Mandarin Learning Challenge Day 9

Day 9 of the Mandarin Learning Challenge was quite a straightforward day. I learned another 32 characters, and my ability to retain the characters from yesterday was one hundred percent. Ultimately, this is great for my Mandarin Learning Challenge, but not so great for doing daily Mandarin Learning Challenge blog updates. It’s quite redundant to write a few hundred words every day on the fact that everything is going according to plan.

Mandarin Learning Challenge: Day 9

As stated, I learned a new set of characters. I retained all the characters I’ve learned so far. As this isn’t really an update and I still feel intimidated by jumping from vocabulary to sentences, we’re another couple of days away from exposition of grammar and the like.
What I’ll clarify then is how I am going about learning the characters and retaining them with great accuracy.

Step One: Learn the character.

This is several fold. Firstly, we take whatever character we’re learning a build a mnemonic. I’ve written about that here. The important thing to take into account is that you get the pronunciation, tone and meaning within the mnemonic. If you can get information about what the character looks like, then go ahead, but I’ve found thus far that trying to fit that, plus the three afforementioned items plus the stroke order is too much.
So, we’ll go with the mnemonic for those things.

Step Two: Read The Character

Secondly, we want to learn to read the character. So we’re going to write down the character in four columns. Firstly, the character. Secondly, the Pin Yin. Thirdly, The English. Finally, notes on the character. I tend to put the radicals and other characters that it is made of.
To read the character from memory, we’re going to cover up columns 2-4. You’re going to test yourself. If you can’t get the character, unveil column four to give yourself a clue. Then unveil either column two or three if you still can’t get it, depending on whether it’s the meaning or the pronunciation you’re having trouble with.
Then, you go back to the beginning of the list and start again, and you keep doing it until you know every character without needing any clues or help. Your language learning session isn’t finished until this is done. No excuses.
Then, once you’ve learned all the characters to read, you’re going to go away and do something else. Then you’ll come back and see if you remember them all. If not, you’re back to giving yourself clues. If you can remember them all, go on to the next step.
Which is going away for another little while and then doing it again.

Step Three: Write The Character

When you know you can read and understand the character, you’ve got to practice writing it. I showed you how to do that on this page, but the image below gives you the gist of the enterprise:

Mandarin Learning Challenge: Drilling Characters

Mandarin Learning Challenge: Drilling Characters

. Find the stroke order, and then write lines. Write those until you can do it from memory. Once you’ve done all of this work, it’ll be easy for you to remember, recall and recreate a character. Then you can move on to more characters.

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