The Chinese Challenge (4)

I realised it’s been a while since I updated you on my self-imposed Chinese challenge. Well, to be fair, I haven’t got around to studying much these past days, but my last vocabulary test showed 44 out of 87 words correct (character plus pinyin), and I left out the earlier chapters of my exercise book, where my quota should be close to 100% by now. I knew a total of 48 of these 87 characters, and a whopping 73 pronunciations (the pinyin).

I still have almost four weeks to go and I’ve filled in about half of my exercise book completely (it has lots of squares to practise writing the characters), and only have eight pages left that are still blank.

Fun fact: When I talked to my professor yesterday (one of my mentors for my BA paper), she was shocked by the way I’m trying to learn Chinese, and insisted that I need to read and write in Chinese in order to learn it. While I mostly agree with her, I still think this writing exercise I’m doing at the moment has its merits. I feel a lot more confident writing all those weird lines by now, for example, because my hands have learnt which lines (strokes) need to be grouped, and how, so characters are not a random mess of strokes anymore but rather words consisting of only a few groups of strokes that I use to help memorise the meaning and/or pronunciation. My mnemonic to remember “cat”, for example, is a claw (the radical for “claw”, to the left), cat grass (it contains the radical for “grass”, on the top right), and a box. The character is this:

The pronunciation, well, that’s easy: It’s mao (with the first tone, a flat, high tone).

I’ve been trying to create mnemonics for a lot of the characters, especially the more complex ones, and sometimes it works. Still working on increasing my success quota, though…


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