Having problems with recall

Hello, I have been practicing kanji for a little bit of time (I’m level 7), but I realized I couldn’t go a write a letter. I am getting good at seeing the kanji and knowing what it is, but when I try and think back, I can’t remember where all the lines are. For example, I know 水 is water but when I try writing it down, I always have to check my computer for exactly how it looks. Anyone have tips to help with this.


Practice writing just like you practice reading?


In Chinese there is a saying 提笔忘字 (tibiwangzi), which basically means “pick up the pen, forget the character”.

When you’re learning the character, remember the order of the radicals. I like to write the mnemonic puns in the order you write the radicals. I don’t know what level it is, but the order for 週 (week) would be HEAD DIRT MOUTH ROAD. It really helps!

For radical-as-kanji, like 水, you just have to memorize the whole character.

If you want to remember how to write by hand, you have to actually write by hand. You can use the SRS scheduler to time when to write everything… I go by meaning.



To aid in this, there is the [Userscript] Stroke Order Diagram. Rememdering how to write a kanji is easier if you write it the same way every time, and gives you more insight into how the shape can change across fonts and handwriting. Also, I think it was in this thread that someone posted a link to handwriting practice sheets they made for all WK levels: Want to write Kanji?

There’s a psychology term “passive recall” vs “active recall”. Passive would be like recognizing something and knowing what it means, like knowing a park you used to play at as a kid when you go back to it. Active recall is bringing that information back at will, like trying to remember what color the slide was or on what side the swings were on. Two different skills.

I’d recommend learning how to write each radical as you learn them, and being sure that as you’re memorizing the kanji you’re taking note of where each radical is inside it. And go back and write out a few times a good amount of old kanji. It should be easier as you go, and it’s probably good to start doing that with new kanji now… I’m level 52 and can barely write any of the kanji I know. Going back and doing them all would be an ordeal, and I wish I had tried to learn how to write them as I learned them the first time.


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