I am back to studying kanji. Before I was using James W. Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji to learn meanings of all Jōyō kanji. I finished the first book in about six months. I still remember some of the meanings and can easily write almost any kanji once I see it, but the overall system did not work for me. Although, I have to admit that I gave up on Japanese for quite some time due to being busy with other things.
I am in a language school now and spend about 10 hours a day studying. The school does not give me much freedom in how to approach kanji, so I will be trying to combine their curriculum with The Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Course by Andrew Scott Conning.
Unlike Heisig, Conning introduces kanji readings and didactic vocabulary (sample words) right away. He also promises to add a set of graded readings to supplement his course. So far only the first three volumes, Kanji Learner’s Course Graded Reading Sets, Combined Vols. 1-3 (Early Access Edition/Beta): Kanji 1-400, have been released. They look quite promising and I hope the next six volumes will be available in the nearest future. Reading practice is great for me — I tend to memorise things better when I read. Kanji learning is no exception.
Another important element is writing. For me, handwritten notes were always a key to success in studying. So, I decided to follow an example of Japanese pupils and start a kanji learning journal. Japanese stationery stores even sell special notebooks (漢字学習ノート) with fields for kanji, stroke order, compounds, sample sentences, etc. Of course, I immediately bought one (I am a notebooks and diaries junkie 🙂 ).
The notebook turned out to be very handy. However, it is not the best choice for foreigners learning Japanese. Unlike kanji practice notebooks the kanji journal does not have special columns for writing kanji readings. There is also no room for notes or translations.
Being a perfectionist, I decided to make my own template for a kanji journal (gaijin version 😉 ). The basic organisation is the same as in the native Japanese notebook. To make it more suitable for my needs I added fields for keywords, kana readings, and notes. I also changed kanji practice fields from a traditional squared type to the 六度法 (rokudohō) type to work on my penmanship.
Six Degree Method (六度法)
One of the reasons for my learning Japanese is kanji. I just love how they look (and I tend to overuse them when I write). Unfortunately, my penmanship is not that great. I struggle the most with the overall balance of a character (i.e. how it fits into a square and how different parts relate to each other).
Recently I discovered 六度法 (rokudohō) method. It has just three simple rules:
- use six-degree slant;
- carefully align strokes and maintain the same distance between similar elements;
- balance the slant by extending strokes at the lower right corner (works for 80% of Jōyō kanji).
The practice notebooks for this method also have more guidelines than the traditional version, so it is easier to maintain proper balance.
I was using 六度法 (rokudohō) practice sheets for just a couple of weeks, yet I can see a noticeable improvement. Thus, my kanji journal template takes advantage of this method. And I hope that if I practice hard enough my writing will become more legible.
Feel free to download the kanji learning journal template in PDF format (JIS B5 with minimal margins for 26 holes binders).
Do not hesitate to suggest improvements or request a modifiable file (.pages or .docx formats).