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Up untill which point is writing characters valuable?

Hi @YuQinCai, @Constance_Fang @Fiona and the ChinesePod team, my question is this:

Basically this is a question which of course differs for everyone, but I was thinking about this and aint sure myself. Currently I can handwrite about 600 characters, basically the entirety of HSK3 and some more. But I find myself using most of my Chinese online anyway where I dont need the handwriting skills or in the future when I am actually going to be talking with people. Now as the character writing takes up a bunch of time I am in doubt of how far I should continue this. Any ideas / opinions on this matter? Was thinking myself that I’d try and learn up until HSK 4 to write them all and then just focus on knowing them rather than being able to write them.

Hello bas, and welcome to the forum!

I guess a big factor to consider is: How serious are you about gaining native-like proficiency in the language? If you want to be able to function at a high level, you really need to know the characters extremely well. This becomes more and more obvious the more you try to become a proficient reader. If you’re used to producing Chinese using Pinyin, believe it or not, quickly recognizing characters in an extended piece of text becomes harder.

I’ve had to deal with this issue myself as a long-time learner, and after years of relying on Pinyin, I’m actually pushing myself to go back to actually writing the characters out on my phone.

I find hand writing the characters is a great way to reinforce relationships between words, like 唬 and 虎 for example. It also helps me sort out the various homophones by linking them with the different characters, which is not reinforced to the same degree with one way visual recognition only. Finally, it is much easier to recognize “cursive” or other fancy renditions of the characters because you know it by the stroke order as much as the overall appearance.