View topic - Kanji... Where to begin?
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I have just joined this site and i think its really cool. Ive learned hiragana and katakana already, and its been really helpful, but I too am having trouble with just getting started with kanji. Does anyone here know of a book that teaches in the same way that japanese children learn, along with teaching about on, kun, history of kanji, kanji relationships, etc. Or do any of you know if Kanji ABC is a good book to start with that teaches starting with Grade 1?
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Does anyone here know of a book that teaches in the same way that japanese children learn
Japanese children learn by studying kanji at school for words they already know. Since you don't know nearly as many words as a Japanese child (no offense), you can't do it that way which means you have to take another approach.
I own and have used this book. It has all the common-use kanji organized by Japanese grade level, with the history for each kanji.
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BUT, if you're like me (and I know I am), you will quickly find that memorizing endless lists of kanji from books, while fun for a while, gets tiring real quick. Think about it this way: what you're doing is no different than a Japanese person studying English by buying a book of 2,000 common Greek/Latin roots and their etymologies and proceeding to memorize them and their proper spellings. Waste of time? No way--it's very useful information. But is that the best way to learn English? I don't think so!
I would advice you to buy Henshall's book because it's really interesting, and then another book with stroke orders (like Kanji & Kana by Hadamitzky and Spahn), and just learn the kanji for words you actually use. It's much more satisfying in the long run. Especially since there are many commonly used kanji that are NOT on the Jouyou list (like dare), and many kanji that ARE on the list wich you will likely never use. Why memorize the Japanese government's somewhat arbitrary list when you can make your own?
This brings up another major issue: it's important to know when to use kanji, and when not to. Just because your J/E dictionary shows a word in kanji doesn't mean it's commonly written that way. In ancient times, ALL JAPANESE WORDS were written in Kanji, because hiragana and katakana hadn't been invented yet. Thus it should surprise no one that, theoretically, almost any Japanese word can be written in Kanji. But just because you *can* write suru in kanji doesn't mean anyone does (or should).
Recently I bought Kodansha's Communicative English-Japanese Dictionary by Peter Sharpe, and it is ABSOLUTELY INDESPENSIBLE. This book gives you kanji ONLY WHEN IT'S COMMONLY USED. Many, many times I painstakenly learned kanji for common words because they were shown that way in my dictionary, only to be laughed at by my Japanese friends because they never ever write arigatou gozaimasu, aru, konnichi wa, itadakimasu, etc. etc. in kanji.
Not anymore. This book is worth it's weight in gold for the independant learner for that reason alone. Of course, you can laugh at writing sayounara in kanji, but what about amari? Do you know when it's written in kanji and when not? What about wakaru? Did you know that's almost never written in kanji for some reason? (maybe because nobody can agree on the okurigana).
Memorizing Greek/Latin roots isn't learning English, it's learning Greek and Latin. And memorizing Kanji isn't learning Japanese, it's learning Chinese. Before you go off the deep end memorizing kanji, ask yourself this question: "Which would make me feel better about my progress in Japanese: being able to hold a conversation with a stranger, or knowing 20,000 kanji? Being able to read a childrens' book with ~50 kanji, or being able to recognize 2,000 kanji from a book that I otherwise can't read because I haven't studied any grammar?"
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I always forget my kanji.. i am supposed to know about 300 but i can never remember any...
story of my life...
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