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Success with Heisig?

Have a textbook or grammar book that you find particularly helpful? What about a learning tip to share with others?

Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby TJack » Thu 08.05.2010 1:25 am

yukamina wrote: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.


You know, the word you brought up pretty much shows why spending time with RTK isn't really as useful as it seems. Looking at 大胆, I thought it was "big gull bladder", and maybe having to do with a disease. However, looking it up in a dictionary, it comes up as bold and daring . Why spend time learning 胆 as gull bladder if it isn't going to help much anyways?

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 knowled"biging native materials and work my way to light novels.


While you are right, learning the uncommon kanji is just as important as learning the common kanji in the long run, I say that the point is moot because most beginners aren't going to be jumping into advanced novels anyways. One might know all the kanji, definition wise, but they aren't going to be able to read it and understand it fully without a (very) strong grammar base. I bet that most reading material that are aimed at beginners use much more common kanji than say kanji such as 吾、旭、or 凹 (Which are in the first 50 kanjis in RTK). Again, I'm not saying these kanji shouldn't be learned, but just saying that there are more kanjis that will be better to learn first than some of the kanjis that are presented in the beginning of RTK.
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby chikara » Thu 08.05.2010 2:31 am

TJack wrote:You know, the word you brought up pretty much shows why spending time with RTK isn't really as useful as it seems. Looking at 大胆, I thought it was "big gull bladder", and maybe having to do with a disease. However, looking it up in a dictionary, it comes up as bold and daring . Why spend time learning 胆 as gull bladder if it isn't going to help much anyways?
......

Gulls, like all birds with the exception ostriches, don't actually have a bladder. :P

Your gall bladder is part of your "guts" :)
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby furrykef » Thu 08.05.2010 2:59 am

TJack wrote:You know, the word you brought up pretty much shows why spending time with RTK isn't really as useful as it seems. Looking at 大胆, I thought it was "big gull bladder", and maybe having to do with a disease. However, looking it up in a dictionary, it comes up as bold and daring . Why spend time learning 胆 as gull bladder if it isn't going to help much anyways?

Heisig's method was never intended to allow you to guess the meaning of words from the kanji alone (though of course it does help you take a first stab at it sometimes), so using this example as a mark against it strikes me as a bit of a straw man argument. What Heisig is intended to do is allow you to mentally index the kanji. Think of it as building a database inside your brain. "Big + gall bladder" is considerably easier to remember than "Big + some weird kanji that consists of the 'moon' radical, the 'sun' radical, and a line under the sun radical." It has been very effective for me in this regard. Yeah, there are some words whose kanji I forget all the time, but that's gonna happen with any method. This still makes it a lot easier for me than it would be otherwise.
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby TJack » Thu 08.05.2010 12:23 pm

chikara wrote:
TJack wrote:You know, the word you brought up pretty much shows why spending time with RTK isn't really as useful as it seems. Looking at 大胆, I thought it was "big gull bladder", and maybe having to do with a disease. However, looking it up in a dictionary, it comes up as bold and daring . Why spend time learning 胆 as gull bladder if it isn't going to help much anyways?
......

Gulls, like all birds with the exception ostriches, don't actually have a bladder. :P

Your gall bladder is part of your "guts" :)


I can't believe I wrote gull instead of gall! Yeah, I meant gall bladder :lol: :sweatdrop:

furrykef wrote:Heisig's method was never intended to allow you to guess the meaning of words from the kanji alone (though of course it does help you take a first stab at it sometimes), so using this example as a mark against it strikes me as a bit of a straw man argument. What Heisig is intended to do is allow you to mentally index the kanji. Think of it as building a database inside your brain. "Big + gall bladder" is considerably easier to remember than "Big + some weird kanji that consists of the 'moon' radical, the 'sun' radical, and a line under the sun radical." It has been very effective for me in this regard. Yeah, there are some words whose kanji I forget all the time, but that's gonna happen with any method. This still makes it a lot easier for me than it would be otherwise.


So, the only point is to have this in your brain?:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... _Kanji.svg

And I want to bring up something I was thinking last night. No one tells a beginner French student "Hey, here's a French dictionary, remember it from front to back, and then you can study French", or a Physics teacher saying on the first day of school "here's the list of all the physics equations we are going to need for this year. Remember it all, and then we will begin our studies." Learning words or equations are done when you need them, not all at once just to get it over with. I don't understand why it would be different with kanji...
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby furrykef » Thu 08.05.2010 3:13 pm

TJack wrote:And I want to bring up something I was thinking last night. No one tells a beginner French student "Hey, here's a French dictionary, remember it from front to back, and then you can study French", or a Physics teacher saying on the first day of school "here's the list of all the physics equations we are going to need for this year. Remember it all, and then we will begin our studies."

I don't think this is a valid analogy. Heisig is useful because it breaks information into bite-sized chunks. With French vocabulary, or physics, everything is already broken into bite-sized chunks. They aren't "dense" in the way kanji is. Moreover, memorizing a French dictionary would do nothing to break down information into smaller chunks.
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby yukamina » Thu 08.05.2010 8:14 pm

TJack wrote:While you are right, learning the uncommon kanji is just as important as learning the common kanji in the long run, I say that the point is moot because most beginners aren't going to be jumping into advanced novels anyways. One might know all the kanji, definition wise, but they aren't going to be able to read it and understand it fully without a (very) strong grammar base. I bet that most reading material that are aimed at beginners use much more common kanji than say kanji such as 吾、旭、or 凹 (Which are in the first 50 kanjis in RTK). Again, I'm not saying these kanji shouldn't be learned, but just saying that there are more kanjis that will be better to learn first than some of the kanjis that are presented in the beginning of RTK.

What's all this talk about beginners? Sounds like remnants from past discussions... This topic isn't about how Heisig's method does or doesn't work only for beginners. The student could be (old)JLPT4 or 3 before they start RTK (well, I still consider this beginner). I think that's a better place to start myself, since they would already be familiar with the language, and they'd be at a better place to start using the kanji knowledge afterward. The point is that people who studied RTK have indeed had success after.

A lot of the uncommon kanji taught early on are useful for other reasons.
For example, I don't think I've really seen 吾 used except in the book title 吾輩は猫である. But, it is a useful kanji to learn early on because it is used in other more common kanji, like 悟(覚悟) and 語(言語). It also re-enforces the newly learned kanji 口 and 五. So while 吾 itself may not be used anytime soon, learning it early is worthwhile.
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby TJack » Thu 08.05.2010 10:41 pm

furrykef wrote:I don't think this is a valid analogy. Heisig is useful because it breaks information into bite-sized chunks. With French vocabulary, or physics, everything is already broken into bite-sized chunks. They aren't "dense" in the way kanji is. Moreover, memorizing a French dictionary would do nothing to break down information into smaller chunks.


The more I think about, the more I feel like we both are looking at the same thing but in a different way. I break up learning kanji into manageable chunks this way:
Image
I find that this is more my style, and more useful for me.

While you find this way of breaking it up better for you:
Image

In the end, we are both going to reach the same destination; just the different paths we take are suited for our own needs.

yukamina wrote:What's all this talk about beginners? Sounds like remnants from past discussions... This topic isn't about how Heisig's method does or doesn't work only for beginners. The student could be (old)JLPT4 or 3 before they start RTK (well, I still consider this beginner). I think that's a better place to start myself, since they would already be familiar with the language, and they'd be at a better place to start using the kanji knowledge afterward. The point is that people who studied RTK have indeed had success after.


I'm not sure where I got the beginner thing actually... I looked back at Heisig's mission statement, and he did say that RTK would be useful for any student regardless of their level of proficiency. I guess I assumed a beginner, because a intermediate or an advance student would probably have a good size kanji bank memorized already.
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby maboroshi638 » Thu 10.27.2011 10:06 am

Hi everyone,

I've just finished reading through your discussion about Heising's methods. And thought I should also give my two pennies worth to the discussion. :P
I must admit that I haven't had great success with the books myself. However, I do understand and like the idea behind the books. I think it is easier to remember things using mnemonics. Japanese isn't the first language I have studied and I can say from experience that I could often remember certain things from my studies due to mnemonics. Usually they did not make any sense to anyone not even myself as it could just be the context in which I leaned a sentence or some words; e.g. something funny happened the day I learned the sentence or words and somehow my brain automatically used it as a mnemonic.

My favourite example is the Japanese word aishiteru meaning "I love you".
Years ago when I told a friend about the word, she thought I had said " I shit on you". (It is a 100% true story!) :D This made me laugh so hard that I almost wet myself and I was giggling about it for days after. It may seem silly to some people, but do you know what, to this day I have never ever forgotten the meaning of this word.
I wasn't studying Japanese back then and I just happened to hear the word "aishiteru" somewhere and looked up the meaning. It was only years later that I started to seriously study Japanese and stumbled across this word again. And I knew straight away what it meant.

So, I do get where Heising is getting at with his books and method. But saying that I also agree with others in this discussion saying that you also remember through repetition. I think both methods are good and the right way. Afterall, there are no right or wrong ways of studying. Anything that helps you to improve and remember the material is the right way. I hope this makes sense :)
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby furrykef » Thu 10.27.2011 12:43 pm

maboroshi638 wrote:Afterall, there are no right or wrong ways of studying.

No right ways, maybe, but there are plenty of wrong ways. ;) Of course, I don't think Heisig is one of them.
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby Shiroisan » Thu 10.27.2011 10:04 pm

I'm definitely on the side that's... let's just say, highly skeptical of Heisig. I only fully know (all readings/compounds) of a few hundred kanji at the moment, as I'm not yet intermediate, but I will say that when I later tried heisig out, the kanji recall was far less instantaneous; On first glance I had to first translate through some pre-determined "overall English meaning", before getting to recall the japanese readings and words themselves. This is why I consider it a major waste of time. My advice would be to learn the kanji of the REAL word you are using, and then find out what it's alternate reading could possibly be. None of that info goes to waste.
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby micahcowan » Thu 10.27.2011 10:19 pm

For my part, I've had great success with Heisig. I have... a lot of complaints about particulars, but the bottom line is that it is the single biggest boost I ever got in my kanji studies. I can hardly say I "know" all the kanji, but I can say that I'm familiar with most of them, and can get a rough idea of quite a lot more of what I read, even if I still don't know many of the readings (which, however, has become much easier, now that the characters themselves, and many of their meanings, are familiar).

I've linked my review of it elsewhere, I think, but I'll put it up here too: http://www.japanesereader.com/2010/09/20/review-remembering-the-kanji-volume-1-by-james-w-heisig/. I think I did a pretty good job of treating both its strengths and its weaknesses (if I say so myself).
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby furrykef » Fri 10.28.2011 1:03 am

Shiroisan wrote:but I will say that when I later tried heisig out, the kanji recall was far less instantaneous; On first glance I had to first translate through some pre-determined "overall English meaning", before getting to recall the japanese readings and words themselves.


My experience with Heisig hasn't produced anything like this to my recollection. And I'm familiar with over 1200 kanji now. (By 'familiar' I mean I know not only the kanji's form but I know at least one word in which it appears. If we consider only form, I'm familiar with all 2199 kanji in RTK1 and the RTK1 supplement, plus a tiny handful that appear in neither.)

The only time I particularly associate kanji with their English meanings is when I'm learning new words, re-learning forgotten words, or trying to read a word that is unfamiliar (and since it's unfamiliar I'm sure I'd be stumbling even if I hadn't used Heisig).
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby Shiroisan » Fri 10.28.2011 2:52 am

furrykef wrote:
Shiroisan wrote:but I will say that when I later tried heisig out, the kanji recall was far less instantaneous; On first glance I had to first translate through some pre-determined "overall English meaning", before getting to recall the japanese readings and words themselves.


My experience with Heisig hasn't produced anything like this to my recollection. And I'm familiar with over 1200 kanji now. (By 'familiar' I mean I know not only the kanji's form but I know at least one word in which it appears. If we consider only form, I'm familiar with all 2199 kanji in RTK1 and the RTK1 supplement, plus a tiny handful that appear in neither.)

The only time I particularly associate kanji with their English meanings is when I'm learning new words, re-learning forgotten words, or trying to read a word that is unfamiliar (and since it's unfamiliar I'm sure I'd be stumbling even if I hadn't used Heisig).


How long have you been using heisig for? I didn't try for too long (as I got turned off the idea), which is why I feel like I only have the right to say highly skeptical. I'd probably have to invest more time to know for sure, but at the pace I'm currently/happily learning at, I'm too wary to go off course with something that didn't work out for me from the get go.
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby furrykef » Fri 10.28.2011 11:41 am

Well, I started on Heisig in 2008 and I still continue to drill my Heisig flash cards. Of course, by this point I don't have to drill very many every day... usually around 20-25.
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Re: Success with Heisig?

Postby micahcowan » Sat 10.29.2011 11:11 pm

I don't continue to drill. I've definitely lost some as a consequence, but I learn them back much more easily when I learn a word that contains one of the "forgotten" characters, due to having spent some time in the past drilling them, so it doesn't seem like too much of a loss.
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