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Reviewing The Kanji Review — 13 Comments

  1. I used the community stories from that site when I was doing RTK back in 2011-2012, and I have to say that they saved me A LOT of time. I maybe only came up with a handful of stories on my own that I sporadically thought up when I first saw the kanji, but otherwise I only used other peoples’ stories. I quit reviewing RTK after about a year, since I only had English keywords on the cards, which was holding me back more than helping me at that point, but I can read fairly fluently now and don’t think using other peoples’ stories during RTK hurt my retention of the kanji in any way, in fact it probably improved it because of all the time I saved that was then spent doing more relaxing activities to prevent burnout.

    I think doing 50 kanji a day may have been the reason you didn’t feel that your retention was as high when you used the community stories. I only did 20 kanji a day, since I knew they any more than that would lead to burnout (from past experience), so maybe if people just stick to fewer kanji a day, even if it is easier to study more, their retention rate would not drop. Also the forum on that site has many great resources and it probably one of the best Japanese study forums out there.

    • Perhaps you’re right. I’ve heard similar stories from others (about community-made stories providing less retention), but it could have just been that I was just trying to do too much too fast.

      I don’t review RTK any more either. I think after a certain amount of time it stops mattering how well you remember everything from RTK. After a while you don’t ever think in English keywords any more and you can remember the kanji through intuition rather than mnemonics.

      I definitely agree about what you said about the forum. It’s definitely the best Japanese-learning forum I’ve found.

  2. I personally pretty much only used stories from that website for the exception of 人; Mr. T didn’t do it for me, so I put Goku and made my own stories. Honestly those are some of the ones that stuck the least for me haha. As someone who isn’t very creative I had way too much trouble trying to find my own so the time saved in using those was well worth it haha

  3. This site was very useful for me when I was going through RTK a few years ago. The forum has a lot of great tips being thrown around. I still check the place every so often.

  4. I like to make up my own stories when I’m going through kanji lists for kanji that are giving me a particularly difficult time. I use a combination of direct study with StickyStudy and indirect with Flashcards Deluxe where I have vocab lists with a third panel that includes the kanji meaning along with the word’s meaning. I’ve found it works pretty well for me, but I’ve always been more of a brute force memorizer no matter what I’m studying.

    One thing I do a little differently is when I’m going through kanji or vocabulary I try to evoke the concept, sense, and feeling of a word in my head rather than thinking in English keywords. I imagine a quiet pond or a blade of grass when I see a symbol instead of jumping straight to the keyword in my head in an attempt to forge a direct line between concept and the Japanese word rather than taking a shortcut through the English section of my brain.

  5. I used the community stories almost exclusively, only creating my own if the existing ones didn’t resonate for some reason. Saved me TONS of time.

  6. My first attempt to use Heisigs was like 14 months ago, but I was to busy with my studies (master’s degree in mathematics) and I had to stop… I restarted 8~9 months ago using stories from Rtk.

    As I am too “lazy”, I got a script to get the two most voted stories from Rtk. I did 5 kanji per day and it took only 15~20 minutes to learn and review. I don’t remember my retention rate, but I remember that in two or three days I stopped to forgot the ideograms. But as I am busy, I stopped to add cards and just keep reviewing.

    But I remember that the stories were only auxiliary, I didn’t really use them! I am not a native English speaker (as you surely already noticed!). So several times I had do simplify the story and create my own, and try to understand some obscure words like.. decameron. But I didn’t wrote them on my deck. My stories stay in my mind! =)

    On month ago I tried to do a “heisigs power level up” adding 30 characters a day. That was horrible! I it took 3h a day and my accuracy was around 70%. So I changed again to only 5 kanji per day.

    My only consolation is that I changed the order of the cards to follow a “JLPT order”: it still cover first components, but with the priority to cover all jlpt 5 kanji, and then jlpt 4…

    Now I have around 1100 ideograms, with the fist 900 most used of them, so I can recognize most kanji in my sentences.

    Sorry for my bad English. I hope someone find my story useful.

  7. I did RTK in a month using other’s stories from kanji-koohii. I’d personalize them a bit (use my own wording, substitute a radical keyword for the one I was using), and was picky about the one I chose – not necessarily #1, but the one that I resonated most with. But I mean, come on! There’s some good stories on kanji-koohii and they make you laugh or cringe. That emotional reaction makes the stories stay with you. I think stories others come up with can be just as powerful as ones you make.

  8. It’s a shame I didn’t notice this post until now, since I’m sure the article (as well as the comments) have probably gotten most of the views they’ll get, but even so, I wanted to bring up a little site/tool called Skritter. I’ve fallen in and out of learning RTK with the LazyKanji Mod deck several times, and the furthest I ever got was about 1600 or so. It’s cumbersome and straining to repeatedly look at the screen, look down at my book, write, look back up and grade, rinse/repeat. Skritter is a site where the same type of SRS algorithm is applied, but instead, you actually write the kanji on the screen. It may sound pathetic, I know, but this is a MASSIVE improvement for me. I happened to have a Wacom Bamboo tablet on hand, so this worked out perfectly for me (I can’t imagine having to write them with the mouse, lol). Using Skritter goes so much smoother for me than slow head-banging at my computer doing my reviews on paper. At a glance it may seem more geared towards vocabulary, and it is to a certain extent, but they do have individual kanji, and conveniently enough, they have entire RTK1 and 3 word lists to add from. My kanji reviews couldn’t possibly get more streamlined. The only downside (or possibly a perk?) is that this is a service with a monthly fee, but I managed to find a code online that gave me I think two weeks for free and the first 6 months are discounted to 9.99/mo instead of 14.99/mo. Additionally, I think if anyone refers you, they get two weeks for free and you get an extra two weeks as well! I honestly don’t mean to sound like I’m shamelessly promoting or something, I really do mean it, this has worked WONDERS for my kanji study. They also have all sorts of fun little graphs and whatnot that may help motivate you. I know that for awhile, it was really nice seeing a linear curve for my ‘words added’ graph (until my girlfriend got a bit upset at me for spending so much time studying and not enough on her, haha, but I’ve since picked up my slack). It is a great tool, and even if you don’t get a referral, I believe they let you try it free for a week. Also, you ONLY pay for the ability to add new words, so once you’re done putting in your kanji, there’s no need to pay monthly anymore, you can still do your reviews for free! Could not possibly recommend it more for the kanji phase!

  9. I used an Anki deck that contained top 2 community stories, thanks to which I was done with 25 kanji/day 25 minutes tops. It was later I found out about the Koohii forums [When I was at 1600 kanji].

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