- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Tuttle Publishing; Original edition (August 15, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 080483816X
- ISBN-13: 978-0804838160
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (182 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Tuttle Learning Chinese Characters: (HSK Levels 1-3) A Revolutionary New Way to Learn and Remember the 800 Most Basic Chinese Characters Original Edition
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"When I got Tuttle Learning Chinese Characters, I immediately knew that I had found the answers to all those years of searching. This book is everything I would have wished for learning basic Chinese." —Hanban.com blog
"A great Memorization Tool for Characters." —Virginialynn.hubpages.com blog
"Outstanding approach for mnemonics to learn the Chinese characters. Easy and well structured, it builds on itself. Generally I can read about half the Chinese characters I see now, and I have a framework for learning the remainder. A great place to start Mandarin studies." —Goodreads
"Studying Chinese characters is an exercise in getting individual masses of strokes to form meaning in one's mind. Learning Chinese Characters: A Revolutionary New Way to Learn and Remember the 800 Most Basic Chinese Characters, published by Tuttle, helps this process with a comprehensive method using story and image." —Vision Times blog
"I highly recommend this approach to learning Chinese characters, especially for those who aren't native speakers and need motivation in the learning process." —8Asians.com blog
"Tuttle Learning Chinese Characters by Alison Matthews and Laurence Matthews is an excellent beginners book! I really wanted to learn this for making some fun and beautiful cards and messages on scrapbook pages! Plus, the bonus of learning characters in Chinese! I know how popular characters are for tattooing and always wondered how about making some decorative cards with a character or few to design it!" —Test Try Results blog
About the Author
Alison Matthews is a statistician who has worked in the oil, aviation, tourism, medical and software industries.
Laurence Matthews is the author of the Kanji Fast Finder and Chinese Character Fast Finder books.
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Top Customer Reviews
My second criticism is that the book's stories for the characters sometimes seem to determine how they define the word. The more common definitions are at times chosen for less commmon ones and many definitions are completely missing. It would be vastly better if all the words were used in sentence like Tuttle's flashcards are. Moreover, I think a big drawback of the book is that they don't sell accompanying flashcards that use the story. (I think Tuttle's flashcard series is very good but they certainly don't give you the stories used in this book.) Otherwise the student wastes a lot of time creating their own flashcards and mistakes in the writing of the Hanzi are inevitable for the beginner. Thus you are memorizing your own mistakes.
I guess the book may be good if combined with other materials in which the student is learning to read Chinese. However, I think if I were to do it over, I would skip this book and get a really good software program like Wenlin which has a great dictionary. This gives you all the meanings of the words, it gives you the words in context, and a history of how the Hanzi developed. Probably using Wenlin, Tuttle's flashcards, and this book would be a great way to start.
Finally there are a few typos in the book. I only started writing them down after I noticed a few so there are more.
Character 782A mistakenly identifies "Tian" as "slave."
Character 511: not sure what happend here. The top Hanzi is not "Ji" it's "Jiu" and the story is also wrong - not sure where they get "baseball" from?
Character 121 is pronounced "zhi" not "yi"
Character 561 - typo for the word "moon."
Character 779: story has a typo
This book is difficult to rate. It is excellent in some areas and terrible in orders: Since I have used and continue to use it to master Chinese characters I think its pros outweigh its cons:
1. The book is peerless in the economy with which it captures how to write the characters. Stroke order, radical, and the characters that combine to make up a single character are depicted compactly but completely in rectangular boxes. Writing the characters mentally and on paper is immensely helpful for recall. In addition, where a character is formed through a combination of other characters, the number for each "base" character is provided inline, so you can flip back to review that character (I had hoped that the kindle version would make each number a link to the description of the character. Ah well, perhaps in the next kindle edition of the book). Also words, short phrases, and sentences are provided for most new characters and include only characters covered to that point. Again a very helpful learning device.
2. The attempt to write the characters INTO images which I originally thought ludicrous is actually moderately helpful for instant recall of the character and its meaning. Every few chapters you get a dashboard of the percentage of characters you can recognize in print given the number of characters learnt up to that point. Its quite a motivator.
3. The book has a very comprehensive index that covers sounds and pronunciation, meaning, and a faster finder that classifies characters by "radical" and by character structure (radical on the left, right, top, bottom).
1. The idea of learning the pronunciation of a word by tying the tone for that word to an image creates an additional, and unnecessary step which not only imposes a large computational burden mentally, but is completely useless in understanding the word when it is spoken. You learn the tone for a character by HEARING it spoken not by associating it with a giant, fairy, teddy or dwarf. For example if I heard "ma" I would have to recognized that it is said with the 3rd tone, and THEN associate that with a teddy bear (the image) and then translate that to mean horse ... all during running speech. To read a word in mandarin -- usually made up of multiple characters, I would have to cycle through multiple images and to read a sentence, I would need a running movie of giants, fairies, teddy bears, and dwarves. Readers should completely sidestep this supposed audiovisual aid to learning character sounds.
2. The stories associated with the meaning of each character might appear to ease the effort required to learn characters, but turn out to be damaging. The purpose of learning characters is to be able to read. Recognition of the character must therefore be instant. To call up a story in order to recognize a character becomes a major barrier to reading or even literacy! How many days in the month of June? Some people have to run through the limerick "Thirty days hath September, April, June and November..." It is impractical to use such a method for learning mandarin characters which -- like learning the 26 letters of the English alphabet -- is not an end in itself but is meant to enable you to read. The Chinese with over 5,000 years of civilization, settled on brute memorization, endless written repetition, to learn characters, and eventually turned to simplification of the characters themselves -- not mnemonics or stories -- to ease learning.
Despite its flaws -- which are substantive - this book is still one of the better texts on the market for learning simplified mandarin characters.