Taking the world less travelled

Slogging Through The Kanji

Posted by on Jan 11, 2009 in Language | 4 comments

Remembering the Kanji

Well, I’m currently slogging through Remembering the Kanji. Tonight I am hoping to add about 30-40 kanji into anki, right now I am up to kanji number 709. I’m in the middle of a 130 kanji chapter which is hard going because there are so many (sometimes it is easy to confuse them when you are just solidifying them in your mind), but easy because there are so many (and thus there is lots of repetition of common elements). I’m looking forward to hopefully reaching 1000 kanji soon, about the half way mark!!!

Why this, why now? I want to keep up my language learning now that I’ve graduated from university. I want to move to the next level with my japanese but I feel like one thing is holding me back at the moment: My kanji ability. So, once again, I’m plowing through Remembering the Kanji.

My Process

Flash Cards – The Initial Creation Process

A long time ago I printed out a whole heep of flash cards for Remembering the Kanji from a fantastic website called Polar Cloud. So in a folder I have a lot of uncut kanji just waiting for me. At the moment I am in the middle of cutting out a few sheets into flash cards (cards 709 – 755 tonight).

I actually enjoy this process. While it would be horrible to cut them out all at once (the cards then would be harder to store, etc….) it is sort of fun to do a bit of cutting. You can explore these unknown kanji while you do so, perhaps already thinking up stories, but more likely going “what the hell is that?!?!”

After they are cut out, with my book in hand, I head over to Reviewing the Kanji website. Here I will look at the stories others have made up and look at the book to read Heisig’s notes.

Once I have a story I’ll do two things:-

  • write the story (often a shorter version!) in pencil on the back of my flash cards. In pencil because sometimes the story needs tweeking or a complete overhall.
  • put the kanji info and story into anki

Usually, like now, this happens at night time. So, after this, it’ll be bed for me!

The Learning Process

Now, what I will do is take my flash cards and have them in my pocket. Walking to the bus stop, sitting on the toilet, at lunch… there are many opportunities to go through them! Often it wont be just the new ones but ones from a couple of days ago too that I am still working to really build a foundation in my head. I do both sides of the cards, from the kanji to keyword (not really worried about getting this one right, but just more of a good look at the kanji, see what elements are in them, and how it is put together, then turning over to remind of keyword and story), and of course keyword to kanji, reading through both the keyword and the story before turning it over.

The Review Process

Then, at night, it’s back to anki. At the moment I’m getting about 200 cards to review a day. Not sure if it is going to get worse or easier, or stay around this number!!! I admit, I often get many wrong, but I find that it is the review process that helps get it in my mind. And if I am constantly getting kanji wrong, then I know I need to focus more on these particular ones.

My approach is more of a head first barge into it. I have faith that I will eventually come to perfect the kanji through other complimenting studies, right now I just want to get through this stepping stone as quickly as I can so I can move on. Although, even when I am through the book, I expect that I will continue to review in anki for quite a while!


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  1. 2nihon

    Cool, good job on RTK! It takes a while to get through RTK, but I hear that it’s very much worth the effort.

  2. Alyks

    Wow, you’re nice and neat with your stories. I was really sloppy. I made up all my own mnemonics and never bothered to write them down. I never refined them, either. I focused entirely on getting as much as I could as fast as I could into Anki.

    My reviews actually got up to 300+ a day after some point, but I was also doing 50 a day.

    Good luck.

  3. M-Kat

    Ihave t say you hit my feelings right on the nail. I just graduated from college and I am so behind on my Japanese.. I forgot a lot of things since I stopped taking classes and now I want to get back into it so I don’t end up a beginner once more.

    I know the thing holding me back though is Kanji.. So I downloaded Anki as well and am currently trying to get myself to use the cards. It;s so hard with all my other things going on day to day but… glad to know there are others out there who feel the same way at times!

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