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I'm Cara! I'm kind of new!

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I'm Cara! I'm kind of new!

Postby caladwenaeariel » Sun 09.12.2010 2:03 am

Hi there! I started my account at TJP in June, but I forgot to introduce myself, and I haven't really been using the forum yet, anyway. My name is Cara, and it's nice to meet you all!! This is a REALLY nice site for learning Japanese. I am so happy to have found it!

I'm thinking of buying a book to start my Kanji now. Do you guys think that's a good idea? Also, do you think it's necessary to use a brush pen when you're writing Kanji, or is that silly? What do Japanese people write with under normal circumstances-- in school, work, and at home?

Sorry, these questions aren't appropriate for the the introductions forum section, I know:)
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Re: I'm Cara! I'm kind of new!

Postby Hai-San » Sun 09.12.2010 10:34 am

Hellow Cara, nice to meet you too ^_^
And yes, I absolutely agree with you, this is really a great website! :mrgreen:

I'm just a beginner but i think that japanese people usally uses normal pens?
found this pic, where you can in the upper(abit to left) can see a picture that shows "how to hold a pen" and there actually seems to be a normal pen(maybe thicker than the normal one?)
-http://hararie-japan-tokyo-tokyo.com/japanese_alphabet/assets_c/2009/05/Lesson-scenery-of-the-elementary-school-in-Japan-thumb-1200x900.gif

Btw don't forget to often join the chatroom! :dance:

Cheers, Hai-San :ninja:
Love making distance-friendships, chat n talk... Just add me on your friendslist! =)
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Re: I'm Cara! I'm kind of new!

Postby Snowflake » Sun 09.12.2010 1:13 pm

Hello there, Cara! I'm glad you decided to introduce yourself! I agree, TJP is a delightful place to be!

As far as a book for kanji, yes, that's one way to learn. Shall I assume you already know your kana? If not, I'd suggest starting there rather than jumping right into kanji although I'm sure there are many folks who have gone straight to kanji quite successfully. If you want a book, there are many, including formal textbooks, consumer-oriented books and workbooks. Check The Japan Shop for some ideas (it is the store associated with TJP -- click the "Store" link on the grey banner above). You may also want to explore websites. Many, including TJP (click the "Learn" link above), have kanji lessons. Flashcards (physical or electronic) are another opportunity. You might also consider using IPod/Ipad apps. Many of them have the benefit of letting you "write" directly on the screen.

In any event, enjoy your studies! And welcome to TJP!
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Re: I'm Cara! I'm kind of new!

Postby micahcowan » Sun 09.12.2010 4:52 pm

Hello Cara,

Just my opinion, but I highly recommend using Heisig's Remembering the Kanji (at least Vol 1) to build a foundation for kanji learning. I spent several years struggling quite a bit to learn more than just the few hundred most commonly-used characters, and never making a lot of progress; this situation has been changing dramatically since I started doing RTK. It doesn't actually "teach" you the kanji, in that it only teaches how to write each character, and associates an English "keyword" with it; it doesn't teach readings or usage, or even exactly the meanings (though the keywords are usually based on a common meaning), but it teaches them by breaking them into the smaller, very frequently-reoccurring components, and teaching a couple new components at a time, along with most of the kanji that can be formed using the components you've learned so far. It's a much less strenuous order in which to learn the kanji, IMO. After it's done, you still actually need to learn where the characters are used and how to pronounce them depending on context; but I've found that this work has been much easier for me than it had been before, since doing RTK (I'm not quite finished with it; I just reached the 1880th character, after about 2 months of persistent study). Even where I haven't learned pronunciations and more precise meanings, the keywords together with the context in which I find the word often leads me to understand the meaning, leaving me to just learn the pronunciation. This has proved to be much more efficient than attempting to learn vocabulary, new kanji meaning, and new kanji pronunciation all at once as I encounter them.

This is just my opinion; the RTK books are not universally revered, but from my own experiences, I wish I'd used the book years ago.

Welcome to TJP! (I'm a newcomer myself).
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Re: I'm Cara! I'm kind of new!

Postby caladwenaeariel » Mon 09.13.2010 9:59 pm

THANKS guys! Your advice and help is appreciated! I will definitely be checking out TJP store, since I want to support this site. Micahcowan, I think I'll be getting that book... you've convinced me. It sounds like a method that would work very well with the way my brain works.
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Re: I'm Cara! I'm kind of new!

Postby chikara » Mon 09.13.2010 10:20 pm

TJP e youkoso :)

Before you buy Heisig's Remembering the Kanji I'd recommend you read some of the forum threads on it. It seems to be a book/method that polarises people. As micahcowan-san posted, "the RTK books are not universally revered."

For example, Success with Heisig? and The ingenious Heisig Method.
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Re: I'm Cara! I'm kind of new!

Postby Kazuya-Kun » Mon 09.13.2010 10:40 pm

Hi Cara,

I've tried The First 100 Japanese Kanji work book and it worked great for me; I need to have hands-on exercises where I can trace over the Kanji step by step, because my writing is so poor to begin with, and it's just under 20 bucks!

However there are only two books in the series that I am aware of... so you'd have to look else where for the other 1800 Kanji u_u
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Re: I'm Cara! I'm kind of new!

Postby micahcowan » Mon 09.13.2010 11:25 pm

Thanks for those links, chikara.

Those threads seem to confirm my general impressions of what people usually complain or laud about Heisig (though both the complaining and lauding on these threads were much less extreme than one may find elsewhere). AFAIK, the main problem is with people who expect to "know 2,000" kanji after studying Heisig (and with people who claim to know thousands of kanji because they studied Heisig). As many people have said, if you can "count" how many kanji you know, "you're doing it wrong", but in point of fact, if all you ever do is Heisig vol 1, you don't "know" any kanji at all; you only know how to write them, and how to recall them from keywords, but not how to pronounce them, or how to use them (vol 2 helps somewhat with this, though many among even those who praise vol 1 discount vol 2 as worthless... my opinion is that there are useful things in vol 2, but to pick and choose what's helpful, and ignore the stuff that isn't).

However, this has proved to be enough, for me. Meanings of words like 閉じる or 簡単 (simplicity + simple/not complex = easy) are immediately obvious, just from the keywords I've learned. Even words whose meanings don't happen to match the particular keywords I learned, such as 設定 (keywords: establishment + fix (in place) = "preferences/settings" (for computer programs)?), or 削除 (keywords: plane + exclude = delete/remove?) are easy to remember, and deepen my understanding of the characters' true meanings (削 = plane, but also "to whittle"). Even learning 弾 as "bullet", and then later discovering its use as "play (an instrument)", isn't a problem: I already know how to write it, and one of its meanings, so it's easy to add the new meaning. Easier than learning it without context and without familiarity with its primitives (弓/bow + 単/simple), and trying to learn it amidst a sea of other graphically unrelated characters surrounding it. Basically, just having something that takes away about one and a half (how to write + an approximation of the meaning) of the three or four things I usually have to study at once when learning a kanji - how to write it, what the character means, how to pronounce it in this specific context, and the meaning of the whole word or compound in which it appears - eases the process for me tremendously.

There are plenty of shortcomings to RTK; my opinion is that it "sucks, but sucks much much less than any other method for learning kanji of the various ones I've tried". As I've said, it has dramatically improved my own kanji abilities, which really is the bottom line. I think RTK is great to recommend, provided one doesn't get carried away and say such things as "you can learn 2,000 kanji in just 3 months!" You still have a long way to go once RTK is through; the difference is you now have a motorized scooter to get you there, rather than just your own two feet (IMO).

But yes, Cara, checking it out first is a good idea (though if you can't, ~$20 on Amazon isn't a bad risk); and I don't think that it's necessarily the right system for everyone - for instance, it's definitely not something you can put down and pick back up again - you really can't stop working through it until it's done, or you'll lose the progress you've made - and it still requires heavy review to make it work (I just find the reviewing much easier when you can make sense of a characters' primitives).

It's worth comparing the book "Kanji ABC", which uses a very similar system, but doesn't hold your hand as much, doesn't teach how the characters should be written (printed forms only, which are frequently different from handwritten forms), and doesn't provide unique, reviewable keywords for each character (only for primitives). If it weren't for those damning flaws, I'd recommend it over RTK, especially since I tend to like its choice of keywords better; but I had tried that before RTK, and had only limited success with it.

At some point I hope I'll get around to a comprehensive review of the system, so I can just link to that instead of talking about it on the forums. :)
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