Character Development

This week I passed a big milestone in my studying of Chinese.  I now “know” over 1,000 Chinese characters – 1,182 to be exact.  While I am not quite on pace to meet my goal of 2,000 by August 31, 2010 (which I set in September 2009), I should get close.

Before you get too impressed, I need to explain why I chose to say I “know” these characters.  The main is reason is that  I have studied them officially from all angles, writing/reading and speaking/speaking.  They are the words that are officially in my vocabulary, or “Word Bank”, which I keep in an Excel spreadsheet.  However, just because I have studied them does not mean that I have mastered them.  I still do not remember how to write all the characters by hand at a given moment and my tones are still rough when I am speaking.

"Jia You!" literally means "Add Oil!" and you yell it to encourage someone undertaking a challenge.

As I move forward this summer, I am going to prioritizing consolidating my gains.  I am going to review these words and really try to master them rather than focus on adding new vocabulary.   I also want to do more listening and reading activities.  The good news is that a lot of people say the first 1,000 characters are the hardest and after that it becomes easier to learn and retain new words.  I hope they’re right, but even if they are not, the whole exercise has been really good  for my character development.



  1. Is there a Chinese term usually meant for children when they are learning the language that can also be used condescendingly for adults? I’m thinking something along the lines of, “use your words”.

    1. Tian couldn’t think of anything special, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t say something similar like “用你的词汇” (literally “use your vocab”).

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