Method Review: 6 – RTK Lite + Paths

A method that has come to my attention here recently is probably not as well known as I think it should be. It is at least in part what I think a person should consider when thinking about learning kanji. I’m going to cover this review in two parts, covering what RTK Lite is, then covering which sites that people are visiting most to go along with this. Of course, this method is based off of a few factors that may or may not concern you.

RTK Lite Baby

You may not know what RTK Lite means, especially if you don’t even know what RTK means. RTK is internet acronym slang for Heisig’s book, Remembering the Kanji. It’s basically a system that uses mnemonic devices for you to be able to remember how to read and write kanji, and how to approach kanji you’ve never seen. There is lots of information about this tool, which I’ll review in the tool’s section soon. As for now though, I’m going to go ahead and talk about RTK Lite with a sense that you already know RTK itself.

A great argument about RTK is that in the beginning you seem to go through countless of kanji that are just not used commonly. Though you might see it once in a while, one wouldn’t help but feel like they could be spending their time learning kanji that’s at least a lot more common. In fact, out of the first book of roughly 2k works, only 1k of those are common.

An epiphany apparently hit a few souls and they began to construct a list based off of several factors that were later coined RTK Lite. It’s hard to find information on who started this exactly, but if you go to Frabice Denis’s Koohii you can look it up in the forum and get a lot more information about the people who I assume started it.

For those using Anki, there are two decks pre made for the RTK Lite, however a word of caution: I found four errors in the one I downloaded, so please check your list.

So to quote Vgambit of Koohii:

The idea of RTK Lite is to finish RTK quickly by cutting the number of kanji learned initially by 926, learning only the 1023 JLPT2 kanji as well as about 92 other kanji that serve as primitives for the rest.

Some interesting figures someone posted a while back:

173 kanji make up 50% all kanji in Wikipedia.
454 kanji cover 75% of all kanji in Wikipedia.
874 kanji cover 90%
1214 kanji cover 95%
2061 kanji cover 99%
2456 kanji cover 99.5%
3489 kanji cover 99.9%

The JLPT level 2 covers to that 95% roughly and can also help prepare those seeking to pass the JLPT. Even though they’ve now changed things with the JLPT, those figures are pretty accurate. I suppose someone could also take the frequency list and do the same thing. Either way, this is not meant to stop you from doing the full RTK, but rather allows you to get to reading sooner so you can start applying your knowledge for better momentum, then to go back through doing the ones you skipped.

So that is RTK Lite and here is a link to the full list again. Simply suspend non RTK Lite cards, then un-suspend to do Full RTK.

The Unofficial Paths:

Now that you know what RTK Lite is you can learn about the different method paths that are out there.

AJATT Modified:

So if you’re an AJATT fan, you can still use RTK Lite along with it, you just modify the order a little. In the path he has you take, you do RTK 1 completely then start Kana and Sentences while learning RTK 3’s kanji. Simply modify that to, RTK Lite then start Kana/sentences while learning the rest of the Full RTK1/3.

RTK LITE + Various Internet Learning Resources:

I’ll post the following set that sums up a lot of the different ones out there

-Learn RTK Lite

-Study Grammar through sites like: Tae Kim, Jgram, The Japanese Page, Live Mocha, Japanese Pod 101, ect.

-Study Vocab through sites like: Twitter, Smart.fm/Iknow, Anki decks, ect.

-and/or Study based on JLPT through sites like: Peter van der Woude’s JLPT site, MLC’s Japanese, ect.

-and/or Study Kanji in context: AJATT, Read the Kanji, Sites in Japanese, ect.

-Learn Full RTK 1-3 as continuing Grammar/Vocab/context/jlpt studies.

Here is an example of Usis35’s plan:

1. RTK LITE (up to 1000 kanji) (equivalent JLPT 2)
2. Readings, grammar and vocab (equivalent JLPT4 and JLPT3)
3. RTK1 了omplete (up to 2000 kanji)
4. Readings, grammar and vocab (equivalent JLPT2)
5. RTK3  (up to 3000 kanji)
6. Readings, grammar and vocab (equivalent JLPT1)

As you can see its pretty much the same information, just more specific to how he wants to go about it in stages. The same general idea can be applied to books rather than internet sources. As I’ve covered many text books before, you can look at them in conjunction with  RTK Lite, you simply replace internet sites with course books.

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  1. […] I discussed before about the RTK Lite setup used with other online resources as a method to learning Japanese. It basically covers 1100 kanji that make up about 95% of all the written Japanese out there. This allows for quicker bang o’ buck for those who are only interested in getting over the majority of kanji quicker so they can get to other things. […]



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