There’s an interesting debate in China, and abroad, about the future relevance of Chinese characters. Just the other day I spoke to a language expert who said today’s Chinese youths often type in pinyin (alphabetized Chinese) and use word processing software to turn their words into traditional or simplified characters.
This begs the question: should Mandarin learners practice writing the characters, agonizing over the correct stroke order, or should the focus be character recognition? A similar question faces American educators regarding the value of teaching cursive.
According to this featured “TED talk” speaker, learning the characters doesn’t have to be a chore. ShoaLan has devised a clever way to demystify the characters and make them more accessible, more easily memorized.
A she offers these words of encouragement: you only need to know 200 characters to be able to “get by” in China, or read menus, street signs and newspapers!