Decision: traditional or simplified characters!
Kungfucius says: Learn both.
Ok, that was too simplistic. There is a lot to say about this topic, but here are some clear advice that you might want to follow:
Reading instead of writing!
Focus on reading! We live in the modern world. You can use any computer or smartphone to easily chat in traditional or simplified Chinese as long as you can recognize the characters! So, character recognition is much more important than being able to handwrite Chinese characters.
Differences of simplified and traditional Characters
When it comes to learning Chinese, one question that often comes up is whether to focus on simplified or traditional characters. Both systems have their own unique histories and uses, and it’s important to consider a few factors when deciding which one to learn.
First, it’s important to understand the differences between the two systems. Traditional Chinese characters are the original form of written Chinese and have been in use for over 3,000 years. They are used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and some other Chinese-speaking regions, and they are often considered more aesthetically pleasing than simplified characters. Simplified Chinese characters, on the other hand, were introduced in the 1950s as a way to make written Chinese more accessible to a wider audience. They are used in mainland China and Singapore, and they are generally considered easier to learn and write than traditional characters. Malaysia has also made the transition to simplified characters.
When deciding which system to learn, it’s important to consider your goals and the context in which you will be using Chinese. If you are planning to visit or work in mainland China, it makes sense to focus on simplified characters, as they are the standard form of written Chinese in that region. On the other hand, if you are planning to visit or work in Taiwan or Hong Kong, traditional characters would be more useful.
It’s also worth noting that, while it is possible to write both traditional and simplified characters using computer script, it can be helpful to learn how to write them by hand as well. This can help you develop a deeper understanding of the language and improve your overall language skills. But again, don’t put too much emphasis on it.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to learn simplified or traditional Chinese (or both) depends on your goals and the context in which you will be using the language. Both systems have their own unique features and benefits, and it’s important to find the one that works best for you.
If you have to chose: Chose simplified characters
If you have to choose and you do not have close links to Hong Kong or Taiwan, then better choose simplified characters. More material is available to learn simplified characters and you can use it in many more situations and countries. Plus: You will learn simplified characters slightly faster than traditional characters.
How to study characters?
If your main goal is to pass the HSK test, please find important tips and tricks here. In terms of reading, Lingq can be a great resource for you. Overall, there are more apps to study simplified characters compared to traditional characters. One main difference of simplified and traditional characters are radicals. However, radicals to support dictionary use are not as important any longer due to character recognition software.