A first look at KanjiPro

KanjiPro and me

I just got KanjiPro in the mail a few days ago, and I must say it is really awesome! It came all the way from New Zealand. The book is written by Michael Mackinven.

It feels like they put a lot of hard work into making a quality book for learning Japanese Kanji.

My first thoughts was that is was going to be Heisig’s Remembering The Kanji 1 but even better. And as it is very similar, it isn’t like Heisig’s RTK1 for a few reasons;

1. Sequence of Kanji to be learned

Heisig’s RTK is in a logical order according to how the radicals build off of each other. The learning order is very important for remembering how the kanji are put together. Example; 日, 昌 and 晶 are grouped together in order so it’s easy to learn.  Some would argue it’s a bad sequence because some kanji that is learned at the beginning isn’t very useful. 昌 is not very commonly seen.

KanjiPro is grouped into grade levels that Japanese kids will learn in school. The kanji you first learn are much more commonly used. And if you read kids books, you will see most of the kanji that you learn in the beginning. Such kanji are 右, 雨 and 手.

Honestly, I’d rather learn with the order of Heisig’s RTK 1. It just seems so much better for learning how to write and remember. That’s just my opinion. We’ll see what happens when I actually go through the KanjiPro book.

2. Memory techniques.

Heisig’s RTK1 uses mnemonic stories, kanji order, and he tells you to use flashcards. All of this is to remember a single unique keyword to represent the meaning of the kanji. These keywords get used in other kanji. Sometimes the keyword is kind of awkward. But, it works to get you to remember the one single meaning to make it simple. Simple is good!

KanjiPro uses a whole bunch of stuff to help you memorize. Although the sequence isn’t logical, they still use either a pictograph or a mnemonics. They use keywords in a short phrase. And finally they use a story with the keywords just like RTK1. They also have the onyomi and kunyomi (Chinese and Japanese-derived reading) as well as two example words that you should memorize. Unfortunately, there are no mnemonics for the readings.

3. Instructions on how to use the book.

Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji 1’s instructions are very clear on how to go about learning it. You use flashcards (some people use computer flashcards such as spaced repetition system), and you make stories. You first look at the story and see if you can draw it. Then you look at the back of the card. Done.

KanjiPro’s is a little different. The author suggests four rungs on a ladder; Warm up, Incubator, Consolidation and Revision. I won’t go into too much detail, but it basically suggests to first look at it, then memorize the mnemonic stories or pictographs. After that You want to write the Kanji and say the mnemonic in your head as you write it. Finally, you want to learn the radicals and study the sample words to memorize the kanji readings.

At this point KanjiPro seems all very complicated. They give you all a lot of information at once to focus on one kanji. Whereas in Remembering the Kanji, the whole thing fits together as one rolling story.

KanjiPro Unboxed.Which is better KanjiPro or Remembering the Kanji?

I don’t know! I can’t make a fair assessment, yet.

I have only gone through RTK 1 before which is why I’m very familiar with many kanji, however I did not consistently review and continue to study Japanese after that so therefore, I have forgotten a lot of the stories from Heisig’s book.

Also, I have not gone through the KanjiPro book to learn all of the Kanji, so I can’t make a completely fair judgement on it’s effectiveness. I will post an update once I get started. It could prove to be more powerful than RTK 1.

But, only because of the kanji order and focusing on too many things do I think it will not be the case. We’ll see. Maybe having more things to attach to the kanji will prove to be an asset.

How will I use KanjiPro?

They mention KanjiPro Flashcards and Software, which I tried to look for online. If someone knows where I could find them, It would be helpful. However, I think I’ll make my own system. I’ll probably go through the book and repeat it several times writing out the kanji and reading the mnemonic as well as incorporating some TPR for myself.

I’ll keep you posted!