Should I Learn Traditional or Simplified Characters?

5 Dec No Comments
A visitor to Global Talk’s website asked me this great question over one month ago. Despite one month of researching and talking with individuals, I have not come to a conclusion on whether or not I should learn just traditional, just simplified, or both characters for my own study in Mandarin Chinese. Despite what my final conclusion is, what should I do with Global Talk? After all, I want Global Talk to be a tool for learning Mandarin Chinese. So, I have to decide which way to go. Or, do I? Several weeks ago, I put in some new code into Global Talk that allows you to set an independent volume setting on Global Talk. Personally, I find that when listening to Mandarin Chinese, I want the volume very loud. But, if I change the sound settings just for Global Talk, everything else blows out my speakers. So, now there is a user preference specific to Global Talk to store the volume control (kind of like iTunes). So, one option for me related to the traditional vs. simplified debate is to simply let the user decide. My current thinking is to provide a user preference that allows the Global Talk user to select traditional, simplified, or both characters to be displayed. Let’s take one simple example, so that you can see the massive difference between traditional and simplified characters for the word “dot”. It is diǎn in Pinyin, has the traditional character 點 and the simplified character 点. My conclusion (unless anyone else has other advice) is to make this a user preference in Global Talk. Even more, if you decide you only want to learn simplified, than I will code Global Talk to only print simplified flashcards and simplified handwriting practice sheets. It’s more effort (and another delay to release!), but I want to get it right.

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