“Can I learn Chinese without having to learn how to handwrite Chinese characters?”

This is the most question we received from someone who wants to start learning the Chinese language.

Well, the answer is no. You don’t have to be able to write Chinese characters to be able to speak Chinese. But, without knowing how to write characters by hand, your Chinese skills are very unlikely to reach above the intermediate level. And learning how to handwrite Chinese characters comes with some advantages too.

Check out this blog article to know why you should practice your Chinese handwriting and how to do it.

Why do I need to practice my Chinese handwriting?

  • Many Chinese characters look similar and sometimes have the exact same pronunciation but very different meanings. The only thing that differentiates them is their radical. When you memorize Chinese characters by reading them, you only memorize the general picture of the character most of the time. If you learn how to write it, you’ll be more likely to remember and see the difference between similar characters.
  • Handwriting practice makes characters stay longer in your memory.  By practicing how to write Chinese characters by hand, you also train your muscle memory. This makes the characters remain longer in your memory. Moreover, if you also practice how to pronounce the character correctly while writing it.
  • Handwriting practice boosts your skill and confidence in learning Chinese. Memorizing characters will improve your reading and speaking skills significantly. To be able to write Chinese characters while taking notes or exchanging messages with your friend looks cool too!
  • Handwriting practice is a form of relaxation and stress relief. Learning Chinese characters by writing them repetitively improves your concentration skills. It also makes writing Chinese characters almost feels like a meditative experience that helps clear your head and reduce your stress.

How do you start your handwriting Chinese characters practice?

1. Understand the structure of a character. 

Most Chinese characters are built from several characters put together. To make your learning process easier, you can break a Chinese character down into different components. There are about 12 basic Chinese character structures.

By splitting it into several parts, you’ll learn to recognize the character composition. It will help your handwriting practice a lot.

2. Learn the radicals

The individual building blocks that compose a Chinese character are called radicals. There are about 200 radicals in the Chinese language that build all 50,000 Chinese characters. And a few of them are no longer used in simplified Chinese. Compared to learning 50,000 Chinese characters, it’s easier to learn 200 radicals that build them, isn’t it?

Once you understand the structure of a Chinese character and get familiar with these radicals, you will have a solid foundation for breaking any character and write it easily.

3. Get the stroke order right

Learning the proper stroke order of writing Chinese characters will help you write balanced and harmonious characters. Advanced Chinese learners usually can tell when a character is miswritten because it usually looks “off”.

There are some general rules regarding stroke order: write from top to bottom and left to right. However, you might find it more challenging while writing more complex characters. But worry no more! Almost every single Chinese dictionary app can give you a stroke-by-stroke demonstration of each character.

4. Use handwriting worksheets

Fortunately, you can find many downloadable Chinese handwriting worksheets that come with character stroke order and grid lines on the internet. You can even create your own worksheet on some websites for free! So, there are no more excuses to start practicing your Chinese characters handwriting now.


Your inability to write Chinese characters by hand will not stop you from gaining intermediate level of Chinese speaking and reading skills. But, if you want to get the best of the learning process, we suggest you also practice your handwriting skills. Moreover, practicing your Chinese handwriting skills also comes with a lot of advantages, and it’s not that hard to do!

About MandarinBoss

If you are currently looking for a great place to start learning Mandarin for your kids or yourself, you can choose MandarinBoss! Here in MandarinBoss, we strive to build a fun learning method and environment to keep you or your kids eager to learn. 

We customize the curriculum based on our students’ current knowledge level and establish an effective learning method to help them achieve the learning goal. Whether it’s for business, education, traveling, or recreational purposes, we’re ready to cover your every need. 

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for the classes today!

Written by: Suci Fransiska

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