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Building Vocabulary

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

Building Vocabulary

Postby Denus » Mon 08.18.2008 4:51 pm

I came across http://www.thejapanesepage.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=10377&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&hilit=memorize+memorizing+memorization+kanji earlier and I wanted to ask some advice.

Due to speaking with people in the Lounge chat and reading basic grammar primers (like Tae Kim's site), I know about grammar that doesn't occur until significantly later in my textbook (Genki I) and can use it to a limited extent. However, at the moment, I have never studied my textbook past Ch. 7.

I will be advancing in my textbook to reinforce what I've learned and to cover things I may have missed, but my vocabulary is very limited right now, which is really what keeps me from having a semi-coherent conversation. Obviously, I'll be learning the vocabulary as I advance through the text, but I also had thought it would be a good idea to try my hand at reading articles and other things in Japanese. For example, the Mainichi Online's Elementary School Studen Newspaper section, which I thought would be fairly simple to read.

...if you'll excuse the expression, it's all still Japanese to me. I have to look up pretty much every word in the articles. To do so while trying to memorize even 1 or 2 words has so far been futile for me. Rather than trying to take in the whole article, would it be better, perhaps, to just take the article headline, and then the most pertinent sentence to use as context? Or should I stop completely for now and finish my textbook first?

On another topic, in Genki, the vocabulary list often comes with kanji readings of new words, but it only gives me exercises for very few of the kanji (if any at all from the actual vocab list) to practice reading and writing. Should I extend any effort to memorizing the kanji not included in the reading/writing practice? Or would it be better to just finish the textbooks first and then go back to those lists to learn the kanji?
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Re: Building Vocabulary

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 08.18.2008 5:15 pm

Part of it depends on what you find interesting. I would suggest, absent any statements of interest, that you finish your textbook first. Vocabulary absorption from native materials works a lot better when you're at the intermediate, rather than beginner, stages.

But sometimes it can be satisfying to go through some native material even if you have to look up every word.
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Re: Building Vocabulary

Postby Sairana » Mon 08.18.2008 9:22 pm

/agree Yudan

I think it really depends on the interest level in the material vs the frustration factor of looking up words and guessing at grammar.

Back when I started learning Japanese, I bought the first few comic books for "X" (by Clamp, US release: X/1999). I couldn't read.. well.... anything. Certainly not as much as I thought I would be able to, and it was pretty discouraging. After that, I would dig out the comics every so often just to remind myself how much I DIDN'T know.

In contrast, I dug them out again about a month ago and found that even though my vocabulary still suffers, my grammar is good -enough- to actually read through it and guess vocabulary from context (pictures help... hehe). Not always, but usually. Anyway... it was a much more um... uplifting experience to try and read it after learning a bunch of grammar as opposed to before.
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Re: Building Vocabulary

Postby Denus » Tue 08.19.2008 7:57 pm

Thank you Chris, Saitana. I tried to read a bit today, and it wasn't as bad. I'll devote myself more to my textbook, though.

Would anyone else have an answer for my second question?
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Re: Building Vocabulary

Postby chikara » Tue 08.19.2008 8:06 pm

Denus wrote:.... Would anyone else have an answer for my second question?

Do you mean this part of your OP;
Denus wrote:..... On another topic, in Genki, the vocabulary list often comes with kanji readings of new words, but it only gives me exercises for very few of the kanji (if any at all from the actual vocab list) to practice reading and writing. Should I extend any effort to memorizing the kanji not included in the reading/writing practice? Or would it be better to just finish the textbooks first and then go back to those lists to learn the kanji?

I haven't used the Genki series myself so I'm not sure how it handles the introduction of kanji but my advice would be not to spend any additional time on memorising the additional kanji as they are most likely introduced later.

There are many posters on here that are familiar with Genki so hopefully one of them can give you a better answer :)
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Re: Building Vocabulary

Postby Harisenbon » Tue 08.19.2008 8:14 pm

I want to third what Chris said.

You need to finish reading at LEAST genki 1 before you start really trying to read anything written for natives.
I started reading comics and whatnot halfway through genki 2, and even that was difficult at first.

Especially if you're just trying to build your vocabulary, you should follow the guidelines of the textbook that you're using. Textbooks (especially Genki) are set up so that you can get the minimum necessary words for conversation in the shortest period of time, and learned in a logical manner.

As for your second question, I would try to learn all the kanji that are presented to you in your book, and supplement the exercises in the book with additional practice. If you put them off, you're going to have a harder time coming back later to learn them, I think.

When you make your flashcards, try to use the kanji parts as much as possible for your training.
When I write flashcards, I always write the kanji large on one side, and then write the furigana above it in smaller text. That way, once I feel comfortable with the kanji, I can start putting my thumb over the reading to test if I know the reading for each kanji, without having to make a different flashcard to test the reading vs the meaning.

*pre-coffee. Sorry if this makes no sense.
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Re: Building Vocabulary

Postby Instant Radical » Thu 08.21.2008 9:01 am

When I did Genki, I tried to memorize the individual kanji for as many words as possible. Occasionally they'll give the kanji for a word that is never, ever written in kanji; don't worry about that. But I found it *very* helpful to learn new kanji along with vocabulary words. Don't worry about all the readings and English meaning for the kanji if you see, say, 準備 (じゅんび, preparation), but if you write out and practice the word in kanji, you'll be able to recognize them in new words, and eventually learning the meaning/other readings will be that much easier. I've been able to learn a number of kanji far beyond my relative proficiency level through this strategy.

Of additional benefit is that as you encounter more new vocabulary words you'll recognize more and more kanji, thus making learning easier! (in theory, anyway.)
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Re: Building Vocabulary

Postby kyubisharingan » Tue 08.26.2008 3:09 pm

well, im using Genki, and i know people who have also used it. They told me to just focus on what the textbook teaches you first, then go back and try to memorize the other kanji later
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