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Thread: Heisig's Remembering The Kanji

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    Default Heisig's Remembering The Kanji

    Anyone giving (given?) this a go? I've just finished part one of the first book- his method's quite addictive, and there's a huge amount of debate on the internet about his style...

    Heisig seems to avoid giving any on or kun readings until the second book, and so the first focuses on identifying the kanji with a unique keyword.
    It seems to be working pretty well for me; I can sort of 'read' kanji I recognise from swathes of Japanese text..

    One warning; I think you need to invest a lot of time into the whole Heisig method- I mean, no readings until book 2?

    But I guess it's a good use of time during the last 3 weeks of uni...

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    I'm pretty sure most kanji is given a unique keyword that tries to translate its broad uses as best as possible.

    You're saying this guy just leaves out the way the word is actually pronounced in Japanese?

    If so...I have no idea how that could be helpful, unless you have no desire to actually speak any Japanese

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    Quote Originally Posted by PunkInDrublic
    If so...I have no idea how that could be helpful, unless you have no desire to actually speak any Japanese
    Sigh, so much misunderstanding.
    The point of the first book is to familiarize yourself with writing the characters. He points out that many students fail by trying to take in too much data about the character at once. How to draw it, what it means in your native tongue, on-yomi, kun-yomi and so on. If you've been in a Japanese class, you'll notice how students who know Chinese have a distinct advantage because they already know how to write the characters. So the book one works on this.

    It does not give you the instant gratification of knowing everything about a character, but instead builds your skills up slowly. I find it to be very powerful as I'm able to draw most kanji "right" without knowing the character. Very helpful for look up dictionaries that rely on stroke order.

    I really need to finish book one, but it has been a great help in understanding kanji, and I've even been able to pick up ones I haven't seen yet. I highly recommend this.

    Book two goes into on-yomi and ideas on how to learn the kun-yomi. Frankly, once you already have writing the kanji down completely, learning the rest is easy as hell.
    The woman expresses her gratitude and goes back to Pope's house and sleeps with him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PunkInDrublic
    You're saying this guy just leaves out the way the word is actually pronounced in Japanese?

    If so...I have no idea how that could be helpful, unless you have no desire to actually speak any Japanese
    Yup, he does. And his method is still wildly popular with a dedicated small number of people. I tend to think its bollocks, but if it works for you, then more power to ya.

    Heisig will allow you to guess at a lot of things, by being able to approximate meanings. But you can't really read kanji, don't know how to pronounce 'em, and still have shit vocab. I'll stick with learning in context.

    Anyone who wants to check out Heisig, though, you can download the PDF of the first hundred pages over here --> For your perusal

    ETA: Damn, two more people slipped in just in the time it took me to find the PDF. Nice.

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    Do realize that what Jill and the other nay sayers is true only if you read just volume one and never studying anything else. But why would you do that?
    Believe me, I have read tons of kanji books and tried tons of methods. Heisig's is the best.
    At least try to give it an honest shot. I thought it was complete bullshit at first until after a few weeks of working at the book, I was reading something in Japanese and was amazed at how I was actually seeing Japanese and not just random masses of confusing strokes.

    Oh, and that one website linked for the flash card training is quite nice. I was thinking they'd go with a solely mouse based input method as most do, but they actually have functional keyboard input, so it's been very smooth for me so far.
    The woman expresses her gratitude and goes back to Pope's house and sleeps with him.

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    Yeah, like I said - if it works for you, then more power to you. I suppose I'm just old school. Also, I never have difficulty remembering the kanji or what they mean, but I'm crap at coming up with the correct pronunciation, so Heisig seems to compound my problems in that regard.

    But for kids who have no prior exposure to Japanese, I think they can be a great thing. They give you that first handle on literacy that can prevent you from going nuts your first couple months/years in Japan.

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    Heh, actually it's made remembering the readings much easier for me.
    But you're going to go nuts anyway, so might as well go with a method that works for you, yes. If your goal is just survival, I guess I wouldn't recommend Heisig.
    The woman expresses her gratitude and goes back to Pope's house and sleeps with him.

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    I chose to learn my kanji with Heisig as I'm precisely a from-scratch beginner. We'llk see if I stick with it until the end of book 2, otherwise it is all a bit pointless!

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    Actually, it's not. That's the benefit! Learning to properly write and identify the characters is never a bad thing!
    The woman expresses her gratitude and goes back to Pope's house and sleeps with him.

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    I've never encountered a Kanji learning...program/method/thing where they don't attach an equivalent general word to its meaning to help you understand the character.

    That said, it seems to me that the only thing that makes this method stand out is that it decides to not give beginners the characters' readings. If that helps them, then more power to them. But for me, as a beginner, the readings of the kanji were never a burden...

    I know I'm speaking from my perspective right now, and I'm not learning Japanese for the first time here - but nowadays the readings of the Kanjis actually help me remember the characters better because now I have another thing in my head to associate the symbol with. Does that sound weird? Maybe it is...

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    Quote Originally Posted by PunkInDrublic
    I've never encountered a Kanji learning...program/method/thing where they don't attach an equivalent general word to its meaning to help you understand the character.
    Okay?

    That said, it seems to me that the only thing that makes this method stand out is that it decides to not give beginners the characters' readings. If that helps them, then more power to them. But for me, as a beginner, the readings of the kanji were never a burden...
    It is a lot of information to take in, and as someone who tried learning that way, I can see the stress it induces. Sure, it worked, but I had to work a lot harder to remember them. Heisig's is just far more efficient in my eyes.
    I know I'm speaking from my perspective right now, and I'm not learning Japanese for the first time here - but nowadays the readings of the Kanjis actually help me remember the characters better because now I have another thing in my head to associate the symbol with. Does that sound weird? Maybe it is...
    Everyone learns differently, but I just feel this is the most powerful tool available for learning the characters.
    The fact that it "doesn't teach the readings at first" doesn't invalidate its methods by any means.
    The woman expresses her gratitude and goes back to Pope's house and sleeps with him.

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    I think the boon lies in drawing rather similar characters within the same 'lesson' structure. Some less-than-amazing but recent examples;

    plug 栓
    pillar 柱.

    玉 jewel
    主 lord

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    I personally would stay clear of Heisig's method.
    I started using it some years ago and yes impressively you learn Kanji fast, I learnt 300 in a week, but then I realised, what good is learning the English meaning of the Kanji, you can't even read any Japanese, pronounce it, or even understand anything. Sure you can say hey there's the kanji for 3 and there's the kanji for fish. But you can't put them together and say 3 fish, it doesn't work like that.

    Also, what can do you do with this information in order to decipher a kanji? You'll be the worlds slowest reader if you have to do that everytime you read anything. Perhaps if Kanji was like readin Egyptian hyrogliphics in some temple then yes Heisig's method would be tops. When you get to like Kanji 500+ in his book, he just prints 3 or 4 words from other kanji and expects you to make up your own story, even he couldn't be arsed in the end.

    Do the Japanese have to remember a set of words/story to decipher 'a', 'b', 'c', 'd' etc? or even a story to memorise their own kanji? No, of course not. It wouldn't be practical.

    To me, learning Kanji has enough obstacles, stroke order, on/kun yomi, meaning, paired meaning etc. Most kanji has at least 2 meaning and Heisig just teaches one, why would you want to remember all this English information as well which to be honest in the end is useless. And what about name or extra kanji that has no meaning?

    If you still think Heisig is great for you, good for you, but buy his 2nd (or even 3rd book) and then flick through the pages. Not one single 'revolutionary' learning technique in the whole book, instead just an encylopedia full of 2000 kanji worth of readings. But let's face it, how many people are going to have finished the first book in order to realise their mistake? I have all 3 and wish I'd never bought any.

    Kanji takes time, repetition and more repetition. It's a sad fact of life, in the same way that it takes over 5~10 years of learning English to become fluent in it. Just because there's no kanji in English, doesn't mean learning English or any foreign language can be achieved quickly by some learning gimmick. Repetition and more repetition is the only way.

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    Well, you failed to understand the methodology. Congrats!
    The woman expresses her gratitude and goes back to Pope's house and sleeps with him.

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    I totally understand the methodolgy behind it but for long term enforced learning, I just don't think it works.

    You can't say I didn't try though, I did for a month.
    I believe that learning the whole kanji as you go along (and ESPECIALLY along with learning Japanese grammar at the same time) is better than learning how to write them all and then come back later.

    As some really crudes methodology comparisons. You wouldn't study how to drive a car, learn everything about how a car operates before getting in it to learn to drive.
    Nor would you study every street name and land mark in your local city before becoming a taxi driver. Sure doing so WOULD help, but it's just not practical.
    You should learn everything as you go along, just like with everything in life.

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    If each kanji was completely different and had no similarities, I might agree. But since complex kanji are constructed from other kanji, it simply works. Of course the Japanese don't learn the characters this way, but we're not Japanese, nor will we ever be.

    I used to grind grind grind kanji away and maybe a few of the ones I did would stick completely. Others I would forget other things and some I would confuse. With this method, everything is clear in my mind.

    But, seriously, the first two paragraphs you have written above are complete and utter bollocks, as far as I am concerned. You're not going to be "slow" because you don't do that "every time you read anything." You do it during training and eventually your mind just "clicks" and reads the characters as they are. It's about putting them in your mind originally in an easy to remember way, and then slowly replacing that with actual Japanese.

    It's faster in the long run, less frustrating, and honestly, my kanji, reading and writing skills have doubled in the past year, and I haven't even been that dedicated to it as of late.

    With as frustrating as kanji learning can be, I would not recommend anyone just ignoring Heisig's works. It might not work with you, you may not like it, but try it. I wish I knew about it a loooong time ago. Because it's been the best help for me.
    The woman expresses her gratitude and goes back to Pope's house and sleeps with him.

  18. #18
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    I believe Kanji are best learnt through reading texts. I think however you choose to learn each indiviual kanji is fine, but if you only ever do that then you are screwed when kanji compound and you cannot "guess" the meaning from the compund's individual components. Someone mentioned context earlier- this is important, language is only ever used in context so is best learnt in context.

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    Well don't get me wrong, I don't just read Heisig's book. I play games, read books and websites, and so on. You can't just use one tool. But I find Heisig's methodologies great for increasing the rate at which I'm learning and I'm remembering much more.
    Remember, the book's title is Remembering the Kanji
    The woman expresses her gratitude and goes back to Pope's house and sleeps with him.

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    You don't need to defend it like it's your religion. It works for you, great, it doesn't work for me, too bad.

    Whilst I admit it is a great way of learning kanji quickly, you still haven't mentioned whether or not you've seen the 2nd book which in terms of the first book full of ideas and stories, the 2nd is basically a steaming dog turd, a dictionary full of readings and barely a word of practice in sight.

    Even learning the traditional way is easier than using this book.

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