There are a couple of questions most people might think of, while learning Chinese! Nowadays it is more common to write an email or a letter via PC than with your hand. Hence some people are not sure how important it really is to be able to write Chinese characters by hand, we want to give you some information you should consider.
So, the overall question would be:
Is it enough, if I only know how to type in Chinese and not how to write by hand?
Hopefully the following answer(s) to your follow-up question will help, but maybe first think just how much you write by hand in English these days.
How often do you really put pen to paper?
Will you be writing these same type things in China exclusively in Chinese?
Is it ok to simply know how to type Hanzi/ Chinese Characters using Pinyin/ input methods?
Yes. To be honest, many young Chinese these days do mostly typing/texting and not so much handwriting. Latest statistics show, that many native speakers forget how to write a character sentence. This shows already, that it is even more important also to write Chinese characters, especially as a foreigner.
But if you would decide to skip handwriting, there will be more questions:
How do you go about learning the Hanzi/ Chinese characters without writing them?
Do you want to learn characters just by “recognizing them” through flashcard quizzes?
Is this a good method for retention and differentiation?
Does this help to set you up for writing?
What are the benefits to writing by hand for a non-Chinese, if any?
If you’ve got the time and energy, writing characters out repeatedly, stroke by stroke, is one of the best ways to memorize a character. You’ll see people asking, “Is it normal to be able to read a character but forget how to write it?” It is normal but it stems from not just lacking of learning through handwriting, as well, as keeping up with handwriting.
If you’re learning traditional character, there are so many strokes per characters… recognition may not be so easy. Writing them out allows you to learn each stroke of a character, truly understand, and internalize the meaning.
You think there are too many characters you must learn? Don’t panic. As soon as you have internalized a basic vocabulary you see that a lot of new words, are just a combination of characters, you have already learned once. You see by the time it gets easier.
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So, if you plan to live in China for a year or longer, can you get by with simply reading and typing (along with speaking)?
You can get by in China with almost no language skills if you need to. If you can read and type and speak, you can really soar. But what’s the benefit of writing characters out by hand? You can mostly fill in some forms at the bank and government departments to get registered, sign contracts, for example with a landlord, or simply write a postcard, and keep a diary in Chinese. Otherwise, most other stuff is done through typing documents, writing emails, ‘wechatting friends,’ and more.
If you’re now interested in how to enter Chinese characters on a computer, you might check out this post at our TutorMandarin Blog.
So, the choice is yours! Good luck with everything.