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Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 10.26.2007 11:51 pm

I agree with tanuki -- that response was uncalled for, especially since the OP was already corrected and posted his understanding.
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby Hatori » Sat 10.27.2007 12:14 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
I agree with tanuki -- that response was uncalled for, especially since the OP was already corrected and posted his understanding.

LOL. I wasn't paying attention then... Sorry. LOL
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby Mike Cash » Sat 10.27.2007 2:15 am

uber_geek wrote:
Now I might be just being stupid im not really sure.
Why learn the Kanji?! The japanese people themselves hardly use it


Yes, were being stupid.

Learn them or don't learn them, just as you please. But where on earth did you get the idea the Japanese hardly use kanji? Perhaps you have them confused with the Koreans.
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby JaySee » Sat 10.27.2007 6:39 am

I have noticed that on this forum posters often only seem to read the OP and then reply based solely on that, not realising that either the exact same answer has already been given somewhere in the 10 posts after it, and/or that the OP already changed his point of view, thereby filling this forum with redundancy and irrelevance.

I would still vote for the '4-schools' option for Japanese. I know at my uni they dont teach kanji in the first year of Sinology but that's mainly because you need a lot of time to get the pronunciation down... in the case of Japanese that only takes one afternoon and somehow it seems to me that learning words would be lot more efficient if you immediately learn how to write it too, otherwise you'd be learning it twice. I don't believe that already knowing the language a bit would make you learn the kanji quicker because the characters can't really be connected to sounds and in some cases even the meaning is quite vague, so you'll have to learn which kanji go with each word individually anyway.
Last edited by JaySee on Sat 10.27.2007 6:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby Mike Cash » Sat 10.27.2007 9:04 am

JaySee wrote:
I have noticed that on this forum posters often only seem to read the OP and then reply based solely on that, not realising that either the exact same answer has already been given somewhere in the 10 posts after it, and/or that the OP already changed his point of view, thereby filling this forum with redundancy and irrelevance.


If you're referring to me, sunshine, I noticed that on my own and edited appropriately seven minutes ahead of you.

Do you really mean to say that you think such behavior is unique to this forum? Or did you just awkwardly word your lament so that it reads that way?
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby JaySee » Sat 10.27.2007 9:55 am

Well, I'm glad you noticed your own mistake! I did not see you edited your post, though that doesn't take away the main thing I was getting at (namely that especially if threads are relatively short like this one people should try to read the other posts before replying themselves, which you most likely didn't)

And, no, I'm sure this happens on other forums too, though I don't really see how that matters here. I was talking about this forum, which is why I said "this forum".

(also, there is no need to call me sunshine, I know you have almost 20 times as many posts as I do but that's no reason to be so unnecessarily arrogant)
Last edited by JaySee on Sat 10.27.2007 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 10.27.2007 10:17 am

JaySee wrote:
in the case of Japanese that only takes one afternoon


Mastering Japanese pronunciation takes one afternoon? Any language's pronunciation can be done in one afternoon if you set the bar low enough.

and somehow it seems to me that learning words would be lot more efficient if you immediately learn how to write it too, otherwise you'd be learning it twice.


Depends on what you mean by "immediately". Having a conversation and reading something are separate things anyway, so trying to do them at the same time can interfere with authentic situations. To practice and teach conversation in a classroom setting, it's important to simulate an authentic context as much as possible -- that means no English, no books, and no notes. So learning to read and write what you're going to be saying isn't really directly relevant to a conversational setting. Given that, it seems to make sense to have them practice the speech one day, and the writing another day.

"Learning it twice" isn't a bad thing -- if you are able to remember everything you study the first time without any review whatsoever, you are a very lucky person.

I don't believe that already knowing the language a bit would make you learn the kanji quicker because the characters can't really be connected to sounds


What do you think on and kun-yomi are!?

There's really no disagreement among pedagogists that learning the spoken language first helps you learn to read. The vital question is whether it helps you enough to make it worth significantly delaying the introduction of the writing system.
Last edited by Yudan Taiteki on Sat 10.27.2007 10:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby Musiflare » Sat 10.27.2007 11:09 am

I've been studying Japanese for about a year and a half independently and recently by communicating with the international students at school. I was using the Genki method, working all four sections at one time... So, I can write about 300 kanji now, but my grammar is awful because I was too focused on being able to actually read the words. I didn't practice over the summer because I was unbearably frustrated, but then I got on JapanesePod101.com (this is NOT meant to sound like an advertisement, I swear XD) and I actually learned to understand my first conversation. I improved in a week what I couldn't do over several months.

Listening comprehension is the base of any language--it's why I quit French (because after two years, I still couldn't understand what they were talking about). If you listen, you can understand and reply, building your own sentences, which plays in to the ability to read it. It's just more natural to learn a language like this--I mean, c'mon, toddlers do it.
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby JaySee » Sat 10.27.2007 12:51 pm

Perhaps my post was a bit too vague and I should have elaborated some more.

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
Mastering Japanese pronunciation takes one afternoon? Any language's pronunciation can be done in one afternoon if you set the bar low enough.


What I mean is that it's relatively easy. Of course you will still have (quite) an accent after you have studied Japanese pronunciation for one afternoon, getting your pronunciation to a native level will take much much longer (if it isn't impossible at all). But at least you will be able to make yourself clear and more or less pronounce the individual sounds the way they should be pronounced within a short period of time, which is impossible in the case of Chinese or many other languages.

Depends on what you mean by "immediately". Having a conversation and reading something are separate things anyway, so trying to do them at the same time can interfere with authentic situations. (...) Given that, it seems to make sense to have them practice the speech one day, and the writing another day.


Agreed. Reading/writing classes and conversation classes should be separated; it would not be effective to try and teach reading/writing/listening and speaking at the same time. Though as I said before I do think that if you can it would be best to start both the speech and writing classes at the same time.

What do you think on and kun-yomi are!?

There's really no disagreement among pedagogists that learning the spoken language first helps you learn to read. The vital question is whether it helps you enough to make it worth significantly delaying the introduction of the writing system.


In most languages if you know the alphabet you can write most words you hear fairly accurately; the connection between sounds and signs is much clearer so in this case you are absolutely right that knowing the spoken language greatly helps you to become literate in that language as well. What I meant here was that it is impossible to predict the character that is used for a word just by hearing the pronunciation of that word in Japanese: the sound-sign connection is much more obscure. Even if you already know all the Joyo Kanji (which I doubt when you're a beginner) it is still difficult in many cases, especially for kango. Therefore in the case of Japanese, some proficiency in the spoken language is much less of an advantage when you're trying to become literate (unless you just want to use kana).
Last edited by JaySee on Sat 10.27.2007 1:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 10.27.2007 1:43 pm

OK, I see what you're saying.

One of the great unsettled question in language pedagogy is how closely speech and reading are connected -- is it possible to go directly from the written form to meaning without any connection to a spoken language? And if so, is this different for languages written in East Asian scripts vs. alphabetic languages? There's been a lot of research and experimentation on this but unfortunately no conclusive results. It does seem like all native speakers "subvocalize" when they read -- this doesn't mean that you literally whisper words, but that your vocal chords move when you read, no matter how fast you're reading.

If it is true that you must connect written symbols to speech, then if you do not know the word in the target language, all you can do is connect it to your native language. That is, if you know that 新聞 means "newspaper" but you don't know how to pronounce it in Japanese, what you are doing is connecting the symbols 新聞 to the English word "newspaper" -- in other words, when reading a Japanese text you would be switching back and forth between English and Japanese as you read, which is pretty much guaranteed to slow down your reading speed. (For a Japanese person who knew the meaning of a kanji compound but not how to read it, they would be connecting the compound to a different word in their oral vocabulary. So for instance if they see 脆弱 they might just read it as よわい or something like that.)

If the preceding paragraph is true, then it makes a lot of sense to develop your spoken proficiency before reading, so that you can make sure you're connecting the symbols to Japanese rather than English. That's where the "spoken first" people are coming from.

(There are other arguments for the "speech first" approach that have more to do with program design and the practicality of self study vs. classroom, but that's not necessarily relevant here.)
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby yukamina » Sat 10.27.2007 4:14 pm

saraLynne wrote:

yukamina wrote:
And one time I learned the meaning of 200 kanji in one day...


What's the definition of "learned" here? If you can't put your knowledge to practical use, then it's a lot of energy for little if any return on the investment. Can you read those 200 if they showed up in an article or in a book? Someone saying they "learned" 2000 kanji in 3 months probably cannot practically apply them.

By learn, I mean if I see the kanji, I know what it means, and could most likely write it from memory. I think you'll notice I said, "learned the meaning" not "learned the kanji" or "learned the readings, meanings and usage of the kanji".
I get plenty of return on this method of learning. By knowing the meaning of all the joyo kanji(which takes a lot less time then learning them completely), I can learn any kanji-related vocabulary I come across easily. I can guess the meaning of new kanji compounds while reading and have a better idea of what's going on. My goal is reading comprehension, so it doesn't bother me if I can't use 漠然 in a sentence, as long as I understand the sentences it's used it.
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby Mike Cash » Sun 10.28.2007 6:03 am

JaySee wrote:
Well, I'm glad you noticed your own mistake! I did not see you edited your post, though that doesn't take away the main thing I was getting at (namely that especially if threads are relatively short like this one people should try to read the other posts before replying themselves, which you most likely didn't)


Your guess is correct; I did not. Upon reviewing the thread, though, I revised my redundant piling-on (not "mistake"). It would appear to me that in failing to notice I had edited my post before taking me to task you were yourself displaying the same lack of diligence. If I weren't an American and therefore incapable of recognizing it, I would probably consider that a prime example of irony.

And, no, I'm sure this happens on other forums too, though I don't really see how that matters here. I was talking about this forum, which is why I said "this forum".


Apparently even when you read posts you don't read them carefully. Your original statement on that was awkwardly worded. See if you can spot the problem.

(also, there is no need to call me sunshine, I know you have almost 20 times as many posts as I do but that's no reason to be so unnecessarily arrogant)


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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby Wakannai » Sun 10.28.2007 6:21 am

There's really no disagreement among pedagogists that learning the spoken language first helps you learn to read. The vital question is whether it helps you enough to make it worth significantly delaying the introduction of the writing system.


I must say, based on my own experience, of course, that when learning conversational style Japanese, such as Pimsleur and such, that I certianly seemed to learn much faster and remember much better the lessons. Also, later when I learned grammar rules that I had already semi-absorbed in a conversational style system, that I progressed much faster. And of course, learning kanji for words I already know, sometimes I can memorize them on the spot without needing to resort to flashcards and whatnot.
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby Harisenbon » Sun 10.28.2007 9:01 pm

JaySee wrote:
In most languages if you know the alphabet you can write most words you hear fairly accurately;


Perhaps I'm not completeing understanding what you 're saying here, but how does a knowledge of the alphabet translate into knowing how to write most words? Most alphabets are not completely phonetic, and create pronunciations through combinations of letters that oftentimes have overlap. Only knowing A-Z, and no words, do you think it would be possible to spell Phone (fone), Etymology (Ehtimalowgee), etc?

JaySee wrote:
What I meant here was that it is impossible to predict the character that is used for a word just by hearing the pronunciation of that word in Japanese:


While difficult to correctly predict which kanji are used in new words that you hear, it is by far impossible. The first time I heard 電車を解体します, I could tell you exactly what kanji were being used in かいたい, because of the context, even though I had never hear the word before. The same can be send for words like 飲食 and 植物 which as long as you have some context for the word, are fairly easy to put kanji to.

Just my opinion on things...
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RE: Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Postby chikara » Sun 10.28.2007 9:51 pm

JaySee wrote:
.... In most languages if you know the alphabet you can write most words you hear fairly accurately....

Of course you can. ;)

That's how we get the English word ghoti.

Think laugh, women and nation.

Edit: One of my favourite foods is ghoughpteighbteau

Mike Cash wrote:
.... If I weren't an American and therefore incapable of recognizing it, I would probably consider that a prime example of irony....

:D :D
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