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.
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.