Learning kanji with Basic Kanji Book

Have a textbook or grammar book that you find particularly helpful? What about a learning tip to share with others?
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Yudan Taiteki
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RE: Learning kanji with Basic Kanji Book

Post by Yudan Taiteki » Mon 11.06.2006 9:53 am

I actually found one of the best places to find meanings of kanji is in the Koujien -- if you look up the individual kanji by their on-reading, they usually give 3-7 definitions and a number of example words for each sense. For instance, rather than just putting "thread" for 糸, they give four senses -- (1) thread (製糸, 綿糸). (2) Something as slender as a thread (糸雨, 菌糸). (3) A stringed instrument (糸管,糸竹). (4) A unit of measurement, or "very small"

Obviously this is too much information for a beginner but I found it useful when studying for the kanken. For the beginner I just recommend coming up with your own meanings based on the words -- you'll probably make at least as good a guess as the dictionary compilers and I think you remember more easily something you come up with yourself.
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RE: Learning kanji with Basic Kanji Book

Post by Milmi » Mon 11.06.2006 10:50 am

My learning method combines all the mentioned methods: I study all the different readings and the "core meaning" of the kanji, then I look up a variety of example words that of course include the kanji in question and learn the ones that seem to me most relevant and useful. Then I usually write the kanji several times to learn the proper stroke order (I don't do this as much as I used to do when I was just a beginner) and make a vocabulary list of the most relevant/useful example words (Jim Breen, ALC etc. are very useful sources). Then I study the vocabulary list and write all the words in the list a couple of times. Finally I search some example sentences that include the kanji/kanji compounds to be sure how to use a particular word in right context and write my own example sentences (very useful to practice new grammar at the same time).

For me the "don't learn kanji, learn words"-method doesn't work per se. I read quite much in Japanese and I find it very frustrating not to be able to read (this is different from understanding) all the words. In the other words I want at least to be able to read a certain kanji/kanji compounds even if I don't know what the word itself means (some times you can guess the meaning from the context, some times not). I don't want to read with dictionary in my hand and all the time I don't know some word I should check it from dictionary. I don't mind if I don't know the meaning of all the words but not to know how to read a word is really annoying. That's why I want to know all the readings. If some words appear in text several times I of course check them from dictionary.

I want to know the basic meanings of kanji because it helps me to remember the meaning of kanji compounds in some cases. It really supports me when studying compound. Obviously it's stupid to learn only the "core meanings" of each kanji and the assume that you can read and understand all the compound where it appears then. It just happens to work form me combined to learning vocabulary.

Edit. typos...
Last edited by Milmi on Mon 11.06.2006 10:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning kanji with Basic Kanji Book

Post by skrhgh3b » Mon 11.06.2006 7:16 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
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.
I never made that claim, and I'm certainly not suggesting that someone assign an English word to each kanji and attempt to read Japanese as if it were English. Rather, I used the phrase "conceptual meaning," because I still believe that it's necessary to have some sense of a kanji's meaning. After all, all kanji have at least one if not many semantic associations, and are often (if not always) employed for their semantic function.

Besides, one needs to be able to write as well as read. I was once taking a test and I couldn't for the life of me remember how to write the "し" in "試験(しけん)." Of course, it's a word that I've written a hundred times before, but for whatever reason it escaped me during the course of the test, and so I racked my brain for kanji that could be read as "し." In the end, I mistakenly wrote "試験(しけん)" with the "し" of "雑誌(ざっし)"! But if I had the meaning of "誌" firmly in my mind, I probably wouldn't have made such a stupid mistake.
Last edited by skrhgh3b on Mon 11.06.2006 7:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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