Remembering The Hanzi / Day 1 [Frames 1~32]

by Julia

Sometimes I’m amazed by how inconsistent I can be. I spend way too much time over-analysing the whys and the hows of my language learning process, and then I find myself engaging in an incredibly long-term undertaking without even take a couple of minutes to reflect whether it’s appropriate or not.

The point is, I always have to rely on second-hand experiences for what concerns language learning experiments. I read a lot, I evalute, I consider and then usually I just keep going the way I always have. And this mostly because I fear that too extreme methods [and by this I mean something that requires a complete shift of the way you study the language] will prove to be not enough productive in the long run, and that I’ll regret spending my time that way. So I tend to lessen the impact of the new method, to soften the hard angles that look too harsh – which basically means to entirely defeat its purpose from the very beginning.

And in all honesty I can’t bring myself to say that this mid-way method has brought me that far with my learning. Definitely not.

So for once I feel like trying out something which requires a long-term commitment and whose effectiveness I cannot test beforehand.

Learning characters is a challenge for every East Asian student and so far I think there’s no method that has proved to be effective for everyone. We have to continuosly keep trying and keep failing before being able to acquire enough knowledge to be able to read native-speakers content without too much strain. I’ve done this systematically with Japanese for a very long time and I have to admit I haven’t accomplished much. I started Heisig’s method a couple of years ago for kanji but it was just before beginning my archivist course so I had very soon to give up Japanese altogether.

So now here I am, willing to give it a try – this time for Chinese. I believe in no magic system when it comes to pure memorization, so I’m definitely not approaching this system with the idea that once I’ll finish the book all the characters will be glued in my head with no need to revise them ever. I don’t think there’s actually much difference between Heisig’s method and the pure repetition system of taking a piece of paper and writing down characters over and over again.

I believe that there’s only one way of learning hanzi as well as kanji: constant study and repetition. Whether your system is, you have to go over your material constantly or you’ll just lose pieces here and there. I simply think that Remembering the Hanzi offers a little more structure to people like me who find it hard to manage pure-memorization kind of activities.

Here’s my current approach:

  1. study 15/20 new characters on every study day [which of course is not 7/7, it can be 4/7 or 2/7 or even less according to my weeks’ schedule]
  2. review theme everyday with Anki [much gratitude for the shared decks]
  3. try to read as much as possible in Chinese in order to be fully exposed to the characters I’m learning

That’s it. I’m starting this new blog post series in order to keep me accountable with the project. Try to be a little bold every once in a while.

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