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Order/sequence

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Order/sequence

Postby sivvyx01 » Sun 10.16.2011 2:21 am

I know this has probably been asked dozens of times, but I really would love to hear people's opinions on this matter: in what order of sequence do you recommend learning Japanese?

I have heard, for example, that beginning with hiragana is the best way to begin...followed by katakana and kanji... I have tried to learn common words and phrases, but find this useless until I have mastered ALL of the above kanas...

Any thoughts on this would be great! :)

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Re: Order/sequence

Postby notdaijoubu » Sun 10.16.2011 3:12 am

I think the best way to learn is to know the kana libraries first. Hiragana should be the first, then Katakana. Hiragana should be learned first because this is the way you should think of Japanese at the most basic level. Katakana is used more for foreign words and emphasis, and as such, is sort of "secondary," if you will.

Kanji should, obviously, come next. Different people learn in different ways, but I recommend learning as many Kanji meanings as you can through the Heisig method, then learn the pronunciations through context...but that's only because that's how I learned Japanese. It's a language that's probably, I think, as tough for Westerners as Western languages are for the Japanese, and as such, there exists any number of ways to learn it to proficiency.
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Re: Order/sequence

Postby Shiroisan » Sun 10.16.2011 4:56 am

Before you learn ANY language, you should learn it's whole alphabet first. Before even saying "Hello". Japan's alphabet is the Kana. Kanji is not an alphabet, kanji is more akin to vocabulary itself, which is why it's learned as you learn vocabulary, not before.

Where heisig's method fails is that you are required to learn hundreds if not a thousand kanji of much more advanced vocabulary than you probably know, before it will begin to teach you some of the basic kanji that you need to know with your basic vocabulary.

[Removed by administrator: Advocating piracy of textbooks etc is a bannable offense. Please keep this in mind. Thank you. --Phreadom]
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Re: Order/sequence

Postby phreadom » Sun 10.16.2011 6:23 am

I think what Shiroisan fails to understand is the methodology behind Heisig. I know at least 2 people personally who have used it to great effect.

Basically all Heisig does is create for you a mental index of kanji that you can then recognize visually as distinct, with a simple mnemonic to help you remember a basic meaning for it. You don't learn all the meanings, any of the readings, etc. Just how to recognize and differentiate them.

You can go through this way learning how to write them and as long as you do your drills each day you can maintain a very high retention rate (like 90% and up) as you go through them. So in a matter of a few short months or so you can create this index of all the kanji in your mind.

THEN when you actually start learning the pronunciations (on and kun), different meanings etc, you are just adding them to your already created mental index and fleshing it out. This makes it MUCH easier to look at a huge wall of Japanese and not be intimidated, as you can recognize each of the kanji as you go and add more meaning to them in context etc.

I gladly bought a copy of Heisig recently because I wanted to go through the method that Dustin had laid out for me... a method my cousin is also using and has gone through over 1,000 of the kanji already with something like 95% retention (and which Dustin has done twice, with similar or better retention as he moved forward... as have others, like Khatz, from AJATT, another "controversial" method that my cousin is currently using effectively etc).

Again, just because you don't understand or don't agree with the method of a particular textbook doesn't mean you can come in here and tell people to go pirate it. Not only is that wrong, but it further serves to hurt the very existence of this site, which relies on honest language learners buying textbooks from http://thejapanshop.com/ and Clay's mobile applications etc. Please don't repeat this mistake again. Thanks.
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Re: Order/sequence

Postby sivvyx01 » Sun 10.16.2011 6:40 am

Thank you for your replies... I think it very much so depends on how you interpret words and symbols and your capacity for remembering them. I have issues remembering kana if I have nothing to relate them to... I will try out Heisig's method, and move on if it doesn't suit my learning style.
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Re: Order/sequence

Postby Shiroisan » Sun 10.16.2011 7:02 am

sumimasen, I didn't even know that you sold RtK here. :think:
As I said in chat before in my Country it's not illegal so I'm unaccustomed... Normally I would say that defining it as "wrong" would be the subject of a very long philosophical debate, but since you actually sell the txtbook here I would definitely not promote against the buying of TJP products.

Anyway, as for heisig:

I understand why it would be an amazing material for someone who, say, has reached high levels of proficiency but knows no kanji. However, the amount of time and brain space needed to retain 2000 kanji when you only have a 400 word vocabulary, of which there may only be half of that in unique kanji, then I believe that that much brain space reservation is unjustified and should be put toward furthering your basic skills instead of a tangent that you can't even use yet.

As for the part that got deleted in my first post, I'll say it again in a more... legitimate way :P I think that the heisig textbook would be a great side-resource for beginners for looking up the rare kanji that you just can't seem to remember for whatever reason. For beginning kanji, It worked well for me; I've learned the readings, stroke order, etc. of the first 150 or so Genki kanji, and of those 150, I looked up only around 3 kanji on heisig for an easier way to remember (i.e. if one had too many foreign radicals). have not had any problems.
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Re: Order/sequence

Postby Dustin » Sun 10.16.2011 7:21 am

Well RTK isn't sold here, but the activity that is both illegal in the United States ( where this webise is hosted ) and against the forum policy because it promotes activity that specifically undermines the goals of the website and it's hosts income.

Whether the book is sold here or not is besides the point. Same as whether it's philosophically "right or wrong" simply put, it's against forum rules.

As far as the RTK system goes, it doesn't take an excessive amount of brain-space to contain 2000 characters. What is important however is for someone to know whether it's going to be their goal to actually utilize many of these. If you're only ever planning on learning to use 200-400 kanji then yeah RTK can be a waste. If you're planning on becoming proficient, then it is a valuable shortcut to index the characters.

The way the system works, is that it builds upon pieces learned before, components. While it's "possible" to tackle these one at a time, it's much more difficult to even use RTK on an individual basis without going through all the individual pieces as presented once you get to the more difficult kanji. I would not advocate someone to use RTK if they're using it for the occasional "hard" kanji, it simply won't work or be worth the money.

There is an "RTK Lite" option that can be found that essentially trims about half the characters, but still takes full advantage of the system, going through all of the more important kanji and the pieces for them. I believe this takes one up to about JLPT 2 level as far as the kanji it covers. It makes it much easier to slog through, and you get much more bang for your buck in terms of time commitment.

Lastly, once I had all of the kanji indexed, it made memorizing compounds MUCH more streamlined and really boosted how quickly I was able to learn new words since they were familiar to me, and not yet another random squiggle that I need to arbitrarily memorize in order to get the next vocab word done.
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Re: Order/sequence

Postby Shiroisan » Sun 10.16.2011 7:45 am

"it doesn't take an excessive amount of brain-space to contain 2000 characters"
I have a hard time believing that it wouldn't take at least somewhat diligent reviewing to upkeep this retention. I'd imagine said reviewing would vastly slow down the progress of trying to learn your other basic skills of grammar/ vocabulary which actually have phonetics before you're prepared to place all the kanji to a real word.

Although it does build upon itself with repeated radicals and components, it's STILL 2000 unique combinations of said radicals components. Nothing to sneeze at :shock:
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Re: Order/sequence

Postby furrykef » Sun 10.16.2011 1:30 pm

That's what kanji.koohii.com is for. :3 (It also helps immensely with coming up stories for kanji, since they have a huge database of other people's stories.)
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Re: Order/sequence

Postby notdaijoubu » Sun 10.16.2011 5:34 pm

It's easy to get discouraged when learning the characters, but as long as you use them and practice a few times a week, it's actually pretty easy to remember them.

I would say it was only six months ago that I could read all of the JLPT 2 kanji along with about half of the JLPT 1 kanji, but I couldn't write them to save my life. By just writing each of the characters as they came up in my flash card deck, I expanded my ability to write Japanese by a significant amount. I didn't take any pains to remember them, I just committed them to muscle memory.

Learning radicals (like through Heisig's method, although you can use whatever method you'd like) is very important to expanding your kanji vocabulary. Without them, you're fighting an uphill battle. There are actually not too many radicals (just over 200) when compared to the amount of kanji you can construct with them, and they can help you determine the meaning (and sometimes on pronunciation) of an unknown kanji. For example, kanji containing 白 (white) tend to have an on reading of haku (like 伯 or 拍), and kanji containing 月 (which, in the context of the body, is a "radical" version of 肉) tend to be about body parts and organs (腰 (low-back/hip), 腕 (arm), 脳 (brain), 腸 (bowels)). However, these are tendencies, not rules, so don't take these as such (的 (on pronunciation of teki), 期 (term/period)). Make sure you back up your guesses by looking them up.

Writing a kana/kanji while saying its pronunciation out loud or thinking about the pronunciation is quite helpful, as simple as it might seem. It's how I got to the level I'm at (just repeated tens of thousands of times). I no longer need a dictionary most of the time and can accurately guess pronunciations and meanings.
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