I recently received a TrackBack Ping from Kangmi on the subject of Korean. I had a look at Kangmi’s interesting site www.kangmi.org where I picked up a few good tips on learning Korean. I noticed that Kangmi was planning to learn one Chinese character a day.
Chinese characters are used in Japanese and Korean as well as Chinese. I had to learn about 4000 of the little guys when I studied Chinese 35 years ago. Learning one a day is really not a good idea. In my view, everything in language learning has to do with intensity. When I studied Chinese I started learning 10 characters a day and got it up to 30 a day. Of course, as in all things related to language learning, I forgot at least half of what I learned.
How did I do it? First of all I only learned characters related to texts that I was reading or listening to. No isolated vocabulary from lists!
Second I used the squared paper that Chinese school children use. I would write the first character I wanted to learn 6 or 7 times down the left hand column of the paper. Then I would put the sound or meaning of that character three columns over to the right in a square. I would then start writing the next character 6 or 7 times and then write the sound or meaning three columns to the right. Eventually I would hit the first character again. I would have to remember it right away. Sometimes I did and sometimes I did not. In any case it was moved three columns to the right and so on.
At the same time as I did this I would also try to become familiar with all the clues that the characters offer like the little symblos for heart or metal or water etc. Eventually you ge better at guessing the meaning.
After practicing the characters I would read a text with these characters in it. If possible I would also listen to the same text on tape.