Over the last months, the Zizzle team conducted a survey at Chinese universities and on the Internet, asking Chinese learners about their ways of studying Chinese characters. We wanted to know whether there was a pattern in studying them, what difficulties learners had to tackle and if and how people adjusted to those difficulties to make the study of 汉字 (Chinese characters) easier. Here are some of our results!
Unsurprisingly, the most important question for many Chinese learners is: How to learn and remember 汉字? The most common way of starting up is by repeatedly writing the Characters. That's how 78% of our respondents approached 汉字 at first. Interestingly, only 31% still used that method at the time being surveyed.
So, how do over 53% of our respondents that answered "Yes" to the question whether they still regularly studied 汉字 or not?
The answer is that some of them now approach 汉字 by getting an understanding of their character components, i.e. their semantic and phonetic component. By getting such an understanding, the character's composition will then feel more logical and will be easier to remember.
One third of the learners now also use an approach that is being described as mnemonics or short stories. This is based on the latter approach: First you get an understanding of the character components, and then you make up stories including those components in order to really help you to remember the 汉字. This is exactly the approach that Zizzle uses.
Unfortunately, it is still the minority of learners that is continuously using such methods. Therefore, most people tend to forget the 汉字 they've previously learnt. Over half of the respondents revealed that they can only remember the pronunciation, tone and meaning of less than 70% of the 汉字 that they learnt before – they also admitted to being able to write less than 40%…
In fact, less than 10% actually responded that they remembered how to write more than 80% of characters previously learnt.
We hope that we can make a change to this situation. If you are willing to help us, sign up to our newsletter!