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Kanji and where to turn next

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Kanji and where to turn next

Postby richard99uk » Fri 01.13.2006 6:35 pm

Hi there. I'm basically hoping that someone will be able to point me in the right direction with the next step of my Japanese learning.

Here's the scenario: I've been learning Japanese for a few years now - I've completed lots of small courses; the pimsuler course, and a little while ago, the Linguaphone course. There are no Japanese classes anywhere near where I live, so going to a class is not an option. I bought myself the Cambridge Modern Japanese course, only to find that it's not really intended for self-teaching. The main problem is that it teaches Kanji from lesson one, but next to nothing about how kanji works, how to decipher it, and how to learn it.

I don't know where to turn now to learn more Japanese, but I assume learning to read the kanji script is going to open up a lot more resources to me - and I'm wondering if anyone has had a similar experience, and can point me in the right direction.

Thanks for any help!B)
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RE: Kanji and where to turn next

Postby fmaanimefreak » Fri 01.13.2006 8:49 pm

Hey, a great kanji book is "Remembering the Kanji" by James W. Heisig. He uses a great, easy methos of learning what the kanji means. Although, if you are looking for a fast way to learn how to say, and pronounce kanji this isn't the book for you. If you're looking for an easy way to learn kanji, but with a method that takes a bit of time to know everything about kanji, than I advise you to buy this.

This book, explains how to write, and remember the meaning of 2042 kanji. the next, Remembering the Kanji II, tells how to pronounce them, and the next Remembering the Kanji III, has 1,000 more kanji, that aren't very widely used, in the 1st part, it tells the meaning, in the second part it tells the pronounciation.

I am currently using the first book, and it is very easy to "remember the kanji", and is fast, since Heisig seperates the meaning and pronounciation into 2 different books.

Good luck! :)
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RE: Kanji and where to turn next

Postby mandolin » Fri 01.13.2006 11:29 pm

Heisig's method is OK, but not for everyone.

I couldn't stand going through 2000 kanji learning one meaning each (some have multiple meanings) and NO readings.

I think the book that you have already, richard, sounds excellent. If it gives you the readings of the words it uses, that's all you really need... when learning kanji compounds, you end up learning them word-by-word anyway, because it's very difficult to guess at which reading(s) is/are used in which word(s).

if it doesn't tell you the reading of the kanji, then you could invest some time in downloading J-lookup or JWPce.

There isn't a whole lot involved in deciphering the kanji themselves. The difficult part is in the ofurigana, which are the hiragana endings attached to them that conjugate or denote parts of speech. That will be what you will mostly study, the kanji in and of themselves are just words... nouns, adjectives, and verbs, everything else is in hiragana or katakana.

To learn how to write them, I suggest a cheap book ($20) called Kanji & Kana: A Handbook by Hadamitzky and Spahn. It gives you the stroke orders and a limited amount of example words the kanji are used in. It functions more as an easy reference for the basic 1945 kanji (+200 some kanji used only in names), and a stroke order guide, so don't expect it to teach you usage or anything. :)
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RE: Kanji and where to turn next

Postby AJBryant » Sat 01.14.2006 12:25 am

I'm with Mandolin. The idea of "recognizing" kanji with an English word rather than a real Japanese reading really strikes me as counter-intuitive. I want to *read Japanese* -- and the only way to do that is... well, to DO it. Read Japanese. Learn new words.

I recommend starting by reading something in a field you're interested in. That way, you develop a vocabulary useful to you. I started YEARS ago by reading high-school history textbooks in Japanese (since I'm a historian, primarily, that gave me a working vocabulary of terms likely to be needed in researching history).

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RE: Kanji and where to turn next

Postby zengargoyle » Sat 01.14.2006 2:12 am

i have to disagree with Mandolin and AJBryant, but only mildly and with a bit of reservation.

i've spent the last 6 months going through Heisig and it's great. and that's not spending more than 20 minutes or so a day (spread out a bit), a few days/weeks off studying here and there. i've probably started "let's learn japanese" a half-dozen or so times over the past 20 years (back to a semester in college) and have never gotten as far as this time around. maybe it's just 七転八起 .

最初のうそ、最後の言葉。 (from a song)... i've heard that dozens of times, and today while working through a post coco made i found 'utmost + first time' and 'utmost + behind' were saisho and saigo, first and last. then also 初めまして and 始まる/始める, 'first time' vs 'commence'. or 意味 and 秘密 and 泣き虫 from 'idea-flavor', 'secret-secrecy' and 'cry-insect' . the thing is, since i knew the kanji, had heard the words a few times, when the kanji and the words meet... *click* new vocabulary, no studying involved. i'm certain when i actually start trying to learn vocabulary it will be much, much easier than learning a few kanji at a time. all my time so far has been spent getting a grip on grammar and learning kanji (without readings).

so, i think it's just another one of the ten-thousand paths. if you are self-study and have to time/patience it takes to ignore vocabulary for a while... watch/listen to anime/music/news/drama, get some basic vocabulary familiarity without worrying about how to write it, learn some conjugations/moods/particles and other stuff that can be sorta done without kanji (or just a few really common kanji).

as i said one before somewhere, if you go one way you can't really appreciate the other way, and vice versa. i can't imagine going the 'learn kanji and readings and vocabulary at the same time' route. i'm sure people who did learn that way can't imagine 'learn kanji first, then readings and vocabulary later' route.
Last edited by zengargoyle on Sat 01.14.2006 2:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Kanji and where to turn next

Postby Infidel » Sat 01.14.2006 3:21 am

give http://www.yesjapan.com a try. They are pretty good.
http://www.ccet.ua.edu/nihongoweb/ is also pretty good and you can earn college credit and get phone lessons once a week.
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RE: Kanji and where to turn next

Postby richard99uk » Sat 01.14.2006 8:34 pm

Thanks for all the replies, but I've actually tried a lot of the things many of you have suggested. I notice a lot of you favour "Remembering the Kanji by James W. Heisig"; I've been giving thought to that, but I don't know if I know enough about kanji to start with that yet. I'm actually more stuck with where to turn for my next level of learning. I'm not completely sure I want to do kanji yet, but if it's the only way to progress then I'm just going to have to bite the bullet.

I've been doing beginners Japanese courses for about four years; like, Oxford Take off in Japanese, Pimsuler, and various others. I finished the Linguaphone course a while ago now, but I'm not satisfied with my over all grasp of the language. All the knowledge is in there somewhere, but I keep going back to certain parts and finding that there's a dull spot. For example: I hear the word 'genkan', and I'm just goes in one ear and out the other like if someone just randomly said 'hallway'. I also find things that have slipped my mind like -sei de = made from.

I've watched a fair amount of anime, and played video games in Japanese, and my vocabulary is reasonably large. I've just finished watching Kumo no Mukou before this - having understood most of it. But there's plenty of grammar, inflections and isms that I don't understand. I'm assuming kanji is the way to go from here because it would open up the Cambridge course I have because it's more comprehensive than Linguaphone. I've decided I don't want to go over Linguaphone again because I don't think I can listen to Ichitou Yamada-sensei describe his bedroom one more time before my brain melts.

My problem is that I'm stuck on where to go next? Is this where I should start learning kanji? I've never been enthralled with written language, and I'm much more interested in speech.

If there's anything else you guys think you can add, I'd really appreciate it.
Last edited by richard99uk on Sat 01.14.2006 8:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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