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Cloze Deletion Kanji and a word on Heisig

In reply to this comment in my previous post:


Interesting. I wonder how we’d do it in Japanese?

Indeed, I had thought about this while typing up the previous post so I may as well get off my butt and write about it! Anyway..

Let’s take an entry like this:

♪004 WELCOME!♪

Welcome to MOTHER3 world




ヒナワの父 アレックの家


Now, for me, I would actually take the entire entry and split it up based on the character I wanted to learn. But, let’s say for simplicity’s sake that I wanted to learn island 「島」.


♪004 WELCOME!♪

Welcome to MOTHER3 world

ノーウェア[#### island -or- 周囲が水で囲まれている陸地。-or- 海中或湖中被水圍繞的小陸地。]



So, for this kind of a card, I’ll have the keyword in either Japanese (if I’m ambitious enough!), Chinese or plain old English. Generally, I will opt for Chinese. As in the previous entry, I would do things for pronunciation as well like this:


♪004 WELCOME!♪

Welcome to MOTHER3 world

ノーウェア[しま#### island -or- 周囲が水で囲まれている陸地。-or- 海中或湖中被水圍繞的小陸地。]



If it’s a character I’m familiar with from Chinese, I probably won’t add much more information to it. If it’s a Japanese specific character, then I’ll try and find the Chinese equivalent to explain it.

At any rate, I’ve only got, like, two cards with this thing so I can’t speak much for results yet.

Another interesting method would be to apply Kendo’s lazy kanji method to this too, wherein you put your little story inside the deletion area.

[Now for a quick digression!]

I have found, though, as much as I enjoyed doing Heisig (ha! Typing up all those characters was a blassssst), and I do believe Heisig gives you a stronger sense of fluency than just jumping into the language with Genki books, it can just be a tad too impractical. I mean, it’s the same reason we don’t tend to use paper dictionaries, right? Now we’ve got to stumble through these characters and stories, and take the time to input them into the SRS. Now, if there’s anything I’ve learned from AJATT, it’s that we should be streamlining the process to make it fun and as stupidly easy to do as possible. I think Heisig kind of goes against that.

So, to me, why not kill two birds with one stone? Combine them with things you are probably reading in your immersion environment anyway. I mean, I have seen a lot of people say “hey, you know, I’m reading x book/x manga but only 100 characters into Heisig”. I say, you know, here’s a chance to learn it in context anyway. And I think, simple, basic, English translations are quick and easy to read and impress the character on you faster. Then, as you progress, you switch these into Japanese. Rather than having a bulky Heisig deck with a SRS sentences deck.. unify the whole thing! Then they come back as you do your usual reviews.

I mean, I hate switching between decks. If it’s all in one, it’s better for me. Simple. Straight. Easy. Plus, you can always look back on those old cards as a confidence booster on yourself (“Haha, I didn’t even know ISLAND back then. What a dunce!”) as they come back up in reviews.

Of course, this comes after having studied Chinese for so long that it’s easy to look back and see Heisig as not entirely necessary to learning kanji. But, as is most important, what do you think?

6 thoughts on “Cloze Deletion Kanji and a word on Heisig”

  1. I wholly agree with this. I love reading/watching/listening to Japanese, it’s just that everyday I dreaded going to my Heisig deck (being as ridiculously easy as it is) because Heisig, for me, turns Kanji into something that isn’t Japanese. If we instead put the Heisig meanings into context(!) it becomes a completely natural progression into reading and writing the characters. Awesome.

    1. Glad you liked it! Like I said, I haven’t much experience on the Japanese side since I’m focusing on Chinese, but I’d like to hear how your methods work for studying kanji go!

    1. Oh hey, wow, welcome! I actually have been to your blog before, I read “What My Nephew Taught Me About Learning Languages”. Crazy to see you over here 🙂 Well, if you take a shot at it, be sure to let me know how it goes. I love my Heisig deck for only one reason: writing practice. However, I just get so tired going through them sometimes… Anyway! Thanks for your comment and if you have any method/variation that works well for you, I’d love to hear it!

  2. Hey there! I like the blog. I looked for your contact info, but couldn’t find it, so a comment will have to suffice. I actually added your feed a while back, then only recently through facebook’s GVSU study in Taiwan page, realized that you’re also a GVSU alumn. I’m a translator currently living in Shanghai, but I’m looking at schools and considering coming to Taipei for grad school. If you don’t mind, I’d love to ask you some questions! Shoot me an email if you have the time. Thanks.

    1. Heyo! Thanks for the comment! Crazy that we’re both GVSU guys.. man we really get around. I also have some friends in Shanghai (studying at ECNU, East China Normal University). I’m sending an email your way now 🙂

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