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Thread: Like Heisig?

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    Daimyo ***** dombay's Avatar
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    Default Like Heisig?

    Discuss it here.

    NOWHERE ELSE.
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    VIP UPGRAYEDD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Like Heisig?

    no
    You see, gentlemen, a pimp's love is very different from a square's...
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    Resident ewok wicket's Avatar
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    Default Re: Like Heisig?

    and it's a no from me, simon.
    "Like anyone with a sliver of honesty in them I believe what I find I believe when I wake up each morning."
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    Daimyo ***** dombay's Avatar
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    Default Re: Like Heisig?

    ?

    Who is Simon?
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    Default Re: Like Heisig?

    sorry, been watching too much "Britain's got talent" [it hasn't, BTW].
    Simon Cowell.
    "Like anyone with a sliver of honesty in them I believe what I find I believe when I wake up each morning."
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  6. #6

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    Could the title of the thread be altered to "Heisig's 'Remembering the Kanji' discussion"? Not to nitpick, but Professor Heisig is mainly an author of religious studies.

    To answer the question: a conditional yes.

    On it's own, it can be difficult to finish. Combined with a Spaced Repetition System such as http://ichi2.net/anki Anki and community shared stories like at http://kanji.koohii.com then it becomes easier to finish in a reasonable amount of time (200 to 250 hours of study time).

    With it completed, I found it fairly easy to roll into proper Japanese study using regular Japanese text. The ability to write the kanji properly with speed, while limited in application, helps in my studies as I like to write down sentences I'm learning.

    In addition, after time is spent on the system, I found that learning new kanji is much faster than when I started out. Combined with the technique of "memory palace" to attach an onyomi to the kanji improved my reading ability.

    It's weakness are there:

    The keyword system, while great for developing a flashcard set-up, is poor in that he does not fully explain what the kanji mean. You're left at times with just that one word, which can be ambiguous. While this can by fixed using the extra online resources, it's a weakness of the book itself.

    He chose to use the entire Jouyou kanji. While technically not a weakness, it makes completing the book take 100 hours longer. So while 100 hours will go to 1000 kanji you'll use 80% of the time, you spend additional 100 hours covering the other 1000 kanji that's used an addition 10% of time. Again, this weakness can be fixed via online resources, but it's not something you can do with the book itself.

    His choice of stories, keywords and primitives - With keywords, he wants a unique word per kanji that's kind of related to it. Most cases this is not a problem, but you get some odd choices at times that's related to an obscure meaning of that kanji. His primitive choices also can be lacking in that we're meant to create VISUAL stories, but we're given a conceptual primitive. Plus, as Heisig is primarily a religious studies expert (the main reason he was invited to Japan, and began to study Japanese there leading to this book), his stories have Christian mythos attached that may be hard to grasp for some readers. Yet again, these weaknesses are taken care of in the online community, but this is about the book.

    Usual arguments against Heisig are not reasonable:

    Does not include pronunciation - not the purpose of the book. It's not a reference book, but a study book to learn how to write and recognize Kanji for those with English as a native language (or strong second language). There are plenty of other reference books with pronunciation references that you can use to learn along side. You may as well complain he's not teaching the Mandarin pronunciations (which other kanji books don't do either).

    Mnemonics is not a new system - not relevant. He's not claiming this is new. He even stated he thought it was common sense to break down kanji to learn them. Besides, if mnemonics have been used, and do work, why would this be an argument against the book?

    Teaches rare kanji - has some validity. Now, if he's teaching a rare kanji (吾) it may seem odd, till the next thing you see is a VERY COMMON kanji (語) which you notice has that 'rare' kanji right there inside. However, except for that, I covered this argument up above in weaknesses.

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    Resident ewok wicket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nukemarine View Post
    Could the title of the thread be altered to "Heisig's 'Remembering the Kanji' discussion"? Not to nitpick, but Professor Heisig is mainly an author of religious studies.
    No. No it can't. This is a forum about Japan and Japanese, not religion. I'm pretty sure most people know what the thread is about.

    And I don't give a shit what the purpose of the book is. It's overpriced, overhyped and totally unnatural in terms of language acquisition.
    "Like anyone with a sliver of honesty in them I believe what I find I believe when I wake up each morning."
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by wicket View Post
    No. No it can't. This is a forum about Japan and Japanese, not religion. I'm pretty sure most people know what the thread is about.

    And I don't give a shit what the purpose of the book is. It's overpriced, overhyped and totally unnatural in terms of language acquisition.
    Pardon me, I didn't realize Heisig was such a household term that the mere mention of it is synonymous with Kanji. By the way, while I didn't mention dombay by name, I thought it was obvious the request was meant for him being an administrator and author of this thread and all.

    As to your "critique" of RTK:

    Overpriced - so, what would be a reasonable price above production cost? I assume a little profit should be expected.

    Overhyped - is this the "complete newbie does 500 kanji of the book, and goes on multiple forums yelling it's praises" type of overhype? I doubt it's the Rosetta Stone type of overhype. Could you elaborate?

    Unnatural language acquisition - Hate to break it to you, but ANY class based teaching is unnatural. Unless you're born into the language, pretty every language past the first has artificial learning methods attached. A majority of the time, it's through the use of your first language. Anyway, could you elaborate on this, as I don't know too many languages with pictographic based literary structures. That the Japanese adapted/applied Chinese kanji to their existing language further weakens your argument.

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    Resident ewok wicket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nukemarine View Post
    Pardon me, I didn't realize Heisig was such a household term that the mere mention of it is synonymous with Kanji. By the way, while I didn't mention dombay by name, I thought it was obvious the request was meant for him being an administrator and author of this thread and all.
    No, no, pardon me. Forgot you're a newb here.

    Heisig is VERY well known on this forum and has been discussed TO DEATH on previous threads, so a lot of us old-timers are fed up talking about him.

    And I'm also a moderator, so that's why I responded to your request to change the thread title.

    I'm well aware that any class-based language learning is unnatural [I teach Japanese and English]; but I'm also entitled to say that I think Heisig's method takes people the long way around and never worked for me. If it works for you, that's great. It's been hyped by lots of people - mostly people who are new to learning kanji, but not always.

    Anyway, I sounded rude and didn't mean to, so sorry. It's just that I don't think there's much more to add to the discussion that hasn't already been said. Do a search through the old threads.

    ETA: I learned kanji by using the books that Japanese kids use to learn it - they cost me 100yen each and were fantastic and logical. And I didn't have to learn or make up any bullshit stories in English - the whole process was in Japanese.
    Last edited by wicket; May 30th, 2009 at 21:33.
    "Like anyone with a sliver of honesty in them I believe what I find I believe when I wake up each morning."
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    Али Димаев AliDimayev's Avatar
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    Default Re: Like Heisig?

    WICKET, PLEASE READ ME!!!!

    I totally agree with you on this one.

    I also find it very funny that that one time two weeks or so ago when someone mentioned he didn't like Heisig all of a sudden there were about five new posters eacah posting huge posts about how much they like HEisig. There must be a Heisig forum out there and it was alerted to that one post here on ITIL that critisized it. It is like when Frodo in the Lord of The Rings put the ring on, and then all of a sudden all those death knights or whatever-the-fuck knew instanly what direction to head towards to get Frodo and took off!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyakuman View Post
    As usual, you all (Aliを除く) have your heads up your asses.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by wicket View Post
    No. No it can't. This is a forum about Japan and Japanese, not religion. I'm pretty sure most people know what the thread is about.

    And I don't give a shit what the purpose of the book is. It's overpriced, overhyped and totally unnatural in terms of language acquisition.
    I am not sure where all these Heisig-lovers came from, but I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with you and Ali on this one, Wicket. Well, only sort of: as you say, it's a matter of what works for each individual, which is true in a lot of educational matters. We might both be right: it doesn't work for you and it does work for me. Thus to a new person, I would say, "Try it and see".

    In my case, though, yeah, it really does work: not as a first thing, but after one's already situated in the language a bit and has learned some kanji the old fashioned way, getting used to the strokes. I add another disclaimer: I don't use Heisig, I use the Slime Forest program, which supplies different mnemonics for the kanji -- all of them; you don't have to make up your own stories -- and includes at least one basic pronunciation.

    Those disclaimers aside: doing it the traditional way -- endless repetition -- I managed to crawl up to maybe 200 kanji over many, many months. I forgot like 60-80% of them after not using them for a while, even though they were strong for a bit. With the mnemonic approach (not Heisig exactly) I shot up to a good 1000+ kanji in a month or two and retain them with far greater success. Hell, sometimes I'll learn a new kanji, then realize that I'd learned it before with the rote memorization method and have simply forgotten it.
    Quote Originally Posted by katsudon View Post
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  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by AliDimayev View Post
    WICKET, PLEASE READ ME!!!!

    I totally agree with you on this one.

    I also find it very funny that that one time two weeks or so ago when someone mentioned he didn't like Heisig all of a sudden there were about five new posters eacah posting huge posts about how much they like HEisig. There must be a Heisig forum out there and it was alerted to that one post here on ITIL that critisized it. It is like when Frodo in the Lord of The Rings put the ring on, and then all of a sudden all those death knights or whatever-the-fuck knew instanly what direction to head towards to get Frodo and took off!
    In the other thread, you and a couple of others wondered why we were here. I posted the link to the Reviewing the Kanji forum thread that linked to this forum. That post was deleted by dombay along with all others related to Heisig and RTK that was not talking about the original poster's request about how to start learning Japanese. Seeing that this thread is actually about RTK, here's that link again, http://forum.koohii.com/viewtopic.php?id=691&p=37 with the original about 20 posts down.

    I'll agree, it's bad forum etiquitte to post links to debates/discussions on other forums as it leads to drive by trolling. To be fair though, I don't think we posted and then left without at least backing up our statements.

    Sorry about the posts being long Ali. Well, ok I'm not sorry, but it seems like that was a complaint. If someone wants to know how to learn Japanese, a serious answer is bound to be verbose.
    Last edited by Nukemarine; May 30th, 2009 at 22:16.

  13. #13
    Delicious...and moist! kiwimusume's Avatar
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    Default Re: Like Heisig?

    I have no issue with mnemonics. I don't use many personally, but I can certainly see how they can help some people.

    What I find completely cock-eyed is the fact that he TELLS YOU NOT TO LEARN THE READINGS UNTIL YOU'VE FINISHED THE WHOLE BOOK. So, using the kanji in context DOESN'T help you to learn it?

    Also, Wicket, I love you for quoting Britain's Got Talent. It makes me want to translate my post into Tyra-ese (my current obsession is America's Next Top Model.)
    Last edited by kiwimusume; May 30th, 2009 at 23:20.
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    Yeah, it's really good stuff. For some reason, they bound it as a book, instead of on a roll. There's 190 pages, which is probably good for at least a few dozen shits.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwimusume View Post
    What I find completely cock-eyed is the fact that he TELLS YOU NOT TO LEARN THE READINGS UNTIL YOU'VE FINISHED THE WHOLE BOOK. So, using the kanji in context DOESN'T help you to learn it?
    Agreed! This is why I like the Slime Forest game, which at least throws a single standard on-yomi at you. Do they stick? Yeah, mostly; some require some review with your spaced repetition (or whatever they're called) program of choice.

    I don't really get the Heisig bit about "I'm not teaching you Japanese; I'm just teaching you the kanji!" The reality is that kanji skills are most useful when you can at least kind of read them. Yes, you can learn in context, but I'd rather have at least a foundation. I don't think it takes more than a few seconds of extra time per kanji to glance at the reading, so I say why not.
    Quote Originally Posted by katsudon View Post
    Principal: 'genki no nai shapenaa'
    Me: *giggle*
    Principal (turns to me, says): Very old sharpener. I am not as old as that sharpener.

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    I'm using the RTK book and it seems to work pretty well.

    Like others, in about a week I know the (limited/ambigious/archaic) meaning of about 120-160 Kanji and the proper stroke order. So I see that as a plus considering that I studied Kanji before this and hardly remembered any of them after year sabbtical. So it seems to do what it sets out to do and I can therefore say that I'm satisfied with its purposes. I'll have to see if I can get the pronunciations down after I finish the book (I guess I have about 2 months or so to go), but at least then I won't have to worry so much about learning how to write or recognize what reading.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Like Heisig?

    I talked to a Japanese linguist about this a few weeks ago, and she is not a fan. I trust her opinion, as she's coauthored several Japanese language textbooks. I also think his books reinforce the misnomer that all Chinese characters are ideographs. Just my opinion, but I think Wicket's approach or something is really useful and awesome. Those 100 yen books are amazing
    Last edited by elleohelle; May 31st, 2009 at 08:34.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by wicket View Post

    ETA: I learned kanji by using the books that Japanese kids use to learn it - they cost me 100yen each and were fantastic and logical. And I didn't have to learn or make up any bullshit stories in English - the whole process was in Japanese.
    Where did you find these books?

  18. #18
    Али Димаев AliDimayev's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wakatta View Post
    they were strong for a bit. With the mnemonic approach (not Heisig exactly) I shot up to a good 1000+ kanji in a month ]it.

    1000 kanji in a month?
    So by now you must know thousands and thousands of kanji.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyakuman View Post
    As usual, you all (Aliを除く) have your heads up your asses.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by AliDimayev View Post
    1000 kanji in a month?
    So by now you must know thousands and thousands of kanji.
    Unfortunately, I slacked off (due to various factors, like actually having classes now) and haven't played Slime Forest much at all lately. I'm working that back in. And, well, okay, I guess it might have been more like 2-3 months? I sort of have it written down; I'll check.

    However, sure, on days when I play it, I can learn a good 20-30 kanji in a sitting. I then stick them in my Anki deck and keep going. With muscle memory, it is considerably slower and I have a harder time retaining the kanji. I remember one person saying, "All you can realistically expect is 10 kanji a week, max" and I imagine that's close to accurate for writing-it-all-a-hundred-thousand-times memorization.

    I will make a wager with you, though, my Chechen friend: I bet I can knock off the rest of the Joyo kanji by the end of next month if I make a daily habit of studying. I'm not sure exactly how many I'm at, but I think it's about 1300.

    Incidentally: I -do- like those 100 (105) yen books, though! I'm all for multi-layered studying. For me, it's:

    1) Slime Forest to learn new kanji with nice ready-made mnemonics (that I think are better than Heisig's, and include a reading)
    2) Anki to store those kanji and review (I only started doing this partway through, though, so my Anki deck doesn't contain all the kanji I know...I should fix that)
    3) Kakitori-kun to confirm and reinforce stroke order and meaning; I use the Japanese dictionary defs included for both reading practice and to give me a more accurate sense of its meaning/compounds
    4) 100-yen books for more practice with compounds and junk.
    Last edited by Wakatta; May 31st, 2009 at 12:11.
    Quote Originally Posted by katsudon View Post
    Principal: 'genki no nai shapenaa'
    Me: *giggle*
    Principal (turns to me, says): Very old sharpener. I am not as old as that sharpener.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Like Heisig?

    Are you using the free Slime Forest trial or the $20 members version?
    Last edited by capn jazz; May 31st, 2009 at 12:32. Reason: edit: nevermind, I can read...

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