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Advice on learning Kanji.

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RE: 漢字の学習忠言

Postby Sunny Pig » Thu 02.10.2005 7:59 am

One can easily memorise and recognise ひらがな and カタカナ within a few weeks time. I did it in 1.5 weeks for both of them. The problem was however, I kept forgetting them if I didn't touch them for a while. Also, I am very slow in reading an entire line of hiragana. So the conclusion was that, I haven actually "learnt" them yet.

One advice I would like to give is to constantly practise them. Try to keep in contact with Japanese everyday. It helps. I converted many things in my house to become Japanese. For example, all the English labels ("Physics", "Chemistry"...) in my files, I used wasei eigo (Japanese-made English) to replace them.

Personally, I am very into Japanese music, especially those opening and ending themes from anime. So what I did was I took out the Japanese lyrics, then retyped them in my computer on MS Word using IME. It may sound silly, but I find it a useful practise. You are identifying the hiragana or katakana in the lyrics, then as you retype them, you are actually recalling them. For the kanji, I use an online dictionary to check out the kana, then I type the kana above the kanji as furigana. You can also learn to recognise quite a lot of kanji this way. Many common kanji appear in many songs, such as 「夢」,「心」...
The lyrics I've done myself are actually quite unique, because not many lyrics in the net have furigana. For me, the sense of achievement is there.

In many countries, there are a lot of those cute little snacks - sweets or small pieces of chocolates in attractive packaging. Many of these stuff came from Japan. So when you see them, try to read the hiragana and katakana written on these wrappers. It also counts towards practice.

If you continue to bask yourself in the Japanese language everyday, soon there will come to a stage where you will find that hiragana and katakana are ingrained into your brain and it is actually very difficult for you to forget them. Just like the fact that it is extremely difficult for us to forget our ABCs now. Same thing with kanji. Once you get overexposed to some kanji, they will never get out of your head. Simple kanji such as 「私」and「君」are often used. So much so that you "automatically" place them in your long-term memory.

Even though you got hiragana and katakana into your head, you may still find it very difficult to read them quickly. This can only be overcome with extensive reading, when you have reached a certain standard of proficiency with the language itself. This is still a problem for me. Sometimes when I watch anime, the song lyrics don't stay on the screen very long, sometimes they are gone before I could finish reading them.

I agree with Clayさん, reading Japanese manga is a very good way to improve your reading. You also get to learn a lot of slangs and various stuff that you will never learn in a classroom.

Never be afraid to write or use Japanese whenever possible. Making mistakes is normal and helps in learning too.

練習は熟達の道。
"Practice is the way to mastery" (Practice makes perfect)
Last edited by Sunny Pig on Fri 02.11.2005 12:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Advice on learning Kanji.

Postby clay » Fri 02.11.2005 2:35 pm

Yes, making mistakes is essential. Otherwise you will never know what is right or wrong. ;)
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RE: Advice on learning Kanji.

Postby ichigoTIMU » Sat 02.12.2005 11:13 pm

for me, learning to kanji is pretty easy, but knowing which to use, the on and kun, that confuses me.

one more thing. i noticed how in some words the first syllable in the suffix kanji (i dont know what its called) sometimes change. for example: shini-gami <--- gami is usally kami; or yamaguchi <--- guchi is usally kuchi... does that always happen? or is there a special rule?
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RE: Advice on learning Kanji.

Postby Daisuke » Sun 02.13.2005 8:56 am

I do also have problems remembering when to use on and kun readings. There must be some kind of rule..?
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RE: Advice on learning Kanji.

Postby hihlordjp » Sun 02.13.2005 9:13 am

Daisuke wrote:
I do also have problems remembering when to use on and kun readings. There must be some kind of rule..?


Most of the time, when kanji combine, the "on" readings are used. Like in 自動車 (jidousha), 記憶 (kioku) and 帝国 (teikoku).

In Japanese names, most of the time, the "kun" readings are used. Like in 山本 (Yamamoto).

That's most of the time. There are exceptions of course, like 花火 (hanabi) and お手洗い (o-tearai). It just takes time to learn which ones.
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RE: Advice on learning Kanji.

Postby GMK-kaijuu » Sun 02.13.2005 9:27 am

I think that 90% of the time this rule works.
The KUN reading is used for single kanji words whereas the ON reading is used for compound kanji words. Here is a illustration of this:
Single words: 人(person)is pronounced hito[kun reading]
口(mouth)is pronounced kuchi[kun reading]
Coumpound words:The above kanji make up the compound word 人口(population)which is pronounced JINKO.JIN and KO are ON readings of 人 AND 口。
I took this directly from a book. I hope this helps.
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RE: Advice on learning Kanji.

Postby am_bee » Sun 02.13.2005 11:37 am

Here's a plug for the Japan Shop...I love using the mukashi banashi to study. Reading these also gives cultural background. They are best for studying grammar and sentence construction, and you get some vocab out if it. The story itself doesn't have kanji, but there is a vocab list in the back with kanji and explainations, so they work well for people learning kana, or kanji.
Last edited by am_bee on Sun 02.13.2005 11:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Advice on learning Kanji.

Postby Godzilla » Tue 02.15.2005 2:23 pm

I find "Remembering the Kanji" by James Heisig to be very good at learning the writing of the kanjis themselves. Some of the meanings may be little off, but what I learned in Psychology and what was said in the book were both strikingly similar. Usually the writing is the harder of the parts and not the readings.

The book does not provide the actual meanings of all the kanji but what it does provide you with is a way to index the kanji in your mind. It is easier to recall a kanji when it is referenced with something. Like for example "rain" "雨". When you think of rain and know the kanji, you have a tendency to think of it when you see or think of rain.

Kanji is all about the combinations anyway. My friend who lives in Japan who just recently passed the Japanese Proficiency Test level 1 (he landed a role in a Godzilla movie by the way) told me that memorizing the individual meanings of some of the kanjis is not necessary and to memorize them as combinations.

Opinions are welcome!!
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RE: Advice on learning Kanji.

Postby Qbe » Tue 02.15.2005 10:39 pm

I too am using Heisig's "Remembering the Kanji" and having a lot of fun in the process. Those who need to learn the kana should take a look at his "Remembering the Kana" too. Using that book I learned both Hiragana and Katakana in a weekend.

Both books use (without naming names) Harry Lorayne's memory system: think through and attach a vivid (even ridiculous) picture to an item you need to memorize, and when you need to retrieve the item from memory the vivid picture will be your memory hook. With enough use the hooks drop away and your memory retains only the item you learned.

"With enough use" are the key words. You can learn the kana in a weekend using Heisig's book, but then you need to use them and keep using them until they become ingrained. I know that some people don't like Heisig's books, but they work for me.
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RE: Advice on learning Kanji.

Postby Spaztick » Wed 02.16.2005 1:15 pm

I think I should get that after I finish this book (Read Jp Today). Yes, if it's unimportant or silly or stupid you will remember it, so make it funny when you attatch something to remember it. This is kind of hard for kanji because they look like what they are or mean, and so you end up learning that way. The sounds I can. Like take mamoru (to guard). I look at the kanji and think of it as a giant mammol. eh, something like that.
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RE: Advice on learning Kanji.

Postby Qbe » Wed 02.16.2005 2:22 pm

You can read a nice large portion of "Remembering the Kanji" for free [url="http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/publications/miscPublications/pdf/RK4/RK4-00.pdf"]here[/url]. After reading a few pages last summer, I ordered the book.
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RE: Advice on learning Kanji.

Postby Godzilla » Wed 02.16.2005 5:03 pm

that link did not work for me. They also used to have the first part of the book on Amazon but it was taken down. I remember when he used to have the first portion of the book on Qbee-san's website. It seemed to have disappeared also. I wonder if James Heisig-san requested it not to be posted on the web anymore.
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RE: Advice on learning Kanji.

Postby Qbe » Wed 02.16.2005 5:16 pm

Ok, try here: scroll down to the small print at the bottom where it says, "Portions of this book are available for downloading and reading with Adobe Acrobat". Click on "downloading" and you should see it.
Last edited by Qbe on Thu 02.17.2005 12:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Advice on learning Kanji.

Postby Godzilla » Thu 02.17.2005 11:51 am

THat URL is not working either:(.
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RE: Advice on learning Kanji.

Postby Qbe » Thu 02.17.2005 12:08 pm

Ok, try that last link one more time. I've fixed the URL tag. If it still doesn't work, just too a Google search for "Heisig Remembering Kanji" and you should find it.
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