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Heisig, RTK Experiment

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Re: Heisig, RTK Experiment

Postby furrykef » Tue 11.18.2008 12:48 pm

Dustin_Calgary wrote:I still dislike coming across English keywords that I have TO LOOK UP.


You get used to it. ;) Yes, some of Heisig's keywords and stories are horrible. The worst story in the whole book is the one about 黙. Here's the critique I'd written on Reviewing The Kanji some months ago:

Probably one of the worst stories that Heisig wrote is the one for silence: 黙. The story goes like this (paraphrasing, of course):

"Think of that song about silence that begins 'Hello, darkness, my old friend.' Here we have a black 黒 chihuahua 犬 named 'Darkness'. All you have to do now is remember that the oven flames 灬 extend under the chihuahua."

I know that writing good stories for others is difficult, but this one is staggeringly bad. First off, you have to know the song in the first place. I'm 24 years old; although it may have been fitting for readers of the first edition of RTK1, Simon and Garfunkel is not exactly typical music for my generation. Second, I can't imagine any particular reason why Darkness would be a chihuahua, or why a chihuahua would be named Darkness. Finally, the word that comes to mind most readily with this story is "darkness", not "silence". A couple of times I've written this kanji in place of 暗, the actual kanji for the keyword "darkness"... a bit odd considering that I learned 暗 before studying Heisig.

However, the sheer badness of the story had the ironic effect of helping me remember the kanji because it was so bad. In fact, I find that really bad stories can be used to this effect if you use them sparingly. (Use them too much and of course the thing that makes them stand out will no longer stand out, and then all you have is a bunch of really bad stories.) So the only real problem with it is the potential for confusion with 暗. Note that the confusion also works in reverse because the story for 暗 is that in the original times of darkness, there was no sun 日 and no sound 音. "No sound", of course, reminds one of "silence"... argh!


I still get confused as hell with both of these kanji. Oh well, it'll go away when I start actually using these kanji, I'm sure.

Still, as a whole, though, I think Heisig's method is pretty good for what it is. But then, it's the "what it is" part that causes flame wars. :)

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Re: Heisig, RTK Experiment

Postby Mukade » Thu 11.20.2008 7:39 am

Infidel wrote:Unfortunately, I think the only real way to test if the all-in-front approach is best would be to test four groups of students separately and concurrently. One using traditional methods. Another using an immersion approach, another using RTK then immersion, and another using RTK then traditional methods.


Unfortunately, different people have such very different learning styles that this would be a difficult experiment to conduct. I've known people with great kanji skills who did little more than write the character over and over again to make it stick in their mind. On the other hand, there's someone like me - who can still forget characters they've read and studied and written repeatedly, and therefore require a different approach.

Anyway, good luck to the OP. I've never used Heisig, but I have used the component analysis system to tackle tough to remember characters, and I can say it's always been successful for me. I've always been curious what it would have been like if I had used component analysis right from the get-go.
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Re: Heisig, RTK Experiment

Postby Dustin » Fri 11.21.2008 4:18 am

Well it is the 9th day of my experiment, and I have successfully gotten 508 Kanji into the SRS system online.
This means that I have successfully been able to write out each of these kanji, purely from memory several times each.

Once it is in the SRS ( acronym for the Spaced Repetition System ) The system is designed to slowly move you from short term memory to long term memory, by making longer and longer intervals between reviews when you remember the characters correctly.
If you MISS a character it starts from square 1 again :D

I must say, I am thoroughly impressed with how well laid out the system is thus far. Some of the plot lines laid out for remembering the characters I am already changing to fit my individual needs as well, which is part of the system.
It starts out creating a vivid picture for you, then gives you a layout but you fill in the details. The last 3/4 of the book it gives you the keyword, and a few hints, but at that point you should be able to come up with the "stories" on your own.

If you really don't have an imagination perhaps this will not work for you, but luckily this is made easier by the website I am using since users can share stories they have come up with on their own for the Kanji. Sometimes they are completely different than what Heisig may suggest, but through reading the intro, that's what he wants us to do. Make them our own, then they will stick better. He gives us the building blocks in an intuitive order, we just need to lay it out and build it up on our own.

I am excited to start the third phase of the book, and I hope I can keep the pace up that I am going at. If I can work on these this quickly, I am sure ANYONE can follow this method, even over the course of many months, and still benefit drastically from it. It is simply a matter of your goals, your current level, and your imagination.

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Re: Heisig, RTK Experiment

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 11.21.2008 9:43 am

From what I've seen in the past, the beginning of RTK goes much more quickly than the later parts.
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Re: Heisig, RTK Experiment

Postby furrykef » Fri 11.21.2008 1:45 pm

And that was my experience as well, but that was mostly because I hadn't discovered how useful the site Reviewing The Kanji is. After I did, I proceeded at a pace that was much more like it was earlier in the book.
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Re: Heisig, RTK Experiment

Postby Dustin » Fri 11.21.2008 8:54 pm

Ah yes, some people, I read, take considerably longer on the last stretch of the book, simply because you have to be creative instead of just taking in the information presented. There are also some people that move through faster, because they can come up with their own ideas rather than forcing one that does not work well for them.

The website helps a lot because it has ideas from other users that you can browse and take what fits, This, will help considerably, and I think it really adds to the value of the book, having a community like this.
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Re: Heisig, RTK Experiment

Postby two_heads_talking » Sat 11.22.2008 12:29 pm

Dustin_Calgary wrote:
I still dislike coming across English keywords that I have TO LOOK UP.^^


Unfortunately, regardless of the base language, that's the only way to increase your vocabulary. Looking up words you are not familiar with. I learned about it this way.. Our language skills are similar to being on an escalator. It's going down and we are trying to get to the top. (we all know we've gone "up" the "down" escalator before.. most of us have run up it too).. anyways, if you stop at any point the escalator will take you down and your efforts to regain the same altitude are going to be much more difficult. But with applied effort, you can once again regain that former altitude and with minimal effort you can remain there. In order to get to the top, you must once again expend great energy..

So, little to no effort = bottom of the escalator
moderate effort = maintain a certain altitude on the escalator.. neither going up or down
gret effort = attaining the highest altitude on the escalator .. making it to the top..
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Re: Heisig, RTK Experiment

Postby furrykef » Sat 11.22.2008 1:59 pm

Yes, except I think Heisig's keywords tend to be more opaque than they need to be. If nothing else, he could save the reader some effort and explain what the keyword means in the description of the kanji.

In fact, that's another problem. Even when the keyword is a simple word that everyone understands, he often doesn't explain which particular meaning he has in mind. For example, does the key word "wonder" refer to the verb or the noun? The verb is the meaning that leaps most readily to mind, but looking at the words that use this kanji in edict, it looks like the noun is actually the intended meaning: something that inspires a sense of wonder, rather than the sense of "I wonder what we're going to have for dinner".

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Re: Heisig, RTK Experiment

Postby jcdietz03 » Wed 11.26.2008 10:50 pm

Well, since this is a Heisig thread, I am on about 570 of RTK.

I think it is interesting to note when RTK was published. This fact may surprise some people, but it was originally published in 1977. It is a rather old textbook. Most students use Genki, which is fairly new.

Where I work there was a four hour long training course on how to train. Specifically, conducting on-the-job (OJT) training. There were several exercises designed to help you understand how people learn. We learned about the three learning styles - visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (touching). But there was an interesting exercise that reminds me of RTK. Maybe I am just looking for things to reinforce my own point of view, but here is how the exercise goes:

Take a look at the following symbols for 15 seconds and try to memorize them as best you can. Turn off your monitor screen and write the symbols. Turn your monitor back on and see how many you got right.

#$%!@ !#$$% #@!%% %$@!# !@$%#

OK - how many did you get right? Now, repeat the exercise with the following set of the symbols. You have 15 seconds. Begin now.

$$$$$ %%%%% ##### !!!!! @@@@@

In which exercise did you do better?
This exercise is designed to illustrate that people learn best when the same types of information are grouped. I don't know if the exercise really shows that (it's quite crude, not really like kanji at all), but that is what the exercise is trying to convey. The trainer wants me to know that I shouldn't try to explain the whole (complex) procedure all at once - I should explain step 1, have the trainee have a go at step 1, explain step 2, etc....

When you begin to study kanji, you have a lot to learn. You need to learn how to write, meaning, readings (sometimes more than two). It's very difficult to learn all that. Heisig helps you - you don't need to learn all of that - only half of it, the meaning and the writing part. This is grouping information type - learning one type of information first and making a second pass when switching information type.

Also in my training course, we learned that for someone learning, you should try to encourage the learner as much as you can. Our trainer gave the following example:

Trainer: [to trainee] OK, now what should we do next?
Trainee: Add the lysate, is this correct?
Trainer: No, that's totally wrong.

The trainer should never say "No, that's totally wrong" because it discourages the learner too much. Instead, the trainer should say: "OK, so why are we adding the lysate?" Knowing the answer to this question will help the trainer understand where the trainee is confused and will avoid discouraging the trainee too much. As a person learning to be a trainer, it is hard for me to do this because my first instinct is to do just what I shouldn't (discourage the learner).

Anyhow, for someone who is having success with a certain method, I would encourage them to continue with that method without saying too much else. I'm not really in a position to recommend a certain learning method, still being a beginner myself. Even if I was an expert, I think I would refrain from mentioning the method that works for me. For the learner having success, they are not ready to listen to advice about a successful learning method. It's when failure is being had that the learner is ready to listen to a better way of doing things.
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Re: Heisig, RTK Experiment

Postby Infidel » Wed 11.26.2008 11:32 pm

Please, let's not turn this into a theory thread. We've already seen many many theory threads. This thread is supposed to be an experience thread. Let's not muddy the water and encourage the thread to lose its focus.
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Re: Heisig, RTK Experiment

Postby Sairana » Thu 11.27.2008 4:26 am

Infidel wrote:Please, let's not turn this into a theory thread. We've already seen many many theory threads. This thread is supposed to be an experience thread. Let's not muddy the water and encourage the thread to lose its focus.


This.
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Re: Heisig, RTK Experiment

Postby Dustin » Thu 11.27.2008 5:43 am

Infidel wrote:Please, let's not turn this into a theory thread. We've already seen many many theory threads. This thread is supposed to be an experience thread. Let's not muddy the water and encourage the thread to lose its focus.

Thanks :D

All is still going well too....
I am in the midst of moving *ugh* so my progress is a little slower right now :p
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Re: Heisig, RTK Experiment

Postby epokw » Sun 12.07.2008 11:42 am

Wow, you're going at lightning speed :shock:

I finished Heisig in 2.5 months myself, now I've been out in the wild, I've learnt how to read ~700 kanji in just one week shy of two months (started Heisig July 25, finished October 16) :D Heisig definitely can only help your Japanese, I'm surprised how many people are against it...

It was 5 months ago since I started learning Japanese, I never in the world would've though I could learn 700 kanji by the end of the year, let alone have an expectation as high as 1,000.

Blegh, I'm bragging, this is your thread, good luck :lol:

Yudan Taiteki wrote:From what I've seen in the past, the beginning of RTK goes much more quickly than the later parts.


Depends on the person. I personally felt like giving up at around the 400 - 999 area, but just looking at traditional methods made me go "Yeah, uhm. No." Hitting 1,000 gave me a huge boost of energy and my retention was at its highest (~92%). The motivation was almost gone by 1,300. I just kept pushing myself.

The huge surge of energy came back at around 1,500; I finished the last 500 in two weeks at 60-100 a day, I bought myself cake :mrgreen:

Basically: the beginning is great, middle sucks, ending is the best.
Pro-tip: Don't give up at around a really high number like 1,700. You'll be surprised at how useful the last few are :lol:
Last edited by epokw on Sun 12.07.2008 12:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Heisig, RTK Experiment

Postby richvh » Sun 12.07.2008 12:04 pm

epokw wrote:Wow, you're going at lightning speed :shock:

I finished Heisig in 2.5 months myself, now I've been out in the wild, I've learnt how to read ~700 kanji in just one week shy of two months (started Heisig July 25, finished October 16) :D Heisig definitely can only help your Japanese, I'm surprised how many people are against it...

It was 5 months ago since I started learning Japanese, I never in the world would've though I could learn 700 kanji by the end of the year, let alone have an expectation as high as 1,000.

Blegh, I'm bragging, this is your thread, good luck :lol:

それ程多くの漢字が読めるのなら、この文章を読んで分かると思います。それとも、「漢字」だけが読めて、「言葉」や「文章」が読めないのでしょうか。
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Re: Heisig, RTK Experiment

Postby epokw » Sun 12.07.2008 12:18 pm

richvh wrote:
epokw wrote:Wow, you're going at lightning speed :shock:

I finished Heisig in 2.5 months myself, now I've been out in the wild, I've learnt how to read ~700 kanji in just one week shy of two months (started Heisig July 25, finished October 16) :D Heisig definitely can only help your Japanese, I'm surprised how many people are against it...

It was 5 months ago since I started learning Japanese, I never in the world would've though I could learn 700 kanji by the end of the year, let alone have an expectation as high as 1,000.

Blegh, I'm bragging, this is your thread, good luck :lol:

それ程多くの漢字が読めるのなら、この文章を読んで分かると思います。それとも、「漢字」だけが読めて、「言葉」や「文章」が読めないのでしょうか。

Can you read so many characters, you can read and understand this sentence. Or... you can read the kanji, but cannot read the words or sentence?


Sorry, my Japanese still isn't very proficient, but I think I got the gist of your post, so I wrote down what I think you said just so you know what I'm replying to :P

To answer; I was able to read every single kanji compound in that sentence and I understood every word, just putting it together in a sentence was the hard bit, I'm not sure if it's right either :lol:

But now you make me question what 文章 means, I thought it meant writing/writing style >_>
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