Interesting Chinese Characters: A Big Picture of Chinese Writing System




Course Objectives: Why particularly Chinese characters?

Unlike the phonetic language system as English, French, Spanish and so forth, which belong to the western language system that people are able to write down the words according to the corresponding pronunciation, or reversely be able to pronounce the overt phonetic sound according to the combination of the words, Chinese language system contains phonetic and pictographic elements, and even the phonetic part is still based on the pictographic part which has already been developed and changed over thousands of years and formed a fixed meaning within each character or character radical. Therefore for Chinese language learners, they cannot expect to acquire writing Chinese within a short period of time because Chinese writing system is not consist of simple alphabets but different strokes, it will need and take a lot of time to get used to write them and form a cognitive concepts of Chinese characters.

Learners Differences

The languages differences usually happens culturally and geographically, therefore Chinese characters are usually easier for Asian students to learn meanwhile much harder for western students. In Asia countries, especially Korea and Japan, their civilization are more or less affected by Chinese ancient culture, and this kind of influence reflects on their languages writing system too which are also derives from Chinese characters and can be defined as pictographic languages. In this case, even Chinese writing is still somehow a new writing system for them, the similarity and closeness will be beneficial for Asian students. On the contrary, European language systems have huge difference from Chinese, for a lot of European learners, they see Chinese characters as “pictures” which they feel impossible to write as writing language form. Under this circumstance, it usually takes longer and more effort for European learners to acquired the overall information of Chinese characters than Asian learners.

Course Content

Unit 1: Introduction Unit

Target Objective: Learner will grasp a general idea of how Chinese characters have developed and changed over the past 5000 years.

Unit 2: Getting to know the basic types of Chinese characters

Target Objective: Based on what will be learnt, learners will be able to associate the current Chinese characters with its original forms and know how they came into being, and have the basic concepts of the overt formation of the Chinese characters which will be taught through the unit.

Unit 3: Major difficulties in writing Chinese characters

Target Objective: Be aware of the issues which are confusing or more difficult than others, understand why and how these issues come into being and the effective learning methods to prevent or correct them.