How Normal People Learn Kanji
“When will you understand that being normal isn’t necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage.”
Normal isn’t always good. Sometimes it is, but in the case of kanji, you’re just jumping off the bridge with the rest of the world. There’s a pretty specific way “normal” people learn kanji, and it looks something like this:
Step 1: Look at a kanji (probably feel confused and overwhelmed because it’s too complicated for your level).
Step 2: Try to memorize ALL of the individual strokes, one at a time. Some kanji don’t have many strokes, sure, but once you get to 5, 6, 7+ strokes your brain will revolt. The “magic number” for your short term memory is seven, so once you try to store more than that… ouch! Not to mention if you want to learn another kanji after that…
Step 3: Learn the many different ways to read the kanji (there are usually 4+ ways to pronounce the same kanji. If strokes weren’t terrifying, this will get you for sure). A lot of people don’t filter what they learn by “useful” or “not useful.” This means you just end up having to try to learn everything, even if you’ll never use it in your lifetime.
Step 4: Write the kanji over and over and over and over and over and over and over… never realize that this isn’t helping very much, especially when compared to the time you just spent writing the kanji over and over and over and over and over again.
Step 5: Hit your head on a curb until it feels better (it won’t, so don’t try it).
Step 6: Forget the kanji a few minutes later, because you’ve only stored bits and pieces into your short term memory (and you’ve hit your head on a curb, whoops).
Step 7: Repeat.
Now, this method has been around for a lonnng lonnng time, but when you look at people learning kanji, you’ll notice that they spend years… sometimes 10-15… learning what should take them less than ONE year to complete. It’s not their fault. It’s not that they’re stupid. It’s just the method they’re using is stupid, which in turn doesn’t help them learn anything. It’s kind of the “here’s what you need to learn so learn it” method, and that just doesn’t make any sense at all.
So, how will you be learning kanji? I can tell you now, it involves fewer curb headbutts.