So, I have been teaching myself Chinese, and I enjoy it soo much. At school I had to take a Spanish class, and honestly did not like it, but I do enjoy Chinese. I have gone through a beginner book, and about to start an intermediate book. I have not been learning the characters, but i would love to.

I feel as if I would do better to learn it from a teacher, instead of teaching myself and making it sloppy. I was thinking maybe in a few years after i am better at speaking i could begin to learn characters?? any tips on if I should or not, and why you are or are not learning them??.. also where i live i have absolutely no one to practice with, which is a big interference to learning properly.. any others with this issue...?? thanks :)

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Hi Lauren

As a lot of the comments already said, I think characters are essential, and also part of the joy of Chinese.  It's what makes it such a unique and interesting language in this world.

I have been learning for years, and personally find it easier to learn in an associative way - so I recommend getting some books that tell a story behind each character (whether fiction or fact!).  Try this series:

Fun with Chinese Characters (

Characters and vocab you have to learn by yourself - no teacher can help you.  But for character writing and stroke order, a teacher is a must.  They can explain to you the mysterious rules...

Yes.  You should definitely learn hanzi.  If you don't you will only be semi-literate in Chinese. 

If you are teaching yourself there are many resources available Make your own customised worksheets , SkritterQuizlet and other Flash Cards .  There are ways to get a feeds RSS that will deliver to a reader and you can subscribe to emails for one or several characters or words to be delivered to you. There are also many teach yourself books. I too study in an area where I have no teacher and no one to practice with. While I am not teaching myself I do try to reach out to the Chinese learning and teaching online community to seek help. 

Hope this is of some use to you.

Hi, just wanted to mention that I consider Hanzi "the gift that keeps on giving." Over 40 years ago as an exchange student in Japan I spent many days with dictionaries, teaching myself Kanji until I'd remembered almost 2000. Over the years I translated a big article for the Smithsonian but otherwise got little use from the characters. But now in China I'm startled at how useful they are in helping me learn this challenging new language. There are plenty of similarities between the two, despite the many differences. 

So if you're at all a visual person like me, don't think characters are more trouble than they're worth. Good luck!


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