Before learning kanji...

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

Post by opsidol » Thu 04.27.2006 2:56 am

Hey! I'm a bit unsure how to get started with kanji.

Do you think it is necessary to know what all those terms like on/kun reading, radical etc mean before you start learning kanji, or do you think I'll pick them up on the way?

Also, do you reckon I should just stick to that list of kanji for school kids or should I just learn words as I come across them? And, finally, should I learn every single reading whenever I learn a new kanji or should I learn them as I come across them?

Sorry for all the questions, I'm sure you get the same ones a lot here. Maybe someone knows a link that tells about this kind of stuff.


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RE: Before learning kanji...

Post by Mukade » Thu 04.27.2006 3:15 am

Wikipedia has a pretty extensive entry on kanji:

To answer your question, though - perhaps the most important points to keep in mind when you are studying kanji:

1) Kanji often have multiple readings. Which readings are used depend on the situation. This is why it is very important to learn kanji in context.

2) All 30,000+ documented kanji are made up of a much smaller group of elements (these number closer to 500). Of the elements, some 40-50 comprise the majority of the 2,000 characters used in Japan. Learning how to (at least) recognize the elements can make your learning process go much quicker and smoother.

3) Kanji have a particular stroke order. Although some people feel that it doesn't matter what order you draw the character in, incorrect writing can change the overall balance of the character. The Japanese are understandably more focused on penmanship, and so if you want to write attractive characters, the stroke order is essential. Knowing the stroke order also facilitates looking up characters in dictionaries.

To put this all together, my personal suggestion for creating flashcards that will take all these points into account:

On one side of the card, write-

→ (include the stroke order on this side of the card)

On the other side of the card, write-
そと - outside
ほか - other
はずれる - to be disconnected
はずす - to remove
がいこくご - foreign language
*げか - surgery (dept.)

If you write it out this way, you'll be able to see in which contexts the different readings are used (you'll note that I tried to include one word with each of this character's possible readings). I have put an asterisk next to げか because this particular reading isn't used very often.

You can study this flashcard by ?looking at the word 外 and trying to remember how to read it, ?looking at the word そと and trying to remember its English meaning and how to write it, or ?looking at the word outside and trying to remember its Japanese meaning and how to write it.

The rest of the details concerning kanji, outside of these three main points, will fill themselves in along the way. So don't worry too much beyond this just yet (it should be enough to worry about!).

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RE: Before learning kanji...

Post by opsidol » Fri 04.28.2006 12:54 am

Wow, thank you so much! That is some excellent, informative advice and I'm sure it will be a great help in my journey.

All people who are just starting out on kanji should definately read this :D


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