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"Heisig's Remembering the Kanji sucks" - Other Kanji Learning Methods?

#26
qwertyytrewq Wrote:
kitakitsune Wrote:Kanji Kentei - although it's just a supplement to the traditional Japanese school methods.
Could you briefly explain what the "Kanji Kentei/Kanken" method is?

I had a look at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanji_kentei

and it seems to be a Japanese Kanji test intended for Japanese people to test Kanji that they should already know. Since it's for Japanese people, I'm guessing that they learn Kanji from most common (e.g. eat, drink etc) to least common using the Jouyou Kanji as the base, and that they learn Kanji by writing it 100+ times each?

If that is so, then the advantage of this method (for non-Japanese foreigners) is that people can learn the most common and useful Kanji first and can use it immediately.

The disadvantage is that writing a Kanji 100+ times is inferior to using RTK and writing it a maximum of 3 times.

The other disadvantage of course is that the most complex Kanji will be covered first (complex in terms of number of radicals, not in terms of meaning) which makes it harder to remember. Of course, you need to memorize the radicals before you can memorize the complex Kanji, which makes RTK's "building block" method much preferable.

Anyway, this thread is about alternatives so I guess that is an alternative.
Kanken publishes a number of study books that can be adopted by people studying Japanese.

Kanji in kanken study books are ordered by their Chinese readings broken down by school year (Japanese kids don't learn kanji by frequency BTW). Basically they are reference books. They show the kanji, stroke order and count, radical which must also be memorized because it's tested, a general definition of the kanji, plus some vocab and a crap ton of different types of usage drills. Other aspects of kanji are tested as you progress...

Japanese kids also don't learn kanji by writing them hundreds of times. It's a myth that kids sit down and write out pages of the same kanji over and over again. Foreigners see kanji drill books and incorrectly assume kids are filling them out like that. The truth is that most kids would only write a new kanji out a handful of times and then fill out the rest of the page with vocab and example sentences.

And to address your later points - Japanese kids don't learn kanji by frequency.
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#27
kitakitsune Wrote:Japanese kids also don't learn kanji by writing them hundreds of times. It's a myth that kids sit down and write out pages of the same kanji over and over again. Foreigners see kanji drill books and incorrectly assume kids are filling them out like that. The truth is that most kids would only write a new kanji out a handful of times and then fill out the rest of the page with vocab and example sentences..
Oh okay then. People on the Internet should stop spreading myths about Japanese rote memorization then. I got the impression that students memorize Kanji mainly from endlessly writing it out until it is burnt into the brain.

So I guess they do use some sort of systematic method that is far from rote memorization.
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#28
That's the way Japanese kids learn kanji:
http://video.qip.ru/video/view/?id=v19833305732
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#29
I think it would still be fairly accurate to say that Japanese people learn kanji largely by rote and their approach isn't all that systematic.

It's true the characters aren't strictly learned in the order of frequency, but I think their assessment of "usefulness" is the highest factor in which are learned sooner, with stroke count being the second factor.

I definitely think it's backwards that they learn 飲 a year before 欠.
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#30
Japanese kids learn every single kanji they ever learn starting with the radical.

Heisig like stories are also not that rare in Japanese education either. I think every Japanese kid learns the exact same story for 親 that Heisig uses.
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#31
Quote:Japanese kids also don't learn kanji by writing them hundreds of times. It's a myth that kids sit down and write out pages of the same kanji over and over again
I've seen them do it, so...

Hopefully they use other ways too, but writing them over and over again seems like the standard for doing their homework, at least.
Their method for learning English is similar - write the same sentence out twenty times.
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#32
I won't say that the way I learned to read Japanese was perfect, because it involved a whole lot of trial and error, and patchworks of methods. But I know this much:
Learning kanji out of context doesn't work for me. Learning the abstract meanings of kanji doesn't work for me. What worked for me is doing a lot of reading, and learning a lot of words in context. If someone asked me how to learn kanji today, this is what I would tell them:

-first, focus on spoken Japanese and on Japanese written in kana (or with furigana). Learn how the language is put together and start to accumulate some basic vocabulary.

-do a lot of Japanese reading with furigana: news sites for children, manga, novels for young children. Do some Japanese reading without furigana that's on a fairly simple level with very restricted vocabulary (i.e., textbooks -- or also, take a passage that you've already read and understood, remove the furigana, and read it that way several days later.)

-When you start reading novels that don't have as much furigana (but that are still pretty simple, without much specialized vocabulary), you shouldn't have to look up a ton of stuff. You'll definitely be looking up some kanji, and some vocabulary words, but with prior reading experience and guessing-from-context, you should be able to keep the lookup down to a manageable level. Because you don't actually have to know every word on a page to be able to understand the general meaning.

-If you feel that you should learn to write the kanji, you can start this at any time in the process, but generally, stick to kanji that you already know in context. Rather than going from meaning to kanji, go from kana (in a sentence for context) to kanji.

I didn't follow this, precisely, when I was first learning Japanese. I just read a lot of manga and novels because I wanted to, and it turned out that I was learning a lot more kanji that way than by trying to deliberately study them. But now that I'm learning Chinese, that's pretty close to what I'm doing, and I have to say I'm pretty happy with my progress so far.

(Generally what I do is take a lesson from Chinesepod, listen to the dialogue a couple times, copy the dialogue [hanzi-only, no pinyin] into my SRS, and study it that way. Focusing on vocabulary, not individual hanzi.)

So, in this way that I've laid out, there's not much attention paid to writing, and you can ignore it altogether if that's what you want. Some people may find this outrageous. The thing is, I've tried learning to write the kanji when I didn't have a strong enough vocabulary base for it, and I always found that if I didn't already know a kanji from reading then I wasn't going to have any luck learning to write it. Now I'm studying for the kanji kentei, and I find that it only takes me a couple of repetitions to learn how to write a kanji, because I already know it really well from reading. And personally, I have zero regrets that I spent a while ignoring writing in favor of reading, just because I had to little reason to have to handwrite much from memory, even when I was living in Japan.
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#33
qwertyytrewq Wrote:Does that confirm my suspicions that there are only two ways of learning Kanji?

1) Making a story out of the Kanji (EG. Heisig)
2) Brute force/rote memorization (writing a Kanji over and over)
No. I have never made stories or used RTK, and I have never written a kanji over and over (except maybe studying for tests way back in Japanese 101 or something). I learned most of them through contextual reading, both from native sources and books like Basic/Intermediate Kanji Book and Kanji In Context.
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#34
Nothing in RTK is particularly magical. Pretty much all of this stuff has been done elsewhere. All heisig did was create a systematic method for learning the kanji based on how he found it easiest for himself to learn it.
I could do the exact same thing and produce my own book, maybe my method will be even better than Heisigs, but it would probably work out to be really similar.

Ok, so what does heisig do?

First of all, he arranges the characters in a really logical order. Pretty much any book that you follow will have the characters arranged in a particular order. And surely, that order seems logical and effective to whoever made that book. Heisigs order is particularly effective for people who want to learn all the Jouyou kanji. Its probably not the best order if you just want to get to hit some baseline goal of minimal functionality in the language in a short time.

Next, Heisig says, lets forget about how to pronounce the characters for now, lets just learn to recognize them and write them. One thing at a time!
It's not exactly the most popular idea among people who teach Japanese, but again I doubt Heisig is the first person to consider it. As a long term strategy, this is fine, however it means you are still completely illiterate after learning how to recognize and write all of the kanji.

Then, the whole keyword thing.
This is merely a byproduct of not learning the readings. You need SOMETHING to prompt you to be able to produce the kanji, so if its not going to be a Japanese reading, there isn't much else to use except English. Perhaps pictures would work, but that's more complex.

Next, mnemonics/stories.
This is a cornerstone of heisigs method, but again its nothing new. People have known about the effectiveness of these strategies for centuries. Its usually not really taught to students in school for some reason though, so not many people really know how to do it. When I was taking Japanese classes before doing RTK though, I saw some students doing this on their own. They didn't have any systematic method though.


So now, as for the original question, is there any alternative to RTK?
The question is framed such that you either do Heisig's method, or you learn them rote with no strategy at all. However the fact is, there are a whole lot of possibilities between the two extremes.

What about using stories to learn kanji in the same order that Japanese children learn them in? You get the most common and useful kanji more quickly, which seems like a nice benefit. It could be argued that the first few groups of kanji would be more difficult because you would be learning lots of radicals/primitive near the beginning. But since the traditional Japanese kanji order starts out slowly with like 100 kanji at the beginning, this kinda balances out.

Or what about following heisigs method but using Japanese keywords. This gives you a reading at the same time!

And about those stories? I'll bet just reviewing in Anki without stories will still let you learn them. Might be harder, and you might mix some of them up easier, but people do it.

So really, you can create your own "mix-and-match" kanji method, and that would be an alternative to heisigs method. Maybe it would even be better for you, because you could design it for your own personal goals. No one method is best for everyone.
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#35
Here is an alternative I am building that fixes the holes in the mnemonic methods of learning kanji. Here is what I am aiming for.

1.Every two stroke(or more) character has a short mnemonic sentence(not a visual paragraph)

2.Two color coded retrieval cues "top or left" "right or bottom"

3. Onyomi included in the mnemonic sentence.

http://forum.koohii.com/showthread.php?tid=9851
Edited: 2012-08-30, 10:30 am
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#36
RTK didn't work for me. I got to about 800 characters, got the stories all jumbled and confused (or couldn't even think of good stories) and was not enjoying the process at all. I know the OP claimed that with Heisig you write the kanji max. 3 times to remember it, but with me, that was not the case at all. I was writing them over and over again, and still forgetting.
What worked for me was learning vocabulary, and using them in context.
The Kanji Odyssey books worked really well for me. Their ordering made more sense to me than Heisig's way. They ordered the kanji by frequency - how often do they show up in native materials, which was much more helpful than grouping them by 'primitive' and ease of writing. They also included 3-4 vocabulary words per kanji, along with example sentences showing how to use those words. So while I admittedly worked slowly through the book (about 11/2 years), I can now recognize and sound out 1100 kanji along with vocabulary that uses those kanji.
Currently I'm working my way through the Core 6k to fill in any gaps, along with reading Japanese every day. Simply reading manga with furigana helped me more with learning kanji than RTK did.
Honestly, I think exalting one method of learning as the be-all-end-all is not going to help new learners. AJATT for example, says that you absolutely have to do RTK and pretty much infers that you will fail at Japanese if you don't. I've seen many people on this site who have tried 2 or 3 times to get through RTK and cannot seem to finish it. That tells me that maybe they need to try a different way.
When RTK didn't work for me, I felt pretty disillusioned with AJATT and a lot of the advice I was seeing online. My beginner textbook, which was teaching me vocab, kanji and grammar all at once, was so much more helpful. The only valuable thing that I took from RTK is that I cannot learn the kanji by themselves. I wish that there was a more fair presentation of the different methods, with pros and cons for each, instead of pushing RTK as "The One True Way".
Edited: 2012-08-30, 10:43 am
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#37
I've been having good success with using KanjiBox in conjunction with Henshall's book. When a kanji is easy to memorize, or is obviously built from other kanji or radicals, I just memorize it; otherwise, I look it up in Henshall to get some history and information on its components. I sometimes create a Heisig-like story to remember particularly devilish kanji. If a character contains some elements that only occur as inidividual characters in Chinese ("CO" characters), Henshall points this out, and explains the component's phonological and semantic use in the character. I love Henshall's explanations of how each character has morphed into its current form.

I've mostly been using the Kanji and Readings features in KanjiBox, and intend to follow that up with using the KanjiDraw feature (which I've only used sporadically up until now). KB groups everything by JLPT level, which has enabled me to work through the kanji in tiers. I completed all of the Jouyou kanji last week after about three months of intensive study, and am now working my way through the N1 readings.

I combine this with extensive reading, which helps me to remember the most important kanji in context.
Edited: 2012-08-30, 12:43 pm
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#38
I came to RTK already with an intermediate level of Japanese, and I was extremely frustrated at how the book doesn't teach the readings and how the meanings are sometimes way off. I tried to go through it two or three times before I gave up on doing it the 'Heisig' way.

After experimenting with other methods (including the movie method and the lazy kanji method) I decided to take parts from different methods and make them into my own(-ish). What I did was:

1. Go through a list of primitives (that someone had provided) and rote-memorized them.
2. Went through the jouyou kanji list and picked a more accurate meaning for each Kanji instead of the ones Heisig provides.
3. Picked one 音読み for each Kanji and added a sound indicator to each of the stories so I know how to pronounce them.

To learn the kanji, I use the Lazy Kanji method: kanji on the front, various English meanings on the back. Look at the kanji (<1 sec), look away from the screen and write it, give a ballpark meaning and the reading. This method is extremely effective for me, especially as I am able to quickly learn Kanji that I've seen already (i.e. in class, online, manga/ラインベ, etc.)

I learn the kanji by groups of onyomi, and I noticed that it's easy for me to learn how to pronounce them because of the radical on the right hand side that appears in several kanji of the same group. I eventually connect that radical to a sound, and I'm able to produce the onyomi even if I forget the sound indicator for the story. (I believe this is what warakawa was trying to say - it seems as if people tended to brush him off because of his harsh language, but what he says is true for the most part.)

Another thing people will say is bad about methods like this is that "you shouldn't go kanji to keyword" - I think it's alright to do this if you're going from kanji to meaning, instead of Heisig's keyword. Because how else are you going to learn Japanese if you don't know the meaning of the word??? You're going to have to learn it anyway, associating it with the kanji should make it easier to learn words down the line.
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#39
buonaparte Wrote:When I read this
色is a pictograph of a man inserting his phallus into a woman from behind → sex; lover; mistress → looks; appearance (← motive factors stimulating the sex drive) → color (← complexion ← appearance).
I remembered the kanji instantly.
O_o
Never going to be able to look at 色 the same way again. *Attempts to instantly forget kanji*

I suppose I'm doing a slight variation on the method, though not really by choice. At the moment, I'm going through RTK again (stopped reviewing due to health issue, nerve damage making it really hard for me to write, and totally forgot a lot of them) while doing Tae Kim and relying purely on visual recognition to learn new words when they come up. This may not be the best method, but I'd be bored if I held of on learning Japanese till I finished RTK again. It does seem to work better than I would have expected, though, I don't seem to be having any problems recognising the words if I see them in a new context. So, I think for me, as I can't really practice writing, I'm going to end up able to recognise words when I see them, but probably would always really struggle to produce written Japanese (though will still be able to use a IME to produce Japanese as that relies on recognition, not production from scratch). I was thinking actually I'm not sure I really need RTK doing it this way, and maybe I should just learn the primitives, or traditional radicals.

It's obviously not something I'd recommend unless someone is truly only interested in being able to understand Japanese, though.
Edited: 2012-08-30, 2:06 pm
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#40
I didn't learn kanji in any particular order.
The first kanji I was able to recognize (hundreds of them!) were in fact proper names (film directors, actors, actresses, writers, models, towns), movie titles, book titles, etc. And long before I even started to learn Japanese.
I've always been interested in good books and movies and had a nasty habit to check the literal meaning of the original titles.

When I finally decided to learn Japanese, I did some research, learned about kanji (bushu, components, stroke order rules), learned Japanese bushu names, but never bothered to learn kanji in any 'proper' order. I relied on massive comprehensive exposure to texts (audio + transcript + translation) I liked or was interested in for some reason.
If I were to use Heisig and SRS (Supermemo or its clones - Anki, Mnemozyne, etc), I'm sure I would rather kill myself.


Ampharos64,
I've never had trouble understanding why '色 colour' and '色っぽい sexy' are related and use the same kanji.
英雄色を好む。
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#41
They're the same kanji because the word いろ means both color and sexual related things.

Japanese kids do write kanji over and over sometimes, but they have other things they do also -- their schoolbooks have etymology, they do reading and writing exercises, and they're seeing the kanji in their other subjects as well. So even if they are writing the kanji over and over it's probably not an integral part of their learing.
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#42
Why is this even being bumped?

Everyone here should know very well that no non-Heisig related method of Kanji acquisition is as close to as efficient or fast.
Edited: 2012-08-30, 9:03 pm
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#43
ryuudou Wrote:Why is this even being bumped?

Everyone here should know very well that no non-Heisig related method of Kanji acquisition is as close to as efficient or fast.
Hahaha, no. Your opinion is not a fact.
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#44
ryuudou Wrote:Why is this even being bumped?

Everyone here should know very well that no non-Heisig related method of Kanji acquisition is as close to as efficient or fast.
15 days Big Grin. Sure, I didn't learn the readings in those first two weeks, but I'm doing just fine learning them in context. I even made the whole "洗 in 洗濯機 and 先 in 先生 are both pronounced 'sen' because of the right radical" connection without learning about phono-sematic compounds, so I don't really understand warakawa's criticism. It's easy to spot those patterns without ever explicitly memorizing them.
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#45
yudantaiteki Wrote:
ryuudou Wrote:Why is this even being bumped?

Everyone here should know very well that no non-Heisig related method of Kanji acquisition is as close to as efficient or fast.
Hahaha, no. Your opinion is not a fact.
I never said it was fact. I said everyone knows.

If you disagree you're in the minority here, or the uneducated majority of the general population.
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#46
ryuudou Wrote:
yudantaiteki Wrote:
ryuudou Wrote:Why is this even being bumped?

Everyone here should know very well that no non-Heisig related method of Kanji acquisition is as close to as efficient or fast.
Hahaha, no. Your opinion is not a fact.
I never said it was fact. I said everyone knows.

If you disagree you're in the minority here, or the uneducated majority of the general population.
Post studies showing the superiority of RTK over other methods.
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#47
Actually, the semantics of "know" are such that you imply it to be a fact. You can say "Everyone believes that the sky is pink" or "Everyone thinks that the sky is pink," but once you say "Everyone knows the sky is pink" you're implying that you yourself know for a fact that the sky is pink.

Quote:In Western epistemology, there is a tradition originating with Plato of defining knowledge as justified true belief. On this definition, for someone to know X, it is required that X be true. A linguistic question thus arises regarding the usage of such phrases: does a person who states "John knows X" implicitly claim the truth of X? Steven Pinker explored this question in a popular science format in a 2007 book on language and cognition, using a widely publicized example from a speech by a U.S. president.[4] A 2003 speech by George W. Bush included the line, "British Intelligence has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."[5] Over the next few years, it became apparent that this intelligence lead was incorrect. But the way the speech was phrased, using a factive verb, implicitly framed the lead as truth rather than hypothesis. The factivity thesis, the proposition that relational predicates having to do with knowledge, such as knows, learn, remembers, and realized, presuppose the factual truth of their object, however, was subject to notable criticism by Allan Hazlett.[6]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presupposition
Edited: 2012-08-30, 10:10 pm
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#48
ryuudou Wrote:
yudantaiteki Wrote:
ryuudou Wrote:Why is this even being bumped?

Everyone here should know very well that no non-Heisig related method of Kanji acquisition is as close to as efficient or fast.
Hahaha, no. Your opinion is not a fact.
I never said it was fact. I said everyone knows.

If you disagree you're in the minority here, or the uneducated majority of the general population.
How the hell do you know?

I did RTK about three years ago, when I was in a slump about how to learn the kanji (I already had been studying Japanese for about three years and wasn't great kanji-wise), and came upon two ideas that I thought I could try. The first one was doing RTK, and the second one was powering though Kanji in Context kanji by kanji with the help of an SRS. I went with RTK.

But how the hell do I know whether Kanji in Context would have been better or worse? Three years after finishing RTK I am still learning readings and vocab, which is exactly what Kanji in Context covers in depth. Would I have been better or worse now if I had just powered through KiC at the start? There's no real way to tell based on my own silly experiences. I can't go back now and see how good I would be if I had done the other method.

The only reason I did RTK was because this site made it really easy, and making my own KiC flashcards hurt my arm from all the typing (I had some sort of repetitive stress problem at the time, probably from playing guitar). Now there are already flashcards for KiC, so maybe I would have went with KiC if I was starting today (I bought the books at the time--it's a great resources).

I know nine Americans/Brits who are better than me at Japanese, and maybe a hundred people who are learning or learned but never got as good as I am (I'm a JET so I see Japanese learners come and go). None of those nine who are better than me did RTK, and two or three of them have studied Japanese about as long as me so don't have a time advantage. Seems to me that whatever method those two or three did worked better than mine.
Edited: 2012-08-30, 10:29 pm
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#49
LOL @ RTKers who don't understand trolling.
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#50
Worst thread topic ever......lmao.....

Also, there's a Google spreadsheet that cross-references RTK with Kanken (Kanji Kentei Shiken). So all RTK kanji are matched with their Kanken level.

RTKers: We have superior methods. Resistance is futile! Big Grin
[Image: images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRWzJk51C-Yyhy7IeLRMbX...cCldeT22cv]
Edited: 2012-08-30, 11:41 pm
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