If you’ve been googling about years ago trying to learn Japanese, you might’ve come across this article:
This was the original resource I tried to use the first time I set my sights on learning Japanese when I was a youngin. It didn’t last long. I’m curious how many people tried this as well, so decided to write up this post.
As far as I can find, this article was posted in 2011, 11 years ago, and as the title suggests, it “shows a way” of learning 2000 kanji in 3 months.
First of all, the sane stuff.
The 2000 kanji it’s talking about is of course the Jouyou kanji. Nothing wrong with that of course, some of them are not as common as others, but it’s a great starting point.
It’s using anki as the backbone of the study, a great tool, many use it, perfect choice probably, especially in 2011 when the alternatives didn’t yet exist.
This is where the issues start.
The guide is using Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji. You’ve probably heard of this book already, it’s doing a very similar thing to WaniKani, using mnemonics for every single kanji to remember them and then drilling them in using srs. Now, the first of my issues is that this will teach you how to go from the shape of the kanji to the “Heisig name” of the kanji, no readings, no usages. The name is usually one of the meanings, probably the more common one, but that’s all you get and you will be missing out on the rest.
This means, that you will be spending these 3 months connecting random words to random shapes. No real way to actually use your knowledge until you start putting these into words. Not too ideal, if you want to stay motivated and not feel like what you’re doing is a waste of time.
This would be fine if losing motivation wasn’t a big problem… so let’s look at the other issue, effort.
What does it take to learn all 2000 kanji in 3 months? The author did a calculation and came out at 22-ish kanji a day, recommending 25 to 30 just to be safe and leave some breathing room. You might be saying “that’s easy, I learn that many items on wanikani every single day”, but this is a bit different. First and foremost, all you’re learning is kanji, no vocab words, and those are oftentimes easier, than learning new kanji (in my opinion at least). Also, RTK only has mnemonics made for the first 300 or so kanji, from that point on, you need to write your own.
It really doesn’t help that the author undersells the complexity of this task. When talking about how much time it will take to do this a day, he doesn’t call them hours, he calls them minutes without any actual estimate. It also fails to mention the fact, that after doing this, you will then have to spend time learning words and meanings, otherwise your knowledge will be next to useless.
This method used to have a forum where people would post their journeys through the process, kinda like the study logs on here. Not sure if this forum is still up, didn’t care enough to look for it, but I remember most studylogs lasting about a week before being left behind, and 99% of them ended after at most a month of study. The burnout was real.
So no thanks, I’d rather take the 2 years.