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How to improve your Mandarin reading skills

Updated: Dec 29, 2019

The most difficult part of reading Chinese is character recognition. For beginners, if you are a part time learner, it would be beneficial to learn and recognise at least 25 characters per week, so after one month, you would be able to recognise 100 characters. After 10 months, you would have learned 1000 characters, then you will surprise yourself about character recognition.

There are two main reading skills to develop apart from Chinese character recognition:


1: Scanning

When you have limited time to read, you need to do scanning. For short text, a tip is to recognise key words that indicates the author’s ideas.


2: Reading in depth

When you read an article in Mandarin, to completely understand the article, it is called reading in depth, or reading all the details. To help to understand a long article you must:

  • Understand the structure of the article or text.

  • Find out specific information or opinions by those conjunctions or linking words. What are conjunctions or linking words?

  • Understand and recognise special expressions or implied meanings. e.g. Chinese idiom 五十步笑百步 literally it means ‘50 steps laughing at 100 steps’. But it real meaning in English is ‘The pot calling the kettle black


© T. Tian


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