Top 25 Fun Facts About Learning Hanzi Chinese Characters

Why should you learn Chinese characters and Chinese language?

China is the fastest developing nation on Earth and is already the second-largest economy, after the USA. It shows no sign of slowing down and quite the opposite.

As the global economic stage shifts, the Chinese language will play a significant role in shaping its future, and the importance of learning Chinese will grow. Learning Chinese has many benefits across the spectrum of life, from gaining cultural insight to better business opportunities, from making lifelong friendships to traveling. In fact, there has never been a better time to learn Chinese than today!

In this article, we’ve listed 25 fun facts to whet your appetite for learning Chinese characters and master the language!

1. Chinese characters are the world’s oldest written language

Chinese characters, also known as Hanzi (漢字), are one of the earliest forms of written language in the world. Chinese character inscriptions have been discovered in turtle shells dating back to the Shang dynasty, proving the written language existed over 3,000 years ago.

Oracle Turtle Script, the early Chinese written language carved on a turtle shell during Shang Dynasty (1600 BC – 1046 BC).
Source: View of China.

2. Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world

China is a huge country with a population to match. More than 1.4 billion people live there, with many millions more living around the world as expats.

Although English has been the dominant global language for more than a century, when you consider the sheer population size of China and look at the numbers, you’ll see Chinese is by far the most spoken. 

It takes first place with 1.1 billion people speaking Mandarin Chinese, with Spanish coming in second at around 470 million speakers and English third, with only 370 million.

3. The word “Mandarin” originates from Sanskrit

In the 16th century, Portuguese explorers were among the first Europeans to visit China. They called the Ming officials that they met ‘mandarim,’ developed from Sanskrit “mantrin” – meaning counselor.  

The noun was first used in English in 1589, and the adjective followed around 15 years later. Today, you may know “Mandarin” as a word for the main dialect of China or are familiar with the mandarin orange. 

4. Mandarin isn’t the only “Chinese language”

You may often hear these two words interchangeably. However, Chinese is a language, while Mandarin is one of the dialects of Chinese alongside Shanghainese, Cantonese, and many more).

Mandarin is the most spoken form of the Chinese language. It is also the official language of China which is spoken in other expatriate countries such as Hong Kong and Taiwan. 

5. Chinese is a significant language in numerous Southeast Asian countries

Chinese is a popular language among Southeast Asian nations. The demand for Chinese textbooks and teachers is increasing in Bangkok, Manila, Jakarta, and other major Southeast Asian cities. Meanwhile, over 50,000 Southeast Asian students are studying Chinese in China’s various universities, which is expected to grow by 10% annually.

6. The only pictographic language that still exists

Like the hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt, Chinese is also a pictographic language – a language made up of pictures. It is the only pictographic language left in the modern world today. Many Chinese characters are invented to describe subjects by drawing the image of them. 

https://www.china-admissions.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Shan-or-mountain-in-Chinese.jpg
In Chinese, the word mountain or “shan, 山 ” has three points representing the three peaks of a mountain range.

7. Chinese is a tonal language

The pitch of how you say a word in Chinese can change the word’s meaning. Chinese has four tones, each having its pitch:

  • First tone: The first tone is very high and flat. Your voice remains flat during speaking; there will be no rise or slope. When pronouncing the first tone, it is important to keep your voice even (almost monotone) across the whole syllable.
  • Second tone: It is a rising tone. The voice rises from low to middle pitch. It’s the same way of saying “eh?!?” or ‘what?’ in English. 
  • Third tone: The third tone is called the dipping tone. In the third tone, you start with a neutral tone. The pitch will go from middle to low and then to high. 
  • Fourth tone: It is almost a lowering tone in Mandarin Chinese, starts with a slightly higher pitch, and goes strongly downward.
Source: Dig Mandarin.

8. You can pronounce Chinese using the Roman Alphabet

There is another writing system for Chinese using the Roman alphabet. It’s called ‘Pinyin’ and makes learning Chinese pronunciation a lot easier for non-native speakers.

In Chinese, Pinyin literally translates to spell sound. Pinyin is really helpful to understand different tones and pronunciations of Mandarin.

For example, in Hanzi, the word ‘hello’ is written as 你好. Pretty challenging to read for a beginner! But if we write the sound using Roman letters, in ‘Pinyin,’ it becomes easier to say and master the pronunciation. 你好 is Nĭhǎo in Pinyin. Now just read and say as you see! Nĭ hǎo – Hello!

9. There is no Chinese alphabet

Unlike many languages, Chinese doesn’t have an alphabet. So instead of putting letters together to make words, Chinese has many characters you do the same with. Words are made up of one character or more, up to three (maybe even four or five in rarer cases).

You learn Chinese vocabulary by studying different characters. The good thing is, you can use Pinyin to transcribe Chinese characters. Learning Pinyin before learning Chinese characters can easily take out the burden of memorizing thousands of Chinese characters! 

 10. There are over 50,000 distinct Chinese characters

The Chinese language consists of more than 50,000 characters. Some Chinese dictionaries even say that it exceeds 100,000 characters. The good news is you only need to know about 2,500 characters to read a newspaper in Chinese. 

If you learn Chinese and take the Hàny Shupng Kosh (commonly known as the HSK), you will only have to master 2,600 characters to pass the exam at the highest level. 

11. Chinese doesn’t have articles, verb inflections, or plurals

The Chinese language does not use articles (“a,” “an,” and “the”) or plurals. You don’t need to focus on this kind of detailed grammar when learning Chinese. Mandarin Chinese does not have any verb conjugations, either. All verbs have a single form. For example, the verb for “eat” is 吃 (chī), which can be used for past, present continuous, and future tenses. But in English, we’d need to change the word respectively to ‘ate,’ ‘eating,’ and ‘will eat.’

12. There are two types of Hanzi Chinese characters

The Chinese language has two types of Chinese characters: Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese. 

Originally, everything was written in Traditional Chinese. However, Chinese people found Traditional Chinese characters difficult to understand and memorize. Simplified Chinese characters were then created to promote literacy.

Traditional Chinese is used by Chinese speakers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau, as well as the majority of Mandarin and Cantonese speakers who live in other countries. Meanwhile, mainland China, Malaysia, and Singapore use Simplified Chinese.

13. New Chinese terms are being invented every year

With widespread internet access and Western influence, new phrases and figures of speech are constantly being coined to describe new phenomena in society. 

高富帅 (gāo fù shuài), for example, means ‘ used to describe affluent males that are not only rich but who is also tall and handsome; it literally translates as “tall-rich-handsome.” 白富美 (bái fù měi) describes millions all over China who are looking for love and eagerly hoping to get married and settle down.

14. Chinese is an official UN language

In 1946, Chinese became an official United Nations language, meaning it was used in UN meetings, and all official UN documents were also written in Chinese.  Five other official languages of the UN are English, Arabic, French, Russian, and Spanish.

15. It’s challenging but doesn’t need to be hard to learn

Chinese can seem pretty complex to learn for native English speakers. They don’t have many things in common with different writing systems, grammar, pronunciation styles, and sounds.

However, these differences can be an advantage! Chinese grammar, for example, is a lot simpler and easier to learn than European languages. Pronunciation is also made easier by using the ‘Pinyin’ system, where Chinese symbols and words are converted to a ‘Romanized’ English version.

It can be a challenge learning Chinese, but it’s easier than you think, and we’re here to help! 

16. There are five main styles of Chinese calligraphy

There are hundreds of sub-forms of Chinese calligraphy, which can be confusing. However, five main traditional forms are much easier to recognize: Seal Character, Official Script, Formal Script, Running Script, and Cursive Hand. Chinese calligraphy serves the purpose of conveying thought and follows certain rules. For example, there is a definite number of strokes and appointed positions for them with the whole. No stroke may be added or deleted for decorative effect.

17. Chinese is gender-neutral!

In Chinese, the character 他 (pronounced as tā) serves as a gender-neutral pronoun, covering feminine, masculine, and neutral pronouns – the equivalent of ‘he,’ ‘she,’ and ‘it’ in English.

18. Chinese characters can be broken down into simpler components

Chinese characters are mostly made up of building blocks known as radicals, which have 1 to 17 strokes. Radicals and strokes must be written in order: usually left to right and top to bottom. 

For example, the Chinese character for “good” (好) combines the radical for “woman” (女) with the radical for “child” (子), subtly implying that the ideal state for a woman is to be with a child. Or, to take another example, the Chinese character for “country” (国) puts the character for “jade” (玉) inside a “walled enclosure” (囗), meaning that countries have borders to protect their national treasures.

The Chinese government simplified Chinese characters after the foundation of the People’s Republic (1949), lowering strokes per character by an average of about 33%.

19. Ancient Chinese texts were written from top right to bottom left

In ancient times, Chinese was written from top to bottom, then right to the left. Chinese people did not write with pens during those times. Instead, they used brush writing, so writing from top to bottom, right to the left, would have been more convenient. It also prevented smudging.

Most linguists believe that writing vertically was adopted as a direct result of the writing material in ancient China. People used the “Jian” or rolled-up bamboo slips/slats for early writing. The letters also used to be written using a brush. That’s why writing from top to bottom, right to the left, would have been more convenient. It also prevented smudging.

Source: Wikipedia

20. Chinese has borrowed words from English

China and the Chinese language were historically immune to outside influence. But over the last two decades, with exposure to some Western culture, the Chinese have adopted some English words, called ‘loan words.’ For example, coffee. Chinese people say ‘kafei’ (咖啡 /kaa-fay/). Some others include shafa (沙发 /shaa-faa/) for sofa and Bǐsà (比萨/bee-saa) for pizza.

21. Famous celebrities are learning Chinese!

Chinese has become the most popular foreign language to learn in the West today. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, and WWE wrestler John Cena both studied Chinese. Politicians like former president of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, and former Australian Prime minister Kevin Rudd also speak fluent Chinese.

Source: Tempapay Business.

Facebook co-founder, CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks fluent Mandarin at a Q&A session in Beijing.

22. Chinese characters are also used in other languages

Chinese characters have been adapted for other East Asian languages and remain a key component of the Japanese writing system where they are known as Kanji. Around 60% of Korean language and characters also come from Chinese.

23. The Chinese language has special hand gestures

China has various dialects, and it might be difficult for people from different regions to communicate with one another. Also, many terms in Chinese sound extremely similar. For example, the word for four, ‘si,’ sounds extremely close to the word for ten, ‘shi.’ This unique way of expressing numbers helps clear up any confusion or misunderstanding. It’s especially handy when it comes to bargaining in small markets if you don’t speak Chinese.  

Source: Scroller.

24. You can’t say ‘yes’ in Chinese

Simply because the Chinese language has no word meaning ‘yes,’ instead, there are many different ways to say ‘yes’ in Chinese.

For example, when someone asks you, “Nǐ hē kāfēi ma? 你喝咖啡吗?” ( Do you want coffee?), you would say “Hē, xièxie! 喝,谢谢!”(Yes, thank you.) Literally, you’re answering: “Drink, thank you.” In this case, you repeat the verb for affirmation.

Generally speaking, how to express the affirmative in Chinese totally depends on the context. 

25. Learning Chinese makes you smarter!

Chinese has a distinctly different effect on the brain compared to learning other languages. 

The tones, sounds, and script of Chinese require the use of both temporal lobes of the brain. The English language, for example, only uses the left temporal lobe of the brain for language.

Learning to write Chinese also seems to make you smarter by aiding in the development of your motor skills, learning shapes and letters, and the visual identification of graphics. Get smarter today and start learning Chinese with Pandanese!

Chinese needn’t be difficult to learn. In fact, it can be super fun and worth your time! Especially with the help of technology, learning Chinese is easier than ever.

Check out Pandanese to sign up for FREE and start learning Chinese characters and vocabulary today!   

Chinese Idioms Surprising Best Method To Memorize Chinese Characters

Have you been interested in learning Mandarin Chinese in 2021 but have no idea where to begin? This article provides some tips and basic knowledge on learning Chinese idioms and characters for you to start without struggling!

Maybe before you find this article, you might already read several Chinese step-by-step learning guidelines. However, reading all these lengthy guidelines may seem like a massive amount of work that takes years of effort, tempting you to want to give up. 

That’s why we’ve got you covered with this article from Pandanese! Let’s learn how to memorize Chinese characters in a fun and easy way as a beginner by going through these excellent tips on learning Chinese idioms.

Greeting in Chinese and English languages

No matter what language you learn as a new language, one of the first things you know is always how to greet people. Learning Chinese is no different from learning other languages. They’re the key to ensuring the people you talk to have a good impression of you right from the beginning.

If you’re a beginner in learning Chinese, the very first question for you to ask is “How do you say ‘hello’ in Chinese?.” Usually, your Chinese teacher will teach you to say 你好 (nĭhǎo).” However, it might not always be the best choice since there are different Chinese greetings for several occasions, and a proper greeting is critical in opening up the gate to a fuller, desired conversation.

So now, let’s help you grasp the gist of greeting in the Chinese language like a native! Even if you are a beginner. You’ll know all about Chinese greetings in no time!

Top 3 popular ways to say ‘hello’ in Chinese

#1 你好 – Hello! The perfect start

It would be hard not to mention “你好 (nǐ hǎo)” which is the most common and used expression to say hello in Mandarin. If you want to learn Chinese, you need to know this helpful word, and if you are, this was most likely one of the first things you learned. As “你 (nǐ)” is the informal form of “you,” Chinese people use “你好” when they want to greet friends or acquaintances. Although don’t forget that you should use this phrase to greet one person at a time!

For example, if you run into a classmate of yours, you can say:

同学你好 (tóngxué nǐ hǎo) Hello classmate! 

It doesn’t matter if you put the name or subject before or after the greeting expression in Chinese.

You can also shorten the greeting session by just putting the name or subject before “好 (hǎo)” good.

For example:

老师好 (lǎoshī hǎo) Hello teacher!

#2 您好 – Hello! the most polite Chinese learner

As we’ve just talked about the informal version of “you,” let me introduce to you the polite form of “你 (nǐ)” you: “您 (nín)” you. Imagine you want to say hello in Chinese to someone that is higher-ranked than you, let’s say your boss for instance, but also to elders, you’ll need to say “您好 (nín hǎo)” hello to show your respect.

For example, when you meet someone’s grandfather, you have to say:

经理您好 (jīnglǐ nín hǎo) hello manager!

Plus, they’ll be happy to hear you greeting them that way.

Note: The Taiwanese tend to use more “你好 (nǐ hǎo)” than “您好 (nín hǎo)” to greet people, even those they don’t know well.

#3 大家好 – Hello everyone! to greet a crowd

Say hello in Chinese: “大家好” hello everyone!

In the section above, I mentioned the first way to say hello in Mandarin. That you should use “你好 (nǐ hǎo)” to greet one person at a time. But what if you’re with many people and you want to say hi in Chinese to everyone at the same time? It’s the right time to use the Chinese expression “大家好 (dàjiā hǎo)” Hello everyone! ( ‘大家 (dàjiā)’ means everyone)

Let’s set the background. If you go to the bakery and there are many sellers and people inside, you can say:

大家好 (dàjiā hǎo) Hello everyone!

When greeting many people at a time, you can also say:

你们好 (nǐmen hǎo) hello everyone!

Where “你们 (nǐmen)” is the plural form of you, meaning “everyone.” 

Greeting people in Chinese at different times of a day

You know now how to greet people depending on how many they are with the most used and common expressions. Let’s see now how to say hello in Chinese based on what time of day it is! Chinese speakers use the following expressions regularly in their daily conversations. So don’t be surprised if someone greets you in one of these ways! 

#1 早上好/上午好 – start the day the right way

How do you say hello in Chinese in the morning? It’s straightforward! You can use the word “早上 (zǎo shang)” early morning and add the Chinese character “好 (hǎo)” – good. What you get in the end is the word “早上好 (zǎoshang hǎo)” Good morning! 

But be careful, “早上好” is only used if you meet someone early in the morning, specifically from 6 am to 9 am. After that, from 9 am to 12 am, you must say “上午好 (shàngwǔ hǎo)” which also means good morning. “上午 (shàngwǔ)” means morning.

#2 下午好 – Good afternoon! greetings for the tea hours

Let’s pretend it’s the afternoon, and you’re going over to a friend’s house for tea time. When arriving, you can say:

“朋友, 下午好 (péngyǒu, xiàwǔ hǎo)” Good afternoon my friend! 

“下午 (xiàwǔ)” means afternoon and it’s added to the character “好 (hǎo)” – good, to create good afternoon. 

The Chinese language is really easy, isn’t it?

#3 晚上好 – Good evening! greetings for the night owls

When it’s late, and you’re supposed to meet people in the evening, you can greet them by saying “晚上好 (wǎnshàng hǎo)” Good evening. As you have probably easily guessed, “晚上 (wǎnshàng)” means evening.

Short and cool expressions to say hello in Chinese

Nowadays, Chinese people have added more expressions to say hi in Mandarin. Young people, especially, have created their words inspired by the Western greeting expressions. See how and when you can get rid of “你好.”

#1 喂 – Hello! to pick up the phone like a pro

The expression “喂 (wèi)” Hello is only used in one situation: when answering your phone. If you’ve heard a Chinese person on the phone, then you have to listen to that “喂” before! For instance, if someone calls you on your phone when you answer, you can say “喂 (wèi)” Hello to greet them and indicate you’ve picked up. This is a charming yet simple word to say hello in Chinese. “喂” is used by everyone. Age doesn’t matter here.

#2 哈罗 – Hello! the one that sounds familiar

If you go to China, you’ll most likely hear young people say “哈罗 (hā luō)” Hello. If you pay attention ty6 o the pronunciation of “哈罗” you’ll notice it sounds like hello. In fact, “哈罗 (hā luō)” is a loanword the Chinese borrowed from English. Easy to remember, right? You can use this expression when speaking with young people.

#3 嗨 – Hi! to sound cool in Chinese

Young people are very creative, here’s another expression to say hello in Chinese you can use when talking to young people or people of your age to show how cool you are. “嗨 (hāi)” – Hi! is also a loanword the Chinese borrowed from English. If you say it out loud you’ll hear it sounds just like the English word Hi.

When sometimes, you think a “你好” is not enough to greet someone, you can use the following expressions to help you to be friendly with people and greet others in Chinese.

#1 好久不见- Long time no see! greetings sentence for old friends

Old friends can be separated by life’s duties, jobs, family, or hobbies, but once they gather together, it’s like they’ve never been away from each other that long. If that happens to you with a Chinese friend, you can tell them “好久不见 ! (hǎojiǔ bújiàn!)” Long time no see!

It’s a friendly greeting from a close friend. Yes, some suspect the English expression ‘long time no see’ was borrowed from Chinese.

#2 最近过得怎样呀? How has life been recently?

The expression “最近过得怎样呀? (zuìjìn guò dé zěnyàng ya?)” means “how has life been recently” and “how are you”?

For example, when you meet one of your friends you haven’t seen in a little while, they can ask you “最近过得怎样呀? (zuìjìn guò dé zěnyàng ya?)”, to which you can answer in several ways:

  • “挺好的 (tǐng hǎo de)” – Quite good!
  • “还不错 (hái búcuò)” – Not bad!
  • “一般般 (yì bān bān.)” – Just so so! 
  • “不太好 (bù tài hǎo.)” – Not good!

#3 吃了吗?- Have you eaten? 

Asking someone if they have eaten can seem like a weird question but it’s a well-known and popular expression to say hello in Chinese. Wait. To say hello? Absolutely. In China, eating is important and therefore inquiring whether someone has eaten or not “吃了吗? (chī le ma?)” Have you eaten? Gradually became a perfectly normal way of asking “How are you?” in Chinese. Whenever someone asks you “吃了吗? (chī le ma?)” – Have you eaten?, just say “吃了 (chī le)” – I’m fine (literally I’ve eaten) and ask them back “你呢? (nǐ ne?)” – and you? They’ll be glad to be asked so.

After learning some fun and extended way to say “Hello” in Chinese. Do you feel your Chinese is more like a native? Now let’s move to a more difficult part – the Chinese idioms, and see how they can better help us memorize Chinese characters!

Chinese idioms to memorize Chinese characters

Chinese idioms also called “成语 (chéngyǔ)” is one term with four characters. 

For almost all Chinese learners (no matter beginners or high-level learners), Chinese idioms are the most challenging. Even if you lived ten years in China, you may still have trouble understanding and using Chinese idioms. Today, I’d like to introduce two fun and easy ways to learn Chinese idioms and how they help you memorize Chinese characters, even if you are a beginner.

Read stories 

The first thing you should know about “成语 (chéngyǔ)” – Chinese idioms is that they are not words from modern Chinese, they are classical Chinese. In English, the term “成语 (chéngyǔ)” can be directly translated as “already made words” or “formed words.”

Chinese idioms always come from specific backgrounds, typically contain a story with them. After studying Chinese for a few months, especially if you learn Chinese in China, you become confident in your language abilities. Now is the time for level up that you may want to challenge learning Chinese idioms. My suggestion is to try reading some Chinese idioms storybooks with pictures to learn idioms like reading comics or children’s stories. There are even animations for them.

For example, one of the most famous Chinese idioms is “熟能生巧 (shú néng sheng qiǎo)” came from a story of “卖油翁 (mài yóu wēng)” wrote by “欧阳修 (ōu yángxiū)” in Song dynasty.

Watch this story in animation here

Another interesting idiom example is “画蛇添足 (huà shé tiān zú).”

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In the Warring States Period, a man in the state of Chu was offering a sacrifice(祭品) to his ancestors. After the ceremony, the man gave a beaker of wine to his servants. The servants thought that there was not enough wine for all of them and decided1 to draw a picture of a snake; the one who finished the painting first would get the wine. One of them drew very rapidly. Seeing that the others were still busy drawing, he added feet to the snake. At this moment, another man finished, snatched the beaker(烧杯,大口杯) and drank the wine, saying, “A snake doesn’t have feet. How can you add feet to a snake?” 

This idiom refers to ruining a venture by doing unnecessary and surplus things. You can watch the story here. If you are a visual learner, definitely check out our most recommended Chinese TVs and movie websites to watch for free!

Play games 

Another way to learn Chinese idioms is to play games with them. It is also helpful in learning any new Chinese terms. Especially when you have friends and classmates, you can practice Chinese while having fun with your friends.

Here, I would like to introduce Pandanese to you. You can enjoy playing all Chinese character games in Pandanese when you log in and sign up for free. Here is how you can do it.

First, you open the Pandanese website: https://www.pandanese.com/ and sign up.

Then, you can check the bottom of this web page and find the mandarin flashcards section. You click and you will see this screenshot: 

It is time to play! There are many ways to play with these cards. 

First step:

If you don’t know any of these words and they’re all new to you, you can click on the characters and learn their meaning.

For example, you click “一无所有(yī wú suǒ yǒu),” a four-character idiom and you will see this page: 

Then, you will hear the pronunciation of the term that you click. You can replay this audio until you are fluent in pronouncing it.

If you want to memorize this Chinese idiom, there are several ways to help you do it!  Firstly, you try breaking down the term and remember it one by one. On the other hand, you can use mnemonics to remember its reading and meaning. You can also click the blue and orange flashcards to learn related characters. 

Second step: 

After you and your friends finish learning the first row, you can start to play.

One person clicks a flashcard, and others listen to the audio. Then the others click their flashcard to find the word that matches the sound. Since each row has eight words, you can click four of them in one round and check if everyone found out the correct words or not.

There are indeed other ways to play with Chinese idioms while memorizing them. We’d love to hear your experiences in the comment below. Let us know if you are interested in getting more fun games ideas to learn and memorize Chinese characters!

3 Full Best Explanations Learning Chinese Characters Improve Brain Intelligence

Learning Chinese Characters a New Language Makes You Smarter

A few years ago, I watched a video on an online platform. It was about the benefits of having a bilingual or multilingual brain. I strongly recommend you to watch this cool TED video The benefits of a bilingual brain – Mia Nacamulli.

The most direct benefit of having bilingual skills is so much more than stronger communication skills and understanding skills, allowing you to travel abroad, watch movies, and chat with foreigners without obstacles. In fact, in addition to the above-mentioned advantages, learning or using a second language actually changes our brain development. 

When learning the mother tongue in childhood, the left and right temporal lobes are used together. This is because the plasticity of the children’s brain is strong; while the adults use the left temporal lobe when learning languages, because most people will have the lateralization of the brain function, refers to the phenomenon that a certain function of the body begins to be taken care of by a specific hemisphere. Generally speaking, the left hemisphere dominates rational logical analysis and mainly dominates language expression and understanding; the right hemisphere is more active in emotional and social aspects and dominates the space Perceptual function. 

Although most adults use the left brain when learning a language, the learning and use of another language is actually a whole-brain exercise. Some scholars have observed the language ability of patients with brain injury and found that the left hemisphere is damaged, which not only destroys the language ability but also damages the abstract ability of logical analysis. The injury in the right hemisphere does not have much impact on vocabulary skills but has significant obstacles in understanding and reasoning. Language and spatial perception are respectively governed by the left and right hemispheres, but high-level brain functions such as abstract reasoning thinking, logical analysis, and other abilities are shared by the two hemispheres.

Studies have shown that using multiple languages ​​can increase the density of gray matter in the brain. Gray matter is where a large number of neurons gather, and its main function is to receive and process brain information. Using multiple languages ​​can activate multiple different brain regions at the same time. This brain exercise can enhance memory and even delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Studies have shown that multilingual speakers can reduce the switching cost during task switching, and therefore can more effectively complete multiple tasks within the time limit.

Stroop task has been used to study the brain concentration of multilingual ability. In this test and another similar test, the Flanker task, multilingual ability people perform better than monolingual ability testers.

Since learning a new foreign language has so many advantages, which language should you choose?

Here I recommend everyone to opt for learning Chinese characters and language. Acquiring Chinese in this day and age promises dramatic results. 

The real question is, why shouldn’t you learn Chinese?

Some people may share different opinions on learning the language for how hard it supposedly is. But the truth is, of all the things you can do with your spare time, learning Mandarin Chinese is one of the absolute best investments you can make. Whether you’re looking for a new academic pursuit, new career skills, or a new perspective on life, there are few activities likely to have the same huge payoff, and most importantly, it improves your brain intelligence greatly.

So don’t just take my word for it—read on and discover why you really should be dropping everything and learning Chinese characters! 

Learning Chinese characters brings you various benefits

Before I talk about how Chinese is different from other languages, I will let you know some general benefits you can get from learning Chinese. 

Communicate with over 1 billion people instantly

As we mentioned, Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world. Anywhere you travel or live on Earth, you’re bound to spot a fellow Chinese speaker around you. Learning Chinese will instantly open up communication abilities to over 1.2B people and this number is growing quickly.

Open up new job opportunities everywhere

The ability to communicate to over one billion people has major value in the job marketplace. Of course, this includes companies in China and other Mandarin-speaking countries that you can apply to.

Companies all around the world are striving to tap into the Chinese marketplace, and you’ll immediately differentiate yourself if you can speak Mandarin.

Appreciate Chinese food as you’ve never had before

Love dim sum, wontons, fried rice, all delicious exotic Chinese food? So do we.

When it comes to evaluating the quality of Chinese restaurants, the number one signal is to observe how much English is on the menu. The less it is, the more authentic the food may be. 

With that said, if you truly want to order with confidence at a Chinese restaurant, you’d need to learn the basics of Chinese.

Gain a competitive advantage in the business world

Beyond just gaining a leg up in your career, learning Chinese is just smart for business. Whether you’re a business owner yourself or looking to get into business, the future of business will be in China. Whether you like it or not, China is the first place any great business will look to if they want to go international.

This is your opportunity to jump ahead of the curve! 

Build stronger relationships with your Chinese co-workers and friends

From college friends to co-workers, you’re bound to have a native Chinese speaker in your life. If not, you’re about to have one soon.

While English is widely taught and spoken amongst Chinese speakers, few can actually speak it with confidence. It’s going to be many decades before the majority of Chinese speakers can speak your language, and that’s being conservative. Beyond the relationships you can form in real life, there’s even a greater need in the online space. Unlike other countries, the Chinese government places strict regulations on letting consumers use non-Chinese applications.

Examples include using Youku instead of YouTube, Wechat instead of WhatsApp, and that social networks like Facebook are not available for use.

Enjoy Chinese movies, TV shows, and music authentically

With production companies like Alibaba Pictures, Tencent Pictures, and more coming into the global scene, Chinese entertainment is accelerating at a rapid pace. This is growing faster with the advent of distribution channels like Netflix and Prime Video.

While subtitles exist for Chinese movies and TV shows, translations may not always make sense directly, especially if you love Chinese web novels. If you want to authentically enjoy these entertainment forms at their highest quality, your best bet is to learn the language.

Travel with confidence anywhere (not just China)

Planning to travel to Asia sometime soon? That’s right, learning Chinese is what will help you get around easily. Even if you don’t plan to travel to a country where Mandarin is an official language, people from China are always visiting and migrating there.

You’ll also find that signs, menus, and other communication are provided with Chinese translations everywhere you go in Asia to accommodate the millions of Chinese travelers.

Learning Chinese characters and language is not as hard as you think

But don’t let that intimidate you. Despite the difference in Chinese characters, most people overestimate how difficult it is to learn. Yes, there are challenges to learning Chinese. The biggest is probably because while English uses phonetic writing, Chinese is composed of pictograms and semi-phonetic ideograms.

The good news is, this is the hardest thing about Chinese. There are also things you don’t have to learn, like tenses, cases, genders, or other simple grammar which are required for most other languages.

Given how much time a new language learner normally spends on learning genders, tenses, and other grammar rules, you’ll bypass all of that when you decide to learn Chinese.

There are more Chinese learning resources than ever

Perhaps, more importantly, are the resources available to you. With Chinese being the most spoken language in the world, it also comes with powerful learning options.

‍Pandanese, as an example, connects you with real professional native-speaking Chinese teachers from the comforts of your home. In just a few clicks, you can connect via a live 1-on-1 Mandarin lesson with a teacher who will personalize your learning experience. It’s like having a best friend to help you speak Chinese with confidence.

Then there are free apps like YouTube videos and podcasts that you can immerse yourself in between your lessons. It’s never been easier to learn a new language like Chinese.

Learning Chinese Characters Improves Your Brain Development

Besides the above advantages learning Chinese brings to you. The most important benefit is that Learning Chinese Characters will improve your intelligence and brain development. It can help you become a better and smarter person!

Chinese has a distinctively different effect on the brain

If you speak Chinese, your brain works differently from others. That’s according to a recent study published in the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences. The different result is because Chinese speakers use tones to distinguish different words and their meanings. The report is the first to conclude that those who speak Chinese exhibit a very different flow of information during speech comprehension, the tones, sounds, and script of Chinese require the use of both hemispheres of the brain rather than just the left, which has long been seen as the primary neurological region for processing language.

Learning Chinese improves brain intelligence and image thinking

Chinese can make people smarter in the most basic second language and can also improve the brain’s image thinking.

A study from New Zealand found that “native Chinese and English speakers treat numbers with different cortical parts of the brain,” and concluded that different language systems such as Chinese and English shape the way non-language information is processed. In more than six years, this joint research has shown that, unlike Roman phonetic characters, Chinese characters help the brain’s image thinking training.

Improve the ability of the brain to process information

In another experiment, which started in 1996, 200 European and Chinese students of the same educational level were tested. They were asked to recite a series of numbers, letters, and colors. The results show that Chinese students far outperform European students in terms of memory. Chinese students seem to be better at processing information than European students.

Learning to handwrite Chinese characters make you smarter

By aiding in the development of motor skills, learning shapes and letters, and the visual identification of graphics, learning handwriting in Chinese also seems to make you smarter. Unlike English, which is mostly linear and written from left to right, Chinese characters have a complex structure. Writing characters involves strokes in several directions with sequential movements. These movements activate neural activity in the working, thinking, and spatial memory of the brain.

Evidence also indicates that learning Chinese makes you better at math. Researchers from New Zealand observed that children whose native language is Chinese appear to gain a greater understanding of mathematical concepts than their English-speaking counterparts. During the natural acquisition process of Chinese, the student is learning and reinforcing basic mathematical concepts. Character writing involves skills such as counting, grouping, ordering, and identifying similarities and differences, which are essentially math skills.

Chinese may train a host of cognitive abilities not utilized in the study of other languages

New evidence also suggests that learning Chinese may train a host of cognitive abilities not utilized in the study of other languages.

The research on cognition and Chinese language learning is not comprehensive or exhaustive, it does suggest that the cognitive benefits of learning Chinese are significant and merit further study.

Chinese can speed up the reaction of English speakers

A recent scientific study has shown that learning Chinese can speed up the reaction of English speakers. A six-year study conducted by scientists from Germany and China showed that the brains of Chinese people react faster than Europeans. And for those who are learning Mandarin—including Mark Zuckerberg and Prince William—you may notice that your brains are getting just a little bit faster and working harder to crack this new difficult-to-learn language.

Conclusion

As China’s global influence has intensified, schools and companies in the English circle are eager to increase their contacts with China.

Learning Chinese characters can help people across all age groups to gain advantages and can greatly benefit their brain development. Especially, children can benefit from learning Chinese early on during cognitive development that helps with particular skill sets relating to the brain intelligence.

Learning a language is anyway said to be very good for the brain. But Chinese as a language is greater for brain development and the same cannot be said for other languages that are more linear in form.

But most of all, enjoy your language learning, pick one that you’re interested in, and know you’re doing a good thing for yourself!

8 Amazing Chinese Business Cultures Advice To Know

China is now the fastest developing nation and already the second-largest economy in the world (after the US). This growth is creating a ‘rush’ of investment from multiple countries worldwide. As the global economic stage shifts, it’s likely that the Chinese language will play a major role in shaping its future, and the importance of Chinese for business will grow.

You don’t even necessarily need to be proficient in the Chinese language. Only by showing that you’ve been making efforts in learning the Chinese language and understanding Chinese people, you will definitely build up a better company reputation in the Chinese market and achieve a deeper relationship with ideal customers. However, if you put in the time needed to acquire Chinese language proficiency, you will stand out as someone well-positioned to reap benefits that your competition simply can’t have.

Here are some of the benefits of learning Chinese that you can expect to enjoy.

1. Learn Chinese And Know Your Customers Better

Buyers’ behaviour is always a big part of designing products and services for your markets. You need to understand who is your customer and in what scenario they will likely buy your product. To help you know your customers, it will be easier if you know a bit about their languages and culture. Being able to predict Chinese buyers’ behaviour using some key Chinese linguistic phrases is your secret to let you into the Chinese mindset, motivations, cultural traits and behaviours.

Risk avoidance is an example of a cultural trait in China. It is referred to as “Feng Xian Gui Bi” (风险规避), which relates to the level of uncertainty or ambiguity a person will prefer. In China, people tend to have a higher level of risk avoidance, preferring safe options. For example, Chinese people will strongly prefer to buy products and services with a solid money-back guarantee if they are not satisfied with the product. Doing business in China, you need to take risk avoidance into consideration. Additionally, knowing some language and concepts in Chinese can help you accurately frame the perception of how your customers think, feel and behave. This helps you be prudent in evaluating your audience and positioning your product and services.

2. Learn Chinese To Effortlessly Navigate Chinese Social Media

Knowing the systems of the major Chinese social media and payment gateways helps you understand and navigate conversations around the Chinese social media business architecture. 

Did you know that 71% of payments made last year in China were via mobile methods? 

Chinese consumers spent US$5.5 trillion via mobile payment platforms in 2016 (China goes cashless with consumers spending $5.5 trillion via mobile payments). So you can see what is the hottest trend now in China. Just like in Western countries, social media is increasing rapidly in China.

For all the popular social media platforms you can find in the U.S., there is an exact equivalent in China, where social media platforms dominate the whole China market. Chinese consumers use Weibo (微博) instead of Twitter, Wechat (微信) instead of Facebook and WhatsApp, and numerous video platforms like Youku (优酷), iQIYI (爱奇艺), Letv (乐视), PPlive (聚力视频) instead of Youtube.

It is always challenging to study a new group of customers, but if you know their language, you can get customer insights more efficiently than your competitors. Imagine how convenient and effective it would be if you can easily handle these platforms in Chinese!

3. Learn Chinese Language And Cultivate Your Business Acumen

Business nowadays is worldwide business. Meanwhile, in China, the business culture is changing rapidly to adapt to world business. However, there is still a strong grasp on traditional paradigms, for example, the concepts of Communism, hierarchy in relationships, and ‘rules’ or traditions of business. Understanding these concepts in Chinese will not only give you respect as a business person in China but also help you acquire an authentic understanding of the way of business protocols and etiquette in Chinese business culture.

4. Learn Chinese To Acquire The Art Of Developing Successful Business Relationships

In the same way, cooperation between businesses is better understood through unique Chinese concepts that are not easily expressed in English. Believe me, your business partner will be favorably surprised if you say “wo hen gao xing lai dao zhong guo” (I’m glad to come to China) rather than simply say “ni hao” (hello).  Chinese people are open, friendly and intuitive. Your business partner will feel your sincerity in cooperation when they listen to your Chinese because they can see your efforts in understanding their language and culture!

Successful business partnerships are based on mutual understanding forged through both verbal and non-verbal communication protocols. By knowing each other’s language, you will be on a more equal playing field with your prospective business partner. Learning Chinese languages will propel you forwards in your quest to develop your Chinese business acumen, achieve greater impact and lock-in more favorable outcomes in your business negotiations.

Relationship – “GUANXI” (关系)

“Guanxi” (关系) is the word in the Chinese language to describe a relationship. In addition to saying ‘hello’, there are more important and in-depth business linguistic elements and etiquettes affecting the success of your relationship.

As an example, exchanging gifts in China is an important part of business etiquette! In any business visit, both parties are likely to prepare a gift for each other. In particular, where the meeting is between a Chinese business and an international business, Chinese business delegates always like to prepare some gifts with traditional Chinese meaning. And they would also be happy to receive some special gifts from you!

There is so much more to Chinese business protocol and etiquette. 

For example, do you know what is the most appropriate distance between two persons in a business meeting? Do you know that business in China is sometimes conducted during meals? Do you know the character of personal relationships in Chinese businesses? By building your capability in speaking the Chinese language alongside your savviness in Chinese business culture you will definitely put yourself ahead of your competition!

So, start learning the Chinese language in time to wow your new business partner, and develop a better “Guanxi” for your future success!

5. Learn Chinese and Build Empathy to Strengthen your business relationships

Many foreign business owners in China feel frustrated by how businesses are administered in China. For both the foreign company representatives and Chinese business partners, it is easy to find mis-communications and mis-understanding leads to a breakdown of trust in the relationship. One example of a process that can cause frustration is the heavy requirement for paperwork for many business operations.

Administrative Paperwork-XING ZHENG WEN SHU” (行政文书)

The administrative burden of business in China can be high, as an example, “Xu Ke Zheng” (许可证) permits are frequently required. This is part of the comprehensive approach to business by the government in China, although feeling counter-intuitive at first, learning and fostering an appreciation for the way things are done will increase your trust in your Chinese business partners. For example, a foreign company running an event will be given a list of items that may and may not be included in a public address by the permit issuer. These rules should be respected as it is your Chinese event co-organisers who stake their reputation to acquire and vouch for your company permits.

You can see how your command of key aspects of Chinese languages is the secret to your success by improving your understanding of business protocols and building empathy to strengthen your relationships with your Chinese counterparts.

6. Learn Chinese and Expand Your Business Network

There are a lot of Chinese speakers in the world. According to Ethnologue, there are roughly 1.117 billion speakers of Mandarin Chinese, and of those, about 918 million are native speakers. Those stats make Mandarin Chinese the second most spoken language in the world as well as the language with the greatest number of native speakers. While most of these speakers reside in China, Chinese speakers have also formed communities around the globe. These are all potential contacts with whom you can personally do business—if only you can communicate with them.

With Chinese language skills, you will be able to navigate the vast global Chinese linguistic community to meet new business partners, clients, and customers. Learning Chinese for business can teach you how to speak Chinese with confidence in both professional and casual venues, setting both you and your business up with new networking opportunities that others can’t access.

This is not just about language but also about culture. Education in Chinese will allow you to socialize with Chinese speakers in more natural settings and establish cordial relations that can lead to future business proposals and collaborations. It will provide you with cross-cultural competencies that will impress your interlocutors and help you avoid committing a cultural faux pas that you might otherwise be unaware of. You can also demonstrate your seriousness and respect for your commerce by showing your commitment to learning how to communicate with potential business partners in their native tongue. Once you’ve established a solid rapport with a native Chinese speaker, you can benefit from their own business networks, capital, and know-how.

7. Learn Chinese And Adapt to the Global Economy

One of the biggest reasons to learn Chinese is that you will be able to do better business with Chinese firms. It’s not news that China is a major player making waves in the global economy. China’s economy is the second-largest in the world according to nominal GDP, representing about 16.34% of the entire global economy. China was also the only major economy to get through the tumultuous year of 2020 with an actual increase in GDP.

As China’s economy evolves, more opportunities continue to avail themselves to businesspeople looking to grow their businesses. Some highlights from the US-China Business Council’s 2017 report Understanding the US-China Trade Relationship include the following: China’s middle-class consumers are growing at a rapid pace and are expected to reach a population of 160 million by 2025; China has been the third-largest market for US goods and services, purchasing $165 billion of goods and services from the US in 2015; China continues to form an integral piece of the global supply chain and has allowed companies like Apple, GM, and Ford to compete at international levels; Chinese companies are investing more in the US, putting $14.8 billion in the US in 2015. It’s no wonder why working with China looks so attractive.

If you learn Chinese for business, you can apply your language skills to take advantage of China’s central place in the global economy. With your capacity to interface and network with Chinese business people, you can facilitate plugging your business into China’s lucrative industries and markets.

New business connections are invaluable, there are some other perks to knowing Chinese, especially if you’re already doing—or would like to do—business in China.

You can run your business, hold meetings, and attend conferences with Chinese speakers while minimizing the involvement of intermediaries like translators. You can also directly access knowledge and information provided by Chinese language websites, newspapers, TV programs, and books, giving yourself advantageous access to critical resources to plan your next moves. You would also be well-positioned to localize your products, services, and digital content to attract Chinese-speaking consumers and markets.

8. Learn Chinese And Get Your Edge in International Business With Chinese Business Giants

The Chinese language is an important tool for networking and remaining competitive in the global marketplace. For the savvy businessperson who already has some experience with Chinese under their belt, learning Chinese for business is a powerful next step.

Chinese business language can help you specialize your language skills and tailor them to your specific industry.

Focusing your studies specifically on Chinese for business will equip you with the specific cultural and linguistic vocabulary you need to speak intelligently about your business and interests with Chinese speakers. What you choose to do with this opportunity—whether in China or elsewhere around the globe—is ultimately left to you.

Learning Chinese Language and Culture Today!

At the current time and looking ahead, China has opened its giant domestic-facing market to the world and put on the table the best policies it has ever had. This means the time is ripe to kickstart your Chinese language learning and acquire new insights into Chinese markets and consumer behaviours. There is 300 million middle class now in China, and this number is predicted to grow to 500 to 600 million in the next 10 to 15 years (For those of you who are interested, check how Jack Ma, the executive chairman of Alibaba Group, explained the China opportunity at Gateway ’17). This is an indication of a huge demand for high-quality goods and services.

To impress your prospective Chinese business partners now is the time to start learning Chinese languages alongside formal business protocols and etiquette! Understand and prepare yourself and your business to enter into China and build your business on the second-largest international stage. To seize this incredible market opportunity in China and stand out among your competitors, you should indulge the perspicacity in you and really start with learning the Chinese language and developing your Chinese business acumen and awareness.

Lock in your lessons with Pandanese to start your journey in the Chinese language and business culture now, or find out more about how to succeed in learning the Chinese language and Chinese business culture with Pandanese!

Everything To Know About Learning Chinese Hanzi Characters

As one of the most important parts of Chinese culture, today, I want to give a general introduction about Hanzi (Chinese Characters) as well as how to learn Hanzi effectively. 

What is Hanzi?

Chinese characters, also known as Hanzi (漢字) are one of the earliest forms of written language in the world, dating back approximately five thousand years ago. Nearly one-fourth of the world’s population still uses Chinese characters today. As an art form, Chinese calligraphy remains an integral aspect of Chinese culture.

There are 47,035 Chinese characters in the Kangxi Dictionary (康熙字典), the standard national dictionary developed during the 18th and 19th centuries. However, the precise quantity of Chinese characters is a mystery because numerous and rare variants have accumulated throughout history. Studies from China have shown that 90% of Chinese newspapers and magazines tend to use 3,500 basic characters.

Short overview of Hanzi history and evolution

Hanzi is similar to other ancient languages, starting from drawing natural figures to record what people see and experience in important rituals, which have evolved over thousands of years and finally become what it looks like right now. However, not all of the previous scripts of Hanzi have disappeared. You can still see them being used on different occasions, especially in learning calligraphy. 

The main forms are summarized as follow: Oracle Bone Inscriptions (Jia Gu Wen 甲骨文), Bronze Inscriptions, (Jin Wen 金文), Small Seal Characters (Xiao Zhuan 小篆), Official Script (Li Shu 隸書), Regular Script (Kai Shu 楷書), Cursive Writing or Grass Stroke Characters (Cao Shu 草書), and Freehand Cursive (Xing Shu 行書).

Let’s see an example of the word “Bird” (niao 鸟):

Oracle Bone Inscriptions refers to the writings inscribed on the carapaces of tortoises and mammals during the Shang Dynasty (1600 – 1046 B.C.). This is the earliest form of Chinese characters. Because Oracle Bone inscriptions mainly recorded the art of divination, this script is also called bu ci (卜辭), divination writings. Over one thousand of the over four thousand characters inscribed on excavated oracle bones have been deciphered.File:鳥-oracle.svg - 维基词典,自由的多语言词典
Bronze Inscriptions are the characters inscribed on bronze objects, such as ritual wine vessels, made during the Shang (1600 – 1046 B.C.) and Zhou (1046 – 256 B.C.) dynasties. Over two thousand of the nearly four thousand collected single characters from these bronze objects are now recorded.天天快报
Small Seal Characters refer to the written language popular during the Qin Dynasty (221-207 B.C.). In the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.), different scripts were in use in different parts of the Chinese empire. Following the conquest and unification of the country, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty simplified and unified the written language. This unification of the written language during the Qin Dynasty significantly influenced the eventual standardization of the Chinese characters.飞字篆书_万图壁纸网
Official Script is the formal written language of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.). Over time, curved and broken strokes gradually increased, becoming distinct characteristics of this style. Official Script symbolizes a turning point in the evolutionary history of Chinese characters, after which Chinese characters transitioned into a modern stage of development.鸟字隶书写法_鸟隶书怎么写好看_鸟书法图片_词典网
Regular Script first appeared at the end of the Han Dynasty. But it was not until the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589 A.D.) that Regular Script rose to dominant status. During that period, the Regular Script continued evolving stylistically, reaching full maturity in the early Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.). Since that time, although developments in the art of calligraphy and character simplification still lay ahead, there have been no more major stages of evolution for the mainstream script.
鸟的楷书_万图壁纸网
Cursive Writing first appeared at the beginning of the Han Dynasty. The earliest cursive writings were variants of the rapid, freestyle form of the Official Script. Cursive Writing is not in general use, being a purely artistic, calligraphic style. This form can be cursive to the point where individual strokes are no longer differentiable, and characters are illegible to the untrained eye. Cursive Writing remains highly revered for the beauty and freedom it embodies.鸟字草书写法_鸟草书怎么写好看_鸟书法图片_词典网
Freehand Cursive (or semi-cursive writing) appeared and became popular during the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280 A.D.) and the Jin Dynasty (265-420 A.D.). Because this style is not as abbreviated as Cursive Writing, most people who can read Regular Script can read semi-cursive. Some of the best examples of semi-cursive are found in the work of Wang Xizhi (321-379 A.D.), the most famous calligrapher in Chinese history, from the Eastern Jin Dynasty (316-420 A.D.).鸟”字的行书书法_鸟的行书书法字帖_名家书法欣赏
Simplified Chinese characters ( Jianti Zi, 简体字) are standardized Chinese characters used in Mainland China. The government of the People’s Republic of China began promoting this form for printing use in the 1950s ’60s in an attempt to increase literacy. Simplified characters are the official form of the People’s Republic of China and in Singapore; traditional Chinese characters are still used in Hong Kong, Macau, and the Republic of China (Taiwan). Since 1954, over 2,200 Chinese characters have been simplified.鸟字的意思- 汉语字典- 千篇国学

When do we need to use hanzi?

For thousands of years, learning Chinese Hanzi was the only way to learn the Chinese language. Chinese characters carry traditional Chinese philosophy. It will help you understand Chinese manners, social taboos, and implied information when communicating with Chinese.

How to learn hanzi effectively?

Hanzi is deeply linked to Chinese culture. Generally speaking, there are two ways to learn Chinese. The traditional way is more suitable for high-level learners, and the modern way is easier for beginners to start with. So, I recommend high-level learner may change their learning method and try the traditional way. The modern method is to learn pinyin first before you learn Hanzi. It is more commonly used in systematic learning in modern Chinese education, and it is helpful to pronounce standard Chinese, to correct your accent.

Traditional method

Traditionally, we focus on understanding the meaning of the word by memorizing the origin of the characters and how Hanzi was formed. By doing so, you will have a more profound and deeper understanding of Hanzi. And such way of understanding Hanzi was first classified by the Chinese linguist Xu Shen (許慎), whose etymological dictionary Shuowen Jiezi (說文解字) divides the script into six categories, or liushu ( 六書): pictographic characters, (xiangxing zi 象形字), self-explanatory characters (zhishi zi 指示字), associative compounds (huiyi zi 會意字), pictophonetic characters (xingsheng zi 形聲字), mutually explanatory characters (zhuanzhu zi 轉注字), and phonetic loan characters (jiajie zi 假借字). The first four categories refer to ways of composing Chinese characters and the last two categories to ways of using characters.

It is a popular myth that Chinese writing is pictographic, or that each Chinese character represents a picture. Some Chinese characters evolved from pictures, many of which are the earliest characters found on oracle bones, but such pictographic characters comprise only a small proportion (about 4%) of characters. The vast majority are pictophonetic characters consisting of a “radical,” indicating the meaning and a phonetic component for the original sound.

For example:好(Hǎo) is an associative compound, it combined with a woman and a child (here means boy), as the picture below: A woman holding a newborn in her arms, symbolizing goodness and happiness.

https://www.brown.edu/about/administration/international-affairs/year-of-china/sites/brown.edu.about.administration.international-affairs.year-of-china/files/images/good_table_clean.preview.png

Since it is too difficult to start with, if you want to quickly be able to greet in Chinese or only apply it when you travel to China, I highly recommend beginners to study in modern method.

Modern method

The modern method to learn Hanzi is through Hanyu Pinyin. Hanyu Pinyin often abbreviated as pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan and Singapore. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin is used to spell Chinese in languages written with the Latin alphabet and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.

The pinyin system was developed in the 1950s by a group of Chinese linguists including Zhou Youguang, and was based on earlier forms of romanizations of Chinese.

The word Hànyǔ (汉语) means ‘the spoken language of the Han people, while Pīnyīn (拼音) literally means ‘spelled sounds’.

Pinyin includes three parts: 24 vowels, 23 initial consonants, and 4 tones.

Learn Chinese Online via Skype through One-to-One Chinese Lessons

(The first column is initial consonants, and the second column is vowels)

Pinyin vowels are pronounced in a similar way to vowels in Romance languages. Initial consonants are different, only some of them are similar to English alphabet pronunciation, rests have a unique sound, it is better to learn and practice them with websites or apps with sound effects. It even helps more when you repeat the sound you can see a picture that sound stands for.

The pronunciation and spelling of Chinese words are generally given in terms of initials and finals, which represent the segmental phonemic portion of the language instead of letter by letter. Initials are initial consonants, while finals are all possible combinations of the medial (semivowels coming before the vowel), a nucleus vowel, and coda (final vowel or consonant)

How to get started with learning Hanzi?

For beginners, it is always better to have a systematic learning process. That is why I introduce Pandanese. It has a highly advanced neuroscience-based SRS algorithm that prompts you to review radicals, characters, and vocabulary at specific times to maximize retention. It can help you to learn Hanzi in a more effective, fun way and cut down on wasting time.

What are the top 20 most common Hanzi characters?

Since there are so many hanzi characters and I don’t want to completely overwhelm you, so here are the first 20 from the list of most common Chinese characters to get you started. I’ve provided definitions for each character, as well as example terms that are commonly used with explanations.

  1. 的 – de of / ~’s

你的 (nǐ de)your

我的 (wǒ de) my / mine

别的 (bié de) else / other

  1. 一 – yī (is an ideograph character, meaning that it is an abstract idea of the number 1.)

一个 (yī gè) a /an

一些 (yī xiē) some / a few

一种 (yī zhǒng) a kind of

  1. 是 – shì (is / are / am / yes / to be’)

不是 (bú shì) no

但是 (dàn shì) but / however

还是 (hái shì) or

  1. 不 – bù(no; not)

不同 (bù tóng) different

不是 (bú shì) not / no

不要 (bù yào) don’t want

  1. 了 – le (past tense marker/ completed action marker)

到了 (dào le) to arrive

为了 (wèi le) in order to

  1. 在 – zài ((located) at / (to be) in / to exist / in the middle of doing sth)

现在 (xiàn zài) now

正在 (zhèng zài) in the process of

放在 (fàng zài) place in / on

  1. 人 – rén (people/ person)

女人 (nǚ rén) woman

男人 (nán rén) man

老人 (lǎo rén) old man

  1. 有 – yǒu (to have / there is / there are / to exist / to be)

没有 (méi yǒu) don’t have

还有 (hái yǒu) still

只有 (zhǐ yǒu) only

  1. 我 – wǒ (I/ me/myself/our)

我们 (wǒ men) us

我校 (wǒ xiào) our school

  1. 他 – tā (he/ him)

他们 (tā men) they/them

其他 (qí tā) other

  1. 这 – zhè (this)

这个 (zhè ge) this one

这样 (zhè yàng) this kind of

这些 (zhè xiē) these

这么 (zhè me) so much

  1. 那 nà (that)

那个 (nà ge) that one

那样 (nà yàng) that kind of

那些 (nà xiē) those

那么 (nà me) so much

  1. 大 – dà (big/large/great/huge)

大城市 (dà chéngshì) big city

大哥 (dàgē) oldest brother

大丰收 (dà fēngshōu) great havest

  1. 中 – zhōng (china / chinese / within / among / in / middle / center)

中国 (zhōng guó) China

其中 (qí zhōng) among

中心 (zhōng xīn) centre

  1. 小 – xiǎo (little/small/young/tiny)

小姑娘 (xiǎo gūniáng) little girl

小学 (xiǎoxué) primary school

  1. 来 – lái (to come / to arrive / to come round / ever since / next)

出来 (chū lái) to come out

过来 (guò lái) to come over

后来 (hòu lái) afterwards

  1. 去 – qù (go/leave/apart from/past)

出去 (chūqù) go out

过去 (guòqù) go there/past

去哪了 (qù nǎle) where have you been to?

  1. 上 – shàng (on top / upon / above / upper / previous)

上海 (shàng hǎi) Shanghai

身上 (shēn shàng) on the body

上去 (shàng qù) to go up

  1. 国 – guó (country  / nation / state)

中国 (zhōng guó) China

美国 (měi guó) America

国家 (guó jiā) country / nation

  1. 看 – kàn (look/watch/see)

看书kànshū

看电视kàn diànshì

看着点kàn zhuó diǎn

500 Chinese Hanzi Characters Are Enough To Speak Like Natives?

In recent years, as China’s international influence continues to increase, the Chinese language is getting more and more popular around the world. Dignitaries around the world love to speak Chinese, business elites are keen to learn Chinese, and more schools include Chinese as the language test subject for graduation exams. Times magazine said: “If you want to be one step ahead of others, learn Chinese!”. However, for those whose mother tongue is Latin, learning English might be a piece of cake while learning Chinese is another story.

The important questions to ask about learning Chinese characters

So, the questions are: 

  1. How many Chinese hanzi characters do you need to know to achieve fluency in the language? 
  2. Will you be able to have a fluent conversation with the vocabulary of 500 Chinese characters?

In fact, this is a very interesting topic. Because, while there are so many topics about how many English words to learn to have fluent English communication, there is little discussion on the general guideline to learn Chinese. Let’s find out how many Chinese characters do you have to learn to be able to communicate with a native Chinese person and in Chinese naturally. 

Chinese learners’ experiences 

First, let’s take a look at some learners’ experiences

Once an American computer engineer was sent to China as a technical consultant. He was very interested in Chinese on the first day he arrived in China. Although he could not understand a word, he was very eager to learn. In his spare time, he learned it with his friends. Starting from the simplest pronunciation and handwriting. In three months, he studied about 500 Chinese characters, all of which were daily expressions. According to him, it was enough to greet people in Chinese, but if he started to have a small chat, he found out that he would not be able to understand even a joke.

A British girl also shared her experience. She said that Chinese was just too difficult to learn. She really admired the Chinese people who can learn such a complicated language. Someone told her that after learning words, Chinese people also have to learn classical Chinese or 文言文(wényánwén). She experienced so many difficulties in learning Chinese, such as the same characters having different pronunciations; the meanings expressed in different occasions are different. She has lived in China for 3 years and learned about 1,000 Chinese characters. Now she can only have a small chat in Chinese. But she can’t understand Chinese idioms and proverbs at all. So, it is hard to have a meaningful and smooth conversation. It is still difficult for her to pronounce and write Chinese characters. From her experience, it seems difficult to learn Chinese without systematic learning.

Another Korean said that although South Korea and China are neighbors, the cultural gap is quite large. The profoundness of Chinese hanzi characters cannot be learned in a short time. He said that he has lived in China for 20 years and has known more than 5,000 Chinese characters. Now he can communicate with Chinese people normally, as well as making jokes and even quoting famous sayings and so on. He confidently said that even the Chinese can’t tell that he is a Korean, unless he speaks Korean.

The answer seems clear that if you only learn 500 hanzi characters, it is obviously impossible to have a normal conversation in Chinese. Additionally, since the majority of Chinese will have an accent when they speak, it is even harder for you to understand fully. , Chinese primary school students generally need to learn 2000-2500 Chinese characters and adults’ basic vocabulary is about 3000-5000 Chinese characters.

Therefore, 500 Chinese characters that we can learn is considered a small amount. Also, based on the data above, it just seems like a “mission impossible” to learn Chinese since you have to study all of the characters.

However, let’s get real!

Whether you’re studying Chinese by yourself or in a classroom environment, you’re bound to encounter written Chinese as part of your curriculum. “How Many Chinese Characters Do I Need to Know?” is an important question to consider as a smart learner, no matter what your goals are!

So, in this post, you get to know how learning Chinese characters helps improve your language skill as a whole rather than just word recognition. Then, I will show you how many characters (as well as words) you should aim for to achieve basic, proficient, or fluent knowledge of Chinese.

It is important to remember that learning Chinese characters is not just about writing and reading. It can actually help you memorize new words and understand the language as a whole in a more meaningful way. Here are two big reasons why.

Characters help you identify the meanings of words

I discovered that this is especially useful when you’re still sharpening your tone-hearing skills.

I once bought a fridge for my apartment from a local seller. After buying it, the seller insisted (so I thought) that we needed to catch a train to get it to our apartment. As you can imagine, I respectfully disagree.

It turns out she said 货车 (huò chē) meaning flatbed or delivery truck, and not 火车 (huǒ chē) meaning train. The character 货 (huò) refers to deliveries. If I’d known the characters, I’d have had a better chance of distinguishing between those words.

Characters can also help avoid tone errors that often cause confusion and embarrassment

When I bragged about my first visit to Sichuan, the hometown of Panda, I talked about my experience with my friend whose nickname is Panda. I told him that I was so lucky to have the chance to touch the pandas and brush them. However, the whole time  I was saying xiōngmáo (胸毛, “chest hair”) instead of xióngmāo (熊猫, “panda”) which made my friend laughed so hard. Because to her, it seemed like the whole time, I was saying I was so happy with touching the panda’s chest hair and brushing it. I was so embarrassed and wished I knew the characters better so that I would avoid such funny moments.

Characters also help you remember words based on their components

You can make stories or jokes from them to create mnemonic devices.

For example, a classmate of mine once had a discussion about how 家 (jiā), a character meaning “home,” since the character is made up of a pig or 豕 (shǐ) under a roof or 宀 (mián). It shows that in ancient times, productivity was low, people normally raise pigs at home. So, a room with a pig became the symbol of home. That little insight made the word and its characters much more memorable.

Speaking of making them more memorable, calligraphy also happens to be an excellent study method for remembering characters. It’s especially helpful for visual learners and anyone who remembers better by doing.

By learning how to write characters artistically, you’ll gain a better sense of structure and stroke order. Once you get a feel of that flow, writing characters will become second nature to you. You’ll be improving your writing skills and memory retention for characters.

Plus, writing and reading this style of Chinese cursive writing will also help you later down the line when you’re trying to decipher any handwritten text.

Let’s not forget that practicing calligraphy is also an opportunity to connect with Chinese culture. Chinese calligraphy is a highly esteemed form of art in China, therefore a great way to show some cultural appreciation.

Chinese characters and Chinese words 

Before asking “How many Chinese characters do I need to know?” You might want to know the answer to “How many Chinese characters are there?”. The honest answer is a lot. There are roughly 50,000 characters in the standard national Chinese dictionary. Plus, new ones are still being created—you may find them online rather than in the dictionary.

Is there a Chinese alphabet?

Now that you know how many characters are out there, you might be wondering if there’s an alphabet system in place, and how many letters there are. The truth is that there is no Chinese alphabet.

There are some who refer to the pinyin system as the Chinese alphabet, but that’s inaccurate. Yes, pinyin uses the Latin alphabet to show how you’d pronounce Chinese characters, but that is the only use of pinyin letters and it cannot be used for creating words. It sounds confusing, just know that unlike the letters of Western alphabets, Chinese languages don’t rely on pinyin letters to formulate characters and words.

Chinese characters vs. Chinese words

To complicate things, Chinese characters can represent standalone words. They can also represent components for creating other words, ideas and concepts. 女() or female and 马() or horse are perfect examples of characters that are standalone words, as well as components for building other characters. When putting them together, they generate a new word mother or 妈()。

That means the combinations of characters like those from all kinds of words, which is great news for Chinese learners. Basically, a handful of Chinese characters can be combined and reorganized to express a wide variety of ideas—you don’t need to learn a new Chinese character for every new object or action that you encounter. Chinese is in a way very similar to English, simply combining verb and noun characters, you will have an action word. If you combine two noun characters, you will make a word.

For example, I list 8 characters that are each equivalent to a single English word:

  • (chī) — eat
  • (shān) — mountain
  • (hǎo) — good, well
  • (huǒ) — fire
  • (shàng) — up, on and good
  • (xià) — down, under and bad
  • (tóu) — head
  • (chē) — car

Now let’s do a quick exercise. By combining these characters, how would you say the following words?

  • Volcano
  • Wildfire
  • Mountain top
  • Go up the mountain
  • On the mountain
  • Come down the mountain
  • Under the mountain
  • Delicious
  • Good appetite
  • Train
  • The front of a car
  • The first car
  • Get on (as in getting on a bus)
  • In the car
  • Get off (as in getting off of a bus)
  • Under a car

Here are the answers:

  • 火山 (huǒ shān) — literally “fire mountain”
  • 山火 (shān huǒ) — literally “mountain fire”
  • 山头 (shān tóu) — literally “mountain head”
  • 上山 (shàng shān) — literally “up mountain”
  • 山上 (shān shàng) — literally “on mountain”
  • 下山 (xià shān) — literally “down mountain”
  • 山下 (shān xià) — literally “under mountain”
  • 好吃 (hǎo chī) — literally “good eat”
  • 吃好 (chī hǎo) — literally “eat well”
  • 火车 (huǒ chē) — literally “fire car,” referring to the wood and carbon fires that would power old-style trains
  • 车头 (chē tóu) — literally “car head”
  • 头车 (tóu chē) — literally “head car”
  • 上车 (shàng chē) — literally “up car,” describing your action getting onto or into a vehicle
  • 车上 (chē shàng) — literally “on car,” describing a position is on or in a vehicle
  • 下车 (xià chē) — literally “down car,” describing your action when getting out of a vehicle
  • 车下 (chē xià) — literally “down car,” describing a position is under a vehicle

Answers to the main questions

You can be fluent in English even if you don’t come close to knowing all of the 171,476 words in the Oxford Dictionary. Chinese isn’t any different in this respect. As you just learned, characters are both standalone words or components of other words and ideas. So, there are actually two questions that need an answer here:

  • How many characters do I need to know to have a fluent conversation?
  • How many words do I need to know to have a natural conversation?

As mentioned at the beginning, the average Chinese person needs to know around 3,000-5000 characters. Those characters represent a basic education level that can help you communicate in day-to-day life.

The word count is where your Chinese fluency goals come into play. Because Chinese fluency is generally measured by character count, it’s assumed that you’d be able to put those characters into words the way we did with the exercise above.

Conclusion

If you really want a character count, shoot for around 2,000 characters.

Base your character studies off of what you actually read, whether online, in a newspaper or whatever other media outside of a textbook is available to you. In other words, make sure you’re learning relevant Chinese characters.

With those 2,000 characters, you should be able to learn around 3,500 to 4,000 words. Just remember that fluently speaking those characters and words doesn’t completely depend on knowing how to read or write them.

7 Reasons Mandarin Is the Most Useful Language for the Future

The days of localized business are long gone with the increases in globalization and technology. Today’s economy has become a global village where multi-national corporations are more common than ever before.

With the constant growth in international business, the importance of communicating on a worldwide scale continues to grow.

For centuries the three dominant languages of the economic world have been English, Mandarin, and Russian, but which one will play a primary role in the future of economics?

While many languages will forever hold a great deal of importance on a global scale, today, we will examine why Mandarin is among the languages primed for a prominent role in the future of communication.

Growth in China’s Economy

The more languages you know, the easier it is for you to live and work in different countries. With China becoming an economic superpower and the most populous country globally, learning Mandarin will be immensely helpful for anyone who wants to get ahead in their career or business ventures.

With China’s rapidly expanding science and technology sectors, the country’s influence will continue to grow. Mandarin has a wide-reaching cultural significance and will be consistently recognized as one of the most prestigious languages in the world.

China’s importance on international trade cannot be understated. It was responsible for over ten percent of all global exports last year, with numbers projected to increase.

Over 1.5 billion People Speak Mandarin

If you learn to speak Mandarin, you will gain access to communicating with an additional 1.5 billion people.

An estimated 92% of the Chinese population speak Mandarin. It’s also one of six official languages in Singapore, as well as Taiwan and Hong Kong.

If you can actually read Hanzi and understand radicals, then traveling to these countries will be drastically easier.

China Has Created Its Own Technology

If you have been paying attention to the news lately, you know that China has been feuding with the United States over various tech products.

A prominent example is the Chinese tech giant Huawei.

China Huawei is a direct competitor to Apple and is blacklisted from the United States.

For decades, China has attempted to use its own technology instead of relying on other countries.

Learning Mandarin May Make You Smarter

Learning a second or third language may make you smarter.

A study done in New Zealand found that bilingual children’s brains are more developed than monolinguals, and they have a greater capacity for cognitive control.

It is also worth noting that the benefits of learning a second language extend beyond just increased intelligence as it can increase empathy levels and improve your memory.

Knowing Mandarin Will Strengthen Job Applications

It is increasingly difficult to stand out on job applications in 2021. Everyone seems to have attended college, and skills that were once in high demand are no longer as essential.

Knowing Mandarin will provide you with an edge over other candidates and give you the potential to be hired for a position that otherwise might not have been available to you.

If you want your resume to stand out, learn Mandarin!

Few Mandarin Speakers Know English

For the amount of business conducted between China and English-speaking countries, the number of people who speak Mandarin and English is surprisingly low.

In China, although English is taught in schools, it is estimated that less than 1% of the population is fluent.

Most people who speak English cannot read or write in Mandarin because it is a tonal language and Western languages cannot pronounce many sounds.

Combining these two languages is a skill that a small percentage of the world has and can provide you with many advantages throughout life.

China Is Rich in Culture and History

China is one of the most ancient civilizations that still exists today. As the birthplace of many different religions, languages, and philosophies (to name a few), it is home to some of the world’s oldest continuous traditions.

The Chinese culture has had an immensely significant impact on western civilization, from Buddhism to Taoism and more.

The culture and history of China are something that many westerners struggle to understand. Learning a language such as Mandarin can unlock your insight into one of the most fascinating cultures the world has to offer.

Start Learning Mandarin Today

Learning Mandarin isn’t as difficult as you may think! Many Chinese learners are pleasantly surprised with how quickly they can understand Hanzi (Chinese characters) and radicals from using online learning software such as Pandanese.

If you are interested in learning Chinese, check out Pandanese today.

Pandanese provides a fully online educational platform that is fun and engaging and makes learning Mandarin very achievable. Through Q cards, quizzes, and various lesson types, Pandanese simplifies Mandarin and helps expedite the learning process.

To receive some helpful tips and tricks to assist you on your journey to master Mandarin, join the Pandanese mailing list today.