The Chinese language script is very beautiful and intricate. It is a true delight to learn it especially for those with a creative streak. Writing Chinese involves a significant amount of calligraphy and cleanliness of strokes.
The Chinese language can be written using the traditional Chinese script or by the simplified Chinese script. The simplified Chinese script is more commonly used now, especially in mainland China. Traditional Chinese script is used in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Students learning the Chinese language should ideally begin by learning simplified Chinese language and then apply it to learn traditional Chinese.
Written Chinese is made up of many characters which symbolically represent a word or phrase. Each syllable has a specific symbolic representation and words are made by a combination of these symbols. Construction of characters in the Chinese language is both phonetic and pictographic.
To write Chinese you need to be familiar with the stroke order which comprises of 8 rules. These are:
- Horizontal strokes are written before vertical strokes
- Left falling strokes are written before right falling strokes
- Characters are written from left to right
- If the character is written from above the frame is written first
- If the character is written from below the frame is written last
- Frames are closed last
- In a symmetrical character, the middle is drawn first followed by the sides
The order of writing the characters can be either from top to bottom or from left to the right. People used to Latin scripts generally write from left to right
The total number of characters in the Chinese language are in thousands but the commonly spoken ones are few, hence you can begin by learning the few basic Mandarin Chinese characters. each character is made up of a combination of specific components. These components signify both meaning and the pronunciation of the word. You can consider these components as the building blocks of the Mandarin language. Hence by writing Chinese properly you can also learn how to speak Chinese simultaneously.
To master all this may seem like an uphill task but it can be made easier by simplification and breaking down the entire learning process into small doable steps.
Materials and supplies Required
If you have subscribed to an online Mandarin Chinese learning course, chances are they will provide you with enough practice material. But you can always use more resources to hone your mandarin language skills.
Print multiple copies of worksheets so you have enough practice material. Also check out books which give detailed step by step instructions. You can buy hard copies of the books or by saving it as an e book. Don’t forget to buy an English to Chinese language dictionary.
Learn Chinese online by watching tutorial videos and apps. Practice your calligraphy on your tablet, make sure you have a good quality touchscreen
After you have all the study material you need to buy writing supplies like suitable inks, papers, calligraphy brushes and pens. You can also purchase a whiteboard slate and markers.
Additionally, you can take up a calligraphy course because writings in Mandarin language are very similar to calligraphy.
How to learn Mandarin Chinese characters
One of the ways to learn Chinese characters is by rote memorization and practicing them over and over again. Simply memorizing the characters can be tedious and cumbersome. You can make flashcards to make it fun. Also flashcards aid in better long term memorization if they are reviewed regularly. If you already have a flashcards deck of Chinese words in pinyin, you can simply write down the word in the Chinese language script beside it. Making your own cards will improve your Chinese handwriting.
The stroke order rules to write the Chinese language is the most essential. Initially it may be tough to follow all the 8 rules, but keep writing each character over and over again. Once you have gained mastery over the stroke order you can also easily use a Chinese language dictionary. Use dotted worksheets to practice.
Make mnemonics while memorizing the meaning of each character.
Practice the individual components with which each character is made up of and learn their meanings. There are 214 radicals which are combined to make characters, though some of them may be used independently. Try to recognize these characters while reading books written in the Mandarin language without referring to their English translations.
You can also group study with a couple of friends, play quiz games with each other to make learn Mandarin in an enjoyable way.
Once you have mastered enough number of characters, you can try writing short poems, prose pieces and short stories in the Chinese language. This will also build up on other language skills such as sentence formation, grammar and comprehension.
Writing is probably the hardest part of the Mandarin language but this skill opens up many opportunities to explore more of the Chinese literature. You will no longer be dependent on translations and Romanized forms of Chinese language. Consistency and hard work will bear its sweet fruit in the long run.