My Chinese is not bad, but I want to improve it. And since among all the people that I know who are learning Chinese, the most successful one are those with a Chinese girlfriend, and to be honest with you, I kinda learn my Chinese pinyin through chatting with a crazy Chinese babe in weixin, so my question one: is getting a Chinese girlfriend the way to go to be literate in Chinese? I think Learning Chinese is like practicing Chinese GongFu (功夫). You can read all the GongFu books in the world, but if you don't have that better than your opponent (女朋友) to fight you, it is hard to motivate yourself to move on to next level and become a GongFu master yourself one day. What do you think the easiest way to learn Chinese is? (PS. if you are a sweet Chinese master, you can add my weixin: wudixzz to be my opponent.)

Question two: For my Chinese, it's weird because I only know how to type Chinese using pinyin, and if you ask me to write Chinese using a pen on a piece of paper, I can't remember how to spell the Chinese character. For example, 规则, guize, are relatively simple characters in Chinese, but when picking up a pen, my brain is blank. What will be the easiest method to remember these millions of different Chinese words? Reading doesn't work for me. I have been read more than 10 Chinese books annually for many years.

Question three, just like what I have said, I can read Chinese, but whenever I try to read handwritten Chinese, most of the time, I can understand anything at all. Seems to me, every Chinese has invented his/her ways of writing every single Chinese word differently. Surprisingly, when asking a Chinese to translate a handwritten piece of note back to standard Chinese, she doesn't have any problem at all.

Q3: how to read handwritten Chinese?

  • 1
    When I was a school boy, my homework included writing each new character hundreds of times day after day. In China, if you can recognize the handwriting of a doctor in the hospital, you will be a great master of character recognition. So, find a doctor partner in China and write love letters to each other by hand every day.
    – ElpieKay
    Oct 11, 2016 at 3:42

3 Answers 3

  1. You're right, having a Chinese (girl)friend and talking/chatting a lot is a great way to get fluent in Chinese. But be aware that there are limits to this method. It can get you fluent and communicative both on chat and when speaking face-to-face with Chinese people. But if you also want to, say, be able to watch TV, understand books and articles, basically anything that is aimed at adult native speakers, that's not something you can learn by chatting with a girlfriend. If you want to get there, you need to work on expanding your vocabulary and spend time learning Chinese characters. My favourite way of expanding vocabulary and improving spoken comprehension is ChinesePod, but of course there are many other podcasts, and you can surely find some that you enjoy. To learn from real-world videos made for native speakers, use FluentU. Another tip is to have Pleco on your phone, often look up words you don't know and save them as flashcards (see the next point).

  2. If you have a problem with forgetting, use a spaced repetition system (SRS), which can schedule repetitions of what you've learnt. There are many SRS programs, and I personally recommend Skritter, which is specifically made for Chinese. Another option is to use the flashcard SRS that is available in Pleco.
    You should also think how much time you want to spend on learning to write characters. Maybe it's enough to be able to type it and recognise them? In that case, learn to write only insofar as it helps you with character recognition. After all, handwriting is not an indispensable skill anymore (see the next point). Of course your mileage may vary.

  3. I think that if you practice writing Chinese characters, your ability to recognise handwritten Chinese will improve. But you may also ask yourself how important this ability is for you. I, for one, hardly ever write anything by hand in any language I know, including my mother tongue, and I also very rarely need to read handwritten text. So I basically don't care about it too much. But your situation may be different.


It is a good way to learn Chinese by committing with a Chinese, and most of us are like to be friends with a foreigner.

If you want to learn how to write Chinese, you must learn strokes of Chinese characters (which was called 笔画 in Chinese).


Definitely learning correct stroke order is super helpful for learning 汉字. It keeps your writing more consistent, neater looking, and easier to remember. Generally speaking, order goes from top left corner down to bottom right. There's a good number of online dictionaries that will show you the stroke order for each character.

In the end, learning characters just comes down to practice and memorization. Reading alone is not nearly enough to learn how to write. You just gotta commit and do a lot of repetition and you could easily learn 5 to 10 字 a day. Luckily, the more characters you have under your belt, the easier it becomes to learn more and more, because you'll learn to recognize the different radicals and components in each character. Just start slowly chipping at it and in no time you'll have a few hundred characters locked down.

Something that I've found has really helped my vocab, listening, and reading is listening to Chinese music and reading along with the lyrics. Just look up whatever lyrics you don't understand and you can make em into a vocab sheet. Good way to learn some useful words that they might not teach in a textbook.

The phrase "you don't use it, you lose it" is especially true for 汉字.

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