Writing & Reading vs Speaking

October 29, 2010, 02:26 AM posted in I Have a Question


I'm very new to chinese. My question is: should I learn to write and read in chinese (not pinyin) at the same time as I learn to speak? Or concentrate on speaking with the help of pinyin for prounonciation and afterward writing and reading.

Also, my girlfriend is taiwanese, so she learned in traditionnal chinese. Is there a big leap between the simplify chinese and traditionnal one?


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October 29, 2010, 03:00 AM

Hi chuckloate,

I am not sure there are any rules because it is quite an individual thing. For one authoritative take on this question, though, I'd suggest you take a look at woochinese.com, the blog written by ChinesePod's John B.

John is currently writing posts to address all the big questions facing Mandarin Newbies. Here's one post that might help you:


Good luck!

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November 07, 2010, 02:13 PM

pinyin is like the alphabet of English,i think you should learn pinyin first,and and afterward writing and reading .That's what i do when i was six.Learning chinese is a very long time if you want to learn it well.

Good luck.

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November 07, 2010, 02:36 PM

I have a couple observations that might be helpful in regard to studying written Chinese.

Pros: Writing in characters is much more understandable to Chinese people than writing to them in pinyin.  Exchanging text messages and emails with Chinese people can be a very effective way to learn. It is going to take you a long time to learn characters. So, an early start won't hurt.  Being able to read Chinese will help with speaking and listening.  (Speaking, because any text will give your more examples.  Listening, because you can read transcripts sub-titles, etc. and answer questions about what was said for yourself.)

Cons: It is going to take a long time to learn enough characters to read anything.  So, if you want quick gratification to maintain your enthusiasm for Chinese, diving into its written form won't be the right path for you.