How important is it to learn CHinese characters? Watch

Cultureyard
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I am learning beginner Chinese right now (conversational and a few characters) and I really enjoy learning characters but I also feel like once I've learned a lot I wont enjoy it so much. Which leaves me wondering how useful they are to learn on top of conversational skills.

What do you all think how useful is it to learn characters? What have other people done?
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Swinginking
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Basically, most people in places like hongkong can't read Chinese and only speak it, it's not really that useful, I speak Japanese, and when I visited Japan I found no use for it. Same for my friends who can only speak languages like punjabi, I know for a fact they can't read it, and they say they don't need to . So learning to speak it is more important than learning to read it.


Edit: and these days in this modern society there are usually translations in English in almost any country if it's something very important to read
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asparkyn
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If you plan to live in China, good luck not being able to read Chinese characters. Speaking is one thing, but having to keep pointing and asking someone else to read it gets tiresome very fast. Not knowing Chinese characters will severely hinder your daily communication eg. ordering food at a restaurant, opening a bank account, reading directions in the metro etc. I have never felt as helpless as I was when I was in China!

(Original post by Swinginking)
Basically, most people in places like hongkong can't read Chinese and only speak it, it's not really that useful
I disagree. It's true that many people living in Hong Kong can't read Chinese (myself included) and that Hong Kong is better in the sense that it is officially bilingual ... it doesn't mean that you will live easily. Sure, official signs will have English translations, but in older parts of the city you won't get by at all not knowing how to read Chinese. And also, a lot of restaurants face-palmingly refuse to serve with bilingual menus so you're going to have to literally close your eyes and blindly pick and choose :facepalm:

In other words ... learn the basic Chinese characters if you want to have a reasonable grip in the language. No one's asking you to read Confucius or anything, but knowing just enough to get by in restaurants (words like duck, chicken, rice, certain dumplings) and other usual daily activities are very useful.
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asparkyn
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Obviously though, if you don't plan to live in any part of China and want to use Mandarin only for socialising with friends in your own country (or maybe in places like Malaysia and Singapore ... the former's Chinese are famously hopeless at reading unless they were educated in a Chinese school) ... then it'll be okay not to learn the characters. But in any part of China, communication gets very difficult without recognition of Chinese characters!
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Xurvi
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(Original post by Cultureyard)
I am learning beginner Chinese right now (conversational and a few characters) and I really enjoy learning characters but I also feel like once I've learned a lot I wont enjoy it so much. Which leaves me wondering how useful they are to learn on top of conversational skills.

What do you all think how useful is it to learn characters? What have other people done?
I'd advise you to reduce the rate at which you learn new characters then.

If you're doing too much and it's not enjoyable any more, you risk procrastinating, and getting back to it will be really hard.

I used to see 50 new characters a day but then I kind of OD'd and stopped altogether because it had become a chore. Now I'm trying to resume my learning and I only do 10 a day to begin with, so as to keep it a pleasure to see new characters.
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Kolya
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(Original post by Cultureyard)
I am learning beginner Chinese right now (conversational and a few characters) and I really enjoy learning characters but I also feel like once I've learned a lot I wont enjoy it so much. Which leaves me wondering how useful they are to learn on top of conversational skills.

What do you all think how useful is it to learn characters? What have other people done?
One practical question: how do you intend to improve your speaking without knowledge of characters? Most resources seem to stop using pinyin after a while.

Really, if you learn 3 characters a day - not a huge ask of your time - then you'll know 2190 characters after two years. With a little effort each day, you'll be set.
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darkred
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(Original post by Kolya)
Really, if you learn 3 characters a day - not a huge ask of your time - then you'll know 2190 characters after two years. With a little effort each day, you'll be set.
What an interesting idea! Very clever way to do it. Thanks for that! :-)
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Swinginking
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I agree with aspark, what I meant was by not needing to learn them was that you dont need to learn it "fully" just that simple information , and good luck mate


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JonathanNorth
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I live in Taiwan and writing in Chinese hasn't been that useful to me. However, learning how to read the characters has been important. I intend to learn how to write after I have completed learning how to read and speak the language. I can write around 200 characters, but I stopped recently and I'm solely focusing on reading and speaking. I practice using zhuyin (bopomofo) and pinyin, through my mobile phone and that is how I can become more familiar with the characters.
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