"A magnificent, inspirational, must-read introduction that gives the hope of achieving literacy to both Nihongo novices and Nihongo old-timers tired of constantly re-learning and forgetting kanji." -Laurence M. Wiig (Quote Taken From James Heisig's Website)
James Heisig's Method for remembering how to not forget the Japanese kanji is arguably one of the most controversial set of Japanese textbooks ever created. In Remembering the Kanji Book I, you will not find a single word of Japanese or any gimmicky pictures. Instead you will find vivid stories and one English Keyword attached to each of the 2042 kanji in this textbook. As you progress through this book you will continually learn new "Primitives (pieces of kanji with English keywords)" these stories build on each other and in doing so also give nonnative Japanese learners (people not familiar with kanji) context in which learning stroke order and meaning in their foreign tongue (currently available in Spanish, English, and French). Heisig's argument is if you are able to have this context, learning to read in the future will be much easier. In simpler terms, by doing one thing at a time you decrease the time it takes to learn both kanji stroke order and its reading(s) later on.
The first book is broken down into three parts. In Part One Heisig offers full stories for each kanji. In Part Two he offers partial stories and in the final Part Three of the book, he offers just the primitives and the occasional story for confusing kanji.
Book two focuses on readings and book three brings the total number of kanji (including their readings I believe) to 3007.
For those of you interested in making Japanese a long term part of your life, I highly recommend this series.
Step-by-step Heisig Method
- Download the first 125 pages of Heisig's Book I for free. Read Heisig's excellent introduction and offers you a complete guide to part one of this three part book. In Part one, Heisig gives full stories for each kanji. In Part 2 he gives partial stories, and for part three he lists primitives (pieces of the kanji that he gives names), as well as some occasional stories.
- Buy Remembering the Kanji Book I
- Remembering the Kanji Flash Cards. Printable flash cards made to go with the Heisig books or Kanji Koohii. A community devoted to helping each other learn stories for each Heisig Kanji. This website is particularly helpful for part three of Book I, as you can read other people's stories,create your own, and review kanji on the site's SRS.
- Review using either the website above, the flash cards, or SRS such as Anki. It's best to pick one method and stick with it though.
- GET Kanji-lish. This cool Firefox application takes the first letter of every heisig keyword and turns it into the kanji you are studying. For example book turns to 本ook and so on.
- Buy Remembering the Kanji Book II or begin using Anki by inserting Japanese sentences. Learning to read the kanji through contexts seems easier for me than using book II. Another useful option maybe the website Read the Kanji dot com. It has over 7000 vocabulary words and sentences to help you develop your reading once you have finished book one.
- Buy Remembering the Kanji Book III. Covers another 1,000 or so kanji for upper level Japanese literacy.
- James Heisig's University Website.
- Wikipedia: Remembering the Kanji Book I.
- Kanji Clinic: Heisig Method Review.
- Nihongo Jouzu: Heisig Reviewed.
- Tae Kim's Final thoughts on the Heisig Method. A good explanation of the weak and strong points of the Heisig Method and of Tae Kim's own learning method.
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