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Learning vocabulary

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Learning vocabulary

Postby aradu » Fri 10.14.2005 5:48 pm

I've been studying Hiragana and I finally know all of them. I'm still reading very slowly, but I practice them everyday. I'm studying grammar in school. The one thing we haven't practiced much at all is vocabulary, so I'll start reading a bit on my own.

When I studied/study Spanish and English I just memorized the words, but it's a bit different in Japanese.

Do I learn the Kanji while I'm studying a word. Let's say I'm trying to learn the word rain. Of course I learn the Hiragana for pronounciation, but do I learn the Kanji aswell? - If I should wait with the Kanji and only learn to write in Hiragana, wouldn't it be very hard to learn all Kanji later on?

I'd really appreciate an answer to this question. Of course there's not a correct answer, but I'd like to hear if you have any experience and what method worked best for you.
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RE: Learning vocabulary

Postby sparky » Fri 10.14.2005 6:13 pm

I think you should start slowly. Work a lot on your vocabulary first, and try and learn some kanji as you go along. In my opinion, the first few kanji you learn are pretty hard to memorize, but with time, you'll get the hang of it and you'll realize that kanji have a lot in common with each other. So in the beginning, focus more on vocabulary and study up on a few kanji. As time goes by and as you start feeling more confident, start learning more kanji with your vocabulary words.

Well, that's the method I used/am using and it's working pretty well for me. ^__^ がんばって!
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RE: Learning vocabulary

Postby Apollo » Fri 10.14.2005 6:59 pm

While you learn your vocabulary I have found it very efficent to pick a few words out of your course book or even this site, and try using it in your daily life, but in case those situations never arise to give a nickname to your friends with that Japanese word, for me I am naturally a silly person and I call everyone by joking names, so for my first words I would say "Ohayo gozaimasu!" at random moments and I would call my friend "Genki" or "Arigato" and now those words are just burnt into my head. Hope it works for yah! ^^:D
MY SIG IMAGE WAS OVER 100 PIXELS HIGH AND THE ADMINS SMOTE IT WITH A HAMMER OF SMITING.
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RE: Learning vocabulary

Postby aradu » Sat 10.15.2005 12:28 am

sparky: That seems like a very good aproach. It'd take way too long to learn any vocabulary if I'd learn all the Kanjis too, but by learning a few i'll be able to learn vocabulary while learning Kanji.  ありがとうございます。

Apollo: I've never heard a method like that, even if I've studied 3 languages before. I've also heard of people explaining their environment while speaking in the language they're studying.

Thanks for the tip!
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RE: Learning vocabulary

Postby Infidel » Sat 10.15.2005 12:31 am

one great learning tool is about.com's phrase of the day
http://japanese.about.com/blpod.htm

It doesn't automatically update unfortunatly. But you can look up a phrase and practice it each day.
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RE: Learning vocabulary

Postby nprz » Sat 10.15.2005 1:11 am

At least try to familiar yourself with the kanji when learning vocabulary. Even if you can't write it, you will notice the same kanji appearing many times and often it has the same pronunciation. For me this makes it easier to remember words.
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RE: Learning vocabulary

Postby InsanityRanch » Sat 10.15.2005 6:59 am

Hi, Aradu!

I gotta ask, since you say you study Spanish and English, what is your first language?

As for kanji, I suggest you begin by learning the first grade ones along with their vocabulary. The first grade has 80 kanji, almost all of which are insanely useful and also rather simple. Many are the building blocks for later, more complex kanji.

That's what I did. It took me a couple of months to learn the first grade, but the process does get faster. I learned them by a) writing them a LOT each day and b) as I wrote, saying the meaning and reading I was memorizing along with the shape.

I like a program called Lexikan which has a) kana-writing practice (for both syllabaries) with feedback so you learn to write correctly b) kanji-writing practice with feedback and c) flashcard practice for kanji readings. (There is also flashcard practice for compound words, but I wouldn't worry about that until you have a few kanji under your belt.)

I agree with you that reading is just about the only route to fluency if you are not going to go to Japan to study. (Unless you have some other way to get in a reasonable amount of conversation practice with native speakers every day.) I get a few hours of conversation practice once a week, and the only way I've made real progress is by reading, reading reading... because I can do that every day.

If you are going to read, I think kanji are a big help. A sentence written in kana is like a spoken sentence -- if you don't already know the words, you can't even tell where they begin and end. A sentence written "normally" -- with kanji and kana interspersed -- is laid out for your inspection. You can see the words, as well as what part of speech they are, even if you do not know what they mean. Being able to do this is, I believe, the first small step toward figuring out new words by context -- which is my current holy grail, since I'm tired of dragging a dictionary around with my book!

As for internal monolog, I do do that in Japanese most of the time. And it does slip out at odd times, making people look at me funny. <g> At first it's hard because you lack vocabulary. But I started writing down bits of internal dialog I used a lot and asked my teacher how to say that. (Later, I checked a dictionary.)

Good luck! Japanese is the coolest language I've ever learned, and you seem like the kind of person who can appreciate it!

Shira
"Give me a fruitful error any time, full of seeds, bursting with its own corrections. You can keep your sterile truth for yourself." -- Vilfredo Pareto
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RE: Learning vocabulary

Postby aradu » Sat 10.15.2005 4:00 pm

ishnar: Wow, that looks very useful. I remember I used Dictionary.com's word of the day, which was a very good learning tool. This will probably prove to be as useful.

nprz: I'll do that. Even if I don't learn all Kanjis at once, I might remember some of them. I was really scared someone would say that I need to learn the vocabulary first, then the Kanji later on. :p

InsanityRanch: Thanks a lot for your answer. My first language is Swedish. I'm focusing on Japanese now, so it's no time over for Spanish at the moment.

By Kanji grade 1, do you mean these: http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/list.php?grade=1? Is there a big difference between Grade 1 and JLTP Level 4 Kanji? I use the same method you use when I learned ひらがな and I found it very useful. The hardest thing was to remember the English mnemonics, so I have a few Swedish mnemonics instead. :P

I would love to be able to speak with myself in Japanese. I try as best as I can now, with sentences like: あの あおい たてものわ としょうかん です。 And I also try to ask myself what time it is, then look at the watch and tell the current time. Unfortunately, I can't express the minutes yet. ;)

Anyway, thank you all for the answers. I feel like I know how to proceed now. I'll check out the tools you mentioned.
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RE: Learning vocabulary

Postby InsanityRanch » Sat 10.15.2005 4:59 pm

I don't actually know which kanji are in JLPT level 4. I suspect they must have a lot in common with Japanese school system grade 1, which is indeed the list on the page you mention. Those are basic kanji in several senses. They are very commonly used and have extremely common vocabulary words associated with them. They are also basic shapes that appear in many other kanji. Knowing the most common kun-reading for those kanji will help you look up new kanji, at least on electronic dictionaries like mine that have you enter the names of parts of the unknown kanji.

The reason I attacked the kanji in grade order rather than JLPT or some reference text order was probably due to the influence of a program called kanjigold (freeware). As kanjigold demonstrates, many people have drawn up lists of jukugo that use only kanji up to a given grade level. (So a fourth grade list would use kanji only in grades 1-4). Having such lists available is a really nice shortcut.

The *reason* people have done this, I suspect, is that most of the programs use Jim Breen's Japanese dictionary as an underlying engine and the grade level of each kanji is one of the data fields. Therefore such lists can be generated automatically. Which JLPT level each kanji is tested at is NOT in that dictionary, so I don't know of anyone who has prebuilt lists of jukugo which contain only those kanji for a given level of the JLPT. It's not a bad idea, just harder to implement.

Incidentally, congratulations on your command of English. Except for your remark about studying English and Spanish, I would never have guessed you were not a native writer of English!

Shira
"Give me a fruitful error any time, full of seeds, bursting with its own corrections. You can keep your sterile truth for yourself." -- Vilfredo Pareto
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RE: Learning vocabulary

Postby aradu » Sat 10.15.2005 6:13 pm

Thanks again! I'll definitely check out Kanjigold. I feel a lot less confused now, and I'll begin to check out a few of the Grade 1 Kanjis. I also noticed it's a lot more fun studying vocabulary in Japanese, compared to other languages.

Thanks everyone for your help! :D
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RE: Learning vocabulary

Postby tsan_aznboi » Thu 10.20.2005 6:50 pm

I would definitely learn all the words using hirigana/katakana then slowly learn kanji. Learning kanji takes a long time, but learning little by little will increase your kanji vocab slowly. Time is part of learning any language and japanese is one of them. Good luck----
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RE: Learning vocabulary

Postby Mukade » Thu 10.20.2005 11:39 pm

InsanityRanch wrote:
I don't actually know which kanji are in JLPT level 4. I suspect they must have a lot in common with Japanese school system grade 1, which is indeed the list on the page you mention.


The JLPT 4kyuu kanji are here: http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kanji/list.php?jlpt=4

There is definitely a lot of overlap between the two lists, but the JLPT kanji lists don't necessarily have any relation to the order in which they are taught in schools in Japan. The JLPT is testing the general reading/writing ability of non-native speakers, especially as it relates to business writing. The kanji lists are going to focus more on frequently-used characters, especially those most often used in texts.

The order in which they are taught in Japan, however, is different. An educated Japanese is expected to read and write all standard use kanji, whether they are commonly used or not.


InsanityRanch wrote:
...I attacked the kanji in grade order...


I think your strategy to learn the kanji in grade order makes sense. Unlike many other kanji lists, (the JLPT list, for example) the grade order list first teaches those kanji which are A) characters in and of themselves and B) characters that are also radicals used in more complex characters.

Thus, if you learn the grade one characters, you'll find learning the later characters easier, since they are all made up of (for the most part) the first grade characters.

An even more streamlined version of this approach appears in James Heisig's texts "Remembering the Kanji," vols I and II. I would highly recommend these texts if you found learning the kanji in grade order helped. It's a very systematized approach, with the meanings of all the standard-use characters learned in vol I and all of the readings learned in vol II.

Heisig shows you how to remember just about all of the standard-use kanji using a mnemonic-based system that utilizes each radical's actual meaning. Not only that, but working through this system will also give you the tools you need to learn any new kanji you run into, even if it isn't on the standard-use list.
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