Learn Chinese characters or not?

Chinese characters are one of the things that puts people off most about learning Chinese.

But you may be wondering, do you really need to learn the characters?

Would it be better to concentrate on the listening and speaking first, and then work on the characters later, so you don’t have to cope with too much at once and slow everything down?

I mean, it depends on your goals.

If your goal is to be able to communicate in the language, then absolutely you should concentrate on speaking and listening, and you don’t have to feel bad about not learning the characters. If you have limited time, it’s understandable..

But what if you are interested in all the aspects of the language, and you’re trying to figure out the most effective way to learn everything?

Here’s my advice:

If you do want to learn the characters, concentrate on learning to recognise them first. 

Because here’s the thing: it’s much easier to learn to recognise the characters than to write them.

And if you can recognise a character and you know how to pronounce it, you can type it, so effectively you can already ‘write’.

Learning to write characters by hand is not for everybody, it takes persistence. You will have to write them and forget them a number of times before they stick in your head. And that’s normal.

So I recommend that if you’re interested in Chinese characters, you at least learn to recognise the ones in your course as you go, but don’t think that you have to be able to write all of them by heart before you can move on.

Written by chris parker