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This page will give you some guide lines on learning and drawing Chinese Characters and I'll be using it because of the following image. You see the character below? Well that's provided by the amazing site Zhongwen.com. A new image is sent every few minutes so if you refresh this page (hit F5) a different character is displayed.

Chinese Character www.zhongwen.com

So I'm going to be using this page to copy down new character as there sent out. Clicking on the button will launch their site in a new window with frames. In the right hand side frame is a breakdown of this character and also below that a whole tree of characters that stem from it.

So what do I know?

Well so far I've copied about 150 characters onto my wall. I thought it would be really good to do them in the calligraphy style, though I was warned off this by my friend Queenie who informed me that this comes after you learn Chinese!

Each character is made up of between one and 64 strokes. The strokes are important and have individual meaning and hints to how the character is pronounced. The stokes all should be drawn in the correct order. I don't yet know why the order is important, but a good site for showing you the order of the stokes is: Ocrat

It's also becoming clear that the characters are rarely written on their own and generally there's two to make up a sensible word, such as 'zhong wen' above. This is a bit annoying as I was trying to find all the characters and get them down and learn them, but this won't really totally help me until I start combining them and making actual words.

Flash Cards

One great way of learning the characters I'm told is to use flash cards. Basically in the traditional sense they are bits of card with the character, pinyin and English translation on. You cover up all but one and then guess the covered bits.

I may start doing this, though writing them, out is taking ages and so there are online tools available. One most excellent site is MandarinTools.com which has a Java Script Flash card program there with 1000 characters in both traditional and simplified. Fantastic!

We keep going...