Remembering the Kanji is a series of three volumes by James Heisig , intended to teach the 3, most frequent Kanji to students of the Japanese language. The series is available in English, Spanish and German. Remembering the Hanzi by the same author is intended to teach the most frequent Hanzi to students of the Chinese language. The method differs markedly from traditional rote-memorization techniques practiced in most courses.
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Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Updated to include the new kanji approved by the Japanese government in as "general-use" kanji, the sixth edition of this popular text aims to provide the student of Japanese with a simple method for correlating the writing and the meaning of Japanese characters in such a way as to make them both easy to remember.
It is intended not only for the beginner, but also for the more advanced student looking for some relief from the constant frustration of forgetting how to write the kanji, or for a way to systematise what he or she already knows. The author begins with writing the kanji because-contrary to first impressions-it is in fact simpler than learning how to the pronounce them.
By ordering the kanji according to their component parts or "primitive elements," and then assigning each of these parts a distinct meaning with its own distinct image, the student is led to harness the powers of "imaginative memory" to learn the various combinations that make up the kanji. In addition, each kanji is given its own key word to represent the meaning, or one of the principal meanings, of that character. These key words provide the setting for a particular kanji's "story," whose protagonists are the primitive elements.
In this way, one is able to complete in a few short months a task that would otherwise take years. Armed with the same skills as Chinese or Korean students, who know the meaning and writing of the kanji but not their Japanese pronunciations, one is then in a much better position to learn the readings which are treated in a separate volume.
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Write a customer review. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. Verified Purchase. This book has been immensely valuable for my Japanese studies. This book teaches you how to write the Kanji, and that's valuable in the same way that learning how to write the alphabet is valuable for learning English. Theoretically, one could learn to read English without ever learning the English alphabet.
You just memorize exactly how each word looks instead of memorizing its characters. For example instead of learning the word "on" as being spelled with the letter O and the letter N, you could learn it as a circle with a arch shape to its right. Learning to read English that way would be crazy. But that's how a lot of people learn Japanese. And it's excruciating. The value of this book is that finishing it allows you to learn Japanese words more like how you would learn a new English word.
It teaches you the Japanese alphabet. This book seems to be controversial in Japanese learning circles. However I have never heard someone who has finished the book question its value. The criticism is usually levied by those who have never tried this method of learning. You will notice that he doesn't mention the "learning the alphabet angle" that I did. I must say that he completely missed the point of why this book is valuable. If someone criticizes this approach to you, ask them if they've finished at least a quarter of the book.
If they answer in the negative then don't take them seriously. I keep very meticulous records of how I study Japanese and they show that it took me a little over hours to finish this book.
This number is still climbing but slowly because I review the book sometimes. While I was actively studying, I fastidiously used Anki flashcards to review the material Anki is a free and open-source flashcard program.
This was very good and necessary for my retention, however it demanded a ton of time and could seem very tedious. When you're using Anki on very big flashcard decks like the decks for this book you must do your flashcard reviews every day, you never get a day off.
If you do take a day off, you must do twice as many reviews the next day. If you take a week off, well, good luck ever catching back up. Now, the negative. Heisig sure knows how to learn the Kanji, but there are some holes in how he's going to teach you how to learn the Kanji.
Ambiguous or unusual keywords. Each Kanji in the book is linked to an English keyword that you need to learn to associate that kanji with. Unfortunately some English words have more than one meaning and you're not sure which Heisig intended.
There are also some words that you're just not likely to know. For example one keyword is "godown". What's that, you ask? Well according to Google results it's "In India and East Asia, a warehouse, especially one at a dockside. This makes the Kanji harder to remember even after you go and look up the keyword, because it's not a word that's natural to you. All English keywords in the book should be defined.
Heisig does define some that he thinks might be ambiguous, however I found that for the most part, he disambiguated words that I wouldn't have had trouble with anyway, but didn't disambiguate the words that I did have trouble with.
He should also strive to keep exotic keywords like "godown" out. Note that this only really becomes a problem about half way through the book when it stops giving you stories for every Kanji. Lack of cross-referencing for primitives. Each kanji in the book except for the most "primitive" ones is a combination of other kanji or even non-kanji that you have already learned called primitives. And the primitives that make up each kanji is listed in its entry. However, there are no page numbers for you to be able to refer back to the primitives.
As you continue through the book this becomes a bigger and bigger hole. Puzzling errors. I noticed a number of them that made the book seem sloppy. These errors aren't a huge deal it's just not what I would expect in a carefully prepared book. After trying over the past five years different approaches to learn Japanese, I finally found a method of learning Japanese that sticks.
Using Remembering the Kanji as a guide is a huge advantage. The author presents the kanji in a foundational order with their meaning and with mnemonic stories that make them truly memorable. After downloading Anki you can find a prebuilt memory deck on the site that presents the kanji in the same order as the book.
You have to use the desktop version to download the deck, but it synchronizes with the mobile versions so you can study on your phone. When doing my Anki review I write down the character as they are presented so I can both practice the writing and reinforce its meaning with the character.
I set Anki Max New Per Day setting to 30 which aligns with presenting the kanji almost in sync with my daily lessons. The book has 56 lessons and kanji. One thing to note this first book focuses only on learning the writing and meaning of the kanji. The second book in the series teaches the pronunciation. After finishing this first book I will journey into part two.
Book three adds on an additional thousand kanji to increase fluency. And there is also remembering the Kana which teaches the Japanese syllabaries hiragana and katakana. Using this plan, by the new year I will be able to read basic Japanese. By the summer I should be able to understand spoken and possibly speak Japanese.
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Remember the kanji
James W. Heisig - Remembering the Kanji 1