Weekly Update - Dec. 28, 2019

December 28, 2019

Learning 3,000 Characters

Check out my progress.

I learned 212 characters this week, bringing my total to 676/3,000. I’m also now back on track with my target of learning 3,000 characters by March 31, 2019.

I’ve spent 24.3 hours learning characters so far and I’m 22.5% of the way to 3,000.

I’ve now reached the point in Remembering Simplified Hanzi where the author no longer gives pre-fabricated mnemonics to help readers remember the character. Instead, he provides the primitive elements and asks the reader to come up with a memorable story to help them remember the character.

Sometimes this is really frustrating. It takes a lot longer for some characters where the connection between primitives and the word is not obvious or when the word is abstract.

For example, consider the character for general (adj.) (总). It’s comprised of the primitives horns, mouth, and heart. How do these characters come together to form the word general? I ended up making a half-mnemonic that wasn’t very creative (In general , you shouldn’t trust your heart with someone with horns growing out of their mouth. Not ideal [1], but it gets the job done.

Other times, it’s actually better to for me to form my own stories for things because they’re more memorable than Heisig’s and require active thinking to create. More engagement = better learning.

Adjustments to Anki

Right now, I get about 87% of my answers correct. I’ve read in the past that 90% is about the right difficulty, but I may experiment with my deck settings to see if I can optimize my learning a little better.

I’m also not sure how useful it is to review cards where the front side is the Chinese character and you’re required to recall the English word. I feel like I spend too much time reviewing one character because I end up having to answer correctly 4 times for 1 character (twice for the English and twice for the character).

[1] I don’t consider this to be a great mnemonic because you could just easily forget the “in general” clause as it’s not critical to the story. However, it let me memorize the character quickly and so I let it slide.

I send updates on my progress every Saturday.