New ideas about literacy learning

Create word lists with common radical

Similarly, learners can learn to recognize the same radical in different Chinese characters.

There are two different types of radicals that comprise Chinese characters—the phonetic and the semantic radical. The phonetic has a tie to the sound of the character, and the semantic radical has some tie to the character’s meaning. For example, in Mandarin and Cantonese, “土” in “吐”, is a good example of a phonetic radical.


For beginners, the best thing to focus on is the semantic radical because it is easy to understand and there are relatively fewer of them (about 250 altogether, as compared to 800 or so phonetics). 


Structure beginners’ learning by creating character lists that share the same semantic radical.


These characters should be relatively transparent in that it is clear how the semantic radical relates to the meaning of each character. Some examples for beginners are:


mouth(口) radical

mouth radical

wood(木) radical

wood radical

water(水) radical

water radical

fire(火) radical

fire radical

hand(手) radical

hand radical

earth(土) radical

earth radical