Thursday, March 24, 2016

Chinese Character Torture

No, this post isn't about Jackie Chan movies.  It is about how to learn 2,500 characters in both the traditional and simplified forms.  Ideally these are also understood in combinations that represent about 10,000 words, which is starter for what is needed to be fluent in Chinese.  Using, I think this might be possible, although I am not going to try learning to write them at the moment.  I gathered up a number of character sets and words sets that have about this many characters and words with a total of about 33,000 entries.  Thus, there is a lot of duplication, but there is also the need to learn meanings and pronunciations, which represent different entries.  The secret to learning is drill, drill, drill, ideally with a spaced repetition system.  The repetition will work out to something like 500,000 times that I will need to correctly identify a meaning or pronunciation or character from the English equivalent.  So far I have been consistent with about 10,000 such lookups per week, which means I might make my goal if I persist for a year.  The good news is that I already processed more than 5,000 entries of the 33,000, although much of this is from the base of characters (about 500-750) and words (perhaps 2,000) that I already know.

What the vocabulary study doesn't help with is using words in context.  Thus, my plan is to subscribe to ChinesePod after another 2 months and try to do some dialogs and reading in parallel with the character and vocabulary drill.  Lord willing, there will be some improvement after a year.


Inklings said...

I'm impressed you have learned that many!
For me, I think writing them might help, but then again, the number to learn is somewhat overwhelming.

Looney said...

Did you learn any? I did learn to write nearly 800 at one time, but many are forgotten now. My fear is that you don't really know them unless you can write them.

Rummuser said...

You need to be regularly writing and reading the characters otherwise one tends to forget. I have the problem with Tamil my mother tongue which I hardly ever read or write in and also Hindi for the same reason. Anyway, all the best with your efforts.

Inklings said...

No, Looney. I was overwhelmed. (JK)