It has been a couple of weeks since I accepted the Chinese Character Challenge laid down by Olle on Hacking Chinese and I’m overdue on a public update on progress. Before I get in to the details of my progress to date, I should explain the challenge I’ve set myself.
I’m going to try (once again) to learn the first 1,500 characters using Remembering Simplified Hanzi by James W. Heisig. I’m starting at the beginning of the book with a clean Skritter account. By starting from scratch I’ll be covering old ground and so initially I expect progress to be quick but it won’t be long before I start hitting new characters. I’m hoping to crack some of my problem characters along the way. I’ve previously faltered as I’ve found various excuses to stop learning Chinese characters, but see this challenge as an opportunity to crack the first book.
Progress by the numbers:
- Days Studied: 11/29
- Hours Studied: 2
- Minutes per Day: 4
- Retention: 95.6%
What instantly stands out to me is how little time I’m spending on character study, just 4 minutes a day since I started. Admittedly that jumps to 11 minutes a day in the last week but that’s still not as high as I expected.
The key emphasis of the challenge is not to skip over any character you get wrong. Get it wrong and you need to re-visit your method for remembering the character. In order to help me stick to this rule, I’ve taken to modifying my Skritter mnemonic for every character I’ve got wrong. If I haven’t written a mnemonic, I write one; if I have, I amend it to better jog my memory.
Progress feels slow. I’m used to flicking through characters on The Underground but having to get my book out and review every time I get one wrong means I’m less inclined to do so. However, taking the time to document a mnemonic for every character I get wrong also seems to be having an effect. I appear to have cracked a couple of the problem characters and I’m still tracking above the target retention rate of 95%.
I’ll check back in a couple of weeks (I’m out of town for a bit) and will let you know how I’m getting on.