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Remembering Simplified Hanzi 1 and Remembering Traditional Hanzi 1

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freipole

tacoface,

I find Heisig's imaginative memory concept to be a load of shite. I found it much, much, much (MUCH!) easier simply to create a sentence out of the primitives that related to the character's meaning. Example

This sounds more like the approach in Matthews' book (Learning Chinese Characters). I personally had switched from Matthews' to Heisig's approach - imagining things - and got the opposite impression: it's much easier for me to remember stuff if I do it as a picture. It is more work to make that picture, of course, which is probably why before the switch I was convincing myself that I'm fine with remembering sentences.

Also Heisig is not entirely consistent in his approach. Sometimes he invents ridiculous visual images for the primitives ("Santa Claus puppet") and sometimes he leaves them absolutely non-visual ("state of mind"?).

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M-Segments

I had previously tried the sentence approach, but found that although it worked ok for easy sentences, as the hanzi became more complex, sentences were too complex too remember. My ability to recall an image after months is infinitely better than my ability to remember a sentence over the same time.

Ultimately, though, do whatever works best for you.

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m.ellison
God when is the second book going to be out
Have you learnt all the first book yet?

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ChristopherB

Almost there. In a few weeks I should have it finished, possibly sooner if I get my A into G.

Has anyone here completed it?

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KanjiHanzi
Has anyone here completed it?

I completed Remember the Kanji, volume I a couple of years ago, though :mrgreen:

I have both Heisig's "RTH Simp.", and Hoenig's "Chinese Characters", as well as the abridged version of A.T Ann's "Cracking the Chinese Puzzles" as references. As a possible candidate for serious Hanzi studies the complete Puzzles would win hands down. (And it's still available online despite other information somewhere here. Might be out of print but not out of shop, so to say.)

Just curious: How have you studied RTH? By "hand" or using Anki etc? Strictly following the Heisig suggestions and avoiding Hanzi readings and all additional studies?

Would you continue with RTH Volume 2 if it was available now?

加油!![ 頑張って!! ]

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ChristopherB

More or less following Heisig's suggestions, yeah, though I am going through Chinesepod in the meantime and using pinyin. Not really seriously studying yet until I have the characters, so it's more a matter of keeping accustomed to the sound of the language.

As for studying RTH, I use Anki and basically just enter the characters one lesson at a time. I also have Cracking the Chinese Puzzles, abridged, which I tried to learn from but I found it basically impossible to remember everything! I'll definitely be using it later on though. I'm planning to get straight into John DeFrancis' Chinese readers after RTH 1 (his first and second readers teach a combined total of 800 most common characters), but I would certainly order the book 2 if it were out now. Just need to complete the first! That's really my main priority now.

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chrix

It's a dissertation from UT Austin, so you should be able to get it through Dissertation Abstracts International...

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iteachchina

I have one of these books and find the whole process to be a little frustrating. I keep a good daily study program. . Like many of you, I live in China and deal with Chinese every day. Most other methods I use have worked better.

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tysond

I have just reached the 3000 character mark using Heisig (Simplified) books 1 & 2. I started almost exactly 12 months ago. I have around 80% recall according to Skritter.

Before this I had studied Chinese a few times but never really got past 150 characters known, and they were all rote memorized through flashcards or (in the old days) writing out 30 times each.

Here's what I did & learned:

1. Used Skritter to practice writing (at first I also did recognizing of characters but dropped it around the 2200 character mark as it was slowing me down). I turned off other functions like tones and reading.

2. Added around 10 characters a day on average. Goal was around 250 a month. Tended to do more on weekends, less during the week as busy at work.

3. Used the a shared Anki deck which has stories for the first 1500 (if Heisig doesn't provide someone has written some pretty good suggestions in the Anki notes)

4. Made my own stories from 1500-3000.

5. Used stories with a visual image whenever possible. Sentences with the components in them don't work for me unless they are super clever or a movie quote or something.

6. I found that marking new cards as wrong the first time you see them is best. Then you get a good number of reps while you have the image fresh in your mind and the book nearby to refer to if you want to look at the components again.

7. The size of the books is an issue, especially when transitioning from Book 1 to Book 2 and you sometimes need them both with you. After a while I stopped needing Book 1 (I would rarely need to look anything up - it was a lot of "oh yeah that's right, now I remember" with anything in Book 1). This was better as Book 2 is much lighter.

8. Abstract concepts are the hardest to learn. Wordplay is your friend.

9. Skritter has nice Pleco integration so you can look for words in context. This is great to do although it slows you down a bit.

10. Killing leeches is critical. After finishing book 1 I went through them all in Anki (a fresh deck) and recorded all the ones I didn't know and then studied them again. During book 2 I took notice of repeat failures and developed deeper images/better stories. Often I discarded a story once I found a better one.

11. Book 2 leverages Book 1 nicely so you get lots of revision because you build more complex characters on top of existing ones. So your stories end up nesting.

12. It was good to "look ahead" and group characters into a themed groups. Many of the tree radical based characters ended up being stories about Ents (from Lord of the Rings). Easier to keep fishing in the same pond when it's rich with stories.

13. Skritter gives pinyin and audio for each character, so I have picked up a lot from this (including a lot of the phonetic tips). Skritter will decompose into radicals and phonetics for you so I frequently check them to build understanding of whether the phonetic is regular/weird/irrelevant. I actually guess the reading of characters pretty well when I am reading texts out loud - although the tone is of course a pure guess.

14. It was useful to finish 1000 before moving to China - felt like you had a solid framework in place that context would start to fill in. I frequently experienced learning a character and seeing it in the wild a day later, which always made me thing - damn, I wonder how many times I didn't recognize that character before now.

15. It's fun to do this with a knowledgable bilingual Chinese friend watching over your shoulder (I sat in a bar sometimes and did reps, many people were curious). If you can avoid arguing over the technique, they will often chip in more about the meaning, origin and context.

16. I supplemented this with lots of podcasts (ChinesePod and some native speaker podcasts), TV shows, movies, reading (Chinese Breeze, comics), copying texts, some usage of Chinese at work, and 1:1 teacher focusing on pronunciation. But Heisig + Skritter were by far the biggest component in the last 12 months, averaging over 1 hour a day.

I would recommend this method for someone who has basic conversational skills (A2 perhaps) and some knowledge of characters already, and is serious about reading and writing Chinese.

I don't think it's good if done in pure isolation or with no initial context, I would worry that your understanding might be very artificial if you start with this and only do this.

I think it's important to keep in mind it's only a memorization technique and you'll need to fill in a lot of gaps later to really understand the characters, their readings -- not to mention how they form words, grammar, their history, etc. Which is what I'll be working on next :-)

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navaburo

tysond's post largely reflects my thinking on the course. He makes some very good suggestions. I have been following more-or-less the same principles and am doing well.

I would add two resources which I have found useful:

Koohii's Reviewing the Hanzi (http://reviewingthehanzi.com/) -- Hosts user-submitted stories. I look where when I need some inspiration, and sometimes contribute back when I come up with something clever.

Custom Anki Deck -- I do my review via Anki, and none of the pre-made decks suited my needs. I created my own RTH1/2 decks starting with the character lists and adding pinyin and the Japanese keywords from RTK (because was working through RTK when RTH was released, and I still use my old stories). I recommend that one make additional fields for hints as needed. The 'hint' that I use most often is to say on the front of the card what keyword the character is NOT, and/or what pinyin reading the character does NOT have. This helps keep certain characters apart.

Good luck to all those RTH/S/Kers out there!

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Sam Fairhall 92

@tysond

Your method seems very interesting. I'm stuck on the anki deck you are referring to. I've looked on the anki website and found and downloaded this https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/2691640006

Is that the deck you're referring to? If so, where is the suggested stories in the notes?.

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Sam Fairhall 92

Its worked great thanks. I take your point, some of his sentences with components in them are pretty hard to work with.

Eg. 胡 'recklessly'.

His suggestion for learning the word is:"Everyone knows what a new moon is: the first phase when the moon is illuminated 0%. So, presumably, an ancient moon, like the one in this character, is lit up at 100% wattage. And we all know what that means: people tend to get a little “loony” and start acting recklessly"

I feel i'm going off track very early on not taking his spoon-fed advice so would just like to check i'm getting the right idea.

My alternative story to learning the word is: acting 'recklessly' can lead to ones death. '胡' looks like a tombstone with a cross on top, next to a stairway leading to heaven.

Is that sort of story a good idea, or will using stories like that work against me when trying to learn Heisigs method?

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tysond

Try to use the components because they will come up again and again. Changing the story is usually fine, but getting into new ideas like tombstones and ladders will lead to confusion later on.

My story is about an ancient werewolf. Everytime the full moon comes out he recklessly changes form and attacks people in the ancient hutongs of beijing. This character is the hu of hutong so I see it every day while here.

Abstract concepts are the hardest. Don't worry too much about them, your SRS will uncover which stories work and which dont, naturally some will stick better than others. 以 was a killer for me.

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realmayo

I'd suggest you should look for consistency most of the time, regardless of whose exact method you're following. Will you always use "a stairway leading to heaven" to remember the component on the right side of that character? And the "tombstone" for the bit on the left? You'll see those two components in lots of other characters, so will you always use "stairway" and "tombstone" each time you see them?

And with these two components, they're characters in their own right, and they do mean "moon" and "ancient". So, for components that have their own life on their own, I think it's usually best to use that meaning.

As for making your own story, that's ideal once you get good at making them up, because they're more likely to stick in your head. The story you cite: it seems a bit too involved for me. I'd create an image in my mind of ancient people (old and wrinkled and half-naked, jumping around in loin-cloths) seeing the moon appear and starting to behave recklessly/devil-may-care.

These stories are unlikely to be perfectly consistent: that character also carries the meaning of "beard". Abstract concepts like "reckless" are less easy to remember than more concrete things like beards.

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Sam Fairhall 92

Ok thanks for the advice both of you :), exactly why I wanted/needed to check. I'l make sure my stories contain the compounds!

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Sam Fairhall 92

On 300 words so far :) just over 2 weeks into this. Absolutely love this method, it is extremely efficient and rewarding!

@Tysond

I'm interested in your progress post-3000 characters. How are you finding filling in the gaps and including the pinyin, grammar and pronunciation into your studies? and how are you doing this?

I know it's extremely early days for you, so don't feel the need to respond right away - but i would really appreciate an update at some point if its possible. I'm about 11 months away from when i will be going to China and i'm

hoping to make the same kind of progress you've made over the year - get to the 3000 mark! Hence your progress is of real interest to me :). Thanks.

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tysond

@Sam Fairhall 92 - no problem happy to update.

It's been nearly 4 months since I finished Heisig. Honestly it feels like a LOT longer for some reason.

Since then I have really focused on sentences via cloze deletion. This technique is from khatzumoto's ajatt (All Japanese All the Time) method - he calls them MCD (massive cloze deletions) and sentence level MCDs are called mini-MCDs. I have a trove of many hundreds of sentences mined from various sources. Mostly from Chinesepod (at first elementary, but now intermediate and upper intermediate lessons), but also from films (used subs2srs to turn the entire Avengers movie into sentences), online sources (Zhongwen Red/Blue/Green and 3800 Chinese sentences) as well as things I have found in various places along the way.

My cards generally have audio, hanzi, english translation (or semi-translation), sometimes an image, and all the Heisig keywords for each character. I generate the Heisig keywords using a fancy Excel table, paste in the sentence and it generates the complete list of hanzi + Heisig keyword, which I then paste into the card for reference. I also use MDBG's dictionary (the PC version) and copy in the definitions of words that are not super common. Each sentence creates usually 3-10 cards as I cloze characters/words that I don't know the pronunciation/meaning for. So 武器和弹药 完毕 becomes {{c3::武器}}和{{c1::弹}}{{c2::药}} {{c4::完毕}} (Arms & Ammunition, Over) using Anki's cloze notation.

My job is to take the sentence in hanzi (with English translation below for context) and fill in the missing character(s) by writing & speaking with correct pronunciation. The Heisig, the definitions, the audio- these all go on the back of the card as context. I try to focus on words that I've seen/used/studied in other contexts, as this gives them some context of their own. Drilling into a sentence that's "all new" can be frustrating at first. The brain does find learning via webs more easy than learning "islands" of new content. But establishing a few islands is quite useful as they grow their own webs over time. So I have some sentences that are incremental learning, some are just "out there".

Learning the pronunciation has not been an issue - the audio is on the card, the pinyin is there if needed, SRS will get you to learn it, and you learn it in context of words and sentences. Actually the audio is super useful sometimes I just find myself saying the words without even thinking of them due to a kind of audio memory (so - I am not really learning the pinyin itself). I really think memorizing dialogs is the easiest way to memorize pronunciation of lots of words (and hence characters in context).

I now have 1500 cloze deletion cards (I add about 100 a week), which covers most of the vocab up to HSK 4, about 25% of HSK 5, and a smattering of other stuff in HSK6 and non HSK. My goal is to reach 5000 in 12 months, which will cover most of HSK 5 and quite a bit of HSK 6. I'm just using HSK as a benchmark, I don't actually have a firm goal to pass any of the tests, although I found the HSK practice exam very easy a few months ago.

Grammar is just ... more words. I just "cloze" the grammar bits just like anything else. So at the moment a lot of my cards are generated by clozing 了,来,到, 上, 下,过, 着, 被, 把, 吧, 出,放,就 and other simple stuff like that - simple to write, but hard to put in the right spot. I research this stuff online (and ask my teacher) so I understand a bit more about why something is there. But at the sentence level it doesn't matter why, I just learn it goes where it goes -- like you memorize movie quotes like "Hasta la vista baby". I don't even know what that means but I can say it when appropriate just before destroying bad guys.

Then, I add listening practice - around 1 hour a day while riding my bike to work. Listen to Chinesepod lessons mostly, intermediate and upper-intermediate level. I was doing this while I did Heisig so now i find the Upper intermediate lessons are pretty good because the lesson explanation is 80% in Chinese so your listening improves a lot. In the last month the intermediate lessons have become much easier as I know most of the vocabulary required except the few special words that are the topic of the lesson (and these you can guess by context). I also listen to a lot of Chinese songs, and frequently read the lyrics along with them (baidu music has lyrics for almost all songs, I just put it in jukebox mode and read along when the song is interesting). I also watch quite a few movies (Chinese and Chinese dubbed) and sometimes TV in Chinese. Sometimes (not often enough) I do shadowing with Audacity and record myself matching native speaker pronunciation. This is incredibly powerful and I need to motivate myself to do it more.

Finally, I have 4 hours a week of lessons with a teacher who focuses on pronunciation and conversation. About half is me just telling stories about my week and being corrected, and half is spent with a textbook, reading out loud, discussing new vocab/grammar and shades of meaning, differences between words, that kind of thing. 95% in Chinese (it was really hard at first, but my teacher doesn't have good English, which is a real blessing actually). During these lessons I do a lot of asking "which character is that" regarding new words we discuss, and do a lot of 经常的经? style questioning that I notice Chinese people use a lot to disambiguate characters.

When I first finished Heisig I made the mistake of telling a few people "hey i know 3000 characters" - they don't read Chinese, and they all thought I could read everything. This is far from the truth. You'll be slow at reading one-character-at-a-time, you'll only know some of the pronunciations, you'll forget things, there are way more than 3000 characters, and there's still lots of vocab to learn. None of this is magically put aside. But as the months pass I find the progress is now very steady and I go from being able to read out street names, guess at menu items, to reading full sentences on signs and advertising, to applying for a credit card completely in Chinese, to understanding most of comics, to reading KTV lyrics in real-time, to reading TV subtitles fairly well at almost full speed, and realize that the progress is very significant, the learning curve is much flatter than it has ever been - but it's a long road of learning lots and lots of vocabulary, and training your eyes and ears to process it all automatically.

Good luck with your learning. Motivation is the hardest part, so keep your spirits up and congratulations on hitting 10% complete already!

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