How to Learn Chinese Characters

Chinese characters put a lot of people off.

Yes there are perhaps 50,000 Chinese characters in existence; but most of them are so rare that you’ll never see them. 3000 characters should pretty much cover you for modern Chinese.

Even if you just know 500 characters, you can recognise about 75% of Chinese, with 1000 you get 89% coverage.

And that’s a goal you can achieve, if you take things step by step.

Here are some resources that will help you to understand the basics of Chinese characters and how they work

Step 1: Understand the basics of how Chinese characters work

Start writing Chinese characters in 10 minutes

The 10 things every beginner needs to know about Chinese characters

Learn about the different types of strokes in Chinese characters

Get an idea of the basic principles behind the order of the strokes

Should you learn simplified Chinese characters or traditional Chinese characters?

How many Chinese characters do you need to know?

Does learning the most common Chinese characters actually work?

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Step 2: Understand the essential parts (the radicals and components) of characters

The essential Chinese character components that you should learn first (Part I)

The essential Chinese character components that you should learn first (Part II)

The essential Chinese character components that you should learn first (Part III)

 

Step 3: Discover the tools that can help you master Chinese characters

Start using the websites that will show you exactly how to write any Chinese character

How to use Chinese handwriting recognition on your iPhone / iPad or iPod Touch

How to type Chinese on an iPhone / iPad

How to look up Chinese characters on your iPhone / iPad / Android smartphone

How to get your iPhone to read texts out to you in Chinese

Skritter review – a really fun and effective app that teaches you how to write Chinese

 

And I’ll be adding more useful resources in the future 🙂

If you understand the components and radicals of Chinese characters, and the basic strokes that are used to write them, then learning to read and write fluently is mainly a matter of persistence and time, but you can do it!

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