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Re: [tlug] Remembering the Kanji

>>>>> "sjs" == sjs  <> writes:

    sjs> wrote:
    >> wrote:
    >>> The Japanese have a significant advantage in learning to write
    >>> Kanji over us -- several actually.  The first is that they
    >>> already know the language before they start learning to write.
    >> I don't see how that helps with *writing* kanji. But there is
    >> no denyin they *do* have an advantage :)
    sjs> They are only learning to write the language -- they already
    sjs> know the words and syntax.  We are trying to learn words,
    sjs> syntax, and writing all at the same time.  Imagine having to
    sjs> learn "See Spot run.  Run Spot, run."  if you had to learn
    sjs> the words and what the words mean and how to spell them all
    sjs> at the same time.  I still remember parts of the books we
    sjs> learned from here in the U.S. when I was growing up.

    >>> I can't learn Japanese like they do -- I already have a
    >>> context in which I'm trying to put a new language. They start
    >>> with a blank slate.
    >> But still, they start with simple texts which introduce bacis
    >> kanji, and then more advanced texts which introduce more
    >> kanji. The difference being that you have to learn the word and
    >> the kanji that make it up, while they already know the word. A
    >> similar approach is effective for gaijin as well. Remembering
    >> the word+kanji in a certain context is easier than studying it
    >> in isolation.

Yes and no. If you learn the Kanji slowly and from simple and most
frequently used to more complex and rare, you lose some of the
insights that you only have when you learn them all at once and then
know them all and you will get problems writing them. Reading Kanji is
much easier. You have a lot of help. You have the Kanji in context
with a story and almost always in a compound or with as a verb with
hiragana ending, but when you have to write it, there is no help
unless you use your computer. 

    sjs> Essentially this is what Remembering_Kanji is trying to do,
    sjs> but Heisig is breaking the kanji up by radicals and
    sjs> primitives and presenting them in an order where you build on
    sjs> what you know -- at least that is how it's being explained.
    sjs> And as each is presented, there is a story that goes with it.
    sjs> For instance the character for old is presented as a
    sjs> gravestone with a cross on it, if I remember correctly.

After a while you will forget the story and still know the Kanji. For
some you may even forget the components especially if the don't occur
in other Kanji. But in the end you can describe a 20 stroke Kanji with
two or three words and write it down without a problem.

    sjs> What is different here and makes me a bit nervous is that
    sjs> there is no Japanese presented with the learning process.
    sjs> Reading -- or at least learning the Kanji is independent of
    sjs> learning the language.

Yes, that is why Heisig's method can only be seen as a starting point.
For me it was espcially difficult to get into learning meanings for
Kanji that I already knew, because why bother, but it gets you into
trouble when you get them as part of another Kanji. 

    sjs> The woman who suggested the book to me was my Japanese
    sjs> teacher for the short period I was last in Tokyo.  We're
    sjs> still in touch, and I trust her skills.  I'm going to do this
    sjs> along with the more traditional classroom approach (I'm
    sjs> enrolled at the local J.C. as well) and see where it
    sjs> leads. So far, the results look promising.

I think that is the way Heisig intended it. The method was never meant
to be stand alone. The way he describes it, he used the method when he
was waiting to get into a japanese class and thought, why not learn
all the Kanji, so that he had something to prepare for the course
while he was waiting.
I guess, it could be compared to learning latin, before you start
learning French, Italian or Spanish. In itself it makes not a lot of
sense, but as a starting point it helps you get accustomed.
I first learned Japanese in a class at the Japanese cultural
institute, where you had two sessions a week and only learned about
700 - 800 Kanji in three years I was there. I forgot most of those,
because I did not keep up with my Japanese after my year in Japan and
when I came across the Heisig book, I thought that maybe I could try
starting again.  
I must say that just knowing a meaning for each Kanji (which you don't
usually learn in Japanese class at first) helps a lot with
understanding at least part of what I can see on JSTV (mostly NHK news
which they broadcast unencrypted) and even on CCTV (a chinese news
channel that broadcasts in Europe via satellite). 
I am learning about 100 Kanji a week using Heisig and the Leitner
method (too bad I didn't know about before) 
and will be done with the first 2000 in about four weeks. That is not
very fast and a serious student could probably learn it much faster.
After that I will try to get into some vocabulary and look at my old
text books and start reading more Japanese.


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