Has tecnhology made these chinese skills less important?
Has technology made these chinese skills less important? What value do they have for chinese students?
1) Learning Radical Lookup (for unknown characters)
Why learn the radicals of characters, and their look-up in a dictionary, if you can just write the character in an electronic dictionary?
2) Writing characters
Why learn to write if main communications is done with a pinyin IME?
tvanAugust 27, 2009, 11:53 PM
On point #2, I'm not sure. I don't haul around an electronic dictionary with me, but if I did, maybe that would substitute for standing around a dusty bus stop writing my destination/mispronounced word on the back of a receipt.
xiaophilAugust 27, 2009, 11:53 PM
I think it depends on what your goals are for learning a language. If you want to be an authority, learning the radicals and then how to put them together to make characters will always be a must. If your goal is basic communication, then perhaps your question can be answered in the affirmative, but I wouldn't see that as a bad thing. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier through eliminating eliminating previously indisposable tasks.
On a related note, I think the Internet has perhaps made learning languages harder. Why? The best way to learn a language is to go to another country and get immersed in the language, but the Internet allows us to maintain constant contact with our friends, family and other materials that are in our mother tongues.
changyeAugust 28, 2009, 03:19 AM
I sometimes suspect that only foreign learners of Mandarin care about radicals and their meanings. In other words, I suspect Chinese people usually don't care much about parts of characters.
Probably they are too busy learning Chinese charcters to look into radicals. In Japan, most people don't know what radicals indicate. I was the same before I started learning Chinese.
Here is a (cold) joke (made by me).
Why don't you memorize Chinese characters if you have time to learn about radicals?
xiaophilAugust 28, 2009, 04:57 AM
This is something I always wondered about. I do at times study radicals, but I mostly feel like it is most important to just simply write. This is one reason I like my electronic dictionary with stylus. Even if I know a words pinyin, I usually input it by manually drawing it. That way not only do I get a definition, I also get a wee little extra practice writing.
changyeAugust 28, 2009, 06:54 AM
I agree with you. Radicals might be important when you practice writing characters (and using a paper Chinese dictionary), but actually not so important/helpful when reading characters (including unfamiliar ones), at least for me (a native Japanese) who have long been familiar with Chinese characters since I was a child. I always see a Chinese character as a whole, but never pay attention to every part in a character. The same should be true when native English speakers read English words.
trevorbAugust 28, 2009, 01:22 PM
It's not always easy to write the character into an electronic dictionary, especially if you aren't somewhat skilled in stroke order rules. It's quite frustrating when you write the character and something else pops up! Using radicals is just another possible avenue for finding the meaning.
In terms of the Pinyin Ime thing, you must be a digital native! unfortunately there isn't always technology where you are to use this method and computer IME 's discourage use of tones as they figure it out for you. of course you still need to recognize the characters it chooses. If someone misunderstood your speech and you can write the character you may still be able to communicate, writing down pinyin without the tones is less likely to help.
Personally I try to find time to write them as it helps me remember them, I often use a tablet pc with handwriting input to input hanzi just for this reason. It's slower but it makes me feel more intouch with the language and the Chinese culture even if that is truly just in my head.
tvanAugust 28, 2009, 04:02 PM
Personally I try to find time to write them as it helps me remember them, I often use a tablet pc with handwriting input to input hanzi just for this reason.
@trevorb, that's a great idea. I gotta get me one of those! Another downside of IME's is that I find I make waaaayyyy too many typos. You could never do that if you were writing the characters.