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'Remembering the kanji' question...

Have a textbook or grammar book that you find particularly helpful? What about a learning tip to share with others?

RE: 'Remembering the kanji' question...

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 12.08.2007 3:34 pm

When I used flashcards to study for various tests, I did them like this. On one side of the card I had the kanji, words, and example phrases/sentences. On the other side, I had the same stuff but with the readings instead of the kanji. No English.
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RE: 'Remembering the kanji' question...

Postby hungryhotei » Sat 12.08.2007 4:04 pm

yukamina wrote:
I don't care if you guys don't think RTK works, just don't leave those naive beginners stranded after you tell them not to use it.


Are you saying that people around here have been doing that?
Last edited by hungryhotei on Sun 12.09.2007 12:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: 'Remembering the kanji' question...

Postby HarakoMeshi » Sat 12.08.2007 5:05 pm

Shirasagi wrote:
I guess my question should be, okay, you pulled 学 from your flashcard pile. What did you then vocalize/sub-vocalize to test yourself? Manabu, gaku, and/or the included compounds? All of the above and an English meaning like "study, learn"?

I ask this only because IMO if you made yourself remember the verb and/or compounds for each kanji in your flashcard stock, I wouldn't call that "non-contextual". If you just recited an English meaning and/or an on-yomi, then I'd say that's non-contextual.


Drilling Japanese words doesn't mean its in-context. Its still drilling words out of context, only they are Japanese words. In context means in a sentence or dialogue to learn how they are really used in Japanese.
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RE: 'Remembering the kanji' question...

Postby jt » Sat 12.08.2007 8:26 pm

I think I'm going to let go of this debate, as it just isn't worth it.

I hope that I haven't given people the wrong idea -- I have some serious doubts about the pedagogical soundness of Heisig's method, but I don't really have any problem with the individual people who use it. If it's helping you learn (and enjoy learning) kanji, more power to you. I'll still believe that you could be learning to read Japanese in a more meaningful, effective way through a more contextual method -- but if you're able to use Heisig as one step to advanced literacy, then that's great, and the last thing I'd want to do is cut you down because I don't agree with some of the author's claims.

That being said, there's one comment I wanted to reply to:

HarakoMeshi said:
融資 (ゆうし) may seem 'complex' in its writing but it is a very simple and common word that can be quite easily incorporated in a dialogue using only 1st day beginner Japanese grammar.

I cannot imagine how a reasonable curriculum for a Japanese course could possibly involve teaching the word 「融資」 in the first year or first semester, let alone the first day. What kind of meaningful conversation can a beginning student have about loans and finance? Can they understand a news story or an article on this topic?

If not, then what is the purpose of learning how to write these characters so early?

However it isn't used in beginner courses, because its so much more useful to talk about pencils.

Yes, it is -- if sentences involving pencils are being used to teach students the fundamentals of Japanese grammar and sentence structure, this is of infinitely more value to them at that stage of learning than studying kanji found in words that they are incapable of using or understanding in context.

I just wanted to address this comment because it goes beyond the pro-/anti-Heisig debate and seems to reflect some all-too-common misconceptions about learning Japanese.

edit-- Anyway, thanks for an interesting debate, everyone.
Last edited by jt on Sat 12.08.2007 8:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: 'Remembering the kanji' question...

Postby morph » Sat 12.08.2007 11:05 pm

jt wrote:
I have some serious doubts about the pedagogical soundness of Heisig's method...

...because I don't agree with some of the author's claims.



Well, it might help if you actually understood the Heisig method and his "claims" before making such grandiose pronouncements.

Please refer my second post ("See, this is exactly what I don't get about Heisig. ") on page 11 of the thread for an example of what I am referring to.
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RE: 'Remembering the kanji' question...

Postby HarakoMeshi » Sun 12.09.2007 1:03 am

HarakoMeshi said:
融資 (ゆうし) may seem 'complex' in its writing but it is a very simple and common word that can be quite easily incorporated in a dialogue using only 1st day beginner Japanese grammar.


I cannot imagine how a reasonable curriculum for a Japanese course could possibly involve teaching the word 「融資」 in the first year or first semester, let alone the first day.

What kind of meaningful conversation can a beginning student have about loans and finance? Can they understand a news story or an article on this topic?


I don't mean to fight over this, I hope we are having an interesting discussion.

If you re-read what you quoted, what I was saying is that this word can be used in a dialogue using only very basic grammar. I don't think you need advanced grammar to use this word in a dialogue.

I didn't say or mean to imply it should necessarily be studied on day 1.

...if sentences involving pencils are being used to teach students the fundamentals of Japanese grammar and sentence structure, this is of infinitely more value to them at that stage of learning than studying kanji found in words that they are incapable of using or understanding in context.


I'm really not sure why you think that dialogues about loans or financing are not useful, or out of reach? Its so arbitrary to discount this topic. Why have you formed this idea that its beyond beginner level?

I'm an adult, and I'm more likely to enter in a conversation about finance than I am about pencils. So I like functional textbooks like JFE that teach basic Japanese grammar by means of real life dialogue.

As an aside, this discussion reminds me of a funny article I read by a Japanese speaker who blessed functional textbooks. He recalled how one day in Japan he went to a party and noticed a giftwrapped box on the table. Upon asking the host "これは 何ですか” he got the reply "これは本です”, at which point he burst into laughter. You see this was the first dialogue he ever learned from his first Japanese textbook, but it had taken more than 20 years living in Japan before he actually used it with a Japanese person.

In JFE, you start in airport customs. You find your wife browsing a jewelery store while you're looking for a book store. Take a taxi to your hotel. Order dinner. Register at the Ward Office. Go to parties. Pay your electricity bill. Get sent on a business trip to meet with a subsidiary of your company. Get sick. Get stuck in a traffic jam, then get in trouble with the police for speeding. Conduct business dialogues about arranging to export robots for a partner company through your business channel.

In the context of the business dialogues that are covered in the book it wouldn't be out of the question to discuss financing.

Anyhow, my point was not that 融資 specifically should be taught to beginners. My point was, why do you think words like this are SO advanced? Its just a simple and fairly common word. A word that may seem *useless* to one person may be quite useful for another.

JFE uses quite realistic dialogues, and there are words introduced like 賞与 "bonus". Genki introduces words like 保険 "insurance". Why are you arbitrarily deciding that 融資 "loan" is too advanced for anything? If the authors of these textbooks wanted they could make a dialogue about getting a loan from a bank just as easily as about getting medical insurance.
Last edited by HarakoMeshi on Sun 12.09.2007 6:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: 'Remembering the kanji' question...

Postby Wakannai » Sun 12.09.2007 8:37 am

If you re-read what you quoted, what I was saying is that this word can be used in a dialogue using only very basic grammar. I don't think you need advanced grammar to use this word in a dialogue


What you are missing is that any competent course will parse both the words and grammar so that words are introduced based on their frequency and utility. In short, words that people use every single day, then every week, then every month by nearly every speaker of the language. Words like car, breakfast, store, eat, and such are high frequency words and have a high priority. Any course that teaches 融資 within the first few days or weeks is generally not written competently. Because it gives a low frequency word an inappropriate priority.

I'm an adult, and I'm more likely to enter in a conversation about finance than I am about pencils.


Not as a beginner studying a language. Finance is a complex subject. Hand me the pencil is not. Learn to cry until someone picks you up, then learn to crawl, then learn to walk, then learn to run. You're trying to run before you've even learned to let mommie know your hungry and that you really don't like peas.
Last edited by Wakannai on Sun 12.09.2007 8:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: 'Remembering the kanji' question...

Postby HarakoMeshi » Sun 12.09.2007 10:17 am

Not as a beginner studying a language. Finance is a complex subject. Hand me the pencil is not. Learn to cry until someone picks you up, then learn to crawl, then learn to walk, then learn to run. You're trying to run before you've even learned to let mommie know your hungry and that you really don't like peas.


Good points.

I'm not saying that its not a correct methodology to teach daily use words first. However if you haven't looked at a text like JFE then I recommend you do. It does an excellent job of taking a learner from zero (zero + kana) to intermediate Japanese without starting with contrived examples limited to elementary words. It teaches how to walk, while walking with real language that one is likely to find useful for communicating with real Japanese in a variety of situations.

Instead of starting with "Hand me the pencil", "Is this a book?", it starts at airport customs with "Open the suitcase please. Show me. What's this, drugs? No its not drugs, its honey. Ok. What's this? This one? Yes, what's that there? Err... actually... its ham. Ham? Ham is not allowed!".

It teaches the same grammar but makes for a more interesting and realistic dialogue from the get go. The dialogues are quite rich from the first lesson.

What's more the book introduces vocab that is useful for the dialogues, even though it may not be considered the simplest or most common vocab. It soon covers words like "sightseeing", "medicine", "honey", "jeweler", "secret", "luck", "business", "tuition", "announcement" and many words that may not be considered the most common.

This course introduces all these kind of words, and thus quickly creates a rich playground in which to learn and develop relevant language skills. So to get to my long delayed point, I think you can teach any word, as long as you can put it to good use in teaching the language. Adding words just for the hell of it... not so much.

I think JFE is a very competent course, and its not written the way you say, starting with daily use words first, then weekly then monthly, etc. Granted, JFE is one of the most dense textbooks.
Last edited by HarakoMeshi on Sun 12.09.2007 2:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: 'Remembering the kanji' question...

Postby HarakoMeshi » Sun 12.09.2007 10:44 am

I have to apologise to the OP (who we might have scared away) and to moderators, as it appears we've derailed this thread quite a bit.
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RE: 'Remembering the kanji' question...

Postby Study » Sun 12.09.2007 1:48 pm

I know this is a bit off topic, but....
Many copies of "Remembering the Kanji" 5th Edition are defective. You can get a replacement copy if your copy fell apart. :|
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RE: 'Remembering the kanji' question...

Postby Wakannai » Sun 12.09.2007 7:08 pm

HarakoMeshi wrote:

I think JFE is a very competent course, and its not written the way you say, starting with daily use words first, then weekly then monthly, etc. Granted, JFE is one of the most dense textbooks.


JFE is a good course. Like every course, it has it's plusses and minuses.

Btw, this thread is 12 pages long now. Not that the discussion hasn't gotten interesting, and not that I haven't learned some things myself, but I've found that when a thread gets this long, new posters are too intimidated to read it at all, or if they do, they only read the first page or two before responding. I think it's time to let the thread die before it starts to get cluttered in the normal way over long threads tend to.
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