Which is the best way to learn Kanji?

Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by Adrisim, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. Adrisim

    Adrisim New Member

    Mexico City
    Mexican Spanish
    I'm currently learning Japanese at College using Minna No Nihongo book 1.
    But the next step, as a way of speech, is to learn basic Kanjis. For that matter, there is plenty of questions I'd love to be answered for you guys.

    First of all:
    Which book fits best for a beginner?. I've been reading ''Basic Kanji Book'' series is famous for this task.

    For what learning goes, some say I should check out the list of most important Kanjis according to JLPT level and work my way through it by stroke repetition and meaning/reading root memorization. Other say it's best learning radicals along readings/meanings, because of ease. I'm planning on buying Rabbit Press Kanji Flash-Cards and Kodansha's Kanji Learners Dictionary for meaning/readings and stroke order.

    What approach would you recommend? Which fits best for a beginner?.
    I dedicate 2 hours daily for learning Japanese.

  2. frequency

    frequency Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Fluid like water is running from my eyes..I bet you'll succeed.

    The books you've been using are good. Always choice formal books and textbooks. Although you're very rich, do not choice ones look stupid (if such books have been sold in Mexico). Not only a matter of the cost, they mislead you.

    Kanji is something like a picture. Relax, and view kanji as a picture. Next, sorry to say but handwriting must be the best way. I recommend you to have a habit to write with your hand earlier, because it will help you when writing sentences in the future.
    Learning kanji isn't always a hard discipline. You'll find some interesting kanji soon. When you see 男, combining paddy field and power/force, which labels man to be the gender that generally works at a paddy field, you may arouse sympathy for them and find out how feminism has been influential since ancient times. This kanji disassembling is just the key to analyse, so don't focus on how it is composed of too much.
    And do not forget visiting us and posting!
  3. Adrisim

    Adrisim New Member

    Mexico City
    Mexican Spanish
    I'm sorry, but, what did you mean with ''books that look stupid''. How could something mislead me?.
    By the way, I know learning Kanji isn't as hard as people say it is. Root memorization is what most people do, because Japanese people have succeeded at this way. But most advanced students or foreigner learners of the language advice learning Kanji by radicals and of course, write them down for further ease and long-term memorization.
    That's what this post was about. Which fits best and which is better?.

    However, the time it takes isn't relevant. I could easily spend 3-4 years learning just the basic Kanjis and grammar structure before engaging myself on advanced studies and develop the 4 fundamental skills every language needs to be properly learned and spoken. What matters relies on the quality of the learning process itself. That is why I keep insisting on advises related to what different methods exist and which is better for a newbie.

    Thanks for your feedback.
  4. frequency

    frequency Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Less quality books and textbooks, which seem to have released by unknown, mysterious publishers, sometimes have errors, insufficient instructions, and messed-up, wrong answer keys. If the books for Japanese learners sold in Mexico are roughly good, that's OK.
  5. frequency

    frequency Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Radicals are guidance. They are constituents and not the whole part of kanji. But radicals can give you a sign, for example, the category the kanji belongs to. Therefore, learning radicals helps the learners to increase efficiency in this case, I think.
    But radicals are not always logical. 猫、狐、狸 are animals and have kemono-hen, but 犬 has suddenly lost its kemono-hen today (Its old kanji is 狗, though). Moreover, an adjective narrow 狭い surprisingly has kemono-hen. To focus on radicals too much is to lose flexibility, i.e., to do a thing like 'Ah, this kanji has kemono-hen so this must mean animal..oh but that doesn't. it's not animal..', life is very short and you would get angry with this illogical guidance.

    I just suggested you to view kanji as a picture, because that may be closer to our way-we watch (read) kanji in our daily life every day and everywhere. You've already known how to master a language. It's hard to say which is best, and I don't like saying 'Do this!' 'It must go like this!' very much, but find and trust your way. Do variously. Whichever kanji isn't a word made by adding symbols such as alphabets. Dealing with a picture-like language would be fun.
  6. aleixs New Member

    English and Mandarin Chinese
    I agree with frequency - I learn basic Kanji by picturing them as items, although that's really more of a mnemonic device... For example, 門口 = door... I imagine it's the frame of the door + the knob.

    But it all depends on you, really - some people have had more success with rote memorisation.
  7. Adrisim

    Adrisim New Member

    Mexico City
    Mexican Spanish
    I have been learning the few Kanjis I know by the way you and Frequency have told me: my picturing them. This way is easier. I know. It fits both advanced and new students whether or not there is any radical/root memorization learning background.

    For example: 金 is one of those I learnt by picturing a --gold mine--. I still remember its meaning and readings.
    本 as another example. I pictured a tree where books come from thus the beginning of something.

    I will keep posting if further doubts arise. Thanks both of you.
    Japanese Kanjis are the most amazing things I love so much about the languge.
  8. dctejano New Member

    English - USA
    I've been learning japanese for the last two months and have experimented with several methods: instructional books, cds, the Kenneth Henshal book, and iphone apps. So far I've learned Hiragana, Katakana, and am now up to 750 vocabulary words (tested orally and written in both directions), studying about five or six hours a day (on the train, at lunch, taking periodic breaks from work and before bed - all of which is easy with the iphone apps). I've found that the best method (for me) has been to memorize a story for the spoken word, THEN to memorize a separate story for the written kanji. I tried to write a story (using the Henshall app) for each kanji that encompassed both the written and the oral, but the stories ended up being so convoluted that I could only get through ten or twelve a day, and I don't think I retained them very well. Separating them out between oral and written goes a lot faster and is easier to remember. I don't really use anyone else's story/mnemonic except if I'm really stuck. With the kanji, sometimes I use the radicals, sometimes I freely interpret the drawing with whatever comes to mind first. Strange/silly/funny/shocking mnemonic images seem to work best for imbedding the word. I learn new words during the week and do a cumulative review on the weekends. A lot of the words I started with have now sunk in so much the translation pops into my head before the story does, but I need the story to start the process (a very simple example would be "jiko" for accident = "Geico" mispronounced. This wouldn't work in a country where Geico isn't a major auto insurance company, but you get the idea).
    Anyway, at about 50 words a day, with a fairly high rate of retention, I'm pretty happy with this method. I usually do about one day a week on grammar, but that's not really my focus. Once I hit 2000 words, I'm planning on doing a full month of grammar, with a goal of being able to read a newspaper by early to mid summer.
    [disclosure: knowing a couple other languages has helped alot in coming up with mnemonics and not getting frustrated easily]
  9. puny_god Member

    English - US
    Hi dctejano. Do you need the Henshall book in order to use the Henshall app or can i just get the app itself? Thank you in advance!

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