I recently read an article about how pens, paper and handwriting are all dead in British society, at least. The figures are shocking, reading about how few young people have written a letter, but even with the increase of technology, this isn’t true for me. Maybe I’m a special case, but I can’t see me putting my pens down anytime soon (neither can these hard working students in the library).
As I study Chinese, it’s incredibly important for me to keep on top of my handwriting, not only for the weekly dictation spelling tests we have, but also for character recognition and ingraining new characters into my memory. There are many characters that look similar 人 and 入, which look alike but also ones like 休/体, 偷/愉 and semi symmetrical ones like 部/陪, Then there are the really complicated characters like 藏 or 囊，which are usually traditional characters that even China hasn’t been able to simplify.
I find the most effective method of remembering them is by writing them, from 1-10 times on neat squared paper. As I’m on a 20hr/week intensive language course, I have over 100 new pieces of vocabulary to learn a week, some of which are Chinese idioms (成语) which consist of four characters. That’s not even including my homework, notes in class and writing my diary. It’s safe to say,I use a lot of pens and paper here in China.
After spending 20p on each gel ink pen, that I would finish in a couple of weeks, I decided this was quite expensive. I saw refill ink cartridges in the stationary shop which were 10p each, or a box of 20 for £1.60, At first I thought I doubted I would use a whole 20 pens worth of ink, but then I realised I probably would use all of them, so bought the box. Who said the pen was dead?
Another one of my goals for this time in China is to learn some 练笔，joined up handwriting – in Chinese. At the moment, I write like a 7 year old Chinese student, clearly marking each stroke of the character, but this takes time and my Chinese friends don’t write like this. Sometimes my teachers comments are also in cursive Chinese, so I want to learn how to write it in order to read it too. It will save me time when writing down points in listening class and hopefully not affect the beauty of my printed characters.
How often do you write with a pen and paper?