top of page
  • Writer's pictureLim Wei Bin

How to memorize Chinese Characters and Vocabularies

This is a big concern that worries students and parents. Many students struggle to remember the vocabularies and Chinese characters which they have learnt in school. I do know that there are students whom practiced writing the words many times until they remember. When it comes to Spelling (听写Ting Xie), they can score but once the test is past, they forgotten everything and go back to square one again.

Apologies that I hadn’t been updating as I was attending to a few courses I bought online. Probably will share more next time. I would like to address the issue of memorizing Chinese characters today.

These methods will also help in word recognition during passage reading and oral exam.

Below are a few methods which you can consider using:

1. Trace back to how the words are invented for eg.

A) Pictogram象形

Look at the word 日 (sun) and 月 (moon), does it looks like the shape of the sun and moon? That was how the words are invented. There are many such examples.

B) Ideogram指示

For example the words like 上 and 下, which means up and down. Did you realise the horizontal line is the base line? Where as the vertical line is where they are featuring above or below the horizontal line. Whereas the arrow part is to point to that vertical line.

This is to show that the vertical line is above the horizontal, therefore is UP. Whereas the second word, the arrow is pointing to the bottom of the vertical line, thus it means DOWN.

C) Ideogrammic compound会意

Look at the word 男 male. In ancient times, man has to use energy to plough the field. They are involved in farming. Thus, the word is form based on the meaning of the activities.

D) Phonetic Component形声

This is the scientific way of inventing words whereby the sound of the word match with different radicals. It makes up more than 90% of the invented words. Some of the tones may be different, but most of the time it will rhythm.

Radicals also give us a clue on what the word means or in relation to.

For eg. 青. When it comes with 目(eye related) radical, becomes 睛(which means eye).

清,when it comes with water radical, its related to water, it means clear an clean water.

They may sound abit different 睛jing and 清qing, but most of the time it can rhythm (not all the time). At times, you may be able to guess how the word is pronounced.

2. create a story and memorize on how to write the word, for eg.

魏 - 千字不成千,八字在两边,女人在下面,鬼在你旁边。

闷 – locking your heart inside a room, u will feel bored.

When u can try to create some stories out of the character, it will help u remember the word better.

3. Play 字卡 with your kids.

Some may enjoy it. Its fun and I have attached a youtube video for reference.


Lin Lao Shi has a wealth of teaching experience and is a MOE-trained teacher. Trained in Differentiated Instruction, he has helped many students with different learning needs with their Chinese language. If you have any enquiry, call or message him at +65 9727 9365.

295 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page