This is an update on my experiment to learn to read Chinese. You can also read my original post on this topic, or check out all other posts on my experiment. After a bit of research I settled on Heisig's "Remembering the Simplified Hanzi" method - which is progressing really well.
I celebrated this on Twitter early today, even mentioning how I rewarded myself.
Some quick statistics:
- it has taken me 46 days to reach 1000 hanzi
- that's close enough to 1.5 months
- 22 characters a day (although some days were as little as 0)
- I have been spending roughly 30 minutes a day do this, sometimes more sometimes less
- my retention, according to flashcard testing, is around 90%
- the first 500 took me 18 days, this second 500 took 28 days
Although I try to regularly revise, covering recent chapters as well as older material, I know that there are sections I'll definitely have to work more on. For example, I find characters which use the 忄radical difficult to create images for, so I need to spend more time with those.
I could continue past 1000 - even if I'm focusing on revision - but I need to keep myself in check. But I think it's about keeping a balance. When I stopped to revise at 500, I really missed that sense of progress. I missed the excitement of new words - and I lost a bit of momentum. But I do want to solidify these 1000 before I climb into the last bunch. And this time, I mean it.
As you saw above, the first 500 took 18 days, while the second 500 took 28 days. No idea how long the last 500 of this book will take, but I'm pretty sure it will be more than 28 days. I know I keep talking about having to go back and revise, but without these increasingly frequent pauses, I found myself forgetting almost entire lessons at one stage.
Keep an eye out for my next article where I take the same texts as last time (The Little Prince & BBC news) and highlight how many characters I now know. Then compare this with how 'yellow' the pages looked when I only knew 500 characters.
(By the way, I'm not trying to light a fire under your bum, or anything like that, but if you think about it ... even if you haven't started the book, you could finish all 1500 characters by the end of the year, starting now.)