Saturday, January 12, 2013

Under the blankets, with a torch

It's a secret, so I'm not telling anyone, but I have started Heisig Book 2 again. Shhhh ...

As you might remember from last July, I wrote a post called I have begun Heisig Book 2. Kinda.  At that stage - just 3 weeks after beginning - I was already behind 'schedule', and that was really disappointing for me because I managed to do the entire Book 1 in about 3 months. By August, just a month later, I was writing a post called Total failure - I simply did not have enough time to study Heisig, and decided that the little spare time I had should rather be spent doing flashcards rather than additional characters.

(To give you a sense of my time shortages, last year I did over 50 flights, which is approximately one business trip every second week. Ouch.)

Well, at the start of January this year, I picked up the book again, and began with character 1501.

What I'm doing differently - lessons from last time

1. No goals
I didn't set myself any goals - last time I actually found that disheartening. Instead I decided I would first get some momentum going, and get a sense of what time I would have available - and only then decide what goals to set myself. I still don't have a solid rhythm going, and I'm still not working through the book each day, but I'm enjoying the pressure-free attitude to Book 2, which means at least I'm enjoying it.

2. More revision
As I had remarked in the July article, Book 2 is more difficult - obviously. This means I really need more time with the revision because these more complex images can fade quite quickly in the beginning. I'm less panicked about finishing within a certain time frame, so revision actually feels like it's contributing to my goal of learning to read, rather than delaying my goal of getting through the book.

3. Character-to-English
When I did Book 1, my focus was on being able to see the character and know it's meaning. This is, after all, my challenge when I'm trying to read.  Learning to write was less important to me, so the need for English-to-Character is less. After focusing on C2E when studying the book, I loaded up an Anki flashcard deck, and my revision of the book was based on E2C.  I found this an extremely enjoyable and efficient approach, and I'm doing the same ... learning C2E mainly while studying the book. Later on I will load up a flashcard pack for Book 2.

4. Enjoy
I was not enjoying learning Book 2 when I picked it up last year. Don't get me wrong ... I wanted to learn the book, and I remember how excited I was when the book was first delivered to me, but it was the wrong time, and the wrong attitude - and it failed.  Now I'm enjoying it - and although I can't guarantee that I won't fail again, I at least feel like I'm on the right track.

5. Don't give up (in the long run)
I gave up in August, it was the wrong time for so many reasons. But I didn't give-up totally. I knew I would pick it up again, at the right time. And I did pick it up again. And this might be the right time :-)


  1. I figure if you do just one character under the blanket a day that's enough - there's no pressure and no rush right? Seriously though - do it while you're still under the blankets either in the morning in bed before you get up or last thing at night when you go to bed whichever would allow your brain creativity and ability to retain it. This approach could have you take four years to finish the book but if you start now you'll be done with it four years from now :) He-he.

    I might be joking about it but it's actually not entirely silly, is it? To be honest, I have considered this approach myself. Not that I'm ready for book 2 at all.

    Besides, this would be very much in following what you said about AJATT - even one a day is progress.

    By the way here is a video by FluentCzech on methods and motivation. I'm not saying you need this specifically - we all need this. Have a look

    Greg, Greg, he's the man, if he can't do it no one can! Go Greg. Go Greg! 加油!

    1. Hey Peckish, thanks for your comments. Looking FORWARDS, the thought of 1 character a day seems crazy, 4 years! But looking BACKWARDS it is perfectly sane - if everyone who reads this post had done that starting 4 years ago, they would all be at the level of having completed Book 1. Fantastic.

      I watched the video - thanks. He has some interesting ideas, I'll take a look at a couple of other videos this weekend.