Learn the Chinese Characters FAST

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Introducing our Chinese Character Course

"The course I wish I had when I started learning Chinese"

Struggling  to learn  Chinese characters? Keep Reading...

Learning to read and write Chinese is HARD.

Actually, that's not quite true. Learning to read and write in Chinese is time-consuming.

To reach a level where you can fluently interact with native level material requires you to know 2500-3000+ characters.

Even if you can consistently learn (and remember!) 10 characters a day it will take you around a year of solid study to get to this level. Learning Chinese characters takes time - and a lot of it.

Why is this? Why does it take foreigners so long to learn the Chinese characters? 

The main reason is that the way Chinese is taught today is broken. There I said it.

Foreigners are taught Chinese characters as if they were Chinese children growing up in China.

I don't know about you but I personally don't have 15+ years to dedicate to learning Chinese characters! Instead I used the methods in this course to manage to learn, memorize and put into use 75-100 characters per day (with 95% retention after 2 months).

This rate allows for mastery of the 3000 characters in 1 month

There are a lot of newer methods and technologies out there that make it easier to learn Chinese characters. Chances are you are already using a handful of these techniques. But are you using them in a systematic way?

By melding the most advanced tools and skills together into a cohesive whole grinding through the Chinese characters becomes more efficient and (dare I say it)...fun!

I want to show you the system I used to learn heaps of characters and words in record-time, saving you months if not years of your life from tedious character study.

Jim E.  

This is a great course! I have learned more about Chinese characters in the first part of this course than in any of the courses I have taken over the last ten years.

It wasn't always so easy!

Me making dumplings in Beijing, Chinese New Year 2015

Me making dumplings in Beijing, Chinese New Year 2015

The first time I tried to learn Chinese was a disaster.

I was young and stupid, traveling around the world for the first time at the tender age of 18.

During an extended stop in Hong Kong I fell in love with the hustle and bustle and decided to learn Chinese.

Despite my best intentions and no lack of hard work I couldn't crack it. The characters in particular were too hard.

You know the feeling: each character feels totally unique and learning just one character takes hours. It's a struggle and not very fun.

Like so many people I gave up. I was defeated. I became one of those who goes around telling others "oh, Chinese is too hard - don't bother"!

Thankfully, I came back to Chinese many years later and cracked it. Rather than fall into the same trap of trying to rote-memorize each character I first studied how the characters are constructed, trying to work out the logic underlying the apparent madness.

Understanding this logic allowed me to create a systematic method for learning the characters. With this knowledge and system in hand I felt like I had unlocked the "secret" of Chinese.

From running Sensible Chinese I've met a lot of Chinese learners. More importantly though I've met a lot of ex-Chinese learners. Those, who like my 18 year old self, started learning Chinese and gave up because of its difficulty.

I've spent the last couple of years refining my Chinese learning ideas and methods and compiling them into a cohesive course to help these people stick it out and master Chinese.

Ian D.  

I am really enjoying the course. So far it has giving me a whole different way of looking at the characters. I have never seen a course like this before. It's early but I think this is really going to help with learning the Chinese characters.

The Groundwork: KNOWLEDGE

Understand the logic of character first, then begin to learn and memorize them

The big mistake most people (including myself first time around! ) make when learning the characters is to not understand them first.

Textbooks and traditional teaching does not take the time to explain the logic of characters - instead they plow straight into having us memorize them.

Without understanding how characters work it is very difficult to learn them successfully - the only way is rote memorization, which is boring and hard work. If the task is too boring and difficult you are likely to give up.

Chinese characters are extremely logical.

That might sound surprising if you are in the early stage of learning characters but it is true.

Through years of intensive study your brain will patch together the various patterns of the language. You are suddenly able to look at characters and guess their meaning and even pronunciation. As you can imagine everything becomes a lot easier at this point!

The problem is that we are not taught this logic. Instead we need to piece it together over years of study.

What kind of patterns and logic are we talking about here? Here are some examples:

  • All Chinese characters are made of the same ~200 "pieces". These are the closest Chinese has to an alphabet. Chinese characters are not random squiggles but instead composed of a limited number of pieces. Learn these pieces and you can write any Chinese character.
  • Chinese characters have clues. 90%+ of Characters have a clue not only to their meaning but also about how they should be pronounced. This allows you to look at an unknown character and guess how to say it out loud. A great party trick!
  • These clues appear in the same location. There are patterns that dictate where in a character the sound clue will appear. Once you know these locations you can easily guess meaning and pronunciation, making learning and memorization so much easier.

Example Knowledge Lesson

This is an actual video from the Knowledge section, talking about the importance of Components. We look at how EVERY Chinese character, from the simplest to the most complicated (the one you see below!) are made up of the same 200 pieces

Putting this into practice: The SYSTEM

 This is a diagram of the System I want to teach you.

Looks complicated? It's not really. After you work through the training and setup steps in the course this will be a very simple framework to guide your day-to-day study from zero to fluent.

INPUT: I'm going to show you how we choose the highest quality material to learn. I'll also give you the step-by-step material you need to master over your first year or two of study.

PROCESSING : From there I'll teach you the best mnemonic (memory aid) techniques available for learning characters' meanings, pronunciation and tones. We'll break down characters into their components and use these components to guess at not only the meaning of the character but also the pronunciation.

REVIEW : We'll then be using SRS (Spaced repetition systems) to move characters from our short term memory to our long term memory. I'll be showing you how to do this properly. Unfortunately, over-reliance and abuse of SRS systems is one of the most common mistakes learners make. We'll avoid that pitfall!

USAGE: Unlike most methods for learning characters I encourage (nay, require!) that we actually use what we learn. We'll explore ways for you to practice using Chinese characters with native speakers for free and within your normal schedule.

The result of this System? Rapid acquisition of Chinese characters, less frustration and more enjoyment actually using the language!

7+ Hours of Video Content

 Roadmap to Fluency

Accelerate learning speed

Jan J.  

 Usually I avoid instructional videos. There's so much waffle on them and you can't skim read a video, so you're stuck wasting time while the video burbles on. But yours are short and to the point. You have a very clear voice and I find it even easier to listen to your videos then to read the contents, this is fantastic.

The exact System I used to learn Chinese characters - laid out in a Step-by Step video course 

The key to learning Chinese characters fast is to first acquire KNOWLEDGE about how the characters actually work and then apply this knowledge practically in a SYSTEM.

Most people start learning Chinese characters without a strategy. They head off into the desert without a map, get lost and give up. I've seen it too many times and decided to do something about it.

I've spent the last couple of years refining this System by working with others, helping them learn Chinese. I've had the great pleasure of running Sensiblechinese.com and other Chinese language related ventures that have allowed me to work with many, many Chinese learners, helping them out and giving them the road-map they so dearly needed.

For the first time, I'm making the whole System available to everyone.

Up to now the elements of the System, and all the Knowledge required to make it work, have been scattered across my blog, scribbled in notebooks and in my head.

 That's why now I'm happy to reveal the  Sensible Chinese Character Course

The exact Knowledge and System you need to master the Chinese characters in record time in a step-by-step guided video course.

With this course you will learn Chinese characters more efficiently. Let's have a look at the course contents in detail, what you can expect and how it'll take your character learning to another level.

Detailed Course Contents

  1. Welcome: Introducing the structure of the course and what you will be learning.
  2. Frequently Asked Questions: answering the most common beginner's questions and making sure everyone is on the same page (7 videos, 21 minutes)
  3. Knowledge Introduction:  The Levels of Chinese and how to move between components, characters and words (4 videos, 8 minutes)
  4. Strokes and Stroke Order: The best method for learning the basic stroke orders intuitively and painlessly (11 videos, 25 minutes)
  5. Components: the "building blocks" of Chinese, how to write any character using these blocks, introducing visual mnemonics (11 videos, 32 minutes)
  6. Character Types: the four types of characters, the limitation of "looks-like-a" characters (10 videos, 23 minutes)
  7. Sound Meaning Characters: the best kept "non-secret" in Chinese, how to guess meaning and pronunciation of 90% of all characters (10 videos ,34 minutes)
  8. Character Structure: left/right, top/bottom, surrounds and semi-surrounds. The basic character types and the common locations of sound and meaning clues (8 videos, 33 minutes)
  9. Words: Why all words are really 1 or (mainly) 2 characters. Why Chinese needs 2 character words. (6 videos, 23 minutes)
  10. Moving from Theory to Practice: Introducing the System and how we'll be using our new knowledge
  11. Processing - How to Learn Characters: The most modern, effective techniques for learning characters including character decomposition, meaning/pronunciation/tone mnemonics and more. This is a meaty lesson! (16 videos, 66 minutes)
  12. How to Remember Characters - Review: Spaced repetition, how to choose and setup your memory system, best practices for reviewing. Advanced material includes turning Pleco into an SRS powerhouse, unlocking all the "hidden" test-types to test your handwriting, tones and more (24 videos, 80 minutes)
  13. What to Learn - Input: What material should we prioritize, how to capture and feed new material into learning System. The importance of frequently used words as a shortcut to fluency (10 videos, 31 minutes)
  14. Closing the Loop - Usage: How to move material out of the System via usage with native speakers. Creating sentences from "words of the week" and using new tools to connect with Chinese speakers, practice usage and master material (9 videos, 35 minutes)
  15. Review of the System: summarizing and pulling together everything we've learned. Recapping action points in checklist form to make sure you implement what you've been learning!

Full Lesson List:

Example of Lesson Page:

Example of Checklist from a Lesson:

Bonus #1 Chinese Language Pack worth $25

Bonus #1 Chinese Language Pack worth $25

What's Inside?

  • Hanzi WallChart digital poster (A0, A3, A4 versions)
  • HSK 1,2,3,4 digital poster
  • HSK 5 digital poster
  • HSK 6 digital poster
  • Pronunciation Package (2 books + audio)
  • Grammar QuickSheets
  • Radical Chart
  • Anki FlashCard Decks
  • Characters to Words eBook
  • Speak Chinese Today eBook
  • Teaching in China eBook
  • Common Pronunciation Mistakes eBook
  • $30 off Skritter
  • PDF Lists of Most Common Characters and HSK Vocabulary
Andrew M. USA

My kids are learning Chinese at school and I got them each a poster for their rooms. They love them! Their friends are very jealous!

Bonus #2 First Week in Chinese course worth $30

What's Inside?

The ultimate step by step guide to starting out in Chinese. Getting past the first week of Chinese can be tough. A strange pronunciation system, tones and characters just to say "hello"! Let me guide you through the first rocky week of Chinese and give you a firm foundation for moving forward.

    • 5 Days of Step-By Step Videos. In total ~1.5 hours of video content.
    • Each day has 3 videos: Characters, Knowledge, Practical. Videos are designed to be bitesized and focused - ranging from 3 to 12 minutes.
    • Additional resources, articles, downloads and links accompanying lessons.
    • Downloadable .mp3 audio recordings by both male and female native speakers along with a PDF script to guide initial communication
Jacob UK

I have studied for a year. I am working in Beijing and take (sporadic!) lessons here... I never really "got" the language until I went through your videos and the blog... my teacher here is good but not great at explaining to Westerners about the language...even though I have been "studying" for so long the videos helped me move towards speaking and practicing the language more."

Ready to really learn Chinese characters?

Sensible Chinese Character Course $197

Bonus #1 : Chinese Language Pack  (worth $20)

Bonus #2 First Week in Chinese (worth $30)

A total of $247 of Chinese Learning Material

Frequently Asked Questions

Can't I work all this stuff out myself?

Maybe. It's taken me years of systematically thinking about the Chinese language and the best methods for learning the language. It's true that some of the patterns and strategies I discuss will reveal themselves as you progress in your study. However the real purpose of this course is to equip you with these strategies as early as possible.

Ideally you are on Day 1 of learning the characters - if this is the case then I can save you the most time, energy and lower the frustration of dead-ends.

More likely you've already started to learn the characters either using the traditional rote-memorization methods or maybe a hotchpotch of new techniques sewn together. If this is the case then what the course really offers is a way to tie everything together into a systematic whole, a day-to-day, month-to-month action plan.

Can't I get this stuff on such-and-such website for free?

As of yet the answer is no. I've extensively trawled the best Chinese language learning books, blogs and courses and no one has yet provided such a systematic approach to learning the Chinese characters.

It's true that other blogs may talk about individual components and these articles are very helpful. But often there's just too much information out there! This leads to paralysis - which technique should I use here, which strategy there?

I've gone through everything available, tested it, added a lot of my own material and then sewn everything together into an easily digestible video course for you.

The real saving here is time. You could trawl around for techniques, test them yourself and build up your own system but it will take a long time. If you value your time then this course can shortcut you to the end result of having a fully working learning Chinese character learning system.

Is this for Simplified or Traditional characters?

The lessons taught in this course are applicable for both Traditional and Simplified characters. That said, the examples are given in Simplified characters. The reason for this is that 80% of learnchinesecharacters.academy readers are learning Simplified not Traditional and I want to make sure that the content is accessible for the majority of learners.

There are a couple of lessons dedicated to the differences between Simplified and Traditional and why there isn't really that much of a difference. These lessons include Traditional characters to show the difference and why the methods I'm teaching apply to both Traditional and Simplified characters.

I don't have the time to take this course.

If you are embarking on learning the Chinese characters you already know it takes a lot of time. The methods taught in this course will help you cut the process from several years down to several months, saving you huge amounts of time in the long term.

In the short and medium term you'll also save time. I've designed the course in such a way to ensure that the lessons can immediately be applied to your current learning. You don't need to wait to finish the course to start benefiting from these more efficient methods - in fact I encourage you to start using them ASAP.

I've also designed the course in bitesize pieces. Each lesson is chunked into short videos. The longest is ~10 minutes but the average length is 3-4 minutes. Everything is formatted to also be watchable on your phone so you can study on the go if that is more convenient.

Consider your small time investment in this course as an investment. If you sow a few hours now studying how best to learn the Chinese characters then you will reap hundreds if not thousands of hours of saved time during your character learning journey.

Is this a recurring payment?

Nope it's a one off payment. The content is then all yours to do with as you please - I've even opened it up for downloading if you prefer to keep the video content on your PC.

In fact, whenever the course is updated or new material added you'll also receive all of that for free too.

Can I watch this on my PC/MAC/iPhone/Android?

Yup - any device that can run a web browser and stream videos from the internet can access the content. Everything is formatted so that it'll show nicely on a phone/tablet so you should be covered whatever device you are on. The videos are also available for download if you have spotty internet connection and have trouble streaming.

Does this course cover XYZ?

I've had requests for additional content covering additional areas of the language. It's been a tricky toss up between comprehensive coverage of the language and not overloading students with too much information!

Therefore the main course is structured to be as streamlined as possible. If there's a topic I think is useful but doesn't fit into the main course itself I'll add in additional content and resources in a Bonus section. As people ask questions about the content I'll fill this Bonus section with new material to keep up with the most popular questions - as such the course will keep growing organically.

Ready to really learn Chinese characters?

Sensible Chinese Character Course $197

Bonus #1 : Chinese Language Pack  (worth $20)

Bonus #2 First Week in Chinese (worth $30)

A total of $247 of Chinese Learning Material

"You live a new life for every new language you speak. If you only know one language you only live once.” - Czech Proverb

 I hope we can take the next step in your Chinese journey and open up a new life together!

Kyle Balmer 白马楷, Sensiblechinese.com