Thursday, July 26, 2012

Just stick to one image, OK?

This post is for people who are using Heisig to learn to read & write Chinese, or for anyone using another image-based system with similar structure.

This is an issue that I came across relatively early on with the first book, but now after reaching a certain page in the second book, I had to roll my eyes a little ...
  • If you look at the photo on the right (you can click on it for a larger version), you will see that all three of these consecutive characters use the '王' primitive.
BUT - and this is the crazy part - the first instance of 王 uses the 'ball' keyword, the second uses 'jewels' as the keyword, and the third uses 'king'.  Sure it's nice that the book gives us various options for what we might use to visualise a certain character, but I've found multiple images confusing. And if you happen to be working with the wrong one for that 'scene', the Heisig approach might fail

For example let's say that you're reading Chinese and see the character 汪. - and the image you constructed was based on "water ... jewels" as indicated in the photo. But later, when you try recall the meaning, you discover that "water ... king" doesn't ring any bells, and neither does "water ... ball". And so you fail.

Please try, when you're creating images, to have just one image for each keyword, and stick to it. I wrote an article entitled Tips & Tricks for Heisig Visualisations back while studying Book 1, and even at that time I had a section devoted to "Pick just one meaning for primitives" - because experience showed quite early on that it's a recipe for failure.

Chinese is hard enough when you do it right, so try to avoid the alternative.

1 comment:

  1. Connect language arts activities to prior knowledge. Kindergarteners should bring their own experiences to the lesson. For example, if the book is about a new baby, ask the students if they have younger siblings at home. Thanks for sharing information.
    Chinese lessons