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Just started learning Japanese. I would like some advice on learning Kanji....

JoJo

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こんにちは。私はジョサイアです。私は23歳です。Please correct this if it's wrong haha.
Hello. My name is Josiah. I am 23 years old.

So I just recently started studying Japanese. I've learned the hiragana and katakana to the point to where I can write them all down with little trouble. it takes me some time to read them though when they're in the "wild". Now I'm starting to learn kanji and this is where I want to be a bit careful. So what I'm planning/already doing is learning 3 kanji per day using anki. So basically I'm learning something like... 一つ。(ひとつ)which means one/one thing (right?) I'm worried that if I learn it like this I won't really make any progress because I'm not using it in a sentence or anything of the sort. The anki deck comes with sentences for the kanji but I can't read those kanji and I was told not to use furigana because that would hinder my learning them in the future so I just ignore the sentences given. Should I use furigana for the kanji in the sentences being used but try and remember the kanji I'm currently learning? I feel like learning the kanji with a sentence would be more useful and easier to remember but some of the sentences look so complex with all those kanji in them and I'm just wanting to learn a sing kanji haha. If anyone has any suggestions I would appreciate it! ありがとうございます!
 
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joadbres

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At this early stage in your kanji learning, I think it is OK to just learn words, rather than sentences, when you are specifically studying kanji. Of course, when you are studying other aspects of Japanese (grammar, etc.), studying full sentences is appropriate.

As you get further into studying kanji, I think it is useful to study phrases or short sentences which use the words you are learning. Long sentences are unnecessary, I think, when it comes specifically to kanji study.

The most popular kanji books targeted at Japanese schoolchildren provide four or five phrases or short sentences for each kanji learned. This is the best way to do it, I think. While foreigners can also use such books, a lot of translation would be required at times, so it may be cumbersome. I do not know if there is source material targeting foreign learners which provides something equivalent to this.

By the way, as for your question about using furigana, yes, it can be a crutch at times, but at this stage of your learning, I think it is OK to use it. Plus, doing so will help to solidify your grasp on hiragana and katakana.
 

Buntaro

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Hi Josiah and welcome to the forum.

One piece of advice is learn Kanji as you need them. Write a sentence in English, then write it in Hiragana/Katakana. Then put in the Kanji. This way you can learn Kanji that you actually use in a sentence.

If you need help on learning how to look up Kanji from Hiragana/Katakana, please do not hesitate to ask.
 
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So, for what it's worth:

I've been slacking massively on kanji study recently, mostly because it's a lot more boring to use flashcards than to read or chat with my friends, so my writing ability has been stagnant despite my reading ability improving greatly.

But this is a method that I've found works well if you can stick to it (with the caveat that I wasn't able to personally): flash cards. What I did was I had several groups of flash cards that I reviewed at different frequencies, and when I did review them, I would write them in a notebook or something. Then I would put them in whatever stack I thought was appropriate for how well I knew them. (This is what you call "spaced repetition".)

I decided to buy some of those flashcards-on-metal-rings (whatever you call them) a couple days ago so I could start practicing writing kanji again, but I'm planning on doing it a little different this time to hopefully make it less cumbersome so I can stick to it:

1. Instead of individual kanji, I'm studying specific words, kind of like spelling. On the front I've got a short sentence using the word with only hiragana/katakana for context (so e.g. I know the card is about 科学 and not 化学), and on the back I've got the full spelling of the word with kanji.
2. I'm adding words on a ad-hoc basis, where I see or use a word and think, hey, I can learn that kanji. E.g. 覚える and 最近 are some of the first ones I'm putting on there in my case.
3. (this is important) I'm only putting in kanji I'm struggling with or that are completely new to me, and the plan is to take them completely out of the stack when I feel comfortable writing them for a couple months or so. This is going to lead to forgetting how to write quite a few kanji I imagine, but I'm hoping this will take away the monotony of studying well-learned words that I just don't use much, like 助ける.
4. I'm using long intervals. No daily review kanji, just weekly and monthly, I think.

Again, this is something I just started, so I don't even know if it will work or not, but just sharing in case you find it useful. The important thing is that you find a routine that works for you; it needs to be something you don't dread doing, most importantly (preferably something rewarding if possible, though that's going to be tough with writing practice).

Also, I would recommend at least some writing practice; even if you aren't too worried about being able to handwrite kanji like a pro (which is a skill falling even for native Japanese people IIUC), writing a kanji a bit helps solidify your understanding of it. Sometimes kanji, especially the really complicated ones, can look like blobs of ink, but if you know how to write them then you'll see more clearly that e.g. 葉 is a stack of 草世木, or that 難 is like the right half of 漢 with the bottom-right half of 曜.

If a kanji is really confusing, you might also consider looking its etymology up here:


And FWIW this is my typical stop for finding the stroke order of a kanji (though there are of course tons of sources for that):


頑張って! 🙂
 

Buntaro

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ジョサイアさん、

Another idea is to learn the most common Kanji first.



文太郎より
 

JoJo

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Thank you everyone! I think I found out how I will do this. Basically I'll keep doing the 3 kanji per day via anki. Along with that I'll find out how to say stuff I'm interested in then write them down 10 times. For example, yesterday I learned how to say "I like orange juice." I think haha..
私はオレンジジュースが好きです。
 
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I forgot to mention this:

You usually shouldn't use 私 or any other pronoun, e.g. in the case of "I like orange juice", this is more likely than what you suggested:

オレンジジュースが好きです。

Including 私は in the sentence makes it sound like you're emphasizing yourself, which most likely is not your intent.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to note that how you say anything in Japanese is highly context-dependent, so keep an eye out for subtle differences in particle usage and such (you'll learn all sorts of things to this effect). Just to give you a bit of a teaser, at the risk of confusing you a bit, here's a couple examples of different ways you might say "I like orange juice", with that part underlined (noting that these are not generally speaking interchangeable):

またオレンジジュースを飲んでるの?
うん、好きなんだよ
Are you drinking orange juice again?
Yeah, I like orange juice.

オレンジは別に好きじゃないが、オレンジジュースは好き
I don't particularly like oranges, but I like orange juice.

オレンジジュース好きなので、毎週買います。
I like orange juice, so I buy it every week.

兄はオレンジジュース嫌いですが、私は好きです
My brother hates orange juice, but I like it.
 

Majestic

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I think as a technical translation of the sentence "I like orange juice" it is fine to say 私はオレンジジュースが好きです。

In a conversation, or in dialogue, when the subject is mutually understood, you can leave out the 私は because it is already clear from the context.
But just as a flat translation, 私はオレンジジュースが好きです is perfectly fine.
 

JoJo

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I think as a technical translation of the sentence "I like orange juice" it is fine to say 私はオレンジジュースが好きです。

In a conversation, or in dialogue, when the subject is mutually understood, you can leave out the 私は because it is already clear from the context.
But just as a flat translation, 私はオレンジジュースが好きです is perfectly fine.
Oho, thank you very much!
 
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Sure, but I just think it's worth pointing out that "technical translations" of English often lead to unnatural Japanese. The reason I pointed that out is because of the first post:

こんにちは。私はジョサイアです。私は23歳です。

This would have been far better:

初めまして。ジョサイアです。23歳です。

And not just because 私は is unnecessary; it also makes it look/sound weird, not unlike those technical translations many Japanese students of English make of のだ.
 

Buntaro

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ジョサイアさん、

Here is another example of は that you need to consider:

What kind of fruit do you eat?

くだものは何を食べますか?

Please notice that fruit (くだもの) is the は phrase. You cannot put あなたは or 私は into this question. (A Japanese sentence can only have one は.)
 

Majestic

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Let me repeat lest the original poster get confused.

私はオレンジジュースが好きです is a perfectly fine construction. There is nothing wrong with it. When learning Japanese as a beginner, you can use this construction with confidence. It is not merely technically correct, it is every other kind of correct as well. There is nothing unnatural about it.

When writing a laundry list of likes or other self-introductory phrases, you may omit the 私は, as the subject will have already been established, as I said in my post.
 

JoJo

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Sure, but I just think it's worth pointing out that "technical translations" of English often lead to unnatural Japanese. The reason I pointed that out is because of the first post:

こんにちは。私はジョサイアです。私は23歳です。

This would have been far better:

初めまして。ジョサイアです。23歳です。

And not just because 私は is unnecessary; it also makes it look/sound weird, not unlike those technical translations many Japanese students of English make of のだ.

Julie, that first sentence you used. Is that "はじめまして”? That is used for a first time meeting correct and after that you're free to use こんにちは and all those other greetings right?
 
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Yep, that's what it is.

You're free to use other greetings the first time too, but most people I've encountered start with 初めまして/はじめまして (spelling varies, some people use the kanji and some don't).

Regarding the orange juice thing:

As I briefly mentioned before, you would use 私は, 僕は, etc when you want to contrast yourself with others. Most of the time, if that is your intention, you're not going to want to also draw attention to オレンジジュース by using a particle with it, and in fact you'll usually omit オレンジジュース entirely as unnecessary. There are always exceptions, however.

As regards this form:

私はオレンジジュースが好きです。

The one situation I can imagine where you would want to phrase it this way, including both 私は and オレンジジュースが, is if you're in a group where everyone is telling everyone else about something they like. In that case, you could also say 私はオレンジジュースです as a shorter form. The purpose of 私は (or 僕は) in this case is to contrast yourself with everyone else in the group. が, as well, serves a purpose here, that being to put focus on オレンジジュース as your answer to the question of what you like.

I only ever brought the 私は thing up because you asked in your first post and no one had answered yet (your example sentence about liking orange juice reminded me of that), but since I'm already deep into it, I think I might as well take this opportunity to encourage you to watch for patterns in how things are said so that, over time, you can grasp why saying X is better than saying Y in situation Z.
 

JoJo

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Thanks for explaining that a bit more. I'll probably catch up on this all over time, I've only been studying Japanese for just over a week so I'm still a bit new haha. I'll definitely be paying attention to what people say and over time things will fall into place. :)
 

Toritoribe

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A Japanese sentence can only have one は.
Sorry for nitpicking, but two or more はs can be used in a single sentence. Refer to the following thread.

 

Buntaro

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Thanks Toritoribe, I was wondering about that. Leave it to a ...には phrase to throw me under the bus!
 
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