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List of components and radicals online?


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I couldn't imagnine such an undertaking possible under your learning regime, no?

I don't think you understood my post. People who learn isolated characters in a systematic way need to continue their studies after they have finished this isolated study. Nobody is under the impression that they will be able to read fluently after the isolated study. Here is a summary of the "normal" way vs the "isolated character" way.

Normal road to literacy:

1)learn words & their characters

2)read simple literature

3)repeat steps 1 & 2 many times

4)read normal literature

Isolated Character road to literacy:

1)learn characters

2)learn words

3)read simple literature

4)repeat steps 2 & 3 many times

5)read normal literature

So basically, we do everything that normal learners do. But in addition, we learn isolated characters in a very quick, organized way beforehand. We believe that taking the extra step will save us a lot of time in the other steps, and make us literate faster than normal learners.

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I think a useful analogy here might be the way kids learn language. Sure, there are a handful of words they pick up in school and by looking them up in the dictionary, but surely the vast majority get learned through repeated contextual exposure. Having a couple kids myself, I eventually figured out that the reason kids like hearing the same stories over and over again is that there are new layers of meaning for them to grapple with on each repetition. New words and narrative strands and thematic patterns come into focus each time, providing new opportunities for learning. The familiar elements serve as a reassuring scaffolding for this process, enabling them to reach out from the safety of what they already know to pluck a new insight from a less familiar dimension of the story.

Clearly, kids have a big advantage when it comes to language acquisition. But I think there are take-away lessons here, such as the importance of reading texts several times through and of contriving to encounter familiar elements (whether radicals or characters) on a regular basis in slightly different contexts.

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I am an intermediate Chinese student and I feel your pain. I've also learn characters based on the components (not necessarily radicals) that make them up. There is a website that we've made to help with this (not to selfishly promote) called WordBuddy.com. It will let you break down words into characters, and then characters into components. You can come up with an idea from this breakdown on how to remember the word. Save it into your list and then quiz yourself later.


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Heisig doesn't show you the pronunciation to the characters in Chinese or Japanese. Some of the stroke orders are incorrect. Some of the made up things aren't etymologically true. The character meaning "early" is the depiction of a soldier's helmet from the army in ancient China, not a sunflower as suggested by Heisig. Distortion doesn't make things better, it makes it worse. The use of the word Primitive is only used to describe isolated parts that can't be meaningful by themselves. Gives you an approximate mnemonic to writing the characters, but doesn't give you a clue to the meaning, which CHINESE CHARACTERS do.

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