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Buying Kanji posters. Which one?

Crystalline3

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White Rabbit Press has the Heisig laminated poster, as well as the JLPT one. The Heisig poster (featuring Kanji from Jame's Heisig's "Remembering The Kanji" series of books) has around 2000 or so Kanji. Is that enough to gain fluency? Or rather (and better phrased), if I want to pass the N1 level, will those Kanji be enough?

I'm also gonna get James' three volumes of "Remembering The Kanji". Do you guys think they're worth it? I've heard good stuff about them, but perhaps there's other ways to go about learning Kanji?

Any advice?

I bought White Rabbit's Kana Flashcards, and learned all the Kana within a week, so I'm extremely happy with that purchase. What other products (White Rabbit's or otherwise) do you guys think are extremely essential?
 
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I personally found Heisig's RTK (vol. 1) to be quite valuable. The important thing to remember is that it doesn't teach you any vocabulary or grammar - it's simply really big mnemonic for learning to write and recognize the characters. You should certainly get the book in your native language if it's available in that language.

Your English is fine, for all I can tell you may even be a native speaker; but it's much easier to remember mnemonics in your native language - if you're going to learn mnemonics in a foreign language why not just go straight to Japanese? --- which is an option, by the way. People have used the RTK system with Japanese keywords when they already knew some Japanese to start with, just not how to read and write.


Anyway, as it is just a large mnemonic system, if you combine it with flashcards, don't obsess too much about reviews; remember that it's allowed to put hints (or even your whole 'story') on the front side of the card - the question should be 'can I recall this character?' not 'can I memorize which synonym is abitrarily paired with which character?'. People waste too much time on that stuff. Just put extra info on the front of the card so you don't mix up synonyms.

RTK3 is just an extension of RTK1 into less common characters - not to say you won't encounter them, especially if you intend to read novels or histories or the like, but RTK1 includes the vast majority of characters in the JLPT tests. RTK3 is kind of overkill and you should only use it if you really want to know 'all' the kanji. (It's still not 'all', but it's all that you're likely to encounter in non-specialist reading.)


I never did and don't have any interesting in doing RTK2. I don't have any problem with associating characters with words now, and I can identify phonetic groups for myself or by searching on the web. Still, some people love this book. It just smacks too much of the kind of useless 'kanji reading' study that I wasted too much time with in my early attempts to learn the language. It does give examples of real Japanese words for all the kanji you've learned in RTK1, and even though there are other ways to learn about it, having phonetic elements listed out for you is good too.

As an aside, I would use 'smart flashcards' from an SRS program like Anki or Memrise rather than paper flashcards (and -definitely- over a 'dumb' flashcard program that keeps feeding you all the cards every day just like they were paper).

Of course, it is also possible to do spaced repetition with paper cards, as long as you keep them carefully sorted. I'd rather let the computer take care of scheduling for me.
Spaced repetition - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Oh, as for the poster... get whatever one you like the look of best really. Kanji posters are not effective learning tools, but they are (for some people) effective motivation tools, because as time goes by you can recognize more and more characters on the poster.
 

WonkoTheSane

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I've been enjoying Basic Kanji Book from Bonjinsha. Each chapter has a set of kanji you learn and then some vocabulary with that kanji. They are reviewed at the end of the chapter with some reading and writing exercises. I use the Memrise deck that goes along with it for SRS work.

I don't own any posters. Don't see much point.
 

Crystalline3

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but RTK1 includes the vast majority of characters in the JLPT tests. RTK3 is kind of overkill and you should only use it if you really want to know 'all' the kanji. (It's still not 'all', but it's all that you're likely to encounter in non-specialist reading

So, for folks who only want to pass the N1 exam RTK1 is enough? If it's uncommon characters that are unnecessary, then I guess I don't see much of a point. Furthermore, I'll learn those as time goes by, just naturally and stuff. Essentially, I just want to be able to communicate and interact with other people fluently, or at least to the point where I feel like there's nothing limiting me from having normal conversations and understanding written stuff on a day-to-day basis. So for that very purpose, RTK1 would be enough?
 

Mike Cash

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You do understand that RTK1 doesn't actually teach you how to read anything at all, right?
 

Crystalline3

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You do understand that RTK1 doesn't actually teach you how to read anything at all, right?

Yeah, as Chris pointed out.

What books/other resources that teach Kanji and the vocabulary they represent would you recommend?
 

Mike Cash

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Yeah, as Chris pointed out.

What books/other resources that teach Kanji and the vocabulary they represent would you recommend?

I would suggest working your way through the beginning and intermediate levels of a good textbook (and associated workbooks) before you even worry about picking up kanji outside what they introduce.

I won't tell you not to use RTK. I would only stress that it isn't necessary to "learn" 2000 kanji before getting started learning the language itself. After you "learn" the kanji with RTK you essentially have to go back and repeat yourself by learning how to actually read them. On the other hand, attempting to learn the readings and understand when and how to use the various multiple readings in different situations before you have some grasp of the language would probably drive anyone crazy.

You don't "need" 2000 kanji to get along fine and even read Japanese books, magazines, etc.. Until earlier this year I knew far fewer than that.... probably about 1200 or so. And I took and passed the JLPT N1 last December, with a perfect score on the reading section.

If you want or need to pass the JLPT, there is a reason it has several levels.... you don't have to learn all the kanji for all the levels in one go. Learn the level 5, then 4, then 3, etc.

The SRS (spaced repetition system) flashcards can be quite effective. Starting this year I've been taking the Kanji Kentei tests and have found it very helpful. There are various free apps available but I am a fan of the paid app StickyStudy (iPhone and iPad). I use the cards as prompts when handwriting the kanji and compounds. If JLPT is your goal, you can use ready-made JLPT decks. I'm studying for the Kanji Kentei so I used decks which match the lists learned by Japanese schoolchildren in successive school years. Either way is fine. If you follow them all the way through you end up at essentially the same place anyway.

Get any poster you like. The primary benefit will be getting you used to seeing kanji so they stop looking like chicken scratch.
 
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So, for folks who only want to pass the N1 exam RTK1 is enough?

...

So for that very purpose, RTK1 would be enough?

Yes. There's only 2000(ish) kanji on the JLPTN1, and there's 2000(ish) kanji in RTK. You might not know every kanji, but that's not really an issue. You don't have to know every kanji because they don't appear in equal proportions. It's more important to know the more common kanji.

You also don't have to get every question right in the test situation, just -most- questions. In the real world, you can easily look up a character now anywhere, anytime by handwriting it into an app in your smartphone.

I'm not sure I'd be have been comfortable going into the JLPT test with only 1200 characters like Mike-san, but certainly if you're good at understanding unfamiliar words from their context (and have years of practice at the spoken language like Mike-san...) that's enough. Most of what's printed on the page is those characters if they are the most common ones.

It's been a long time since I look at JLPT statistics, but I think only about 1500ish characters appear on any given test.. the '2000 characters on the JLPT' is the number that have appeared on the test in -any- year. The exact same list of characters isn't on the test -every- year. (The same for vocabulary, only with bigger number.)

As for alternatives to RTK, some people prefer the KanjiDamage Learn Kanji Using Radicals|KANJIDAMAGE mnemonic system.
Other than that, there's really no 'systems' that I can recall. People just memorize the characters by writing them repeatedly, flashcard studying them repeatedly, or both.
I did like using readthekanji Read The Kanji | Learn to Read Japanese Kanji to learn characters in sentence context. It uses some kind of SRS algorithm for card spacing. It's a paid service though (I got in as a beta tester so I don't really know about the costs).

Other people swear by Skritter Skritter - Learn to Write Chinese and Japanese Characters , and I liked the demo version of the app, but the pricing on this paid tool just seems way too high for me.

Ultimately I migrated to Anki (which I used for both RTK reviews and vocabulary reviews), but there are plenty of SRS programs that are free or have only a one-time cost, so I just can't see paying a subscription fee for a flashcard program, no matter how many bells and whistles it has.
 

WonkoTheSane

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With the book I mentioned there are reading exercises and by halfway through the book the exercises are about the length of short stories using the kanji you have been learning without the benefit of furigana. The vast majority of kanji you learn have about three vocabulary words you learn which exhibit the various readings.

I like it because I consistently see myself understanding more and more of what see in the world. I don't care if I remember 2000 kanji, I care if I can read and understand the ones I see at the moment I see them.

Here's an example of the reading exercises I'm discussing :

 
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