How to write chinese characters?

My little boy has to learn how to write his chinese name. The teacher sent home a sheet of paper with his name drawn in dotted lines but he’s just tracing it, and I know there’s a “right” way to write the characters. (He’s been writing his english name for ages now, I never even thought to have him practice it in chinese.)



Check out our new Family Forum… (lots of popups though) Still need to transfer the messages from the Bravenet board, but I’m doing that in itty bitty bits.

A good children’s Mandarin-Mandarin dictionary should have a little space near the character that shows the “stroke order”, that is, the exact order in which you should write each stroke that makes up the character. Usually the stroke being written in that step is shown in red, the ones already written in black or grey. Just find the characters of his name. You might want to make him some worksheets of your own showing him the step-by-step process more clearly.

The general mantra is:

“Top to bottom, left to right, inside, outside, close.”

Of course there are exceptions to that, too, but generally speaking it works, assuming you can tell when something that looks like two separate strokes to a Westerner is actually one stroke and which direction it’s written in in the first place! So getting a dictionary with the stroke order information in it is probably your best bet. Either that or just tell a Chinese friend you need to have the stroke order and have them write the characters one stroke at a time, with a separate “picture” for each step (that is, the first one shows just the first stroke, the next box shows 2 strokes, and so on on up to the completed character).


some good books called “fun with chinese characters” with cartoons. Maybe Eslite would seel them…

Tracing is no way to learn characters. Ironlady was right. There is a stroke order for the characters, and an order for the individual strokes left to right right to left etc. Caligraphy lessons right from the off will help. Learning the names of the radicals helps too (pie, heng, etc)

Calligraphy and learning the names of the radicals… uh-huh. I guess I need to finally get off my butt and sign up for some serious language lessons just to keep up with the kids.

Thanks Hexuan!


Terry and guest, thanks for the suggestions. I’m going to check out the bookstores, and hopefully it won’t be too hard to decide on a dictionary :? . You’d think the Chinese Dad would be of some help. :unamused: