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Learning kanji with Basic Kanji Book

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Learning kanji with Basic Kanji Book

Postby oris » Sun 11.05.2006 11:52 am

I'm learning japanese with pimsleur audio lessons, and decided to start learning kanji at the same time. I've come across Basic Kanji Book and it seems to have many exercises and vocabulary words. The problem is, for every basic kanji it gives words with kanji i don't know(it does give it's pronounciation though) like so:

日 (ひ) the sun, a day
日曜日 (にち よう び) Sunday
+ some other words

So when i wanted to make some flashcards i didn't even know how to write 曜 character. And there's many more words in following lessons whose meaning isn't given, just kanji and it's pronounciation. Or do i just look up every unknown kanji, it's stroke order and then write it down?

Maybe anybody who used this book can share some learning strategies you used?
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RE: Learning kanji with Basic Kanji Book

Postby Dehitay » Sun 11.05.2006 12:24 pm

sorry to say, but for a while you're gonna have to look at each individual kanji to get the stroke order. However, if you want to do it the fastest way possible, there is a shortcut that could also come in handy later. There's somewhere around 250 kanji radicals that almost all kanji are made out of. If you simple learn the stroke order for these radicals, then you would be able to just guess the stroke order for the kanji. However ...there's over 250 of them, so it's really not that great of a shortcut.

But it is worth your time to learn the radicals, with them you can start guessing the meanings of kanji you've never seen (and usually be wrong) and sometimes you can derive the on-yomi from them as well. The biggest help is that you can usually remember a kanji character easier if you know about the radicals that make it up.
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RE: Learning kanji with Basic Kanji Book

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 11.05.2006 1:15 pm

Maybe anybody who used this book can share some learning strategies you used?


I have never found flash cards to be very helpful. The main problem with them is that they separate the kanji or word from the context it's used in, which makes it harder to remember. I worked through Basic Kanji Book (1&2) just doing the exercises without flash cards, then went on to Kanji in Context, which reviews the basic kanji again. I found that combining this with other study and reading practice was enough so that I did not have to use flash cards.
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RE: Learning kanji with Basic Kanji Book

Postby AJBryant » Sun 11.05.2006 2:01 pm

Dammit, I have to say it again.

DON'T LEARN KANJI!!!!

LEARN WORDS!!


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RE: Learning kanji with Basic Kanji Book

Postby KNH » Sun 11.05.2006 2:10 pm

You secretly take pleasure in saying that, don’t you, Tony-san? :D

If you can type out the kanji, you could type it in here to see its meaning. It's definitely best to learn words as Tony-san said. It'll make remembering words a whole lot easier. At least, that's how it's been for me.
Last edited by KNH on Sun 11.05.2006 2:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning kanji with Basic Kanji Book

Postby skrhgh3b » Sun 11.05.2006 4:33 pm

AJBryant wrote:
Dammit, I have to say it again.

DON'T LEARN KANJI!!!!

LEARN WORDS!!


Tony


Different strokes for different folks, my angry friend. Although that advice may apply to you, I have found it incredibly frustrating.

I would say learn kanji - and by that I mean their individual core meaning(s) - but only those particular pronunciations for words you already know. When you understand what an individual kanji means conceptually, it streamlines the process of acquiring new words significantly when that kanji appears again in new compound words. Of course, that's because you'll have insight into why the kanji in a compound word form the meaning that they do, and when something makes sense, I don't have to tell you it's that much easier to remember.

Also, you'll be able to read Chinese menus in English B)
Last edited by skrhgh3b on Sun 11.05.2006 4:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning kanji with Basic Kanji Book

Postby richvh » Sun 11.05.2006 4:58 pm

skrhgh3b wrote:
AJBryant wrote:
DON'T LEARN KANJI!!!!

LEARN WORDS!!


I would say learn kanji - and by that I mean their individual core meaning(s) - but only those particular pronunciations for words you already know.

I don't think your advice is very different from Tony's.
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RE: Learning kanji with Basic Kanji Book

Postby skrhgh3b » Sun 11.05.2006 5:26 pm

richvh wrote:
skrhgh3b wrote:
AJBryant wrote:
DON'T LEARN KANJI!!!!

LEARN WORDS!!


I would say learn kanji - and by that I mean their individual core meaning(s) - but only those particular pronunciations for words you already know.

I don't think your advice is very different from Tony's.


Then Tony should be less angry and more clear ;)

If you learned, say, the word "洗濯," but didn't know what either "洗" or "濯" meant conceptually, then I would say that's going the wrong way about it.
Last edited by skrhgh3b on Sun 11.05.2006 5:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning kanji with Basic Kanji Book

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 11.05.2006 6:10 pm

I don't think so. Any "meaning" that is assigned to a character is, in a sense, an artificial one. It's just something that a dictionary or textbook compiler made up based on the words the kanji appears in. But if the compilers can do that, so can you. In your example, if you learn the words 洗う and 洗濯 you should have a good grasp of the "conceptual" meaning of 洗 even if it's not explicitly told to you. As for 濯, that kanji basically is not used outside of the word 洗濯 so it's not important whether you can assign a meaning to the individual character.

The problem with relying on meanings of characters is that it's often not possible to predict the meaning of a word just based on the dictionary-assigned "meanings" of the kanji used to write it. People who rely on that get into a pattern of decoding Japanese text rather than reading it.
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RE: Learning kanji with Basic Kanji Book

Postby oris » Sun 11.05.2006 8:03 pm

AJBryant wrote:
Dammit, I have to say it again.

DON'T LEARN KANJI!!!!

LEARN WORDS!!


Tony

Yes, for some weird reason you HAVE to say that over and over. I don't know why. Because in this case i'm having trouble with learning WORDS, as in example i've provided, the kanji is 日, and the problem i'm having is learning the word 日曜日.

2 Yudan Taiteki, so you just did the exercises in the book and never took notes or wrote down words you had hard time to remember?

The hardest thing for me now, is look at the word(NO, NO!!! NOT KANJI!! THE WORD!! lol..) and read it, i get confused when there's 2-3 kun + 1 on readings for one kanji.

If you learned, say, the word "洗濯," but didn't know what either "洗" or "濯" meant conceptually, then I would say that's going the wrong way about it.

that's what i'm afraid of, but in this book the kanji they've just explained is always in vocab words.
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RE: Learning kanji with Basic Kanji Book

Postby colind » Sun 11.05.2006 8:48 pm

I've only used book 2 of Basic Kanji, which I really liked, but I did already know quite a few kanji before starting that.
If I remember correctly, the end of chapter tests on ask you to write the kanji from that chapter.
For example... it should have something like _曜_ - Sunday... so you write in the kanji 日.
You can learn how to write those extra kanji if you want, but I'd say at least be able to recognise it in the words given. Learning to write those kanji will come later in the textbook.
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RE: Learning kanji with Basic Kanji Book

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 11.05.2006 9:56 pm

oris wrote:

2 Yudan Taiteki, so you just did the exercises in the book and never took notes or wrote down words you had hard time to remember?


Yes, that's correct. The main reason is that I find flash cards boring, and even when I make them I never actually use them. But personally I think reading some example sentence with a kanji a number of times is better than using flash cards.
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RE: Learning kanji with Basic Kanji Book

Postby skrhgh3b » Sun 11.05.2006 10:30 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
I don't think so. Any "meaning" that is assigned to a character is, in a sense, an artificial one. It's just something that a dictionary or textbook compiler made up based on the words the kanji appears in. But if the compilers can do that, so can you. In your example, if you learn the words 洗う and 洗濯 you should have a good grasp of the "conceptual" meaning of 洗 even if it's not explicitly told to you. As for 濯, that kanji basically is not used outside of the word 洗濯 so it's not important whether you can assign a meaning to the individual character.

The problem with relying on meanings of characters is that it's often not possible to predict the meaning of a word just based on the dictionary-assigned "meanings" of the kanji used to write it. People who rely on that get into a pattern of decoding Japanese text rather than reading it.


Wow. Your logic has left my head spinning. I think I'll go lie down for a while. But before I do, I'll ask you why bother reinventing the wheel by extrapolating your own conceptual meanings, especially when you're an inexperienced beginner? Besides, I don't know about your own experiences, but rote memorization will only take an adult kanji learner so far. "Decoding" kanji, as you put it, is only a means to an end, yes, but one has to crawl before one can walk. There are simply too many kanji made of too many abstract strokes not to attempt to make some kind of sense out of it. Like I've said, something that you can make sense of is just that much easier to remember. A kanji that I understand conceptually, I'll remember long after a kanji I've written 200 times and take on faith means whatever I'm told it means. And I speak from personal experience after hitting the proverbial kanji wall hard.
Last edited by skrhgh3b on Sun 11.05.2006 10:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning kanji with Basic Kanji Book

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 11.05.2006 10:41 pm

Well, I'm certainly not suggesting that someone write a kanji 200 times. I personally think that's a waste of time. The best way to retain kanji is to read Japanese, whether it's actual native-produced Japanese, or Japanese sentences in textbooks.

I just think that it's dangerous to rely too much on kanji meanings. It can give someone the impression that I see a lot of beginners have -- that all they have to do is learn English "meanings" for each kanji and then they will be able to magically figure out any vocab word they come across simply by combining the meanings of the kanji.
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RE: Learning kanji with Basic Kanji Book

Postby magma » Mon 11.06.2006 5:32 am

I just think that it's dangerous to rely too much on kanji meanings. It can give someone the impression that I see a lot of beginners have -- that all they have to do is learn English "meanings" for each kanji and then they will be able to magically figure out any vocab word they come across simply by combining the meanings of the kanji.

This is SO true (I learned the hard way). Examples:


I've got a manga here (Baa Remon Haato) where a kid is making his friend promise to meet him at their future class reunion. At the end of his plea, he says,
絶対だぞ!
What does 絶対 mean? Let's try to use our knowledge of the component kanji to figure it out:

絶 (cease, sever, end) + 対 (oppose, against, pair) = .... ? "Cease opposition"? "Sever a pair"? "Against-ending"?

It actually means "absoluteness". The whole sentence in this context means "[you] absolutely [have to come to our class reunion]!"



Here's an easier one, from Natsuko no sake:
行きましょう、夏子さん。手伝います。
What does 手伝います mean?

Well, we have 手 (hand) + 伝 (convey, transmit). So a logical guess would be "to convey something by hand". Actually it means "to help/assist"--rather like the expression "lend a hand" in English. But "lend a hand" is a good mnemonic (unless it makes you think of lend/貸 instead of convey/伝).



One more, from OL Shinkaron:
よし。取り引き先に電話するぞ。
What's a 取り引き先? Well, we have 取 (take, control), 引 (pull, draw), and 先 (previous, precede, tip). If you know that "...に電話する" means "to call/telephone ...", you might guess 取り引き先 means "someone who has previously been drawn/pulled in", but I doubt you would make the leap to "customer" or "client", which is the real meaning.


And there's plenty more examples of non-obvious kanji compounds, even amongst the more common words, like 寿司 (longlife-administrator?), 面白い (face-white?), 素晴らしい (elemental-clearing?), and 御目出度う (honorable-eye-exiting-time??).

Although knowing kanji core meanings often isn't all that helpful in discovering the meanings of new words, it certainly can help you remember how to read and write words whose meanings you already know. Just keep in mind that it's the words themselves you're trying to learn, not the (often misleading) kanji.
Last edited by magma on Mon 11.06.2006 7:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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