Learning the Mandarin Characters (Hanzi)

I recommend reading these posts first:

http://mandarinfromscratch.com/2009/12/31/learning-the-spoken-language-before-the-written-focussing-primarily-on-audio-input/

http://mandarinfromscratch.com/2010/01/08/the-first-three-to-four-months-my-mandarin-learning-methods-and-how-theyve-evolved/

Once you’ve got a good listening base in Mandarin, and not before, you’ll want to get started on learning the Hanzi.

I’ve found the following combination quite good for learning the characters:

***Modified on Friday, May 27th, 2011 to reflect improved method

1) Alan Hoenig’s Learn and Remember 2,178 Characters and Their Meanings  – builds up your character knowledge systematically going from least to most complex by introducing the components first and showing how they’re combined to form more complicated characters. An explanation of the method can be found here EZ-Chinesey.

2) James W. Heisig’s Remembering Simplified Hanzi: Book 1, How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Chinese Characters – very similar to Alan Hoenig’s book, but it doesn’t have the character component breakdown next to each new character. Nonetheless a fantastic resource and a good source of alternate “stories” to remember the characters. http://www.amazon.com/Remembering-Simplified-Hanzi-Meaning-Characters/dp/0824833236/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_b

2) Zhan Peng Peng’s Rapid Literacy in Chinese – This is a steal for only $10, and it’s a great way to start actually reading in Chinese once you’ve learnt a few hundred characters with Hoenig’s or Heisig’s book. Each chapter introduces about thirty characters. Compound words are broken down into their constituent parts to facilitate learning and understanding. A trial version can be viewed here

http://www.ebook3000.com/Rapid-Literacy-in-Chinese-for-Beginners_4321.html

after which you can purchase the book here

http://www.amazon.com/Literacy-Chinese-Mandarin-English-included/dp/780052695X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1306521468&sr=1-1

If you combine these resources with Skritter’s (http://www.skritter.com/about) Spaced Repetition approach to learning how to write the characters, you’ll gain the character fluency you’re striving for in no time!

Also, smartfm.com has a great program for learning the 2,500 most common characters (http://iknow.jp/content/simplified_chinese) using the Spaced Repetition Method and memory games, and it’s free!

Also, when you’re ready to start writing the characters, this is a good free site for the 4000 most basic characters, and each entry also contains a flash video of the stroke order:

http://www.learnchineseez.com/read-write/simplifie d/index.php?page=1

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Free Mandarin resources with pinyin, word-for-word translations and mp3s « Mandarin From Scratch

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