Three best tips to improve your Chinese handwriting
The Chinese language does not have an alphabet. Instead, it has characters. It is important to learn these characters and develop your Chinese writing abilities, be it by computer or by hand. For beginners, a major problem is the character composition and the stroke order. But more advanced learners find it more important to improve their writing accuracy.
If you want to improve your writing skills and develop beyond speaking Chinese, you have to focus on two things: exposure to the written Chinese and practice, in that order if possible. In addition to this if you want to learn to write and read Chinese, you have to learn the components (parts of characters) and parts of words (characters). If you learn only a few combinations, it will be impossible for you to master Mandarin, because there is a high number of combinations you can make.
TIP #1 The importance of stroke order
To many people, the stroke order may seem irrelevant. But the handwritten Chinese stroke order is crucial, and it can be the difference between scribbles and 汉子. The stroke order can help you write faster and maintain the correct proportions. In time, by practicing the correct stroke order, you will have a legible writing when writing quickly. Learn and practice the basic patterns of stroke order: horizontal to vertical, top to bottom, and left to right.
In addition to this, the correct order of strokes will let you look up Chinese characters accurately in dictionaries. Today you can find countless mobile and online dictionaries that let users write characters and finding the explanation based on the stroke order.
Stroke type in handwritten Mandarin is important to distinguish. In the following image, the character 大 needs to be written with three strokes: horizontal, a vertical slanting going to the left, and starting from the intersection a short curve. The example on the right is written starting the stroke on the bottom. If you start this way, no dictionary will be able to recognize, even if the shape of what you have written looks almost the same.
It is also crucial for you to learn the names of the strokes. This lets Chinese people explain how each character is written, without actually drawing it.
TIP #2 Learn the correct proportions
The most obvious thing showing that you are new to Chinese are the incorrect proportions. Characters have semi-standard proportions, much like the stroke order. In time, after you use handwriting Chinese, these dimensions will become obvious to you.
The first two characters, 们, and 现, from the example above, the left radical had to be corrected to have a better spacing from the right. For 来, the top horizontal line needs always to be smaller than the bottom one (except when the line denotes meaning, like between “soil” 土 and “scholar” 士). The lower character 理, the two characters should be of the same height.
TIP #3 Practice, practice, practice
The best way of improving your handwriting is to practice it as much as possible (the correct way). The primary school children in China practice simple character writing hundreds of time to permanently cement the foundations of writing. Most Chinese teachers recommend teaching written Chinese using a brush. But you can just as well use a pen to practice. Create a diary to write your daily life in Chinese and practice your handwritten Chinese. Also, having handwritten reminders in Chinese is a good way to practice. Slowly, you will see improvements, and you will also write faster and faster. Practice writing Chinese every day if you want to master it.
Here are the eight basic strokes you can practice on, in Chinese and English.
Practicing with a brush helps you improve the quality of writing with a pencil while practicing with a pencil does not improve your brush writing. And if you seriously want to practice writing Mandarin Chinese, you can always buy reusable paper from Amazon or eBay.
Keep practicing writing each character again and again at least 50 times. After a while you will become a master of handwritten Mandarin Chinese and everybody will praise your skills.
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