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Recommended study plan for my learning process?

Have a textbook or grammar book that you find particularly helpful? What about a learning tip to share with others?

RE: Recommended study plan for my learning process?

Postby saraLynne » Sun 02.03.2008 12:17 am

OitaFish wrote:
What has worked for me recently is this:

● Find words I don't know in the e-mail/presentation and add them to my vocabulary list.
● Study the vocabulary list for a few days (I use flashcard style)
● Periodically go back and re-read the email/technical presentation

By going back and re-reading the original text, I can see how well I am learning the vocabulary and also get the context in which it was used reinforced in my mind. It also helps me understand how much grammar I do (err, do not) know.


I think your situation here is very relevant, and not at all different from what we've been saying in this thread. :)

You're beyond beginner stage, so you automatically have decent context to plug your new vocabulary into. Even better, your vocabulary is immediately relevant and of supreme importance to you. These are both examples of reasons that sentences are useful.

Imagine if someone handed you a list of vocabulary from THEIR job, and asked you to memorize them. Which ones will you learn faster? The ones that pertain to you, or to them? Granted, you may be capable of learning both, but I would be very surprised if you could tell me that you'd have them both learned at the same rate.

A beginner doesn't have the luxury of determining their own material right away. You need basics like everyday nouns, adjectives, and verbs. I'm nearly past this stage, thank goodness.

Beyond that, looking into subjects that interest you (or are necessary for you, IE for work) and finding new vocabulary is a common and useful method, so I hear. I'm not quite to that point yet. My study was halted when my 6 yr old broke 4 ribs sledding, and I haven't jumped back into it yet. :P
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RE: Recommended study plan for my learning process?

Postby OitaFish » Sun 02.03.2008 2:27 am

saraLynne -- I agree with most of that. I do think that even beginners can (to an extent) keep to subjects that interest them. I remember when I started studying Japanese spending a lot of time learning the vocabulary words for different school subjects. For me, that turned out to be a waste of time. If I was planning to go to school in Japan, it might have been helpful. Keeping to interesting and/or relevant material helps.

Also, I was trying to point out that trying to memorize sentences, as a couple of people have suggested, didn't work for me. Studying the vocabulary words by themselves and periodically going back to the source of where I got the vocabulary has but YMMV.

I hope your 6 year old is healing OK. I am sure he/she was in a lot of pain. I recently spent 3 weeks in the hospital myself. Here is a vocabulary word for you -- 痛み止め (いたみどめ). It means painkiller. You don't need to use it in a sentence at all and the louder you scream it, the better the drug that they give you. ;)
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RE: Recommended study plan for my learning process?

Postby Pkmn Trainer Abram » Sun 02.03.2008 2:32 am

yukamina wrote:
Don't study kanji readings apart from vocabulary...it's pretty useless information and hard to remember.

For learning words, this is what works for me now. I write down words I don't know from what I'm reading(stories and games, but you can use textbooks or whatever you can handle). Then even if I study the words in isolation, I remember the context and I learn them more easily. And I know they aren't words I'll never need.


So in other words, I should just say to hell with the readings and just learn the words in hiragana, then learn the kanji for them, using Helsigs mnemonics as a guideline to depict the thoery behind them, not as an end all, be all definition?
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RE: Recommended study plan for my learning process?

Postby saraLynne » Sun 02.03.2008 2:39 am

Yeah, you only -need- to know readings that you're using in your vocab, IMHO. Later, after you have a large vocabulary, you could rehash old kanji and study the others. It seems more efficient, to me.

EDIT: @Oitafish>> my daughter is healing well. Even right after it happened she tried to tell us she was "fine" because she didn't want to go to the hospital. Nevermind the immediate bruising, the compressed chest, and her inability to breathe. My little daredevil. :P
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RE: Recommended study plan for my learning process?

Postby yukamina » Sun 02.03.2008 2:32 pm

Pkmn Trainer Abram wrote:

So in other words, I should just say to hell with the readings and just learn the words in hiragana, then learn the kanji for them, using Helsigs mnemonics as a guideline to depict the thoery behind them, not as an end all, be all definition?

Hmm, learn some basic Japanese, so you know how the language works and know some grammar. Ideally, learn words with kanji and hiragana at the same time. You'll know how to pronounce them, and you'll be prepared to see them anywhere. Learning many words using the same kanji will re-enforce the readings too.
Component based mnemonics or etymologies are good for learning kanji. The good thing about RTK is that it doesn't ignore components like radical lists and textbooks do, and it works like building blocks, starting with the basic shapes rather than whatever's most common.

I'm skeptical that one can remember all their kanji just by seeing them around before intermediate level. Has this actually worked for anyone?
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RE: Recommended study plan for my learning process?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 02.03.2008 2:41 pm

What do you mean by "seeing around"? It also depends on how you define "remembering" the kanji. Obviously it's not possible to learn all the usages of kanji before the intermediate level, but RTK-style shape/English meaning remembering is possible.
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RE: Recommended study plan for my learning process?

Postby saraLynne » Sun 02.03.2008 3:34 pm

yukamina wrote:
I'm skeptical that one can remember all their kanji just by seeing them around before intermediate level. Has this actually worked for anyone?


When I encounter one, I learn it. I don't just "see it around". I look up the stroke order and write it out, too. I just perceive it as a component of vocabulary building, rather than extraneous to it. When I know the word, I know the kanji.

With some more complex kanji, I must say that I don't necessarily realize right away that it's a kanji I already know until I try to write it, and then I instantly recall it, ad the new reading is already cemented in my head (from the current vocabulary word that's using it). So..... I think that's more than just "seeing them around". :)
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RE: Recommended study plan for my learning process?

Postby Wakannai » Sun 02.03.2008 4:21 pm

When I encounter one, I learn it. I don't just "see it around". I look up the stroke order and write it out, too. I just perceive it as a component of vocabulary building, rather than extraneous to it. When I know the word, I know the kanji.


What she said. Learn the words. Learning kanji is not separate from vocabulary, it is vocabulary. Treating them as separate seems to confuse more people than it helps.
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RE: Recommended study plan for my learning process?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 02.03.2008 4:45 pm

Agreed. If you learn words, then you automatically learn the readings of the kanji along with them, and can figure out the "meaning" of the kanji for yourself. If you spend time learning the readings and "meanings", though, you still have to learn the words.
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RE: Recommended study plan for my learning process?

Postby furrykef » Sun 02.03.2008 6:15 pm

Wakannai wrote:
Learning kanji is not separate from vocabulary, it is vocabulary. Treating them as separate seems to confuse more people than it helps.


But things aren't that simple. It's easy to confuse two similar-looking kanji like 猫 and 描, for example. So it isn't enough to just learn each kanji for each word and do nothing else; you have to take specific measures to ensure that you remember and distinguish the kanji correctly.

I find breaking the kanji down into simple logical components to be extremely helpful, and this is the biggest reason why I value the Heisig method.

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RE: Recommended study plan for my learning process?

Postby yukamina » Sun 02.03.2008 6:24 pm

'Seeing them around' might be learning the sentence 山の景色はきれいです without knowing those kanji before hand and without studying them separately(meaning, the shapes, how to write them, how the kanji are related to the words, other usage, etc). It's hard to remember all the details, it's hard to just say "these random lines mean 'scenery', now remember that forever *_* " And then do that for 2000 characters spread across 20,000 or so words. Using phonetic markers, mnemonics, learning things in groups, I think it goes a long way.

You can learn those kanji with those words, you can learn those words with that sentence...but I think it's important to understand each part. Like it or not, learning to read all the kanji you need isn't like learning to read kana.
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RE: Recommended study plan for my learning process?

Postby yukamina » Sun 02.03.2008 6:24 pm

'Seeing them around' might be learning the sentence 山の景色はきれいです without knowing those kanji before hand and without studying them separately(meaning, the shapes, how to write them, how the kanji are related to the words, other usage, etc). It's hard to remember all the details, it's hard to just say "these random lines mean 'scenery', now remember that forever *_* " And then do that for 2000 characters spread across 20,000 or so words. Using phonetic markers, mnemonics, learning things in groups, I think it goes a long way.

You can learn those kanji with those words, you can learn those words with that sentence...but I think it's important to understand each part. Like it or not, learning to read all the kanji you need isn't like learning to read kana.
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RE: Recommended study plan for my learning process?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 02.03.2008 6:38 pm

furrykef wrote:
Wakannai wrote:
Learning kanji is not separate from vocabulary, it is vocabulary. Treating them as separate seems to confuse more people than it helps.


But things aren't that simple. It's easy to confuse two similar-looking kanji like 猫 and 描, for example. So it isn't enough to just learn each kanji for each word and do nothing else; you have to take specific measures to ensure that you remember and distinguish the kanji correctly.


This is a big concern of beginners, but context and familiarity ease these difficulties. 猫 and 描 have different readings and cannot be used in the same contexts, so the chance of confusing them is small if you actually understand what you are reading. It's true that if you're trying to connect these kanji to English words then they might be easy to confuse, but if you see うちの猫はいつも隠れている or 今日、学校で絵を描いた, it's difficult to mix them up. It's a bit harder in writing, but if you use some memory hints like the left side of 描 being a hand, it's easier to remember. It's possible to make some use of mnemonics without actually going full-bore and breaking down every kanji into all of its parts. (That is, even people like me who argue a lot against Heisig are not completely opposed to component analysis or mnemonic hints.)

(There are some more difficult cases like 側, 測, and 則, but the components there aren't much help anyway because they don't relate to the meaning very well.)
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RE: Recommended study plan for my learning process?

Postby Wakannai » Sun 02.03.2008 7:35 pm

But things aren't that simple. It's easy to confuse two similar-looking kanji like 猫 and 描, for example. So it isn't enough to just learn each kanji for each word and do nothing else; you have to take specific measures to ensure that you remember and distinguish the kanji correctly.


Not at all. The reason they look similar enough to be confusing to you is because you are still unfamiliar with them. But the simple act of learning to write the words correctly will naturally increase your familiarity and improve your ability to distinguish between them.

Kanji or kana look alike only because you haven't learned and practiced writing them properly enough. If you know how to write a kanji properly, you know how to read it too. In the same way, words only sound alike because one hasn't learned to listen for the differences properly.

It's all the same. Memnonics are a crutch. While there is nothing wrong with using a crutch when necessary, the problem is forming a dependency on he crutch and using it everywhere and insisting it's necessary. The only reason it seems so necessary now is because you've allowed yourself to become dependent on it, not because using a crutch is inherently better than not. If a kanji gives you trouble, sure, consider using a mnemonic, but don't allow yourself to believe that you won't be able to learn without them.
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RE: Recommended study plan for my learning process?

Postby saraLynne » Mon 02.04.2008 9:50 pm

yukamina wrote:
it's hard to just say "these random lines mean 'scenery', now remember that forever *_* " And then do that for 2000 characters spread across 20,000 or so words. Using phonetic markers, mnemonics, learning things in groups, I think it goes a long way.


I guess that's where I don't follow... a new word is a new word, and each word is unique and takes some effort to understand it. I perceive kanji as another -aspect- of that word and its meaning.

I'm sure there's a better way to describe this, as I'm doing a piss poor job of it... hrm.

OK... hum... another comparison with English: Just because you know all the letters of the alphabet doesn't mean you know how to spell English words. There are far, far too many possible combinations for the same sound (feat, feet), or same combinations for different sounds (feat, sweat).

You learn each word by itself and how to spell it. I see kanji not as random lines, but as the spelling of the word, each must be given its own attention. A word's kanji (or compound) is unique to itself, even if components of it or all of it is used in a different word.

The more kanji I learn, the less I have to look up the stroke orders. I do still look up every stroke order, but for the most part my first instinct is always right these days. I don't know how many kanji I know now, but it's at least a couple hundred, probably as high as 800? Maybe.

It's like English there, too. I can now guess the spelling of many words that I hear based on whether or not it sounds like it derives from french or greek or german, etc. I won't necessarily always be right, either. There are exceptions and mutations that I just can't anticipate. But I can learn them when or if the need arises.

I imagine that things like ~tion are no different than kanji, in my mind. It's a group of letters that are pronounced like "shun". There's no rhyme or reason for it, and it seems pretty random. My children asked me why it's like that. The answer I give them is "because it is". There may be an etiological reason behind it, but they (and I) don't need to know it in order to read it. And that's only one of many, many strange letter combinations.

OK, I'm starting to talk in circles now.... I'll shut up. :P
Last edited by saraLynne on Mon 02.04.2008 10:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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