It seems that most people come to the blog for the HSK mnemonic sheets, so I’m taking them up again. I’m going to extend the mnemonic sheets past the HSK 1 to include the Grasshopper Level (200 characters) from Mandarin Poster. That means that whether you are studying the HSK 1 list or the 200 most common Chinese characters you can follow along since the Grasshopper level includes almost all HSK 1 characters. I think that starting off with HSK1 is just fine for people who are thinking of some day taking the HSK exam, but there’s probably plenty of people out there who are starting off with the most frequently used characters.
There are a couple of things to note on the mnemonic sheet. First, the characters are broken up into their radical + component. The radical is in orange (the little number next to the radical is the number of strokes). I think this is important because if you’re using the dictionary and you don’t know the pinyin for a character this is the next best way to look it up. I guess you could always do the handwritten one or now with technology take a picture. Nevertheless, I use Pleco and do not have any of those options. And also, you will get used to the radicals. Second, the stroke number is useful to look up characters faster in a dictionary and to get you used to stroke order. As for the mnemonics, if you like them use them, if not, make your own up.
Don’t get discouraged with Chinese characters. Take it all one bit at a time, at the pace that’s best for you. Writing helps memorize them and I assure you after the first 200-300 things get way easier. And please, before you start on characters get your radicals right! It just makes your Chinese learning much easier. I do believe they are the key to learning Chinese characters.
I hope these are useful. So have fun