I studied kanji for 2.5 hours evey single day for one one year

Like the title says. I studied kanji for around 2.5 hours every single day for one year. Here’s what happened.

New kanji that I learned - 1530

Individual reviews of kanji - 30975

Seeing as though my focus was writing, and I wrote each kanji 10 times per review, that makes 309750 individual kanji written. (Planning on uploading a video of the obscene number of full pages)

“Why?”

I wanted to see if writing was more effective than mnemonics… Also my partner is Japanese, and I don’t wanna be a dad that can’t communicate with my kids… If I ever have kids :smirk:

“Result worth it?”

For me personally, absolutely unequivocally yes. Of those 1530, I very rarely make a mistake in remembering the on-yomi/kun-yomi, and almost never fail to remember the English meaning.

“What order did you learn them in?”

I did japanese school grade order. This is usually not recommended, but I wanted to try to understand why this order is used for natives, so I used it. In hindsight I am very glad that I did, as learning easy ‘concepts’, rather than learning easy ‘kanji’ was definitely more useful as you progress further and further. You start to notice that each new difficult kanji is just a unique nuance of something you’ve already learned.

“Why only 1530, heisig people learn all 2k or so in 90ish days?”

No… They learn an exceptionally vague meaning that they’ll probably forget very soon. I wanted to take it slow and learn each one to a native level of recall. To be honest, I stopped strictly using school grade order after 1200 ish (教育漢字)。After that I just started reading and learned kanji that popped up in books, while still learning 1 school grade kanji per day in addition to that.

“Can you actually read now?”

I would say that I can read 95% of anything, and almost 100% of topics that I enjoy (as those kanji tend to repeat a lot and I learned them after sidetracking from school level kanji).

“Would you recommend it?”

I have bloody god awful calluses in places that I didn’t even know a person could get calluses from writing so much… So in that sense no. In the sense of what I gained out of it knowledge wise, 10000% recommend it.

“What about the kanji you don’t know still?”

I’ll still continue studying 3 new kanji a day, but I can read most kanji now even if I haven’t learned them officially (just through pattern recognition from similar nuanced kanji). For example 溶ける (melt)、解ける (unravel/solve)、融ける (dissolve) all mean to melt/come undone, and they all are read as とける、most new kanji I see are like this. I already know the meaning/reading, I just need the new nuance. I believe this is how natives learn new kanji too, just see the reading and put 2 and 2 together.

“I don’t have enough time for that!”

Actually, time is the only resource you ever have.

Conclusion - the purpose of this post isn’t to pressure anyone into studying harder, or even trying the way I studied. It’s just to show that (probably) any study method will work if you stick at it.

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out of curiosity, what did your cards look like?

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Like this, I started with the allin1 kanji deck, and edited it slowly throughout the process

The edits I made were -
1 - Always putting the most accurate translation on the top line, and only using the other translations to help with nuance.
2 - Sometimes changing the translation completely if none of the words English words were a close enough translation. (Usually this was when a particle verb -2 or more word verbs- fit the meaning better than a single word)
3 - Adding cards that were missing from the deck. (Despite having 3500ish kanji in total, I still needed to add about 20 new ones that I saw in books but weren’t in the deck)
4 - Altering the kunyomi/onyomi to include missing readings… A heck of a lot had missing readings for some reason :thinking:.
5 - Sometimes reordering the readings so that more common ones were first in the series.

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Mate, kudos for being so consistent! That is really impressive.
Also thanks for your thoughts on the kanji learning order. That explains a lot !
Especially when seeing and not seeing some some furigana while reading light novels.

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It explains a lot why most light novels will only have the furigana once for complex words, then the next time they appear the furigana is absent. Once is usually enough for a native to grasp the nuance.

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Sometimes I do this whenever the kanji doesn’t stick enough in me and with some writing I could grasp that.
But unfortunately I can’t jungle writing kanji with my other real life stuff so I had to make sure that special day to do this.

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Out of curiosity where in your Japanese language learning were you when you started doing this a year ago? I ask because I have wanted to start writing more to aid in retention but it isn’t very high on my priority list right now. Thanks and good job!

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Probably an overconfident (in a negative way) N3 a year ago. I mainly got by on memorizing vocab and neglecting kanji.

I’m not too interested in tests, but would probably have no problem with N1 now. Just based on reading and grammar. But then again I didnt start writing to practice for a test, I just wanted to be functional in the language. From that perspecitve I’d say that goal was met.

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The great (and sometimes daunting) thing about Japanese in particular is just how different everyone learns the language and goes about it. Glad this worked out for you in the end!

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Have you thought about sharing this deck in the future o.o? I would love to try this once I reach around 1200 kanji on WK. I’ve been taking grammar much more serious recently and I think I’ll probably just stop doing lessons for a while on WK once I reach that 1200 and just burn reviews while getting more accustomed to what I’ve learned thus far.

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I’m sorry, but 110.6 second per answer? That’s insane. What did you spend time doing so long? Do you write an example sense with each kanji or something similarly convoluted?

I write kanji for about 10 minutes every night, and it took me about 2 months to memorize the writings of 645 kanji (“N3 kanji” according to a random app I use, but not all kanji from all N3 vocabulary).

I simply stopped at that point to catch up with a bit of vocabulary and grammar. I learned 5-10 new kanji every night for the last few weeks. Typically, I’d get them 80% of them wrong the next night, 50% the second night and eventually my rate of failure gets to approximately 5%, but that’s mainly due to my horrible memory that no SRS can possibly save. I can’t ever remember which is which when it comes to more complex kanji only differing in a single radical. I entirely skipped over the idea of mnemonics because they do more harm to me than they do good. I only did it for fun because I consider writing more of a flex than being remotely useful.

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Writing the kanji is what took most time. A lot of that answer time is me sitting down with the app open but not doing anything (doing other work). Remembering all the readings and writing each kanji 10 times was probably closer to a minute.

I guess considering I recited every single reading for every kanji I wrote, it seems about right :thinking: Especially considering some kanji have around 10 readings

Happy to share it but not sure if it would actually be helpful for anyone :joy:.

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Inspirational!

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I’d be interested to hear more about what your routine looks like. I know you mentioned learning three new kanji a day. How many repetitions do you do for each one? Is it ten apiece like you mentioned above? Do you just try to write them exactly as they appear on the card or do you try to work in a little shodo?

After some of our past conversations, I actually took your advice and started writing new kanji that I learn in WaniKani! I’ve been doing that with every kanji for the last three or so levels. I use my tablet, though, just because I don’t do well with that much physical paper all over the place! When I get bored, I like to go to a Japanese font testing page and try imitating different fonts as I practice.

Personally, I’ve been doing eight repetitions of each kanji, then I’ll do the same with kanji that I saw a while ago but forgot. I have to admit that my confidence with kanji has increased since I started doing this!

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For the first 400 or so kanji, I was doing about 8 a day, then dropped to 5, then went between 3 and 4 depending on my review forecast.

This is my review forecast for the next month. When my daily reviews goes over 70, I drop to 3 (as that is the number that my total reviews will very slowly decrease at). If it’s under 65 or 60 I push it back up to 4 again. If I stay at 4 the reviews always stay at around 70 unless I have a week or 2 of really difficult to remember new kanji that I keep forgetting.

I don’t do a shodo style, but I do write quite carefully and slowly like this. This is because I remember better if I write carefully and really think about the radicals. It’s 10 a piece but I am not so strict. Usually between 8 and 15, depending on my confidence.

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Okay, this might be a stupid question and I’m not trying to be rude, but… why?
For what purpose would you ever need to be able to recite 10 readings of a kanji in isolation? :laughing:
(That kind of drilling seems like self-punishment to me - no offense :joy:)

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@Asher Real question - how do you find the time? I struggle to put in 30mins of actual studying per day.

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Congratulations on improving so much within 1 year! Not many people feel like they go from N3 to N1 within 1 year.

I am wondering, did you stop reviewing/adding vocab cards or do less immersion during this time? Because, if you stack reviewing and learning vocab and doing reading and listening immersion on top of that 2.5 hours of writing kanji it must have been a lot of time each day, right?

If you only had 2.5 hours of time to study per day, would you still do this? Do you think it would be worth doing if you only had that amount of time?

I want to learn how to write the kanji eventually too and to have more sharp or explicit knowledge about the kanji, but right now I’m lucky if I have 2.5 hours a day to study so it seems like immersion and vocab give more bang for my buck.

I’ve found that just learning more vocab in kanji and immersing over time in content without furigana also gives you intuition about the meaning and readings of kanji so I’m wondering when it would become worth it for me to try doing something like this.

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Not a stupid question. I guess one of the main reasons that I was able to keep so consistent was that I treated the whole process like an experiment. Meaning that I wanted to see if writing/recitation worked better than mnemonics (for me). After doing maybe the first 200 kanji this way, I started to get a clearer picture of how important knowing all the readings was for really understanding the nuance of a specific kanji. For example, if 5 kanji have the same kun yomi, if one of them has a different yomikata in addition to it, it helps to give the nuance. Here’s a more obscure (but helpful) example. 却って(かえって) is also read as しりぞく、 which is one of the readings of 退く. かえって is the grammar point for (instead), but knowing 退く highlights that the nuance is more of retracting your initial statement, rather than simply (instead).

As I noticed this nuance stuff more and more, it became easier to ‘drill it’, like you say. The only reason you’d ever need to know all the readings in isolation is for exactly that reason, deciphering nuances of new kanji. As for why I physically recited them… not sure… The act of moving my mouth was one extra layer of forming a long term memory I guess.

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