Can Chinese really do “one scan ten lines (一目十行 )” reading ? Then can you be trained to do it too?

Posted by Grace Feng on May 9, 2012

Can Chinese really do "one scan ten lines (一目十行 )" reading ? Then can you be trained to do it too?If you haven’t heard of the Chinese idiom 一目十行 yī mù shí háng , you’d better get to know now because you might can set it as your eventual goal for your reading capabilites on Chinese. :-) Literally, “一目” means “one eye”, it can be translated as “one visual scan”. “十行” is quite straightforward: “ten lines”. The idiom is to describe a fast reader that can capture the content of ten lines in one visual scan.

Then is it even possible for a native Chinese to do it: one scan ten lines? Well, in my opinion, one scan ten lines might be a bit stretch, though it’s not impossible for well trained people of certain occupation. That being said, scan one line in very short second and process it in the brain accordingly is absolutely possible.

If you’re a Chinese learner, you might wonder how could this be possible for you? Or what is the point here for you if you’re still struggling with your Chinese reading, and always have to stop to look up for new words here and there no matter what level you are?

Well, the point that I intent to make here is to show you some ways to train your reading capabilites on Chinese. It might benefit you better if you are already on intermediate or advanced levels.

1. Get familiar with Chinese sentence patterns.

Lots of patterns are structured with two or three fixed keywords. If they are familiar to you, once you read the first one, the rest keywords will pop up in your mind. Therefore you can skip read on them. This will save some of your reading time.


2. Guessing the meaning of unknown words by their radicals and context.

Most Chinese characters are composed of two parts, one part implies the meaning, the other part gives you the clue of it’s pronunciation. I’ve had a full list of Chinese radicals on this blog for your reference.


3. Grow your “visual feel” of Chinese characters, words, and compound words through vocabulary learning and reading practice.

For example, if you are reading a Chinese article and you do follow what have been read, then you should have a rough idea on what will be discussed in the next paragraph. Let’s say it’s going to talk about a beautiful woman, then if the character “ qīng” got caught in the corner of your eye, you should quickly flash the following two words through your mind: 倾倒 qīngdào (be completely drawn to) and 倾国倾城 qīng guó qīngchéng (extremely beautiful), because they are the most relevant words that have “ qīng” . In that way, you are not reading character by character, you’re reading block by block. A block could mean a very long compound word, or even a sentence.

OK then, today I’ll stop here and leave it to you to think about how to improve your reading speed and quality in the long run. Feel free to leave your comment for discussion.

Good night, my friend!


Related posts:

The best way to turn your Chinese learning into active knowledge - writing a journal!
How do native Chinese "spell" their names to others?
Let experts help you to learn Mandarin Chinese


Category: Learn Chinese tips and strategies

Tags: , , , , ,


You can share this post here:
Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On Google PlusCheck Our Feed

6 Responses to “Can Chinese really do “one scan ten lines (一目十行 )” reading ? Then can you be trained to do it too?”

  1. nothing

    Jason (凯杰):

    05-11-2012 12:23 pm

    一目十行? I’m definitely not there yet.
    I have noticed anecdotally that my Chinese friends seem to be able to read Chinese faster than I can read English. Do you also think this is true?

    I like your advice #3, it is important to think of Chinese in blocks and not as individual characters. That is not easy to do when you are a beginner but important to work on it.


    • nothing


      05-11-2012 8:55 pm


      “I have noticed anecdotally that my Chinese friends seem to be able to read Chinese faster than I can read English. Do you also think this is true?”

      This is true for me since my “block” technique can’t seem to apply to my English reading :-) I read English word by word, do you do the same? But I’m really curious about how could you tell you’re reading slower than your Chinese friends? Usually one line of Chinese is more condensed than one line of English in print, I really don’t know how to compare the reading speed of the readers if the reading scripts are so drastically different.

      Well one thing is for sure: the reading technique you apply to alphabet language and Chinese language should be different. To get familiar with long compound words in Chinese can vastly speed up your “scan” speed.



      • nothing

        Jason (凯杰):

        05-12-2012 1:40 pm

        You are right. I certainly don’t know for sure that my Chinese friends read Chinese faster than I read English. It is probably impossible to compare such different scripts, plus people can have very different reading speeds.

        I think it’s more about what you mentioned about a Chinese line being more condensed. It seems like my Chinese friends can just glance at a line and “get it” faster than a similar sized line in English. It’s just an impression though, impossible to confirm.



  2. nothing

    Jacob Gill:

    05-18-2012 3:24 pm

    I love this gem, but lets not forget the often quoted line the follows…


    You’ve got some great tips here, especially the one about grammar patterns, since those are really the context clues you need to find lots of relevant information in longer articles.

    Keep up the great work, and don’t forget to remember what you just read!


    • nothing


      05-21-2012 4:23 am

      Hi Jason,

      Sorry for the late approval, I’ve just came back from a vacation in the nature with no Internet access …

      As a matter of fact, 过目即忘 fits me better when my memory is on strike, which unfortunately happens more often now than before… :-(



Leave Reply

Copyright © 2016 Just Learn Chinese