Igor's Study Log

Hello to all! Just to share my experience with Hanzi Hero, and where I am with it. I started learning Chinese two years+ ago, and I subscribed to HH in the spring, to use it as a tool to have a more systematic way of learning new hanzi, and recalling the ones I learned from other sources. The plan was to learn quickly as many as possible so that I can get more into reading (my main focus) and a general media consumption, first with graded readers, then native texts. It was ambitious and perhaps not very justified, in light of the common advice “no point in learning new characters if you don’t use them much” but then I just got tired of seeing so many new characters anytime I tried to read something.

The first 1000 characters went relatively quickly. I knew quite a bunch of them already, and they are the most commonly used anyway. Now that I hit ~1300 characters’ mark, things are feeling very different. The recall isn’t as good, most characters are completely unfamiliar, and learning new ones feels like a struggle. (That advice about not learning characters unless extensively used is a solid one.) At the same time, reading simple native texts has become rather doable. (Mostly. There is still an abundance of unfamiliar characters but they show up not often enough to be easily remembered.)

If anyone is interested in the extensive reading beyond graded readers, there is, or used to be, a wonderful collection of children’s books available here (https://www.reddit.com/user/A-V-A-Weyland/comments/jozb2f/free_download_13gb_of_native_chinese_childrens/). The provenance is unclear though, so I suggest using it more as a reference, having a look first and choosing which book(s) to acquire using legal means.

Anyway, it’s time to modify the plan. I intend to expand my Chinese media consumption, and switch more to speaking, watching, and listening comprehension. At the same time, I am slowing down with HH lessons (switching to 5 per day, or even less); incidentally, that brings the number of reviews per day down to something very manageable :slight_smile: . This way, I hope that encountering new words and characters in the media will catch up with my HH progress.


Really relate to your experience thus far. I find that character learning is a sort of balancing act between two different extremes. On one hand, learning as many as possible independent of media consumption makes the characters less relatable and memorable. On the other hand, large amounts of media consumption with insufficient character knowledge makes the media consumption quite frustrating as it requires constant dictionary lookup. The happy middle ground is really hard to find or maintain.

I found two things to help make that balance a bit easier to find.

First was to focus on extensive reading if I read at all. Reading things that are perhaps even below your comprehension level, but to read massive amounts of it. The two best sources I found for that are Japanese manga / light novels that are translated into Chinese. Even at ~1000 characters it’ll be a bit difficult at first, but after a couple weeks of it and patching up any important missing characters, it’ll quickly become easier.

The second was to spend more time listening/watching things. I did this as I went through most of the HanziHero curriculum the first time around as I built it up. Using it with subtitles means that it can still serve as a sort of assisting “reading” practice if you read along when necessary, which is nice. There are a bunch of reasons why I found listening/watching to be far more rewarding while also still helping me cement characters/words, but I won’t get too much into it here.


Yeah this is something I worry about. Im at 750ish characters in HH, but still doing 450 character readers. Im at risk of losing a lot of my gains if I dont catch up.

All right, here is my update. I’ve reached Level 60 (it has a special significance in Wanikani tradition…), with 1800 characters behind, and this is where I’m really, really slowing down with a systematic study of characters, as I certainly need to see the acquired ones in action before I start forgetting them. Also, shifting focus to listening and speaking.

Lately, lots of characters come from my reading; HanziHero has this neat feature of prioritizing characters you encounter in the wild. Many of them are in the HSK7-9+ category. This confirms my personal experience that characters beyond first 1000 are used in a more text-dependent way. Sometimes, you’ll see some showing really frequently ( 帳, “tent” is hard to miss while reading on camping), and some pretty much not at all ( 愁, “gloomy”, where are you? Clearly, I need to expand my reading topics).

After the 1500-character mark, I noticed that reading original Chinese books became… possible. Still, quite hard, with a few/many unknown characters here and there, but overall, I can, sort of, follow what’s going on, albeit slowly. My current reading is: Wisely’s adventures (there is practically an infinite number of Wisely books available online) and Legendary Mechanic (same). Both are adventures with sharp turns of events to keep me interested [a la "… and then a Pakistani man in the seat to the right addressed me in a feminine voice. I realized that he, in fact, was a she, a disguised Li Ming, the most dangerous woman in the world! She, along with all her henchmen, was on the same plane as me! I felt somewhat relieved that at least the bag with diamonds was in a safe place, entrusted to the CEO of my companies. " Or something like this. Don’t judge me] and a relatively limited vocabulary = just at the edge of my capacity, but doable. This is really satisfying! Thank you, HanziHero :slight_smile: . Now it’s more reading, listening, and speaking for me.


Congratulations on reaching level 60!

I’ve never heard of Wisley’s Adventures! Its nice to find something at a lower reading level that is actually a native Chinese text. When I got to around 1500+ characters I mainly read translated Japanese manga and then a translated version of Harry Potter starting around 2500+. The reason: everyone I met in Taiwan said that when they were kids this was mainly what they read. I wish they told me about this series instead.

1 Like

Woah congrats on finishing HSK6 (3.0)! I’m about to finish HSK5, hope to be where you are in about 50 days.

This is my fear. In HSK 3 and below, all characters were so common that it’s nearly impossible to not see on a weekly basis. But at HSK4ish and above there are many that I’ve never seen outside of the HH. These tend to be leeches for me - I’ll hold on to them for a few weeks or a month, then I’ll forget I even learned it.

Makes sense, according to Chinese character frequency list 汉字字频表, at 1500 characters you are nearly at 95% by frequency character recognition, so only 1 in 20 unknowns. Granted there’s way more to reading than character recognition, but that’s a huge start.


Wisely Series - Wikipedia

I am reading earliest books available, written several decades ago, and the style dynamics resembles that of contemporary Ian Fleming’s Bond series, except Mr. Wisely is more remarkable in his physical prowess, access to the advanced technology of the day (various listening and decoding devices etc), and a very healthy financial situation. He is also a gentleman of some renown, well-respected for his moral integrity. It’s a very superficial reading material, but certainly a wild ride…

1 Like