mnemonic system for learning chinese

Here is a link for an mnemonic system based on the sounds in Mandarin. I would be interested in knowing what all you guys learning Chinese think. Can we refine this into something we can use and do you guys think it is worth the time and effort it would take to master it. I personally think it has great promise.

Great article, cheers. This actually helps me out a lot with a problem I’ve been having lately. I’m new to memory palaces and towns and to be honest was finding the whole concept a little daunting, but this breaks it down and makes it more manageable. Can’t wait to try it out.

Nice post. Now i can go for chinese. Great thanks

I saw that and it’s definitely a good idea. The main thing about it is that it’s overkill in most cases.

I’ve found that in most cases assigning a color and emotion to each tone and then using the standard methods for memorizing foreign vocabulary is sufficient. The flash cards I use will always have the character and the pronunciation on them at first.

Once I’ve managed to attach the meaning to the spoken word, I’ll usually have enough of an idea what the character looks like in order to type it in pinyin. At that point, I’ll usually go about trying to figure out how to write it from radicals, if I haven’t alrady figured it out.

But, there is some benefit from having a system for generating images for anything you might want to learn. The downside is that it won’t spread across Chinese languages as well as what I outlined above.

This is a one year late reply.
I have been developing a system to remember the pronunciation of Chinese characters.
It consists of:
A. The “consonant”, which is a Disney Movie (Tarzan, Lion King, Pinocchio, etc.)
B. The tone, which is a character of the movie. And it works as follows: 1st tone, main male character; 2nd main female character; 3rd the evil guy; 4th other characters.
C. The rest of the character is a trade or a job, which includes an activity and an environment.
So P is the movie Pinocchio, T is Tangled, N is peter paN, F is Fantasia (Mickey Mouse), X is the Xuord in the Stone, etc.
While using Chinese usually I have problems remembering A and B, but not C, so often I don’t use C. So, I have less practice with this part.

For instance, yesterday while reading a came across these two words: 毯子 海灘. I know they are TAN, but I always forget the tone. So, I look at the dictionary, and see 毯 is 3rd and 灘 is 1st. So, I imagine the evil character in the movie Tangled playing with a blanket (as usual, the more exaggerated the better), and then the male character in the beach.
I didn’t include the AN part because I don’t have problems remembering that, but just for the record is a construction worker building a wall.

I don’t think this is “overkilling”, I have tried other simpler methods without success, and this one definitively works for me.

In order to get acquainted with the movie characters, I found in the web many useful images with all the male, female and evil characters in the same image.
The tone according to movie character is useful, because, for instance, the 2nd tone is always a female, so, it is easy to remember and recall. Also the movie characters are full of colour, they have voice, even songs and a story. I think this is an advantage over the system of the link above.

I have another system for writing character which involves personae from the Lord of the Rings.
Pixar characters are used in another system in which I am memorizing some key concepts from a book.


What is highly interesting…not discounting what you wrote at all…I got on tangential thinking here…Is that the Japanese have a Superior system to learning kanji/chinese characters. I know that it’s much maligned, their teach model, but actually it shouldn’t be and is what accounts for, well, just another example of some serious shaky logic on the part of people (i.e. scholars and such) who really should know better.
The Japanese student probably doesn’t know either, believe it or not. It’s sort of subconscious…I mean they stare at this grid that logical locates their syllabery (kana) and they probably would like nothing better but look at something without grids…I wonder if they continue to be adverse to grids…Anyway, he/the native Japanese get it on some level. The process at least which is location based…And they (the Japanese) display this teaching method since it’s definitely there. No doubt. They prove it since they are content using their syllabary to find kanji - on mobile phones or what-not. So the kanji and pronunciation have been firmly fixed in their brain…they’ve been known to blank on the kanji meaning, but not the pronunciation.
For, you see It’s location based (I know I already said that!). They learned the hiragana and it’s on a grid…so all the boxes (45 to 48) of them represent a syllable…To the kanji this box even though representing one syllable is quite sufficient to store the kanji inside that box (most readings of kanji are one syllable) However, the very first kanji in first grade is Ichi…for “first” or “one”…or “salty” when mixed with the kanji for salt (so there goes all that logic put on emphasizing the meaning of these instrutable things). But ichi is two syllables, which is rare…AND (and think this is what throws people is the “i” is the second in the furagami order…(abcs). However, “Ichi” still it goes in the second square down. which is “i” (more or less…well, less…it’s coincidental. They have a i u e o…and some of the characters look similar, but are actually derived from calligraphy way way back) — I think that’s what throws people is that One is first - which makes sense, but the next is Rock and the next after that is Rain and 3 comes before 2. Blah, blah, blah…But “a”, the first one, is not used in the first grade. So, ichi (one) is the first in line!
If someone in the West actually bothered to look close they would see why it is organized that way and that it is indeed location based…location linked with pronunciation. Now that’s a good system! In fact, I would suggest if someone were learning SATs or a lot of stuff really to perhaps learning one of the two or both of the Japanese Alphabet. Maybe that would free up some space and put some location on it…I got to write something about that deal!----my theory is that the brain sees something so foreign like Japanese that it (unlike the Englishy languages) will actually free up space. And space which goes into a fixed sized grid to boot.
Sometimes I do wonder about people…But in the defense of no one in particular the Japanese language has only been around for the West for about 100 or so years…so, it takes time, I guess. Paul

This is the best book I have ever seen to learn characters. There is also a version for Japanese kanji. I don’t follow the method of this book, but a similar one. I wish I had known that book when I started to study Chinese.

Remembering Simplified Hanzi: Book 1, How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Chinese Characters Paperback – October, 2008. by James W. Heisig (Author), Timothy W. Richardson (Author)

I will read carefuly your post, because it contains at lot of information.

Thanks for the reply…hope it wasn’t too clunky. I actually had gone in a completely different direction and then decided I better turn around! But I think is all fascinating whether it’s mnemonics or even cultural. For instance, what’s really been of interest to me is the Unicode and the general attitude of the “they” in Unicode toward the Japanese. It really is grating Japan badly and it is surfacing in fairly conventional papers…that you really sense something negative building up in Japan. I can read maybe on a intermediate level (but can’t follow a simple audio clip to save my life) and I read a bit in “LiveDoor” once a day or two and I have noted a general trend of irritation toward the West. It used to be underneath quite a bit, but it’s coming out more and more. And Unicode people have adopted this “normative” standards which is basically the status quo is how it’s goiing to be…and all this grumbling, well, we’ve bent over backwards for Japan and we have been so gracious about that we can’t help but point out how irrational and uncooperative they are. I’ve read things of that nature from some semi-official documents (as official as Unicode gets actually). It’s normative…so it’s like Wikipedia or something. Anyway, it does astounding. And Shift JIS (what the Japanese adopted from Microsoft) is actually Japanese saying “we are ready to implement this according to unicode if they are so gracious”…and “you know we will use less space too”.
In the end, even if Japan WAS being totally obnoxious in their demands (which Unicode tries to claim - speciously so) that who’s problem is that? Unicode. The mandate is to get everyone on board and Japan is not. Neither (I think) is China even though they have pretended to be very ameable and participate in the various consortium meetings. (Japan does not!) I think the trend in China is actually their Pinyin. And not this “radical” or as Heisig call’s it Primative (that is still stuck in my brain getting those names mixed) and China only adopted the idea of radicals for catagorizing purposes in 1800s when they were quite weak…
I do have something unique if you wish to know about it let me know…anyone! Paul Z

I know this post is quite old, but I was wondering;
What is one tweaked the Marilyn Monroe method to look more like a PAO system? I mean, instead of using “locations” for finals, we use “actions” instead. And then use objects for the tones (5 in total, incl. the “non-tone”).
That way one can link the word’s definition, character and its pronunciation to one loci in a memory palace…