Chinese word for learning

For some of you, school may have just started after the long summer vacation. It’s time to think less about visits and travels and more about your studies. As this video shows, it is a blessing that we have the capability to learn new things.

The Chinese word for learning or studying is (xué) or 学习 (xuéxí). One is never too old to learn. To put it in Chinese,

活到老, 学到老.
Huó dào lǎo xué dào lǎo.
We live and learn.

(huó) means to live or being alive.
(dào) means to arrive, to reach, or up until.
(lǎo) means old, aged or outdated.

Indeed there is no limit to knowledge and learning. The classical Chinese idiom for this observation is:
学无止境 (xuéwúzhǐjìng)

You should give yourself a pat on the back for taking on the challenge of studying the Chinese language.

Xué zhōngwén bù shì yī jiàn róngyì de shì.
Leaning Chinese is not an easy task.

We’ve previously discussed a few words that refer to learning at school. (See the article posted on 6/1/11.) Following are several additional words and expressions containing (xué), and I encourage you to look up a few more on your own to study.

大学生 (dàxuésheng) does not mean a big student but rather a university student as 大学 (dàxué) is a university or a college. 学院 (xuéyuàn) is a college or an academy.

同学 (tóngxué) is a schoolmate. Specifically, 同班同学 (tóngbāntóngxué) is a classmate.

学问 (xuéwen) means learning or knowledge. 学科 (xuékē) is a study course, a subject or a branch of learning. For example, 文学 (wénxué) is literature, 科学 (kēxué) is science, and 地质学 (dìzhíxué) is geology.

Zhāng xiānsheng hěn yǒu xuéwen.
Mr. Zhang is very learned.

学位 (xuéwèi) is an academic degree. 学士 (xuéshì) is a scholar or one holding a bachelor’s degree.

学费 (xuéfèi) means tuition, and 学分 (xuéfēn) is a credit one can earn by studying at an academic institution.

Jīnnián xuéfèi yòu zhàng le.
This year the tuition has soared again.

学徒 (xuétú) is an apprentice.

博学多才 (bóxuéduōcái) is a phrase for describing someone of great learning and abilities.

才疏学浅 (cáishūxuéqiǎn having little talent and learning) is what you might say of yourself to show humbleness.

不学无术 (bùxuéwúshù) means ignorant and incompetent. This phrase could be used when talking about someone of whom you don’t have a high opinion.

(xí) means to practice, to review or to get used to. 习题 (xítí) is an exercise in school work.

练习 (liànxí) is to practice. 见习 (jiànxí) is to learn on the job. Therefore, a student working as a trainee is called 见习生 (shēng).

Confucius said,
学而时习之, 不亦悦乎.
Xué er shí xí zhī, bù yì yuè hū.
To learn and to review the material from time to time, isn’t that delightful?

演习 (yǎnxí) is a drill or a maneuver.

习惯 (xíguàn) is a habit. As a verb it means to become accustomed to. 恶习 (èxí) is a pernicious habit.

Wǒ yǐjīng xíguàn tā de lěngmò.
I’ve already gotten used to her cold attitude.


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