Chinese proverbs about learning and studying

A selection of proverbs about the importance of learning and studying hard to do well in examinations.

Bù bù gāo shēng [bu bu gao sheng]
step step tall ascend
Step by step promotion
Congratulation on promotion or a new job
Cì zǐ qiān jīn bù rú jiào zǐ [ci zi qian jin bu ru jiao zi yi yi]
grant child thousand cash not like teach child one skill
Better to teach a child a skill than give money
Gaining a skill has great value for the future
wàn juǎn shū bù rú xíng wàn lǐ lù [du wan juan shu bu ru xing wan li lu]
read 10000 roll up book no like walk 10000 mile road
Reading ten thousand books is not the same as walking a thousand miles
Learn from practical experience not from books
废寝忘
Fèi qǐn wàng shí [fei qin wang shi]
abandon sleep forget eat
To forget to sleep and eat
To be absorbed in work and study
囫囵吞枣
Hú lún tūn zǎ [hu lun tun za]
whole all swallow date
Swallow a date along with its stone
To read without fully understanding
糊涂
Nan dé hú tu [nan de hu tu]
difficult achieve bewildered
Too hard to understand
Where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise
Niàn niàn bù wàng [nian nian bu wang]
study study not neglect
Do not neglect your studies. Bear in mind constantly
Study hard. Keep thinking about a problem
Where there's a will there's a way
Qīng chū yú lán ér shèng yú lán [qing chu yu lan er sheng yu lan]
indigo blue comes out foremost blue but excel foremost blue
Indigo is obtained from the indigo plant, but such color is bluer than the plant itself
Wise schooling has produced excellence beyond the teacher. The follower has surpassed the master.
,
Shí nián shù mù, bǎi nián shù rén [shi nian shu mu, bai nian shu ren]
ten year establish timber, hundred year establish person
It takes ten years for a tree to grow up, but it takes a hundred years for talents to be nurtured
Studying may be slow and arduous but is worth it
急,授 则解
Shòu rén zhǐ jiù shí zhī jí, shòu rén yǐ yú zé jiě yī shēng zhī xū [shou ren yi yu zhi jiu yi shi zhi ji, shou ren yi yu ze jie yi sheng zhi xu]
award person use fish one explain once quick, award person use fishing standard separate one produce must
Give a fish and be fed for only a day. Teach how to fish and be free from hunger forever
It is important to learn a skill that will last for life
骆驼比
Shòu sǐ de luò tuo bǐ mǎ [shou si de luo tuo bi ma da]
thin die camel compare horse big
The body of a starved camel is bigger than the body of a living horse.
Respect ancient wisdom rather than the new. Size is more important than age
Shú néng shēng qiǎo [shu neng sheng qiao]
mature can produce skill
Learning a skill from long experience
With practice one can learn the skill
Practice makes perfect
house, Qing dynasty, family
A Mandarin's House, Beijing. 1874. [Note how women and children occupy the upper floor, men the ground floor]. Image by Google Cultural Institute from The J. Paul Getty Museum available under a Creative Commons license .
Wēn gù ér zhī xīn [wen gu er zhi xin]
revise ancient but know new
Study the past and yet know the present
Studying the past helps to understand the present
,,
Wǒ kàn jiàn wǒ wàng jì, wǒ tīng jiàn wǒ jì zhù, wǒ zuò wǒ liǎo jiě [wo kan jian wo wang ji, wo ting jian wo ji zhu, wo zuo wo liao jie]
I catch sight of I forget, I hear I remember, I do explained
When I see, I forget; when I hear, I remember but when I do, I understand.
You learn only by trying it, not by just observing or talking about it
则罔,则殆
Xué ér bù sī zé wǎng, sī ér bù xué zé dài [xue er bu si ze wang, si er bu xue ze dai]
study but no think rule deceive, think but no study rule dangerous
Learning without thinking means wasted work; thinking without learning is dangerous
Studying hard is important and gives rewards
,
Xué hǎo sān nián, xué huài sān tiān [xue hao san nian, xue huai san tian]
study well three year, study bad three days
It takes three years to learn well; it takes only three days to degrade
Falling into bad ways is far easier than keeping to the good
The road to hell is paved with good intentions
Xué wú zhǐ jìng [xue wu zhi jing]
learn nothing stop border
There is no limit to learning
Knowledge is infinite
严师
Yán shī chū gāo tú [yan shi chu gao tu]
strict teacher produce high student
Strict teachers produce successful students
Strict discipline is needed to teach effectively
Spare the rod and spoil the child
耕耘, 收获
fēn gēng yún, yī fēn shōu huò [yi fen geng yun, yi fen shou huo]
one part cultivation, one part harvest
Half growing the crop; half harvesting it. Can't expect a harvest without cultivating the crop
Hard work is needed to achieve a good result
Hard work never did anyone any harm
Yù bù zhuó bù chén qì [yu bu zhuo bu chen qi]
jade not polished not accomplish gem
Jade requires fashioning to turn into a gem
Training and discipline are needed to build character
Zǐ bù jiào fù zhī guò [zi bu jiao fu zhi guo]
child no teach father's past
A father is responsible for his son's conduct
Parents are responsible for their children's education
China motif
Our proverbs come with lots of information. The modern Chinese characters are followed by the proverb in pinyin. Next, there is a crude character by character transliteration into English, followed by a more accurate English translation. If this is a Chinese proverb alluding to history the meaning may still not be clear in English, so the general meaning follows. Finally some proverbs have fairly direct English equivalents, if so the English proverb is included at the end.

Our translations need improving, so please let us know if you can help.
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Citation information: Chinasage, 'Chinese Proverbs about Learning and Education', last updated 4 Sep 2013, Web, http://www.chinasage.info/proverbeducation.htm.

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