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Thread: Learning vocab words in Japan

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    Senior Member Happyscrappy's Avatar
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    Default Learning vocab words in Japan

    I've had 2 yrs of university Japanese (5 days/wk). I think I've learned most of the common grammar (definitely not all, and not much informal), know 400 kanji, but have a slightly weaker vocabulary than I wish I had at this point.

    If you're at the point where you can (with difficulty) converse in Japanese enough to hold basic conversations, is it hard to really start picking it up if you're immersed in it? I would assume at this point, I could pretty much focus on learning new vocab and work on my pronunciation; I guess what I'm asking is: is there a point in learning Japanese, especially if you're in Japan, where you can pick up vocab quickly? I know words for a lot of things, but, for example, we haven't learned "toothbrush" but have learned "to brush one's teeth". I'm looking to fill in the gaps, and am hoping I can learn some stuff just by hearing it, and not through ONLY memorizing it on a page, as that takes quite a while.

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    Али Димаев AliDimayev's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocab words in Japan

    yeah, it happens that you:ll pick stuff up jsut by listening and such
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyakuman View Post
    As usual, you all (Aliを除く) have your heads up your asses.

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    Default Re: Learning vocab words in Japan

    I can't begin to tell you all the useless education-related vocabulary I've picked up.

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    VIP UPGRAYEDD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocab words in Japan

    Try learning the rest of the Kanji.

    I hear a lot of words from time to time but I don't really put the connection in my mind until I learn the kanji that make them up. For hiragana words I guess I'm out of luck, unless I use them often with my girlfriend or practice sentences.
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    ITIL's Favorite Beaner! Gusuke's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocab words in Japan

    I found one of the best ways is to carry my DS around with me and try to read ad's on the train. If I don't know a kanji, I just look them up.

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    Али Димаев AliDimayev's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gusuke View Post
    I found one of the best ways is to carry my DS around with me and try to read ad's on the train. If I don't know a kanji, I just look them up.
    Yes yes yes. I always carry a little memo pad with me and write down kanji and words I come across that I dont know. THen I look them up.
    <a href=http://www.ithinkimlost.com/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=3134&dateline=1245615339 target=_blank>http://www.ithinkimlost.com/image.ph...ine=1245615339</a>
    Quote Originally Posted by Hyakuman View Post
    As usual, you all (Aliを除く) have your heads up your asses.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Happyscrappy View Post
    I've had 2 yrs of university Japanese (5 days/wk). I think I've learned most of the common grammar (definitely not all, and not much informal), know 400 kanji, but have a slightly weaker vocabulary than I wish I had at this point.

    If you're at the point where you can (with difficulty) converse in Japanese enough to hold basic conversations, is it hard to really start picking it up if you're immersed in it? I would assume at this point, I could pretty much focus on learning new vocab and work on my pronunciation; I guess what I'm asking is: is there a point in learning Japanese, especially if you're in Japan, where you can pick up vocab quickly? I know words for a lot of things, but, for example, we haven't learned "toothbrush" but have learned "to brush one's teeth". I'm looking to fill in the gaps, and am hoping I can learn some stuff just by hearing it, and not through ONLY memorizing it on a page, as that takes quite a while.
    I came here in exactly the same position as you (although I had studied here for a semester previously). 2 years of total Japanese around 400 kanji (half of which I was pretty rusty on).

    I had the same problem with feeling like there were a lot of words I was never taught and really should know. But you pick that kind of stuff up really quick. I honestly didn't study very hard from a book the first 3 months but I learned a lot just living and socializing. I still probably have some basic vocab missing but just in the 6 months so far I've come a long way.

    I should mention though my listening comprehension was a bit better than average due to having a girlfriend who spoke 95% Japanese to me for two years.

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    ERRRRRGG Avocado's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocab words in Japan

    There is definitely a lot of vocab that you learn by living here and being immersed, but I don't think that it's as great an impact as you may think initially. When I compare myself here to people who've studied for the same that I have, but with all of it in their home country, my grasp of vocabulary is much greater. There is a lot of stuff that I hear that I can't for the life of me remember (or don't both to study as much as I should), but for every time that happens there's a new word that I know.

    +1 on what Upgrayedd said. When I hear a new world I can sometimes figure out the meaning by "hearing" the kanji. It's definitely not fool-proof, but it helps a lot. Although kanji can be frustrating, it makes life a lot easier in the long run.

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    Resident ewok wicket's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocab words in Japan

    It's heaps easier because you can watch TV, listen to the radio and (attempt to, in my case) read newspapers.
    It's been much harder for me to maintain my vocab. now I've left Japan simply because I'm not hearing Japanese all the time.
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    Али Димаев AliDimayev's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocab words in Japan

    Plus, and Wickey will agree with me, on many a tv progream they put the automatic subtitle, which is a great way to help in the reading of kanji and the checking that you are are hearing them correctly.
    <a href=http://www.ithinkimlost.com/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=3134&dateline=1245615339 target=_blank>http://www.ithinkimlost.com/image.ph...ine=1245615339</a>
    Quote Originally Posted by Hyakuman View Post
    As usual, you all (Aliを除く) have your heads up your asses.

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    Resident ewok wicket's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocab words in Japan

    Yeah, especially things like news and weather reports, which tend to repeat a lot of the same vocab.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gusuke View Post
    I found one of the best ways is to carry my DS around with me and try to read ad's on the train. If I don't know a kanji, I just look them up.
    +100 -- It's also really convenient if you find yourself in a restaurant and are confronted with a kanji you don't recognize. You can just hide it under the table while you smile at the waitress and tell her to get lost for a few minutes... (or, alternatively, wait to push the button).

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    Senior Member saritajuanita's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocab words in Japan

    OP, i was in the same boat as you when i came here

    i haven't really been studying from a book at all, but i have learned so many new words just from listening to the students/teachers and also by reading mixi. i look up words that i don't know and if you look them up two or three times, you'll have memorized them.

    there are also words that just get into your brain without even knowing them. the other day i said "あ、紙やぶれとる" (oh no, the paper's all ripped up) and it was like, what the hell, i didn't even know i knew that word.

    if you get here, get immersed AND study a little bit on the side (i agree with everyone saying 'kanji'), and generally want to improve japanese, i'm sure you'll have no problem picking up a lot of vocabulary in no time

  14. #14
    Daimyo ***** dombay's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocab words in Japan

    My vocab sucks. I can do grammar, kanji etc all right but non-kanji vocab I'm really shit at and I've been here for 3 years?

    I have never found a good way to practice vocab for say the JLPT or anything like that though other than drilling with kanji box or whatever though.
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    Senior Member Happyscrappy's Avatar
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    Well, I do have the DS Kanji dictionary, so I'll be doing that. Kanji is easy for me, as I have a good visual memory...if they didn't all have multiple uses I'd be all set; I'd just memorize them and go from there (small wonder why I'm contemplating learning mandarin).

    The problem with vocab and just hearing it, is if you aren't sure of what grammar they're using to conjugate it with (especially with slang) you probably won't be able to figure out the dictionary form just by hearing it.

    sarita - that's what I'd really like..to be able to learn lots of common phrases just by hearing them every day; from there I'd be able to figure out what the individual words are (using a textbook) and apply them differently later on.
    Last edited by Happyscrappy; March 17th, 2009 at 05:42. Reason: I had a big block of text that needed breaking up

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    Senior Member kamukamuume's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocab words in Japan

    Quote Originally Posted by happyscrappy
    The problem with vocab and just hearing it, is if you aren't sure of what grammar they're using to conjugate it with (especially with slang) you probably won't be able to figure out the dictionary form just by hearing it.
    that's definitely true, but I think learning basic grammar first and then just adding to your grammar knowledge bit by bit goes a long way in terms of this. it's much easier to have an extensive grasp of grammar (and use that knowledge to infer what new words might mean) than vice versa.

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    Senior Member saritajuanita's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Happyscrappy View Post
    The problem with vocab and just hearing it, is if you aren't sure of what grammar they're using to conjugate it with (especially with slang) you probably won't be able to figure out the dictionary form just by hearing it.

    i dunno... i think you should give yourself more credit. if you have a working knowledge of how japanese verbs are conjugated, and you hear it everyday, it's easier than you would think to figure out the dictionary form.

    in my crazy kyushu dialect, おらす 's dictionary form is いる
    (おるis いる, and おらす is the 3rd person form of おる)

    it took me a couple of months to figure out that sucker, but it could be figured out just by listening to context and hearing other verbs conjugated in the same way (話さす、行かす、取らす, etc). your brain gets used to it, even though you didn't formally study it. isn't that the way babies learn language? our brains are wired to get used to new words.

  18. #18
    Али Димаев AliDimayev's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocab words in Japan

    3rd person?

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    Senior Member saritajuanita's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trelent View Post
    3rd person?

    yup. this dialect has 3rd person.

    just when you thought you had finished learning conjugation

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    Али Димаев AliDimayev's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocab words in Japan

    Fuck off and stick with hyojungo.

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