Learning kanji before Japanese?

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Re: Learning kanji before Japanese?

Postby Leurre » Fri Jan 21, 2022 9:38 am

A low value and somewhat facile comment, but in almost no language besides Japanese have I seen as much talk of starting before starting. I wonder sometimes if simply starting is not better, if the point is to learn the language. That's what I did for Japanese, or currently for Chinese, and it's worked out alright.
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Re: Learning kanji before Japanese?

Postby TSS42 » Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:00 am

Leurre wrote:A low value and somewhat facile comment, but in almost no language besides Japanese have I seen as much talk of starting before starting. I wonder sometimes if simply starting is not better, if the point is to learn the language. That's what I did for Japanese, or currently for Chinese, and it's worked out alright.


This is indeed true. I have never heard Chinese learners make so much noise about hanzi, and I say that as a Japanese learner myself, who is fond of making a lot of noises about kanji.

Clearly the Chinese learners are doing something right, but what is it?
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Re: Learning kanji before Japanese?

Postby Xenops » Sat Jan 22, 2022 7:57 pm

A thought I had, that is low-commitment, is trying out the Kanji Drop app. It's essentially old-school Tetris with kanji and radicals. Admittedly when you first play it can be frustrating if you don't know anything, but as you play by trial and error, you gain a sense of what makes a word or compound. Slowly, you learn vocabulary that way as well.
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Re: Learning kanji before Japanese?

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Sat Jan 22, 2022 9:19 pm

TSS42 wrote:This is indeed true. I have never heard Chinese learners make so much noise about hanzi, and I say that as a Japanese learner myself, who is fond of making a lot of noises about kanji.

Clearly the Chinese learners are doing something right, but what is it?


I'm not sure. I think there are many variables in play also for Chinese. Spoken language only, spoken+written, pinyin before hanzi, pinyin only, hanzi only... simplified vs. trad. Or both... :?
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Re: Learning kanji before Japanese?

Postby leosmith » Sat Jan 22, 2022 10:09 pm

Sonjaconjota wrote:Is this a good idea, or are there any reasons against it?

I think this is a bad idea for two reasons. 1) Learning kanji upfront like this requires you to review it regularly just to stay on top of it. 2) Having no other facet of the language to reinforce it makes it much harder to memorize and recall it.

In fact, these are the same reasons why I stopped recommending people learn “all” the kanji in a short period of time right when they start learning the language. I did this myself, using Heisig. It was years before I finally had all the kanji in play in my “normal” reading and writing, so I did tons of reviews just to stay on top of the ones not yet in use, which was a waste of time. And of course, the ones I hadn’t started to use were the hardest ones to memorize/recall.

So if I had to do it all over again, this is what I’d do. I wouldn’t start learning kanji until I had 2 or 3 months practice with the other facets of the language (conversing, listening, pronunciation, grammar and reading/writing with kana). Then I would do the free pdf for Heisig, which contains the first 100 or so kanji, in order to learn how to use the method, which I think is great. Next, I would learn all the kanji for all the vocabulary I already knew. Finally, I would only learn kanji as I encounter them, meaning if I learned a new word, I would learn its kanji, but not sooner.
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