hackchinese
Hand-writing characters
We think most students should not learn to hand-write characters. 

Because many Chinese programs advocate learning to hand-write characters, we feel we should explain our reasoning and let you make your own decision.

We'll go into more depth below, but here are the main points:

  1. Learning to hand-write characters takes a long time.
  2. Hand-writing ability does not help you communicate.

#1 - Learning to hand-write characters takes a long time

Being able to recognize a character when you see it is a very different from being able to reproduce that character on a blank page.  To hand-write a character, you need to know which components make up the character, how to draw each one, and where they are positioned next to each other. 

Learning these things takes a lot more time, but it isn't just the learning that takes longer --  it also takes longer to review!

In Hack Chinese (which focuses on recognition), you can press one button to respond, "Yes, I know this".

If you are hand-writing characters, you have to physically move your pen across a paper (or slide your finger or stylus across a screen) every time you want to do a review.

The average review in Hack Chinese takes 2-5 seconds, and most students log hundreds of thousands of reviews over the course of a year. If each review took a lot longer (because you were moving a pen), you would either spend a lot more time reviewing, or learn many fewer words, or both.

#2 - Hand-writing ability does not help you communicate

Thanks to Pinyin, we can "type" in Chinese with our familiar 26-character keyboards, and then select from a menu of likely "candidate" characters that our devices provide.

This is how virtually all foreigners type in Chinese: memorizing Pinyin and recognizing characters. 

Technically, you could enable a handwriting-recognition "keyboard" on your devices, just like you technically can walk up "down" escalators. It can be fun, but it's certainly more challenging, and you get to the same place.

In Summary

By focusing on recognition, you can expand your vocabulary faster, read more advanced texts sooner, and understand more conversations earlier. We think most students would prefer this, but may not realize the tradeoffs when "choosing" to learn how to hand-write characters. 

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