Does Remembering the Kanji work?

I thought I might do a post on Japanese and specifically Remembering the Kanji today. A lot of people aren’t sure whether or not to use this method, some people just plain don’t like it and prefer other methods – another good one would to be to learn Kanji like a Japanese kid, but I digress…Anyway as for Remembering the Kanji – does it work? In short, yes. If you want to hear my story and expanded opinion on this please keep reading.

 So around a year and three months ago I couldn’t even read the Kanji for fish(it’s 魚 by the way). I couldn’t read Kanji if my life depended on it – I was pretty surprised myself at just how bad it was. So what’d I do? I scoured Google for Japanese studying techniques and found AJATT.com(All Japanese All the Time) and I used that technique as well but I won’t be expanding on AJATT today. On the AJATT website I found the recommendation to use Remembering the Kanji.

So I studied using Remembering the Kanji for approximately three months using an SRS program(Anki) to review. I probably spent around 4 or 5 hours a day on it for the first 3 weeks and from then on I spent around 1.5 to 2 hours a day for the remainder of the three months. The result? I can read novels and newspaper articles in Japanese now – I actually translate almost all the articles I write on this site from Japanese to English. I don’t think I’ve ever used an English source as a base yet. The only time I don’t use Japanese is when I right opinion posts like this one.

Can I read every Kanji ever? No. Can I read more Kanji than a normal Japanese person? If they’re really, really stupid – yeah but in most cases no. I know some Kanji that most Japanese people don’t and can probably read Kanji just as well as a first year middle schooler but cannot compare to an adult. Do I care about this at the moment? No – I’ll just keep reading things in Japanese and naturally progress.

Is there anything that’s not good about Remembering the Kanji? Depending on your goals this thing can be brutally boring. It was for me. I was motivated as hell to start with but that slowly tapered off(as evidenced by 4 to 5 hours a day back down to 2). I burnt myself out multiple times and it just seemed like it was never going to end. I started the 3rd volume but realised part way through it(when I was able to read most normal novels) that I had graduated from it so stopped. So one important factor is probably to attempt Remembering the Kanji over at least 6 to 8 months – don’t make my mistake! Pace yourself!

Another thing I don’t care about, but other people might, is that I can barely write Kanji. How does this work? If I see a Kanji I can read it – if I was told to imagine the Kanji for blah blah blah I would probably not be able to do so for all of them. I blame this mostly for the fact I’m constantly typing in Japanese, I don’t think I ever handwrite in it – ever. So this is kind of an obvious set back and I’m not sure I could blame Remembering the Kanji for this apart from it’s obvious lack of concrete guidance on stroke-order.

Ok well, I think I’ve said what I need to here. In closing Remembering the Kanji workers, I can vouch for it. It can get boring at times but it’s worth it in the end and Kanji is almost essential to fluency in Japanese so if you’re thinking about it stop thinking and just do. That’s my advice for today. Thanks for reading.

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