Reflections on a vocabulary notebook

I’ve been keeping a vocabulary notebook to write down characters I do not know. In the beginning, I thought I would keep it organized, keep track of the characters I wrote down, and not repeat any characters. I quickly realized it’s pretty much impossible to keep track of characters since it takes time to find characters in my notebook. I’ve actually found that having to recheck and rewrite a character is helping me remember characters better.

For each character that I find myself not recognizing, I write down the character, the pronunciation, and the definition. Everything is in the same language because I’m not focusing on translation. If a definition has a character I don’t understand, I then look up that character. Sometimes I end up looking up multiple characters to understand the definition of one character. Even though looking up many characters can be tedious, online dictionaries make it easier and faster. It’s the act of writing that helps me remember.

Lately I became concerned that I was not improving the number of characters I recognized. However, after a few weeks of diligently looking up unknown characters, I have noticed that I have learned a few new characters. I don’t just write down the characters. I do use some free time here and there to flip through my notebook and review the characters. I have noticed that there are some characters that I have written down multiple times. Even though it can be a little annoying to see repeated characters and definitions, I think it helps me remember the characters to have to repeat some of them. At some point I’ll remember them!

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