Remembering words is always the most important and difficult thing for language learners. It is the same with Chinese. Many chinese learners complain to me that Chinese words are rather difficult to remember. Here I will introduce the way of how to learn Chinese characters that Chinese people usually use. Actually it can be included as three steps: write Chinese characters, remember Chinese pinyin, and understand characters’ meaning.
Step 1. Write Chinese Characters – remember what characters look like
To remember a Chinese character, you should remember what it looks like at first. To achieve it, you can resort to Chinese characters practice notebook, which we usually call 字帖 (zì tiě). There are two parts for each notebook: one is printed Chinese character, and the other is transparent paper. When you put the transparent paper on the printed characters, you can imitate the characters easily. That is a good way to remember the shape of a word.
Step 2. Practice Chinese Pinyin – remember how characters pronounce
As for this step, I think you should build a solid base, that is, mastering Chinese alphabets. The combination of different alphabets form different pinyin. Then you can practice the pinyin of each character. Here for modern mandarin language, I suggest use the Chinese News channel as materials. You can download some Chinese news resources from the Internet and follow their pronunciations.
Step 3. Understand Characters’ Meaning
From my own perspective, I think this step is closely related to step 2. When you practice the pinyin of each character, you can try to remember and understand its meaning. Here I have to repeat one point: not all characters have clear meaning. Many characters mean something only when they are combined with other characters, such as “么” “哦” “了”. When 么 is combined with 什, it is formed 什么 (means what); when 了is combined with 好, it is formed 好了 (means it’s ok). Do not try to distinguish all single characters, which will make you feel tired.