View Full Version : Learning japanese (kanji) Could need a little advice.

10-15-2007, 11:27 AM
Hello everyone. I weren't sure if this actually was the right place to post this, but I take a chance.
A few months I started reading a little about the japanese language, and found out that if I wanted to learn the language (as I am), I start with learning Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. The two first ones didn't seem to be very difficult to learn, but Kanji, there are so many (what shall I actually call it? Letters?). There seems to be 1945 letters in the jōyō kanji, so there are very many to learn. (Am I really supposed to learn all those?) The problem is, I don't know which I should start with. How many I should star to learn before I go over to the grammar.
Would be very thankful for serious replies.

10-15-2007, 01:22 PM
I think I posted in the books sticky about the Kanji book I'm using for my Japanese class this term. If you can get your hands on that, it's definitely worth doing. That book is amazing.

10-16-2007, 12:00 AM
There are soooo many different ways to learn kanji. For me, writing and using seemed to work best. For others, flash cards are better. And others imagine kanji as pictures.

For picture based kanji, this book (http://www.amazon.com/Kanji-Pict-O-Graphix-Over-Japanese-Mnemonics/dp/0962813702/ref=pd_bbs_2/002-8119718-9804813?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1192506904&sr=8-2) is quite popular. But be careful with this method because a lot of people I've know that have done this method seem to halt at around 150 or so kanji.

Flash cards like these (http://www.amazon.com/Kana-Cards-Tuttle-Flash/dp/0804835500/ref=sr_1_1/002-8119718-9804813?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1192507108&sr=1-1) **shameless plug for hubby!** are really good and handy. Plus, they are easy to take with you and study anywhere.

When I study kanji, I like to do so in groups and in radicals. For example, water radicals. This is especially helpful for more advanced kanji and with compounds.

10-16-2007, 04:59 AM
Whenever you see a new kanji you don't know, look it up in the dictionary immediately, then remember how it's said and written and what it means. Practice writing it over and over. If you don't know how to look it up in a dictionary because you don't know how it's read, use a multi-radical kanji look-up dictionary like this one that I use (http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1R). It's also the main online dictionary that I use whenever I have trouble with words.

It's also a good idea to pick up Japanese books that have furigana in them. Furigana are the little kana letters written on top or beside the kanji, so you know how it's read. This'll help you look it up in the dictionary, because you can just type the furigana and look for the kanji itself. Then practice writing it, because knowing how to type it doesn't really help your written skills.

10-16-2007, 09:32 AM
Flash cards like these (http://www.amazon.com/Kana-Cards-Tuttle-Flash/dp/0804835500/ref=sr_1_1/002-8119718-9804813?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1192507108&sr=1-1) **shameless plug for hubby!** are really good and handy. Plus, they are easy to take with you and study anywhere.

Hm...for some reason I thought you were married to a Japanese guy, what with the whole living-and-working-in-Japan-for-what-2-years-+-and-speaking-and-writing-Japanese thing...

10-16-2007, 10:01 AM
Personally, I use this site (http://www.learn-japanese.info/kanjifirst.html) for learning kanji (that is actually a link to the kanji students in Japan learn in their first year). On that page is also a link to the explanations of the kanji, which is quite useful. You can go here (http://www.learn-japanese.info/indexw.html) and click on the different links under Kanji Charts to get to the other kanji charts. Apparently they only have explanations for years 1-3 though, sorry. But I still find the site very helpful.

10-16-2007, 10:04 AM
Wow that made me feel like such a noob...I know just over half of those XD

10-16-2007, 10:40 AM
I used to teach some of the first graders how to write basic kanji. But by the time they got to the end of 3rd grade, they were a little better than me. It's surprising how much kanji they have to learn in such a short time!

OT: my hubby and I met here in Japan, but neither of us are Japanese. A little odd, but not uncommon. Two of my friends did the same thing with their significant others. :)

10-16-2007, 02:16 PM
Thanks a lot everyone. I think I will try the site dragon_nataku posted. It looked really neat, actually.
And the "Kana Cards" book didn't cost very much, so I guess I'll buy one to see if I like the book. (Don't have much money right now >.<).

10-17-2007, 10:12 AM
kana cards are flash cards, not a book. Those are also for hiragana and katakana, but there are kanji flash cards by the same company.

10-22-2007, 05:15 PM
If you're serious about learning Japanese, I recommend a method that lets you understand what components and radicals make up each character. Making mnemonic stories to tie the shapes to the meaning, like with Heisig's Remembering the Kanji series, or learning the actual etymologies, depending on what suits you.
Myself, I learned all the meanings of the 2000 kanji, separated from the meaning so I could learn more at a time, using story mnemonics. Then I used Remembering the Kanji vol.2 to start learning the on-yomi for the kanji; the book categorizes them in a way that makes them easier to learn. I've only gone through about half the book, but it's given me a good enough foundation to just learn the rest of the readings from vocabulary.

You don't need to buy flash cards for kana! If you really need flash cards for them, you can make your own for free :)

10-22-2007, 08:17 PM
Kanji was a little hard for me at first
but I started to get the hang
of it but It took me a long time!
I sill need a little more work though....:p

10-23-2007, 09:13 AM
You don't have to learn all the kanji really. You can certainly get by with just knowing about 300 of them. All of the common stuff + a few technical terms like the kanji for "element" or "falsification" etc. Stuff you don't really see often, but can be useful in situations.

Though it'll make you seem well-educated if you know a lot. News headlines, for example, like to use a lot of technical kanji.

I recommend just taking it easy. Learn all the easy ones first, then have like a kanji-of-the-day thing going on. Learn to read and write the kanji, and how it's said in different ways in Japanese. And the meaning, of course. If you can find an online resource or some kind of word-of-the-day calendar, all the better.

10-23-2007, 10:59 AM
The radicals are definitely really important. For example, the verb "iu" (to say) is also a radical for anything to do with language-based communication. You'll see it as the left radical of such kanji as "yo-mu" (to read), "hana-su" (to speak), and "go" (language, like "nihongo"). Additionally, if you learn a lot of the basic kanji (grade 1/2) first, you'll see, as it says in my *shameless plug* Kanji book (and no, I'm not getting paid to say that, the book really is just that awesome), that a lot of kanji are derived from others (for example, the kanji for "love" (su-ki) is woman + child, and the one for "bright" (aka-rui) is sun + moon).

Also, cheaper than getting Kanji flash cards (and, imo, more useful) is buying a book and making your own. That's what I do. I've spent about $4 between kanji and vocabulary flash cards (plus, albeit, about $120 on various Japanese textbooks), and I have about 300 of them, plus about 100 blank ones. I also find that my book contains a lot of not-very-important information that, while it is useful to know, is not something I would put on a flash card, so it helps to have both the book and the cards.

10-25-2007, 11:20 PM
You don't have to learn all the kanji really. You can certainly get by with just knowing about 300 of them. All of the common stuff + a few technical terms like the kanji for "element" or "falsification" etc. Stuff you don't really see often, but can be useful in situations.

If you actually want to read Japanese, you'll need more than 300 kanji o.o

10-26-2007, 12:00 AM
I dunno I only have about that many and I seem to do fine. o_o Whatever I don't know I just look up in a dictionary. Though that's probably not a good way to go really. >_> *curls up in a dark corner*

10-26-2007, 09:16 AM
lol I only know about 70, and most of the complicated ones I learned from this site (although in context I can understand a lot more even though I don't know what they look like). Then again, I've never been to Japan XD

11-08-2007, 07:40 AM
In my univeristy most students of japanese use the following when learning:

dictionary (http://wakan.manga.cz/?page=about&lang=en)

WaKan has nearly everything you need when it comes to learning. Also, there is an option where you indicate the kanji you already know and you can print your own flashcards.

Also if you're a little confused with which kanji to learn, I recommend:

this site (http://www.kanjisite.com/)

You'll find here the kanji grouped accordingly to the their level of proficiency in Japanese language. If you're learning kanji I think it's important to find some kind of the system so that you don't get lost.
Combine it with the possibilities WaKan gives you and learning will become a real fun yeah :D

11-08-2007, 10:19 PM
My best advice for learning kanji is to start learning Chinese. Maybe that's a little extreme, but it, in my experience, helped me get a handle on radicals better than learning the same characters in Japanese would have--since Japan borrowed the Chinese system some twelve or thirteen hundred years ago, the modern meanings of kanji have come, in many cases, very far from the original intents. Chinese hasn't evolved to nearly the same extent, so many of the characters that comprise radicals still have the basic meaning that the radical contributes to kanji.

That aside, there's really only one way to actually learn kanji--years of practice--though different means work better for different people. Myself, I rely primarily on experiencing the characters firsthand, over and over, but flash cards, or practicing writing them out many times over, help more for other people. No matter what, you're going to need a look-up system, though some good ones have been recommended in this thread already.

Takanori Nishikawa
12-29-2007, 07:52 PM
In actuality you need 1500-2000 kanji characters to be able to read the language and understand it all. In total there are about 3000 Kanji that are used in Japan. About 1000 of them are college level and really only needed if you're working in the government or as a journalist, etc. Some good books are the Kanji de Manga. They're kinda silly but they teach the same Kanji that students are required to know in Japan before they can move to the next levels. They currently only have four volumes but that'd make a good start. As mentioned before, Kanji site is a good website, but bare in mind that it is a review site for students taking the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) and not really a teaching site.

A good study method I found for learning Kanji is to take say, ten a weak and write them over and over with their meanings and pronunciation, then quiz yourself at the end of the weak. For me the biggest thing is stroke order. It's hard not being lazy when it comes to a character that has 20 or so strokes. ~_~ Also, Something else I've noticed with people that are learning is that they don't pronounce things right. Don't listen to the damn school teachers on pronunciation! It's wrong! Unless the teacher is from the orient and knows the actual language, don't bother. Listen to interviews and such on youtube or other sites. Otherwise it'll be really hard to understand actual conversations. Trust me.

A good example is Okashi(candy) and Okashii(funny). With the first one the emphasis is on the "Ka" and the second the Emphasis is on the "O". It may not be much but when the Japanese are talking a mile a minute, it can make a difference. Also be sure to drag out the "Ee" sound on the second one.

Ok, I'm off my soapbox now. XP