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Learning to write Chinese through non conventional​ methods

One of the hardest aspect of the Chinese language is undoubtedly the characters. It is not only difficult to recognize, but even harder to write. Learning to write and retaining that ability is a very dull process even for adults, which make this topic extra challenging for children.

Traditionally characters are taught using stroke sequence charts, live demonstration, and a lot of repetition. Tracing booklets is the usual go to when it comes to practice.

However none of that will appeal to a toddler, when I teach younger children, and when I think about my own daughter, I asked what can make this process fun and interesting?

I try to incorporate a lot of pictures into writing when I teach, but that’s not enough, kids tend to need a lot more help with characters when it come to stroke sequence, relative size of radicals, and the overall look. Just asking them to mimic what the instructor writes tend to yield a funky looking result, with tracing exercises killing off whatever interest they had to begin with…

As a result I’ve started teaching characters in completely different ways. Every time a character is introduced, I would pair it with a craft exercise, but most importantly, I introduce the character using a game also – the good old connect the dot to reveal the shape game!

One character we did recently was bird “鸟”. It is a very difficult character to do using regular means, but the connect the dot method worked incredibly well and was fun enough to get the student wanting to repeat the exercise. In that aspect, it is doing what trace booklets are doing, but not killing the interest in the process. Below is what the exercise sheet look like.(I will include the printable download link at the bottom of this post)

The way these trace exercise work is that the circles indicate the beginning or the end of a stroke, so you will have to lift your pen when you reach a circle and find the next one, and the dots work just like a normal connect the dot activity – strike through and find the next. Once the exercise is done, use the same page to colour and have some fun! I usually try to have several characters lying around for wherever interest takes us.

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