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.

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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.

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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.