How many kanji per day?

Index » RtK Volume 1

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shimra
New member
From: Philadelphia
Registered: 2006-08-07
Posts: 1

I'm pretty much just doing RTK I at the moment, and am planning to go through it before doing any other Japanese studies.  I was wondering how many Kanji in the book other people go through per day.  I've been varying between 5, 10, and sometimes 15 per day.  I haven't yet figured out how far I can reliably push myself.  It takes a long time to finish!  Even if I did 15 per day it would still take over 4 months.

laxxy
Member
Registered: 2006-07-19
Posts: 203

shimra wrote:

I'm pretty much just doing RTK I at the moment, and am planning to go through it before doing any other Japanese studies.  I was wondering how many Kanji in the book other people go through per day.  I've been varying between 5, 10, and sometimes 15 per day.  I haven't yet figured out how far I can reliably push myself.  It takes a long time to finish!  Even if I did 15 per day it would still take over 4 months.

It kinda depends on how much time you can allocate to this, taking the review time into account, and of course on how difficult is the current lesson for you.
I generally found that about 25 *in a day*, was about the most efficient average rate for me. This is not the same as 25 a day every day, which, especially in the latter stages, is difficult because reviews pile up -- so I just skipped some days and didn't add anything new.
Sometimes, especially early on, and when I just had a few more to finish a lesson, I'd do 30+, but generally, once above ~25, each new kanji would become progressively more difficult.
Some other times, I just didn't have time to do 25, and would do like 10-15, but I think that was not too efficient either as I would have to stop just when making stories would become most productive, and would have to get into the mood again next time.

One other thing that I was doing was to split the whole book into two parts -- largely because I had to, as I've taken an 8-month long break about #950. When I restarted, I made a new flashcard pile (*using Twinkle for Palm to review) for the new kanji that I reviewed regularly, and another one for the old kanji that I did not review much (sometimes when it would get above ~500 I would spend a day or two just on it to cut it down a bit, twice I cleared it entirely, but that was all). Those old kanji are often referred to in the 2nd part, which helps to remember them without so many reviews.

leosmith
Member
Registered: 2005-11-18
Posts: 352

I did 20/day, 5 days per week. I reviewed the 100 on the weekends. Then I had to take big breaks after every 500 to review everything (I was using paper cards). So it took me about 7 months.

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CharleyGarrett
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From: Cusseta Georgia USA
Registered: 2006-05-25
Posts: 301

I did it in 4 months.  Some days more than others.  For the first part, I tried doing a "lesson a day", but in the later stages I went to a 10 a day pace, so that I could keep up the reviews.  If I got a day with 200+ reviews, I'd not add any new ones.  In fact, I wouldn't add any new ones so long as I had any failed kanji that I had not cleared.

dingomick
Member
From: Gifu_Japan
Registered: 2006-12-16
Posts: 234

I'm sure I'm the exception, but I'm doing 40+ every day. I'm on 555 right now, so I'm sure I'll be slowing down very soon. But it's still my goal to finish RTK1 by February 1st, but I'll probably have to move it back a couple weeks. I spend upwards of 5 hours a day studying. I'm completely jazzed by how much fun it is. I go to bed late because I'd rather stay up studying...!

mantixen
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From: Illinois
Registered: 2006-11-10
Posts: 27
Website

For those who can set moderate and consistently attainable smaller goals over a long period of time, my hat goes off to you. As for me, I set my sights too high every time I picked up this book. The days I actually spent studying this book are probably less than someone who did it consistently (for example, I made stories for about 450 kanji on my last frantic 3-day leap for the end of the book), but my results were ultimately slower. Every time I set a goal for so many kanji per day, I would make great progress in my studies until the FIRST DAY I was too busy to meet my daily goal (which was usually a week or two later), after which I would relapse into a months-long retreat from the book. If I would have set a smaller goals that I could have reached everyday, no matter how busy I was, I would have completed the book much more quickly.
For example, if I would have stuck to a manageable 8-a-day schedule, I could have finished the book in about 255 days. Instead, it took me nearly twice that long, and until I finished it I was depressed and dissatisfied with myself every time I thought of the book, oblivious to why my motivation was being crushed so easily. Instead of steady and comforting progress, I was filled with self doubt and negativity by trying to overdo it.
Instead of giving you a number, my advice is to estimate how many kanji you could study on your busiest day, and lower that number by 1 or 2 just in case. You might think you're going too slow, but looking back, you will rather have been the tortoise than the hare. As the hare, I know that's how I feel. Being the tortoise is easier on your self esteem and motivation, and you will finish much faster.

akrodha
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From: Miami, FL
Registered: 2006-08-30
Posts: 98
Website

On days when I have the time and energy to learn new kanji---mostly only weekends---I try to take care of entire lessons in one sitting, but sometimes it takes two, or even three for those enormous lessons. So I guess I've managed 20-40 kanji per sitting, and anywhere from 1-3 sittings per week.

On weekdays I only review, eagerly taking care of my orange stacks first thing in the morning. I've found that consistent reviewing is far more effective than racing to the two-thousand-kanji mark. I guess I have the pleasant luxury of not having a deadline to meet...

Last edited by akrodha (2006 December 19, 5:29 am)

colonel32
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From: Oxford UK
Registered: 2006-09-03
Posts: 60

I'm finding that 5 a day, 7 days a week is pretty achievable. On days when I'm feeling mentally fit, keen or have time, I add further groups of 5 later in the day, making 10, 15, or occasionally 20.

I like groups of 5 because I can temporarily memorise the 5 keywords when I create the stories. I can then review and consolidate today's just-learned stories entirely mentally, many times throughout the day.

More than one group of five is harder to remember (although I guess I could use standard mnemonic techniques), so I also write them down. I make a fresh 5"x3" record card every day, and write today's failed cards and today's newly-learned ones. I write frame number, keyword and stroke count for each. If I can recall the story clearly the next morning and write the character in the palm of my hand, only then do I consider it learned and add the new card or mark the failed one as learned. Otherwise I add it back to the next day's card.

Although there's probably a danger that I expect them to be in the order written, but on balance it's much easier than making a set of flashcards for each or having to add new cards every day to flashcard exchange. And the easier, the better, because you can get into the routine and keep it up *every* day.

A side benefit is failed cards. Doing it this way I seem to have an average of five a day, which is manageable, and the quicker I push them back through the system the more times I get to relearn the awkward ones. I would dread having a huge failed stack!

I guess I'm definitely a tortoise not a hare!

Last edited by colonel32 (2006 December 19, 6:33 am)

cbogart
Member
From: Denver
Registered: 2006-08-14
Posts: 25

I'm doing 10 a day: I look at 10 new ones before bed, then add and test them first thing in the morning, along with the reviews that come up.  If I forget and I'm really pooped, I at least try to learn a few, badly; if I'm really into it I'll study more.  I've been doing this since August missing no more than 3 or 4 days (just hit the 1400's), and I think mantixen is right that a little at a time is more sustainable. 

If you're tempted to rush to 'get done', remind yourself that there is no 'done'.  When you learn #2042, nothing magic is going to happen; if you stop studying then, you start backsliding immediately.  The daily study habit has to continue at that point as if nothing's changed.  So the most important thing you're doing every day is reinforcing a study habit, not adding 25 more kanji to your list.

I think sustainable progress means sometimes putting the kanji book aside when you know you want to study more, in order to keep on an even pace and not burn out.

astridtops
Member
From: Netherlands
Registered: 2006-06-07
Posts: 110

When I was in RTK1, I used to keep my stack number 1 around 300 total, so that every day I'd have to do about 100 kanji from that stack. I adjusted the number of new kanji each day to replace the ones I succesfully put into a new stack. Typically, I would normally get about 30% right of that stack, so it amounted to 30 a day. When I finished RTK1, however, I really wanted to reduce the load, so the first half of RTK3 I did with 10 to 15 new kanji a day. Eventually I had to cut back (the last stack is just taking too much time), and now I only do new kanji during holidays, or when my first stack is dropping below 30. That's not often these days, as I have to send a lot of kanji back from the last stack to relearn. My first stack is nowadays typically around 60 total, about 20 a day, which is an amount I can keep up with.

ファブリス
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From: Belgium
Registered: 2006-06-14
Posts: 3983
Website

I studied about 10 kanji a day, 7 days a week, for 1h-1h30. The first two chapters of RTK1 are easier, because there are not so many primitives yet that when you create a story you have to worry less about confusing primitives and using distinct images. When I reached about 1500 kanji I had a large two month break but fortunately I used this time to create the early version of this website, and this helped me stay on track and not drop off altogether. Even at 3/4 in the book, there was possibility of dropping off for a long while, because doubts creeps in "is this really useful?", "why am I even learning Japanese when I have never set foot there?", etc. etc. Doubt never gets you anywhere.

About goal management. First you should split the book in 4. If you have not reached Chapter 3 yet, this should be your first goal. Don't even think about the rest. Once you are at kanji ~509, aim for half of RTK1. It can take that far until you become really confident that you can complete the book. I think I still doubted about my recall ability even beyond the halfway mark.

Next is Lessons, as I tried to emphasize in the Check your progress page, aim for finishing the current lesson.

Since I got interested in meditation several years ago I tried to apply a little bit of "zen mind" to help myself completing RTK1. Whenever I felt discouraged or I was getting busy with doubt instead of just getting down to it, I tried to focus entirely on the kanji for the day, forget about how many kanjis are behind, how many kanjis are to come, whether there are 1 or 1000, doesn't matter. Every step gets you closer to the goal. Eventually I learned a good thing in that even those days when I felt physically or mentally tired, if I sat down and really apply myself, I felt I had more energy after studying! I still remember a bout of two weeks where I sat down and studied 10-20 kanji a day, about 1h-1h30 with my eyes closed picturing every story. My mind hadn't felt this quiet for a long while. That amount of daily concentration had very positive effects outside of RTK.

What else can I add.

colonel32 raised a good point about learning small groups of 5 kanji, although personally that would set the goal completion day too far and may have discouraged me as I was hoping back then to complete RTK1 in 4-6 months.

leosmith also raises a good point about learning kanji 5 days a week and only reviewing on the weekends.

I can not relate entirely to your experiences because the website didn't exist until I was 3/4 into the book. So I studied mostly away from the PC, and also for the first half of the book, like cbogart, I reviewed the previous day's 10 kanji in the morning, sometimes I would pick kanji a little further behind. But only at about halfway in RTK1 I did a full review with my handmade flashcards, and I was surprised to find that I remembered 95% or so.

So, I would recommend that until halfway through RTK you don't get overwhelmed with the demanding Leitner reviewing system. You could very well review just the last day's kanji, each day, and then much later review big stacks of expired cards (use the blue link "Test cards added today/yesterday"). Or do a big review of expired stacks every two weeks for example, then depending on your results adjust your review rate accordingly. This could help you speed up the first half of RTK.

PS: If you want sometimes to review a specific range of kanji outisde of the Leitner boxes, you can use the handy review tool on David Hallgren's Japanese Page.

DurablePants
Member
From: USA Arizona
Registered: 2006-05-16
Posts: 24

I had nothing to do over the summer and studied about 2-4 hours per day, about 50-100 kanji per day.  I completed the book in about 4 weeks.

I found that the trick to memorizing them quickly is not to spend hours and hours writing stories on paper, but actually using Heisig's intended method of creating some image or story in your mind.  For every kanji, i just wrote inside the book 3 or 4 words that reminded me of the image that I was thinking of when i first learned the kanji.  With this method i was able to learn about 40 kanji per hour.

Last edited by DurablePants (2006 December 19, 8:30 pm)

laxxy
Member
Registered: 2006-07-19
Posts: 203

DurablePants wrote:

I had nothing to do over the summer and studied about 2-4 hours per day, about 50-100 kanji per day.  I completed the book in about 4 weeks.

I found that the trick to memorizing them quickly is not to spend hours and hours writing stories on paper, but actually using Heisig's intended method of creating some image or story in your mind.  For every kanji, i just wrote inside the book 3 or 4 words that reminded me of the image that I was thinking of when i first learned the kanji.  With this method i was able to learn about 40 kanji per hour.

You are quite right, I think.
Initially, once I began the chapter that no longer had pre-made stories, I was writing them all down in a notebook, and it was taking a while. At some point, I gave up. Later, I found this site and better review tools, and restarted, typing the stories and picking other people's stories where they were good, and it went faster. But it went faster still when I actually stopped using the site systematically and switched entirely to studying using my review program and making up the stories in my mind, mostly away from computer, and without writing them down. If I can't remember a story without writing it down, it is most likely not that good a story. I would still browse the site, especially in cases where stories would not present themselves easily, read others' stories, and share those that worked particularly well for me. I am doing it sometimes even now.

Last edited by laxxy (2006 December 20, 6:56 am)

DurablePants
Member
From: USA Arizona
Registered: 2006-05-16
Posts: 24

Yeah, if you think about it, the hardest part is learning the primitives.  After that, most of the kanji are just combinations of 2 primitives arranged next to each other vertically or horizontally.  A strong image in your mind along with a few words written down should be sufficient i think to remember something like that.  For learning the primitives themselves, I sometimes found that brute repetition worked better. 

Also, I find it helps if you use things that you are familiar with for your images such as TV shows or past memories.  This way, you don't waste time memorizing the story itself and actually use your time learning the kanji.

Edit: oh yeah, and for this reason, I don't recommend using other people stories. Mnemonics you make yourself always work better i think.

Last edited by DurablePants (2006 December 20, 6:36 pm)

laxxy
Member
Registered: 2006-07-19
Posts: 203

DurablePants wrote:

Yeah, if you think about it, the hardest part is learning the primitives.

Actually, learning primitives -- even the most complex ones -- was the easiest part for me, I made very, very few mistakes there, ever. Not confusing the primitives with each other, and not mixing up their positioning, was quite another matter. In fact, I found it quite productive to invent a few new primitives for the common combinations of elements and just memorize them using visual memory, rather than think of their underlying elements (the only problem here is that you generally don't know in advance which combination of elements will be seen again often in the future; if I were going through the book again I'd surely do this more often).

Chadokoro_K
Member
From: Berkeley, CA - Uji, Japan
Registered: 2006-08-22
Posts: 158

DurablePants wrote:

I had nothing to do over the summer and studied about 2-4 hours per day, about 50-100 kanji per day.  I completed the book in about 4 weeks.

I found that the trick to memorizing them quickly is not to spend hours and hours writing stories on paper, but actually using Heisig's intended method of creating some image or story in your mind.  For every kanji, i just wrote inside the book 3 or 4 words that reminded me of the image that I was thinking of when i first learned the kanji.  With this method i was able to learn about 40 kanji per hour.

Congrats on finishing RTK1 in 4 weeks! I would like to know the impact of such an intense study schedule on your review of the kanji. How many passes on average did it take you (and others who learned at such a fast pace) to really know the kanji? Were you able to keep up with the large number of kanji in a Leitner system of review?

I'm at kanji #1051 and will soon have much less time to devote to studying RTK. I am also eager to finish more quickly than my current pace of 25 kanji every two days.

A LOT of my study time is spent WRITING down stories. However, I consistently remember 97% - 100% of kanji in reviews. (Usually 100% the first two reviews, perhaps 3% wrong third review, and back to 100% on fourth review. I go through reviews at a pace of writing down 50 kanji in 10 mins.)

What I'm doing is working so far, but I have to cut back on study time. And I have noticed that additional/different story details (that work better) often come into my mind when I review kanji. If this is the case, do I really need to spend so much time on writing down full stories in the first place?

On the other hand, taking so much time to write down the stories may be what helps to cement them in my mind in the first place. But if I get virtually all of the kanji correct through every pass of the review does this mean I'm proceeding at an overly cautious pace that doesn't allow the Leitner system to work for me?

Needing to cut back on study time, I am at a loss as to whether I should slow my pace down even further (to 6-8 kanji a day) or to try to go through the same amount of (or even more) kanji by only writing primitives and/or minimal story notes?

I would appreciate further comment from people who did minimal writing during the study phase. What were the long term effects on your recall rates?

Last edited by Chadokoro_K (2006 December 22, 4:16 pm)

cbogart
Member
From: Denver
Registered: 2006-08-14
Posts: 25

I only write down stories for kanji that I've missed several times, in the hopes that it'll cement my memory of it.  Normally, though, I just spend a moment fleshing out the story in my mind -- if I can't remember it at all later, then it wasn't a good one, so there's no point in having it written down.  I make a point of seeing what image the keyword naturally brings up for me *without* the kanji, and try to link that into the story.

On review, I tend to get all my 10 new kanji correct, and then I tend to get about 80% on the review kanji that come up.  I don't know how typical that is.  It seems frustratingly poor, but the ones I miss are usually from the middle piles, I think; and my last pile keeps increasing, so in the long run it seems to be working.

RoboTact
Member
From: Russia
Registered: 2006-11-26
Posts: 108

I usually sweep through stories relatively quickly, just to get a plot so that I'll remember it if I glimpse a kanji and form single "control phrase" of several words containing keyword to help associating an image with _keyword_ (part I have most trouble with). Result is that I fail about 50% in second stack (the one scheduled to 3 days), about 20% in third stack (half of which is wrongly remembered quirky parts of kanji writing, such as changed shape of primitive due to its position) and 10% in fourth stack (where I assume kanji failed if it took more then few seconds to recall).
As a result, it takes about 2 times more review time, but very little study time. When I was in first 2 parts of RtK where I didn't need to invent stories myself, it was taking about half an hour to study 30-50 kanjis. Now it takes more to select/create an image (but I don't feel any effect on fail rate, I guess it's personal memory property). It'd be nice to compile complete selection of reasonable plots for the rest of RtK - it'd save everyone's time.

Mighty_Matt
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From: Koga
Registered: 2006-07-18
Posts: 197
Website

I don't write my stories down when studying.  My system goes:

Look at kanji, elements and keyword.  Close my eyes and think about what the keyword means to me, then tie in the elements.  Run through it a few times in my head, picturing the kanji as well.  Then open eyes and write down the kanji while thinking about the story.

I write the kanji in a vertical list down the left side of my paper, normally around 20 depending on time.  Then about an hour later I look at the kanji and try and write down the keyword next to them.  Any I can't remember I go back and play with the story.

Another couple of hours later I go back and this time try and write down the kanji from the keyword list, also clarifying any issues.  Once I'm happy I add them on this website for review the next day.

This works for me as it fits my schedule.  I review my card piles after lunch and then later in the afternoon learn some more (along with correcting any I got wrong in the reviews).  I don't get a chance to learn new kanji everyday, but I always make sure to do my reviews.

Reply #20 - 2007 January 06, 4:05 pm
Chadokoro_K
Member
From: Berkeley, CA - Uji, Japan
Registered: 2006-08-22
Posts: 158

Thanks to everyone who replied for the useful suggestions. I have been experimenting with them all. Unfortunately I keep coming back to writing a bit more of hint for this kanji or that kanji and several batches later am back to writing down stories for every kanji again. I think it's just a bad habit (well not necessarily bad, but time consuming) that I've gotten into.

As I mentioned on another thread, I have been modifying the Heisig system. I am using both English core meanings (taken from Halpern's "Kanji Learner's Dictionary") and Japanese words that best illustrate these meanings. This is also part of the reason I am progressing more slowly than if I just used the Heisig method as is.

I've decided to finish up writing the data for the remaining 750 kanji (while I continue to review all the ones I've learned so far). Once I finish this I'll go back to learning these remaining kanji and will try to create stories in my mind only unless I find I need more than this on kanji that just aren't sticking.

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