Jump to content
Learn Chinese in China

Heisig-like writing mnemonic based on Wubi roots


Recommended Posts

I've come up with a mnemonic system for remembering how to write characters, and I'd appreciate any ideas for improving it.


Each Wubi character root will have a person-action-object (PAO) mnemonic. For example:


The root 木 (S key) is Arnold Schwarzenegger (person) smoking (action) marijuana (object).

arnold schwarzenegger smoking GIF


The root 灬 (O key) is Olmec (person) giving a long and complicated explanation (action) of the Hidden Temple (object). 

Animated GIF


Each character will have a memorable story that is derived from (1) the character root PAO mnemonics and (2) the meaning of the character itself or a common word it appears in. The writing order of the character roots will determine if the person, action, or object of each character root appears in the story: the person from the first root, the action from the second root, the object from the third root, the person from the fourth root, and so on for every root in the character.


For example, the character 杰 is comprised of 木 and then 灬. The most common word that 杰 appears in is 杰作. A story for remembering how to write 杰 is Schwarzenegger (木) giving a long and complicated explanation (灬) to an art class on how to create your next artistic masterpiece (杰作), but nobody learns anything because they are too distracted by the muscles rippling under his shirt as he draws.


I plan to make ~3500 Anki cards for the most common characters where I must write out the full character by hand. Then I will start making cards for words where the answer is typing out the full Wubi code. For example, the word 杰作 would require typing SOU WTHF.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 8 months later...
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

an update:


I decided to learn the Wubi codes for words in parallel with learning to handwrite characters with this mnemonic system. I've created an Anki deck for each objective and have been studying them every day for a couple months now.


Typing these Wubi codes has become one of the more relaxing parts of my daily routine.




I'd show off the deck I made for handwriting characters, but it's probably best that some of these mnemonic stories don't see the light of day... Unlike other (perhaps more pure-minded) people who have felt fine sharing their entire catalog of Heisig mnemonics, I've found that lurid imagery is a highly effective tool for assisting recall. (Sidenote: the book Moonwalking with Einstein has a fascinating portion where it talks about the history of mnemonic devices, including how monks in the Middle Ages would use decidedly vulgar stories to memorize religious texts. Humans are wired to find certain things more memorable than others.)


I've printed out 3072 common characters and have been going through them one by one, starting with the most common first. If I already know how to write the character I suspend the card. If I can't immediately recall how to (an embarrassingly high percentage of the characters so far) I create a story for it.



  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you're going to spend the time memorizing what each character component is associated with in your mnemonic system, why not learn Wubi while you're at it? I have a little more than 200 flashcards for all the Wubi character roots, which is comparable to the number of "primitive elements" listed in the first Heisig book.


The Person-Action-Object system has been good for keeping the mnemonic stories simple while still encoding the writing order information for each character.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...