Why Teach Simplified and Traditional Characters?

In Chinese culture, the use of simplified and traditional characters is diverse, intertwined, and converging—no boundaries exist for when or where one form should be used over the other, and in this regard, the Encounters approach reflects the reality of the Chinese reading world. Our foremost guiding principle is to prepare students for the language reality they will face as they discover the language and culture of China. With this in mind, learning one format exclusively, and then trying to “switch” to the other, generally creates resentment and resistance on the part of the learner (no matter which format is learned first). Simultaneous exposure to both sets of Chinese characters teaches students to recognize slightly different formats of the same script, and enhances recognition of both forms (recognition of one form, reinforces recognition of the other).