Nihongo: listening and reading

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tungemål
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Nihongo: listening and reading

Postby tungemål » Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:07 pm

Japanese.

I will do another attempt at japanese.

I started to learn japanese more years ago than I dare to admit. I put down many hours, however I never felt I have gotten past the beginner stage. One problem is that I never took the studies too seriously, but...

Japanese is in some ways very difficult; in other ways not too difficult. The behemoth that is the japanese writing system is of course one huge challenge. If it weren't for that, japanese wouldn't be too bad. It has easy pronunciation and a regular grammar.

Still there are a couple of things that I find difficult with spoken japanese:
1 - many words are really similar and I confuse them.
2 - the japanese talk really fast.
3 - the grammar, if regular, and the word order is very different from european languages.

As a learner trying to use japanese in Japan, I find that people there are not always necessarily easy to speak with. They seem to only think of you as either a) able to speak japanese b) not able to speak japanese (they will assume b) of course). But when I manage to utter some words of japanese and they think a), often the replies will come as a deluge of very fast japanese that completely inundates me. Does anyone else have this experience?

Ok, enough complaining. Japanese is really interesting and Japan has a wonderful culture. I would like to advance from what I feel is still A1, to B1.
Last edited by tungemål on Sat Oct 19, 2019 9:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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tungemål
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Re: Nihongo: divide and conquer

Postby tungemål » Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:29 pm

This is an overview of what I did already in japanese. If you've got any comments on how I should proceed now, please write.

- I started with learning some spoken japanese. I used the "Teach yourself"-book, and the reason I chose that one was that it only uses romaji. At the time the writing system seemed to me like something impossible to learn.

- I learned the hiragana and the katakana.

- I have acquired a Anki-deck of 1600 words (romaji), that I know more or less well.

- I eventually understood that in order to advance there was no way around the kanji. When I discovered the Heisig method and the Kanji Koohi website I got enthusiastic and set myself the goal to get through the 2200 characters of Heisig book 1. This should in theory take 3-4 months of diligent studies, however before I had finished, two years had passed. This included some long breaks from the studies, but still, to do this in 3-4 months you need an iron discipline. But I can now say that I know most of the character, however: I can still not read japanese.

- I have done a good part of another beginner book - Colloquial japanese - where I got more listening practice and reading practice (the book introduces kanji gradually).

So now I need:
- to improve listening comprehension
- to learn more words
- to learn to read (but I haven't got any ambitions of reading novels in japanese).

Heisig:
I think the Heisig is a very good method, and Heisig uses the expression "divide and conquer". This is what I think is necessary with japanese. Learning this language is like needing to acquire two languages in one: the spoken one, and then to learn to write you just need to learn chinese as well (that is what it feels like). So divide the language learning into several tasks:
- learning the words as spoken
- learn the characters
- learn how to use the characters to write the words.
It is like a gigantic puzzle that might eventually come together.
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Re: Nihongo: divide and conquer

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Wed Oct 16, 2019 10:59 pm

tungemål wrote:As a learner trying to use japanese in Japan, I find that people there are not always necessarily easy to speak with. They seem to only think of you as either a) able to speak japanese b) not able to speak japanese (they will assume b) of course). But when I manage to utter some words of japanese and they think a), often the replies will come as a deluge of very fast japanese that completely inundates me. Does anyone else have this experience?
Yes, I have had this experience, and I think many members of the forum have had this experience, too, at least for their first target language if they learn more than one. Formal classes and self-study guides do not prepare us properly for listening comprehension and moreover do not prepare us for the amount of time being able to comprehend takes. So, you are not alone, but at least you know now what you face. Good luck.
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Re: Nihongo: divide and conquer

Postby devilyoudont » Thu Oct 17, 2019 2:17 am

tungemål wrote:Japanese.
As a learner trying to use japanese in Japan, I find that people there are not always necessarily easy to speak with. They seem to only think of you as either a) able to speak japanese b) not able to speak japanese (they will assume b) of course). But when I manage to utter some words of japanese and they think a), often the replies will come as a deluge of very fast japanese that completely inundates me. Does anyone else have this experience?

Japanese people are not very experienced with speaking with non native speakers, so their strategies to help you out are ineffective.

As an example, Japanese people will often try to incorporate more mimetic expressions when speaking to someone who is struggling... but these expressions generally are not part of courses for Japanese learners, and contrary to popular belief, their meaning is not self evident.

Japanese is spoken incredibly fast, Japanese speakers do slow down when someone is struggling, but unless it's someone who talks to a lot of foreigners for some reason, it is never slow enough for a beginner.

tungemål wrote:If you've got any comments on how I should proceed now, please write.

Since you started out years ago, I would brush up on the basics with a course such as Tae Kim's

If you just wanna grind out vocabulary, the core decks for Japanese on anki are good for this, and if you do all of them, you'll wind up with somewhere over 10k words. These vocabulary flash cards place vocabulary items into a sentence for context, and are voiced by native speakers. My experience with it is that the audio and sentences are good, but the pictures are sometimes incorrect.

Just doing listening and reading practice will also teach you vocabulary. You could just do listening and reading practice if you want. Personally, I find doing flashcards, and doing extensive listening and reading to be mutually reinforcing, but sometimes I get burned out on flash cards.

For listening practice, JLPT stories has material available from N5 up. You could try watching movies, dramas, and anime where you are already very familiar with the story without subtitles. If you're not already familiar with any Japanese media, Chi's Sweet Home and Shirokuma Cafe are both fairly approachable to beginners in my opinion.

For reading practice, some companies make graded readers, but they are nice but kind of expensive in my opinion. Old video games will have very little kanji in them due to memory issues. You can pick one you are already familiar with such as Pokemon, and play thru. Manga for children and teens will almost always have reading aids to assist with reading kanji. NHK Easy News is also an option.
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Re: Nihongo: listening and reading

Postby tungemål » Sat Oct 19, 2019 9:28 am

I believe in the "comprehensible input"-method. I like the approach that Steve Kaufmann advocates and so I will focus on listening and reading.

I restarted the "Colloquial Japanese" book, and will go through all the audio material for listening practice.

Thank you for your tips, devilyoudont. I think I've already got a good grasp of the grammar. Grinding out vocabulary sounds tempting, but I think I'd better do listening and reading practice. Flashcards with 10.000 words would probably take several years to finish? Are they only japanese-english, or both ways?

At the moment I collect websites that have easy listening material with transcript. The "JLPT stories" seems good. Another is https://newsinslowjapanese.com/.
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Re: Nihongo: divide and conquer

Postby brilliantyears » Sat Oct 19, 2019 6:29 pm

tungemål wrote:- I eventually understood that in order to advance there was no way around the kanji. When I discovered the Heisig method and the Kanji Koohi website I got enthusiastic and set myself the goal to get through the 2200 characters of Heisig book 1. This should in theory take 3-4 months of diligent studies, however before I had finished, two years had passed. This included some long breaks from the studies, but still, to do this in 3-4 months you need an iron discipline. But I can now say that I know most of the character, however: I can still not read japanese.

[...]

Heisig:
I think the Heisig is a very good method, and Heisig uses the expression "divide and conquer". This is what I think is necessary with japanese. Learning this language is like needing to acquire two languages in one: the spoken one, and then to learn to write you just need to learn chinese as well (that is what it feels like). So divide the language learning into several tasks:
- learning the words as spoken
- learn the characters
- learn how to use the characters to write the words.
It is like a gigantic puzzle that might eventually come together.
Hi! This is your friendly local Heisig-hater! My advice: dump the method.

Heisig is, at best, a decent way to get you familiar with the way characters look, in the absolute broadest sense, and that is me being nice about the method. After seeing x number of characters you'll get the idea (hell, you don't even need Heisig to do that for you imho). Drop it asap. You will benefit far more from learning vocabulary/compounds, with their pronunciations.

That said:
tungemål wrote:- I have acquired a Anki-deck of 1600 words (romaji), that I know more or less well.
Drop this one too. Move to a deck that has the kanji, hiragana and translation. Stay far far away from romaji, you don't need it since you already know hiragana+katakana. Using romaji will just muck things up. If you're using romaji because you feel your hiragana/katakana reading skills aren't up to speed: all the more reason to drop it. Trust me, you'll get the hang of hiragana in no time.
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Re: Nihongo: listening and reading

Postby devilyoudont » Sat Oct 19, 2019 6:47 pm

tungemål wrote:Are they only japanese-english, or both ways?


There are a number of versions of the deck floating around. The one I'm using is Japanese phrases on the front, English Translation on the back. I don't really need the translation in most cases tho (can usually understand unknown words from context at this level), but I do use it to quiz myself on various readings of the kanji.

Re: Heisig

I might be a particularly fail learner, but I didn't find in context methods or heisig alone to be sufficient.

In context methods: I failed to learn to distinguish phono-semantic compounents... (all kanji with 召 pronounced しょう are the same according to my stupid brain.

Heisig: Keywords can be misleading, contrary to claims in favor of Heisig, does not result in a transparent text for me.

So I try to do both. Heisig helps me distinguish similar looking kanji, looking at word in context helps me with the actual real meanings.
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Re: Nihongo: divide and conquer

Postby tungemål » Sun Oct 20, 2019 6:15 pm

brilliantyears wrote:...
Heisig is, at best, a decent way to get you familiar with the way characters look, in the absolute broadest sense, and that is me being nice about the method. After seeing x number of characters you'll get the idea (hell, you don't even need Heisig to do that for you imho). Drop it asap. You will benefit far more from learning vocabulary/compounds, with their pronunciations.


You may have a point, but could it be that you, who are at an advanced level, are now so familiar with the characters, that you don't remember how it was when all the kanji looked the same. Heisig, or rather the excellent https://kanji.koohii.com/ site that I used, is for learning to write the characters from memory. I think it was helpful. I already did all the 2200 common ones so at this point I consider myself finished with it.

brilliantyears wrote:
tungemål wrote:- I have acquired a Anki-deck of 1600 words (romaji), that I know more or less well.
Drop this one too. Move to a deck that has the kanji, hiragana and translation. Stay far far away from romaji, you don't need it since you already know hiragana+katakana. Using romaji will just muck things up. If you're using romaji because you feel your hiragana/katakana reading skills aren't up to speed: all the more reason to drop it. Trust me, you'll get the hang of hiragana in no time.


Ok, I agree, since my goal now is to learn to read simple texts.

I downloaded the core 2000 deck. It looks very good (with audio) so I think I will do it. Since I know most of the words already and am familiar with the kanji it should be feasible to go through 20 new cards pr day.
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Re: Nihongo: listening and reading

Postby tungemål » Mon Oct 21, 2019 11:06 am

I have done the 5 first lessons of Colloquial Japanese. That was easy, since I have done them before and it is a beginner's book.

I have also started with the core2000 deck. It will give me some serious vocabulary reading practice.
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Re: Nihongo: divide and conquer

Postby brilliantyears » Mon Oct 21, 2019 2:58 pm

tungemål wrote:
brilliantyears wrote:...
Heisig is, at best, a decent way to get you familiar with the way characters look, in the absolute broadest sense, and that is me being nice about the method. After seeing x number of characters you'll get the idea (hell, you don't even need Heisig to do that for you imho). Drop it asap. You will benefit far more from learning vocabulary/compounds, with their pronunciations.


You may have a point, but could it be that you, who are at an advanced level, are now so familiar with the characters, that you don't remember how it was when all the kanji looked the same. Heisig, or rather the excellent https://kanji.koohii.com/ site that I used, is for learning to write the characters from memory. I think it was helpful. I already did all the 2200 common ones so at this point I consider myself finished with it.
I wasn't always advanced and I wasn't always familiar with characters :)
The point is that learning characters separately and without any indication of their pronunciation is just a huge waste of time. I must say that site looks at least a little better since it does address pronunciation/readings, but the original Heisig method doesn't (and therefore, plainly said, it's a terrible method). But even if you do study them with pronunciation/readings, characters are rarely stand-alone and meanings vary depending on the compounds and/or grammatical endings. So you do get a basic idea of the meaning/reading of the kanji, but I still feel like you're doing double work by learning all the kanji separately first before you touch on compounds/actual vocabulary.

Again, that website looks better at least, and I can imagine if you combine it with a good sturdy vocab deck you're on the right track.
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