Three judges preside over the contest held by state broadcaster CCTV. (Internet Photo)
Chinese characters are difficult to learn not only for non-native speakers but also for natives as well. This was made evident in a contest held by China's state broadcaster CCTV to test teenagers on their ability to write Chinese characters, reports the internet portal Tencent.
Contestants aged around 14 were asked to write the characters spoken out loud by a host. Some of the contestants claimed to have read a dictionary three times before coming to the contest. Adults in the audience also tried to test themselves, with many admitting afterwards that they had forgotten how to write many of the characters correctly.
Only 30% of the contestants and 10% of the adult audience were able to correctly draw the characters for "lai ha ma," meaning toad. The contest not only tested writing ability but also required knowledge of geography, history, biology and chemistry. The name of a river in northeastern China's Jilin province confused many of the contestants and audience members alike.
Some internet users in China have also tested themselves, with one joking that watching the show made him feel as if he never went to school. Others said that they have poor handwriting even if they know how to write a character, while others declared themselves to be practically illiterate.