This is a bragging post. I must admit I have been dragging my feet on this project and not been very serious about it, but it feels good having finally completed volume 1 of James Heisig’s Remember the Kanji.
Tools and material
Although I have been using the website Reviewing the Kanji for everything online in the process of learning these, but I would not have been able to do so without the hardcover edition of James Heisig’s blue book.
The book is very well written and although some of the material may seem dry and factual at first glance, the author has included a lot of humor between the lines.
If you are not a native English speaker, you will probably – like I did – need a dictionary as well. Although I have been considering myself quite at ease with this language for a while, I have learned quite a few new English words in the process.
Because some of the keywords are quite similar, you will need a precise definition for the memory system to work. Hence the list of translated words will probably be longer than you expect when you start out on this journey.
If you speak Danish, please feel free to peruse my list of translated Heisig key words.
The website Reviewing the Kanji
uses a spaced repetition system based on the popular Leitner System:
In the Leitner system, flashcards are sorted into groups according to how well you know each one in the Leitner’s learning box. This is how it works: you try to recall the solution written on a flashcard. If you succeed, you send the card to the next group. But if you fail, you send it back to the first group. Each succeeding group has a longer period of time before you are required to revisit the cards.Source: Wikipedia
This is a clever system that will take care of the book keeping on your behalf and make sure you review all the information you have learned and do so before forgetting.
In the beginning it it very easy to be on top of everything. However, with a job not related to learning Kanji and focus away from the website for a few weeks things start to pile up.
Here is the surprise I got when I had a look at the website just after Christmas:
Needless to say – if you let it slip, it will take a while to regain control. But it is all good and certainly worth the effort.
First of all this is just the initial 2042 joyo Kanji – there are more to learn. Heisig has published two additional volumes – one looking into the different readings and one with the remaining Kanji. I do, however, think this system will work well and I hope learning the remaining thousand or so Kanji will be relatively easy.
Mind you – this is not the same as learning Japanese! After learning how to recognize and write these important building blocks, you will have to learn the different pronunciations and alternative meanings when combined with other Kanji.
But this is the fun part – learning Kanji first is like eating the outside of the pizza first, leaving the good stuff for later.