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Which method for Kanji

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Re: Which method for Kanji

Postby Sairana » Mon 07.07.2008 4:08 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:Heisig covers 2000 kanji, not 1000.


Indeed, I misremembered. I thought RTK1 taught 1000, and RTK 3 taught the remainder.

It doesn't outweigh the efficiency even so. At the end of my 2 years, and the end of his 2.5-3 years, we both can use and write 1000 kanji. He can write another 1000, but can't use them or read them without further study (which I would also be doing), leaving the ratio only slightly improved in Heisig's favor. Saving, say, 66 hours of studying over.. 3 or 4 years at the cost of 3-12 months beforehand.

That's still assuming that after learning how to write 1000 kanji I would still need to look up the stroke order for every new one. I'm not at 1K yet, but I don't have to look them all up anymore. (I still do just to be sure, but I guess it right at least 90% of the time).
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Re: Which method for Kanji

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 07.07.2008 4:49 pm

Well, the argument for Heisig is that the foundation it gives you in the characters allows you to learn Japanese quickly, quickly enough that it makes up for the delay.

I'm not convinced, though -- and the main reason is what I've said before, that we never get any testimonials from people who have successfully used the book and then gone on to proficiency in Japanese. We know the traditional methods work -- you could probably get 15-20 people or more just from this site to confirm that. I don't mind having a Heisig discussion, but I'm a little tired of having the same discussion with people who haven't even finished Heisig Book I yet, much less attained actual proficiency in Japanese.

That aside, though, I do think that Heisig's introduction does not sufficiently explain questions like these, which does lead to some people using them in the belief that completing Heisig Book 1 and 2 will result in Japanese reading proficiency (I know this is not Heisig's intent, nor is it the belief of *everyone* that uses Heisig, but it is a potential pitfall.)

Also to restate one more thing -- the major obstacle that beginners have in Japanese is GRAMMAR, not kanji.
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Re: Which method for Kanji

Postby furrykef » Mon 07.07.2008 5:57 pm

Sairana wrote:It doesn't teach you how to read Japanese. The keywords aren't meanings. You come away from RTK1 knowing the stroke order for 1000 kanji.


This is a silly argument. RTK does not teach vocabulary or grammar, it's true, but it teaches more than mere stroke order. The main reason I use RTK is to easily distinguish similar kanji and to break up complicated kanji into logical units that are more easily memorized. It also gives you a level of familiarity with the kanji that I feel you can't get from learning them only from context. Stroke order has little to do with it, though I do follow proper stroke order most of the time. An argument against Heisig that only takes stroke order into account is a straw man argument.

Yudan -- since I'm finally finishing up Heisig, I should be able to tell you how it's worked out for me soon. It's definitely been a long and bumpy road, but that was partly my own fault because I wasn't using kanji.koohii.com. It's far superior to using the book by itself or trying to scrape up decent stories from blogs and such.

Yudan Taiteki wrote:Also to restate one more thing -- the major obstacle that beginners have in Japanese is GRAMMAR, not kanji.


I suspect I'll be an exception to this rule, having a good deal of the grammar of one foreign language under my belt already (Spanish). I still make grammatical mistakes in Spanish, but I'm aware of most of the rules and it's just a matter of practicing them until they become second nature. I can even correct the grammar of natives from time to time and be pretty sure that my correction is in fact correct. Of course, I'm also well aware that Spanish grammar is a lot more like English's than Japanese's is, but I'm well-acquainted with the basic principles of Japanese grammar and don't find much that really scares me. (Well, counters do just a little, but that's just a question of memorization and practice.) Of course, the devil is in the details, but I once thought that with Spanish and now have few problems with it.

- Kef

P.S.: For the record, the exact number of kanji in RTK is 2042. :P
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Re: Which method for Kanji

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 07.07.2008 10:28 pm

furrykef wrote:I suspect I'll be an exception to this rule, having a good deal of the grammar of one foreign language under my belt already


That doesn't matter. Japanese grammar is different from Spanish (and other western languages) on so many fundamental levels that it's not really going to help that much.

What I mean by grammar being more important to beginners than kanji is simply that grammar is very hard to look up in reference works, whereas kanji and vocabulary are very easy to look up in reference works. It's perfectly possible to know every kanji and every word in a sentence and still not understand the meaning, and be unable to find the meaning out even with reference works. On the other hand, if you know all the grammar in a sentence but not the kanji and words, you have a much better chance of being able to use dictionaries to figure the meaning out.
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Re: Which method for Kanji

Postby Wakannai » Mon 07.07.2008 11:57 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:It's perfectly possible to know every kanji and every word in a sentence and still not understand the meaning, and be unable to find the meaning out even with reference works.


QFT!

Oh god has this one bitten me in the posterior so many times.
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Re: Which method for Kanji

Postby furrykef » Tue 07.08.2008 11:02 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:That doesn't matter. Japanese grammar is different from Spanish (and other western languages) on so many fundamental levels that it's not really going to help that much.


I'm not sure I agree. One thing is that mastering the grammar of one language (although I wouldn't quite say I've "mastered" Spanish grammar) will usually help you master the grammar of another language, whatever that language is, because you understand more about the principles that grammar works on. I used to struggle severely with Spanish grammar in high school; today, the grammar of any language is pretty clear to me almost immediately when explained sufficiently well, at least as far as the broad points go. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's easy to use the grammar with anything near native proficiency... that still takes work.

What I mean by grammar being more important to beginners than kanji is simply that grammar is very hard to look up in reference works, whereas kanji and vocabulary are very easy to look up in reference works. It's perfectly possible to know every kanji and every word in a sentence and still not understand the meaning, and be unable to find the meaning out even with reference works.


I can definitely agree with this. (Of course, the good news is you can always ask about it here, on WordReference, or zillions of other places. :)) Sometimes that's not so much a question of grammar as it is of idiom, though. I occasionally encounter the same problem with Spanish, just to a much smaller degree than I'll encounter it with Japanese.

I think we may be talking about two different things: learning, knowing, and using grammar versus understanding it. I don't expect to have much trouble understanding Japanese grammar; very little I have seen is terribly puzzling once it's explained. The rest is just a question of memorization, practice, and asking questions about sentences you don't understand.

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Re: Which method for Kanji

Postby nukemarine » Wed 07.09.2008 12:27 pm

Sairana wrote:
nukemarine wrote:YMMV, I just prefer fluency coupled with literacy. I'll advocate methods that appear to achieve that goal with efficiency. In addition, I'm open to any reasonable discussion on the matter.


I just don't see the efficiency part of Heisig.

It doesn't teach you how to read Japanese. The keywords aren't meanings. You come away from RTK1 knowing the stroke order for 1000 kanji. Average Heisig completion time (based on his intro) is 6 months. 3 months if you're diligent, up to a year if you're casual.


True, it doesn't teach you to read Chinese which is a major fallacy of many kanji books which seem to concentrate on Japanese (the sarcasm is there because complaining what a book doesn't do is silly when MANY, MANY books offer pronunciation and vocabulary and how to clean your carburetor just not all in the same books). The keywords are not full on meanings either, though they come close most of the time. It is explained in the intro the purpose of the keywords which go beyond just giving meanings.

To give it a better estimate of time required, assume about 5 to 10 minutes per Kanji on average so 150 to 250 hours. That's equivalent of a 3 or 5 credit hour course IF (big if) you did that 2 to 1 study time that colleges talk about (that you study outside of class 2 hours for every hour of class you attend).

Sairana wrote:OK, so after Heisig, you still have to learn vocabulary and grammar the same way non-Heisig students do.


Really? You're going to have to expand on how we're doing this the same way. I'm doing the "sentence method", which is take a sentence like "私の家は海の近くにある。夏は毎日海で泳ぐ。", it's kana pronunciation, english translation, plus a little definition here or there (none needed as I knew all these words in this particular sentence already). I review audio sentence to kanji writing (I hear the sentence, try to write it out). And I review kanji sentence to pronunciation (I read out the sentence, compare to audio and kana for correctness). Both ways, I must know what the words mean to also pass the sentence. If this is how you're learning vocabulary and grammar then I guess we're doing the same.

Sairana wrote:Takes me, on average, 30 seconds to look up a kanji in my book (Kanji & Kana, by Hadamitzky/Spahn). But let's be generous and say it takes me two minutes. Assuming that I need to look up EVERY kanji to figure out the stroke order, I will put in a grand total of approximately 33 hours looking up stroke order by the time I reach 1000 kanji.

Let's assume my study program takes 2 years to cover enough vocabulary to use 1000 kanji total. Assume also that the Heisig student, after finishing the book, is going to do the same study program. (For instance, I think that between two Genki books, you learn a little over 1000 kanji, each one meant to cover a scholastic year).

Over the 2 years, the Heisig student has saved himself an extra 33 hours of study time due to already being able to write each kanji he encountered, at the cost of 3-12 months using RTK.

Seems like a time deficit to me.


Your numbers seem naively optimistic. Two minutes to master a kanji? Ok, maybe not even master, just to do the Heisig write out in kanji when given English words. Let's say just something simple like "Japanese Bullet Train", or "The Golden Temple" of Kyoto, or "Weather Report". You can, in 20 minutes time, from here on out write "新幹線", "金閣寺", "天気予報" in proper form any time I give you the english translation?

Personally, since January (when I began the sentence method full on), I'm only 700 sentences into the method I use. It's been slow going as I have a full time job that requires months out of the year away from "home". Still, at 700 that puts me at 500 unique kanji with many parts of the On yomi or Kun yomi covered in context no less. Assuming I could do 15 new sentences a day if given 2 free hours a day guaranteed (equivalent of a 5 credit hour class with outside study time), that's equivalent of about 2 months of work (pathetic I know. I've been slacking in my studies). At that "preferred" pace, I could do 4000 sentences in 9 months. That would cover almost 1500 kanji during a 550 hour study time. However, I'd also get listening practice, writing practice, reading practice, grammar, vocabulary and context.

Not saying it's better than whatever method you're using. It just seems a tad faster than what you're giving as an example. Granted, I try to break time involved by the hour. Due to the self study nature of RTK and the sentence method, it's a better gauge on progress.
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Re: Which method for Kanji

Postby nukemarine » Wed 07.09.2008 12:48 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:Well, the argument for Heisig is that the foundation it gives you in the characters allows you to learn Japanese quickly, quickly enough that it makes up for the delay.

I'm not convinced, though -- and the main reason is what I've said before, that we never get any testimonials from people who have successfully used the book and then gone on to proficiency in Japanese. We know the traditional methods work -- you could probably get 15-20 people or more just from this site to confirm that. I don't mind having a Heisig discussion, but I'm a little tired of having the same discussion with people who haven't even finished Heisig Book I yet, much less attained actual proficiency in Japanese.


Fine, I "finished" Heisig's Remembering the Kanji book 1 in late November 2007. I currently can recall the proper writing of 2000 kanji if given the Heisig keyword. Since I'm "finished" with RTK what criteria qualifies as proficient (which I personally think I'm no where near)? Sarcasm aside, I do agree there's far too many that get only 500 kanji into Heisig, scream it's praises and causes a racket, then go somewhere else. You're going to get those type of people in any discussion (Martial arts, igo, cooking, exercise, etc.).

I find RTK has made my studying more efficient. In addition, it's made my non-study time into a learning opportunity thanks to living in Japan a good part of the year.

On another note, Would you (Yudan) agree that there are many that have achieved proficiency in Japanese THEN went on to do Heisig's RTK? These are people with great verbal and good written skills that plateaued at 700 to 1000 kanji with questionable accuracy then went on to mastery that they credit to RTK.

Yudan Taiteki wrote:That aside, though, I do think that Heisig's introduction does not sufficiently explain questions like these, which does lead to some people using them in the belief that completing Heisig Book 1 and 2 will result in Japanese reading proficiency (I know this is not Heisig's intent, nor is it the belief of *everyone* that uses Heisig, but it is a potential pitfall.)

Also to restate one more thing -- the major obstacle that beginners have in Japanese is GRAMMAR, not kanji.


Grammar will fix itself with use. The use can be from verbal or written sources. If you limit yourself to only the verbal (and the written equivalent of using kana or romaji), well, kanji is not an issue at all.
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Re: Which method for Kanji

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Wed 07.09.2008 3:58 pm

nukemarine wrote:Fine, I "finished" Heisig's Remembering the Kanji book 1 in late November 2007. I currently can recall the proper writing of 2000 kanji if given the Heisig keyword. Since I'm "finished" with RTK what criteria qualifies as proficient (which I personally think I'm no where near)?


I would say the ability to read Japanese with little to no dictionary use in your area of interest.

On another note, Would you (Yudan) agree that there are many that have achieved proficiency in Japanese THEN went on to do Heisig's RTK? These are people with great verbal and good written skills that plateaued at 700 to 1000 kanji with questionable accuracy then went on to mastery that they credit to RTK.


Not that I've seen. Such people may exist, but I haven't seen them anywhere.

Grammar will fix itself with use.


Things in language rarely fix themselves.
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Re: Which method for Kanji

Postby Sairana » Wed 07.09.2008 4:59 pm

You took the phrase "the same way as everyone else" too literally. I was not implying that there is ONE WAY to learn grammar and vocabulary. I mean that the RTK student and the non-RTK student are still in the same boat regarding grammar and vocabulary.

If the student learns grammar and vocabulary -along side- RTK, that is outside the scope of the book and irrelevant, as the discussion centers around either doing 2000 kanji meanings and writings or NOT doing it that way. "Well, I did it AND did study on the side/lived in japan/went to classes" takes it out of context of the debate.

Your numbers seem naively optimistic. Two minutes to master a kanji?

To "master" a kanji? That terminology kills me. I don't study all the on/kun readings, if that's what you mean. I don't master kanji, I master vocabulary. In my lessons, I learn to use the word. Then I look up the stroke orders and write them. Of course, this is expedited when a kanji is re-used or if I already know how to write all the elements based on previous kanji I have learned.

Let's say just something simple like "Japanese Bullet Train", or "The Golden Temple" of Kyoto, or "Weather Report". You can, in 20 minutes time, from here on out write "新幹線", "金閣寺", "天気予報" in proper form any time I give you the english translation?


Why'd you specify giving me the English translation? Can't you tell me what you want me to write in Japanese (assuming spoken, or perhaps in kana if a written request).

Anyway, if you give me a list of unrelated words, I will not be able to memorize and reproduce them reliably after 20 minutes. However, if I already know the words, then learning how to "spell" them with kanji is a simple matter of looking up the stroke orders for the ones I don't know. One of the first words I learned this way was 警察官. I can reproduce it from memory, although my handwriting still sucks. I don't need to (or want to) know english equivalents for those 3 kanji. Those three together spell the word I want.
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Re: Which method for Kanji

Postby furrykef » Wed 07.09.2008 5:04 pm

A little note: I finished RTK1 last night. やったぁ~!! So we'll see how it works for me. :)

Yudan Taiteki wrote:Things in language rarely fix themselves.


Truer things have not been said, but I'm not sure you and nukemarine meant the same thing by it "fixing itself". It is possible to absorb proper grammar by simply imitating the usage that you see and avoiding usage that you have not seen from others. Grammatical explanations are still necessary now and then (it might be difficult to absorb the difference between aru and iru through example alone, but it's easy when you say "aru is for things, iru is for animate lifeforms"), but there's a lot you can learn by absorbing patterns, so long as you can understand what the patterns actually are.

But if you develop bad habits, they will never fix themselves, of course. You can fix them, but you have to work at it.

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Re: Which method for Kanji

Postby nukemarine » Thu 07.10.2008 4:50 am

furrykef wrote:A little note: I finished RTK1 last night. やったぁ~!! So we'll see how it works for me. :)


First off, congratulations. It's a significant milestone, but still only the beginning. There's the consistent reviewing of the kanji you learned, then the more important language acquisition that we're all seeking. I know you know all this, but some on these forum seem to think we don't.

furrykef wrote:
Yudan Taiteki wrote:Things in language rarely fix themselves.


Truer things have not been said, but I'm not sure you and nukemarine meant the same thing by it "fixing itself". It is possible to absorb proper grammar by simply imitating the usage that you see and avoiding usage that you have not seen from others. Grammatical explanations are still necessary now and then (it might be difficult to absorb the difference between aru and iru through example alone, but it's easy when you say "aru is for things, iru is for animate lifeforms"), but there's a lot you can learn by absorbing patterns, so long as you can understand what the patterns actually are.

But if you develop bad habits, they will never fix themselves, of course. You can fix them, but you have to work at it.

- Kef


It's a problem in that we do have different ideas on what counts for learning kanji, proficiency in language, studying, etc. I try to establish baselines now and again, but usually get no where. Yudan at least points out one of his bullets for proficiency is using a native level dictionary in your area of interest. Granted, his comment was aimed at talking with persons that finish RTK (like Kef and me I guess). For proficiency, I personally think you should be able to follow a Drama, News, Talk show conversation; read a newspaper, manga and magazine; have a conversation with an older person, same age and child. In each, you should be able to write a page about your opinion of what went on then give a 5 minute speech on the matter. Hence, I'm no where near proficient in listening, speaking, reading or writing. For others, it's passing some JLPT level (usually 1 or 2). YMMV.

I agree that grammar can be taught, but I take the viewpoint it must be compounded with MANY example sentences (hence my appreciation of Understanding Basic Japanese Grammar). We're adults, so we should take the most efficient path. However, I think when you're hearing thousands of hours of conversation you're going to get deeper training into nuances that books just cannot touch. Soon you'll break rules and sound correct doing it (we do it all the time in English). Being over precise soon makes you sound like a tool, which means you're failing despite being correct. So yes, I do mean grammar will take care of itself if you load yourself in real grammar. But learn the rules to get your foot in the door (much like I learned Kanji to get my foot in the door).
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Re: Which method for Kanji

Postby yukamina » Thu 07.10.2008 1:20 pm

Sairana wrote:If the student learns grammar and vocabulary -along side- RTK, that is outside the scope of the book and irrelevant, as the discussion centers around either doing 2000 kanji meanings and writings or NOT doing it that way. "Well, I did it AND did study on the side/lived in japan/went to classes" takes it out of context of the debate.

Why? A lot of people who use RTK study other aspects of Japanese along side, and if I were to recommend RTK1 to someone, I would hope they did too.
I'm almost at the point Yudan counts as proficient, reading in my area of interest with little dictionary use...but I've still got a lot to learn : P Fiction uses a wide range of vocabulary.

On another note, this person http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/fo ... PN=0&TPN=1 (see 1st and last post on the first page) started using RTK1 a month into his Japanese, finished in 2 months(page 10) and a year later has read several books. Very dedicated and hard working! Oh, and check out the free audio books too, whoever's interested.
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Re: Which method for Kanji

Postby Sairana » Thu 07.10.2008 3:35 pm

yukamina wrote:A lot of people who use RTK study other aspects of Japanese along side, and if I were to recommend RTK1 to someone, I would hope they did too.


Why would you expect that? From RTK's intro, "What may not be so apparent is that using it [this book] to supplement the study of kanji in the classroom ... has an adverse influence on the learning process." This absolves him from any talk of failure regarding RTK if students attempt to go outside the system and learn kanji relevant to external study materials. If you are going to learn kanji, it must be done through RTK -only-.

I suppose you could dance around his disclaimer by learning in romaji.... although RTK2 speaks out rather violently against romaji. "Get the idea out of your mind that the roman alphabet is a "crutch" to help you hobble along until you master the hiragana and katakana syllabaries. It is nothing of the kind. It is a slow and self inflicted amputation that will leave you crippled the for the rest of your Japanese-reading years."

The interesting bit about this last quote is I feel -exactly- the same way about his keywords from RTK1. I don't think I could have ever come up with anything so well worded. Thanks Heisig!
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Re: Which method for Kanji

Postby yukamina » Thu 07.10.2008 4:41 pm

You're clinging too much to what Heisig says. What does it matter if he says not to study other things along side? There's things I like about the RTK series, and I use the parts I like. Heisig also says not to review kanji->keyword, only keyword->kanji. Which is fine for writing kanji form memory, but it can result in trouble remembering kanji on site(ex, you can see the keyword Jurisdiction and write 領 no problem, but have trouble recognizing the same kanji if you saw 首領). Thus, I'd have no problem not following Heisig's advice in this area too, if I were using the book.
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