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How to Write Chinese Characters Like a Native

How to Write Chinese Characters Like a Native

For westerners, it’s easy to assume that English or Spanish are the most commonly spoken and written languages in the world. After all, those are the primary languages taught in schools and it seems like everyone has at least a basic knowledge of one of the two. However, the truth is that Mandarin Chinese is almost as popular as both English and Spanish combined. An estimated 955 million people speak it – or 14.4 percent of the entire global population.

While it can take years to learn Mandarin, many people with a casual interest in the language find the idea of learning to write Chinese characters intriguing. If you’re in that cohort, there’s no better time to learn than right now! Within 10 minutes, you can go from having zero knowledge of Chinese to being capable of writing five unique characters.

Grab a pen, snag a piece of paper, and let’s go!

The Chinese Character for “Big”

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    Let’s start with the Chinese character, Da, which means “Big” or “Adult” in English.

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    This character is very simple and looks like an upside-down “V” with a perpendicular line cutting through the top. To draw it, start at the upward point and draw a sweeping line down and slightly to the left. Then, do the same thing on the opposite side. Finally, draw a line through the top.

    In order to remember it better, you can picture it like an adult stick figure with arms and legs.

    The Chinese Character for “Mouth”

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      Kou – or mouth – is arguably the easiest character to draw. It’s essentially a square with two of the lines slightly protruding beneath the base. It looks something like this:

      In order to remember the character’s association with the meaning, you can picture it as an actual mouth, like this:

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        The Chinese Character for “Mountain”

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          The Chinese character for “Mountain” – shan – looks a lot like a pitch fork with no handle. You start by drawing the center line in a top to bottom direction. You then draw the line on the left, followed by the line on the right (which is slightly longer than the other two). Finally, you connect the three lines with a perpendicular stroke.

          Here’s a helpful way to remember that the shan character means “mountain.”

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            The Chinese Character for “Moon”

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              The character for “Moon” – yue – is pretty simple to draw. You simply start with by drawing two downward lines. The one on the left sweeps out at the bottom, while the one on the right hooks upward on the inside. You then draw two perpendicular lines in the middle to form two rectangles.

              And here’s a visual to help you remember the character:

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                The Chinese Character for “Fire”

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                  “The Chinese character for “Fire” – huo – is one of the easier ones for beginners to draw.” You start with the same two lines as you do with the character for “Big,” and then draw one short line on side, like this.

                  Here’s an easy way to visually remember the character huo:

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                    Don’t Fret – It Takes Time

                    While these are some of the more simple Chinese characters, don’t worry if you don’t get them right away. Even adult Chinese people will tell you that it took a long time to learn and memorize each individual character. However, with consistent practice and a commitment to learning, you can increase your knowledge of written Chinese characters and consistently add new ones to your repertoire. The top three tips for patiently learning Chinese characters are as follows:

                    • Practice every day. The best thing you can do is practice every single day. Whether its 10 minutes or 2 hours is up to you, but making regular and consistent time to practice will help you retain the information you learn and improve accuracy.
                    • Make analogies. Much like the five examples above, it’s important to make analogies to help you remember what each character means and looks like. While you may not rely on these images forever, they can especially help in the beginning stages.
                    • Use helpful resources. Finally, you should use all of the available resources you have at your disposal. Whether this is the help of a friend, books at the library, websites, or mobile applications, it’s important to surround yourself with knowledge.

                    Top Resources for Further Study

                    In particular, you should focus on some of the following resources: 

                    • Best mobile application. The Monki Chinese Class iPad app is arguably the single most valuable tool for learning basic Chinese characters. Check out this video to see why.
                    • Best writing utensil. According to this infographic from PensXpress, a provider of custom pens, the pen has been around since at least 400 BC. But, what’s the best option for practicing your Chinese characters today? Opt for a fine pencil or pen; the finer the better.
                    • Best print resource. You can’t forget about print resources and books. For a comprehensive look at basic Chinese characters, check out Reading & Writing Chinese: Simplified Character Edition by William McNaughton.

                    Everyone has a different learning style, so make sure you use the tools and resources that are helpful and interesting to you. Start with the five characters taught in this article and then feel free to expand your knowledge and tackle even more difficult Chinese characters!

                    Featured photo credit: Popping Pandas via poppingpandas.com

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                    Larry Alton

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                    Published on June 19, 2019

                    Your Beliefs About Success May Be Holding You Back

                    Your Beliefs About Success May Be Holding You Back
                    Pause for a moment and think about how you would describe success.

                    If your description is dominated by money or status, then your image of success is faulty.

                    For example, there are countless people who have these assets but don’t feel successful. Some of these people have enormous amounts of disposable income, but work so many hours during the day that they have no life beyond their work.

                    Would you regard these people as successful?

                    At first glance, I likely wouldn’t.

                    And, then there are the endless celebrities who go from fame to failure (think bankruptcy, addictions and worse).

                    Are they successful?

                    Probably not.

                    In truth, success is about happiness and fulfillment in life.

                    But, there is more than one definition of success. Just look at the above example of the person who worked too hard to spend their money. If they’re happy with their life, then we shouldn’t criticize their version of success.

                    So how about you? Do you have a clear definition of what success looks like for you?

                    If you don’t, you’ll be constantly chasing someone else’s idea of success, and could find yourself totally unfulfilled and miserable.

                    The good news is that over the next few minutes, I’m going to give you the tools you need to build a crystal clear picture of YOUR SUCCESS.

                    Positive Thinking

                    With the right attitude, anything can seem possible.

                    For instance, if you’re fed up with your job, but do nothing to change it, then you’ll likely be stuck there for years to come. But, if you see the job as a stepping stone to something bigger and better, then not only will you enjoy your work more, but you’ll have something positive to aim towards (e.g., a promotion or new job).

                    The example above demonstrates a little-known factor of success… suffering!

                    Yes, suffering may be a negative thing that most people go out of their way to avoid; but successful people use suffering as a springboard to big achievements. Mindset really does separate the losers from the winners.

                    Another thing you can do, is to gradually build up your positivity and confidence by tracking your progress towards your goals. And, each time you accomplish something – however small – be sure to celebrate it!

                    This is a great way to propel you towards success.

                    The Purpose of a Purpose

                    What is your purpose in life?

                    These are questions I suggest you spend some time thinking about. To help you find the answers, consider the following:

                    If you just seek a career, all you will find is a career.

                    But, if you seek a purpose, you’ll find something much more than a career – you’ll find your calling. And when you’ve found this, and you begin following it, you’ll be firmly in the middle of the happiness, satisfaction and success zone.

                    This is backed by science, with research showing that people who have a purpose and meaning in life have an increase in:[1]
                    • Overall well-being
                    • Mental and physical health
                    • Resiliency
                    • Self-esteem

                    But, don’t mistake seeking happiness and success as your purpose. These things are a natural result of following your purpose – but shouldn’t be your focal point.

                    Austrian Neurologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said it well:

                    “It is the very pursuit of happiness, that thwarts happiness.”

                    What about YOUR purpose?

                    If you’re struggling to identify it, look for the things in your life that you’re good at, enthuse you, and provide a benefit to the world.

                    Becoming a Better You

                    Are your beliefs holding you back?

                    If yes, here are three things you can do RIGHT NOW to break out of your mind trap:

                    1. Boost Your Confidence: you can do this by overcoming challenges that come your way. For example, if you have a fear of public speaking, face this challenge head-on by agreeing to do regular presentations for your company, or by joining a public speaking organization like Toastmasters International. Speak in public often enough, and your fear of it will plunge like a river going over a waterfall.
                    2. Develop Healthy Habits: I’m talking about positive habits that will serve you day in, day out. Habits such as lifelong learning, eating well, and waking up early. When these things are automatic for you, you’ll reap incredible benefits from them. Take eating well, for example. You’ll feel better. You’ll look better. And you’ll have way more energy to make things happen in your life.
                    3. Invoke the Magic of Goal Setting: Without goals, you’ll drift through life like a plastic bottle in the sea. But with goals, you’ll be like a 100m sprinter running towards the finishing line. Goals really are powerful tools. They’ll direct your focus and energy, and will allow you to track your progress in life. I recommend the SMART goal-setting method (find out about this here).

                    And, always remember… don’t compare yourself to others; only compare yourself to who you were yesterday.

                    Each step you take forward is making you a better version of you.

                    Success Is Self-Love

                    I encourage you to take the tips I’ve shared in this article and put them into action in your life. Ideally, starting right now!

                    Firstly, transform your mindset by facing up to challenges and overcoming them. Then spend time to discover your purpose. And, once you’ve found it – start following it.

                    Becoming a better version of you will take some time, but will be worth the wait. Not only will you reach into untapped potential in your life, but you’ll also develop respect and love for yourself along the way.

                    So don’t let your beliefs hold you back anymore. BREAK FREE from them and start enjoying a happy, healthy and successful life.

                    Featured photo credit: Razvan Chisu via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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