Developing a method for learning how to read Chinese

--Why consider it?:
  • Developing and marketing a new teaching method for learning Chinese is the fastest way to fame.
    Demand has never been so high and there is a growing need for methods targeting special niches, such as
    • cultural exchanges and intelligence gathering beyond Chinese college majors,
    • refreshing the skills of former Chinese college majors or teaching literacy to advanced Mandarin speakers.
  • Below is an original opportunity to tap the potential of computer technology,
    an offer worth following up as finding an original angle after 4,000 years of practice is not easy.
  • It takes into account how the Internet has greatly enhanced the reach and importance of printed Chinese,
  • and aims to balance student progress better than current methods, biased by the need to master oral skills and the influence of calligraphy.
--What has been done:
------A computer expert trying to learn how to read Chinese, I have analyzed all Chinese characters listed in the Pocket Oxford Chinese Dictionary
  • On this empirical basis, I have developed a modern presentation which updates the results obtained in the past by Chinese linguistics.
    • For reading purposes characters are best remembered by analyzing them according to their component shapes, here called markers.
    • Markers do convey memorable information, either phonetic and semantic, which speeds up memorization and helps long term retention.
    • They include radicals, whose limited set has always been but an arbitrary if convenient selection for the sake of printing dictionaries.
    • Where lacking semantic charge (工, 广, 丬) or meaning (丶, 一, 丨, 丿, 乙), radicals taken by themselves can confuse students.
    • My original approach makes marker information visible in a systematic way beyond what is commonly used by current teaching methods.
    • Through its structural presentation of phonetics, it helps students to master both simplified and traditional characters as an evolving whole.
  • As the site itself shows in more dynamic details, this result is achieved in the following way (please use Firefox for all links):
    • the phonetic spread of each marker is vividly explained and presented (e.g. ) on an optimized 6x6 table of initial consonants
      showing how certain markers represent only one sound (e.g. for "dian") while some may have spread far and wide (e.g. )
    • the semantic role of each marker is clearly noted whenever present (e.g. markers jing1 and 月 (flesh) - click here for color codes)
    • markers can then be regrouped according to the sounds they encode, plainly showing how certain sounds call for very few shapes
      (e.g. "fang" calls for marker 方, "gei" calls for marker 合, "wai" calls for either 卜 or 不)
    • markers are also regrouped into 24 visually consistent shape families so as to highlight the significant if minute differences in shape
      (e.g. intra family as with 礻 and 衤 or inter family as in 手 and 毛 or in 免 and 奂) (1), a means for creating memorization drills.
--What could be done:
------ You could use your practical experience in teaching Chinese and your knowledge of teaching methods to
  • quantitatively assess the increased memorization power claimed for such an approach using real students with different levels of skills
  • find how to best weave this original, systematic approach into the more general task of learning Chinese as a language,
    making sure this will enhance rather than diminish the traditional study of stroke decomposition and learning how to speak Mandarin
  • alternatively turn this approach into a special teaching method for an important, underserved niche of would be Chinese students,
  • help the author to correct his mistakes and resolve the remaining difficulties
  • and further expand the Chinese character set under consideration, including traditional characters
--Next step: --Note 1:
December 2014
Copyright © All rights reserved.