing. :)

1) This site helps a lot to learn basic rules: http://blog.tutorming.com/mandarin-chinese-learning-tips/7-basic-rules-to-chinese-stroke-order

2) Download the app HelloChinese and practise Chinese handwriting with it. It's a great tool to teach you all the proper movements to write Chinese characters correctly.

3) This site is great to understand stroke order and also practise some of the characters yourselves to get better hang of it: http://www.archchinese.com/chinese_stroke_order_rules.html

4) Try to write smoothly and softly, it improves the Chinese written characters. :)

5) Write in squared notebooks, and try to write each character in four squares:

6) For beginners I recommend buying Chinese writing sheets to get used to writing:

7) If you listen to some soft and relaxing Chinese music and write at the same time, it will greatly improve your writing! :D (worked for me x) ) Here's a good Chinese music channel on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNV2aMW1952x3IR7eIuCbFA

I wish you luck in your studies! ^^

November 27, 2017



It's a bit of an investment, but the app Skritter can't be beat for learning to write Chinese characters. It deeply teaches you the character and stroke order using an advanced spaced repetition algorithm similar to that of Duolingo. It's a bit of an investment, but it's truly amazing and completely worth it if you want to get serious about your Chinese studies.


That looks quite interesting, thanks!


You could also use mlpchinese, though that is a it more advanced.


8) Try using a brush (or brush pen); it will help you appreciate the point of having a stroke order and the control that needs to go into every stroke. For practising, one can just use water rather than ink on slightly off-white paper. (It will also make you appreciate quite how much more difficult calligraphy is than it looks.)

Personally, that Western/Chinese mish-mash music drives me up the wall; this is real Chinese music!


I use this calligraphy cloth; inexpensive, uses water, and you can dry and reuse. Very convenient.


And you don't have to buy new paper ever!


Truly, that music is amazing ^^ Tho sometimes it gets hard for western people to directly get used to Asian tunes, so you need a sort of starting point, which is this type of 'western-Asian' music :D But I agree, original Chinese music is really a treasure ^^


before there was a very popular instrument called the souna that thriving until..... "forgien bands" came


I believe there's a suona solo in "Nothing to My Name" (一无所有) by Cui Jian.


Do Chinese just use regular pens to write or do they use some type of brush tip pens? Exactly what type of everyday pens do they normally use? I could never find any info on this or really any good info on writing tools for writing characters. When I first started learning Chinese I decided to put off writing for this reason. I felt like I wasn't learning the strokes properly.


In modern times, people just use fountain pens, pencils and gel pens for regular writing. However, most calligraphy rules still apply and you can use these pens for practice too. And there are also tutorials for "hard-tip pen(硬笔) calligraphy".

However, if you are a font designer and need to achieve a better understanding of Chinese writing, a brush will help a lot.


Ok thanks a lot. I found it hard to know whether I was drawing the strokes correctly because I couldn't mimic the thick and thin points of the strokes. It was like drawing stick figures vs an actual figure drawing. And now I know to look for hard tip calligraphy.


we use regular pens:)


pens and pencils and brushes


100% agree about the music!! Thank you for the link!!


You can use the HSK programme/exam to learn characters, it is the only Chinese language exam recognized in China (e.g. jobs, university), there are six levels, and the progression between each one is very smooth -they start with text + pinyin and then move on to just characters. As a half-Chinese, I find it a challenging but extremely rewarding course.


Try TOFU. It's a great free App.


Thanks for this awesome resource. I'm definitely going to print out some practice sheets.

To make memorizing easier I also think it may be of value to study the repetitive characters, the radicals, make a mnemonic for each as a tool to remember new characters. Here is a good page on these radicals: http://www.hackingchinese.com/kickstart-your-character-learning-with-the-100-most-common-radicals/

Animations of stroke order also seem to help to nail the characters into my memory. That's why I added an animation to each character in my Memrise course: https://www.memrise.com/course/1748281/duolingo-chinese/

I have tested the HelloChinese app and it is really good.


This outline to how chinese characters work and are put together is pretty useful: https://fulltimefluency.com/2018/04/05/chinese-characters/


nice share, there are some Chinese words with the strokes. https://www.cchatty.com/dictionary


Great! It appears to be difficult for someone from the west trying to learn a real(!) foreign language. And an essential part of a foreign language is getting to its (hand-)writing. So these are valuable hints which might make it a bit easier to learn Chinese. Thanks.


I'm happy that it helps even just a little ^^ Thank you!


Thx Tamuna you're amazing!


Thank you! ^^ I'm glad this helps!


I recommend you use the YellowBridge dictionary. It's a kind of learner's dictionary and it has stroke order animations for many of the characters. Also you can practise your handwriting following the lines, read examples using the character or look for individual character meaning, even if it's used as kanji or hanja!

Another good option is Chineasy. You can buy calligraphy books and if you suscribe to their newsletter you'll receive some writing sheets.

And finally try to write in columns going from top to bottom and ordered from right to left ("the traditional way"). Characters are more discernible, and writing them is more comfortable (especially with brush!)


Skritter is kind of expensive but really good for training how to write and remember characters.


Duolingo should buy it and makes as paid extra.


That wouldn't fit Duo's ethos.


Try using the Windows 10 app Lingvoji. You can use pen, touch, or mouse for handwriting exercises.



Thank you!

I should thank Youtuber "monkey abroad" for sparking my interest in Mandarin Chinese.


So, I personally favor Pleco, which I also use as my main dictionary (with Oxford dictionary addon) to learn words. You can make your own wordlists, practice for writing, listening (speech addon recommendable), reading etc. They also have an pre-made hsk deck that you can download. You will have to write freely in Pleco though, there is no form support.


My fellow students are also very enthusiastic about PLECO. Unfortunately you can only use that app on a mobile phone ....


你好 祝大家成功


我明年会知道你,i just need more practice ^^'


Writing in the correct order is important if you need to spell a word or name; then you must be able to name each stroke in order of writing.


Really good ideas! I have been trying to write the characters to help learn them. This will make it a lot easier!


Thanks so much for the tools @tamuna10. I also found a couple EdX courses that help with getting the music of the language in your ear Basic Mandarin Chinese Levels 1 & 2. https://www.edx.org/course Hope this helps.
Also Mandarin Made Easy with Fiona Tian on YouTube, I found engaging. I'm still working on the characters....


For apps can you also try:

1) ChineseSkill



LingoDeer is easily the best app for Chinese/Japanese/Korean now.


@Tamuna10: For a very stable learning material that goes very deep, have a look at WordSwing. The breadth of their offering is rare, well managed, varied, often refreshed, with writing, speaking, reading, exercises, trackable progress, vocabulary lists pertaining to stories being read, counters, etc.

A lighter version of that would be Ninchanese, more playful but very serious too.

A fantastic "converter" site to have in one's toolbox would include, I believe, the purpleculture.net site: once there, go straight to Tools , no membership necessary; but if your texts usually run over 1,000 characters per request, US $30/year is all they ask for, and then the whole panoply is available to the user. I've used them countless times, to verify on-the-fly either my own translation or a Google one I was not happy with.


Thank you so much for the information! I have always wanted to learn calligraphy and am ready to give it a try now.


Thank you for the helpful tips! I will certainly look into it.


These squares are great, I used them a little with a book, "The First 100 Characters." Unfortunately, I don't have the patience for so much repetition of one character out of context. I just started drawing what I saw with each character line by line. Then I found Mandarin Blueprint, which teaches the 12 rules ( I'm up to rule 3). So I follow the rules I know: top-to-bottom, left-to-right, top right-to-bottom left, top-left to bottom-right, as I write out every sentence in Duo Lingo.

I just uploaded over 100 pages of dictation and translation practice to my Google Drive. Being full sentences makes it a lot more enjoyable than repeating each character by itself. I translate the written sentences between Hanzi and English, and I treat the spoken sentences like dictation, writing down the Pinyin and English, and then write the sentence again in Hanzi.


I am through level 5 on section 1 and 2, and the first two skills of section 3. I am between levels 0-3 on the rest of section 3. When I am doing the lessons, I write. When I am just hitting the practice button, I don't write.


谢谢你, very helpful!


Writing in the correct order is important if you need to spell a word or name; then you must be able to name each stroke in order of writing.


Another great resource is the Pleco app. In addition to being a great free dictionary, they have a stroke order add-on (I think a small one time fee) that lets you see the proper stroke order for thousands of characters. It's inclusive of both traditional and simplified characters and helped me out a lot when I was learning how to write.


The HelloChinese ios app now provides a character writing add-on course which follows exactly the same structure as duo's Chinese course. Each topic contains all the characters from a topic of duolingo, so we can use it side by side to practice handwriting the characters learned here.


structure is probabl the same for most learning strategies, but content has other view


awesome!but how cani goes there?


any primer how to use the keyboard to type characters?


That was very helpful! Hâo!


thank you so much it is very helpful


It looks like the sheets I used in primary school~ (I am a Chinese)


Even in my Chinese class, our laoshi makes us use these :o!


What does Laoshi mean, teacher??


Yes! 老師的意思是teacher.


teacher = 老师 = せんせい


well there's a blast from the past... I can still just about read hiragana!


Sensi! (What my little sister says to me)


Ahhh so many memories of Chinese lessons that I begrudgingly partook in as a kid... lol


I was thinking that it reminded me of my high school French class :) !


Same (I am Chinese too)


born america parents Chinese


Im full chinese my mom is chinese and my dad is chinese


Im chinese, but i am studying in UK










thank you very much for giving lots of useful advices.

[deactivated user]

    Does it really matter in what order I write my characters? Or is simply a matter of convenience? Thank you


    Most Chinese people will write quickly in a semi-cursive style with some strokes conjoining, therefore having an orthodox stroke-order is a matter of comprehension. Even writing regular script quickly will make it look very odd (and less-easily-readable) if you use a stroke-order that is completely off.
    The stroke-order rules generally are the most convenient, too (although there are certainly arbitrary aspects), so there's no sense in deliberately ignoring them.


    yes it really matters. 1. the stroke order helps you memorize. It helps you especially memorize the correct way to write radicals that reappear in many characters. But also it slows you down to write them without the stroke order. The stroke order helps you be efficient, and graceful. That is what I have found and read.


    From my experience so far I find it quicker to write having invested some time in learning stroke order.


    not even chinese people do it correctly on harder characters like 鬓 just for the simple reason that they forgot the exact order since they are out of school dont worry about this since you probably wont need to write them by hand any time in your life anyways and if thats really the case then who cares as long as the character is correct you could also learn the backgrounds to the parts of characters like the first parts of 好 the 女 is basically resembling a woman same goes for the first part of 你 resembling a man etc. but who cares as long as you cna understand/speak the language


    Thanks a lot, Tamuna. You shared a lot of useful resources. I can add, if someone needs Chinese tuition for kids (still no offer on Doulingo) I can suggest this: https://www.mindchamps.org/chinese-preschool/our-centres/


    You can use this app to practice the vocabularies you have learn on Dualingo. https://ispellit.com


    Thank you so much I will try these.


    There is one add-on to Anki 2.1, it's called "Maobi - Chinese Hanzi Writing Quizzes in Anki" and - from what I saw - it's supposed to implement some kind of "Skitter-like" tests into Anki, but I'm not sure if it's worth recommending because I don't use it. Maybe someone more competent could look at it or maybe someone vistiting this thread already has some experience with this add-on?


    Posted a topic where I said the same thing, that Duolingo should teach you first how to write/read chinese and only afterwards teach the language. But instead of taking it as a constructive critic I was treated like a criminal. Thank you for this useful topic.


    Thank you so much for your support! I really appreciate it!


    Thanks for your help.


    I found the website yellowbridge.com/chinese very helpful. It has thousands of characters as well as their stroke orders and direct english translations.


    The website yellowbridge.com/chinese is also free and has thousands of characters to learn to write!


    This is what all Chinese students do to write and remember how to write a new word, just keep copying the word


    Hello Chinese is really helpful! I recommend trying LingoDeer as well. They have writing exercises as well.


    Thank you <3


    Hi! I love learning Chinese but i dislike duolingo's way of teaching. Since i know some Chinese it was easy for me to answer the questions given but other than that if you were a total beginner you would have a hard time but you guys should definitely go on mango. Mangoes teaches you much better it gives you a phrase then dissects that phrase into words so you'll know the phrase and the words that contain it!


    Personally, I like Jay Chou, but okay.


    oh,thank you so much i was trying to find how i can write in chinese and the steps,thanks for bringing this up,this helps me alot since i forgot my chinese bc we had to move to america 2 years ago ;-;


    I have found Baidu IME to be vastly superior to Google Gboard for writing Chinese with pinyin. Also Baidu Translate is light years ahead of Google Translate, in my humble opinion. 祝您有个美好的一天!


    Thanks for sharing.


    As a Chinese, I think it is more difficult for Westerners to learn Chinese than for Chinese to learn Western languages, do you agree?


    Thank you for your comment! I am from the Netherlands, and what you write I have always thought, logical: the Dutch alphabet has only 26 letters, with which everything can be written! In addition, dictionaries are easily accessible for foreigners, as everything is in alphabetical order. How different is that all in Chinese ...

    Curiously, though, as far as I know you are the first Chinese to share this view in this Duolingo course. Even the developers of the HSK method don't seem to have understood this at all ...! While that method was specially developed for foreigners, the books of HSK-3 are almost entirely written in Chinese! Only a short grammatical explanation of something is written in English, while of course many foreigners are even not native English speakers. It is incomprehensible, however, that the examples associated with that grammar are again entirely in Chinese ...! This, among other things, testifies to the lack of didactic insight of the developers of the HSK method.

    [HSK-3 even contains characters that are unknown to me, but it could be that they have been treated in HSK-1 and -2; before HSK-3 I used other studybooks].

    I stopped because of the listening exercises in HSK-3: those are spoken: 1) so incredibly fast, and 2) unclearly! Much faster than the average newsreader, who usually speaks much more clearly of course too! In the listening exercises I can recognize few words: most of the time I hear just a continuous stream of sounds... I am still convinced that I can achieve the level of HSK-6, but NOT with the HSK method and textbooks ...!


    I've been using https://chinese.yabla.com/chinese-english-pinyin-dictionary.php with my pinyin keyboard on my phone to help find stroke orders for words I've already learned the pinyin for (through duolingo + external study). They do not have every word, but it has been helpful for me.


    Thank you very much!


    Does it take a long time to learn? I took 8 years perfecting my english handwriting... does it take as long in chinese?


    thanks but i dont really need that, have real life classes


    Amazing help! This will help me improve my Chinese!


    Thanks for the resources!


    thanks i was looking for this


    Thanks!! ^_^


    Well, I think these suggestions are very good!


    哇塞!竟然有人学中文,爱了爱了。如果对汉语有问题可以随时@我! Wow! There's someone learning Chinese! Wonderful! "@me" if you have any questions in learning Chinese.


    你好。 任何人都有 WeChat? 我想注册. 需要其他用户的确认。 Hello there. Anyone has WeChat? I want to register. Need confirmation from other users.


    you're my new hero of the year! Literally better than Batman :)


    Thank for sharing this tips!!! I'm brazilian and starting to learn chinese. I really appreciate your post thank you very much


    I have found a website the other day, that helps you to identify Chinese characters. I often come across new characters, which if I don't know how to pronounce, I can't write in pinyin, so can't find. This website, allows you to use the pad on your laptop to effectively hand-write it, and find it. It's a bit tricky - I think the tool expects you to know whether the character is written left to right, or top to bottom, so doesn't always work. But it has helped me a bit already. . https://www.yellowbridge.com/chinese/adv-character-dictionary.php


    Love this. Thank you!

    [deactivated user]

      thanks so much


      Chineasy is also a great way to remember them as a visual learner


      https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNV2aMW1952x3IR7eIuCbFA sobre este canal no youtube, adorei!!! sinceramente amo como as músicas chinesas são delicadas e bonitas.


      this is actually pretty good though i am not learning but still it isgood oor other chinese


      Great Post! Thank you.


      Thanks very much for the post!


      I found this lesser-known resource which helps automate SRS better than my Anki flashcards, https://www.pandanese.com/?utm_source=k01 All who are serious about memorising their Duolingo vocabulary should try it!


      Thanks so much for sharing this, getting started now!


      That was fast! Yes, action speaks louder than words but be warned, you need to go according to your own pace. It's a pity this App is not on handphone but it works well on iPad/Android pad. It disciplines me, no need to use Anki.

      This not so well known Pandanese and the Pleco dictionary has helped me to complete my Duolingo Chinese Tree, many times over! Check out https://duome.eu/zs, only 3.57% of 15589 Students complete the full Chinese Tree!

      Now I am reverse engineering, using Chinese to English on Duolingo.


      Yoyo Chinese has a very good Chinese character course that takes you through the 600 most common ones. Lines up pretty well with HSK 3.


      Thank you! I've been with Duolingo for 705 days and know I need to learn and practice writing it. This looks to be a good start.


      Thanks for the nice post. But how can everybody so easily accept the microphone and files permissions of apps...


      Nice tips, valuable resources! Thank you very much!


      Hi there, why is it that the Hanzi writing function as part of Duolingo-mandarin is switched on/off regularly? It was on until last Friday evening and now it has been switched off again.


      Wow! I am proud. I just passed well the first check for Chinese! I never studied Chinese before and I am not a native English speaker. But I am studying also japanese and sometimes knowing already a little kanji characters helped me a lot with Chinese. The grammar is quite simple. But the sounds are difficult. I don't know if I could ever really speak in Chinese but so far I can understand the characters and simple phrases in the course


      I would also recommend this website - https://www.hanzi5.com/bishun/5e38.html You just paste the character you are looking for and it will show the order and direction of the strokes, plus a gif of how to write it. It works both for Mandarin and Cantonese.




      Thank you for the app, I downloaded it and it is extremely helpful. I have already learned some things that compliment what I have learned from Duolingo to develop my learning further.


      One of my favorites was Mindsnacks.


      Hi give me lingtons thank you


      This is interesting! I wanna learn the characters so this helps me a lot


      Thanks for sharing tips. Although I am half Chinese, I am just a beginner. I want to learn more and speak like a native. Hope one day I can. ^_^


      I dont learn chinese on duolingo but I learn it on 悟空米子


      I have this sheet before when I was a kid. It reminds me.




      The music really does help! Thanks so much for taking the time to post this, really helpful and encouraging!


      Yeah, my parents had a lot of these for me. I felt they really helped, especially once I moved on.



      This is an exchange group for Chinese and English learning, it's on telegram.

      Learn Chinese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.