With over 50,000 Chinese characters, memorising at least half of them is certainly daunting, but it isn’t impossible, and we’ll help you with that! If it makes you feel better, most people who are already fluent in Chinese know less than 10,000 of these characters. In fact, experts say that an educated Chinese person only knows about 8,000 to 9,000 characters.
If you’re new to a language, it’s alright to take it slow; there isn’t a need to remember so many characters in the beginning. To be able to read a Chinese newspaper, an average person will only need to recognise around 3,000 Chinese characters. Despite being just a small fraction out of 50,000 characters, it’s still a lot.
In comparison, the English alphabet only has 26 letters, which is a far cry from the 3,000 characters that you’ll need to learn to be mildly fluent in Chinese. However, as frightening as the number might be, we’re here to reassure you that it’s not as difficult as it seems.
Below are 5 effective tips to help you memorise Chinese characters easily, making the most out of your time spent trying to learn Chinese in Singapore.
1. Be Familiar With Meanings
Characters are made up of radicals and components. Elements that signify a broad category are called elements. For instance, any words related to grass or plants have a unique radical located at the top of the character, comprising a horizontal stroke and two small vertical strokes. Therefore, familiarising yourself with the radicals, and the meanings behind them will give you a clearer element of a character you’re memorising.
Components, on the other hand, are other parts of the character. Given its extensive list of components, people choose to focus on learning the radicals instead, which is equally beneficial.
2. Keep Writing
There’s no escaping writing. To better feel the flow of a written character, practise writing with a pencil and paper! The more you write, the more natural the process becomes. Adding on, you can also identify which characters require more effort to memorise, so you can spend more time on those you’re weaker in.
3. Read, Read, Read!
As reading goes hand-in-hand with writing, the more often you see them being used in daily settings, the more you’ll be able to recognise those characters. Most importantly, you’ll be able to apply these characters easily when writing in the future.
Parallel texts are a great way to learn Chinese characters since they’re written in both English and Chinese. The English translation allows you to translate any passage you wish to read in real-time without having to do it yourself.
4. Embrace Chinese Media
You can kill two birds with one stone while watching movies and shows as you get to enjoy while being more familiar with the Chinese language. The Chinese media is endless, and it caters to everybody. There’ll always be a show, movie, or music video, or music, that’s perfect for your taste.
Apart from enhancing your receptive skills of writing and reading, reading the subtitles is also a great way to orient yourself with the thousands of characters that you have already studied and will study in the near future. You can also pause any moments in Chinese videos to write down characters you don’t recognise, along with their definitions.
5. Karaoke And Music
You might not be a fan of KTV, but apart from benefits like relieving stress, music makes memorising a lot easier. Singing to Chinese songs is one of the best ways to help one with character pronunciation and memorisation as it is easy to get a song stuck in your head; getting the better hang of characters as you sing-along to the tune.
Even if you don’t end up singing Karaoke with your friends, you’ll find plenty of Chinese channels and songs with Mandarin subtitles on platforms like YouTube. There might even be songs in your native language with Chinese subtitles, which makes it easier to learn the characters since you are more familiar with the tune and melody.
Undoubtedly, getting a grasp of the numerous Chinese characters can be terrifying, but with the 5 handy tips above, you’ll soon be an expert. To further make your learning experience an enriching one, you can also enrol in Mandarin classes in Singapore.
With a much more personal learning experience, your teachers will be able to guide you to ensure that you make the most out of classes. Enrol in a mandarin class and kickstart your learning journey today!