Posted by Grace Feng on July 5, 2012
I’ve been asked about how to turn newly learned Chinese characters into active knowledge instead of passive knowledge. In another word, how could you recall a Chinese character or word on your own when you need it? The problem my reader has is he can only recognize the character when he actually sees it. However he can’t bring it up in his mind when he needs it.
I believe this is not an isolated case, I’ve seen quite a few other people were asking the same question in other forums. It’s worth a post to talk about it.
As I mentioned in the beginning, passive knowledge is something that you only recognize when you see it. Your brain can build the connection from the shape of the character to its definition. However, if you don’t pay effort to build connection from its definition to its shape, the connection is only one way traffic, not bidirectional.
To build the connection from its definition to its shape, you need to train your brain to get used to that specific traffic. In my opinion, building connections based on a word is much easier than a single character. Building connection based on usage is much easier than on definition.
For example, if you want to remember character 学 xué (learn), it’s much easier to remember 学习 xuéxí (study) as a word. Why? Because that way, you can actually use 学习 xuéxí to build sentences under various context and practice any way you want. A word usually contains more practical meaning than a character, which will make it easier for you to picture it in your mind and memorize. If you only learn single characters, it’ll be harder for you to build practical sentences to practice and re-enforce your memory.
As I suggested, writing a journal in Chinese can be a practical routine for you to reuse what you’ve learned. One thing you need to remember is: Try to use the knowledge that you just learned and need to be re-enforced desperately. Keep it short and focused. You even can make up some thing in your journal. It doesn’t matter whether your journal is a true reflection of your real life. Let it be creative and study oriented. Keep it in mind that the goal of your journal is a place that you can think and talk in Chinese any way you want.
If you want to make your journal more interactive, you can also register to a free blogging space and publish your journal there so people might drop in and leave some comment to make it more interesting. If you’d like to receive comments in Chinese, go choose logging providers from Chinese
Web sites, such as weibo.com, www.weebly.com, blog.hexun.com etc.
The following is a simple example of what a Chinese journal for practicing Chinese would look like. Again, it’s ALL up to you whatever you want to write about.
A friendly reminder: If your journal become “too political “, there is a risk that it’ll be closed by Web Site authorities if it’s hosted on a Chinese Web Site. Therefore, if you’re interested in writing about very political topics, choose a non Chinese blogging provider then.
Category: Learn Chinese tips and strategies
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