Posted on January 31, by Marcia Hebert In writing this post, I am on a bit of a crusade because I have been on both sides of this topic.
It is one of those headache-inducing things that parents in Singapore have to deal with because is it rare to find a child who loves to do it. We wish for a less loathsome way by which our kids can learn how to write Chinese. Unfortunately, the reality is: There is no shortcut to learning how to write Chinese characters except through practice, practice and practice.
There are thousands of Chinese characters. For primary school syllabus, by primary 6, students are expected to know how to read — Chinese characters, of which — they need to also know how to write.
To learn how to write English, you only have to learn how to write 26 alphabets. Since the language is pretty phonetic, it is easy to learn the spelling of the words. This is not so for Chinese. Each and every character has to be learned on its own. You cannot learn parts and then learn to put the parts together using some meaningful principles.
There are certain heuristics and tricks that will help you to remember how to write the characters, as most characters consist of 2 -4 parts, one of which could be the radical, which generally suggests the meaning of the word, and another which may be an existing word, which teaching writing alphabets preschoolers learning the pronunciation to the new character.
Even with such heuristics and tricks, one still has to practise writing each character. Not only that, the sequence of the strokes is equally important. As if that is not bad enough, the minutest detail not taken care of could lead to you writing a totally different character.
Imagine teaching young children to write in precisely that sequence of stroke, and make sure each particular stroke is placed just right, no extending beyond a certain point, yet not too short either. Repeat for X number of time, X being nothing less than Then, after painstakingly teaching a number of characters, with all the tears and cajoling and threats, you find your kid forgetting half of them next week and you have to start all over again.
I have gone through all that. For my first two boys, because they went to preschools, I was not totally in charge of their learning. Each week, they had to learn a number of characters for Chinese spelling.
After a while, I realised that in order for them to actually remember how to write the characters, they had to practice writing them again and again and again.
In the end, I had to make them do more writing practice at home.
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That was when I realised there was really no shortcut. Painful as it was, it had to be done. Fortunately, we reaped the rewards later on.
When they went on to primary school, they were pretty used to writing practice. The best part was that they could recognise more characters than their peers.
So over the years, I have learned a few things about teaching the kids to write Chinese characters: Remembering how to write is not the same as remembering how to read.
The child can remember and recognise many characters without ever having written any of them. I have mentioned this in Chinese for a Preschooler that a very young child can be taught to recognise Chinese characters, even before his fine motor skill is developed enough to start writing anything.
Therefore, it is possible for a child to know how to read a character but does not know how to write it. However, writing does reinforce the retention. It is only natural that a child knows how to read a character that he has learned how to write.
Writing practice is essential for the child to remember how to write, not how to read. If your child is not systematically taught how to read with plenty of reinforcement to help him recognise the characters, writing practice becomes an even more important part of teaching him how to recognise and read the characters.About • Privacy • Help • Contact; The Starfall Website is a program service of Starfall Education Foundation, a publicly supported nonprofit organization, (c.
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