The Heisig Method

もしもし, everyone!

For those of you who also study Japanese, the name Heisig should ring a bell. His method employs an imaginative memory, in order to retain the myriads of symbols us westerners often find confusing and random. Instead of just hammering those symbols into our brain by repeating them until oblivion, one is rather invited to look into their structure and create crazy stories around. Our brain has a tendency to retain abstract information far better when we connect it to a wacky story or image.

I knew that he wrote books about remembering the Kanji, and I was planning to use them once I learned both Hiragana and Katakana. As it turns out though, he also wrote a guide for those two, and so with great delight I got myself those books and immediately started learning them.

They are wonderful I tell you.

Before I used this method, I simply repeated the symbols over and over again, with no real connection or image associated with them. But now the game has changed, and this book is a wild ride through the Hiragana. I find myself skipping backwards and forwards throughout the book, following Heisig’s instructions.

So far, I have made it through Lesson 1 & 2, learning 17 kana symbols basically on the fly. I am actually having a hard time not remembering the symbols. Sure, I still have to think about some here and there, but once the associated (and often wacky) story comes to mind, the kana is so simple to draw, it almost feels like cheating. I love it.

If you have doubts about this, try it. The method essentially proves itself.

Really, I can only recommend his works. They make learning so much easier and funnier.

Four lessons to go, and the premise of the book is to learn the Hiragana in three hours. I have only spent one hour on Lesson 1 & 2 (including repeating random clusters of vocabulary). Looks to me as if three hours is quite possible. Amazing isn’t it?

Once I have worked through all of the lessons and his other books, I will write more in-depth about this method and share it with you. Hopefully, you will gain something from this, perhaps even be inspired to use it yourself.

Until next time!


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