Most of my students would say a big “NO” to learning Chinese characters (汉字 han zi) when they first try to pick up the language, for reasons as simple as “they look scarily complicated”. After a while, they’d realise it’s almost impossible to decipher the language without knowing the characters, as “ma” can be 妈 mum or 马 horse.
However, if you start learning the characters from the basic strokes, radicals and the structures, they won’t look daunting at all but somewhat fascinating.
First, let’s look at the basic stroke types:
Then the structure:
As shown by the diagram above, Hanzi can be on its own, up and down, up-middle-down, left and right, left-middle-right, half surrounded, three-quarter surrounded and all surrounded.
As for the radicals, each of them has evolved from a picture and carries a specific meaning.
For those who are preparing for HSK Level 1 test, here’s our school’s tracing exercise worksheets of all the basic 150 Hanzi.