Back

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

#51
Quote:Heisig's method is illogical and ineffective ...
But it works. It works well.

Quote:Mr. Heisig did NOT invent anything. He took the Chinese (or Japanese) radicals, added some more, called them 'primitives' and used some stories in English to remember the kanji. Nothing more, nothing less.
Incorrect. Dr Heisig did an enormous job of ordering the kanji in an appropriate way to aid learning, and fleshing out a story method that works for those who will approach it with an open mind and put the work in.
Reply
#52
yudantaiteki Wrote:They're the same kanji because the word いろ means both color and sexual related things.
Sure. But the point is why - etymology:
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).

Mr. Heisig somehow fails to mention it.


As to Japanese kids - as far as I know (I might be wrong of course), they do know Japanese, so learning kanji is somewhat easier.


By the way, yudantaiteki, do you intend to finish your opus magnum?
http://forum.koohii.com/showthread.php?tid=8822&page=3
Edited: 2012-08-31, 1:15 am
Reply
#53
buonaparte Wrote:Sure. But the point is why - etymology:
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).

Mr. Heisig somehow fails to mention it.
It's not like that's the etymology of that character. 色 is thought to be one of the characters that is an idiograph, but there are a bunch of theories as to what it is an ideograph of.
Edited: 2012-08-31, 1:38 am
Reply
Thanksgiving Sale: 30% OFF Basic, Premium & Premium PLUS Subscriptions! (Nov 13 - 22)
JapanesePod101
#54
Tzadeck,
I believe the theory to be true. Otherwise how on earth would all of us be there?
Reply
#55
buonaparte Wrote:
yudantaiteki Wrote:They're the same kanji because the word いろ means both color and sexual related things.
Sure. But the point is why - etymology:
This is pretty much circular logic.

buonaparte Wrote:Mr. Heisig somehow fails to mention it.
Is this sarcasm, or do you not understand how RTK works?

buonaparte Wrote:Tzadeck,
I believe the theory to be true. Otherwise how on earth would all of us be there?
What?
Edited: 2012-08-31, 4:32 am
Reply
#56
JimmySeal,
it was meant to be a joke, nothing to do with logic, be it circular, holographic or colourful.

I do know how Mr. Heisig's method is supposed to work, I even read his books. Damn boring, no sense of humour. If they work for somebody, it is all right, I don't mind it at all. All I want to say is I didn't want it to work for ME.

There are plenty of ways of learning kanji, probably.

I know a guy who just memorized 和露学習字典 (some 5 000 - five thousand!) kanji, 679 pages! It DID work for him, obviously. It would not for me - all I did was to read Введение (An Intoduction) in the said dictionary that explains how kanji work. The book just sits peacefully on my shelves, and that's about it.

I just find it somewhat amusing when people say that Mr. Heisig is the Alpha and Omega, as far as learning kanji goes.
Edited: 2012-08-31, 5:56 am
Reply
#57
buonaparte Wrote:All I want to say is I didn't want it to work for ME.
It was kind of obvious anyway, but explicitly stating your bias from the beginning may have been helpful.

buonaparte Wrote:I just find it somewhat amusing when people say that Mr. Heisig is the Alpha and Omega, as far as learning kanji goes.
If you think people memorising dictionaries is remotely typical, then it's no wonder you find it "amusing". Beginners aren't interested in abstract posturing about kanji-learning and people who "invent" their own methods; they want a well-defined technique to follow that provides quick results with minimal effort. RTK offers this and it seems to have worked for a large number of people, who probably do think it's pretty awesome as a result.

Personally, I think RTK would've been pretty crap before SRS existed. Learning to read would've been a nightmare. I also think other well-structured modern books stand as good a chance of working when SRS is utilised for memorisation. Having a system is the "Alpha" of kanji learning, not necessarily Heisig's. If my friend was beginning Japanese, I wouldn't be telling him about some genius who got confused about the relevance of Chinese readings after reading Wiki or someone who claimed to memorise a 5000-character dictionary, I'd be looking for a book with the best reviews that would take up the least amount of his time.
Reply
#58
Buonaparte, is there any standardised list of the top x kanji and their etymologies that can be used to learn kanji instead of RTK? I'm starting to wish I did your method instead, but it does sound very laborious to find the etymology of each character manually...
Reply
#59
buonaparte Wrote:Mr. Heisig did NOT invent anything. He took the Chinese (or Japanese) radicals, added some more, called them 'primitives' and used some stories in English to remember the kanji. Nothing more, nothing less.
Exactly! And that's what I like about RTK. He opened people's eyes on the right way to learn Kanji, that's is through building more complex ones from simpler ones and radicals, without ANY additional thing to learn. Just you and how to WRITE Kanji from memory!

If I'm just starting learning Japanese, why would I learn the names of the radicals? Learning Kanji isn't an easy task, why would I tackle the real meanings and pronunciations with it?

RTK is the only method I've heard about that minimizes the effort in learning Kanji.
Reply
#60
There’s only one rule:
There are no rule®s.

I don't intend to convince anybody to learn my way or any way at all. I only share my experience.

Of course, how anybody chooses to learn is their own business and not mine, but how I learn is only my business and not anybody else's.

I NEVER learnt kanji as single entities. I always learnt words in texts (audio + transcript + translation + pop-up dictionary). I never memorized anything. I relied on comprehensible exposure.

Let me state the obvious first.
How good your learning results will be depends on (among other things):
1. how burning your desire to learn is
2. how much info you are able to process in a unit of time (info per second).
3. how good your general learning skills are.
People definitely differ in those three respects. Not everybody is an Einstein.


I DID use some kind of a system to remember kanji.
I learnt 214 classical bushu (they are building blocks of kanji).
I learnt their Japanese names. I learnt stroke order rules.
Etymological dictionaries were only one of my sources.

I didn't care about the order of learning kanji, how frequent or infrequent they are. I was interested in what this particular text means (be it the title of a movie, a whole story or a novel). I didn't care whether I forgot or didn't forget. I was sure to come across them again in future texts.
And one more thing: I never found learning languages or kanji difficult.

How I learn (and the materials I used + some more):
http://users.bestweb.net/~siom/martian_mountain/JCP/


And finally, one more thing: I did know about Mr. Heisig's method of learning kanji even before I started learning Japanese. I rejected his method consciously.


Good luck,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Life is beautiful. Kanji are beautiful. Sometimes.

I promise I won't be troubling anyone any longer here - in this thread, I mean. My sincere apologies.
Edited: 2012-08-31, 8:11 am
Reply
#61
frony0 Wrote:Buonaparte, is there any standardised list of the top x kanji and their etymologies that can be used to learn kanji instead of RTK? I'm starting to wish I did your method instead, but it does sound very laborious to find the etymology of each character manually...
The Henshall book has the etymology for all the Joyo Kanji.
I bought the book but reading the etymologies just didn't work for me.

RTK is what saved me and it's the only method that really worked for me.
It doesn't matter if it's illogical or not. It just plain works.
For evidence, read the "The "I just finished RTK1, please congratulate me"thread (http://forum.koohii.com/showthread.php?tid=95). How many methods do you know
that helped as many people pass the kanji barrier?

The cumulative order of kanji and primitives is RTK is one of the most beautiful parts.
Each lesson is built using the primitives and kanji presented in the previous chapters.

Lesson 4 will only use the kanji and primitives from Lesson 1-3.
Lesson 5 will only use the kanji and primitives from Lesson 1-4.
And so on.
When he runs out of new words, he introduces new kanji and primitives in that lesson.

That's an extremely efficient method. You don't have to flip forward
and backward to look for specific radicals. Also, there's no need to learn
all 214 radicals beforehand. Just learn as you go.

I tend to find that most people who complain about the RTK method either:

a)barely read the book (and think they know everything about how RTK works)
b)read the book, but made no real effort to understand everything (i.e. making shortcuts)
c)never read the book

Few people have legitimate reasons (but they do exist).
Just read previous threads.

But I think this thread is kind of silly.

It's kind of like being in a room full of successful world class pianists and telling
them that piano sucks, while your piano skills are non-existant (sometimes because they have no discipline) and they also suck at guitar, rhythm, and music theory. Basically, they
blame everyone/everything EXCEPT for themselves (when they are the problem).

If RTK is not for you, that's understandable.
But don't go around saying it sucks if you never gave
it an honest chance (i.e. making it well into part 3).

Some people here have committed all 2000 Kanji in 3 months or less with 80%-90%
retention. That's basically a summer vacation (for those kids in school) and you won't
ever have to worry about kanji for the rest of your life. Some people spend their whole
life trying other methods and never get that far.

Lastly, there was a comment of RTK being dry with no humor. Did they read all the stories on this site? Many are pretty damn funny. I even laugh at some of my stories sometimes. You're allowed to inject humor into your stories if you want. The stories are supposed to be related to your life or way of thinking.
Edited: 2012-08-31, 10:13 am
Reply
#62
buonaparte Wrote:There’s only one rule:
I never memorized anything. I relied on comprehensible exposure.
I admit this is interesting.
buonaparte Wrote:Let me state the obvious first.
How good your learning results will be depends on (among other things):
1. how burning your desire to learn is
2. how much info you are able to process in a unit of time (info per second).
3. how good your general learning skills are.
People definitely differ in those three respects. Not everybody is an Einstein.
Add learning methods, some are more efficient than others, and some work for some people while other don't!
Anyway, thanks for sharing!
Reply
#63
As someone who did RTK 1 and 3 and then went on to learn japanese to a high level, i feel qualified to say that it's overrated. As a reference for stroke order it's good and the ordering is nice. Stories and keywords are unnecessary though.

If I were to learn any other script in the future (and I have), i wouldn't bother making up stories or bother drilling them from english keywords. This is only necessary when cramming info into your brain for the short term, which is only necessary because RTK makes it necessary by its very design. Basically doing RTK is necessary for doing RTK. It's a self fulfilling prophecy. For actually learning japanese though, which is something that's gonna take longer than a couple of months, it's completely unnecessary.
Reply
#64
Agreed, it is a time filler and motivation killer. Useful only until you have enough knowledge and familiarity to start reading real Japanese.

While you are unable to do anything else learning the shape and composition of the kanji is the most beneficial thing you can accomplish, but actual reading and listening are superior in every way.
Reply
#65
RTK is a wonderful bootstrap.

While I wouldn't say everyone must do RTK or that is required, it's really awesome for getting yourself to the level where you can actually start reading native japanese material. For many people, kanji is what is holding them back.

Once you start getting into native material, it will actually reinforce RTK, which might explain why you don't have to study RTK daily at that level (as long as you keep reading constantly). After a while, it'll reach a deeper level where the RTK knowledge is subconscious even if you don't realize it.

Also, when you finish RTK, it's a good idea to start replacing the English keywords with Japanese words.
Edited: 2012-08-31, 2:29 pm
Reply
#66
RTK does work well as a bootstrap for many people, myself included. Still, what's interesting isn't so much that it works as on what merits it does so. Some sort of structured approach is necessary, but that doesn't mean it has to be like RTK.

I agree that the stories seem insignificant in the long term - I don't use them now, even when writing. It's just an extra step. I can still write 鬱 from memory, and I've never even made a story for it. Neither do I remember the English keywords, and maintaining either would be spending time just for the sake of it.

Its main benefit seem to be exactly that, to work as a boot strap. It gets you used to the concepts of stroke order and of breaking kanji up into elements, but doesn't do much for your actual Japanese. If I were to start from scratch today I would probably just learn the radicals and common stroke orders, or maybe do RTK Lite, and then put more time toward exposure from there.
Reply
#67
I think the best part about me doing RTK was that it forced me to make a habit of studying Japanese EVERYDAY. Nothing is hard, it just takes time, lots of it.
Reply
#68
(2012-08-30, 5:38 am)qwertyytrewq Wrote: So, I again ask, if Heisig's RTK is a sucky way of learning Kanji, then what are the alternatives?


I don't know if anyone else has said this before, but i believe it would be best not to limit yourself to only three ways of learning Japanese.
I've watched a lot of videos from Youtubers that live abroad in Japan, and read a ton of blog post and so on, and most (if not all) have said that there is no course made by somebody else that will work perfectly for you because, well, they aren't you.

Point being, i'd think the solution (or at leased part of it) would be to get off ur lazy ass and Make Your own course/study method.


Personally I'm busy taking out elements of the three ways mentioned, that i believe would work for me, and putting them together.

But that's just my opinion. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Reply
#69
Quote:I never memorized anything. I relied on comprehensible exposure.
That's where you're wrong. You had no system, and memorized everything by rote depending on how often you saw it, perhaps the most inefficient system of learning Kanji, as you are doing them in a bad order, and with no structure. Did you even use a SRS? Or did you just do whatever? Reinforce it if you see it, but out of sight out of mind?

Quote:I do know how Mr. Heisig's method is supposed to work, I even read his books.
No you don't. If you read his books, you didn't understand them, for if you did, you wouldn't ask why he didn't mention mention your sex pictograph.

Quote:And one more thing: I never found learning languages or kanji difficult.
That would matter if I didn't think you haven't really learned the language at all.

Quote:there is no course made by somebody else that will work perfectly for you because, well, they aren't you.

It's the opposite. Most of the courses work, and the reason the don't isn't because of any problems within them. Courses fail because people are lazy. They are easily distracted. And they look for reasons to give up.

Stop changing your method, and start changing yourself.
Edited: 2017-04-27, 10:35 pm
Reply
#70
This thread and all the responses except the last couple are 5 years old Smile
Reply
#71
(2017-04-27, 10:32 pm)FaultyMaxim Wrote: This thread and all the responses except the last couple are 5 years old Smile

That's hilarious. I guess we have google to thank for this. There's always someone out there who's frustrated by learning kanji Big Grin

I'll just throw in my own two cents. Now that I'm lower-intermediate (reading easy manga, but needing a dictionary), my thoughts about kanji have changed a lot since when I started.

Recently I've been amazed at how few kanji I need to read something like NHK Easy News, Orange or Shirokuma kafe. Anki tells me that I have 
  • 731 mature kanji
  • 390 suspended + buried
  • 55 young + learn
  • 1024 unseen
Obviously I still encounter kanji that I don't know. But that number is dwarfed by the amount of unknown vocabulary that I encounter. Normally the unknown vocabulary comes from kanji I already know, and sometimes it comes from pure kana words (katakana loanwords, wasei eigo or giongo / gitaigo). Sometimes the unknown word involves an unknown kanji, but that happens a lot less frequently than I would have expected.

I think that learning to write kanji by hand is probably useful in the beginning. But after a while, that time is probably spent better just learning new vocabulary, speaking to someone, or doing some other language activity. At least that's been my personal experience. Even when I write something in Japanese, it's always via a computer, and I never have trouble picking the kanji I mean. 

As an example, my friend just told me that the coworking space I work at (which is run by a Japanese company) is sponsoring a free intermediate Japanese course next month. If the course has written tests, I probably won't take it. At least for me, I feel like my time would be better spent doing something else.
Reply
#72
I haven't read the thread and won't bother to.
Just my 2cents:
I have the feeling that most people who criticize RTK are those who think they will know everything about kanji after reading the book. And then they realise, there is no information about reading, writing or exact meaning for any kanji. And complain about the imposed order.
Well that's not the purpose of the method.

The method is to help people who has trouble with the standard method (writing them 100 times, learning them randomly as they appear in lessons as a whole without building any connection)
If you're not overwhelmed by all the meanings and readings and can learn them in one go, don't need the stories, just want to write them a lot, then just stick to the standard method, duh!
RTK is a multi-pass process and certainly not a perfect method but it does its job: rtk.
Reply
#73
(2017-04-28, 12:09 pm)pied2porc Wrote: The method is to help people who has trouble with the standard method (writing them 100 times, learning them randomly as they appear in lessons as a whole without building any connection)

That's not a thing.
Reply
#74
(2017-04-28, 2:39 pm)wareya Wrote:
(2017-04-28, 12:09 pm)pied2porc Wrote: The method is to help people who has trouble with the standard method (writing them 100 times, learning them randomly as they appear in lessons as a whole without building any connection)

That's not a thing.

I gather you haven't read any college Japanese textbooks lately? Because that is 100% a thing.

I am coming back to Heisig to learn to write kanji better after having pursued other methods to learn to read/recognize the jouyou kanji, so I wouldn't claim that RTK is the only way, but it has more long-lasting utility than those who have never tried it (or have only read about it without implementing it) would acknowledge.
Reply
#75
(2012-08-31, 6:51 am)frony0 Wrote: Buonaparte, is there any standardised list of the top x kanji and their etymologies that can be used to learn kanji instead of RTK? I'm starting to wish I did your method instead, but it does sound very laborious to find the etymology of each character manually...

I recommend Etymological Dictionary of Han/Chinese Characters by Howell & Morimoto (formerly known as KanjiNetworks). It has over 6000 kanji entries.

I also like Rick Harbaugh's Zhongwen website/book but it is hanzi oriented and has fewer character entries.
Reply