Although I’ve been devoting my Chinese studies over the past year to learning conversational Mandarin, I would also like to learn to read and write Chinese. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I find remembering Chinese characters challenging, to say the least. I thought I good book that uses memory cues to help me remember might be a good investment. That’s why I bought Learning Chinese Characters, published by Tuttle.
This book describes itself as “a revolutionary new way to learn and remember the 800 most basic Chinese characters.”
The trick is that Learning Chinese Characters uses pictures and stories to speed the learning process and make it easier and more enjoyable.
However, after working through the first four or five chapters, this book’s method was not working for me and I gave it up. Overall I found it a slow path to learning Chinese characters. And the pictures and stories only yielded partial success.
I’ve studied memory techniques before and I have used picture stories to remember things. But in the past I always created my own stories. Using the pre-made stories in the book didn’t register with me.
But I’m not saying that you won’t find this book helpful. In fact, I think it might work well for some people. And I learned a few things too. For example, I will never forgot the image of the person’s arms spread wide to symbolize “da” (big) or the octopus associated with “ba” (eight).
Maybe I’ll take another look at this book in future. For now, I’m back to focusing on conversation.