I have been studying Chinese for a few months now. I am using some software to test my knowledge of the characters. Sometimes I do not recognize every character of a word but I can still derive the meaning based on the character I do know. My Chinese wife thinks this is not such a good idea and I should be more demanding to myself. Also, sometimes the differences between the characters is rather subtle and I make a mistake: when typing on the computer the first character the computer suggests is often the right one and I feel I depend too much on that. I do notice when I study by writing down each character I pay much more attention and those characters are much 'deeper' in my brain, maybe this is the only good way to do it ? On the other hand, it feels like quite time consuming...

What are your experiences ?

  • 3
    Hello Paul. Thanks for posting, but what are you asking exactly? You questions sounds like a survey to me. Such questions are not allowed in any Stack Exchange, therefore I'd ask you to edit it. Check the section What kind of questions should I not ask here? If you remove the part about "our experiences", then I think your question asks about retaining characters. In such a case, your question is a dupe of this one: "Techniques for learning and retaining characters"
    – Alenanno
    Jan 2, 2012 at 23:40
  • Hi Alenanno. Yes, maybe my question was not so clear. Indeed, I am looking for the best way to learn the characters :)
    – Paul Praet
    Jan 3, 2012 at 22:22
  • Learn more common characters before less common characters. There are lots of "one off" characters that only occur in one or two words. Ignore them. They probably don't have any independent meaning anyways. If you can read them in context, that's all you need. Jun 21, 2012 at 8:44

1 Answer 1


This is my personal experience:

  • You will remember and learn much more by writing things down than by using a computer
  • Chinese writing is notoriously hard and that's why schooling in China is much more full on and you will struggle if you don't push yourself as hard as a Chinese school student
  • Learning to write helps with learning to read. However, unless you are practicing regularly, you will forget how to write after a while. A quote from one of my Chinese friends yesterday: "Most of us have forgotten how to write. If someone asked me to write a letter today, I'd be lost."
  • I've seen many a demanding Chinese wife. Make yourself a level playing field and start asking for hand written 1k word essays once a week.
  • 1000 words are a lot... :D REALLY a lot... Even for westerner essays.
    – Alenanno
    Jan 3, 2012 at 14:48

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