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Use App to Tell Radical Parent & Phonetic Part

Quick question: why you are here to read about Radical Parent? (Nothing to do with your radical parents though.)

A. Know how to count strokes in a character,

B. ‘People told me that I can predict the sound or the general category a character refers to by the radical parent parts. But I wondered it is about understanding a radical family tree or something…’

You are in a right place. If you ever used stroke and spatial layout to search a character on Sunrise Method App,  you might have notice there is a simple trick to associate stroke with match stick – laying out a character with match sticks, usually the sticks count for strokes in a character. But you are smart to notice, sometimes a small twist attached to the end of a stroke, or several twists happen in one curvy draw counts for one stroke as one integrated part.

Ok, I know things can no longer hide away from you. We don’t call them match sticks, we call them Radical Parent. Most of the characters consist of radical parent parts, while some simple character is parent itself.  And you can tell which is which with a good use of Sunrise Method. Take ‘苞’ for example, you take 2 step to see its

Step 1. Destruct a character into a corresponding spatial layout. You may learn more about the method here(previous post on spatial layout).

(spatial Top-Bottom, strokes numbered 3 and 艹, strokes numbered 5 and 包,combination on search page)

* 包(breakdown of 5 strokes respectively)

Step 2. Find profile of 苞.


Step 3. Identify the Phonetic Part & Radical Parent

Phonetic part, it usually indicates the similar sound of the character it is embedded in, regardless of the exact tone. Eg. 苞 (consists of 艹 and 包) is pronounced bao1 (‘bao, tone1’) because its phonetic part is 包(‘bao,tone1’). You will find how important to spot the right phonetic part to get the hint of how it sounds, or a similar pronunciation.

Radical parent(部首) – it usually gives hint of category. You shall learn ‘艹’ is typically refers to plants, eg. 草(grass, ‘cao, tone3’), 花(flower, ‘hua, tone1’), 菜(vegetable, ‘cai, tone4’). These are example characters with a radical parent indicates the characters of plants.

Ok, for the radical parent part, if you are not a vegetarian and don’t want to talk about plants any more (How insensitive!), I will show you another example with heart and soul – 忄.

忄mainly indicates emotion. And somehow because of its slimming shape, characters with this radical parent will always appear left-right spatial layout. Eg. 情 (love, affection, ‘qing, tone2’). Now take a good look at it. image it is written on a cake and you should slice it with all parts intact – in order to get the spatial layout. Or if you spot the radical parent is 忄, go ahead put a lens to see it as:

情 =忄+青(qing, tone1)

Always look at the radical parent part for implication of meaning or category, while get the hint of the sound from the phonetic part. Because in this case, 青 means greenery or blue. Affection has nothing to do with blue in Chinese people’s eyes.


If you are not comfortable with telling two parts in a character, you can just count the total strokes in a character then go ahead searching in the app with the ‘Stroke’ searching function. Either way will get you to know a Chinese character.

All roads lead to Rome, but for the long-term merit, we encourage you to expose to as many cases(characters) as you can, because like Rome, an effective learning is not built overnight. Step out, face straight to a character, and better with an app in your hand.

Good luck.

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How To ‘IKEA’ Chinese Character On App

If your biggest fear stems from unknown signs, we are here to help you break them down before they do the same to you. We will help you to IKEA (break down and assemble) a character to search its meanings and more.

I relish the achievement gained from a big struggle. If you are the great mind thinks alike, you can try learning Chinese. Yes, you heard me. Simply because its not phonetic language based on an alphabet system, nor its shape is constructed within square, rather than curvy like Latin language. You almost want to give up, but we are here to help you lead into an unknown arena. All you need is,

1. Download free Sunrise Method App on your mobile device (available on iPhone);

2. Ability to count from 1 to 10.

Now, let me introduce, 梦. This is a very dreamy word in Chinese, I promise. You will know why when you learn how to search it in 3 steps.

Step 1: Break it down, choose the layout type on App.

Take a knife, imagine it is written on a cake, In order to keep the parts separated and intacted, cut it into parts First cut is the deepest, but three reveal the layout. You can see clearly the cutting trim on the cake, that is what we define the spatial layout.

Now you will get 木,木,夕 in their position. And find the most similar layout on the app (Top-Bottom for this case)

8 7

Step 2. Count the strokes in layout, list out the options on App

It is still a sign until you know count the strokes of different sections in the layout. It is not rocket science. In this Top-Bottom layout, 林 on the top counts 8 strokes, 夕 at the bottom counts 3 strokes. So in the App, you tap the Top and input 8 as strokes count, then it lists all 8-stroke character parts, then you easily spot ‘林’ ranked high on the list and give it a friendly tap. Yep, it is yours.

3 9

You are smart and you get it. Now do apply the same technique to spot the ‘夕’ at the Bottom section.

5 2

*Tips on Strokes: Stroke is like you lay out a character with match sticks respectively. Usually one stick counts for one stroke. But it is more convenient if you know sometimes some strokes have turns and twists, as if the twist is so small that you can make it by breaking one match stick into at most 4 smaller parts. In this case,

木=4,夕=3, As 梦 has 4+4+3=11 strokes

Step 3. Pick 梦 in search results.

Now tap ‘Search’ on the App, you get the word 梦 in the search result.

1  6

It is not a dream(梦), you can search a Chinese character on your mobile, you can break it down and count the strokes then you begin to view a character in a destructive perspective. Now you have the profile of this character ‘梦’ and that is all you need to know desperately about it. It is even more eye-open and exciting experience you assemble an IKEA furniture or build a LEGO castle, well, you might just have IKEAed a Chinese character. Sounds cool?

Go tell your friends you learned a character today. Wait, what does it call? No worry, we will tell you how to use the app to pronounce any character you search. We will soon publish a post on Learning Pronunciation of Character On Sunrise Method. Stay tune.

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Take a long-term approach to Chinese characters

When we encounter challenges, both as beginners and as advanced learners, most people tend to make decisions that solve the immediate problems in the short-term. This is a minimum-effort approach which is natural and useful most of the time. If we only need to spend a certain time to overcome a given problem, why invest more than that?

Image credit: http://www.lumaxart.com
Here are a couple of short-term problems we may encounter when learning Chinese and their minimum-effort solutions:

Learning characters: Reviewing many times before a test
Learning words: Treating them as indivisible units
Difficult texts: Reading them for the first time in class
To understand these problems better, let us use an imagined situation where I’m enrolled at some kind of language school and study Chinese a few hours every day. On Monday, I’m presented with some new vocabulary for that week and I’m supposed to learn around fifty new words each week. There is also a text containing these words (and more).

Intuitive problem solving is mostly short-term

The natural thing to do here (and what I as a teacher see most students do) is to learn the words we have for homework. They diligently practise writing, pronouncing and translating the words. They score pretty well on the test. And they forget most of these words soon after. Most students read the text for the first time in class, meaning they stumble a lot, even on words that aren’t new this week.

The problem here is that this approach focuses on solving problems in the short-term, whereas your goals are long-term (learning Chinese to any decent level is most certainly a long-term goal). Learning a number of characters and/or words is what students need to pass the test, so that’s what they do. Most teachers don’t force their students to review, so they don’t. You can’t just rely on your teacher, you need to take responsibility for your own progress!

Shifting to a more long-term strategy

What I suggest is that we always dig deeper into what we learn and see the underlying logic. If we’re talking about words, you should look at the characters comprising the word and learn what they mean, provided that they are not extremely rare. If we’re talking about characters, you should learn what the parts mean (and not only the radicals, I’m talking about any part of a character here). If we’re talking about texts, you should review before the lesson.

This is a long-term investment because it will take a while before it pays off, but in the end, it will pay off grandly. If I study thirty characters and you study thirty characters plus all the component parts (perhaps another fifty elements to learn), it’s obvious that provided that the time is limited, I will perform better than you do on a test You’ve learnt many things which won’t come on the test, whereas I’ve spent all my time efficiently learning what I’m the teacher has said will come on the test.

This approach doesn’t make sense in the long-term, though, because it overlooks the fact that Chinese is a language that can be easily broken down into more or less logical parts. This is true for any language (think about suffixes and prefixes in English, for instance), but to what extent and how frequent the basic building blocks are differ from language to language.

Making use of building blocks

In Chinese, many building blocks occur frequently. This means that if you spend extra time to learn these, you will regain that time many times over later. Sure, it will take more time in the beginning, but once you have a base of character components and individual characters, you will see that most of the time, learning new things is simply a matter of connecting what you already know in new ways. Using mnemonics, this can be done very efficiently.

Sometimes, the connection between character components and the meaning of the whole character is phonetic, meaningless or lost in time. This isn’t a big problem, because as long as you’re using elements that are actually there, it’s cool (in other words, don’t fall in the “the man with a hat”-trap). The same goes for words. True etymology (the origin of the word) isn’t always necessary, interesting or even desirable. Learn basic parts as they are, but you can make up the connections between them on your own.

Previewing texts is perhaps an even more obvious example of short-term versus long-term thinking. Looking closer at the problem, it’s evident that previewing is very good. We need to study the text thoroughly in order to learn, but if we do part of the work before class, we can benefit much more from what’s going on in the classroom. This is extremely important if you’re using anything similar to a kamikaze approach, in which case you will often encounter very difficult texts.

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Character #293: 信

xin4 if people were wondering the pinyin of this character…

來學正體字 | Learn Traditional Chinese Characters

The character 信[ㄒㄧㄣˋ] means honest or trust. It can also mean a letter or message. Here is the stroke order animation and pronunciation. Here are the individual strokes for writing the character. Here is the definition in Taiwanese Mandarin. Here is the evolution of 信.

信[ㄒㄧㄣˋ]任[ㄖㄣˋ] – to trust in, to believe in
信[ㄒㄧㄣˋ]件[ㄐㄧㄢˋ] – mail, letter

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Sunrise method app instructional video

all you wanted to know about how to use the app.

If you have more questions, email sunrisemethod@gmail.com

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Sunrise method App instructional video – in detail

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I’m learning Chinese at beginner level and I really struggle when it comes to learning Chinese characters by heart.

How to learn the character?

I think at the beginning, it is to make a story for each character and that can make you interested in it very well and it can help your learning easily. But when you have learn more than 200 characters, this way is not the best way and you’d better know how to write the characters, the order and the mearning for each part.

I learn new 5 words with characters write every day and all time repeat characters with I learn in past.

I think its wrong to learn chinese language and dont learn Chinese characters how write. Yes, its much longer but its right. I have only one problem, I dont know how to pronunciation right some words. I have teacher, I learn chinese…

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