What I’m actually doing

…is writing out words in Mandarin Chinese again and again.  And again.

I’m normally pretty skeptical when Chinese teachers (or Japanese teachers) tell you to learn the characters just by writing them out, many times over. I assume that’s how they learnt as a child (all my teachers, so far, where born overseas). It might(!) be OK advice for a child, but I’m really doubtful it’s applicable to adult learners, who don’t have the reinforcement of hearing the language around them, everyday.

I much prefer to make up stories about the characters, to help me remember them. And understand their origins (pictograms) and components.

But this exam, we have to answer everything in Chinese (the questions are in Chinese, too). We even have write down, in characters, the conversations we hear in during the listening test. So I’m practicing speed writing – I’m thinking it’s like muscle training.  And yes, my writing is a bit messy.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE writing the characters.  I think they’re beautiful.  They’re a big part of the reason I wanted to learn Japanese, then Chinese. But wow, there’s a lot of them! Over 2,000 just for daily use. I know around 600…