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youlovetonyt
April 17th, 2009, 11:47
Hey everybody!!

So I always wanted to visit Japan since high school. Now that I have a job and some money saved up, I decided to start planning a trip. My goal was to visit in the summer of 2010 and to spend the year in between learning some conversational Japanese so I could travel comfortably and not rely on tour guides and what not.

Anyway, I was talking to a friend about this plan and they told me about JET. After doing some research, I decided that it was something I REALLY wanted to do. So now, I stepped up my goals, and want to learn more than just conversational Japanese. As of now, I have the Rosetta Stone software, the Pimsleur audio books, and the Japanese for Busy People I book (and workbook) (romanized version).

Now this is an overwhelming amount of material to deal with. What do you think should be my first step? I'd prefer to teach myself as much as I can before I spend money on a class. Do I start with memorizing Hiragana + Katakana? Like, I have no clue how to even start.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank in advance and I look forward to becoming a part of this online community.

AliDimayev
April 17th, 2009, 14:58
I learnt Hiragana and Katakana on me own. I bought a book. I just started writing away. I also foudn sources online so I could listen to the native pronunciations. I then, as I memorized the kana, would learn vocabulary with which to practice my kana.

UPGRAYEDD
April 17th, 2009, 15:17
Here is my advice.

- Dump the rosetta stone. It's pretty much useless.
- Get started by listening to the pimsleur tapes. If you have an ipod check out the podcasts at Japanesepod101.com too. These are good resources to get an idea on how to pronounce Japanese. Also see if you can find a tutor to get the basics of the pronounciation down.
- At the same time get a simple workbook for Hiragana and Katakana. I used Lets learn Hirigana and Lets learn Katakana.
- Buy Genki 1. Don't learn Japanese with romanji. Get the workbook, answerbook, and CDs. They are worth the price.

Once you do that just keep plowing through Genki 1 and listening to pimsleur or Japanesepod101. Try to find a tutor.

dombay
April 17th, 2009, 15:21
I agree with Genki. Genki is the best beginners Japanese material I've ever seen.

But I think you can learn with JFBP if you've already bought the book. The romanised version would not be my recommendation but I would suggest that you do learn Katakana and Hiragana. What you might do is write the hiragana/katakana over the romanised text to help you learn it. Just have a couple of charts next to when you study.

Good luck at any rate. Japanese is really really fucking hard. I've studied 5 languages in my time and Japanese is far and away the hardest. But it's good and rewarding too I think.

AliDimayev
April 17th, 2009, 15:22
You must have never studied Russian or Hungarian.

one thing to be thankful about Japanese. No irregular verbs. or only two of :em.

Also, many of the sounds exist in English ( of course not exactly as in English) but you dont have to learn all sorts of crazy new sounds like you would in Chinese or Arabic and such. Or The unaspirated P of thai.

JackAttack
April 17th, 2009, 18:12
- Buy Genki 1. Don't learn Japanese with romanji. Get the workbook, answerbook, and CDs. They are worth the price.

Yes yes this.... Start with hiragana at least and avoid using romaji. Once you're comfortable with the hiragana and know it like the back of your hand, start with the katakana.

And yeah, try to find a tutor or friend to encourage you to study. It can be hard keeping it up on your own!

youlovetonyt
April 17th, 2009, 23:07
I plan on taking a class/getting a tutor once i get the ball rolling by myself. Im trying to avoid spending money since im broke as a joke right now.

i printed out some hiragana flash cards last night and was gonna go that route to start memorizing them. will pick up one of those workbooks this weekend.

but yea, real mad i bought the romanized version of those books. damn half.com

thanks for all the advice guys! :)

youlovetonyt
April 18th, 2009, 00:06
also, how does everyone feel about the "my japanese coach" for the nintendo ds? LOL

I havent had time to get past the numbers but it seems pretty useful

vdog
April 18th, 2009, 01:54
- Dump the rosetta stone. It's pretty much useless.


I've heard this too



- Get started by listening to the pimsleur tapes.From the same person (my prof.) I've also heard that these are bad. Even though they are good for hearing the accent and learning how to say words, some of the phrases are not natural sounding. (ex. okage sama de, genki desu)



You must have never studied Russian or Hungarian.

True that, Hungarian is pretty freaking hard.

@OP If you have a grammar fetish (or a need to know that everything has been explained to the fullest extent possible) then get Japanese the Spoken Language.

youlovetonyt
April 18th, 2009, 03:10
aklfjsk this is all so overwhelming LOL

I just need a good start up strategy. Like, how did you guys get started? like could anyone describe their first month of studies?

Johonasen
April 18th, 2009, 05:30
thanks for the advice as I have to start trying to learn in a month as well

mattyjaddy
April 18th, 2009, 08:15
youlovetonyt - I have to apologize I got a bit carried away with this response. Learning a language is indeed very overwhelming. In general, I don't suggest studying on one's own. It can be very difficult to maintain motivation in the face of all that you don't know. But it is possible to be successful studying on your own.

Just try to make a plan and stick with it. How do you make a plan if you don't know anything about Japanese? It would be good to read up on what makes up Japanese--even things like a wikipedia article or about.com would be helpful. This will help you get a perspective on what all is entailed in the Japanese language. It might also be good to read up on how others have studied Japanese on their own--for both ideas and inspiration. And finally, knowing a bit about language acquisition can help the self-learner, perhaps more than a classroom learner who puts the responsibility of knowing about that on the teacher.

Here's a general rundown of some important things to know about language acquisition:

Someone's first language is acquired over a long period of time simply through exposure--they hear it a lot in normal situations and then they can speak.

After around the age of 13 (or around puberty), people can no longer just hear a language in context and pick it up.

All written languages are secondary to the spoken language they represent. All are manmade inventions that must be taught explicitly.

Languages consist of rules describing how sounds, tones, words, and sentences get put together. These rules do not actually exist but are imperfect descriptions made by linguists and grammarians to explain how languages work. Some describe what people do (linguists in general) and some describe what people ought to do (grammarians in general).

Textbooks try to get students to memorize these rules so that they can later use them when speaking and writing. There are literally 1000s and 1000s of rules. Good luck memorizing them. In addition, I believe, as some linguists have hypothesized, that knowing rules creates a monitor in your brain. Everytime you want to speak, you not only have to come up with the idea you want to say, as you normally would, but you must use your monitor to check how you are forming your statement. This takes time, time that usually doesn't exist in a normal conversation. Some people believe that eventually the monitor goes away as rules are internalized, but this has not been proven. There are other issues--almost all rules have exceptions, rules try to be logical but language is not a logical system, the brain is fallible and is likely to forget, misunderstand, and/or misuse the rules.

There's another way--though, as I said above, you can't just listen to language and pick it up after puberty, you can make use of that ability in conjunction with the now developed analytical part of your brain in an effort to more or less pick up a new language. Try to focus your studies of grammar on meaning. Many people focus too much effort on correct form. Form is fine but only if it's connected to meaning. Perhaps you took high school French or Spanish--you probably recall conjugation. Too many students know how to conjugation (form) but don't know how to actually use a verb in context (meaning). It's because they practice conjugation outside of context and never just listen to or read the verbs in normal sentences. It's by reading and listening to language in context (radio, movies, TV, native speakers, etc.) that one's brain is able to process how the language works. What's funny is doing it this way means you can actually drop the time spent memorizing forms because your brain eventually just picks those up, too.

This may sound like I'm contradicting what I said above. After 13, you can't just pick up a language. You can't. But if you give your brain a heads-up of what to be looking for (satisfy the analytical side), you can. So if you tell your brain (ie. read about it in a grammar book) that Japanese verbs have a -te form and the -te form is different depending on the syllable it ends with, then your brain can be on the look out for -te forms when you are reading and listening to Japanese. If you read that Japanese is backwards from English with Object of a sentence first and the verb last, then your brain will be ready for it. But what I've described is still somewhat focused on form alone. You need to also read about what the -te form means/functions as. You need to also not just think "object then verb" but put it in terms of meaning '''hit ball' in English probably gets switched to 'ball hit' in Japanese. That's funny sounding." Etc.

I agree that you should start with hiragana and katakana. They are very useful and a relatively easy first step to take. They also are very concrete and so you can congratulate yourself upon finishing them.

But that will be about the last thing you can congratulate yourself on. If you have one, you should get rid of the idea that language is something you can finish learning. It's not. There will always be things you don't know. And there is no hope of you learning everything there is to know. Even kanji, though there are the most common 2000 or so, there are another 1000 or so that you can see fairly often and another 1000 sometimes and another several thousand rarely. You should start framing your progress in terms of abilities--I can read a page of hiragana in X time. (fluency at reading) I can watch a Japanese drama and catch 10 words. (listening) And eventually, I can call and make a reservation in Japanese. I can pleasurably watch a movie without subtitles. I can give a presentation without reading it. Etc.

I also suggest creating a Japanese rich world. Start listening to Japanese music. Start watching Japanese TV, movies, youtube, etc. Make some Japanese friends. Get some Japanese reading material (in hiragana/katakana at first).

Start researching about how others have studied Japanese--there are tons of free materials out there. It's hard to know what you really have to pay for unless you start doing some research. There are free dictionaries--online and downloadable, kanji reading tools, kanji to kana website converters, flashcards, exercises, grammar websites, online flashcard systems, podcasts, etc. etc. etc.

Though it is a shame, I would sell or give away your romanized text and get a kana version. I also do not recommend the busy people series. Though I didn't use a text other than the one provided when you join JET, I've heard that Minna no Nihongo is very good. It's all in Japanese so it can be overwhelming though. But I think you can use it once you know kana. Check it out yourself.

You should save up an invest in a good dictionary. I think an electronic dictionary is the way to go. If you've got an iPhone or iTouch, you can get a dictionary on it. Nintendo DS also has a dictionary that is fairly useful. I used it for several months before I started feeling some limitations and went to a separate electronic dictionary. Try to get one with a writing pad. Extremely useful when you start getting into kanji. If you're broke, start saving for it.

Speaking of which... Once you get done patting yourself on the back for learning the kana. You will be then faced with kanji. You need to decide, are you going just dabble in Japanese, do you want to just be a good speaker of Japanese, are you going to spend 5 years or more learning it to functional literacy, or do you want to learn the full language as fast as possible? For the first one, just do the textbooks at a leisurely pace and don't really push the kanji. If you fit number 2, then focus on listening and speaking and forget kanji. If 3, use textbooks, but push yourself hard. 4. Use the book called "Remembering the Kanji" by Heisig to help you memorize kanji as fast as possible.

I went with the last route and then focused on making myself read Japanese as much as possible. I know reading is the most powerful language teacher. So I wanted to learn to read as soon as possible. To do it I needed kanji, so I learned them up front. Others are successful using options 1, 2 and 3. But everyone has different goals, timelines, understandings of language, etc. Decide for yourself what's best for you. If you do want to know about Heisig, you might check out http://kanji.koohii.com/ or http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/blog/all-japanese-all-the-time-ajatt-how-to-learn-japanese-on-your-own-having-fun-and-to-fluency .

Keep in mind. It's going to take a long time to learn Japanese. At least a year to be conversational or somewhat close. For many it takes longer. It's a matter of time and commitment. Those probably matter more than which course of study you choose. Put lots of time into it and stay committed. And 30 minutes a day doesn't cut it if you want to be functional in a year.

I used Pimsleur for a while. I think I made it through about 20 lessons. I'm sure it helped me in some way, but there's a lot of stupid Japanese on there that I don't think I've ever heard in real conversations. And I've heard mixed things about Rosetta Stone. But to be honest, I feel I've used a lot of crappy or so-so study materials and I feel pretty good about how much progress I've made. I think it's really how much you put yourself into learning. I'm certain that there aren't any study materials that will give no benefits if you put effort into using them.

Sorry. I'm too longwinded for my own good. I need to get some breakfast now.

Good luck with your studies. がんばって ください。

AliDimayev
April 18th, 2009, 09:26
youlovetonyt - I have to apologize I got a bit carried away with this response. Learning a language is indeed very overwhelming. In general, I don't suggest studying on one's own. It can be very difficult to maintain motivation in the face of all that you don't know. But it is possible to be successful studying on your own.

Just try to make a plan and stick with it. How do you make a plan if you don't know anything about Japanese? It would be good to read up on what makes up Japanese--even things like a wikipedia article or about.com would be helpful. This will help you get a perspective on what all is entailed in the Japanese language. It might also be good to read up on how others have studied Japanese on their own--for both ideas and inspiration. And finally, knowing a bit about language acquisition can help the self-learner, perhaps more than a classroom learner who puts the responsibility of knowing about that on the teacher.

Here's a general rundown of some important things to know about language acquisition:

Someone's first language is acquired over a long period of time simply through exposure--they hear it a lot in normal situations and then they can speak.

After around the age of 13 (or around puberty), people can no longer just hear a language in context and pick it up.

All written languages are secondary to the spoken language they represent. All are manmade inventions that must be taught explicitly.

Languages consist of rules describing how sounds, tones, words, and sentences get put together. These rules do not actually exist but are imperfect descriptions made by linguists and grammarians to explain how languages work. Some describe what people do (linguists in general) and some describe what people ought to do (grammarians in general).

Textbooks try to get students to memorize these rules so that they can later use them when speaking and writing. There are literally 1000s and 1000s of rules. Good luck memorizing them. In addition, I believe, as some linguists have hypothesized, that knowing rules creates a monitor in your brain. Everytime you want to speak, you not only have to come up with the idea you want to say, as you normally would, but you must use your monitor to check how you are forming your statement. This takes time, time that usually doesn't exist in a normal conversation. Some people believe that eventually the monitor goes away as rules are internalized, but this has not been proven. There are other issues--almost all rules have exceptions, rules try to be logical but language is not a logical system, the brain is fallible and is likely to forget, misunderstand, and/or misuse the rules.

There's another way--though, as I said above, you can't just listen to language and pick it up after puberty, you can make use of that ability in conjunction with the now developed analytical part of your brain in an effort to more or less pick up a new language. Try to focus your studies of grammar on meaning. Many people focus too much effort on correct form. Form is fine but only if it's connected to meaning. Perhaps you took high school French or Spanish--you probably recall conjugation. Too many students know how to conjugation (form) but don't know how to actually use a verb in context (meaning). It's because they practice conjugation outside of context and never just listen to or read the verbs in normal sentences. It's by reading and listening to language in context (radio, movies, TV, native speakers, etc.) that one's brain is able to process how the language works. What's funny is doing it this way means you can actually drop the time spent memorizing forms because your brain eventually just picks those up, too.

This may sound like I'm contradicting what I said above. After 13, you can't just pick up a language. You can't. But if you give your brain a heads-up of what to be looking for (satisfy the analytical side), you can. So if you tell your brain (ie. read about it in a grammar book) that Japanese verbs have a -te form and the -te form is different depending on the syllable it ends with, then your brain can be on the look out for -te forms when you are reading and listening to Japanese. If you read that Japanese is backwards from English with Object of a sentence first and the verb last, then your brain will be ready for it. But what I've described is still somewhat focused on form alone. You need to also read about what the -te form means/functions as. You need to also not just think "object then verb" but put it in terms of meaning '''hit ball' in English probably gets switched to 'ball hit' in Japanese. That's funny sounding." Etc.

I agree that you should start with hiragana and katakana. They are very useful and a relatively easy first step to take. They also are very concrete and so you can congratulate yourself upon finishing them.

But that will be about the last thing you can congratulate yourself on. If you have one, you should get rid of the idea that language is something you can finish learning. It's not. There will always be things you don't know. And there is no hope of you learning everything there is to know. Even kanji, though there are the most common 2000 or so, there are another 1000 or so that you can see fairly often and another 1000 sometimes and another several thousand rarely. You should start framing your progress in terms of abilities--I can read a page of hiragana in X time. (fluency at reading) I can watch a Japanese drama and catch 10 words. (listening) And eventually, I can call and make a reservation in Japanese. I can pleasurably watch a movie without subtitles. I can give a presentation without reading it. Etc.

I also suggest creating a Japanese rich world. Start listening to Japanese music. Start watching Japanese TV, movies, youtube, etc. Make some Japanese friends. Get some Japanese reading material (in hiragana/katakana at first).

Start researching about how others have studied Japanese--there are tons of free materials out there. It's hard to know what you really have to pay for unless you start doing some research. There are free dictionaries--online and downloadable, kanji reading tools, kanji to kana website converters, flashcards, exercises, grammar websites, online flashcard systems, podcasts, etc. etc. etc.

Though it is a shame, I would sell or give away your romanized text and get a kana version. I also do not recommend the busy people series. Though I didn't use a text other than the one provided when you join JET, I've heard that Minna no Nihongo is very good. It's all in Japanese so it can be overwhelming though. But I think you can use it once you know kana. Check it out yourself.

You should save up an invest in a good dictionary. I think an electronic dictionary is the way to go. If you've got an iPhone or iTouch, you can get a dictionary on it. Nintendo DS also has a dictionary that is fairly useful. I used it for several months before I started feeling some limitations and went to a separate electronic dictionary. Try to get one with a writing pad. Extremely useful when you start getting into kanji. If you're broke, start saving for it.

Speaking of which... Once you get done patting yourself on the back for learning the kana. You will be then faced with kanji. You need to decide, are you going just dabble in Japanese, do you want to just be a good speaker of Japanese, are you going to spend 5 years or more learning it to functional literacy, or do you want to learn the full language as fast as possible? For the first one, just do the textbooks at a leisurely pace and don't really push the kanji. If you fit number 2, then focus on listening and speaking and forget kanji. If 3, use textbooks, but push yourself hard. 4. Use the book called "Remembering the Kanji" by Heisig to help you memorize kanji as fast as possible.

I went with the last route and then focused on making myself read Japanese as much as possible. I know reading is the most powerful language teacher. So I wanted to learn to read as soon as possible. To do it I needed kanji, so I learned them up front. Others are successful using options 1, 2 and 3. But everyone has different goals, timelines, understandings of language, etc. Decide for yourself what's best for you. If you do want to know about Heisig, you might check out http://kanji.koohii.com/ or http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/blog/all-japanese-all-the-time-ajatt-how-to-learn-japanese-on-your-own-having-fun-and-to-fluency .

Keep in mind. It's going to take a long time to learn Japanese. At least a year to be conversational or somewhat close. For many it takes longer. It's a matter of time and commitment. Those probably matter more than which course of study you choose. Put lots of time into it and stay committed. And 30 minutes a day doesn't cut it if you want to be functional in a year.

I used Pimsleur for a while. I think I made it through about 20 lessons. I'm sure it helped me in some way, but there's a lot of stupid Japanese on there that I don't think I've ever heard in real conversations. And I've heard mixed things about Rosetta Stone. But to be honest, I feel I've used a lot of crappy or so-so study materials and I feel pretty good about how much progress I've made. I think it's really how much you put yourself into learning. I'm certain that there aren't any study materials that will give no benefits if you put effort into using them.

Sorry. I'm too longwinded for my own good. I need to get some breakfast now.

Good luck with your studies. がんばって ください。
They don't use spaces in japanese.

violetessence
April 18th, 2009, 12:14
I would say, don't worry too much about what study materials you use, what philosophy of learning you subscribe to, etc... just do *something.* Listen to Japanese, read Japanese, use Japanese. Anything should help you.

Romaji is really a crutch, though, so just learn the hiragana and katakana. It only takes a week or two if you put a little effort in.

Then, listen to some Japanese to get the accent down. Your audio tapes should be fine, or you can watch some tv show, or even some J-pop music could help.

After that, use whatever materials you have available to learn some vocabulary. I like http://smart.fm for vocabulary building.

Then, learn to make sentences with the vocabulary. You should be able to learn grammar from a wide variety of textbooks and grammar dictionaries - it's your choice, really, just pick one.

Of course kanji is a killer, but I wouldn't worry about that quite yet. I'm working on Remembering the Kanji (can't give an opinion on this yet), but I'd say you should get some very basic Japanese under your belt first before considering how many kanji you feel you need to learn. When you're more advanced and know some basic kanji, you can read comics or play Japanese video games for practice.

Above all, do whatever works for you!

mattyjaddy
April 18th, 2009, 23:29
I agree with violetessence. If it wasn't clear enough in all the mess I wrote above: Just do something. Start somewhere. Getting going is one of the hardest steps. Realize it's going to take a long time and it all comes about from taking small steps. Then start taking those steps.

AliDimayev-- Thanks for your point. I'll take it into consideration.

Wakatta
April 19th, 2009, 00:40
Yeah, listening to lots of Japanese is a good idea. I'm trying to do more of that myself. Whether it's true or not, I tell myself that I can absorb language just as well now as I could as a kid: I think it's important to set up high expectations and have a certain optimism. I remember learning to read English in part by listening to stories read to me and trying to read along, then reading to myself individually when my parents weren't around to read them. I try to do much the same thing with Japanese, and combine this basic, less-mediated sort of approach (understanding Japanese as Japanese, not some weird translation exercise) with the extra speed that I think adults who've already learned a language or two can apply: really, I think, we ought to set our standards -higher- than we'd place on a kid. Even if they have some extra natural talent, we're a lot more disciplined and systematic than they are. Great example: kanji memorization.

When I was first learning Japanese, I watched a bunch of movies and stuff. I couldn't understand hardly anything, but just listening to their intonation and such was very helpful, I think.

nHx
April 20th, 2009, 08:45
One of my friends swears by this: http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/

Dunno, haven't tried it myself. Besides everyone's great advice, I would say just keep at it.

Once you get to the point where you can understand the basics, start a little blog on www.lang-8.com and the people there will correct it and provide you with some great feedback. I've used it for many compositions I had to write.

http://iknow.co.jp is another good free site.

Neb
April 20th, 2009, 17:50
I dunno why you guys ragging on Rosetta Stone, I tried it (albeit only the beginning) and i gotta say, it's great for basics and vocabulary... it teaches you vocab like phone, tv, to drink, to eat, to cook, different ways to refer to people.. other stuff... I don't know if you guys tried it or as you said "heard" that it was bad, but I assure you, it probably is not all that bad.

youlovetonyt
April 21st, 2009, 03:52
How does this study schedule sound?

8-9a and 5-6p, M-F, cultural studies (these are the times i am commuting to work on the bus).

Monday - 730-830p Read a lesson from Japanese For Busy People
Tuesday - 730-830p Finish Workbook Section for Japanese For Busy People
Wednesday - 730-830p Work on Hiragana/Katakana Workbook
Thursday - 730-830p Review/read Japanese in Mangaland
Friday - 730-830p Pimsleur/Rosetta Stone lesson

wicket
April 21st, 2009, 04:11
i'd suggest working more on listening/speaking skills - 3 days a week; and 2 days on reading/writing to begin with.

but really, as others have said, anything is better than nothing; and you'll soon find your way of doing it. keeping the discipline to do that hour a day will make a lot of difference.
BTW - Friday night? Rooly? Coz when I was your age I would've been going out (or staying in) for drinkies!

youlovetonyt
April 21st, 2009, 04:14
hahaha yea friday and sunday will probably be interchanged.

Hopefully I can learn enough of the language over the summer to be considered for the program in october though.

Neb
April 21st, 2009, 10:49
Rosetta Stone has listening/speaking sections (you need a mic to use Rosetta stone), and I'd say you'd need to allocate more than 1 hour to finish a chapter...maybe not at the beginning, but things start to get harder real quick...There's 4 chapters per unit, and 4 units per lesson, and 3 lessons total...

勝海殿
May 16th, 2009, 16:41
youlovetonyt - I have to apologize I got a bit carried away with this response. Learning a language is indeed very overwhelming. In general, I don't suggest studying on one's own. It can be very difficult to maintain motivation in the face of all that you don't know. But it is possible to be successful studying on your own.

Actually, as a self "study" learner of Japanese (if you want to call it that), I have to say that in comparison to classes, unless they follow what's sometimes referred to as "The Natural Way" also, "The Silent Way", self-study prevails almost effortlessly.

The problem with any kind of school class on any language is that there's too much focus on production, getting their students to speak without giving them enough to listen to so to base their pronunciation, intonation, and rhythm on. If that's not enough, then how about all that grammar study? (A bit more on this later). Learning grammar isn't going to help unless you experience it many many times. Because, we as learners, don't actually choose when we acquire such patterns. Language acquisition is entirely different from language learning, as said by the professional linguist Steven Krashen.

Schools also dictate your goals and force you to be flexible to the rest of the class. If you have private lessons, if the teacher is still trying to teach you grammar and words through translation, perhaps you can prompt him/her to start teaching you in a natural way so that you may have meaningful experiences that build up mental images in your head that dictate that "feel" that native speakers use when they use their language.



Just try to make a plan and stick with it. How do you make a plan if you don't know anything about Japanese? It would be good to read up on what makes up Japanese--even things like a wikipedia article or about.com would be helpful. This will help you get a perspective on what all is entailed in the Japanese language. It might also be good to read up on how others have studied Japanese on their own--for both ideas and inspiration. And finally, knowing a bit about language acquisition can help the self-learner, perhaps more than a classroom learner who puts the responsibility of knowing about that on the teacher.

So which is it? Study on your own, or not? I think maybe you have some mixed feelings about this?

As for knowing a bit about language acquisition, I can attest to that. More on this later.

And, as for having a plan, I suggest having a plan, but don't be afraid to adjust it as time goes on. A great example of this would be, let's say, your plan is to study grammar for an hour, study Kanji for an hour, learn 10-20 new words, and review old material on top of that. Amounting to somewhere around, 4 hours of study collectively. Then, maybe you have flash cards that you do in the elavator or on the bus or something. With all this in mind, what happens when it's Friday and your friends want to take you to the newest film? Or, what if you have a particularly busy day? What I'm getting at is that, you need a flexible plan, and you yourself need to be flexible and open minded and actually begin to involve Japanese in everything you do if you hope to become proficient at it.



Here's a general rundown of some important things to know about language acquisition:

Someone's first language is acquired over a long period of time simply through exposure--they hear it a lot in normal situations and then they can speak.

After around the age of 13 (or around puberty), people can no longer just hear a language in context and pick it up.

I must respectfully disagree entirely here. You can acquire a language just like a child can, and in fact, it won't take you nearly as much time as the child takes. And, I'd even go as far as to say that, this is possibly the best way to acquire a language. If you know that you have a lot of free time on your hands, then I would suggest that you take an intensive immersion approach. What I mean by this is that your goal would essentially be that you would want as much time every day involving something in Japanese. So, if you've got homework (if you're in school) then listen to Japanese music, or have a Japanese movie playing in the background, or something to that effect.

To expand on this idea of immersion, and acquiring a language like that of a child, consider this: What does a child do? -- To answer this question, it doesn't take much thought. The child, looks, listens, observes things and just guesses about what's going on around him or her. That's it. The child is not concerned with being absolutely correct in their understanding of a language at first, but it seems to come out quite flawlessly. Nothing that can't be rectified unless the child is disabled quite seriously.

However, there's much disbelief in that these methods work. But, I'd like to reference that ALG World (http://algworld.com) has been doing this for 20 years now with success in helping people of all ages acquire Thai, and I believe Japanese and Chinese as well. And, what's more is that there's this 29 year-old man, who acquired Hebrew simply by being exposed to the language at his work place. (Read about his story here: http://www.sdkrashen.com/articles/what_does_it_take/index.html)

This also reminds me of what's called the "Critical Period Hypothesis", which if I remember correctly, states that you basically are unable to achieve native-like results in a language after a certain age. I'm not a linguistics doctor by any means, but I feel I do have some right to disprove this idea, if only as an opinion based on experience. I, myself, am acquiring Japanese, and I'm doing rather well for the amount of time I've spent. But, we're not here to talk about me.



All written languages are secondary to the spoken language they represent. All are manmade inventions that must be taught explicitly.


The writing system of any language is indeed secondary, but that's not be confused with it being "less important." Learning to read is a fundamental skill that, with many people is representational of your intelligence. Not that you should care what other's think of your intelligence, but, it is a very real issue that causes a lot of discomfort. So, literacy in your language of choice should be at the top of your list if you're planning on living in Japan for any extended period of time (which I feel is less than a year's time there). So, if you're learning Japanese, then you'll want to know Kanji (after you learn them, they actually act as an exellent aid in reading where you experience this phenomenon where, you know what a word means, but don't know how it is read phonetically. This is somewhat possible in English, too. Perhaps you keep seeing the term anesthesiologist in a medical book, and you have an idea of what it is because you keep seeing in context as someone who handles anesthetics. But, you aren't sure of how it's pronounced exactly because you've only ever read this word, and never have heard it.



Languages consist of rules describing how sounds, tones, words, and sentences get put together. These rules do not actually exist but are imperfect descriptions made by linguists and grammarians to explain how languages work. Some describe what people do (linguists in general) and some describe what people ought to do (grammarians in general).

So, with this in mind, an imperfect description of rules that do not actually exist, why would you want this? Well, the only thing I can think of that would make a grammar study worth while is if you wanted to improve what's called The Monitor (from The Monitor Hypothesis by Steven Krashen). What this does for you is helps you mend your sentences, say, while writing an essay. This is probably the only practical application of grammar. The Monitor is in place so that you can make corrections. Sometimes it is used before something is said, and sometimes afterwards to correct oneself. But, acquiring a language doesn't require grammar study. And, it is the core agent in becoming proficient in a language. Acquiring it gives you that native-like feel that guides their use of the language. And, how is the language in question acquired? It is acquired through meaningful input. So that I clearly define what I mean by this, I'll explain. Meaningful input, simply put, can be described as happenings that influence you in a meaningful way. So, for the language acquirer, you have this thing where, you keep hearing a word repetatively in different situations that all share some common grounds. One example of this for me, is the word 「無理」 in Japanese. I've heard this word used so many times, and in so many contexts that it is simply something I understand without having ever looked a translation or asked for a description. To satisfy my curiosity of this word, I looked it up in a monolingual dictionary only to find that I didn't understand the definition entry, but became even more familiar with this word based on some of the example sentences. So, my understanding of this word is like that of a Japanese child's I know it as 「無理」, not some word that I associate to another word in a different language. To me, this word belongs to me more so than those that I learned in translation in my beginning stages when I didn't understand the underlying linguistic theories, much less was aware of them.



Textbooks try to get students to memorize these rules so that they can later use them when speaking and writing. There are literally 1000s and 1000s of rules. Good luck memorizing them. In addition, I believe, as some linguists have hypothesized, that knowing rules creates a monitor in your brain. Everytime you want to speak, you not only have to come up with the idea you want to say, as you normally would, but you must use your monitor to check how you are forming your statement. This takes time, time that usually doesn't exist in a normal conversation. Some people believe that eventually the monitor goes away as rules are internalized, but this has not been proven. There are other issues--almost all rules have exceptions, rules try to be logical but language is not a logical system, the brain is fallible and is likely to forget, misunderstand, and/or misuse the rules.

The monitor doesn't actually disappear so much that it's only used when one focuses on form. Typically this is, again, in writing or in performing a speech.

The reason the brain forgets, misunderstands, or misuses these rules is because it hasn't experienced the overseeing patterns that the rules fail to describe. The brain needs to see lots of correct examples of the rules before it can even begin to grasp the rule. And, I should mention that acquisition of a language is a subconscious process. And the subconscious mind uses a different kind of processing that can't be influenced by conscious study of rules. A fine example of this is that, I know in Japanese that the particle 「に」 is used for many things and can take on such meanings as "at","in","and", among others. I know this because of seeing it used many times, as opposed to reading about it and trying to consciously memorize its uses, because even after doing that, I'd still be unable to use it correctly in a sentence.



There's another way--though, as I said above, you can't just listen to language and pick it up after puberty, you can make use of that ability in conjunction with the now developed analytical part of your brain in an effort to more or less pick up a new language. Try to focus your studies of grammar on meaning. Many people focus too much effort on correct form. Form is fine but only if it's connected to meaning. Perhaps you took high school French or Spanish--you probably recall conjugation. Too many students know how to conjugation (form) but don't know how to actually use a verb in context (meaning). It's because they practice conjugation outside of context and never just listen to or read the verbs in normal sentences. It's by reading and listening to language in context (radio, movies, TV, native speakers, etc.) that one's brain is able to process how the language works. What's funny is doing it this way means you can actually drop the time spent memorizing forms because your brain eventually just picks those up, too.

This may sound like I'm contradicting what I said above. After 13, you can't just pick up a language. You can't. But if you give your brain a heads-up of what to be looking for (satisfy the analytical side), you can. So if you tell your brain (ie. read about it in a grammar book) that Japanese verbs have a -te form and the -te form is different depending on the syllable it ends with, then your brain can be on the look out for -te forms when you are reading and listening to Japanese. If you read that Japanese is backwards from English with Object of a sentence first and the verb last, then your brain will be ready for it. But what I've described is still somewhat focused on form alone. You need to also read about what the -te form means/functions as. You need to also not just think "object then verb" but put it in terms of meaning '''hit ball' in English probably gets switched to 'ball hit' in Japanese. That's funny sounding." Etc.

I must again, disagree. Everyone is indeed able to "pick up" a language. You are indeed contradicting yourself, perhaps out of misunderstanding. If it were impossible to "pick up"/acquire a language after the age of 13, then consider this example. If that's the case, then, I shouldn't actually know what the phrase 「何やってんだよ!?」 means in Japanese. I've never analyzed this phrase, and I've only heard it until recently seeing it written in a comic book. (And, to be clear, I definitely know what it means). But, I understand this in the same way that I understand 「無理」 (the word I brought up before). Another example is the word 「怪獣」. My first encounter of this word was in a Japanese cartoon where an elder brother called his little sister this because she was being noisy early in the morning. To that, the little girl exclaimed 「さくら 怪獣じゃないもん!」 I didn't know what this word 「怪獣」 meant. But later on in the show it came up in a different context where the little girl used to word in reference to a giant dragon-like creature. Based on what the other context I heard this in, it made sense. I laughed. And, who knows, perhaps my understanding of this word is indeed inaccurate, but I know at least these two contexts of the word, and as I encounter it many more times in the future, the meaning will become clearer and clearer. This is probably not the best explanation of how words are acquired, but could be sufficient. Likewise, grammar patterns are acquired similarly. A fine example of this are words like 「言う」. Simply, this word roughly means "to say" in the sense 「冗談を言う」. But, it can take on a more abstract meaning when use like this: 「静かな声でもう死にますと言う」. Other uses of this word make this word so abstract that, for one to memorize their meanings individually would only cause problems, and is best simply acquired in the same way that a child learns it.



I agree that you should start with hiragana and katakana. They are very useful and a relatively easy first step to take. They also are very concrete and so you can congratulate yourself upon finishing them.

If you're going to approach Japanese by learning the writing system first, then please, start with Kanji. James W. Heisig devised a spectacular book for the task of learning up to 3007 Kanji for Japanese (2042 in the first book Remembering the Kanji, and an additional 965 characters in the third book. The second book, and second half of the third book deals with how to read these character phonetically). This is sufficient for reading even at an advanced level. Not that, you'll be able to understand all of the intracacies simply by learning the character's meaning and writing, and possibly their readings (if you want to use the part of the system designed for guiding you through learning the readings, which can be handled in a much easier fashion). But, you will have given yourself a huge jump start on your Japanese. Afterwhich, you'll find that learning the Kana (also treated by one of Heisig's books, Remembering the Kana), will be a walk in the park.



But that will be about the last thing you can congratulate yourself on. If you have one, you should get rid of the idea that language is something you can finish learning. It's not. There will always be things you don't know. And there is no hope of you learning everything there is to know. Even kanji, though there are the most common 2000 or so, there are another 1000 or so that you can see fairly often and another 1000 sometimes and another several thousand rarely. You should start framing your progress in terms of abilities--I can read a page of hiragana in X time. (fluency at reading) I can watch a Japanese drama and catch 10 words. (listening) And eventually, I can call and make a reservation in Japanese. I can pleasurably watch a movie without subtitles. I can give a presentation without reading it. Etc.

Sorry, to single you out mattyjaddy, but I again, need to disagree with this. You shouldn't only congratulate yourself on learning the Kana. What good is there in that? Sounds to me like a very sad and miserable journey to me. You need to congratulate yourself every step of the way. Learned one new kana and remembered it the next day? Congratulate yourself. Learned one new Kanji? Congratulate yourself. Learned a new word just by hearing it used in a TV show you're so engrossed in that you neglect the shower? Congratulate yourself, and then go take a hot bath.

Remember, when you start something new, you're a baby again. For me, I'm only eight months old. I shouldn't be concerned with what partical physics is in Japanese, because, I don't even know what math is yet. Take it one step at a time, and be happy for each little step you make. It seems small, but, just like a child is born from the combination of two cells, and grows into the sophisticated biological being that it is, each new word, character, and moment you spend with Japanese, the closer you become to the overall goal of native-level fluency.



I also suggest creating a Japanese rich world. Start listening to Japanese music. Start watching Japanese TV, movies, youtube, etc. Make some Japanese friends. Get some Japanese reading material (in hiragana/katakana at first).

Excellent suggestion aside from limiting yourself to kana only materials for reading. Take it all! If you took the initiative to learn the meaning of the 2,000 odd Kanji in Heisig's first book and the Hiragana and Katakana thereafter, then go pick up the latest and greatest comic and just go with it. Read anything and everything that interests you and throw it away if it bores you. Don't worry about levels, because the more you do something you can't, the more you discover that you, indeed, can. Picasso once said, "Everyday I do things I can't do, so that I may learn how to do them." This way of thinking will serve you well in the journey of acquiring a language. With this in mind, we come to understand that you will come to understand the minute details of that movie you just watched in Japanese, by, well, watching it Japanese over and over again. You'll understand that drama series, by watching and listening, just like a kid. But, you have to put in the hours. This isn't an overnight thing, but certainly do be happy with every step forward you take.

More on this immersion deal. Surrounding yourself with Japanese is great advice. But it's something that needs to be an everyday, and every moment thing, as far as possible. For me, this means, waking up, and falling asleep to Japanese. Watching only Japanese TV shows, movies, and online videos. Reading only Japanese text. Doing your math homework, while thinking the formulas and numbers in Japanese (a great way to become proficient in the use of numbers by the way). Numbers are easy to learn also. Since Japanese does make use of arabic numerals like we do in English (1,2,3,... etc.) This also means covering my walls with posters with Japanese on them, there's even one with all the Kanji in Heisig's first book at http://kanjiposter.com -- When I order books on Amazon.co.jp, sometimes they send me catalog-like material with the books that I then hang up on my walls. Even if I don't understand it all yet, I know that someday, I'll walk over to one of the posters, glance at it and read the whole thing effortlessly without any direct effort because of all those commericals I watched on Japanese TV, or because of all the Japanese comics I digested in the past six months, or something along those lines.



Start researching about how others have studied Japanese--there are tons of free materials out there. It's hard to know what you really have to pay for unless you start doing some research. There are free dictionaries--online and downloadable, kanji reading tools, kanji to kana website converters, flashcards, exercises, grammar websites, online flashcard systems, podcasts, etc. etc. etc.

Other than maybe Heisig's books for learning the writing system, I think a good monolingual dictionary and tons of native media in your target language will suffice. By only taking from native sources, like movies, TV, and comics, you are only ever comparing yourself to a native speaker and not to another person (much like you would in a class). You'll be hearing native intonation, rhythm, pauses, and phrases. How can you possibly say something wrong after you've heard the correct way 10,000 times? That's what native sources do for you.



Though it is a shame, I would sell or give away your romanized text and get a kana version. I also do not recommend the busy people series. Though I didn't use a text other than the one provided when you join JET, I've heard that Minna no Nihongo is very good. It's all in Japanese so it can be overwhelming though. But I think you can use it once you know kana. Check it out yourself.

Beginner books are fine if that's your thing. They act as a stepping stone. But, on that, there's always http://guidetojapanese.org -- Which, if you really need to satisfy an urge to know something regarding Japanese grammar, I can't recommend anything better than this website. Not to mention it's free, and written in several languages. As well as having a community to back it up if you have questions. But, this is something I did not and do not utilize because I would rather read every issue of Dragonball in Japanese and just know how to say "Vegeta, what's the scouter say about his power level?" -- In Japanese.



You should save up an invest in a good dictionary. I think an electronic dictionary is the way to go. If you've got an iPhone or iTouch, you can get a dictionary on it. Nintendo DS also has a dictionary that is fairly useful. I used it for several months before I started feeling some limitations and went to a separate electronic dictionary. Try to get one with a writing pad. Extremely useful when you start getting into kanji. If you're broke, start saving for it.

If you're not satisfied with online dictionaries like http://sanseido.net or http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp then an electronic dictionary is fine. But, I should mention that, the content on the electronic dictionary is going to be identical to that of the online dictionary. So, the benefit is that you get some additional features on the electronic dictionary (like being able to search multiple dictionaries at once), but comes at a price (usually over $200). The thing is, with online dictionaries, you're going to be able to use them for free, and they are subject to updates that improve the dictionaries in question. (An example of this is that the Goo国語辞典 now includes accent information for high and low pitches used in Japanese, which are vital to sounding like a native. But, this is also remedied by listening to a lot of Japanese and trying to imitate as close as possible the way that news anchor says things, or that action hero says things).



Speaking of which... Once you get done patting yourself on the back for learning the kana. You will be then faced with kanji. You need to decide, are you going just dabble in Japanese, do you want to just be a good speaker of Japanese, are you going to spend 5 years or more learning it to functional literacy, or do you want to learn the full language as fast as possible? For the first one, just do the textbooks at a leisurely pace and don't really push the kanji. If you fit number 2, then focus on listening and speaking and forget kanji. If 3, use textbooks, but push yourself hard. 4. Use the book called "Remembering the Kanji" by Heisig to help you memorize kanji as fast as possible.

I'm nore sure why there's so much concern for wanting to learn everything as fast as possible. It does depend on your goals in the language, and if you're only going for a short visit, I understand if you just want to tackle the basics for survival (which is not to be confused with the idea that this is some short task that only takes a couple of weeks). But, if you're like me, and you're looking to improve not only your Japanese, but to improve your life, and gain cultural insights on the world that you never knew of before, then you won't accept anything less than native-level proficiency. And, it doesn't take as long as you might think. If you make an effort every day, it can take as little as a couple years to become impressively capable in Japanese (where you can read anything you like and understand it, watch anything you want, and understand it, etc.)

I'm sorry, mattyjaddy, for using you as my syllabus for this post, which, got to be a bit longer than I thought. But, either way, I got out most of what I wanted to share. I should mention that, I'm in no way qualified in the field of linguistics and/or foreign language acquisition. I speak from experience backed up by other people's research and experimentation.

And, as a final note, I'd say, you just can't go wrong if you get out there and explore and play in the target language. You're bound to learn if you do something each day. If you decide that you want to acquire Japanese and use it like a Japanese would, then I'd say, a cirriculum that has you watching a couple hundred hours of Japanese television shows each month wouldn't be a bad choice in terms of quality. Neither would reading 1,000 Japanese comic books over the next year. Just do whatever it was that drove you to learn Japanese in the first place. For me, this was comics, cartoons, and just generally being interested in Japanese culture and having the goal of living and working there when I was older. Nowadays it has become much more. And, you'll find that the more you explore, the more stuff you find that you like and thus, your ignorance of Japanese decreases and you become one step closer to fluency.

If I had known what I know today several years ago when my interest in Japanese had begun, I would have followed a method that can be best described as the Child's method. I would probably have given myself a foundation in the language by first watching several hundreds of hours of Japanese TV, movies, and cartoons that suited my interests. To put some numbers out there, I'd probably go with about 1-2,000 hours of just watching, listening, and guessing about what's going on. During this phase, I'm bound to become so comfortable with Japanese that I begin to speak Japanese quite naturally as a result of all the hours I put in. And, what's more is the accent, intonation, and pronunciation I have is going to be right on. Maybe not at first because there will be no speaking practice the whole time, but it will certainly happen. After I begin to speak naturally as a result of all the audio-visual input, I can begin to read in combination with what I was doing (TV, movies, etc.)

The strategy I'd use to learn to read, since this method implies that one doesn't use the base language at all would be something like, getting children's books with accompanying audio recording and simply listen and try to follow the text. Or, if I felt like it, I could try to find a video that shows the differeny kana and pronounces them. In this way, I'd likely practice writing the characters, and then begin to read them in comics and children's books.

From this point on, the comfort level I'll be enjoying with Japanese will increase quite drastically. And, as I read books that gradually introduce more and more Kanji, since I'll be coming from a point of understanding since I watched and listened so much, the meanings will just attach themselves to the characters in my reading. And at some point in this process, I'd practice writing the characters and reading about them in a dictionary or other related book, in Japanese.

After a couple of years of this process, I will have constructed an entirely new "native" language. I'll understand things like a native of Japan does. I'll use words just like them. And, chances are, since this is heavily based on media that you're pragmatics are going to quite sophisticated, but still very natual. And others aren't likely to be able to distinguish you from natives if they heard you speaking, or read something you wrote unless you explicitly said so.

Unfortunately, I don't know if this works as perfectly as it is in my mind. But, it seems to hold true with the research I've read up on (that being what I've read over at ALG World's website, and on Steven Krashen's work). So, there's one other element, and that is to simply believe that it can be done. It isn't some infinite thing, because not even natives know every word of every Kanji of every concept ever perceived by the Japanese language.

So, on that note. I'll finish this up.
Goodluck on your journey.

Avocado
May 16th, 2009, 20:18
A first post for the ages, but I'm putting money down on the odds that someone is going to take issue with you very soon, no offense.

I'm pretty sure, though, that it's best to start out with kana, simply so that you can learn pronunciation, and it makes reading things in kanji a lot easier. I don't mean that you take 6 months to get used to them before moving on, but you can become comfortable with them (reading and writing) in under a week, and then move onto kanji from there. I'm pretty sure that children don't immediately jump into kanji, if you know what I mean.

勝海殿
May 17th, 2009, 04:11
A first post for the ages, but I'm putting money down on the odds that someone is going to take issue with you very soon, no offense.

I'm pretty sure, though, that it's best to start out with kana, simply so that you can learn pronunciation, and it makes reading things in kanji a lot easier. I don't mean that you take 6 months to get used to them before moving on, but you can become comfortable with them (reading and writing) in under a week, and then move onto kanji from there. I'm pretty sure that children don't immediately jump into kanji, if you know what I mean.

I was referred to this thread from another website, and I didn't really check the dates on the posts. I figure, it's not harmful if I actually have something to add to the thread. And, if there's a problem with it, ban me if you must. I've said what I wanted to say.

And, again, I'm going to have to disagree with this idea of learning Kana first. You're saying that kids don't jump into Kanji from the start. That's fine, but then, they don't learn Kana from the start either. So what's your point? Are you going to learn like a child, or are you going to learn like an adult? If you are concerned with learning pronunciation, then listening to the language will do better than learning it's writing system. I know quite a lot of my native tongue, but there are still words that I can't pronounce having just read them. The same holds true for any language, even Japanese with its seemingly simple phonetic representation. Learning pronunciation through text alone is going to set you up for a terrible accent and intonation, since, those aren't represented in writing aside from dictionaries, which, only holds true for individual words. Intonation changes based on the surrounding words and emotions involved in the speech.

So, if you want to learn the writing system at all, learn the Kanji first. Take care of the biggest task first, so that you don't have to deal with it later. That is, unless you follow a similar approach to that of the one I mentioned in my first post where one acquires the language through watching and listening and then mixes in reading, exactly as a child would do it. Learning all the Kanji up front will allow one to learn Kana much more easily, and also learn the entire Japanese language much more efficiently. It's like trying to learn Chinese, without Chinese characters. It just doesn't work. Anyone that's gone and learned the meaning of the necessary Kanji will agree that it is a wise decision to learn these first.

AliDimayev
May 17th, 2009, 09:30
Don't learn kanji first. Are you kidding. If you want to learn the language, you NEED kana to be able to read and write sentences.

JackAttack
May 17th, 2009, 09:33
So, if you want to learn the writing system at all, learn the Kanji first. Take care of the biggest task first, so that you don't have to deal with it later. That is, unless you follow a similar approach to that of the one I mentioned in my first post where one acquires the language through watching and listening and then mixes in reading, exactly as a child would do it. Learning all the Kanji up front will allow one to learn Kana much more easily, and also learn the entire Japanese language much more efficiently. It's like trying to learn Chinese, without Chinese characters. It just doesn't work. Anyone that's gone and learned the meaning of the necessary Kanji will agree that it is a wise decision to learn these first.

Uh, what? :|

Chinese also ONLY has Chinese characters. There's no other writing system to learn! So naturally you would learn that.

How are you supposed to use these kanji that you learn first if you're unable to put them into kanji+hiragana words? At least when you learn hiragana first, you can write complete sentences. You learn the kanji first, you can't write anything except for random characters. :confused:

I believe Japanese children learn hiragana first... not kanji. :|

AliDimayev
May 17th, 2009, 09:37
Uh, what? :|

Chinese also ONLY has Chinese characters. There's no other writing system to learn! So naturally you would learn that.

How are you supposed to use these kanji that you learn first if you're unable to put them into kanji+hiragana words? At least when you learn hiragana first, you can write complete sentences. You learn the kanji first, you can't write anything except for random characters. :confused:

I believe Japanese children learn hiragana first... not kanji. :|
I think he is a troll.

UPGRAYEDD
May 17th, 2009, 09:46
Learning the kanji first is not in any way practical for 99.9% of people.

You'd have to spend at least 6 months full time and probably a year to plow through the three Heisig books.

Asydious
May 17th, 2009, 11:31
I think he is a troll.

He's not a troll.

When is the last time you read real Japanese? I'm not talking about children's books or those poor excuses of Japanese textbooks like Genki. No, I mean real Japanese, the kind you find in manga, novels, newspapers, blogs etc. that are written by Japanese adults for Japanese adults. Last time I checked they were all in kanji, but just to make sure, let me turn around and grab a random book from my shelf. I grabbed a relatively easy to read book, ハリー・ポッターと謎のプリンス㊤. Here's the first two sentences of the first page:


まもなく夜中の十二時になろうとしていた。執務室にひとり座り、首相は長ったらしい文書に目を通していたが、内容はさっぱり頭に残らないまま素通りしていた。

To read anything in Japanese you absolutely must know at least the 1945 taught in school, and even then you will find that authors use hundreds of kanji outside of those 1945. Both 薔薇 and 憂鬱 contain kanji outside of the list but I have yet to meet a Japanese person who was unable to read them.

Like 勝海殿さん I too have been "studying", or rather "enjoying", Japanese on my own for several months, 8 to be exact. And like him I am no linguist, but we seem to have found a way to study Japanese that breaks all of the rules. We learn through having fun, by immersing ourselves every waking (and sleeping) moment in Japanese. And it seems that we both became literate in a very short amount of time.

Edit: I seem to fail at logging in, sorry if this gets posted twice.

Wakatta
May 17th, 2009, 11:42
I'm not sure if they're a troll; they might just have taken the alljapaneseallthetime.com stuff too seriously, IMO. I agree with much of this advice, like the part about listening to tons of Japanese media (trying to do more of that myself), but one thing I strongly disagree with is this "learn all the kanji first, THEN kana!" that AJATT recommends.

AliDimayev
May 17th, 2009, 19:08
He's not a troll.

When is the last time you read real Japanese? I'm not talking about children's books or those poor excuses of Japanese textbooks like Genki. No, I mean real Japanese, the kind you find in manga, novels, newspapers, blogs etc. that are written by Japanese adults for Japanese adults. Last time I checked they were all in kanji, but just to make sure, let me turn around and grab a random book from my shelf. I grabbed a relatively easy to read book, ハリー・ポッターと謎のプリンス㊤. Here's the first two sentences of the first page:



To read anything in Japanese you absolutely must know at least the 1945 taught in school, and even then you will find that authors use hundreds of kanji outside of those 1945. Both 薔薇 and 憂鬱 contain kanji outside of the list but I have yet to meet a Japanese person who was unable to read them.

Like 勝海殿さん I too have been "studying", or rather "enjoying", Japanese on my own for several months, 8 to be exact. And like him I am no linguist, but we seem to have found a way to study Japanese that breaks all of the rules. We learn through having fun, by immersing ourselves every waking (and sleeping) moment in Japanese. And it seems that we both became literate in a very short amount of time.

Edit: I seem to fail at logging in, sorry if this gets posted twice.

You haven't answered the question.

AliDimayev
May 17th, 2009, 19:09
So if you learn all the 1945 Kanji (soon to be over 2000) on the joyo list before you learn kana, how do you learn grammar on accounta kana is used to conjugate the verbs?

Avocado
May 17th, 2009, 20:39
Also, you can't read the above passage from Harry Potter if you don't know kana, either. A quick count yields a 47 characters in hiragana, versus 22 in kanji...

I'm not saying that you should take your sweet time learning kana, but trying to learn it second is absolutely ludicrous.

UPGRAYEDD
May 17th, 2009, 22:17
You said you can read Harry Potter(easily) after 8 months of study. I think you are either autistic or exaggerating your Japanese ability. Let's assume that you are learning 50 kanji a week with the first Heisig book. It'll take you 38 weeks to cover the book and then you need to repeat the system with the second book and add on another 38 weeks for a total of 76 weeks, assuming 100% retention.

UPGRAYEDD
May 17th, 2009, 22:25
Stop being a dick Ali.

UPGRAYEDD
May 17th, 2009, 22:28
And for the people who waste their time learning how to read 2000 kanji before learning hiragana....

You can read 98% of the characters in a newspaper with the first 1000 kanji covered in the Kodansha Kanji Learners dictionary.

AliDimayev
May 17th, 2009, 22:33
Stop being a dick Ali.
Pot, meet kettle. And reading a book after 8 months of study?
Hmmmmmmmmm.... sounds a bit fishy.

UPGRAYEDD
May 17th, 2009, 22:58
I don't disagree Ali-san. Not even the most advanced Japanese language schools in the world get their students to the level of easily reading Harry Potter after 8 months. This includes the Defense Language Institute and IUC Japanese.

Which I either think these people are exaggerating their own Japanese ability or are autistic polyglots. But everything they said about Japanese that didn't involve learning kanji first was spot on so I don't think they are trolling us.

AliDimayev
May 18th, 2009, 06:38
LIke what? Surrounding yourself with Japanese and trying to listen, read, write, and speak as much as possible? I thought that was common sense for learning a foreign language...-

Urthona
May 18th, 2009, 08:52
I really, really want to meet one of these Heisig acolytes. The bloody cultish attitude and reverence they hold this book up to is amazing.

I've only met people who dabbled with it and I haven't met a single person with good Japanese that has ascribed their success to Heisig.

勝海殿
May 18th, 2009, 09:34
Listen, I'm not telling anyone to do anything. I'm simply stating what I've done in the form of a suggestion that has yielded me some pretty good results. Learn Kanji before Kana is fine. It doesn't take 38 weeks at a rate of 50 per day, it takes 38 days. I did it at a slower rate and finished in under 90 days. Completing Heisig's second book isn't necessary since one can learn Kanji readings by reading lots of books with furigana, or by reading and looking up words that you don't know readings for. This is much more enjoyable than working through another system. So, feel free to skip Heisig's second book and use the third book to learn the rest of the 3007 characters in the whole system. And, then as you encounter characters outside of the Heisig realm, you can use the system devised by the books to memorize a Kanji in a matter of minutes by writing one time. Thereafter, only reviewing it is necessary.

It may only be writing random characters. But, you have to learn these characters eventually, why wait? In fact, why put a hold on your progress later on, and in fact hinder the speed of your progress all along, if you can deal with this problem with an upfront investment. Do 35 Kanji a day from the first book, and you'll finish in two months. That's not a lot of time, especially compared to the Japanese people themselves.

Afterwards, since you didn't need Kana up to that point since you've been working on learning Kanji by meaning and writing, then you can knock out Kana in a matter of hours, and get started reading. I seriously don't know what the problem is.

Treat me as a troll if you wish, and be scepticle, but when you reach linguistic fossilization because you were speaking and writing when you had no business doing so, then, don't blame yourself, and don't blame someone else. Because it's not you, it's your method.

And, anyone interested in meeting someone that does indeed credit Heisig's work for his success, you need to read http://alljapaneseallthetime.com and http://alyks-rant.blogspot.com/

I really don't want to argue here. I'm telling you something that has worked for me, and for others. Learn Kanji, then learn Kana, and then read, listen, and watch your heart out, and you'll find that everything just comes together. Stop worrying about silly verb conjugations, you'll learn them through observation, likewise, you can learn everything this way. And the language becomes a part of you. It's only going to help your Japanese, not hurt it. Plus, it's a lot of fun.

Now, I'm going to go take some of my own advice.

Asydious
May 18th, 2009, 10:11
I'm not sure how to multi-quote on this board so I'm going to reply to one post after the other in a fairly unstructured manner. Also I'm pasting this from Open Office since I really do fail at logging in (post went poof twice =\), so please forgive any funny formatting.





Avocado, even if you knew the kana you would still be unable to read those two sentences.




Do note that no one has said to not learn the kana, we only suggest tackling the kanji first.


There is no rule that says you must learn the kanji before the kana, and I don't recall myself saying so either. However, one HUGE benefit of learning them first is that it prevents you from hurting yourself and others. If you learn the kanji first you spend 3 months of learning the kanji (first book) all the while you are spending many hours a day listening to podcasts, audio books, music all in Japanese. What this does is allow your mind to become adapted to Japanese pronunciation, inflection, and sentence flow. If you try to speak or write before you have become very comfortable with hearing and reading Japanese you will only hurt yourself. If the words don't come out of your mouth naturally, if it takes more thought to speak in Japanese than it does in your mother tongue, avoid speaking until it does. Using English as a translation medium, or building sentences from grammar patterns that you've memorized, is a recipe for disaster. You can read more about input theory if you google Steven Krashen (at this point I've repeating quite a bit of what 勝海殿さん has already said).

As for remembering the kanji, I use an SRS (electronic flashcards) to manage my reviews. This means that each day I am quizzed by the program and the cards are then rescheduled based on how well I remembered. This ensures a minimum of a 95% retention rate.

At the pace of 25 - 30 kanji a day you can easily finish the first Heisig book in under 3 months (I spent roughly 3 hours per day to do so). The man himself spent 8 hours a day and finished in 4 weeks time. Now, I know what it's like to see those numbers from the perspective of someone who hasn't used the book, I too once thought it was impossible. It wasn't until after I gave it a try that I saw just how quickly you can learn the kanji. While Heisig does have a second and third book, I found them to be more time consuming than helpful (with the exception of the first half of book 3). The second book focuses on the readings of the kanji. It has been far more efficient to learn the readings in context while reading actual Japanese materials.


I think the hardest part of Heisig, and indeed why so many people disregard it, is that the payoff is greatly delayed. The first book teaches you how to write and the meaning of 2042 kanji. The benefit of being able to write kanji seems unclear when you know no words and understand very little Japanese. The purpose is not to actually learn how to write Japanese, the purpose is to learn how to write the kanji. By being able to write individual kanji your mind is capable of recognizing them with extreme ease. Essentially it makes everything feel familiar when you look at a piece of Japanese text, even if you are unable to pronounce it. When your mind is familiar with something it has an easier time attaching new data to that item. In this case that means definitions of compounds and readings. An added bonus to knowing the kanji is it allows you to understand the meaning of words that you've never encountered before.


As for the grammar (I'll be repeating 勝海殿さん here again), I highly recommend the Grammar guide written by Tae Kim, conveniently located at www.guidetojapanese.com (http://www.guidetojapanese.com/). His focus is not on drilling and telling you how to turn English into Japanese. He instead focuses on giving you an idea of the intended meaning of the grammar constructions. For example, in the section about のみ he explains that it is the exact same as だけ except that people rarely use it in speech. Below a short paragraph are several sentences in Japanese that give example usages (in kanji). In this manner you learn what something means and then can reinforce it directly through reading real Japanese materials. Trying to memorize a rule rarely works, but if you see it used over and over while reading, the meaning and the way in which it is used begins to stick.


As for reading, don't get me wrong, the first volume of Harry Potter ate me alive. I was freshly done with Heisig, had a general idea about how grammar worked and had a vocabulary that makes a 5 year old seem like a genius. It was unbelievably hard for the first week. My first night it took over 5 hours to read the first page. I was barely 25 pages in by the end of the week. Every word was new, every kanji reading was new, and every other grammar point I had to re-reference. The only thing I knew was to not give up. Slowly, page by page, hour by hour, I began to remember readings, definitions, and the what the grammar meant. Since then I've devoured manga after manga, blog after blog, novel after novel, and still I'm delighted each day to find new words.


Another note on reading: If you're looking to read a Japanese text just as well as you read your mother tongue on the first try you will never learn to read. When you begin to read, for a long time you will be far slower, and, as I mentioned above, you will be absolutely terrible at first. This is the price you must pay. You must earn that speed and fluency and the only way to do so is to read. You absolutely must read to become better at reading. There is no magical textbook pill you can swallow. There is no magical top 1000 word/kanji list that will get you there.


If you're interested in seriously getting your act together and getting down to learning Japanese then go back and re-read 勝海殿さん's post. She/He has done a wonderful job summarizing an exceptional method and my replies pale in comparison.


In closing, I'm completely content to have everything I've said be rejected out-right. I'm also fine with being considered a liar. I don't mind if a handful of people don't believe the results, this is the internet after all. If someone ends up being helped along by this information then it will have been worth it.

UPGRAYEDD
May 18th, 2009, 13:45
Listen, I'm not telling anyone to do anything. I'm simply stating what I've done in the form of a suggestion that has yielded me some pretty good results. Learn Kanji before Kana is fine. It doesn't take 38 weeks at a rate of 50 per day, it takes 38 days. I did it at a slower rate and finished in under 90 days.

I said 50 kanji a week. I think even that is pushing it at the extreme. If you did it in 90 days congrats you are a superman and possibly have photographic memory. But this rate is no where near practical for the other 99% of beginner learners


Completing Heisig's second book isn't necessary since one can learn Kanji readings by reading lots of books with furigana, or by reading and looking up words that you don't know readings for.

Looking up the words you don't know in books (including furigana books) will be an extreme hassle because you will have to look up every single word because the Heisig method only gives you an English word for singular kanji that you will probably rarely see used on their own. You're going to encounter compounds every time and knowing the English core meaning for each one isn't going to help you read it nor will it even give you the meaning of kanji compounds. It will take hours to read through just a pages of Japanese this way.

I'll give an example, front page story on the asahi newspaper.


新型の豚インフルエンザに感染していることが確認された人は増え続け、18日正午現在、兵庫県と大阪府で累計130人(成田空港の検疫で判明した4人を含む)になった。感染者が集中していた複数の高校と接点が見当たらない人も相次いで判明し、社会活動への影響も広がりつつある。
 17日までに判明した感染者は、兵庫県内の複数の県立高校と大阪府茨木市の私立関西大倉高校・中学の生徒が中心だった。これらの各校の生徒や家族の感染者がさらに増えたほか、新たに大阪府立の二つの高校の生徒なども感染が確認された。大阪府八尾市では18日未明、関西大倉高校・中学の関係者と接点がないとみられる小学6年女児の感染が判明した。

After you finish the first Heisig book you will have no idea what this story is about. It will be a string of English core meanings which have been changed by their use in compound words. Now the method you advocate to learn how to read this is to simply use the Heisig book for a few months then come back and look up words. But with that method you will have had no exposure at all to written Japanese and will have to look up every word here. There are a bunch of words here. Few of them are repeats which is great. I can see a few changes in the readings of some of the kanji also. But you are looking at a long time to consult your dictionary on how to 'read' these words. Then of course you'll have to remember their readings.

You can even start with a book for kids like Harry Potter but you will still need to look up every word on the page that contains kanji because the Heisig method does not help you read Japanese at all.

Heisig is great for recognizing tattoos at the beach. But thats it.



It may only be writing random characters. But, you have to learn these characters eventually, why wait? In fact, why put a hold on your progress later on, and in fact hinder the speed of your progress all along, if you can deal with this problem with an upfront investment. Do 35 Kanji a day from the first book, and you'll finish in two months. That's not a lot of time, especially compared to the Japanese people themselves.

I beleive that learning the characters first, in English, will only hinder and slow down your progress. There is a reason why no serious educators of Japanese advocate using this system.


Afterwards, since you didn't need Kana up to that point since you've been working on learning Kanji by meaning and writing, then you can knock out Kana in a matter of hours, and get started reading. I seriously don't know what the problem is.

The problem is that you can't read anything. You couldn't even understand in English a paragraph of newspaper Japanese. The Heisig book gives you a string of English stories only.


Treat me as a troll if you wish, and be scepticle, but when you reach linguistic fossilization because you were speaking and writing when you had no business doing so, then, don't blame yourself, and don't blame someone else. Because it's not you, it's your method.

Whoa whoa slow down. Linguistic fossilization? You are throwing big words around while advocating a system that no serious language school, university department, or linguistic expert recommends.


And, anyone interested in meeting someone that does indeed credit Heisig's work for his success, you need to read http://alljapaneseallthetime.com and http://alyks-rant.blogspot.com/

Yes and the pineapple diet works for Beyonce.


Learn Kanji, then learn Kana, and then read, listen, and watch your heart out, and you'll find that everything just comes together.

You can save yourself months of study by just jumping in there. Start with a simple text book and you will learn 300 kanji and their readings which gives you the ability to read and write from the get go. Then switch over to a kanji learners dictionary and work your way up through more and more advanced reading materials. I really like the kanji in context book and workbook for this.


Stop worrying about silly verb conjugations, you'll learn them through observation, likewise, you can learn everything this way. And the language becomes a part of you. It's only going to help your Japanese, not hurt it. Plus, it's a lot of fun.

No argument here. I'd high five you if I could.

AliDimayev
May 18th, 2009, 13:53
Treat me as a troll if you wish, and be scepticle, but when you reach linguistic fossilization because you were speaking and writing when you had no business doing so, then, don't blame yourself, and don't blame someone else. Because it's not you, it's your method.
.


Yeah, that's funny. When I hear little kids speaking for the first time they never make mistakes.

I never heard a toddler say, "I falled", for example.

capn jazz
May 18th, 2009, 14:04
Yeah, that's funny. When I hear little kids speaking for the first time they never make mistakes.

I never heard a toddler say, "I falled", for example.

I assume you're being sarcastic because that's a well-documented phenomenon (the over-generalization of -ed as the past tense) in children acquiring their native language.

Anyway, chiming in to say that the idea of learning ALL the kanji before the kana is absolutely ridiculous and will NOT WORK. congratulations, you can recognize maybe 500 kanji (I will never believe that you can remember all 2-3000 if you're doing 50 a day) and you can't understand a single sentence because simple kana characters were used. Honestly, if you're learning 50 kanji a day as you claim to be, why are you SO AGAINST learning kana first? It would take a whopping 2 days in your "schedule".

UPGRAYEDD
May 18th, 2009, 14:05
As for reading, don't get me wrong, the first volume of Harry Potter ate me alive. I was freshly done with Heisig, had a general idea about how grammar worked and had a vocabulary that makes a 5 year old seem like a genius. It was unbelievably hard for the first week. My first night it took over 5 hours to read the first page. I was barely 25 pages in by the end of the week. Every word was new, every kanji reading was new, and every other grammar point I had to re-reference. The only thing I knew was to not give up. Slowly, page by page, hour by hour, I began to remember readings, definitions, and the what the grammar meant. Since then I've devoured manga after manga, blog after blog, novel after novel, and still I'm delighted each day to find new words.

And here lies the problem. You finish Heisig then you get slammed by written Japanese. Japanese looks like a series of English words like cat, god, dog, happy, sword, etc etc.

Using a traditional system like kanji in context you could learn 10 kanji a day for 50 a week. This is assuming an extremely dedicated learner like yourself. Learning 50 a week will give you the ability to read aloud (with moderate difficulty) Harry Potter after 800 kanji in 16 weeks. If you go at a slower more efficient pace, say 25 a week, you could also be reading Harry Potter with ease after 8 months.

By the time you get to this amount of kanji you should be able to recognize how the radicals work and you could probably stop traditional kanji study at 1200 and learn additional kanji through simple exposure after that.

Using the Heisig book you need to spend about 16 weeks to understand an English meaning for a kanji. No reading at all, no introduction to how it is used in compounds, basically no Japanese. Then you are going to have to go back from scratch and start assigning readings to them. This of course will takes months again.

This is why most of the Japanese studies world does not recommend the Heisig book and why I think that it actually hurts learning Japanese.

UPGRAYEDD
May 18th, 2009, 14:17
If you are learning 50 kanji a day you should have no problem learning 15 kanji a day the traditional way and be able to read Harry Potter in the same amount of time it took to finish RTK 1.

I think it's a weird system. Everything you gain from it is immediately wiped out by the fact that you can't read anything and have to spend more time going back to learn the readings.

I would like to find a serious educator of Japanese as a foreign language who recommends the Heisig method for learning Japanese.

AliDimayev
May 18th, 2009, 14:19
How can you learn AND remember 50 kanji a day?

Gusuke
May 18th, 2009, 15:20
If you are learning 50 kanji a day you should have no problem learning 15 kanji a day the traditional way and be able to read Harry Potter in the same amount of time it took to finish RTK 1.

I think it's a weird system. Everything you gain from it is immediately wiped out by the fact that you can't read anything and have to spend more time going back to learn the readings.

I would like to find a serious educator of Japanese as a foreign language who recommends the Heisig method for learning Japanese.

Yeah, I think I'm going to go with the way I was taught to learn at my university (Which has an awesome Japanese department) that's been backed up by research and linguistical studies rather than some dude's blog on the internet.

Asydious
May 18th, 2009, 16:00
Yeah, I think I'm going to go with the way I was taught to learn at my university (Which has an awesome Japanese department) that's been backed up by research and linguistical studies rather than some dude's blog on the internet.

And the Church thought Galileo a heretic! Just because the establishment says it is so does not make it any more true. The most valuable tool any man can possess is an open mind.



Good day gentlemen, I shall take my leave.

Gusuke
May 18th, 2009, 16:02
I dunno, it seems lately in modern society the people who harp about having an open mind about things are usually either:
-Cranks
-9/11 Truthers
-Conspiracy theorists

AliDimayev
May 18th, 2009, 16:45
And the Church thought Galileo a heretic! Just because the establishment says it is so does not make it any more true. The most valuable tool any man can possess is an open mind.



Good day gentlemen, I shall take my leave.

Well, we mustn't be so opened minded that our brains fall out, eh hehe.

And the fact taht Galileo was a heretic, but scientific genius does nothing for you point. Not all heretics are correct.

biku23
May 18th, 2009, 17:27
How can you learn AND remember 50 kanji a day?

It's fairly easy, honestly. Just download the PDF sample of RTK and try it.

Presonally, I did the sample part of RTK in a few days, so averaging more than 50 per day, but overall I averaged arond 20 kanji per day over 100 days, spending 1-2 hours per day.

Ofcourse, that doesn't mean 100% learned and finished with those kanji, only how to write and know one key meaning of those kanji. Plus, it requires daily reviewing after that. My review time is included in the time I mentioned.

UPGRAYEDD
May 18th, 2009, 17:38
Are we being linked to another forum to bring these guys out?

UPGRAYEDD
May 18th, 2009, 17:41
And the Church thought Galileo a heretic! Just because the establishment says it is so does not make it any more true. The most valuable tool any man can possess is an open mind.



Good day gentlemen, I shall take my leave.

Nah, we're talking about peer reviewed articles and foreign language studies versus gimmicks.

UPGRAYEDD
May 18th, 2009, 17:43
It's fairly easy, honestly. Just download the PDF sample of RTK and try it.

Presonally, I did the sample part of RTK in a few days, so averaging more than 50 per day, but overall I averaged arond 20 kanji per day over 100 days, spending 1-2 hours per day.

Ofcourse, that doesn't mean 100% learned and finished with those kanji, only how to write and know one key meaning of those kanji. Plus, it requires daily reviewing after that. My review time is included in the time I mentioned.

You can put in the same amount of time with pen and paper and a kanji learners dictionary and come out with maybe 10-15 kanji every day and learn how to read them.

biku23
May 18th, 2009, 17:44
The secret is 1) breaking the kanji into well known parts, and 2) using your visual imagination to make the parts and their positions memorable.

For example, one time someone posted this insane Chinese character for Biang Biang noodles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Biáng_(regular_script).svg

This has about 56 strokes if I remember. This is the kanji you want to show someone if you want to convince them that Chinese characters are impossible :).

Anyhow, for someone who has learned RTK it's simple to memorize.

You have the ROAD radical on the side and bottom.
At the top there's a HOLE 穴.

- You're going down the ROAD (road radical on left + bottom) on the way to the Biang Biang noodle shop when you see a HOLE 穴, and you look inside.
You see SOCRATES 言 (personification of talking) riding a HORSE 馬.
He's being flanked by two COCOONS 幺that are very LONG 長.
On the sides of the cocoon are FLESH + SABER (also seen in kanji like this 前). So, one of the COCOONS is wielding a big piece of meat, and the other a saber.
It's so exciting, that your HEART 心 starts pounding.

This is quite easy to remember, if you visualize this scene for 1-2 minutes.

biku23
May 18th, 2009, 18:15
Btw, I just wanted to mention I'm not an AJATT follower. I ran across the RTK sample years after I started learning Japanese, and I liked it so that's why I went through the book.

I can't say yay or nay for learning with a dictionary and pen and paper. If you can learn that way, great.

For learning readings, I do it along with learning vocab. I never got very far with reading before I went through RTK, but the problem may be difficulty in staying focused. Doing RTK for 3 months is kind of fun, whereas I guess that memoriszng lists of kanji and readings before was not so fun that I could see it through to a high number.

After I did RTK, it was also fun to start trying to read, and I learned readings in that way. I got to reading around 1000 kanji in fairly short order, and then I could take a stab at reading. Things like Harry Potter books, I could roughly follow them, but things like reading reports and presentations in Japanese was quite easy.

These days I learn new readings & vocab with things like Kanji in Context. I think I cover about 50 vocab on most days in this way, and I like it because you learn how they're used versus learning lists.

UPGRAYEDD
May 18th, 2009, 18:40
The secret is 1) breaking the kanji into well known parts, and 2) using your visual imagination to make the parts and their positions memorable.

For example, one time someone posted this insane Chinese character for Biang Biang noodles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Biáng_(regular_script).svg (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bi%C3%A1ng_%28regular_script%29.svg)

This has about 56 strokes if I remember. This is the kanji you want to show someone if you want to convince them that Chinese characters are impossible :).

Anyhow, for someone who has learned RTK it's simple to memorize.

You have the ROAD radical on the side and bottom.
At the top there's a HOLE 穴.

- You're going down the ROAD (road radical on left + bottom) on the way to the Biang Biang noodle shop when you see a HOLE 穴, and you look inside.
You see SOCRATES 言 (personification of talking) riding a HORSE 馬.
He's being flanked by two COCOONS 幺that are very LONG 長.
On the sides of the cocoon are FLESH + SABER (also seen in kanji like this 前). So, one of the COCOONS is wielding a big piece of meat, and the other a saber.
It's so exciting, that your HEART 心 starts pounding.

This is quite easy to remember, if you visualize this scene for 1-2 minutes.

That makes it really, really complicated.

Just do a good roku on top of the tsukii with ito iu ito over a chou horse chou 刀 add the kokoro and road enclosure and you're done.

Anyone with a moderate level of kanji study can come away from that kanji in about 5 minutes.

Heisig just makes this ridiculous story when you are better off just breaking down the radicals on your own.

Not to mention that story gives an incorrect stroke order.

biku23
May 18th, 2009, 19:00
That makes it really, really complicated.

Just do a good roku on top of the tsukii with ito iu ito over a chou horse chou 刀 add the kokoro and road enclosure and you're done.

Anyone with a moderate level of kanji study can come away from that kanji in about 5 minutes.

Heisig just makes this ridiculous story when you are better off just breaking down the radicals on your own.

It's not Heisig's story, it's a story you make yourself by breaking down the radicals on your own.

It's basically what you did, plus adding a ridiculous story, but that's what makes it easier to learn and remember in the long run compared to trying to remember it like a meaningless pattern.

You know, memory champions use this kind of thing to remember large amounts of information. Saying "that's ridiculous, you're better off just remembering the information in the raw" is just not true.

EDIT:
About the stroke order, the stories in Heisig don't have to be in stroke order. It's using visual memory. The order comes from the visual image. The action is inside the ana (btw 穴 is not 6 it's a hole). iu is riding an uma and getting flanked by ito that are chou...

Anyhow, I always learned to write the kanji with correct stroke orders with RTK.

Wakatta
May 18th, 2009, 19:18
And the Church thought Galileo a heretic! Just because the establishment says it is so does not make it any more true. The most valuable tool any man can possess is an open mind.

I think the Crackpot Index gives 10 points for mentioning Galileo. If our friend here had only gone on to use the phrase, "hidebound reactionaries", he'd be really moving up the scale.

I think Heisig's approach is great. It's really helped me out. Well, not Heisig itself, but Slime Forest, which takes a similar approach, but also teaches you a basic reading, and provides stories (which are different from Heisig's and IMO better).

AJATT has some great observations, but I don't think I would recommend his overall strategy. Learn kana first, if nothing else then to learn pronunciation and let you read the readings in their native script. I'd also suggest learning your first block of kanji traditionally, to build up some sort of muscle memory for the most common radicals and such. Meanwhile, learn vocab and grammar. You can then come back and use a mnemonic approach to ramp up your kanji-acquisition speed. Kakitori-kun can help you practice the stroke order and (with its Japanese explanations) elaborate on the kanji's meanings using compound examples.

UPGRAYEDD
May 18th, 2009, 19:19
It's not Heisig's story, it's a story you make yourself by breaking down the radicals on your own.

It's basically what you did, plus adding a ridiculous story, but that's what makes it easier to learn and remember in the long run compared to trying to remember it like a meaningless pattern.

You know, memory champions use this kind of thing to remember large amounts of information. Saying "that's ridiculous, you're better off just remembering the information in the raw" is just not true.

No one is saying that kanji are meaningless patterns that must be memorized.

Kanji are made up of various radicals and from their positions you can often infer sound and meaning. Any student of Japanese should be learning this. But learning form and meaning before sound does not help you acquire Japanese faster. It's a big waste of time to do anything but learning all three of them together.

UPGRAYEDD
May 18th, 2009, 19:23
Lol at missing 穴


It also means asshole.

biku23
May 18th, 2009, 20:16
No one is saying that kanji are meaningless patterns that must be memorized.

Kanji are made up of various radicals and from their positions you can often infer sound and meaning.

But the example you showed of how to learn that kanji was just a meaningless list of parts. Heisig is just adding a system to that, and basically encouraging you to think about radicals and positions.


Any student of Japanese should be learning this. But learning form and meaning before sound does not help you acquire Japanese faster. It's a big waste of time to do anything but learning all three of them together.

I found it valuable to break down the task, and I think I progressed to a higher level thanks to doing that. I can't be in your shoes, so I can't say which way is better, but I can certainly say it one way that works.

To me, I think knowing the meanings in advance lets you proceed faster and wider with reading. That fact is hard to quantify, but if there's one thing that's a tangible advantage of RTK, it's that I learned the kanji forms in a very solid way, plus the ability to write them - whereas with the pen & paper practice method kanji were very blurry and difficult to remember how to write after a while.

Gusuke
May 18th, 2009, 21:05
Man, knowing how to read that complicated character is like a mere parlor trick, totally useless.

I'm going to stick with the radical approach; it's what's worked for me so far. Learning a bunch of kanji without knowing how to read them seems totally pointless and a waste of effort to me.

biku23
May 18th, 2009, 21:17
Man, knowing how to read that complicated character is like a mere parlor trick, totally useless.


Yes, absolutely. It was just an extreme example to illustrate the method.


I'm going to stick with the radical approach; it's what's worked for me so far. Learning a bunch of kanji without knowing how to read them seems totally pointless and a waste of effort to me.

Chinese people have an easier time to learn how to read Japanese, so I think knowing the kanji is not pointless.

But anyway, it's cool if you have a method that works, stick to it. Sticking to things is the most important part.

I stuck to RTK to the end, and then stuck to reading, and it works for me.

AliDimayev
May 18th, 2009, 22:08
Man, knowing how to read that complicated character is like a mere parlor trick, totally useless.

I'm going to stick with the radical approach; it's what's worked for me so far. Learning a bunch of kanji without knowing how to read them seems totally pointless and a waste of effort to me.
I agree 100%. And the radical thing works out well.

1. That's how you look up kanji in a kanji diciontary (and Japanese kanji dictionary)

2. You can gleam meaning and pronunciation from the radicals if you have to (not in all cases, of course)

勝海殿
May 19th, 2009, 01:32
I've only got one thing to ask of all of you. With all your claims about Heisig's method, and learning Kanji the way the book describes. Have you tried it? I mean really, really tried it? I'm going go with no. Which means that you can't really make any accurate claims of it. At all.

Take care.

mentat
May 19th, 2009, 02:36
I've been silent in this board for some time already, but now let me say a few words.

Heisig's been bashed in this and other community for various overclaims. Like you all say, if you complete Heisig and do nothing else, you have learned a stupid parlor trick.

That's true.

But if you go on with your studies, and learn the readings later, it works very well.

I did Heisig in 3 months, like 勝海殿 claims, but after that I could read NO japanese. Nothing. But I could write 2042 kanji from memory. Like you say. It was useless.

But I have not stopped there. I kept learning japanese, and now, 12 months later, I can read the newspaper just fine. I can understand most of what I hear. I can even speak a little, making a lot of mistakes. I'm far from being fluent, but Heisig made literacy the base of my Japanese. I keep reading the news, my favorite novels and my favorite manga everyday and I'm confident I'll be fluent in no time.

Learning the kanji first makes a lot of sense.

Rachel1404
May 19th, 2009, 06:42
I don't understand why it must be one method or the other? Personally I'm using Heisig and Genki simultaneously; I'm wizzing through meanings with Heisig whilst learning readings with Genki.
I tried just learning a few Kanji at a time (i.e meaning, readings and compunds all together) but found it really hard to keep them straight in my mind. Heisig just seems to provide the extra memory trick that I need.

Auburn
May 19th, 2009, 06:48
I just wanted to say to the OP:

All of this stuff that has been posted is probably making you hyperventilate and think, "I am NEVER going to be able to learn Japanese!!" So, ignore them and ignore the terms and theories.

Try a variety of books/styles. One of them will suit your learning style. Go to the local university, and ask a professor to recommend a text. Ask your friends. Etc. Then test drive them to see what works for you. This is why you get so many different opinions about Heisig, etc. Heisig works for some people, Pimsleur works for different people, Rosetta stone works for others... you need to find one that makes sense according to how you learn.

Once you feel confident with the basics, you can try other systems, or get a tutor, etc.

Japanese can certainly be challenging, but if it's something you can get excited about, then you can do it.

dombay
May 19th, 2009, 07:11
Yea look Hesig has been debated to death in many other threads in this forum.There is only 5 other pages of it to look through so do look.

People are never going to agree on it. It's got a cheap and nasty cheating feeling for some, some think it's flawed from an educational point of view and others swear by it. None of these arguments are new. A lot of very experienced teachers and Japanese learners have argued this right here on this website before.

Anyone got any useful advice on starting out in Japanese for new JETs?

AliDimayev
May 19th, 2009, 07:15
Get a textbook you like. I think GENKI isn't bad, but that's just my opinion. Get some type of CD or online source so you can hear and practice proper pronunciation. Get a grammar dictionary (that series with the YELLOW, BLUE, and RED books are very good grammar references, in my opinione- lots of example sentences and they explain the nuances between simliar grammar points). And just study away.

I don't mean to sound rude, but sometime all this debate about 'how' to learn Japanese is loike debating between different diets. If you want to lose weight, eat less and exercise more. If you want to learn a language, find some books and sources that you like and that work for you and study, study, study.

Brokenvai
May 19th, 2009, 08:09
Very interesting debate. Very long. And ended like every single other Heisig debate. Surprise?

Really, if you want my opinion...I believe fun comes before anything. Believe me....I used to be a Khatzumoto fanatic. Everything he said was like the word of God to me. Until I actually developed a stable mind, and intelligence over my actions.

Khatzumoto said "Let there be Heisig!" and there was Heisig. And it was....weird. I was head over heels to buy this book, to attain native-fluency in the Japanese language. So, I bought the book and studied like there was no tomorrow. And I was not having the time of my life. I was doing something that worked for Khatzumoto, and not necessarily for me. So I stopped all of it, and realized the wrong in my actions. But I realized the true uses of this book.

I read the introduction over and over again, making sure I had caught up to exactly what I was supposed to be learning/doing. I realized that Heisig is the most laziest, and most fun way to approach Kanji. What this book means to me is, through help of a single definition or keyword with direct relation to the primitives, I am able to make a deeper meaning of the Kanji in to my memory. Anyone can go through lists and assign all readings, meanings, and stroke orders to any Kanji they want. But I wanted to recognize and feel the Kanji as if they were apart of my own blood and skin, and through Heisig I was and am able to achieve this feeling.

There are many misconceptions about Heisig. Every single person who has ever crabbed or ranted about the 'uselessness' of Heisig, has never read or researched the process/method of remembering the Kanji. All they ever know is that people come on to forums preaching that they've learned X amount of Kanji in X months, using one Keyword of many, and remembering weird, meaningless sentences.

But I'm not here to change any of your opinions, and I sincerely must excuse myself because I don't have time to copy and paste Heisig's exact words about this process, when everyone themselves can check it out. I truly believe whatever feels 'right' and fun for you will help you attain anything with a good amount of work. Some people have more fun with readings. Some people have fun with Pimsleur/Rosetta Stone. Some have fun with Heisig.

Debate is really meaningless, in this style. I've seen this so many times before; "Method X doesn't work because it doesn't include (insert point about language that it isn't supposed to teach)." It is like saying the photosynthesis process sucks, because it does not provide water for any life that uses/needs it, when the photosynthesis way of collecting energy is not meant for producing or collecting water.

Any forum would be 100,000 times more loved if everyone researched what they spoke of or against, and agreed to disagree on anything, especially with Japanese, in attempt to help each other reach the common goal of said forum.

Urthona
May 19th, 2009, 08:33
Graded Japanese Readers are a great tool for getting an introduction to reading. The vocabulary is made to be easier and they have different levels depending on how much you know. I like the level 3 and level 4 books. They also come with audio cds.

Trying to expand your reading/writing beyond the textbook really helps.

On Heisig, it takes something that everybody learns - mnemonic devices used to learn the kanji but rips out the essential steps in learning and being able to use them. Learning in the more traditional ways helps you learn the pronunciation, meaning, and whatnot by radicals and patterns. I've read his stories and they are often just asinine, needlessly confusing, or just overly complicated.

If Heisig was the be all and end all of Japanese learning, it would be practiced by far more people and actually accepted by academics. It just feeds into an orientalist fantasy about the mystique surrounding characters and the supposed impossibility of learning Japanese.

EDIT: What goddamn forum have we been linked to?

Also, just a skim through the all the japanese site, the guy seems to be somewhat autistic or just really creepy. I can't imagine why anyone would more or less excise every non-Japanese aspect of their life to learn the language as quickly as possible. Also, the results he achieved after 10,000 hours or whatever the fuck he spent studying his way could have been replicated with another study method if one was so inclined to try it.

JackAttack
May 19th, 2009, 08:41
I don't understand where all these new people are coming from preaching this insane way of learning Kanji. :confused:

My real Japanese person professor taught us hiragana then katakana then kanji. I trust her judgement. And that's all I have to say.

Timoshi
May 19th, 2009, 08:41
This is a very interesting debate. I guess I will throw my hat into the ring.

Because onions are small and their tissues leave little or no trace, there is no conclusive opinion about the exact location and time of their birth. Many archaeologists, botanists and food historians believe onions originated in central Asia. Other research suggests that onions were first grown in Iran and West Pakistan. It is presumed that our predecessors discovered and started eating wild onions very early - long before farming or even writing was invented. Very likely, this humble vegetable was a staple in the prehistoric diet.

Most researchers agree that the onion has been cultivated for 5000 years or more. Since onions grew wild in various regions, they were probably consumed for thousands of years and domesticated simultaneously all over the world. Onions may be one of the earliest cultivated crops because they were less perishable than other foods of the time, were transportable, were easy to grow and could be grown in a variety of soils and climates. In addition, the onion was useful for sustaining human life. Onions prevented thirst and could be dried and preserved for later consumption when food might be scarce. While the place and time of the onion's origin are still a mystery, there are many documents, from very early times, which describe its importance as a food and its use in art, medicine and mummification.

Onions grew in Chinese gardens as early as 5000 years ago and they are referenced in some of the oldest Vedic writings from India. In Egypt, onions can be traced back to 3500 B.C. There is evidence that the Sumerians were growing onions as early as 2500 B.C. One Sumerian text dated to about 2500 B.C. tells of someone plowing over the city governor's onion patch. In Egypt, onions were actually an object of worship. The onion symbolized eternity to the Egyptians who buried onions along with their Pharaohs. The Egyptians saw eternal life in the anatomy of the onion because of its circle-within-a-circle structure. Paintings of onions appear on the inner walls of the pyramids and in the tombs of both the Old Kingdom and the New Kingdom. The onion is mentioned as a funeral offering and onions are depicted on the banquet tables of the great feasts - both large, peeled onions and slender, immature ones. They were shown upon the altars of the gods.

Frequently, a priest is pictured holding onions in his hand or covering an altar with a bundle of their leaves or roots. In mummies, onions have frequently been found in the pelvic regions of the body, in the thorax, flattened against the ears and in front of the collapsed eyes. Flowering onions have been found on the chest, and onions have been found attached to the soles of the feet and along the legs. King Ramses IV, who died in 1160 B.C., was entombed with onions in his eye sockets. Some Egyptologists theorize that onions may have been used because it was believed that their strong scent and/or magical powers would prompt the dead to breathe again. Other Egyptologists believe it was because onions were known for their strong antiseptic qualities, which construed as magical, would be handy in the afterlife.

Onions are mentioned to have been eaten by the Israelites in the Bible. In Numbers 11:5, the children of Israel lament the meager desert diet enforced by the Exodus: "We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic." In India as early as the sixth century B.C., the famous medical treatise Charaka - Sanhita celebrates the onion as medicine - a diuretic, good for digestion, the heart, the eyes and the joints. Likewise, Dioscorides, a Greek physician in first century A.D., noted several medicinal uses of onions. The Greeks used onions to fortify athletes for the Olympic Games. Before competition, athletes would consume pounds of onions, drink onion juice and rub onions on their bodies.

The Romans ate onions regularly and carried them on journeys to their provinces in England and Germany. Pliny the Elder, Roman's keen-eyed observer, wrote of Pompeii's onions and cabbages. Before he was overcome and killed by the volcano's heat and fumes, Pliny the Elder catalogued the Roman beliefs about the efficacy of the onion to cure vision, induce sleep, heal mouth sores, dog bites, toothaches, dysentery and lumbago. Excavators of the doomed city would later find gardens where, just as Pliny had said, onions had grown. The bulbs had left behind telltale cavities in the ground. The Roman gourmet Apicius, credited with writing one of the first cookbooks (which dates to the eighth and ninth centuries A.D.), included many references to onions. By the Middle Ages, the three main vegetables of European cuisine were beans, cabbage and onions. In addition to serving as a food for both the poor and the wealthy, onions were prescribed to alleviate headaches, snakebites and hair loss. They were also used as rent payments and wedding gifts. Later, the first Pilgrims brought onions with them on the Mayflower. However, they found that strains of wild onions already grew throughout North America. Native American Indians used wild onions in a variety of ways, eating them raw or cooked, as a seasoning or as a vegetable. Such onions were also used in syrups, as poultices, as an ingredient in dyes and even as toys. According to diaries of colonists, bulb onions were planted as soon as the Pilgrim fathers could clear the land in 1648.

UPGRAYEDD
May 19th, 2009, 09:19
Any forum would be 100,000 times more loved if everyone researched what they spoke of or against, and agreed to disagree on anything, especially with Japanese, in attempt to help each other reach the common goal of said forum.

Please find a reputable Japanese program or academic journal/study that shows the Heisig method is more successful than traditional methods or recommends the Heisig method as a study method for kanji.

biku23
May 19th, 2009, 09:30
Urthona, the way you put it, it makes it sound like by using Heisig you won't also be able to make use of radicals and patterns to learn readings and whatnot.

Heisig is not an end in and of itself, it is one step, and once someone has done RTK1 they will move on to learning readings & vocab and making many useful associations.

Having already an ability to recognize most common kanji, you actually have the chance to make more connections sooner IMO, and you'll be able to associate more vocab & readings to kanji faster.

With learning by Heisig or just learning kanji parts/radicals for example, you will be able to for example take note of the common part between 通 and 痛 and associate that they both have the same ON reading (つう). For me I learned to read 通 first through compounds like 交通, and later I came across 頭痛 and I guessed the reading correctly ずつう plus also guessed the meaning head-ache. This makes it quick to memorize.

Then I'd come across say 社交的 (sociable). I'd know the readings of 社 from 社会, 交 from 交通, and 的 is the ~able part, so I could read it, and again the meanings (society + mingle) would make the association to "sociable" easy.

Those are just a couple of examples, but it just goes on and on like this, building connections. I think anyone who studied reading to a higher level knows how these connections build up and help snowball your learning. The more connections the better.

As for AJATT, it's too extreme for me. I can't do it even if I wanted to; it would result in nothing more than divorce + loss of work. The guy goes as far as saying learning Japanese all day is more important than studying for college & that kind of thing. However, he seems to motivate some people. Most of his posts have little to do with Japanese, and mostly to do with attitude.

UPGRAYEDD
May 19th, 2009, 09:46
You are not listing anything that isn't already done by traditional methods. Take kanji in context. You learn 社 and 会 together on the same page. Then you learn that 社会 is society and 会社 is company. You also learn a half dozen other easy combinations like 支社、会話、国会、学会、会う、社員. You are already presented with sentences and usage and once you learn them you can start adding more complicated ones and even figure out the intended meanings of other compounds that contain the kanji without too much work.

Here is the difference. By your first week with kanji in context you can read this quote, this is of course assuming you spent time learning kana. After 3-6 months with RTK you cannot.


1. うちの会社には空きがない

2. スーパーボウルを見るために会社を休んでいた事もありました

3. 彼は社会によかれと思ってそれをした。


If you are really dedicated then you could be reading the following more complicated sentence in the same amount of time it initially took you to go through RTK.


社会党の猛烈な反対にもかかわらず、その議案は過半数で可決された。

biku23
May 19th, 2009, 09:48
Please find a reputable Japanese program or academic journal/study that shows the Heisig method is more successful than traditional methods or recommends the Heisig method as a study method for kanji.

Show me a reputable journal/study that shows Heisig methods are NOT more successful than traditional methods or recommends NOT using Heisig's method as a study method for kanji. :)

I've also never been taught at any school or college something like say for example, "memory places" to help memorize things, and yet people with the best memory in the world use those techniques.

I also was never taught or even pointed to the existence of spaced repetition techniques for boosting long term recall. Again, that doesn't mean it's not valid. It has a valid basis.

biku23
May 19th, 2009, 09:57
You are not listing anything that isn't already done by traditional methods. Take kanji in context. You learn 社 and 会 together on the same page. Then you learn that 社会 is society and 会社 is company. You also learn a half dozen other easy combinations like 支社、会話、国会、学会、会う、社員. You are already presented with sentences and usage and once you learn them you can start adding more complicated ones and even figure out the intended meanings of other compounds that contain the kanji without too much work.

Here is the difference. By your first week with kanji in context you can read this quote, this is of course assuming you spent time learning kana. After 3-6 months with RTK you cannot.







But I don't measure anything by where I was at after 1 week or 3 months. At that time it's just varying degrees of sucking. I measure by getting to around Kanken4 in one year, and by the books and articles I could read, I thought it was decent progress for someone with 1-2 hours to study per day, but I just enjoy myself studying. I'm not competing against anyone.

UPGRAYEDD
May 19th, 2009, 10:12
Show me a reputable journal/study that shows Heisig methods are NOT more successful than traditional methods or recommends NOT using Heisig's method as a study method for kanji. :)

I've also never been taught at any school or college something like say for example, "memory places" to help memorize things, and yet people with the best memory in the world use those techniques.

I also was never taught or even pointed to the existence of spaced repetition techniques for boosting long term recall. Again, that doesn't mean it's not valid. It has a valid basis.

Spaced repitition has a ton of research behind the concept.

There are quite a lot of Japanese language programs out there. I've never heard of any that use or recommend RTK. The book has been out for more than 20 years but not picked up by any major school of Japanese.

That should say something.

mattyjaddy
May 19th, 2009, 10:15
勝海殿-
(This is being posted before I read all the responses on page 3 and 4 of this thread. I'm at work and don't know if I'll have time to read them but want to get this up.)
Wow. I don’t really know where to begin. I guess I’ll start by asking you to re-read my post. Read it, not for finding things to disagree with, but for comprehension of my message and my intent. Your comprehension of both will be aided by looking at the context (i.e. re-read the original post—not mine, but the one I was responding to) and thinking about my background. (It’s clear from my post that I used Heisig and at least have knowledge of AJATT. It’s also clear that I have some knowledge of second language acquisition research through my mention of the monitor. If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you might know a bit more about me. But no matter what you know about me, you’d better know what you’re talking about.)
Next, I’d like to suggest that you do more and better research. Surem, you can vaguely recall something you learned about once to support your point or debase mine. You might even convince some people that don’t know better. But I know better, and I’m calling you out on it.
Third, every time you wrote ‘disagree’ in your post, I suggest changing it to ‘agree’ and challenge you to see how it might be true.
Finally, try to pick a target audience and write only to it. Are you solely responding to my post or are you trying to be helpful to the author of the original post? I’m responding to you now since it seems that the majority of your post is the former.

In an effort to keep the length to a minimum, I’ll only quote you a bit and highlight some of most egregious missteps, as well as a couple shining moments. I am following the order of your post, so where I don’t quote you directly, you can follow along and easily find what I am referencing. My response:

You equated “not studying on one’s own” with classroom study. There’s not a simple dichotomy, and you, in essence, put words in my mouth. I must ask for your evidence of the success of “the Natural Approach” and “the Silent Way” classes. I haven’t experienced them, but from what I’ve read, they were abandoned for being fairly impractical in most class settings. Have you participated in or observed these types of classes or only read about them from the person who created them? If you've participated in them or conducted them, perhaps you can enlighten me.

For the record, I’ve read a bit of Steven Krashen’s work as well, having read one of his books, many articles on his website, and studied his research as well as others’ thoughts on and critiques of his work.


so that you may have meaningful experiences that build up mental images in your head that dictate that "feel" that native speakers use when they use their language.
Huh? This is really unclear.


So which is it? Study on your own, or not? I think maybe you have some mixed feelings about this?
See
But it is possible to be successful studying on your own.

Really good advice on being flexible with one’s plan. I agree with you. I might be a bit more specific and talk about compromises: not just giving up a planned study session for a sneak preview or because you had a bad day—but adjusting one’s study plan to account for these things. “Ok, I can go see the movie instead of two hours of watching JTV if I listen to J audio on the way to and from the theater and promise to do 20 flashcards before bed.” It seems you think this contradicts what I say. I think we just have different ways of viewing things. I say that having a plan to study and skipping a day when work was too hectic but continuing to study the next day is still sticking to a plan. You imply it’s being flexible and deviating from the plan. This is something I elaborate upon in my post, but you’ll see that I valued emphasizing the need for commitment over the need for taking a break since this advice was for a beginner for whom getting started is more important that taking a break. I think you can appreciate that. Perhaps later in his study, he’ll get frustrated or have trouble sticking to it and ask for advice, in that case perhaps your advice might be useful. Though really, I think it lets the learner off too easily—something in the way of compromises, as I mentioned, or finding a way to emphasize the fun or progress-to-date would be better.


I must respectfully disagree entirely here.
Either do a better job with precise quoting, or avoid the use of absolute terms such as ‘entirely’.

I think our interpretations of “acquire a language just like a child” are perhaps a little different. So it may just be a matter of semantics. But there might also be a bit of a difference in opinion here. It’s hard to tell without further discussion. I’ll start. First, I’ll concede that on one detail I wasn’t clear. In, my previous post I said "listening to language in context". By this, I meant language that can be found in natural contexts—that’s to say language made by and made for native speakers. So, to be clear, for me, acquiring like a child means 2 years or more of silence while just listening to natural language with no expectation of participation, no one worrying about the person understanding. Maybe some babbling happens. Then, about 3 years of speaking in chunks with increasing accuracy. These are bits of language that just fall out of the mouth and aren’t consciously thought about. Over time they grow in length and complexity just as the interactions with people around the person increase in length and complexity. So this interpretation is pretty literal. And no adult that I’ve heard of has tried to learn just like this, just like a child.

But even if I slacken the meaning a bit—acquiring by just listening to the language in natural, native contexts regardless of time or participation—it still doesn’t work. People, as adults, can’t just listen and pick up a full language (meaning a complete lack of consciousness in the process: no conscious guessing, no using dictionaries, no using grammar books, no one explaining the language to them, etc.). I’m trying to imagine someone turning on a TV show and watching it and picking up the language from it, even through repeated exposure. Sure, perhaps the person would catch on to some concrete vocabulary. Some patterns might develop that they can perhaps latch some meaning to. The results might increase if a TV series is used instead of single show. But I haven’t seen anything to help me believe that a beginner adult can take in and process that kind of input.

At the very least, it is far outside the “i + 1” concept promulgated by Krashen, the person upon which so much of your post was based. It seems that for any real benefits to be gained that there would need to be some mitigating factor, some intermediate stage or process that either you’re ignoring or overlooking. This isn’t to say that the mitigating factor couldn’t be inherent in the TV show (or whatever input source it is). (This last sentence is important—what I’m implying is that somehow the input is constructed so that it remains within a learner’s “i + 1” range. This would imply that the input is not natural or not made for native speakers which also means it’s no longer learning like a child, unless of course that phrase is changed to “listening to natural or contrived language and picking it up”.) But it doesn’t have to be inherent. See the part of my post where I mention doing some preview study before trying to read or listen. The idea is to take the natural language and bring into your “i + 1” range through conscious effort.

I checked out the two references you listed. The first was an advertisement and the second was a look at language acquisition from one person’s point of view. Even though I tend to agree with the information in both, they don’t do a good job of covering all the bases in the field of SLA. A wider survey of the subject would be wise. The story about the man who learned Hebrew is interesting and shows the power of constant exposure to the language, but the man’s situation does not sound like that of the average self-learner. If the original poster had been in a similar situation, I’m guessing his post would have sounded different or wouldn’t have been made in the first place. It’s also a story written after the fact. It’s impossible to determine how much conscious thought went into his process, though, from the article, we know there was some. So, it isn’t an example of 100% learning like a child—the man used some of his adult analytical power.

You seem to think secondary only means “less important”. In the 2nd sentence you quoted you can see my point was that since writing’s secondary, man-made, the person can’t just pick it up, they’ll have to work hard to learn it academically.

Nowhere in my post did I mention wanting all those rules, nor wanting to study them. In fact, I was making the case for not focusing on studying them until they were memorized by highlighting just how enormous and error-prone the task would be.

You mention meaningful input. I think you mean comprehensible input. All natural language input is inherently meaningful. A person’s ability to comprehend it isn’t always there. The input must be comprehensible to the person. (Perhaps, this is just a matter of semantics, but I believe Krashen and other linguists/language teachers use the term comprehensible input.)

Kanji first is one part of AJATT that I disagree with. If you learn kanji first, then you can’t read anything until you learn kana. If you learn kana first, you can read MANY things. This helps get your reading up while you then work on learning kanji. You might make the argument that doing other things distracts you from learning kanji. But I could make the argument that doing only kanji gets really boring, really fast. Also, the time spent reading in only kana will get me used to the sounds of the language, how things are written, how words are put together and how phonetic changes occur, among many other things. It will also give my vocabulary and grammar input a huge boost. It will likely help me better comprehend the aural input I’m supposed to be also getting while doing kanji. I’ve not seen any reasoning to convince me that kana should go second.

I once again praise you here. Yes, you should continue to congratulate yourself throughout your learning process. After re-reading my post, I see that my message was a bit unclear and a bit ominous. My intent was that the kana are just about the only thing that you can concretely finish and congratulate yourself on. To continue to be able to feel success, you’ll have to create your own intermediate goals. As I said, there will always be more kanji and more grammar and more vocabulary that you don’t know. What I didn’t make clear, is that you should just relax and enjoy the ride. Pick some goals such as the ones I suggested and congratulate yourself there. I thought that message made it through my original post, but I see it didn’t. Thanks for showing how to be positive throughout the acquisition of a language.

I should have said that the dictionaries I mentioned were for portability. I don’t have internet everywhere I want to go and use Japanese, thus internet dictionaries are of little use to me.

You don’t need any foreign language ability to gain cultural insights. Foreign language ability can actually be developed as you gain those cultural insights. And in my experience, not knowing Japanese has in some cases been an asset in getting to learn and experience more.

I find it quite suspect that you, the self-claimed non-expert, should not only give advice, but give advice that you have not followed yourself and that you have in no way tested or verified. Just doesn’t seem quite appropriate. Pretty much all that I wrote is based on what I have done so far in my journey to learn Japanese, which has been fairly successful since I seem to impress the Japanese people I work with and was able to pass the JLPT2 after 1.5 years, and what isn’t comes from my experiences as a language teacher, language learner, and student of linguistics. Perhaps, since I still have work to do in my acquisition process of Japanese and since I don’t feel I’m an expert on linguistics yet, I should have framed my advice as “this is what I did, you might try it too” rather than “you should do this”. Your advice also seems to fly in the face of the realities most people must deal with--time spent having relationships, the need for income, the need for a mental break, etc.

I kind of wanted to go through your post and highlight all the parts where you contradict yourself, but that would have been childish. I will suggest that you check for that when starting a debate; it weakens your argument, especially when the contradictions are so close together as they are in many cases with your post (see the first 2 paragraphs of your post where you talk about classes).

But really, I guess I could have avoided all of this by just saying that my post was not a treatise on linguistic theory. It was advice given to someone who is starting from nothing. In general, any linguistic theories I introduced were greatly simplified and are ones accepted by many linguists, even those who support acquisition over learning. If you want to debate those, there are perhaps better venues. This advice was also given in a way that would hopefully push the person in the direction of acquisition (comprehensible input in the way of Krashen, AJATT, etc.) as opposed to grammar study without inciting a lot of negative responses from those who are against such methods. It seems I was so successful at tempering my advice that someone who also believes acquisition over learning works best (that’s you) thought I was proffering advice to the contrary.

One final note, you might want to check out what Krashen has been doing lately. You might notice that his work is mostly in public school classrooms. You'll also notice that he does endorse in some cases using the native language to aid in comprehending input in the target language.

AliDimayev
May 19th, 2009, 10:19
Please find a reputable Japanese program or academic journal/study that shows the Heisig method is more successful than traditional methods or recommends the Heisig method as a study method for kanji.

How about random stories on internet message boards. Are those count?


Show me a reputable journal/study that shows Heisig methods are NOT more successful than traditional methods or recommends NOT using Heisig's method as a study method for kanji. :)

.

NO! NO! NO! NO!
LOGICAL FALLACY! LOGICAL FALLACY!

You came on here and boasted about your method. You, therefore, have to provide evidence FOR YOUR CLAIM! Saying to your opponent that he does not have proof of the contrary does nothing to prove your point.

You don't prove ghosts exist by saying one can't prove they don't exist.

biku23
May 19th, 2009, 10:27
Spaced repitition has a ton of research behind the concept.

There are quite a lot of Japanese language programs out there. I've never heard of any that use or recommend RTK. The book has been out for more than 20 years but not picked up by any major school of Japanese.

That should say something.

SRS has a ton of research, and has not been adopted by any major school of anything either.

I'm surprised by the lack of studies that either show the success or failure of using RTK, but then again I don't know of public studies of any Japanese study materials. If there's some guide somewhere that shows "This book has proved to give better results than that one" I'd be interested to know.

My guess is that training in reading Japanese to non-Japanese who don't come from a Chinese background has quite a poor success ratio regardless of what approac is used. It's beyond the scope of most Japanese language schools to train a high level of Japanese literacy.

biku23
May 19th, 2009, 10:49
How about random stories on internet message boards. Are those count?



NO! NO! NO! NO!
LOGICAL FALLACY! LOGICAL FALLACY!

You came on here and boasted about your method. You, therefore, have to provide evidence FOR YOUR CLAIM! Saying to your opponent that he does not have proof of the contrary does nothing to prove your point.

You don't prove ghosts exist by saying one can't prove they don't exist.

I just came to say "Hey, I did RTK and it was good for my reading", then you guys started saying "it's a waste of time", but without having any proof that it's a waste of time as far as I can see.

The "no authority said it's good" card was used, so I don't see why I can't use the "no authority said it's no good" card.

The fact that RTK is not used or recommended by schools is a better argument, that I can't counter other than to say RTK is a book for self-study.

Neither of us have proof of which is better, but I think we both have our own reading abilities that validate that the way we learned got us there.

AliDimayev
May 19th, 2009, 11:00
The "no authority said it's good" card was used, so I don't see why I can't use the "no authority said it's no good" card.
.

If this is a serious question, then you can't be helped.

I developed a new treatment for cancer. I take a hammer and smash your knee caps.

No authority has said it is good, yet, but on the other hand no authority has said it is no good.

mattyjaddy
May 19th, 2009, 11:06
So I just wasted a good bit of my life and Japanese reading time catching up on the posts here.

I guess I have to agree with Dombay and Timoshi. The OP was looking for advice and it's gotten clearly away from that. That's what I originally posted and I'm sorry that I got drawn into the debate.

For those that came here just to start a debate, find threads where the debate is already going.

Sorry youlovetonyt!! To return to advice for you, if you're still reading: I learned kana before I came to Japan on JET. I found it very helpful when going to restaurants where menus are often written with hiragana and katakana and reading the school lunch menu which is all kana. I learned a lot of food vocabulary very quickly that way. It's nice to know what you're eating when you get here.

How's your study plan going?

Brokenvai
May 19th, 2009, 11:14
Thanks for that - dom

AliDimayev
May 19th, 2009, 11:15
What the hell did I do?

capn jazz
May 19th, 2009, 11:50
Wow, what Heiseg cult linked here??

UPGRAYEDD
May 19th, 2009, 12:00
All I want is a simple language school, university, or professor of Japanese to recommend the Heisig method of learning kanji. This is a really simple thing to ask for as I can find dozens of programs, professors, and language schools who advocate the method I use to learn kanji(KIC).

RTK has been around longer too but no school recommends the system. If it is a solid method with backed up research why is that?

Who is spitting on me here?

biku23
May 19th, 2009, 12:26
Kanji in Context is a great material for intermediate study. I use it too. It's not water & oil, the two are complement eachother.

JackAttack
May 19th, 2009, 12:45
biku23...I'm with you. We're going to study Japanese with whatever works best for us, and we will prosper. All we really can do is tell them to keep up their work and hope the best for them.

Yeah, what cult linked to here?!

This comment sounds like one of those radical religious groups that tries to "save" people. :roll:

UPGRAYEDD
May 19th, 2009, 12:52
Maybe RTK helps people remember how to write stuff. But I don't think it is a system to spend months on before starting to learn kanji readings. Let alone something to go through before kana.

Which is probably why no schools use it.

I think a far superior method would be to spend the first 6 months going through a simple textbook like the genki series and to give youself a solid foundation in basic Japanese (grammar, reading, writing, listening, hopefully speaking too).

After you get this basic foundation I think the best book out there for learning the kanji is kanji in context. If you get the first 1200 kanji in the book you should be able to work your way through newspapers and junior high level books and pick up the rest of the kanji through exposure with increasingly difficult reading materials...Then if you are having some problems remembering how to write kanji you can dabble in some Heisig at this point. However, I would personally recommend checking out the 漢字覚える辞典 series at this point to keep everything in Japanese.

That's all I'll really say on this subject. This subject is a dead horse that pops up on every forum related to learning Japanese on the internet. I should stay away from the argument more often.

I am curious though, whos been linking to us here?

dombay
May 19th, 2009, 13:02
On topic please.

Urthona
May 19th, 2009, 13:10
Maybe RTK helps people remember how to write stuff. But I don't think it is a system to spend months on before starting to learn kanji readings. Let alone something to go through before kana.

Which is probably why no schools use it.

I think a far superior method would be to spend the first 6 months going through a simple textbook like the genki series and to give youself a solid foundation in basic Japanese (grammar, reading, writing, listening, hopefully speaking too).

After you get this basic foundation I think the best book out there for learning the kanji is kanji in context. If you get the first 1200 kanji in the book you should be able to work your way through newspapers and junior high level books and pick up the rest of the kanji through exposure with increasingly difficult reading materials...Then if you are having some problems remembering how to write kanji you can dabble in some Heisig at this point. However, I would personally recommend checking out the 漢字覚える辞典 series at this point to keep everything in Japanese.

That's all I'll really say on this subject. This subject is a dead horse that pops up on every forum related to learning Japanese on the internet. I should stay away from the argument more often.

I am curious though, whos been linking to us here?

I've tried to find 漢字覚える辞典 but I can't find it on amazon - it just gives me some computer program. Does it go by some other name.

Also useful are dictionaries aimed for kids because they still furigana the more difficult words but can provide good practice when looking things up.

UPGRAYEDD
May 19th, 2009, 13:15
I've tried to find 漢字覚える辞典 but I can't find it on amazon - it just gives me some computer program. Does it go by some other name.

Also useful are dictionaries aimed for kids because they still furigana the more difficult words but can provide good practice when looking things up.

Yea my bad the full name is the 小学生のための漢字をおぼえる辞典

Timoshi
May 19th, 2009, 15:12
On topic please.


Can I keep talking about onions?

dombay
May 19th, 2009, 15:16
Um .. yea if you want?

Timoshi
May 19th, 2009, 15:20
Katakana word オニオン

katsudon
May 19th, 2009, 16:31
Katakana word オニオン

Actually I was super impressed by your heisig story for 葱.

Did you know that 玉 means 'ball' in Japanese. So it means 'ball onion!' 玉葱!

Also, Japanese people do not distinguish between scallions(AKA green onions, AKA spring onions, occasionally but confoundingly called shallots) and leeks in the same way that we do in the USA. One time, I was working in an Izakaya as a bar girl, and the lady running the shop was practicing her English with me. She asked me to 'cut the leeks' for her. I tried to tell her that they were actually called 'green onions' or 'scallions' but her dictionary gave the translation as 'leek' so she absolutely refused to take my word for it, and said that I must be wrong.

I tried to explain that a 'leek' was a 'fat negi' but then she told me that 'fat negi is still negi' and wouldn't accept my answer.

I got kinda pissed. Then a drunk old Japanese man bought me another beer and I poured half of it down the sink and smiled sweetly.

dombay
May 19th, 2009, 18:34
Wow. Is Onions the new ITIL fanta?

Wakatta
May 19th, 2009, 22:06
Wow, what Heiseg cult linked here??
私不好其新来人。

同思?

Avocado
May 19th, 2009, 22:49
:073:

mentat
May 20th, 2009, 01:10
If you are really dedicated then you could be reading the following more complicated sentence in the same amount of time it initially took you to go through RTK.



社会党の猛烈な反対にもかかわらず、その議案は過半数で可決された。



Same for one that has completed RTK.
But he can learn 50+ of this in a day.
In 2 months after finishing RTK, so 5 months after starting, I had memorized readings for 40% of the joyo.

This is a post from my blog 2 months after finishing RTK, from 2008年9月10日.
http://onhowtolearn.blogspot.com/2008/09/jlpt.html

kamukamuume
May 20th, 2009, 02:03
I tried to explain that a 'leek' was a 'fat negi' but then she told me that 'fat negi is still negi' and wouldn't accept my answer.

that's gotta be the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. she's breaking down boundaries and you're complaining?

dombay
May 22nd, 2009, 15:25
Yea I'm deleting any new reference to Heisig in here.

There is plenty of Heisig debate threads elsewhere and if you want to have a Heisig fanboy club start a new thread.

Wakatta - what language is that supposed to be? It almost makes sense in Chinese? Or maybe it's my Chinese that sucks.

--

Does anyone have any tips particularly for the new people about learning J?

I remember back at the Kobe Conference this guy gave a lecture about learning Japanese and he started talking about his friends who got really good by just whoring out his shitty J to anyone who would listen. Striking up conversations with checkout chicks, Taxi drivers, people on the train, whatever.

Struck me as an annoying dickhead personally but you cannot argue with results.

Wakatta
May 22nd, 2009, 19:33
Wakatta - what language is that supposed to be? It almost makes sense in Chinese? Or maybe it's my Chinese that sucks.

It was a joke targeted at the H-...people. A message hammered together using the "key meanings" for each of those kanji.


私不好其新来人。

同思?

I-not-like-these-new-come-people.

same-think?

I.e., "I don't like these fanboys."

Nukemarine
May 28th, 2009, 08:30
Hey everybody!!

So I always wanted to visit Japan since high school. Now that I have a job and some money saved up, I decided to start planning a trip. My goal was to visit in the summer of 2010 and to spend the year in between learning some conversational Japanese so I could travel comfortably and not rely on tour guides and what not.

Anyway, I was talking to a friend about this plan and they told me about JET. After doing some research, I decided that it was something I REALLY wanted to do. So now, I stepped up my goals, and want to learn more than just conversational Japanese. As of now, I have the Rosetta Stone software, the Pimsleur audio books, and the Japanese for Busy People I book (and workbook) (romanized version).

Now this is an overwhelming amount of material to deal with. What do you think should be my first step? I'd prefer to teach myself as much as I can before I spend money on a class. Do I start with memorizing Hiragana + Katakana? Like, I have no clue how to even start.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank in advance and I look forward to becoming a part of this online community.

1. Start putting Japanese into your life - find movies in Japanese (English movies that are dubbed, Japanese movies you know the plot about so you can watch without English subtitles). Find music you like in Japanese. Put Japanese posters up in your room. Put Japanese websites as your homepage. Basically, if you were going to do something in English, try it instead in Japanese. Note: It's much easier to swallow if you do this with stuff you already know (anime you watched with English subtitles, English movies you've seen, Yahoo homepage, music type, etc.).

2. Learn Kana - Don't take more than 6 study hours to do it.

3. To start up basic speaking/understanding, go to Japanesepod101 as many say it's better than Pimsleur in that a) it's basically free. b) it's current. c) it's faster.

4. Learn to write and recognize Kanji. Should take about 100 study hours per 1000 kanji. There are various methods, but the "Movie Method" seems interesting. http://drmoviemethod.blogspot.com/2008_08_01_archive.html as you'll learn kanji's meaning (in English) and the onyomi associated with it.

5. After Kanji, learn basic grammar via sentences and a spaced repetition system. I recommend Tae Kim's guide to Japanese (www.guidetojapanese.org (http://www.guidetojapanese.org)) basic and essential chapters here. Those 550 sentences can take about 100 hours to learn.

6. After Grammar, build up basic vocabulary via sentences and an SRS. I recommend the Smart.fm lists built from Cerego's Kanji.Odyssey.2001 books. Assume about 100 hours of study/review per 1000 words/sentences.

By this point, you've invested anywhere upto 500 study hours. In addition, you should have watched 1000 hours worth of shows in Japanese (repeat viewings are just as cool). Hopefully you've been writing during your reviews and reading stuff such as mangas, scripts, websites and books.

It doesn't take long to where you find you can understand Japanese shows with Japanese subtitles. After that, you begin to understand shows without subtitles.

Good skills to you regardless your choices.

(edited to fill in deleted steps).

Urthona
May 29th, 2009, 10:17
Deleted - Further discussion of Heisig should take place in an Heisig argument thread.

enigmaneo
May 29th, 2009, 12:07
I think it's a personal choice. Being literate does help, and who's to say you can't do both at the same time. Your two ideas aren't mutually exclusive.