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Should I learn Kanji

xeo4d

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I have been self-studying the Japanese language for about a year now. It has been a hard road so far. I am studying with the goal to speak read and write Japanese. So far I have memorized 40-60 of the JLPT4 kanji and have a good memorization of the kanas, this has been slowing my learning of the Japanese language as a whole down considerably. I enjoy learning the kanji and consider it a great enhancement to anyone studying Japanese. My question is: "is it all that important to learn kanji at the same time as the spoken language, or am I better off just getting a grip on the spoken language, and then moving on to learning the written kanji?"
 

Damicci

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You should not learn Kanji. Why even learn Japanese. Use sign language thats what the Japanese expect foreigners to use anyway. </sarcasm>

Kanji is the devil.

Learn it love it read it!
 

Buntaro

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xeo4d,

I have two things for you.

1. Yes, learning kanji will improve your spoken Japanese ability. If you hope to be anywhere near (not fluent but) comfortable, you need to learn kanji.

2. What is your goal? To live in Japan? Be a Japanese scholar? Collect Japanese art? Watch anime? Your goal will be a big factor in deciding whether to learn kanji.

3. You asked, "is it all that important to learn kanji at the same time as the spoken language, or am I better off just getting a grip on the spoken language, and then moving on to learning the written kanji?"

--> I break the study of Japanese into three areas: kanji, grammar, and conversation. (Yes, there is a big difference between learning grammar and converstion.) It is a mistake to learn only one or two of these, and ignore the other. You may concentrate on one for a while, but you need to spend an equal amount of time on all three.
 

-Rudel-

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He's right, I learned plenty of conversational Japanese that is somewhat different from the books that I am learning from.

You may have to get a penpal or go in chat rooms to learn some conversational Japanese since you are not actually in Japan.

Learning all 3 at the same time is a good deal. Well....at least for me it is.
 

Mike Cash

骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう
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If you were interested in math, would you study addition and subtraction while ignoring multiplication and division? Same difference.
 

sasame

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Hello, xeo4d.
こんにちは、xeo4dさん。

It is difficult to remember a lot of Kanji.
漢字を、たくさん覚えるのは難しいですね。

Japanese people uses Kanji. However, all Chinese characters are not remembered.
日本人は漢字を使います。しかしながら、すべての漢字を覚えているわけではありません。

When writing in Japanese, it is not important to use many Kanji.
日本語で書くとき、たくさんの漢字を使うことが重要なのではありません。

Why is the Kanji used in inside of sentences? --It is important to understand it.
なぜ文章の中で漢字を使うのでしょう? ――それを知っていることが大切です。

[1]The meaning of the word of the same sound is clarified.
同じ音を持つ言葉の意味を明確にするため。

[2]To make sentences legible.
文章を読みやすくするため。

I think that this two becomes the main reasons to use Kanji.
私は、この2つが漢字を使う主な理由になると思います。

Even if you don't know the Kanji, no problem.
もしあなたが漢字を知らなくても大丈夫です。

We grasp the meaning of the word from the whole sentence.
私たちは、文全体から言葉の意味をつかめます。

Therefore, I don't think that you can't use the Japanese language, even if you can't write at the Kanji.
ですから、私はあなたが漢字を書けなくても、あなたが日本語を使えないとは思いません。

However, if it doesn't know the Kanji, it is hard to read Japanese sentences.
しかしながら、漢字を知らないと、日本語の文章を読むのは大変ですね。

I think that it is important to be able to read the Chinese character for that.
私は、そのために漢字を読めることは重要だと考えます。

The Kanji will collect little by little in the head while reading.
読んでいる間に、少しずつ漢字が頭の中に溜まっていくことでしょう。


I am reading English expecting English to collect in my head.
私は、英語が自分の頭の中に溜まることを期待しながら、英文を読んでいます(^.^)
 

-Rudel-

Fire Star Man
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Now only if I knew the sounds (saying) of all the kanji. :)

Thank god for this website! I can read the kanji in Sasame's sentences.
 

sasame

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I recommend this site.
 私は、このサイトを推薦します。

ふりがな 付けます


Do Japanese site URL input and push at [GO].
 日本語サイトのURLを入力し、[GO]を押してください。

The hurigana attaches to the Kanji.
 漢字に「ふりがな」が付きます。

It might be convenient for the person who can read the hiragana.
 ひらがなが読める人には、便利かも知れません(^_^)
 

-Rudel-

Fire Star Man
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ふりがな! すごいよ!

ありがとうございます! (^-^)v

Now only if Microsoft Window's Japanese IME could allow you toggle an option to have furigana above the Kanji. :)

Do Japanese site URL input and push at [GO].
Input a Japanese site URL and push [GO].
(leave the preposition "at" out)

It might be convenient for the person who can read the hiragana.
It might be convenient for the people who can read hiragana.
(leave the subject marker "the", out before hiragana)

Just a few corrections on your English (^_^)v
 

sasame

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-Rudel- said:
Just a few corrections on your English (^_^)v
Thank you for guidance.
ご指導、ありがとうございました(^_^)

The definite article and the preposition is difficult for me.
私にとって、定冠詞や前置詞は難しいのです。
 

ax

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I think balance is the key. Yuo can't master the colloquial outside without some basic grammar. I say learn the basic grammar, master the conversational language to a fluency level as you while you add your knowledge of Kanji regularly. I have some knowledge of Kanji from learning Chinese, but in Japan I have to relearn most of them.

ax
 

Kinsao

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I'm only learning spoken at the moment without Kanji... I really want to learn kanji, but I want to learn it in a class, so I am waiting until I can go to class... I just think it would be easier with a teacher and other students for learning with. :) I agree with people, that you should learn all three. But of course, it takes a long time to learn kanji, and shorter time to learn/understand the spoken language.

I learned the kana, which is useful because now I can use a dictionary (except a lot of the words I want to look up aren't in the dictionary... lol). But as Japanese isn't written in only the kana, that's not very useful for reading unless I learn kanji too...

I can understand how you feel about how best to spend your learning time. Personally, I like to speak/understand at first, and have idea of grammer. For instance, in England some people don't even read or write well... I think the speaking/listening is more useful for life; of course reading/writing is necessary too, but a lot of barriers can be broken down if you are speaking already.
 

gotoh

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Sorry for pitching my favorite books, but this is the specific issue which is dealt in J. Heisig's book "Leaning The Kanjis".

For him, kanji's should be studied separatly by first trying to "remember" the kanji, and not trying to remember strokes, meaning, meaning of compounds, 'on and 'kun, etc. all the same time. It's a "Divide and conquer" method. Imagine a Chinese person learning Japanese: his advantage is that he/she knows kanjis even though he/she has a limited set of meaning common to Japanese.

Heisig's method is to learn kanji (not Japanese) by dividing each symbol that make a kanji and build stories to help remember *one* meaning to each kanji.

Once you automated this, you then build up on meaning and compounds, just like the above mentionned Chinese.

Of course, this is a self-taught method. Heisig claims that is unusable is classroom setting and should be studied at each's person's pace.

So far, after 3 months, I know and write 175 kanjis and can now easily spot them in my mangas. :)
 

skip

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Hi,

I agree with Buntaro. The decision to study kanji depends on your reasons for studying Japanese. If your goal is anything resembling fluency, living here or academic in nature, you should study kanji. It improves vocabulary and your ability to read anything that isn't meant for a child or foreigner, etc.

If your goal is to have fun and maybe chat in a mix of English and Japanese on short trips, then it's maybe not so important. In that case, do whatever is fun for you (and conversational if you want to chat).

Kanji is a part of the language, and ignoring it will prevent you from truly learning the language. Sure, you can speak without knowing any kanji, but you can't read a newspaper, the directions on anything you buy, or the mail you get from the government, utilities, etc.
 
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yes

This is my first time on this site. よろしくおねがいします。
I've been living in Japan for three years. I can stumble my way through a semi-interesting conversation in Japanese, and I can read/write katakana and hiragana, but I only know a handful of kanji, and this lack of knowledge is positively crippling. I'm sitting in my girlfriend's apartment right now. About five minutes ago I accidentally bumped the remote control for the heater in her room. Now the room is freezing cold, and the remote is covered in difficult kanji that I can't understand. My girlfriend won't be home for several more hours. All I can do is wear warm clothing, push buttons blindly, and reflect on a renewed commitment to learn kanji so I don't have to live my life this way, with comfort only a button's push away. Life is exhausting when even the simplest of things is a time and energy-consuming puzzle.
To live in Japan without knowledge of kanji is to know what it's like to be illiterate. You cannot feel like an adult; you're constantly dependent upon others, from visits to the doctor or the bank to renting a video to establishing an internet connection in your home to turning on the #$%& heat.
That's actually why I'm here. I was searching the web for information on how foreigners can study kanji while living in Japan. I have books, etc., but the time has come for me to actually have a teacher, and I'm wondering if I really have to go back to my home country to be taught kanji, or if there are teachers here in Japan for people like me. I'm not talking about "language exchange" or "conversation teachers," I'm talking about people who can teach kanji.

Aside from these serious matters, the more you understand kanji, the more you will understand the other aspects of the Japanese language. things you've learned by rote will make more sense. In learning the few kanji that I've learned, I've on several occasions been surprised, and said things like "Oh! That's why it's like that!" Understanding kanji will expand your vocabulary exponentially and will help you to remember new structures. You'll be able to better take the pieces that you've learned and see how they're reassembled to make new structures in meaning. When you understand kanji, you're no longer just memorizing sounds, and you'll know the difference between words/sentences that sound the same when pronounced. Because of the abundance of words with the same pronunciation, even Japanese people require clarification in conversation regularly, and here again kanji is relied upon.

Furthermore, you'll understand better why Japanese people speak English the way they do.
(I mean, it will understand the reason for the English is spoken by the Japanese in the way. hee hee. )

Very nice thread, folks. Gotoh, I'm definitely going to check out J. Heisig's book "Leaning The Kanjis".

みんなさん頑張って下さいね。
 
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