The difference between Chinese and western languages is due to their respective forms. Chinese characters do not represent ideas, but instead depict words which are described as Lexi graphic. Learners of Chinese are less likely to associate Chinese characters with their sounds (though native Chinese do) than is the case with students of western languages. Even though the learning process seems arduous, Chinese character recognition ability is the key factor in improving reading and writing proficiency levels.
Chinese Writing Methods Require Knowledge of Chinese Characters
Two methods are available to produce Chinese character writing: 1) writing by hand or 2) coding via use of some type of technological input device. Comparatively speaking, writing by hand requires more labor and better memory ability to construct correct characters. Learners who need to communicate with Chinese characters greatly benefit from an ability to write in situations where technological devices are unavailable. It takes several years of practice to achieve the level of artistry required for handwritten communication and to smoothly recall written vocabulary. Consequently, students typically believe that the computer-input method can simplify the process for learning Chinese characters. Even though the computer-input method can generate Chinese characters from the input of Hanyu Pinyin or radicals’ components, users of the method do not necessarily have the more sophisticated level of ability needed to generate handwritten characters solely from memory.
Advantages of Learning Chinese Characters
Most beginning and intermediate students think Chinese characters are the most difficult aspect of learning the Chinese language. even Chinese speakers spend around eight years to learn 3000 Characters. The knowledge of Chinese characters is very useful and not always difficult to acquire. it is more efficient to write standard Chinese in pinyin, instead of by characters, and pinyin is the best strategy for reducing the illiteracy rate among Chinese-speakers. Nevertheless, Chinese characters have a unique capacity to differentiate homophonous morphemes, which makes it easy to learn di-syllabic or multisyllabic words.
Even though learning Chinese by Hanyu Pinyin is advocated to accelerate the learning pace, it is significant that the comprehensive Chinese-learning curriculums in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, and other countries still require learners to memorize Chinese characters. Williams, an earlier Romanization proponent, admitted in 1851 that total abolishment of Chinese characters was unrealistic, and he urged beginners to learn radicals as familiarly as the alphabet. Chinese characters are still a common component of Chinese reading and writing and it will always be advantageous to teach Chinese characters to students in order to enhance their written ability to communicate with native speakers. If students do not overcome difficulty in Chinese-character reading and writing, their speaking and listening skills are less likely to reach advanced language proficiency levels.
Because characters are often taught in an unsystematic manner, the character learning approaches can result in less efficiency.
By analytically deconstructing characters into small units (radicals or components) and showing how components are assembled to convey character meanings, Clavis Sinica reduces learner anxiety. Clavis Sinica abides by the maxim “practice makes perfect” by offering many practice opportunities. Once learners sufficiently internalize their rote knowledge, they can then utilize it in future advanced learning situations.
Learner’s Learning Strategies toward Character Learning
Beginning and intermediate learners do not have enough orthographic awareness to develop effective rules for learning Chinese characters. Students with higher levels of orthographic awareness tend to develop effective strategies for learning Chinese characters by deconstructing the radicals and phonetics of the characters. Students who are aware of this strategy tend to perform better on character recognition and production tasks.
Helping students summarize, generate and deconstruct characters’ reoccurring components can benefit those students in the long run.
Chinese Character Pedagogy
Chinese characters are constructed by radicals (frequently-used basic components), phonetics and sub-components. Learners often struggle to associate the sound of a Chinese word with its written form. even though it is a challenge for Chinese learners to match the sounds and written forms of Chinese words, sound and character identification association and character writing cannot be neglected in Chinese teaching.
The following pedagogical tactics are recommended for overcoming the difficulty of Chinese character (words) recognition and production:
Segregation from integrated activities and context.
Teaching of Chinese characters should be segregated from integrated textbooks and classroom instruction in order to facilitate a separate pace, accord enough instructional attention, and provide orthographic information
Radical and phonetic instruction.
Some scholars believed Hanyu Pinyin and Chinese characters should be taught at the same time. During this step instructors should focus on simple characters and other components which frequently appear. Such components would include 214 “primitive” radicals and phonetic components. Phonetic encoding plays a significant role in Chinese learning.
At least eighty percent of the characters are compound characters with phonetic and meaning components (radicals). Learners who are very familiar with the primitive components will also be much more competent in recognizing individual characters.
Development of character analysis and orthographic awareness. Students ought to be trained to analyze, assemble, and deconstruct characters by utilizing their knowledge of configuration rules (i.e. left-to-right, top-to-bottom, etc.) and radical components. This skill is needed to analytically deconstruct complicated characters by their radicals and thereby achieve enhanced memorization and orthographic awareness. Learners can expect to build their visual familiarity with the intra-character orthographic units. Word association awareness helps accumulate the vocabulary knowledge which is, in turn, the basis for second-language acquisition.
Regular review of characters in context.
Instructors need to present characters with fewer stokes before introducing complicated characters with many strokes, and should emphasize recognition before replication. students should only be requested to practice characters which are provided with the context necessary to enable association with the matching meanings and usages. In order to place Chinese characters in long-term memory, students need to repeat the characters through their mental processes from time to time. Students also need tips on how to physically fashion the written Chinese characters they will be practicing in handwriting.