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Help Where do I start and how do I approach RTK 1?

Fred10203

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Hellooo.

So I want to start learning Japanese. I looked at Ikenna's recommendations and so on. I thought of using Pimsleur and Assimil as a starting point, however, I don't know if that is a good idea and all that.

The second problem I have is that I don't know how to approach RTK 1. I was told that learning the kanji is really important since you won't be able to do laundry etc without knowing your kanji, and that worries me. I saw some guy say that he did RTK in 200 hours. 100 hours to get it into short term memory and 100 hours of Anki to solidify it. He said he did it in a month. That sounds crazy and I don't know if it is even possible or how the hell you do that if it is.

I thought of doing 15 a day (primitives and normal, focusing on how it is written and its meaning), however, if I review it only twice, that means 30 a day since I will have to review it the next day, and then it starts getting a lot and I will probably not remember it for the long term. I don't know how to do it so that I can get as much done a day, but remember it for long term. Also, I was told that learning it in isolation is a problem, so I don't know how I am supposed to learn it.

I can't speak Japanese, which is a problem and I would like to learn that, since it is important as well, but I don't know how to balance it and what to focus on and what to use etc. It's really overwhelming to be honest. I have 11 months max. Lets say 9 months max for good measure. In that time, I want to be able to learn as much as possible, so that when I get to Japan, I'm not struggling to do basic things. I don't know how I'm gonna do this....
 

Weo

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I don't know what is that "RTK1" you said, but I check on internet and maybe is a book of memorizing kanjis, isn't it?

I don' know how long would it take to learn those kanjis, but I am correct if I say that depends on you and your studying method and how much time you use for that.
I went to Japan to learn japanese. I studied in a japanese language school, so probably the method is different. But I'm sure you will have no problem if you take as much time as you can with the kanji, because they are really important (mostly to read and survive there).
I can tell you that I was using the book "Minna no nihongo" for grammar and for kanji. Every day we had a kanji test with 10 kanjis. With Minna no Nihongo you start learning basic kanjis that you will find again "inside" future complicated kanjis, so it is very difficult to forget them! And knowing the first kanjis you will be able to presume the meaning of the new kanjis thanks to that.
I would recommend that book. And there are also book with drawings that help a lot in memorizing the meaning (maybe RTK is one of them, I don't know, but there are a lot).

Sorry if I wasn't helpfull for your questions, but just don't be worried about how much time took your friend (or whoever told you that) in learning all those kanjis. It also depends on the person, it is easier for some people. But you don't have to worry, with time and A LOT OF PRACTICE you will learn fast without noticing. Just buy a lot of notebook and pens and practice! 💪 💪 💪

P.D: Knowing kanji will help with your speaking skills, because the have a lot of words with same sound but different meaning/kanji. Vocabulary is always key for improving speaking.
And I forgot to say that when I started studying japanese with Minna no Nihongo I didn't know anything about japanese language, just Hiragana and Katakana, Hello, Goodbye and Thanks.
 

mdchachi

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The second problem I have is that I don't know how to approach RTK 1. I was told that learning the kanji is really important since you won't be able to do laundry etc without knowing your kanji, and that worries me. I saw some guy say that he did RTK in 200 hours. 100 hours to get it into short term memory and 100 hours of Anki to solidify it. He said he did it in a month. That sounds crazy and I don't know if it is even possible or how the hell you do that if it is.
Keep in mind that RTK teaches you kanji and it's associated meaning but not how to read or combine them. So even if the guy really did "learn" RTK in 200 hours, he probably still can't read much Japanese unless he was also able to retain all the kun-yomi/on-yomi readings within those 200 hours. Doubtful.
But he can probably identify important meanings when he sees some. Maybe help navigate the subway or a laundry machine, as you said.

I thought of doing 15 a day (primitives and normal, focusing on how it is written and its meaning), however, if I review it only twice, that means 30 a day since I will have to review it the next day, and then it starts getting a lot and I will probably not remember it for the long term. I don't know how to do it so that I can get as much done a day, but remember it for long term. Also, I was told that learning it in isolation is a problem, so I don't know how I am supposed to learn it.
Yes this is a problem. I gave up learning kanji and reading 20 years ago. I made it up to about 1000. In the end reading/writing wasn't a priority for me. And I never found a great system that works well with my brain. I still work in Japanese even today, writing passable emails and reading emails with the help of Google translate.

I can't speak Japanese, which is a problem and I would like to learn that, since it is important as well, but I don't know how to balance it and what to focus on and what to use etc. It's really overwhelming to be honest. I have 11 months max. Lets say 9 months max for good measure. In that time, I want to be able to learn as much as possible, so that when I get to Japan, I'm not struggling to do basic things. I don't know how I'm gonna do this....
It sort of comes down to your goal. The deadline is because you will be in Japan next year, I suppose? You will need Japanese only for daily life? Or will you be expected to work or study in a Japanese environment?

Based on what you've said so far, I would recommend a balanced approach focusing on grammar and kanji, spending as many hours on it as you can. I would also recommend getting some listening practice in, via all the web content available these days. As much immersion as you can. I had 3 years of college Japanese before I moved to Japan but I couldn't speak a lick once I got there. Well, sure, I could say something like atearai ha doko desu ka? But I couldn't catch the response because my listening comprehension skills were so poor. But I improved greatly after beginning to live there.

As far as worrying about struggling when you get there, don't worry about it. You'll meet friends or colleagues who can help you.
Plus the huge advantage you have now is the smartphone. If you didn't learn all the kanji in the book, no worries, just look it up using Google translate. You don't even have to know the radical or stroke order, just point you camera at it. I used to ride the trains with my Canon Wordtank trying to decipher the ads for practice, sometimes taking 5 minutes to look up one kanji since in those days you had to figure out the stroke order and/or radical the kanji is listed under.

So I guess I'm saying kanji is probably less important than grammar and vocabulary and listening comprehension. Unless your main goal is passing the Japanese comprehension tests in which case you need to be able to read and know a lot of stuff you don't encounter in daily life.
 

Fred10203

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I don't know what is that "RTK1" you said, but I check on internet and maybe is a book of memorizing kanjis, isn't it?

I don' know how long would it take to learn those kanjis, but I am correct if I say that depends on you and your studying method and how much time you use for that.
I went to Japan to learn japanese. I studied in a japanese language school, so probably the method is different. But I'm sure you will have no problem if you take as much time as you can with the kanji, because they are really important (mostly to read and survive there).
I can tell you that I was using the book "Minna no nihongo" for grammar and for kanji. Every day we had a kanji test with 10 kanjis. With Minna no Nihongo you start learning basic kanjis that you will find again "inside" future complicated kanjis, so it is very difficult to forget them! And knowing the first kanjis you will be able to presume the meaning of the new kanjis thanks to that.
I would recommend that book. And there are also book with drawings that help a lot in memorizing the meaning (maybe RTK is one of them, I don't know, but there are a lot).

Sorry if I wasn't helpfull for your questions, but just don't be worried about how much time took your friend (or whoever told you that) in learning all those kanjis. It also depends on the person, it is easier for some people. But you don't have to worry, with time and A LOT OF PRACTICE you will learn fast without noticing. Just buy a lot of notebook and pens and practice! 💪 💪 💪

P.D: Knowing kanji will help with your speaking skills, because the have a lot of words with same sound but different meaning/kanji. Vocabulary is always key for improving speaking.
And I forgot to say that when I started studying japanese with Minna no Nihongo I didn't know anything about japanese language, just Hiragana and Katakana, Hello, Goodbye and Thanks.
Thank you. I appreciate it. It helped. I will check out the book you mentioned.
 

Fred10203

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Keep in mind that RTK teaches you kanji and it's associated meaning but not how to read or combine them. So even if the guy really did "learn" RTK in 200 hours, he probably still can't read much Japanese unless he was also able to retain all the kun-yomi/on-yomi readings within those 200 hours. Doubtful.
But he can probably identify important meanings when he sees some. Maybe help navigate the subway or a laundry machine, as you said.


Yes this is a problem. I gave up learning kanji and reading 20 years ago. I made it up to about 1000. In the end reading/writing wasn't a priority for me. And I never found a great system that works well with my brain. I still work in Japanese even today, writing passable emails and reading emails with the help of Google translate.


It sort of comes down to your goal. The deadline is because you will be in Japan next year, I suppose? You will need Japanese only for daily life? Or will you be expected to work or study in a Japanese environment?

Based on what you've said so far, I would recommend a balanced approach focusing on grammar and kanji, spending as many hours on it as you can. I would also recommend getting some listening practice in, via all the web content available these days. As much immersion as you can. I had 3 years of college Japanese before I moved to Japan but I couldn't speak a lick once I got there. Well, sure, I could say something like atearai ha doko desu ka? But I couldn't catch the response because my listening comprehension skills were so poor. But I improved greatly after beginning to live there.

As far as worrying about struggling when you get there, don't worry about it. You'll meet friends or colleagues who can help you.
Plus the huge advantage you have now is the smartphone. If you didn't learn all the kanji in the book, no worries, just look it up using Google translate. You don't even have to know the radical or stroke order, just point you camera at it. I used to ride the trains with my Canon Wordtank trying to decipher the ads for practice, sometimes taking 5 minutes to look up one kanji since in those days you had to figure out the stroke order and/or radical the kanji is listed under.

So I guess I'm saying kanji is probably less important than grammar and vocabulary and listening comprehension. Unless your main goal is passing the Japanese comprehension tests in which case you need to be able to read and know a lot of stuff you don't encounter in daily life.
Ah ok, I understand now. I want to do the JET programme, so speaking will probably be more important. I just don't want to be stuck not knowing what to do, because that is an awful feeling. Ok, so if I focus on speaking, where would I start? Listening is important, so anime or tv dramas as well as Pimsluer would help. What else do I use? Is Genki really that good? I want some resources that I know wont hold me back. Thank you for your response too :)
 

mdchachi

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Ah ok, I understand now. I want to do the JET programme, so speaking will probably be more important. I just don't want to be stuck not knowing what to do, because that is an awful feeling. Ok, so if I focus on speaking, where would I start? Listening is important, so anime or tv dramas as well as Pimsluer would help. What else do I use? Is Genki really that good? I want some resources that I know wont hold me back. Thank you for your response too :)
I think working through Genki would be a great start. Also try Duolingo for fun, passive learning any time on your phone. As for listening, the actual coursework practice that you might find in Genki or Pimsleur would be helpful. As for TV, I would probably stay away from anime unless it's something oriented towards every day life like Sazae-san or Chibi-maruko-chan. But I guess anything that can grab your attention and keep you engaged is good.
 

timaki

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Whether you decide to use RTK1 or not depends on your particular learning style. For me, using Heisig's book was an essential part of learning Japanese, perhaps because reading (in English) was already a large part of who I am and how I study. I took a very long time to get through RTK, and didn't complete volume 1 until my third attempt. But for me it has been worth it.

If you do decide to use Remembering the Kanji, I recommend the following.
  • Don't go fast! Some people can probably stuff all 2,100 kanji into their brains in 200 hours, but what's the point? If your goal is to use Japanese long-term, you don't have to go that fast, and you'll probably just be frustrated. I recommend a slow pace, adding perhaps just five kanji per day, or just three per day if you are feeling lazy. Sure, it will take you one or two years to get through the book, but that's a full two years to cement the kanji into your mind.
  • Take Heisig's advice and make outlandish stories that will trigger the creative side of your brain. I'm left-brained, so creativity doesn't come naturally to me. But it is necessary to have the characters remain. This is one of the reasons for taking things so slow, so that you have the time to ponder stories for each kanji.
  • Use an SRS tool instead of paper flashcards. You mentioned Anki, so you were already thinking about that. I recommend the web site Kanji Koohii. The site was built specifically to help you get through Heisig's books. The best part is that when you can't think of a story for a specific kanji, you can review dozens of stories written by other RTK fans. I wrote a review of that web site and Heisig's book if you want to learn more about them (Kanji Koohii, an Awesome Study Web Site).
  • Later on, study "reverse RTK." Heisig says you should only go from keyword-to-kanji, and for writing the kanji this is probably great advice. But for reading, I've found that it helps to go the other way as well. Don't do it right away; wait until you are at least, say, one-third the way through Heisig's book. But at some point, it is good to study kanji-to-keyword using Anki or some other platform.
Some students of Japanese hate Heisig's book, but if it is a good match for your learning style, then I recommend adding it to your overall study plan.
 
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