This is the second time I have learned around 1000 characters and got the feeling that I was selling myself short by learning this way. I’ve always been good at making connections between things in my learning and I think I have made another one.
I’m sure this will be obvious to some people, it’s kind of common knowledge, but I’ll say it. In Chinese, the radicals often give a clue to the meaning of the character. Some radicals like the water radical or the hand radical, are used for around 200 characters each in the most common 3000. The characters with the hand radical mostly have to do with actions you make with your hand like tying a knot or climbing or beating someone. The characters with the radical water are things like ocean, and juice. A lot of the characters with the woman radical interestingly enough have to do with marriage and family. So When I’m learning these characters, I was trying to learn all the characters that used one radical, then all the characters that used another. I started catching on I guess. Also I was getting stressed, I was stressing myself out actually , about learning them all fast.
The next important thing is that most of the characters have more than one meaning so if you are just learning one meaning like people do with rth, you are still only having part of the story. What I am trying to say is that all those people that got fluent after learning rtk actually didn’t have the total grasp of each and every character. Not completely anyways, but pretty good.
What I am suggesting is that a person who is quick to catch on to these connections and become board might need to take learning into their own hands and learn in a way that is more natural for them.
Here is my suggested method.
1) Start off by learning all the 214 radicals.
2) Learn Hanzi using mnemonics RTH style and if you burn out and feel what described…
3) Switch to sentences and makes sure when you read you read each radical, each component making a guess based on the radical and any other knowledge you have.
4)At same time as 3 or maybe before, go through the 3000 most common Hanzi in RTH or an online deck and figure out how the radicals are mainly used. Meaning what types of characters each one is mainly used for. Then if there are any characters that deviate from the pattern, learn those RTH style. The rest just learn from sentences as part of other words and phrases.
See I started learning the Hanzi because when I first did the sentences method it felt like the characters were only vaguely learned. I felt I would enjoy it more if I new all the characters. Now after having around 1000 or so I feel like, I don’t need to have ALL the characters, I have enough that I would benefit from sentences. Now that I’ve gotten used to separating the characters into components I would be paying attention to that as I read, not like the first attempt at sentences. So I have around 1000 characters and a good grasp of the radicals and other character components.
This might be an INTP thing so any of you out there y’know… really…catch on to this. Like if you learn well by osmosis or by understanding what your learn rather than rote, you might enjoy this. I also like this just as an argument against this hesig traditionalism that seems to be the tendency. Like, you think you need 3000 characters? Why? Why isn’t 2000 enough? Why not 1000? I know studies say with 3000 you have like 95 % of the characters in modern use or something. However you’ll still be illiterate so that still isn’t an argument for learning 3000 rth style. Once you learn 1000, experiment. If you feel a flow in your learning of sentences and words after only 1000 characters then maybe it’s enough to start with.