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Japanese goi learning

kinjo

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Minasan
I have a question on Japanese learning.
I have been learning Japanese (I would like to say ツ心窶堙ー窶堋ア窶堙溪?堙 :) ) for around 3 years now. There are the various aspects of learning,some of which require theoretical study, some of which require interaction with Japanese etc., I think

I feel the main aspects of Japanese study are the following (not in the same order though)
1. Kanji learning - I have taken 2kyuu this year, and I think the best way to learn Kanji is through flash cards, learning by heart from books and using them in mails etc.
2. Kikitori- Listening comprehension can ONLY be improved through listening to and communicating on a regular basis with the Japanese. J-songs can help a bit as well. Betters with experience.
3. Grammar learning - can go leaps and bounds with good grammar dictionaries.
4. Vocabulary - This is where my question/problem arises.
Whenever I read my Japanese grammar books or customer mails or go through Japanese sites, I come across so many new words which I would like to learn.I check their meaning in the dic., but I remember them for only a few hours after I see them, and so though I may come acrosss say,200 new words in say, 1 month, after 2 months down the line, I hardly remember around 20.
What is the best way to improve vocabulary is my question.
The Japanese vocabulary is HUGE, with so many words with the same reading meaning differently, neccessiating the speaker to have a good vocab to converse with confidence. (After all, Kanjis dont come into the picture while speaking)

I thought I would make flashcards for vocab as well , but I didn't do it for 2 reasons
1. just too many words to be covered unlike the specified number of Kanjis which I can cope with flash cards
2. makes it feel exam oriented.

I would like to improve my vocab naturally, if at all possible.
If I subscribe to mailing lists, I get the new words, but again, unless I sit down and memorize them consciously, I never remember them.
What are the ways you think, are best to improve one's Japanese vocab on the flow? (Vocab with the Kanji as wellis a bigger problem , of course)
Now, I do not live in Japan. That's a problem.
I feel my Kanji knowledge is improving, my kikitori is improving (though extremely gradual), but my vocab growth is very slow. (considering the fact that I have an unlimited number of words to cover)
Or is it a serious memory problem I am having(lol) ?

Is memorizing words by making lists the only way? :-(

What would the best sensei suggest? (sorezore no yarikata ni yotte chigau to wakaru kedo)

Arigatou gozaimasu.

Kinjo
 

TheCaledonian

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I think that learning Japanese at the ikkyuu level requires pretty much the same kind of learning as we did in our native language - reading, and lots of it. There are approximately 10,000 vocabulary items at that level, for the English TOEIC, for example too, and kids just don't pick them up just by listening. In fact, recent vocabulary studies show that the majority of educated peoples' vocabulary is just that - educated, mainly through reading. In English teaching, we stress the importance of graded readers, novels which have been simplified so learners can read them. Typically in 6 or so level, learners read and read genuine English, and progress through the levels until they are ready to approach authentic materials. Now, in Japanese, there is a sad scarcity of such materials, but with a dictionary in hand, a ni-kyuu student can pick up a lot of important vocabulary. If the reading is consistent enough the same important lexical items will appear and reappear consistently enought to ensure aquisition, if sufficient attention is paid to meaning. I must stress that the student must read a lot. Anyway, this is a much more enjoyable way, and natural way, of learning vocabulary than simply rote-memorising. And you can become a "literate" user of Japanese into the bargain.

So, read and read and read. That's my message. Read everything and anything. Don't think about any exam, just aim for the point when you feel confident that when you pick up something to read you'll both enjoy it and benefit from it without too much strain.
 

kinjo

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Thanks a lot for the reply, Caledonian.
I agree with your message about reading and more reading, but the problem in practising Japanese is this:
KANJI.What happens if i do not understand it? I get totally stuck and leave the book then and there. (In fact, I tried it with a manga recently, was too painful and left it after trying out 3 pages)
If it were any other language, I could have just referred to the dic. and got the meaning. But how do I proceed in Japanese?
Finding the kanji using the stroke count, base radical etc is one hell of a fight'ne.
Anyway, will try to read more.Probably stuff with furigana in it.
 

TheCaledonian

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I find that manga tend to use highly colloquial and therefore abridged language. This makes manga a very unstable learning tool for anyone not very familiar with the spoken language. However, most manga aimed for children have furigana making them much more accessible in terms of looking up unknown word meanings.

As for finding unknown kanji quickly, the best solution that I've found is to buy (borrow or steal) one of those electronic pen-based dictionary/ schedulers (Japanese, of course). Sharp's Zaurus, for example, allows you to draw a kanji into a box, and then it provides you with a list of kanji that look like the one you've just written. Once you get used to it, it becomes a very quick tool for locating unknown items. If you feel that the kanji is too difficult to draw, you can check a radical box, then draw just that. Then a list of all the kanji which use that radical appears, from which you just choose your kanji.
 

MPJ

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I would have to agree with the others. Reading is the best way of learning vocabulary, at least it was for me. Now to keep yourself interest and learning, choose something that you like to read. Like novels and so forth, there are so many different novels and stories that are on completely different levels such as for beginners to experts. I myself like learn through Visual Novels, so Japanese games basically. It is a great method and I would recommend it if you enjoy that type of storytelling. Check out JapaneseGoi, my website for vocabulary learning, that has some tools, articles and lists for learning vocabulary. Then again, you should combine reading with something else. I like to read and while reading, comment down what word I thought was difficult and I should remember till the next time. Good luck.
 

Mike Cash

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I would have to agree with the others. Reading is the best way of learning vocabulary, at least it was for me. Now to keep yourself interest and learning, choose something that you like to read. Like novels and so forth, there are so many different novels and stories that are on completely different levels such as for beginners to experts. I myself like learn through Visual Novels, so Japanese games basically. It is a great method and I would recommend it if you enjoy that type of storytelling. Check out JapaneseGoi, my website for vocabulary learning, that has some tools, articles and lists for learning vocabulary. Then again, you should combine reading with something else. I like to read and while reading, comment down what word I thought was difficult and I should remember till the next time. Good luck.


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