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Chinese: Character Input: Stroke order: How to learn

Chinese characters are written in a stroke order (which differs for traditional, simplified, and Kanji). This convention is useful for memorizing characters, but also aids handwriting recognition software, and can be used for looking up Chinese characters.

Some free tools that aid in learning stroke order during SLA:

The tool I remember from supporting my first Chinese program a long time ago in Iowa where also Ted Yao’s Integrated Chinese (Cheng & Tsui) was used, is the Bihua project which lets you search by number of strokes, and displays stroke order animation in the results by means of QuickTime videos. Note that links to the corresponding chapters of Integrated Chinese are included in the results:


http://www.csulb.edu/~txie/azi/page1.htm has  animated GIFs to teach the stroke order.

 http://lost-theory.org/ocrat/chargif/ is also based on animated gif, but the animation is a bit easier to follow since the current stroke gets highlighted, and you can search for characters.

There is some more animated gif material as overview in wikimedia: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:CJK_stroke_order


If you teach simplified, this Taiwanese education ministry website will be of no use to you: http://stroke-order.learningweb.moe.edu.tw/home.do , but maybe the Hong Kong version for primary education is of use for your students, esp since it is partially in bilingual English: http://www.edbchinese.hk/lexlist_en/index.htm

Practice memorization with Google pinyin IME which allows you to look up characters by strokes:  “This allows you to input Chinese characters not only by using pinyin but also by using strokes if you do not know how a character is pronounced. First, press “u” to enter the stroke mode. Then use “h” for heng, the horizontal stroke, “s” for shu, the vertical stroke, “p” for pie, the left falling stroke, “n” for na, right falling stroke, “z” for zhe, the turning stroke, and “d” for dian, the dot, to input a Chinese character according to its stroke order. Among these strokes, “n” and “d” are the interchangeable. For example, if you want to input , then you press “u” first, and then press “dppn” or “ nppn.” A character often appears before you finish keying in all the strokes. For examples, appears when you key in “udppdps” without the need to input all the strokes.”


Some non-free tools include the  Chinese Character Stroke Order Animator and eStroke (singe license expensive, price comes down to about $35 per seat for a 30 seat site license which may be a good size for a language center)

Animated Gifs and other video-based teaching tools may be a bit to non-interactive, and also too fast (but could be slowed down). Even better would be a pen- or touch-enabled software that allows the learner to practice the stroke, following guiding lines. Unfortunately, pocketChinese which would fit the bill ((on Java enabled phones) seems to not have been updated  in almost 3 years.

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