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I can only describe it as a wall.

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I can only describe it as a wall.

Postby RRFTP » Mon 04.13.2009 1:06 am

I couldn't figure out where to put this D:

So, I recently tested myself on my Kana and found that I didn't need to consult the super-fantastic Kana alphabet page that I wrote down to help me through it. This is quite the small feat, but to me it was something that I needed to celebrate. I still need to think about it when I'm reading it. That's kind of a pain, but I digress.

My celebration was to start on Kanji. I thought, "man, this is going to be great!" In a way, it is. I can pick out a few words when I'm listening to my anime, but for the most part it's still gibberish.

The thing is, I can't really grasp it. I don't really know where to start. It's like the wall between me and the grammar, sentences, etc (the fun stuff). If anyone has any sort of tips or trickery on the methods of learning Kanji, I'd appreciate the hell out of it. Although, I will attempt to hate you to death if you just say "learn it noob." That isn't what I'm asking. There's usually a method when there is copious amounts of madness, and that's what I'm looking for. Kanji is a 2000+ brick barrier, and I want to learn how to de....brickify.... it...

I'm sure that this question has been asked over and over, but the search bar bit me, so I'm a little hesitant to go towards it... shut up.
I'm really bad at this stuff.
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Re: I can only describe it as a wall.

Postby Mike Cash » Mon 04.13.2009 3:08 am

A parable from when I drove trucks in the US, if I may.

Someone once marveled at the great distances cross-country truck drivers cover, and asked how on earth it was possible to drive from Nashville to Los Angeles.

The person asked replied, "You can't; it's impossible......First you drive to Memphis. Then you drive to Little Rock. Then you drive to Oklahoma City. (etc etc etc)"

Had you figured on having them mastered sometime soon?
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Re: I can only describe it as a wall.

Postby tōkai devotee » Mon 04.13.2009 4:15 am

Are you self-studying? Online study?
A couple of things which will certainly help are a textbook and a dictionary of Japanese grammar.
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Re: I can only describe it as a wall.

Postby RRFTP » Mon 04.13.2009 4:23 am

Mike Cash wrote:A parable from when I drove trucks in the US, if I may.

Someone once marveled at the great distances cross-country truck drivers cover, and asked how on earth it was possible to drive from Nashville to Los Angeles.

The person asked replied, "You can't; it's impossible......First you drive to Memphis. Then you drive to Little Rock. Then you drive to Oklahoma City. (etc etc etc)"

Had you figured on having them mastered sometime soon?


That is quite the parable. I just kind of sat in my seat mulling that one over, and although it didn't really answer my question, I think it probably helped more than a "start here end here" answer, so I thank you for that.

As for soon? I'm not sure. I'd hope to at least know all the kanji by the time 2010 rolls around. It'd probably take a lot longer to master.

As for you, Tokai, I'm to lazy to quote you, but I'm self studying. Trying to go in a AJATT sort of direction. I'm probably going to go looking for a Japanese dictionary sometime this week.
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Re: I can only describe it as a wall.

Postby Mike Cash » Mon 04.13.2009 5:52 am

RRFTP wrote:As for soon? I'm not sure. I'd hope to at least know all the kanji by the time 2010 rolls around.


Best of luck to you with that. I started learning them in 1985. Maybe someday I'll know them all too.

It'd probably take a lot longer to master.


I would have to agree with that.
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Re: I can only describe it as a wall.

Postby RRFTP » Mon 04.13.2009 6:14 am

My thought process for reading the above post:

Mike Cash wrote:Best of luck to you with that. I started learning them in 1985.


Wow, since 1985 that's a long time I bet he's the grand champion of the Japanese world

Mike Cash wrote:Maybe someday I'll know them all too.


Wait.... what?

Mike Cash wrote:Maybe someday I'll know them all too.


....what? Maybe?


I then immediately started clutching my head and screaming. Although, when I mean all, I'm talking about all the Kanji in RTK vol.1 not all of Kanji
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Re: I can only describe it as a wall.

Postby furrykef » Mon 04.13.2009 7:33 am

Even native Japanese typically don't think their kanji knowledge is all that great, so it's really nothing to stress about. :)

Most people here recommend against RTK1, but I finished it and I think on the whole it's pretty good. It's not without its problems, but I don't think there is a method without its problems. I do very strongly recommend using Reviewing The Kanji along with it, though... use its flash card program and the stories you find there. I actually switched to that site after having completed 1827 of the 2042 kanji in the book, and I don't regret it. The only thing I regret is not having done it sooner (or from the beginning).

RTK1 did me wonders for memorizing the form of each kanji. Associating the kanji with the words is still tricky, but it's certainly better than trying to memorize both the forms and the words at the same time!

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Re: I can only describe it as a wall.

Postby RRFTP » Mon 04.13.2009 9:38 am

Well, I don't think that my knowledge of all the words in the english language is that good, but I bet it's better then most Japanese ;D but, yeah, I don't really find a problem with RTK. I've memorized about 60 Kanji with it so far, and that site that you recommended just reinforces it so thank you for that .

The only thing that I wish RTK would do is aid in pronunciation. Out of those 60 Kanji I know, I can pronounce exactly ten. Those ten would be, well, one through ten, and that's just a coincidence.
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Re: I can only describe it as a wall.

Postby AJBryant » Mon 04.13.2009 9:55 am

Mike in particular (judging by his comment on kanji) will appreciate this, but people often ask "how long did it take you to learn Japanese?" -- and I typically answer that I started studying it in 1978, and I'm still learning.

You never stop learning bits and pieces, and even after years I still find myself encountering new ways to say things, new idioms I didn't know, a new expression, etc. It never ends. But learning is like that.

The annoying thing is that I'm also often forgetting the old ones I used to know, and often make stupid mistakes. (Just the other day I mixed up 供 for 共 in a post specifically about kanji usage of all things. Very embarrassing.)



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Re: I can only describe it as a wall.

Postby Gundaetiapo » Mon 04.13.2009 10:24 am

You were well advised to learn kana up front, but learning kanji spans much of the duration of learning the language. I wouldn't distinguish it from taking on vocabulary more generally. There's a lot of critique about RTK on these boards you can peruse, and you can go to Wiki Selecting a Japanese Textbook to find out about better resources.
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Re: I can only describe it as a wall.

Postby RRFTP » Mon 04.13.2009 1:08 pm

I think I shall check out Genki. It seems to be quite popular. Thanks for the suggestion.
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Re: I can only describe it as a wall.

Postby furrykef » Mon 04.13.2009 3:19 pm

Gundaetiapo wrote:You were well advised to learn kana up front, but learning kanji spans much of the duration of learning the language. I wouldn't distinguish it from taking on vocabulary more generally. There's a lot of critique about RTK on these boards you can peruse, and you can go to Wiki Selecting a Japanese Textbook to find out about better resources.


The way you phrased this seems to suggest that a textbook is "better" than the RTK1 approach, which is quite a subjective opinion! I'm really not a big fan of the "learn kanji through context/usage" method. The problem is that the order in which you learn kanji through a typical textbook is not optimized at all for breaking down the forms of the kanji. The two things that RTK1 is great at are deconstructing kanji to their essential forms and helping you "index" them in your mind to keep them nice and separate (especially keeping similar kanji separate). Oh, I'm sure all this stuff has been debated a million times on the forum, but the assumption that "learning kanji through context", whatever that means, is inherently better than RTK1 kind of grates on my nerves.

Now, if we're talking about RTK2 rather than RTK1 (i.e., learning the kanji's readings), then I do prefer the "learn through context" approach, as do many other people who have finished RTK1. I think some study of on'yomi is probably pretty helpful (especially in the cases where you get a nice rule of thumb such as "kanji with this element in this position almost always have the reading X"), but I don't think it's necessary to apply it to all the kanji, especially since a good lot of them don't really have predictable readings anyway.

However, there's an interesting way of learning on'yomi called "kanji chain" (a particular variation is called "kanji town") that I think is interesting, and I might try it sometime, especially since I often have trouble memorizing new vocabulary but have a much easier time with it if I'm familiar with the reading of one of the kanji. (It took me forever to remember that "summer vacation" is なつやすみ until I noticed that やすみ is 休み, derived from 休む, although of course that particular example uses kun'yomi.) Anyway, kanji chain is basically a Heisig-like system where you group kanji by on'yomi and make up a story, but the key here is you make one story for that entire on'yomi, and each of the kanji acts as an individual element of the story. This page has more info about it if you're curious, but if you're just starting to learn kanji, I think it's probably not the best place to begin. But it could be an idea to keep in mind for later. :)

(By the way, if I do try the kanji chain method, I think I'll do it using poetry or some other very structured way of telling a story. It'd probably be a lot more effective than prose, since it'd be easier to tell which words are the important ones to memorize, not to mention that poetry is just easier to memorize than prose anyway.)

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Re: I can only describe it as a wall.

Postby astaroth » Mon 04.13.2009 5:04 pm

RRFTP wrote:The thing is, I can't really grasp it. I don't really know where to start. It's like the wall between me and the grammar, sentences, etc (the fun stuff). If anyone has any sort of tips or trickery on the methods of learning Kanji, I'd appreciate the hell out of it. Although, I will attempt to hate you to death if you just say "learn it noob." That isn't what I'm asking. There's usually a method when there is copious amounts of madness, and that's what I'm looking for. Kanji is a 2000+ brick barrier, and I want to learn how to de....brickify.... it...

I think it wasn't said earlier, a suggestion I have is to learn kanji by stroke order.
It sounds stroke order is just a cutesy, but it's actually (or it can become) an incredibly useful tool to learn kanji because it forces you to learn what are the parts of a kanji. Without stroke order (and then without learning radicals) it would be like trying to remember words in English by looking at them without breaking them into their sub-parts, that is letters ... well sort of ... :)
Also a good way to start is to get a textbook. Anything that works for you is great ... Personally I like the two volumes of Basic Kanji which teaches you 500 kanji. I'm around the middle of the first volume, I know something like 200 kanji ... I know it's nothing but still I'm very happy when I manage to read simple text on the internet without using rikaichan :)
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