Saturday, March 10, 2007

Learning Chinese characters

In his book on page 27, Steve used a system of repetition to work on the writing of Chinese characters. In the beginning, 10 characters would wear him out, but later he was studying 30 new characters a day.

I wonder if he only did this with individual characters, or if he did it also with 2-character words. One of the difficulties of the writing system is not just being able to recall how to write a particular character, but more so, knowing exactly which characters go with each word. It's the same problem as with spelling because everyone can learn the 26 letters of the English alphabet, but which ones to use and in what order is the difficult part. With Chinese-character words, it's kind of like that. Usually, I just draw a blank!

So, I think it's important to practice writing out words instead of just individual characters. Having already started at the beginning of this year (actually, the end of last year), I am spending approximately 50 minutes a day on writing. Sure, there have been some missed days, but I am developing the habit of writing for 50 minutes a day, every day, for probably the next 2 to 5 years. The number of minutes spent is not so important. It could be 30 minutes a day. Eventually, I will work out a system where I can cover 2,000 different characters every month. I've still got a ways to go on the system, but eventually I will be able to keep all my characters fresh with just a little work each day.

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