A Kanji Writing Practice Strategy That Truly Works
Kanji Writing Practice: My Ultimate Strategy
Let’s say you’ve got a bunch of kanji you want to practice.
What’s the best strategy?
I use what I call the 3-pile treatment.
It’s ordinary. Create flashcards that have the kanji on one side and your learning objectives on the other: stroke order, kanji meanings, sounds, and so forward.
Here are a duo tips to help you do this right:
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Dip your toes in by only studying stroke order at very first. Or maybe adding one or two other things…like the meaning of the kanji or the sounds.
Your Recipe for Success: The 3-Pile Treatment
In a nutshell, here’s how it works: you go down through the pile you made and practice writing the kanji. Keep those that you got wrong in the same pile, then stir the ones you got right into a fresh stack on the right.
You should have two piles. Now, go through both piles and repeat the process. Stir the ones you got right to the right, and leave the ones you got wrong in the same stack. You very likely have Three piles now.
And …this is significant…you can’t stop until you’ve shoved all the kanji to the right, through Trio piles into a 4th and final «finished» pile.
Why does this work? It compels you to keep practising the ones you get wrong until you get them right a certain number of times. When you’re done, they’ll be in the «finished» pile all the way on the right side.
In case this is a little confusing, we’ll walk through the steps in detail.
Let’s say you’ve got Ten kanji you’re attempting to learn before that big test on Friday. So you make one big pile.
Yes, that’s hardly going to make “1 big pile,” but anyways…
1. Put the pile in front of you, a bit to the left.
Pull off the top card, then write the kanji in your notebook once.
Look at the back of the card. Make sure you get the stroke order and the direction right.
Write it four more times in your notebook: good old-fashioned drilling. This helps you learn to write it the correct way.
Two. Budge the flashcard to a fresh pile on the right.
Keep going through the very first pile until you get to the bottom.
Each time you get it right, write the kanji four more times, then stir the flashcard one pile to the right.
Each time you get it wrong, write it four times the right way and leave it in the same pile.
Again, by keeping the ones you get wrong in the same pile, this compels you to attempt it again until you do get it right.
Practice makes ideal.
Trio. Once you’ve gone through all the kanji, begin again at the very first pile.
Now you get to attempt the kanji you got wrong.
And if you get it wrong again, leave it in the same place until you get it right.
Go through one pile at a time until all your kanji have been moved to the «finished» pile.
I suggest going through the «finished» pile one last time, then you can “graduate” these kanji to the next level.
Pretty effortless, right?
It seems elementary, but this basic flashcard strategy will help you learn how to write kanji in no time.
You’re very likely telling, «That’s not enough practice to actually memorize a character. I’ll just leave behind them tomorrow.»
And you’re very likely right.
Now is a good time to put the kanji away for another day. Like tomorrow. When you come back to them again – in a few days or a week – repeat the process with more piles until you’ve internalized the kanji.
I call this the Stroke Order Academy .
So how many levels should you use for your Stroke Order Academy?
I use Trio levels and keep separate boxes for each level:
How to Max out Your Learning with Your Flashcards
This 3-pile treatment is a fine way to practice writing kanji. But there’s a lot more to kanji than just stroke order…
Recall how I said to leave space on the back of your card to write more stuff?
Once you’ve got the string up of stroke order, you’ll be able to use this same strategy for building vocabulary. learning kanji sounds, kanji meanings, and so on.
Here are a few tips for maxing out the potential of your flashcards.
This elementary method will help you learn to write kanji in no time. But if there’s anything that needs tweaking – by all means, tweak! There’s no one right way for everyone. If you need more piles or more levels, then throw them in there.
The most significant thing is practice. Hopefully this treatment will give you a little bit of structure and budge your studies forward so you can ace that test or write that email.
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)
And One More Thing…
If you love learning Japanese, then I should also tell you about FluentU . You can use it to reinforce your kanji recognition abilities, which will ultimately help you with writing.
FluentU offers a broad range of contemporary videos—like music movies, dramas, TV shows and TV commercials:
FluentU makes these native Japanese movies approachable through interactive transcripts. Tap on any word to look it up instantly.
All definitions have numerous examples, and they’re written for Japanese learners like you. Tap to add words you’d like to review to a vocab list.
And FluentU has a learn mode which turns every movie into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples.
The best part? FluentU keeps track of your vocabulary, and it suggests content and examples based on your vocabulary. You’ll have a 100% personalized practice.
The FluentU App is now available for iPhone, and it’s also available as a website that you can use with your computer or tablet. If you’re an Android user, fear not, for our Android app is in the works!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you’ll love FluentU, the best way to learn Japanese with real-world movies.