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Success with Heisig?

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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby leosmith » Sun 08.01.2010 1:14 pm

nukemarine wrote:Be wary of anyone that offers extreme opinions on this matter

Good advice but I find
nukemarine wrote:RTK the book is not that great

to be somewhat extreme. Paper flashcards worked well for me. Also, someone might read this, go borrow the anki deck and skip buying the book altogether.
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby TJack » Sun 08.01.2010 1:57 pm

Leosmith, I find it highly offensive that you would call AJBryant "uneducated" just because he doesn't believe that the Heisig's method works, or that he believes a different route of learning Kanji is better. He is one of the most intelligent people on this board, and his method is a sound one if you take a moment to step back and actually think what he is saying.

In fact, right now, I'm using a small element of the Heisig's method in conjunction with AJBryant's method. I disliked the fact about the Heisig's method that the more common kanjis appeared in the thousands, for example 食 comes up #1472 while I believe it should be in the top hundred or two hundred kanjis a student should learn, while kanji's like 亘 and 胆 appear very early on. It doesn't help the student at all for him/her to learn such obscure kanjis while such useful ones don't appear until later on.

And that's where AJBryant's method shines: he suggest to learn kanji when you stumble upon them, not in some arbitrary manner as Heisig's. The two kanjis in 新聞 don't come up until the 1500's in Heisig's method, but using the method of learning kanjis as you go, these two very important kanjis will be learned early on.

That way, a student can still learn Japanese grammar while learning the kanji, and learn kanji compounds to boot, instead of learning kanji in a bubble, like Heisig suggests.
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby leosmith » Sun 08.01.2010 5:04 pm

TJack wrote:Leosmith, I find it highly offensive that you would call AJBryant "uneducated" just because he doesn't believe that the Heisig's method works, or that he believes a different route of learning Kanji is better.

I didn't call AJBryant "uneducated" just because he believes a different route of learning Kanji is better.

And I'm not familiar with his method. But if the relevant issue is learning the kanji when he encountered them, I did that too. In fact, I bet I did essentially everything he did, plus heisig. The debate is whether or not it saves time to use heisig. To debate anything else on this issue shows a lack of understanding.

The heisig method is simply a technique for enabling the user to write a kanji given an english keyword. "The heisig method doesnt work" means it won't enable you to write a kanji given an english keyword.
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby miho-sempai » Sun 08.01.2010 5:27 pm

leosmith wrote:The heisig method is simply a technique for enabling the user to write a kanji given an english keyword. "The heisig method doesnt work" means it won't enable you to write a kanji given an english keyword.


I think one thing here to note is that AJBryant's method doesn't "teach" you to connect a kanji to an English "meaning". It's been noted before that the English keywords don't totally reflect the meanings of the actual kanji, as much as some kanji have meanings.

That's one issue with Heisig in my eyes - it can cause bad habits for new learners and have them trying to "connect" everything to its English equivalents - learning them in context makes it easier to learn them for what they are - Japanese words, not English equivalents.

(Disclaimer : I have not done RTK and don't plan to since learning 2000 kanji without being able to use them seems frustrating to me. I learn them through words/context.)
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby furrykef » Sun 08.01.2010 6:50 pm

TJack wrote:Leosmith, I find it highly offensive that you would call AJBryant "uneducated" just because he doesn't believe that the Heisig's method works

I have to agree here; that had a little more sting to it than was warranted. It has a little less sting when you realize leosmith meant uneducated about RTK, but I think AJByrant is hardly uneducated about that, either -- it's still calling him ignorant, just in a more specific area. But let's just chalk it up to unfortunate wording and leave it behind us.

TJack wrote:and his method is a sound one if you take a moment to step back and actually think what he is saying.

This, however, I must disagree with. :lol: I've already given my arguments for why I think his method, at least on its own, is unsound, and your post did not address them. Your post suggested the use of some kind of traditional/Heisig hybrid, but it gives little insight as to how it works, so I can't really comment on it.
Last edited by furrykef on Wed 08.04.2010 2:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby TJack » Sun 08.01.2010 7:49 pm

I was going to write a wall o' text about the Heisig's method, but I just don't have the energy right now. :whistle:

furrykef wrote:
TJack wrote:wrote: and his method is a sound one if you take a moment to step back and actually think what he is saying.

This, however, I must disagree with. :lol: I've already given my arguments for why I think his method, at least on its own, is unsound, and your post did not address them. Your post suggested the use of some kind of traditional/Heisig hybrid, but it gives little insight as to how it works, so I can't really comment on it.


Well, I'm not so sure it's a hybrid, but I took Heisig's method of breaking up the kanji with learning the kanji as I go. I worked on RTK for about the first 600 kanjis, but stopped after I realized that I still would have to learn 2000 or so words with the kanji plus the pronunciation, so I stopped using it.

I decided the best way to learn kanji was to learn the kanji with the words I already know, and the ones I encounter online or in a book. I knew words like ざっし and きっさてん but I'd always mess up reading 雑誌 and 喫茶店. But with the idea of breaking up the kanji, they weren't so hard to remember anymore. I think it has to do with the fact that I'm not remember the gestalt of the kanji, but just each part of the kanji (just like Heisig's method). However, I dropped the pictures with the meanings, because I was afraid that I would "contaminate" the meaning of the kanji with the basic picture (Like mixing dog or sun with the kanji 墓, cemetery).

So to take an example you brought up earlier, 郵便局 I was able to remember all three kanjis easily by breaking it each kanji up into two or three parts. And these were three kanji's I always had problems with, but I learned them in about a day or so. I'm someone who can write out a kanji 20 or 30 times until I might have only a 50% chance of retaining them (経済 gave me a lot of trouble, especially for being such a simple kanji)

And sometime that surprised me was that I still had the benefit of knowing if a part of the kanji was missing, without having to make mental pictures of it like with RTK. When I was practicing 喫, I forgot to write in 口 in the top left, but I knew it was missing something, even if I didn't have a mental image to go by. Normally, if I forgot a part of a kanji, I wouldn't even think it was missing something, and go "d'oh" when I looked back at my book to check it.
____________
(I suppose I'm going to write a wall of text anyways :lol: )

I have a question for you furrykef, why is Tony's method so bad? I mean, I know you said there is a lot of information to learn, but if one practices with the kanji/word a lot, one is bound to remember them. Isn't it better to learn the words and the kanji when you find them in a book or game, rather than learning kanji in a bubble? Not only will you learn new words, but learn words that are common, or at least not very obscure. (This is one of the reasons I absolutely disliked Heisig's method: learning gall bladder as one of your first kanjis :roll: )

I guess I don't see learning the kanji with the pronunciation as a huge obstacle. I don't really have a problem learning new words, but usually just the kanji themselves.

But if the Heisig's method is right for you, then I'd say you probably worked on other methods and found this one to be perfect for you, just like not everyone learns using only visual clues, but with physical or audible senses.
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby furrykef » Mon 08.02.2010 5:52 am

TJack wrote:I have a question for you furrykef, why is Tony's method so bad?

I don't think it's "bad" per se, but the principles behind Heisig are at least partially corroborated by research (even if it isn't research on Heisig per se), whereas the best we've got so far on Tony's method is anecdotal evidence.

Of course, to really get to the bottom of this, we'd need to do some controlled experiments, but that requires people, time, and money...
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby leosmith » Wed 08.04.2010 12:44 pm

miho-sempai wrote:I think one thing here to note is that AJBryant's method doesn't "teach" you to connect a kanji to an English "meaning".

Does that mean someone studying his method will not know a character's approximate meanings? While it's not necessary to create an english keyword when you learn kanji, it's a good thing to know what a kanji means, and knowing it doesn't make it harder to read. Japanese people will be able to tell you the meanings of kanji, so one of your many Japanese language goals should be to know that information too.

Could you please post a link to his method? I'm curious about it, and it's nice to know what we're discussing.

miho-sempai wrote:That's one issue with Heisig in my eyes - it can cause bad habits for new learners and have them trying to "connect" everything to its English equivalents

I don't know exactly what you mean here - could you give a clear example of what you think a new learner would do wrong? I think I've heard this argument before, and it indicates a lack of understanding about mnemonics. Like other mnemonics, the part that's not being used disappears, or remains in the background.

furrykef wrote:It has a little less sting when you realize TJack meant uneducated

I think you meant leosmith instead of TJack.

TJack wrote:and his method is a sound one if you take a moment to step back and actually think what he is saying.

furrykef wrote:This, however, I must disagree with

Why would you disagree with learning kanji in context? Again, I apologize for not knowing the specifics of his method, but learning kanji in context is clearly the more common way to do it, and has produced more fluent readers.

TJack wrote:I decided the best way to learn kanji was to learn the kanji with the words I already know, and the ones I encounter online or in a book. I knew words like ざっし and きっさてん but I'd always mess up reading 雑誌 and 喫茶店. But with the idea of breaking up the kanji, they weren't so hard to remember anymore. I think it has to do with the fact that I'm not remember the gestalt of the kanji, but just each part of the kanji (just like Heisig's method). However, I dropped the pictures with the meanings, because I was afraid that I would "contaminate" the meaning of the kanji with the basic picture (Like mixing dog or sun with the kanji 墓, cemetery).

Let me see if I have this right. You know the kana for 喫茶店, so then you use the heisig technique to learn the individual kanji. If you had stopped there, I'd say that's great, that's exactly what I do with Mandarin, and it works very well. I have a background with Heisig already, but so do you, so it sounds good to me.

But you didn't stop there. You said you don't use "pictures with the meanings". That's where you lost me. What does that mean? And are you using an english keyword?
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby furrykef » Wed 08.04.2010 2:29 pm

Why would you disagree with learning kanji in context?

I already made a post about that earlier in the thread, whose points have still gone largely unaddressed.

Moreover, it's not the idea of "learning kanji through context" I disagree with. What I disagree with is learning them solely through context and the idea "studying kanji in isolation in any way is bad", an idea that Tony holds rather firmly. He'd probably slap your wrist with a ruler for saying you're learning kanji in isolation if he could get away with it, even if you augment that with in-context methods.
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby TJack » Wed 08.04.2010 2:34 pm

leosmith wrote:Let me see if I have this right. You know the kana for 喫茶店, so then you use the heisig technique to learn the individual kanji. If you had stopped there, I'd say that's great, that's exactly what I do with Mandarin, and it works very well. I have a background with Heisig already, but so do you, so it sounds good to me.

But you didn't stop there. You said you don't use "pictures with the meanings". That's where you lost me. What does that mean? And are you using an english keyword?


Let me clarify, I stopped using Heisig's method, as in, I stopped following the book and the pictures that he used to make up the kanji (Like setting 大 as a Saint Bernard) However, I kept the idea of mentally breaking up a kanji into parts to help me with the kanji.

So for the kanji 喫 I mentally thought the kanji as being made up of 口,刀,大 etc. but I dropped the mental image of a mouth, sword and dog for the kanji and making a story for it. I found out it was just as easy to remember the kanji by breaking up the picture, without having to add a little story to it.

I might look on an online dictionary to check a definition for a kanji, for instance, I looked up 喫 to see it defined as ingest, but I don't spend my time equating these two, and instead spend my time to learn more compounds using this kanji.

Edit:

furrykef wrote:Moreover, it's not the idea of "learning kanji through context" I disagree with. What I disagree with is learning them solely through context and the idea "studying kanji in isolation in any way is bad", an idea that Tony holds rather firmly. He'd probably slap your wrist with a ruler for saying you're learning kanji in isolation if he could get away with it, even if you augment that with in-context methods.


I have a feeling that I'm confusing Tony's method :blush: ...isn't it the method of learning kanji/compounds when you see them, like in a book, game, or whatever, instead of learning them isolated like in the Heisig's method? That way, the kanji you learn will be in a sentence, and that you'll know if they are used a lot?
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby furrykef » Wed 08.04.2010 3:47 pm

Yeah, that's pretty much what Tony says. What makes you confused?
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby leosmith » Wed 08.04.2010 4:30 pm

furrykef wrote:I already made a post about that earlier in the thread, whose points have still gone largely unaddressed.

Sorry about that. Here's me addressing it.

furrykef wrote:New information is easier to digest when it's in bite-sized chunks. There is research to support this, for example, the research that went into SuperMemo.

Actually I think there are 2 things going on here from a memory standpoint.

On the one hand, you are right - small chunks are easier. For example, it's easier to 1) memorize how to write a kanji given its keyword than it is to 2) memorize how to write a kanji given its keyword or yomi and memorize its readings. I think the only thing supermemo suggested that has relevance to this is keeping questions and answers simple in flashcards (for example, not having flashcards with multiple answers), but please tell me if I'm wrong.

On the other hand, with heisig, the only thing the kanji is linked to is the keyword. It eventually needs to be linked to all its readings, all its meanings, and all compounds made with it. Heisig users have to link things up later, by using essentially the same study methods as non-users. Learning kanji in context creates the links from the beginning.

furrykef wrote:Heisig breaks the kanji down into simple parts and it makes sure to give you the simple parts before constructing monsters like 感 out of them. Learning the kanji from context doesn't facilitate this very well, because very common words will tend to come up before uncommon words with simpler kanji.

You have pointed out one of the major advantages of the heisig method. Non-users will certainly have to do more grunt work with the individual kanji than users. They'll typically have to write characters many times. But it does work, of course.

furrykef wrote:I have trouble memorizing new words. Not how to write them in kanji, which presents relatively few difficulties, just the words. This is despite learning complete sentences -- surely that is "in context" enough -- rather than individual words in isolation. (I've tried individual words in isolation, too. It's just as bad.) I've long held the feeling -- and I may soon act on it -- that if I had a better grasp of the onyomi of kanji, I would at least learn new onyomi words much more easily. It's all about bite-sized chunks.

I'm going to assume you mean something like
Q: Hey, what's the word for death by overwork, which you heard for the first time yesterday?
furrykef: I don't remember.
What are you doing differently now from what you did earlier in your studies? Because you learned lots of new vocabulary early on, right? You didn't know the yomi then, so not knowing them now shouldn't make a difference. My best guess is that you spend too much time on forums. You don't read, speak, write or listen enough. You don't look up many words, and don't put much new words into anki. Oh, and I see you are like me - learning several languages at once. Don't expect huge progress when you do this - I've been studying Japanese for 5 years now, but my progress is frustratingly slow. If it was my only language, it would be a different story. Sorry if I guessed wrong.

furrykef wrote:Moreover, it's not the idea of "learning kanji through context" I disagree with. What I disagree with is learning them solely through context and the idea "studying kanji in isolation in any way is bad"

Got it. Well, all Japanese and Chinese study characters in isolation, as well as in context, so if he truly believes that...
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby leosmith » Wed 08.04.2010 4:50 pm

TJack wrote:for the kanji 喫 I mentally thought the kanji as being made up of 口,刀,大 etc. but I dropped the mental image of a mouth, sword and dog for the kanji and making a story for it. I found out it was just as easy to remember the kanji by breaking up the picture, without having to add a little story to it.

So you see 喫 and think "hmm, it's made up of that boxy thing, that double-barbed thing..etc. And you'll remember how to draw it and how to recognize it based on that? If that's the case, your memory is better than mine because that would only work on some characters. When I read a character enough, I can automatically draw it out too, but that takes a lot of reading. In the interim I need a memory hook - heisig.

TJack wrote:I might look on an online dictionary to check a definition for a kanji, for instance, I looked up 喫 to see it defined as ingest, but I don't spend my time equating these two, and instead spend my time to learn more compounds using this kanji.

If that's enough for you to remember it's approximate meanings, that's fine. For me, it wouldn't be enough.

So basically, your method wouldn't work for me.
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby furrykef » Wed 08.04.2010 10:17 pm

leosmith wrote:My best guess is that you spend too much time on forums. You don't read, speak, write or listen enough. You don't look up many words, and don't put much new words into anki. Oh, and I see you are like me - learning several languages at once. Don't expect huge progress when you do this - I've been studying Japanese for 5 years now, but my progress is frustratingly slow. If it was my only language, it would be a different story. Sorry if I guessed wrong.


I am learning several languages at once, but as of late I've focused only on two (Latin and Japanese) -- I've already mastered written Spanish enough that I don't have to actively study it anymore, and I only play with Italian when I'm bored or frustrated with the others (which, lately, has not been very often).

I've also never had this vocabulary problem with any other language... at first I did with Latin, but things 'clicked' soon enough and now learning Latin is as easy as learning any other language. (I'm starting Caesar, even!) Yet I've not invested nearly as much time into Latin as I have into Japanese.

My Japanese is starting to improve, though. The other day I finally got a copy of Genki I and found that I actually knew pretty much everything in it, even the vocabulary. Sure, there's a few new words, but not too many. I've had several other pleasant discoveries like this recently, too (like finding I can understand more text in video games than I expect to). I think by now I could probably pass JLPT N4 (JLPT3 on the old scale) without much difficulty -- there are some words for that level on jlptstudy.com that I don't know, but I probably know (or can infer the meaning of) 90% or so. It seems to me I've finally broken past whatever barrier's been holding me back and I can proceed at full speed. I don't expect it to last, but I think JLPT N3 or even N2 by this time next year is doable. :)
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby yukamina » Wed 08.04.2010 11:57 pm

TJack wrote: Not only will you learn new words, but learn words that are common, or at least not very obscure. (This is one of the reasons I absolutely disliked Heisig's method: learning gall bladder as one of your first kanjis :roll: )

胆 is used in a pretty common word(大胆), actually. But learning uncommon kanji before common ones isn't really a problem with RTK because you are supposed to finish the book before you get the benefit of it. It's not like a textbook or a grammar book or a dictionary, where you can take bits and pieces and make some use of that. There's not much native material you can read with, say, 150 of the most common kanji, anyway. There are graded readers and little kids books, but not everyone wants to be limited by kanji in that way. Being able to open a novel and not worry about "advanced" kanji, or be overwhelmed by kanji I've never seen before is very encouraging. I think old JLPT3 level knowledge + 2000 kanji meanings + ongoing grammar study is what I needed to start reading native materials and work my way to light novels.
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