By Hofmann, October 6, in Chinese Characters. Yes, let's talk about it. It might get ugly, but we have to talk about this in order to understand it. James Heisig developed a method of learning the most common Kanji used in Japanese. Read about the method here. In , a book Remembering the Hanzi was published that applies that method to Chinese.
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The Chinese version comes in either traditional or simplified format and currently, only book 1, the first characters, is available for purchase. The book is aimed at those who wish to learn how to write Chinese characters and employs the use of short stories or mnemonics for each individual character, in an effort to help the learner remember both the meaning and the written form. While there are lists of pinyin in the index, I do not agree with his reasons for not including the pronunciation along with each character.
For Japanese it perhaps make sense, not that I know anything about Japanese language, however for Chinese, if you know the pronunciation of a radical, or similar looking characters, it can often help you remember others.
Anyway, we all know this, but clearly Heisig has his own ideas. Secondly, a lot of the stories are rubbish. Seriously, get to the point Heisig.
My third and final gripe, is to do with fonts and stroke order. While studying the first chunk of characters, James is nice enough to use the official handwritten-style font, as well as the more general and ugly computer font. This is great because it allows the reader to note the differences and errors the computer often makes. The first third of the book also included stroke by stroke diagrams which are also a great resource, but again, the book seems to succumb to laziness and after a while literally turns into a list of keyword plus character.
The decision not to include the handwritten font as well just completely baffles me. For me the strength of Remembering the Hanzi is in the fundamental idea behind the book. Learning to hand-write Chinese characters, especially traditional ones, is a major hurdle that a lot of mandarin learners never manage to overcome. Yet somehow after studying the Heisig method these characters become less and less daunting, and eventually even enjoyable to write.
Through using mnemonics and cleverly chosen key words, you really start to get into it. I picked up the book about a year into studying Chinese and took AGES to finish it, but for most people, the first characters can be learnt within months if you are willing to put in the hours.
Next time I will do a shorter post explaining some of the other techniques I used, in addition to the Heisig technique, to remember how to write Chinese characters. Anyway, I need help getting from "pack of wild dogs…butterfly net" to "alone". So I imagine a kid with a giant spoon chasing insects. To me that makes sense. In a sense, he creates new radicals for characters which are rarely used by themselves, but often used as parts of other characters. Personally I think this is a great idea, but I reckon he could have done a better job of thinking up keywords.
I will talk more about this in my next post sometime next week but feel free to fire away any more questions! Chris, thanks for the review. Just wanted to make a few comments if I may …. So having the pinyin in the book is useless and distracting to them.
This becomes really significant further down the line. Using Modern Art to Learn Chinese. I think it depends on the learners goals like you say, and where they are in there studies. But Heisig does have a system that works and despite my rants I am very grateful to have discovered the book. Thanks for the links, I really liked the modern art comparison!
Are they just using the traditional book? Chris, in my experience there are different streams of learning … speaking, listening, reading, grammar, etc. Of course, over time, the connections happened naturally — with zero effort on my side. So pinyin came from the dialogues I was learning, and the characters had a meaning — but no pronunciation. Interestingly, I read more slowly now than a year or two ago, because back then the characters just had meaning and I could follow the text … but now I find myself mouthing the pronunciation of each character, which is definitely slower.
Chinese study posters for marking your progress. Learn Chinese in China with Keats School! Learn Chinese characters by breaking them down and creating stories. And then the butterfly net will also point to a snowflake belonging to a flag-waver?
Just wanted to make a few comments if I may … — I now live in HK, and some of my friends are learning Cantonese, and also using Heisig. Cheers Greg, I was just in HK, had a fantastic time! Regards — Hope you enjoyed HK!
Chinese characters: Remember the Hanzi, a controversial method
This post is a review of the method invented by James Heisig, the master of Kanji the alphabet that Japanese people borrowed from China and Hanzi , that is the Chinese characters. The introduction of Remember Simplified Hanzi by J. Heisig and T. Richardson starts with the following sentence:. The aim of this course is to help you teach yourself, as quickly and efficiently as possible, the meaning and writing of the 3, most commonly used Chinese characters. First at all, there are two versions of the book. Even if they are quite similar, in the sequel I will refer to Remember Simplified Hanzi, the one I read.
Remembering the Hanzi Book 1 – Review
The Chinese version comes in either traditional or simplified format and currently, only book 1, the first characters, is available for purchase. The book is aimed at those who wish to learn how to write Chinese characters and employs the use of short stories or mnemonics for each individual character, in an effort to help the learner remember both the meaning and the written form. While there are lists of pinyin in the index, I do not agree with his reasons for not including the pronunciation along with each character. For Japanese it perhaps make sense, not that I know anything about Japanese language, however for Chinese, if you know the pronunciation of a radical, or similar looking characters, it can often help you remember others. Anyway, we all know this, but clearly Heisig has his own ideas.
Heisig's Remembering Simplified Hanzi 1 & 2
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. The course teaches the student to utilize all the constituent parts of a kanji's written form—termed "primitives", combined with a mnemonic device that Heisig refers to as "imaginative memory".