Study the Japanese characters with James Heisig’s “Remembering the Kanji” method, and review with kanji flashcards. In the book these kanji are taught using stories. These kanji are learned the fastest if you read the book as well. Warning: in many cases the key meanings in . Thinking about writing a flashcard program with this index data? Take a look at Reviewing the Kanji. This is the site I use for my own Heisig studies.

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Learn how to learn Heiwig with Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji and a study method that makes the most out of visual memory. Kanji is one of the toughest parts of learning Japanese. How to learn Kanji? That is a question all students of Japanese will have to tackle.

There are many popular resources for learning Kanji such as Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji. A few weeks ago I reached the halfway point of Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji. Throughout the course of my kanji studies with this book I have refined my study ueisig.

I have now reached a point where I have found a method that works well for me and lets me make the most out of Heisig’s book. I will share my method and along the way discuss some of the weaknesses and strengths of Heisig’s method along with how I reached this point.

I didn’t start studying kanji from Heisig’s book. This was a fairly intensive four hours a week class that made me fall in love with studying Japanese.

Since it was an introductory class, we only studied these 25 kanjibut this was enough to get me started on the “Georgia Tech” method of studying kanji, which is probably what you will see at most college level Japanese courses. After we thoroughly studied hiragana and katakana we started studying kanji. Every week a few kanji would be introduced with a kanji homework which consists of writing each character around eight times and then working through some sentences where you have to add the readings in hiragana to the new kanji and write the correct kanji for some hiragana.

It was quite embarrassing to not get them right in front of the class; that provided a good incentive to study. We would also do pair work in which would sit down next to a partner and each one would hold two different versions of the same sheet.

James W. Heisig – Remembering the Kanji 1

With the sheets, we would quiz each other on the kanji. Again, it was quite embarrassing to not get the kanji with your classmate, so the social pressure helped with studying. It was also fun and helpful to work together. Finally, we would be quizzed individually on the kanji we had studied. The quizzes were similar to the homework and easily doable if you had studied enough time. I wanted to get a nice sticker from Matsushima Sensei so I studied hard.

This method was fun and made me feel happy and proud. Since I was a little boy I had always been enthralled by the mysterious kanji and now I was able to write and understand a few them. This method gave me solid progress, but there were also some terrible realizations. Will it really take me this long to learn kanji?! I will never become fluent in Japanese!!? According to the Georgia Tech syllabi, after studying Japanese for five semesters I would only know about kanji.

Would it also take me twelve years to become literate in Japanese?!

Heisig Kanji Index

Furthermore, I realized that I was quickly forgetting how to write the kanji I had worked so hard to memorize, and I wasn’t the only one. I saw how most of my classmates would also forget the kanji we had previously studied. I tried to ksnji this first by creating my own flashcards for Ankia flashcards software based on spaced repetition heissig, to review the kanji I had learned in class.


My retention improved dramatically after doing this, but it was terribly painful to memorize the kanji. I had to do constant reviews to not forget the kanji and my pace for learning new kanji was glacial.

Then I found out about Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji. Although there are several methods similar to Heisig’s method, such as Kanji DamageHeisig was one of the first to publish this kind of approach to learning kanji. The premise is captivating; learn kanji in months instead of years. Instead of learning the kanji by rote memorization, Heisig invites us to create short story plots using as elements of the plots the parts that make up the kanji that we are learning.

All in One Kanji Deck (Heisig’s RTK Order)

Kanjo of memorizing a seemingly random assortment of lines, we memorize the following story. Another radical departure from more traditional methods is the order in which it teaches kanji. For that reason, instead of teaching kanji by order of usefulness or frequency, we learn them in a logical order in which we unlock entire families of kanji as we slowly learn more about the elements that make up each kanji.

It is also important to note what this method doesn’t teach. With this method we don’t attempt to manji how to read these kanji or how to make up actual Japanese words with them. We heidig learn one basic meaning, e. You heidig wonder if this is useful at all. The usefulness depends on your goals.

If you are aiming for an advanced level in Japanese you will need to achieve literacy, and to achieve literacy you need to learn the kanji. This method will put you in a powerful position to tackle real kanji literacy, which means being able to read them. Perhaps you have never encountered this heisog, but if you know that the first kanji means fall and the second one means leaves, you will be able to figure out the meaning of the word without looking at the dictionary.

Now you can also easily memorize this new word by remembering that in Janji postcards are leaves with writing. This is just one example of the powers that learning kanji with Heisig will give you. If you haven’t introduced any form of SRS into your language studies I highly recommended it. It structures your studies, hacks your brain to increase your memory and keeps you motivated by measuring your progress.

With Anki, I would study between four or five new cards every day with one kanji on each card and review the kanji as Anki gave me review heisit. For each review, I would write the kanji by hand using correct stroke order. Writing the kanji using the correct stroke order while reviewing is essential.

Learning the correct stroke order might heisog like a nuisance at first, but it will systematize how you write the kanji thus making them easier to write. Eventually, stroke order will become intuitive and it won’t become something you need to memorize anymore, instead, it will help you recall how to write kanji when you are writing them.

heisug Often I think I forgot how to write a kanji and once I start writing it the rest flows out my hand as if it were deeply ingrained in some primitive part of my brain. I believe stroke order is a part of making that happen.

Writing the kanji by hand, even if you are not interested in mastering handwriting, is also important for learning the differences in the kanji. Writing practice is something I have kept in my studies as of today, but there are many parts of my method which I have discarded or changed. At the slightest mistake, I would mark flashcards as forgotten on Anki.


This made my heusig way too slow. Another constant road block was the often cited problem that many of the Heisig keywords, the meanings you learn for each kanji on the book, are often very vague and quite similar to each other. This often turned my studies into a game of remembering useless things such as ways to distinguish two very similar keywords so that I could recall the precise kanji for that keyword.

This made me lose motivation since it didn’t give me real value. The heisg of Heisig’s method doesn’t come from remembering all the keywords. It comes from being able to dissect most kanji you meet into its components and thus making them easier to read, understand and write.

This opens the door to something even more important, the improved ability to acquire vocabulary. When you meet new words they will be easier to remember, because you can recognize the kanji the word consists of and use those facts for memorizing the word.

Deciding to focus on this aspect, I changed my method. I now see around 8 new kanji a day. This is still slow, but it is a heosig I am comfortable with and with which I can stay consistent.

All in One Kanji Deck (Heisig’s RTK Order, 6th edition) – AnkiWeb

I have tried going faster but then the reviews get too long and tiring. If instead, I limit the reviews kaji I have trouble learning the kanji. I do now limit the reviews to 16 a day, but with this amount of new kanji, it is enough. This practice takes around 20 to 30 minutes a day. I have managed to get to this speed while still doing the writing practice by adding images to the keywords.

The images greatly aid in my recall and I no longer have the issue of the keywords that are hard to differentiate. The images I chose act as visual representations of the stories.

They help me remember the stories and the stories make me remember the kanji. I even use the images to help me write. When I am writing, I recall the image in my mind and then everything comes into place and I can write the kanji.

Finally, I have stopped being a perfectionist. Instead of settings flashcards as forgotten at the slightest mistake, I would only mark the card as “hard” on Anki and add a star to it. When a card with a star comes back on a review, if I fail again to recall it then I do set it as forgotten. Could I go even faster? If I followed Heisig’s recommendation and focused only on learning the kanji, I would be able to finish this book in a matter of months.

The reality is that although I have fun with this method if this all the studying I did I would get bored and quit. If I were learning Japanese from scratch and I wasn’t taking a class I would then consider focusing exclusively on studying this book. Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji is not for everyone, but any serious Japanese learner should at least give it a try. Even if you don’t stick with the method, it will get you on a path of finding what works for you for learning kanji.

Language learning is hard; you don’t only have to learn the language itself, you have to learn how to learn it. If you decide to give Heisig’s Method a try, combine the keywords with images and review with real writing practice but without being a perfectionist.

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