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The Goldlist Method and Kanji

One technique for learning stroke order, this one's called Stendhal Method.

The following is my contribution from yesterday on .

Victor Berrjod wrote in the thread about the Goldlist method over on that excellent forum:

“I’m on my third day of using this method for Japanese, and while I know the meaning of most kanji already, knowing what readings to use is a problem. I have written 3 pages of 25 words each, with the furigana listed right next to the kanji. I realized that I’m sort of writing down 50 words this way. Would it be a better idea to have them separate, and maybe merge them when distilling if necessary?”

Excellent question. I don’t know whether I really answered, but I said how I use the Goldlist when it comes to Japanese and in particular Kanji.

The use of Goldlist for Japanese is not as straightforward as it is for many languages. I’ll tell you how I go about it, and you’ll see if there’s anything in there that can work for you.

I’m of course referring to its use to learn Japanese properly, of course, not just being limited to the romaji offered on quite a few courses, which in my opinion is just a “taster stage” of the language. In my view, if you are really comfortable with katakana and hiragana (like you could write me out the basic tables of the two, not necessarily the ” ones and the pa, pi, etc, but the ha, hi, fu, etc) then you are overdoing it a bit by doing two lines per word.

A different story emerges when you start to do the kanji of course. There is a lot to remember, nothing like just one word in an alphabetised language. In the headlist when I’m doing kanji I would be doing one line for the stroke order and meaning, the next line is the first of the on-yomies, and I write down one line with each of the on-yomies (following convention I put the katakana as well as the romaji, leaving hiragana to write the kun-yomies, which I also do giving each one their own line).

After that I put down the main combinations, which is very important. Here I write the romaji and kanji and meaning for each on a single line. Then I do practice phrases showing how they are used (which means getting a kanji book that offers that on a kanji by kanji basis) I write the Romaji, the meaning and the Kanji on three lines per item. So in the headlist a single kanji gets up to a full page sometimes.

In the first distillation, I do the stroke order first, but this time cutting out the phases in the stroke order which are obvious. It’s a line like before, but a shorter line usually. Then I put all on-yomies on one line, and all kunyomies on one line I usually don’t get to distill much on the combinations part in the first distillation, but if I’d well remembered something, of course I could leave it out. In the practice sentence part, I don’t write out the English meaning if I’ve remembered it, just the romaji and the sentence written in proper Japanese. So much for the first distillation.

Generally in the second distillation I keep the stroke order, this time further simplified if I can get away with it without getting the order wrong, plus the kun and the on all on one line. I usually don’t have to put the basic meaning of the kanji in any more at this stage. I may get away with leaving out one or two more combinations, and the practice sentences can be just Japanese with the furigana over the unknown kanji that may be in the sentences. And after that the distillation will be as normal.

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