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Heisig for Writing

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Heisig for Writing

Postby Harisenbon » Tue 11.11.2008 8:26 pm

I was inspired by Dustin's post about his Heisig Experiment, and wanted to pose a question.

Originally, I posted this as a response to his thread, but didn't want to hijack his experiment thread. ;)

One thing I'm curious about trying...

One of the main points that opponents of Heisig say is that using his method, you learn how to write the kanji, but since they're not put in words, you don't really "know" them. I won't argue that either way, because it's a huge can of worms.

HOWEVER.

What about someone who can read all the joyou Kanji, but just can't write them? I know there are a lot of foreigners in Japan who can get around in everyday life because they can read/speak Japanese, but are complete ワープロ馬鹿 because they use a computer so much.

Do you think that Heisig would be good to learn the writings of Kanji that you already know the readings/meanings of? Or would rote memorization of the writings (like in elem school) be more productive?
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Re: Heisig for Writing

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 11.11.2008 9:02 pm

Give it a try and report your results. :)
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Re: Heisig for Writing

Postby Dustin » Tue 11.11.2008 9:08 pm

I have heard of a few people that have done this, and they are able to burn through the book a lot faster because of their previous knowledge of the Kanji.

As long as you are careful to study based on the keywords I think it would help just as anyone else as long as you are careful not to mix these keywords with english "translations" of the words since these are the building blocks, and are intended as such.

By the end of the book you are coming up with your own ways of remembering the orders based upon the building blocks, so the method can continue to be applied to Kanji outside of the book as well.

I am sure you likely have heard most of this before, but this is my opinion based on my observations thus far.
You can probably get a lot out of this book as long as you are careful to follow it's direction, and you can probably get through it quite quickly thanks to your prior knowledge. I know Clay got through it in about a month, based on what I read on ThaJapanShop, and he also "knew" most of the Kanji already as well.

Once again, this is just based on what I have read and from what I know from the system already.
Give it a try and let us know, whether it's on this thread or the experiment thread I started :p

Hope this helps :D
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Re: Heisig for Writing

Postby Fillanzea » Tue 11.11.2008 9:11 pm

I am mostly fluent but my writing skills are abysmal... but personally, this is just me, I don't really find Heisig useful for learning how to write them, because I already have a certain amount of ad-hoc knowledge about how the kanji are put together. It's not as formal as Heisig - more like "探る and 深い are the same on the right side, but 探る has a hand radical because you're groping for something, and 深い has a water radical because water is deep."

When I went through the Heisig books a couple years ago I kept thinking, "That's not how I think the character goes!" and I think that would ultimately work against me. But, truth be told, I also don't care enough about my writing skills to develop my own complete system of mnemonics.
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Re: Heisig for Writing

Postby clay » Tue 11.11.2008 9:19 pm

I know Clay got through it in about a month, based on what I read on ThaJapanShop, and he also "knew" most of the Kanji already as well.


Yes, but I'm still a ワープロ馬鹿. :) I went through it quickly to get an idea about the book and to build my recognition skills. I didn't practice writing.

I'd be interested in hearing what Harisenbon thinks after going through it a little.
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Re: Heisig for Writing

Postby furrykef » Tue 11.11.2008 9:38 pm

What I did was I used flash cards with Heisig, and I 'answered' each card by writing the figure on my palm with my index finger. When I got it wrong, I wrote the correct kanji again on my palm after seeing the answer. This alone has completely eliminated the problem of frequently recognizing kanji but not being able to write them, and you don't even need pencil and paper! It's a really powerful technique.

In your case, I would 一石二鳥: instead of drilling individual kanji, drill words that use those kanji whenever possible. Then not only do you learn how to write the kanji, you strengthen the association between those words and the kanji they use. Or you can take that a step further and drill complete sentences, which is what I plan to do (and would already be doing if only I could find the time to study much Japanese right now).

I strongly recommend Anki as a flash card program.

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Re: Heisig for Writing

Postby Dustin » Tue 11.11.2008 9:43 pm

furrykef wrote:What I did was I used flash cards with Heisig, and I 'answered' each card by writing the figure on my palm with my index finger. When I got it wrong, I wrote the correct kanji again on my palm after seeing the answer. This alone has completely eliminated the problem of frequently recognizing kanji but not being able to write them, and you don't even need pencil and paper! It's a really powerful technique.

- Kef


What I am doing is similar, I have a notebook and i am writing out the kanji after reading the keyword for comparison.

So far it is working well for me, and I hope to continue in this manner.
This should prevent not being able to write it obviously, and so far has me at about 100 kanji in about a day.
Some of these i already knew of course but still decent progress.
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Re: Heisig for Writing

Postby Harisenbon » Tue 11.11.2008 11:06 pm

furrykef wrote:Or you can take that a step further and drill complete sentences, which is what I plan to do (and would already be doing if only I could find the time to study much Japanese right now).


My problem is that I second guess myself when writing kanji (is that nin-ben or te-hen? How many lines go down. Is that tani or kuchi) so I don't know how much blind repetition and drill sentences would work. On the other hand, I love mnemonics, and have had great success with them in the past.

Looks like I'm going to the book store to see if they have Heisig. :/
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Re: Heisig for Writing

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 11.11.2008 11:21 pm

What helped my kanji writing was the Kanji Kentei. I just started with 8-kyuu and moved up from there (5 kyuu was the first one I actually took, though.)
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Re: Heisig for Writing

Postby Mukade » Fri 11.21.2008 2:24 am

Harisenbon wrote:Do you think that Heisig would be good to learn the writings of Kanji that you already know the readings/meanings of? Or would rote memorization of the writings (like in elem school) be more productive?


I guess that would depend on your learning style. Although I've had friends who swear by it, rote memorization has proved completely worthless for me, personally. As a result, I've been using the component analysis system to remember only those kanji which I cannot consistently write from memory (without mixing them up with other, similar characters).

Personally, I've had the same problem as others when looking at Heisig, because much of my current knowledge of how the kanji are actually put together (based on character etymology and the like) conflicts with his mneumonics. I've found Kanji ABC to be truer to the actual meanings and evolution of the characters.

Perhaps the most accurate would be Henshall (although I've recently made the switch to an etymology dictionary written by a Japanese scholar, and the two conflict quite often - makes you wonder if anyone knows what they're talking about :( ), but I've found that relying solely on etymology lacks the structure of a 'system' like Kanji ABC or Heisig's book.

Of course, I've also very recently stumbled upon an interesting book called Kanji Mnemonics: A Manual for Learning the Kanji. The sample I've seen for the book shows that it is similar to Heisig (grouping kanji with similar components, providing small stories to remember the character by, etc.), but also goes beyond Heisig by including readings and sample vocabulary words for each character. For those of us who already know a lot of characters, this might be a better alternative to Heisig.

And another good thing is, it seems it's only available at TheJapanShop.com! 8)
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Re: Heisig for Writing

Postby Pork Chop » Fri 11.21.2008 2:51 pm

I've got both Henshall and Kanji Mnemonics.
I spent more time trying to get through Henshall than KM but; truth be told, both were dry reading.
Both of those books seem to be the equivalent of trying to read through an O'Reilly "In a Nutshell" book.
In other words, they seem much better suited as a reference guide for any particular kanji you're working on; and not so great as books to read straight through and build a kanji foundation.

I've been wondering about Kanji ABC and Heisig; whether either book was better to read straight through.

In comparison, "Read Japanese Today" was actually more of what i was looking for, but some of the kanji were a tad bit old (like the old version of 学) and it was really short.

Still working on Basic Kanji Book 1; which helps a lot, but is probably a slower method. I feel like I should've been finished with both BKB books months ago, and I probably would have if I had been more consistent. My biggest issue is not really knowing how many times is a good number to practice writing each new kanji I come across. Initially, I just chose a big number of times to repeat, but it is a very inefficient way to study - with no guarantees at retention. Need to lock down a good SRS.

37 more kanji to go till i have all I need for JLPT3; with another 60 that I could use some work on.
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Re: Heisig for Writing

Postby furrykef » Fri 11.21.2008 4:41 pm

Pork Chop wrote:I've been wondering about Kanji ABC and Heisig; whether either book was better to read straight through.


Heisig isn't much of a read, really. Almost 3/4 of RTK1 -- starting a little after #500 -- is nothing more than mnemonic hints that consist of only the names of the components of the kanji, like, for a random example, "Explanation: words... devil." (説) That is, "explanation" is the keyword, and "words... devil" is the foundation of the story. Nothing more to it than that. It only provides more detailed information when it introduces a new component or when a particular kanji is very hard to work with. There's a little text between chapters, but not all that much.

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Re: Heisig for Writing

Postby Pork Chop » Fri 11.21.2008 5:18 pm

furrykef wrote:Heisig isn't much of a read, really. Almost 3/4 of RTK1 -- starting a little after #500 -- is nothing more than mnemonic hints that consist of only the names of the components of the kanji...


Well, that's not promising...
The other two books are literally kanji charts with the mnemonic as part of the kanji description.
Think Hadamitzky & Spahn's "A Guide to Writing Japanese Kanji & Kana" with mnemonics instead of practice boxes.
Henshall's entries are a bit more text-heavy - due to the etymology.
KM's entries are a bit more organized, grouped by common radicals/部首 that appear along the top of the page.
Makes me think, if either one had taken the time & space to actually write it all out instead of tersely boxing it up, they might've had a multi-volume winner on their hands.

On the other hand, the more I use Basic Kanji Book, the more I appreciate it. There is actually some explanation of etymology and 部首 grouping; while also having a lot more in the way of usage, examples, and practice space (though I try not to actually write inside the book). I guess if I can just get these 500 down well, I can jump into Kanji in Context and probably be more comfortable reading native texts.

Got too much stuff to read these days and not enough focus or time to get too much specifically accomplished. Was trying to get as far into Mangajin as I could (specifically the "Basic Japanese vols 1&2") before really tackling the huge manga collection I've compiled this year. Between the BKB 1 & 2, Mangajin Basic Japanese 1 & 2, Unicom JLPT 3 Grammar book, White Rabbit kanji flashcards (JLPT 3), Daily Kanji Calendar, Building Word Power in Japanese, and my own entertainment stuff; I feel like I'm being pulled in like 100 different directions & not making any headway.
Gotta sit down and focus on one thing at a time till I finish it.
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