Heeey everyone,lets talk about Chinese
Hi.I just have started to learn Chinese.That is kinda interesting to learn some of Asian languages.Interesting fact:i am half korean. But i am so far from this culture as you cant believe.
I got a question(yes,i am already embarassed by language in 2 days of learning) how u,dear reader remember symbols? I tryna to associate them but it is still hard.It is easy to learn languages which similiar to English,but how i am supposed to learn this?
Sooo...if u know so useful advices,tell me *cute face
Well, I'm dyslexic, so in general I find spelling words a little more challenging than the average person, so I am not sure that remembering characters is that much harder for me than remembering non-phonetic spellings in English. So I've always felt like remembering a bunch of letters is a similar task to remembering a bunch elements of a character. But knowing how to break them down and what they represent can help a lot.
For memorizing characters, since you're just starting out, you should bear in mind that there's a lot of "novelty shock." Characters are kind of tough to differentiate and therefore difficult to remember when they are unusual and unfamiliar to you. The more you learn characters, the more obviously distinctive they will seem, and the easier it will be to remember new ones.
That said, there's two things from learning English words that you can use for learning Chinese characters.
The first is to understand that each character isn't an unique picture, but is instead composed of various formulaic elements, just like words are made of letters. There are "strokes" and "radicals." Strokes are the individual lines used to draw the characters. They aren't random, there's a few dozen different strokes used to form every shape. Recognizing those and how they fit together helps.
Radicals are a much bigger help. Normally you have three kinds of characters: simple characters, that involve one shape, compound characters, that look like two simple characters glued together, and complex characters, which have many many different parts.
Compound characters are by far the most common, and their composition is actually really helpful. The two parts, left and right, represent two different things. The part on the left is the "radical" and is related to the meaning, while the part on the right is the "phonetic" and related to the pronunciation. It's only hints, not hard and fast rules, but it helps.
So for example:
青 = Green (or blue) and is pronounced "qing"
清 = "clear" = 水 （water) + 青 （qing）
请 = “please" or marks a polite request = 言 (speech) + 青 （qing）
情 = "emotion" or "feeling" = 心 (heart) + 青 (qing)
Radicals are also how you look words up in a Chinese dictionary, and so memorizing them will really help with characters.
The second way you can memorize them like English words is by knowing their history. I find knowing the etymology of a word makes it easier for me to remember it, and characters have their own pictorial history. If you look up characters online (wiktionary is a good place to start but there are many sites) they will show you how they evolved from a pictogram to increasingly abstract characters. Seeing this can often help to anchor the character in your mind with a connection to something real, rather than just being a random symbol for the word. I find this really useful, not to mention interesting and exciting.
And that's the real trick. Keep making characters exciting for you, and you'll learn them no problem. It's only when they get boring that they are hard to remember. So anything you can do to make it a little more fun, go for it.
Oh, and another fun thing, speaking to what @jamie.nelson and @rudy_ru mentioned - they're absolutely right that writing really helps, and looks pretty cool. And here's a cool trick a lot of Chinese people use to practice their calligraphy：
Get a brush. Get a large, flat, black stone. Riverbeds work for this, or a garden store, or even a whet stone for sharpening knives in the kitchen. Get a bowl of water.
Then using water instead of ink, you can write characters on the stone with a brush, and then let it dry, and write them again. I've known calligraphers who do this every day for years until this action alone has worn down the stone into a bowl.
You'll also see people in China doing this on the street. You can get or make a brush or sponge on a long handle, and a bucket of water, and write the words on the sidewalk, only to have them evaporate away in the midday sun. It's fun, it's free, you will basically never run out of sidewalks to write on, and everybody loves it. You'll also meet lots of new people who are interested in Chinese.
My way to remember the character is to remember what basic characters are in the characters I want to write. Example : 超 = 走+召, I think about it this way "there is something like a power pole with a machete above a box, on the right side, and 人 with long legs at the bottom like 是". Instead of remembering the characters as a whole, I find it easier to remember characters separately. I know my way of remembering something is strange, but this is how I remember things, like photographic memories but not exactly like that.
Your way of remembering those characters is not strange at all. As many of Chinese characters are pictograms, what you perceive those represented objects in the world won't be too different from how other people, Chinese or non-Chinese, today or ancient, would do. That's why those characters can survive thousands of years.
If you're interested in learning how Chinese characters get evolved, you can look at Uncle Hanzi's website (http://hanziyuan.net/#home). You can type in a character or copy/paste one on that site, it display that character's etymology. Isn't that cool.
Native Chinese here :)
Looking back on my student years, I realised that we were memorising the chracters even we got to the last ever of our high school. And the first 2 questions on the Chinese Gaokao（高考 AKA the national College Entrance Examination）are always reserved for the Chinese chracters: Which one down there has the wrong Pinyin, Which one is written wrongly etc. So you can see how much effort we have to put into it in our own language. Hardwork is the only thing you can count on.
So here are some of my advice from a native's perspective:
Don't stress yourself, calm down. Remember it takes time to learn any language, and you are probably dealing with the most difficult one on earth. You gotta give yourself that one, you are chanllenging yourself there. Way out of your comfort zone. Don't get frustrated too often and too quickly, if you do, you might end up one level 2 and never pick it up. Imagine yourself when you have nailed it: All that brag with your mono-lingual friends :) A casual down to earth trip in China. Make some random Chinese friends down the cornor etc.
After you are mentally prepared, now it's time for the real game!
1, The daily conversation use always comes first, even us Chinese we are not born with a traditional brush in our hands writing Chinese characters. No, we don't start with the writing in the very begining. So go on and get your Pinyin tools set up, it's basically ABC in a Chinese way, so you will be familiar with it. Climb the phonetic mountain, then give the tones a bit try, practice, take your time. When you are comfortable with your self, you can now try tackle writing part.
2, In writing, climb your ladder up, one by one, step by step. Start with 一 二 三 是， never begin with 龜or壑on your first day. Get all of your input systems involved: observe the structure(eyes to spot the difference：戊戌，己已巳，刀刃), read it out aloud(mouth to get on with the pronunciation: your Pinyin tool set), write it down on a piece of paper(hands to make it all your muscle memory) etc. http://www.zdic.net/ Check the character yo uare dealing with, see how it evolved, what's the right order to write it. Make the learning process fun!
3, Use what you've learned, get out make some Chiense friends, mingle around. Find a language group. Ask them to correct you if you need it. Get a penpal. Make a local language buddy if possible. With Internet on your hand, now learning a language is not just books and boring tapes.
That's all I have in my mind now. Hope it helps!
Keep Calm and Learn 中文