A few weeks ago I bought a book called Remembering the Kanji, Volume 1: A Complete Course on How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Japanese Characters and it has made learning the meaning, not the reading, though there is another book for that, really easy. The method breaks the kanji down into their simpler parts and builds you up form there. For example, 名 means name and the top part means evening and the bottom piece means mouth. From these two pieces I came up with the story that at night I will tell you my name. And that is pretty much the system you break the kanji down into simpler forms and create crazy stories to remember them. I hope this can help someone. One last thing is DO NOT try the Amazon sample as it has many errors. Get the free sample on Google. Later.
breaking kanji into radicals is indeed a great method, its merit is obvious : would you rather have to remember 9 strokes or 2 radicals for 星(star)? I like it even better when, as in this case (sun + life ~ living sun = star) it makes a lot of sense. Also when you know your radicals it really speeds up the search process in programs like zkanji (knowing the corresponding number of strokes per radicals can help too!) or paper dictionaries.
Actually it sounds to me like the only way to search for an unknown kanji when there aren't any furigana so it's more than useful!
i'd like to interject one thing here: learning kanji just for the sake of learning kanji brings you no benefit.
What i mean is. You can learn all 2000+ 'standard' Kanji (+readings) and you may still not be able to read or understand words in and out of certain contexts. So simply going through "Remembering the kanji" and learning the stuff in there holds in itself (at least in my opinion) close to no value.
Learning Kanji in conjunction with sample sentences, compounds, vocabulary is crucial. You should keep that in mind when starting to learn kanji.
So, i took this from another thread where i posted an answer to a similar question:
TL;DR; basically you should learn with examples like compounds, vocabulary and sentences. Like if you learn a new Kanji, take the time to search for some sample words where it is used, than, if you don't already know these words, learn those words. Preferably take compounds with different readings ect. Thats how i do it, and it works. You can do like 300 to 400 Kanjis per Year like this, which is not really fast, but kinda ok. If you are around 900 to 1000 Kanjis that you know well you can read quite a lot of stuff already.
What i do is look up the stroke the order in an online as well as an offline(book/dictionary). I use http://lingweb.eva.mpg.de/kanji/ its german, but there should be some similar english source somewhere out there. I am also using this: http://www.amazon.com/The-Kodansha-Kanji-Learners-Dictionary/dp/4770028555 There is also an IOS version: https://itunes.apple.com/de/app/kodansha-kanji-learners-dictionary/id512864153?mt=8
I tried the book "Remembering the Kanji" but its not for me. What i do is: - learn vocabulary -> take unknown kanji from this words - look those kanjis up in a dictionary (for stroke order, readins and further examples) - create a paper Flashcard with the information gathered - do srs with those Flashcard
What really helps a lot is if you learn the Kanjis with example Words, sentences ect. Learning Kanjis just for the sake of knowing them is not very benificial and won't really help you to read.
The more Kanjis you know, the easier it becomes to learn new one (at least in my opinion). There will come a point where you dont need to look up stroke orders any more, cause you can tell what a Kanjis stroke order is simply by looking at it. You will also notice familiar patterns from other Kanjis which will make them easier to remember ect.
I am learning 1-3 Kanjis per day with this method. Its kinda slow but steady but i can "use" the Kanjis i learned like that.
If you really want to use "Heisigs" Methods, i think its best jsut to use as an additional source, but NEVER as the main source for learning Kanji.
Using pretty much the same method except that I imported all the Jouyou Kanji from the iOS dictionary "Imiha" to Anki. That saves me the trouble of adding all the readings. and creating cards one by one. I go by the order of said dictionary. I do 5 new Kanji per day and as I learn both sides (reading and production), that's 10 new srs cards per day.
Like he said, whenever you learn a new Kanji, look up common (!!) words that it is used in and try to cover all the readings. The "common words" option on jisho.org can easily be accessed by typing "#common" after the search term.
Some readings are rarely used. Funny enough though, they are often part of 四字熟語 (google that) and I like those, so I whenever I find one I add it and I can often remember those rare readings particularly well =D Example: 求不得苦 "gufutokuku", meaning "The pain of not getting what one seeks. The "gu" reading of 求 is otherwise hardly used. But you can just as well ignore those readings. If you don't share my particular interest, it's probably better not to waste your time with it and, if a word ever uses that reading, to just learn that word by itself.
-- Question for a native speaker or someone who is way better at Japanese than me (or anyone really, budge in please!), could I say that I am こだわり about these readings/the way I study Kanji? That word seems to express a pretty common Japanese trait to me and I would love to know how to properly use it. Japanese example sentence would be much appreciated! --
For reviews, try to come up with one word for each reading. That way, you can basically learn vocab at the same time. I do study all the vocab accumulated that way in a second srs-deck as well, but more often than not, I already know the meaning and reading of new words. Naturally, I use no Furigana (Ruby of whatever it was called in english) for that particular deck. Good reading practise!
This way I was able to learn some 1000 Kanji in a bit less than a year and, if I keep sticking to my schedule, I'll be done with the Jouyou Kanji and a lot of vocab by end of June next year! =) CANT BLOODY WAIT OH MY GAWD THATS GONNA FEEL GOOD =D
Have fun studying everyone!
Edit: This is my first post here =) I would love to find an active community and get to know everyone =)
I like the idea of breaking the kanji into radicals, I never thought of that! One of my kanji learning tools is a book called Essential Kanji. It shows the stroke order in ink brush style and then shows how it looks when written in pencil and gives all of the readings and a couple words using the kanji underneath. In the back of the book, you can look them all up by readings or by number of strokes, so if you are looking for one you don't know how to read, you can still find it. I find that I can't just write them, even if I know them by sight so I spend a few minutes every day writing a few over and over. This is where learning the radicals would really help! Thanks, Natalie