- Paperback: 460 pages
- Publisher: University of Hawaii Press; 5 edition (May 1, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0824831659
- ISBN-13: 978-0824831653
- Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 76 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #681,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Remembering the Kanji, Vol. 1: A Complete Course on How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Japanese Characters 5th Edition
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About the Author
James W. Heisig is professor and permanent research fellow at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture in Nagoya.
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As a student of Japanese, you eventually have to learn kanji; however, it's something that many of us are afraid of. You may have had thoughts like these:
"The scribbles mean nothing to me, and I can't remember them after a few days! Okay, go back and write it 1000 times again, and maybe it'll stick? When will I learn at least 2000? When I'm 50 years old?"
I used to have thoughts like these too. But not anymore.
It's all because of my experiences with the book, Remembering the Kanji, Vol 1. by James Heisig.
Using the power of imaginative memory, you can learn what he calls primitive elements and associate them with an English key word, and a "story." More complex kanji are themselves built up from other primitives and also have stories associated with them.
When you want to recall a kanji, you would use an SRS (another post to explain that will be written soon) and go from the English keyword, recalling the primitives and their related"story", and finally, you would write it out.
The method might seem a bit unorthodox, but it is really effective and makes sense when he tells you that he puts you on the same level playing field as Chinese and Korean students of Japanese who know how to write kanji, and their meanings, but don't know the Japanese readings.
What about the readings? Why shouldn't you learn it all at once? Well, it's all about divide and conquer. Heisig starts with the simpler of the two, which is writing and meaning. Once you've got that, you can then tackle the issue of compounds, on'yomi, kun'yomi, etc. Also, kanji in the real world, rarely, if ever, stands alone: they combine with others in manga, on billboards, etc. and it's a lot more fun to learn by consuming native media that you enjoy (movies, games, etc.)
Does it work? Based on my experience and many others (see the forums at Reviewing the Kanji [...] and [...]), I'd say it does. I'm currently at 1047 kanji, with about a 95% - 99% retention rate when I'm doing my daily SRS reps. 2000+, here I come!
I am of the opinion that learning any language requires multiple directions of attack - building vocabulary, practicing conversation, learning to read and write both formally as well as paying attention to non-formal (colloquial) forms of communication like television and magazines. In that context, I have heard from westerners that the Chinese characters used in the Japanese language appear insurmountable - meaning they question how someone can learn to read and write such a complex system compared to the meager 26 characters of the English writing system. This book provides the single most efficient system for overcoming this obstacle that I have ever seen. Not only that, but I feel the author did it with a stroke of genius. The characters are covered in a progressive manner, teaching radicals and then the associated characters so that student hardly comes across a character that contains radicals that have not been learned. It honestly amazes me that this book is not used more in formal education as it is far more efficient than the incredibly weak approach used when I took college Japanese.
I also recommend to students of languages that they look for books on improving memory such as those by Harry Lorayne to provide methods for learning and retaining vocabulary.
Ultimately im learning how to write it and the meaning of it faster than if i tried to combine all 3 write, meaning, say. Best to memorize how to write it and the meaning then go back and learn how to say it instead of getting overloaded trying to memorize all 3 things on ever kanji.
I wrote down 52 kanji from lesson 1 to the end of 4 in english on a paper. Every morning i place the paper next to me and read, ricefield and think how do i write that? then write it down on a different paper that is if i remember if i didnt remember id write on another paper in english what i couldnt remember writing so i could study it later. Today i didnt miss a single one Woohoo!! If i was really into studying more often id probably have more kanji under my belt by now, already have some of lesson 5 memorized and i havent studied that lesson as much as the first 4.
I am gonna keep using this book and hopefully learn more kanji, feel free to follow my example of writing, at first i just got a blank paper and tried to remember all the kanji without the english words just dipping to my memory and dragging out what i could find, that was a big mistake on my part never worked out well like that hahaha so dont do what i did there do what im doing now tho if u want.