For Adult Mandarin Learners, Stop Learning How to Write!
If you are an adult learning Mandarin as a foreign language, you may have been overwhelmed by the difficulty of having to learn to do all 3 skills of
- Writing (Stop doing this to be fluent)
It’s a common problem even for Chinese descendants who have never learned Mandarin when they were young. Mastering all 3 skills will slow you down cause one to lose motivation.
The simple hack is really to stop doing number 3 — stop learning how to write the Chinese characters.
Write Mandarin — Frankly, this is one skill which you have to give up so that you would not always be trapped with knowing limited characters. For adult learners or those who start late, learning how to write is just too fastidious. And if you are learning from beginners, I assure you, you will be bored with those primary, beginner or children level book whereby you can’t seem to go beyond “Greetings” or “When to Meet for a Picnic”. Once you know the basic Pin Yin and if you ever need to write, you can always use the computer to help you with that.
Recognising Mandarin — the most important element. I have deliberately replaced the word READ with RECOGNISE. Unlike learning English or any other languages there are written in alphabets, you can’t read Mandarin. You recognize Mandarin! The first thing to do is to learn the basics of how Mandarin characters are formed. Do you know that almost 80% of Mandarin Characters are differentiated by 1 part of the character to represent meaning, while the other part of the character represent sound?
How can one recognise Mandarin? Start looking at the Character like a painting. Instead of over-focusing on the strokes see it as a painting as a whole. One could never look into a piece of Renoir and count the number of painting strokes. But one could tell fairly quickly what’s the painting is depicting about e.g. is it about a lady in a boat or a picnic by the lake.
Once you are able to recognise Mandarin, you would be able to increase your vocabulary faster thus enabling you to read materials that are meant for adults.
The above is a personal experience of mine. I learned Mandarin as a 3rd language and am now a holder of the Hanyu Shui Ping (HSK) and I continue to read both Traditional & Simplified Chinese books regularly.
Do write in if you have any questions. I would love to answer your questions if you have any.