Easay to Remember Pictorial Chinese Characters

Today we offer a better way to remember Chinese Characters. The earliest written Chinese symbols were based on pictographs, where the characters highly resembled their denoted meanings. Such was the case for oracle bone script (甲骨文 jiǎgǔwén).

As time wore on, the Chinese writing system developed and began incorporating elements like phonetics, abstract concepts, and radicals. Eventually it evolved into a logographic system, words represented by symbols. For example, the character 家 (jiā, home) represents a pig (豕) under a roof (宀), the character 炎 (yán, inflammation) is formed by two fire characters (火 huǒ), while the character 春 (chūn, spring) consists of spring elements 日 (rì, sun) and 草 (cǎo, grass), or 日 (rì, sun) and 木 (mù, wood).

These are the basic “LEGO” bricks that she drew, each character or component is turned into an image that relates to its meaning:

Click on a “brick”, and several more complicated characters based on the “brick” appear:


Take the ‘sun’ character 日 for example. The character for ‘dawn’ could be interpreted as the sun 日 rising above the horizon. The character 晶 can be memorized as 3 suns shimmering.

Aside from these “LEGO blocks”, Shao Lan also draws an illustrated short story made up with these characters.

For the many people who learn or memorize better via visual imagery, this method would be a good approach. Instead of writing a single character repeatedly in order to memorize it, one could jot down the character in a notebook, and think of ways to turn it into a pictorial character so that the memorization process becomes fun and enjoyable. Let us know if you are willing to give it a try and how it works out!

When foreigners learn Chinese, most of them start with pinyin, a system of romanized spelling and used to transliterate Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet, before moving on to Chinese characters. If you like drawing, you can write many characters as before.

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