Last Updated on June 27, 2015
Chinese writing is a difficult skill to get good at just like any other skill. If you intend to become truly fluent in Chinese and be able to convey complicated ideas, you will need to know how to write in Chinese. Speaking alone will only get you so far. Chinese writing, like writing in any language, can take a while to get good at. But, your writing will certainly get better with enough practice. Here are 5 great ways to improve your Chinese writing ability.
1. Use lang-8.com To Practice Your Chinese Writing
lang-8.com is a fantastic website where you can improve your Chinese writing ability. The site is designed to help second language learners improve their writing ability. You can write anything in a language that you are learning or practising and native speakers of that language can correct your writing directly, and can give comments about what you wrote. The site allows you to write as much or as little as you want. On lang-8 you can write a very long essay about something or just write a short sentence. You can also help learners of your own native language by reading their writing sample, and correcting their writing mistakes, grammar, and can give comments. The site is completely free to use. As of the time of this writing, there are 18 languages that you can practice writing in with lang-8.com. Below are 2 screenshots of lang-8.com
Note: I also recommend using hinative.com and its app also called hinative. This is made by the same people who make lang-8, and its also a great way to practice your writing, and get native speakers to correct it.
2. Sign Up for A Chinese Writing Course At A College or University
Learning from an expert is an excellent way to improve your writing. If you want a very methodical way to help improve your Chinese writing, then this is a great way to do that. Be sure to actively participate participate in class, ask your instructor questions, and write as much as you can.
3. Get a Chinese Pen Pal
According to Wikipedia, “A penpal relationship is often used to practice reading and writing in a foreign language, to improve literacy, to learn more about other countries and life-styles, and to make friendships.” With this method, you find a person with whom you will communicate via writing. It is possible to write to someone you have never actually met in real life. If you take a Chinese course at a university or college, often your instructor can help set you up with a Chinese pen pal to practice your Chinese writing.
You can communicate with your Chinese pen pal by email, Skype, physical mail (snail mail), or whatever you like. Your Chinese pen pal will read what you write, and ideally send you back his or her corrections with comments. The Chinese pen pal with then likely write to you in your own native language, and you would be expected to correct his or her writing and give comments. I have a friend who had a penpal located in Taiwan when he was studying Chinese, and eventually he finally met her in person. You could make a lifelong friend with this method. The following 3 sites are great, free sites to find a Chinese pen pal to communicate with.
4. Practise Writing Individual Chinese Characters By Hand And Writing By Hand
Being able to recognise Chinese characters is easier than actually being able to write them by hand. That being said, writing characters by hand is very important, initially, to working on your Chinese writing. In fact, practising writing Chinese Characters can also improve your reading ability in Chinese. I recommend, initially you get a small notebook with large squares to practise Chinese Characters. You can find such a notebook at many stationary stores.
There is something about eye-hand coordination that helps you with improving your Chinese by actually writing the characters by hand. Another big advantage of this method, if you actually use it, is that you will probably be able to read handwriting much better as well. As you will discover, reading handwritten Chinese is usually much harder than reading Chinese text which was typed. Chinese Calligraphy is also often very difficult to read, at least initially, but if you practice writing by hand, you will probably be able to better recognise Chinese calligraphy.
You can download and print out our Chinese Characters Practice sheets here to practice writing Chinese Characters over and over.
5. Read As Much Chinese As You Can
While technically reading and writing are different skills, I feel that improving either one will certainly help reinforce and improve the other. This step assumes that you are reading at your own Chinese ability level. If your skill level in Chinese is intermediate, stick with intermediate texts. Likewise, if your skill level in Chinese is advanced, then try to stick with advanced texts. In addition, go at a pace that is realistic and manageable for you. Read news, literature, stuff from your favourite Chinese celebrities or whatever you like. You can also watch Chinese TV or Chinese movies and read the Chinese subtitles.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes in your writing. You are GUARANTEED to make mistakes in your writing. In order to get better at writing, you need to make mistakes. Most importantly, you must learn from your own mistakes in order to actually get better. As the famous idiom goes, “practice makes perfect.” With Chinese writing, you must write with Chinese Characters. Writing in Pinyin or another transliteration method can create too much confusion or ambiguity because there are far too many homophones in Mandarin Chinese. Be creative, and write on topics that interest you. Do your best to stick with a schedule of consistently writing, and don’t give up!!! Good luck!!! Do you have any other ideas about how to help improve your Chinese writing? Your comments are welcome below.