Friday, May 17, 2013

Heisig Method ("Remembering the Hanzi") - the full collection

The so-called "Heisig Method" for learning to read, write & remember the meaning of Chinese characters is a fantastic method, and one that I have blogged about extensively. I used it to learn the first 1500 characters in about 3 months, after many other methods have failed me.

Given how much I have written on the subject over an extended period of time, it made sense to create just one source which puts all the material in one place.  And that place is here.

All links are placed in three sections:
  • What is the Heisig method?
  • My personal story of success
  • Instructions, Hints, Tips, Suggestions

What is the Heisig method?

My personal story of using the Heisig Method


Instructions, Hints, Tips, Suggestions - for the Heisig Method
  • Tips & Tricks for Heisig Visualisations (This is my most important post on the topic - people are bad a visualising in general, but Heisig needs you to get good at. If you read this post and follow the advice, your Heisig journey will be more fun, quicker, and longer-lasting. Seriously.)
  • Early traps not to fall into (although the post was an update post, I made some important points that people starting out should be careful with)
  • Pinyin proves that Heisig is right (You don't need to learn pronunciation while you're learning the book, it can come quite naturally too)
  • Using Modern Art to Learn Chinese (Many characters that you're trying to create images for are very abstract (like peace, great, grand, deliberate) - and this post is filled with tricks to make abstract words easy to get concrete images)
  • Bad Heisig images & great Dali paintings (In order to revise after 2.5 years, I pick up book 1 again, and I look at Heisig stories/images on the Net; Here I give detailed examples on why so many of them are terrible, and will be impossible to remember for long)
  • Just stick to one image, OK? (Consistency in image-making is part of why I did book 1 so fast, and I highlight how book 2 is itself failing to teach this consistency)
  • How to revise, once you've finished the book (this is part of an update post, but I give some detail about how my revision process is shaped)
  • Stoned Horses (examples of how easy it is to think of many possible visualisations for a single character)

If you find this collection of articles helpful, please share them.  And as always, your comments below are welcome and appreciated.


  1. Heisig! Thanks for putting up this post will all the resources! I've just started reviewing and sharpening my characters with Heisig (where the drops go always get me) and I'm so happy with it! I've studied Chinese at a university for two years and never had the time to do Heisig on top of regular coursework but now have a very boring campus summer job so I'm knocking a bunch of them out every day. I just wish the stories were provided for all the characters...I'm so lazy coming up with my own... ;)

  2. Hey Senika, thanks for your kind words. I'm glad you're enjoying Heisig - it's a great approach.

    For now, you're probably wishing they gave lots of stories ... I did for a while too. But the more I did, the more I realised my brain works differently from theirs, and the stories I came up with naturally felt more comfortable & memorable inside my brain, and then things really started speeding up for me.

    Good luck!