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a couple of questions/comments on this site

so far this site has been pretty fun: been using it for a day, almost finished with the level 1 lessons, and almost level 2 in exp, but i've a few questions and comments:

1) in the kanji testing of lessons, they use compound kanji where they combine new kanji with kanji that were not taught yet, and then test you on the differences between these. for example, they each you what 下 means, but then test you on compounds like 地下鉄 and 地下一階, and asks you to distinguish between those two (in pronunciation and meaning), when they haven't yet taught the meanings or pronunciations or the meanings of those other kanji yet. this seems a bit unfair, doesn't it? i would prefer if compounds only used kanji previously introduced. i know that's difficult, but that is generally how other kanji-learning systems tend to do it (at least from what i've seen on books and other sites). most of the time what i'm having trouble with are compounds that use kanji that i wasn't taught yet (my 'weak' list is mainly composed of that right now).

2) why are only 1456 kanji taught on the site, instead of 2000+ like with other systems? even kanjidamage, which specifically removes the kanji that are rarely seen, has around 1700. this seems a relatively small number. i've heard that to be literate in japanese, you need at least 2500 kanji, so 1456 seems limiting. i think i read somewhere in these forums that this site is planning on adding more later on, but the site has existed for about two or three years, and hasn't yet reached the full number of kanji. there are members with millions of experience points, and those members are probably limited by not being able to test themselves on all the kanji they need.

3) similarly, vocabulary is limited to around 1700, when the average functional vocabulary to learn a new language is around 10,000 to 30,000 words. the average native english speaker knows about 30,000 to 50,000 english words for example. 1700 seems very limiting. i would find this site a lot more useful if it had more than this. perhaps not having recorded pronunciations of so many words is a limiting factor (it costs money to have to pay someone to say all of those words), but couldn't they be added without pronunciation? i'd find the site a lot more useful with more than 1700 vocabulary -- even simple nintendo DS games like 'my japanese coach' has 10,000. so far this and the kanji number are my biggest complaints about the site, i feel like the potential of this site is limited by having such a small amount to learn. which is a pity because i love the idea and structure of the site better than any other site i've tried. but if i go to a site like memrise or use a program like anki and use pre-made anki decks, they have far larger kanji and vocabulary lists (and it's customizable), even though those aren't as fun to use.

4) the 'readings' part is hard to search through; there's no way to search for particular types of readings, just broad categories with a large number of pages. the readings are also not organized by difficulty level (it'd probably be a good idea to have a way to order them by new vocabulary size, with the ones that have the least new vocabulary ordered first). i think that limits this site too. by comparison, lingq's readings system is organized much better, and has more categories. i'd suggest looking at that site's japanese section for ideas on how to improve the 'readings' part of this site, because right now i don't see any advantage to using 'readings' here vs using it there instead.

5) i saw that this site is under-funded -- the donations don't even cover the server costs, and there's no paid version of the site. what i'd suggest is setting up a voluntary 'patreon' thing where people can automatically donate $1 a month or something if they wish. that would help pay for the servers and encourage future growth of the site.

6) some of the kanji compounds are missing meanings. this seems like more of a small oversight, but if i go to my 'weak' page and the kanji section of it, a lot of the compounds have no meanings listed. it's hard enough to memorize kanji compounds that have kanji that were not yet taught, but i also have to figure out the meanings of these compounds even though they aren't given? this seems almost cruel! for example, it gives me this compound to memorize: 午後四時半 -- but there's no meaning there! i can't even look it up in the dictionary, it's not there. so why is it asking me to memorize something and it doesn't tell me what it means? i can sort of deduce that it means 4:30 meal if i look up each kanji, but nowhere is that indicated on the site.

other than these problems, i love the site, so thanks for making it! i think it's a good start with lots of potential, and with some improvement could be one of the best sites for learning japanese.
posted by rinkuhero

Comments 9

  • Seti
    Stop complaining this is a FREE site. How rude of you.
  • mog86uk
    @Seti He did say he loves the site and is thankful towards the person who made it; I don't think he was too rude.

    There is a reason why the post definitely does appear rude, which I think is because of the way posts appear on the Social Feeds page--it looks like a massive wall of text taking up the whole screen of the main page. I've suggested before that the initial post of each feed should only show a limited number of lines (maybe 10 lines or fewer), and to view the rest of the post you have to do something like click a 'read more' link.

    @rinkuhero Addressing some of your points:

    1) Kanji lessons only question you on pronunciation. The pronunciation for 地下鉄 is given in that lesson. The pronunciation for 地下一階 would ask the user to figure it out with logic, given that they should already know how 地下 is pronounced and how the kanji following this can be pronounced. Your suggestion may be good one though.

    2) The site actually teaches less kanji than that, as the 1456 figure is the total number of kanji questions (made up of not just individual kanji but of compounds too). In all of the questions (including from vocabulary) easily over 1000 unique kanji are used though. There is supposed to be a level 7 in the works, but it has been a long time coming.

    3) The audio pronunciations aren't the issue as they are not human recordings as such but are automated. I think the issue is more development time, as Beeant has been the sole person working on this site. I do think it's a bit harsh to compare this free to use site run by one guy with a comercial Nintendo DS game though...

    4) The Readings section does definitely have problems and Beeant was after ideas on how to improve it. Might be some good suggestions.

    5) I don't really understand why that donation style should be any more attractive than just donating $10-20 in one go, but I get the feeling some people might actually go for that option (I just don't understand it). :P The site is definitely under-funded though and needs some good ideas on how to solve this problem. ^^

    6) I think those meanings are actually just bonus information that it obtains from the dictionary. I think the missing meanings are from cojugated verbs, -する verbs, counters(with numbers in the question), place names, ... I think the missing meanings are mainly just those specific categories where the exact phrase isn't found in the dictionary?

    午後四時半 = 4:30pm (nothing to do with meals)
    午後 is in lesson 10.
    四 is in lesson 2.
    時 and 半 are in lesson 3.
    The only part which might be confusing is what the meaning of 半 is in this phrase.

    I hope my wall of text doesn't seem rude either. I think most of the problems you've posted are due to lack of funding and Beeant having to focus on actually earning a living to pay bills. Hopefully this site gets better funding soon and that Beeant can be able to focus more on developing this site. For now, let's just enjoy what we have. ^^
  • Kimbo
    Too long guys! xD
    *too lazy to properly read*
    The kanji give examples of how/where it is used, this is why less kanji is fine, but there are more kanji questions than kanji in the quest. To be honest, the lessons don't really "teach" you anyway, you learn through the questions.

    Your numbers are a little off. For a foreigner to be considered fluent in a second language, 9000+ vocab is enough. An average English speaker knows 15,000-20,000 and a professor level 30-50k, 50k+ would be an expert in the English language.

    MyJapaneseCoach is the worst game ever. After level 100, it is basically just been copy and pasted from a dictionary with no lesson theme whatever, with mistakes in writings.

    Most people say knowing 2000 kanji is enough for reading a newspaper (perhaps this number was based on RTK).

    Also, you seem to be looking for a site that has the whole Japanese language on it, such a site does not exist.

    The site does have a few problems, vocab priority isn't always right. However, perhaps first complete the vocabulary we do have before complaining there is not enough. :P
  • highlandfool
    I made a $10 donation months ago and it's never been acknowledged or posted in the donor list, which hasn't changed for a year, so I suspect I am not the only one. I do enjoy the site and appreciate all the hard work and look forward to updates.
  • MintyHippo
    @mog86uk I know I read somewhere before, but I do really think you need a "community moderator" tag on your name somewhere. The points you bring up are spot on.

    My only other suggestion is perhaps find another way to donate... Paypal is a secure way to do so and very good. But there are a lot of people without access to Paypal, (people under 18, people without a debit card, all kinds of things).
  • devacto
    tl: but still read though :D

    i know you really like this site @rinkuhero so you critics so much, so he`s note rude dude,
    some of that i agree like reading part is to hard for me >< and else
    i dont know the exact how many kanji must have way to learn, but 1k+ is enough for me who still a noob to learn... and i think it`ll add up

    i dont agree with donatur part, if it mean if you pay you get more treatment, this site is different with the other who have a trial part so we love this, and if it necessary give one or two adds place for some penny, because some of us dont know how to digital payment

    i really gratefull for beants for running this site, is it true you sole dev this site? your awesome
  • Sloppyninja
    1) I actually kinda like not having the definition with the kanji lessons, because I memorize the reading by the kanji and not by word, which is one of my favorite things about the site, it's helped me with my kanji readings SO MUCH, compared to any other method I've tried.

    2+3) site is still under development (Of the amount there is here, it's a really good amount. That being said, you should never have a single source for learning a language and shouldn't expect this site to take you to fluency all by itself)

    5) Gittip is there for that exact reason

    6) A good amount of those are names or just flat out aren't words and are used specifically to enforce the readings of kanji.
  • DragonR33UA
    About second question. Someone knows when comes out the new Level N9? The last one was when I am right last December. Is there a chance that with spring also comes a new level?
  • A3agnos
    I kinda doubt that a new level will come in spring, especially as Beeant seems to be quit busy atm.
    I remember Beeant saying something about a new level if a certan amount of users have reacched level 8, but not sure.