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Is this a good way to learn vocab and kanji?

xLynnex

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So i have hirigana and most of katakana down, so now I'm onto vocab and kanji. I'm using Tae Kim's guide for grammar, Kanji Damage for kanji and Vocab, and I just started Memrise and seems to have a lot of promise for build my vocab way better than kanji damage can so I'm going to do all three, (don't worry about things taking too long, I have nothing but time.:p) What I'm doing with the kanji/vocab area is learning to see the kanji, and recall the meaning(using flash cards.) Once I got about 10 down by heart I write down their Kunyomi and Onyomi on the meaning side of the card. When i get to that card I match the kanji with the meaning again, but when I turn the card over I cover Kunyomi and Onyomi with my thumb, and then have to match the meaning with the sound. I haven't gotten to Jukugo yet but I plan to *** those to the card once all the kanji necessary are in my vocabulary. Sorry for the long post but I really want to make sure I'm not wasting my time with this sort of method as I don't have any money so can't buy actual books and such. Any help is really appreciated and thanks! :)
 
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I'm looking for a good way to start learning Kanji too - someone recommended Memrise but I haven't tried it yet. I'll probably get a book (with Christmas money, fingers crossed!) so if anyone has any recommendations that would be great!
 

Mike Cash

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I'm looking for a good way to start learning Kanji too - someone recommended Memrise but I haven't tried it yet. I'll probably get a book (with Christmas money, fingers crossed!) so if anyone has any recommendations that would be great!
I don't remember what it costs, but the "Sticky Study" app is pretty nice. You can approach it by JLPT levels or by Japanese school grade levels.
 

nekojita

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Just learning the readings by themselves (outside of compounds/words) is not the best idea. Especially for kanji with many readings (生)
先生
一生
生ビール
生地

Also be aware that there are many non-standard readings, as well as sound changes (rendaku etc) - it's not always simple to work out the reading.

CosCom's Kanji Odyssey is nicely laid out, I've always thought:
https://www.coscom.co.jp/ebook/item_2001kanji.html

I drilled myself with 漢字検定 (kanken) tests (primarily, lots of sentences where you give the reading of a word written in kanji in a sentence or give the right kanji where a word is written in kana) - you can find lots of practice materials online, there are also apps and ds games.
 

WonkoTheSane

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Anki (free, cross platform and open source) has a variety of decks, including kanji damage decks. The Japanese Core 2000 listening is nice since it places the words into sentences as well as individually.

I also create my own decks in it with the specific things I'm learning in class. Separate decks for grammar points, vocabulary and set phrases.
 

Jaydent1

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As a fellow learner, I will share my thoughts.


I recently heard of a method for learning the onyomi readings that involved dedicating movies to each sound group, and scenes in the movie to each kanji in the group. It teaches your brain to identify kanji with a period of time (the day in which you studied the sound group), and an element (in this case, a movie). Hence making it easier to associate the correct onyomi. I find it easier than going through the Kanji in conventional order, learning random readings one after the other. Another positive is that sound groups often share similar radicals/primitives.

For example, オウ:

黄,横,央,応,王,往,欧,殴,翁,皇,押,桜,奥,凹

You'll also notice that if the Kanji have a 2nd onyomi reading, it's usually quite similar to the first reading.

I've also found that another effective way to learn the Kanji readings is to learn many words. Memorize the shape of the word/compound, and the word reading. Eventually, you'll automatically begin to associate the correct reading with the Kanji. Currently I have been working through a word frequency list, learning about 50 words a day. I'll look up the word, search the meaning, read plenty of example sentences and move on to the next. After learning some 500 words in the last 10 days, I have managed to maintain a 98.5% correct percentage after some 1500 reviews in Anki. That's without explicitly learning how to write, or read any of the Kanji. Simultaneously, I learn about 20 Kanji a day, as described above. You'll find that many of the readings (and meanings) come naturally after you've seen them used in so many compounds.

People will often tell you that cramming words/kanji is a bad thing. However, I think it's necessary until you're at the point where you can read 80% of the text in question (which, correct me if I am wrong, usually equates to +-3000 words), hence giving you a platform to effectively learn vocabulary more naturally through reading exposure and context.
 

Mike Cash

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As a fellow learner, I will share my thoughts. (Trim)

People will often tell you that cramming words/kanji is a bad thing. However, I think it's necessary until you're at the point where you can read 80% of the text in question (which, correct me if I am wrong, usually equates to +-3000 words), hence giving you a platform to effectively learn vocabulary more naturally through reading exposure and context.
It is usually the beginners who say what you say and the people who have actually made some significant progress who say the opposite, interestingly.

The latest thing in Japanese learning among people just taking it up is a belief that they have to "learn" 2000+ kanji before they start learning the language. Indeed, a great many of them seem to think that learning kanji equals learning Japanese.

Almost universally, people who have stuck with it for years and acquired some facility and proficiency with the language recommend learning both kanji and vocabulary in context and concurrent with learning grammar and simultaneously developing all skills apace instead of zooming ahead in one area to the detriment of others.

Learning Japanese is a multi-year proposition and there is absolutely no point to up front attempting to jam into your brain a bunch of sounds you have inadequate exposure to and familiarity with and try to sort them into "on-yomi" and "kun-yomi" when neither of those terms mean a damned thing to you yet. I can't imagine a more pointless and futile waste of time and energy or an approach to learning Japanese less promising of a successful outcome.

However, it is all the rage these days. Primarily among people who will play at learning Japanese for a while and then drop it when it gets too hard or something else shiny catches their attention. In the end, probably 95% or more of people who set out to learn Japanese (even those who live in Japan and who you might think would need it) quit before they get anywhere near practical proficiency....but they do love to give each other advice on how to go about it and to follow the advice of others who have done no better at it than they have themselves.
 

Jaydent1

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If you'll read my comment, you'll notice that I never suggested cramming Kanji and words without context, or before learning any aspect of the language.

Learning Japanese is a multi-year proposition and there is absolutely no point to up front attempting to jam into your brain a bunch of sounds you have inadequate exposure to and familiarity with and try to sort them into "on-yomi" and "kun-yomi" when neither of those terms mean a damned thing to you yet. I can't imagine a more pointless and futile waste of time and energy or an approach to learning Japanese less promising of a successful outcome.
No one is debating that learning the language isn't a multi year proposition. Even those that suggest cramming on the outset aren't suggesting that. It's not about circumventing the need to amass thousands of hours of exposure. It's about giving yourself a chance to use that time more effectively in the future. Not all people think the way you do, and some people respond well to large quantities of information. I can only speak for myself in saying that cramming words has worked fantastically for me. Now that I can actually read a good amount without having too look up 80% of every sentence I read, I can actually focus on learning words WITHIN a context, honing the pre-existing understanding of words and learning how to actually use the language properly.

Almost universally, people who have stuck with it for years and acquired some facility and proficiency with the language recommend learning both kanji and vocabulary in context and concurrent with learning grammar and simultaneously developing all skills apace instead of zooming ahead in one area to the detriment of others.
I've been doing this for over a year, and it's slow and frustrating. It's like trying to read English before learning the alphabet. Hence, why not do the exact same thing, but dedicate a couple hours a day to explicitly learning Kanji and words.
 
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Mike Cash

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If you can read 80% of Japanese text, then I suggest you move on to reading Japanese novels, as that is a more than sufficient threshold to understand and enjoy them without bothering about the remaining 20%.
 

Jaydent1

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That's exactly what I intended to do from the outset. Of course I am not there yet, but I am getting closer and it's exciting.
 

Mike Cash

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That's exactly what I intended to do from the outset. Of course I am not there yet, but I am getting closer and it's exciting.
I misunderstood your phrasing earlier to mean you already understand 80%. What you meant was that the portion of vocabulary you have to look up is less than 80%, correct?
 

Jaydent1

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Yes that's correct. My bad, it was poorly phrased.

I think it would be difficult (and probably pointless) to ever give a percentage. All I can say is that I spend a lot less time looking up words, and a lot more time understanding. That in itself is encouraging.
 

Stuntie

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I'm new to learning Japanese, but not new to learning languages. So I have been spending a lot of my initial 'Prep' time in looking at how best to structure my tasks for the main slog of learning and internalising Japanese. It's about being able to see the overall wood so that I can then learn the trees.
To me learning Kanji can be broken down into several key areas.

1) Important key words.
2) Related vocabulary
3) Related Kanji
4) Radical and Kanji construction
5) Official Kanji Lists

Steps 1-3 are best handled as a set of context driven goals. Best tied to a set of course books in both Language and in learning Kanji. Steps 4-5 help support and underline the Kanji from steps 1-3.
As Mike says - Context is king to remembering and internalising.

For example I will approach learning kanji stage by stage alongside the normal grammar/vocabulary work by addressing all the areas mentioned above.
1) List the key word Kanji lists for the current chapter of my chosen text book(s).
2) Add in a batch of related words to expand on the topics in that chapter.
3) Pick a number of Kanji related by Radical or key element
4) Learn some radicals and how they aid in Kanji construction - in particular ones related to the Kanji from 1-3 above.
5) Tick off Kanji learnt in steps 1-4 from the Official list. Add the next few unknown Kanji from the offical sequence to the task list for that stage.

The steps all help support one another, self reference and and reinforce each other. Just as importantly tying it into the overall learning task provides context and experience in using Kanji as it would be used, rather than as an arbitary and unrelated mental exercise.
Even step 5, which is largely arbitary, is more there to pick up the bits not covered elsewhere.

It'll take more prep time and requires me to look at the long term term goal rather than short term wins, but as stressed above, this is a project for years not weeks.
My goal for instance is to be able to read the Japanese equivalent of Winnie the Pooh etc. this time next year, and the Japanese equivalent of the Hunger Games etc. the year after.
That to me is a better guage of reading level progress than having memorised a set number of Kanji.
 

Jaydent1

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Sounds like a solid plan to me. I am also hoping to be reading books directed at young teens by this time next year.

I think we all learn differently. Some people won't remember a thing from attempting a systematic approach like mine. As a compsci major, my allowance threshold for ambiguity is pretty low. I'm always trying to encapsulate my knowledge. Unfortunately that's the wrong mindset for language acquisition.

My method differs slightly in that I will use a set list of words, and go through one by one. Yet for every word I learn, I will read dozens of example sentences showing the various ways in which the word is used. In that way, you can maintain structure with context, simultaneously amassing large amounts of knowledge from reading all those sentences. Not only that, you're constantly coming across words you've learned previously, so that only reinforces further.

Whether or not Mike or anyone else disagrees with this method is irrelevant to me. I've retained everything and improved drastically in all areas from doing this over the last 3 weeks. Stuff that was gibberish makes complete sense now.
 

Mike Cash

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So long as you're working tons of example sentences into your scheme you're also working tons of context in with it, so I don't see a problem with it. The problem would be if you were just cramming word lists or attempting to keep on/kun straight with just the items themselves in isolation.
 
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