Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Learning to Write Chinese in the Face of Globalization

Learning to write Chinese is one of the most challenging and difficult tasks facing the Chinese students, particularly the beginners. The gigantic stumbling block in the learning process is obvious: Chinese is not a phonetic language. Since there is no direct relationship between the pronunciation and visual appearance of the characters, they must be learned individually by repeatedly “drawing” the proper strokes. This laborious and often painstaking process of learning to write Chinese characters takes away valuable time from the business of learning and developing the other important language skills: speaking, reading, and listening to the language. Writing documents is a long and strenuous process, GENUINE PAPERS is the best essay writing service.

Original Chinese characters have their beginnings in hieroglyphs, and have developed over the years into what is now the Chinese calligraphy. Admittedly, learning to write these traditional characters can be an aesthetic pleasure as it demonstrates the beauty and history of the language. For example, the modern Chinese character for “wooden” represents the shape of a tree, and the character for “forest” depicts what looks like three trees. This illustrates that this rich Chinese language revolves around the system of connectivity and association.

There are over 150,000 characters to learn. Although many of them are not used in these modern-day times anymore, around 200 million Chinese students going back to school this September have to deal with the grueling process of learning 400 to 500 new Chinese characters over the year.

A romanization system in teaching the Chinese language was introduced in the 1950’s to shorten the distance between speaking and reading, and between reading and writing. This alphabetization or phonetic representation, known as the Pinyin, is the equivalent spelling of the characters in the English language. The problem with Pinyin is that the sounds sometimes don’t represent the exact sounds of the characters, they are more a rough phonetic guide. A related issue is the fact that Chinese language has a high rate of homonyms. The same sound in Chinese could refer to dozens even hundreds of distinct meanings and as many characters. Aside from that, the beginning students will immediately find themselves actually dealing with two entirely alien systems at once, the romanization system and the Chinese characters. In short, this approach is nowhere near resolving the problem entailed in hand-writing the Chinese characters.

We are quickly becoming a global village but according to Jiang Beining, a blogger, “Characters are an invisible wall between China and the world.”