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There are some other posts with similar questions, like Techniques for learning and retaining characters, but I'm looking for an answer that particularly focus on which memorization techniques can be used to remember characters better. E.g. repetition, that is of course crucial to learning anything, is not a memorization technique in this sense.

So, which memorization techniques are useful when learning chinese characters?


For example, would a mnemonic peg system be useful in any case?

  • Writing: pen or pencil and paper. Write down all your new vocabulary every time and you'll know characters without trying to. – Mo. Apr 25 '17 at 1:27
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I used memrise.com

I found it helpful to hear and see characters / pinyin at the same time. Memrise uses a technique to build upon what you've learned in earlier courses to build upon your foundation. Also, learning radicals (character building blocks) is helpful to figure out meaning of more advanced characters.

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Here are the memorization techniques that I use to remember Chinese characters:

  • I try to come up with an image that I can think of when I look at the character. For example, the word 火 I think of a man waving his hands frantically.
  • I learn the radicals that make up the character. For example, 天(sky) = 一(one) + 大(big)
  • Try to make up an English sentence using English words that I assign to each component of the character. For example, on a clear Sky day, I saw One Big bear.

You may want to read about Imaginative memory from this book (Remembering Simplified Hanzi 1) (by James Heisig & Timothy Richardson)

To be honest, when I learn Chinese at home, if I follow through all these types of techniques, it will take lots of time & effort. So I come up with an idea of creating a tool that does all those jobs for me. I know that sounds lazy. If you have the same needs as me, I'd very much appreciate your input to help me make it work. I created a website to showcase what it may look.

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Since I'm a native Chinese speaker so I'm afraid my way is not universal applied.

Remember Chinese characters(or Hanzi) is graph-like characters, which is totally different with the Latin language.

So I recommend checking the history of that Hanzi(Oracle bone script->small seal script->.....->traditional Chinese->simpilfied Chinese), think why it would be like that.

Secondly, read the Chinese history. Chinese characters are closely related to history. It might be hard but I happen to be a history fan so...

All in all, you might need to forget the English(Latin) way. Try to think like a Chinese. And it's also super helpful if you have a Chinese friend(at least good at Chinese culture. As far as I know, lots of Chinese is not good at it).

Expose yourself to Chinese culture as much as possible, just the way like Chinese learn English. For example, Watching TV drama, reading books,etc..

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There are some strategies I put together. Essentially, the best strategies must include the following elements:

  1. the sound and the form must appear at the same time;
  2. words are the basic memorising units;
  3. the number of words must be manageable;
  4. students must practice writing regularly.

It is not very efficient if students spend too much time focusing on individual Chinese characters. For detailed explanation, read here: https://mslmaster.com/index.php/teaching-learning-resources/10-resources/52-how-to-memorise-chinese-characters

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