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Problems connecting things together.

I recently realized that I am not learning Japanese in it's entirety.
I tend to only be able to understand what Kanji's mean, but not remember how to say the Hiragana that makes up that kanji or how to write the kanji. In reverse it is partially better but still a problem. I am able to read Hiragana, understand the word's meaning, and be able to say it, but can't remember how to write it, nor how to write the kanji if it is possible to write it as one.
One more problem I realized today was that when I encounter katakana, even after learning how some of the character's sound like, I was not capable of changing the Katakana into Hiragana. I completely blanked out on how it would be written in Hiragana based on the sound.

I have a good enough grasp on how to read Hiragana, but not write it.
Have never tried to learn Katakana but plan to learn as I encounter them in the vocabulary words here.
And have been on & off about learning Kanji's. Plan to practice and learn several per day from now on.

I'd assume that writing out each Hiragana and Katakana several times every day for a while may help in making sure I remember them. By challenging myself to translate in-between them, I may be able to 'connect' one to the other.

However; how should I go about in connecting the Kanji/meaning to the sound/hiragana? And would writing the kanji out actually help me remember how to write it, or is there a specific way in which I should write it for it to be effective in remembering how to read/write it?
posted by Mica

Comments 5

  • Peacherine
    Hi! First of all, it sounds like you at least have a good start to what you're doing. I'm not an expert at all, and I'd consider myself to be at probably just an early intermediate level, but I can suggest a few things that might be helpful!

    Over time, think about your ultimate goals in learning Japanese. Do you want to be able to read websites, articles, or manga? (more focus on reading recognition skills) Do you want to speak and understand conversations? (more focus on listening comprehension) Do you want to become fluent enough to hold basic conversations and read common text? (some of everything) Is being able to hand write kanji and kana important to you, or is mainly typing okay enough? If you can think about those kinds of things, you may be able to figure out how to prioritize your studying.

    From what you've said, I would say start with hiragana again (congrats on not relying on roumaji!) and make sure it's really solid. Practice writing them several times each day to commit them to muscle memory. Write them in the order of the alphabetic chart. Then switch and try writing them either row-by-row or column-by-column to mix it up and avoid memorizing only in one set order. Make yourself flashcards! Put one hira on one side and its English pronunciation on the other. Carry them around with you even, so you can practice all over! : )

    Once you feel very confident with those (and don't forget the extended alphabet, like く→ぐ or は→ば/ぱ ) start to learn katakana the same way. Look up how to write each correctly, because there are some very similar ones here (シ/ツ、ソ/ン especially). You'll get better at telling them apart over time! Anyway, pay closer attention to them and to others that look the same or very close to their hiragana counterparts. Again, I highly recommend making your own flashcards. I made my hira deck on white index cards and my kata deck on colored ones, to keep them organized. You can even combine the decks and try matching the kata cards to the hira ones! And then arrange them on the table in the order of the alphabet chart! Just keep mixing it up and reviewing them in different ways. This site is also very neat to practice reading them with: http://www.realkana.com/ : )

    Now, as for kanji... probably everyone goes about it differently. When I first started learning Japanese vocabulary, I didn't pay attention to kanji at all. I just learned how to read/write/pronounce the words in kana. I built up a lot of vocabulary that way before even attempting to learn kanji. Then, I decided to try learning kanji for words I already knew really well (like numbers, common nouns/adjectives, etc). Since I already knew the word and how to read it, adding a kanji to it was just one small addition rather than trying to learn a totally new kanji and all its readings and vocabulary all at once. That's how I keep doing it, even now. If I start being able to recognize a kanji (like I keep seeing it show up on this site's practice or somewhere), I put it in my "to-learn" deck. [I have the first two decks of (wonderful!) kanji flashcards from White Rabbit Press. http://shop.whiterabbitjapan.com/japanese-language/flashcards.html I love them. I use them every day. They've completely helped me learn kanji in a way that works for me!] My definition of "learning" a kanji is being able to recognize it, write it correctly, and know at least a few words it's in and how to pronounce it in those words (The kanji flash cards have typical pronunciations listed as well as vocabulary the kanji is in.)

    I would say learn how to write kanji correctly, because they follow common patterns. Sometimes an entire kanji is used as part of a new one even, so it's helpful to remember it as a chunk rather than having to think about the individual strokes all over again. However, don't beat yourself up if you can't remember every exact stroke order.

    As for connecting a kanji to its readings... like I said, I just try to learn one new thing at a time, new word→English meaning→pronunciation→kanji or whatever order happens naturally. Start with basic common ones and go from there : )

    I hope anything I've said was coherent and useful! Always willing to help~ がんばって!★
  • Peacherine
    PS. Try using Anki to help study too! You can make your own personalized decks and everything! ankisrs.net

    It's kinda user-unfriendly at first, but it is a great study tool.

    And if you use Firefox, try the Rikaichan add-on. When you mouse over Japanese words, it shows the definitions and readings!

  • Mica
    Hello Peacherine. ^^/

    My goal would primarily be reading {Novels, chat rooms, and websites}. I enjoy watching Anime/J-Drama's/Movies so I would like some listening comprehension skills as well.
    My thoughts were that learning in all 3 methods would help retain what I learn better than learning in one, and may be more 'natural'.

    Thank you, and yes, I believe it is better I let go of Romanji while I'm ahead. To get more practice using Hiragana which I will later on use, oppose to Romanji which will just hold me back or delay having to switch between them later.
    Mixing up the order of vocabulary does sound like what I need to do. I started realizing that I was able to recognize the Kanji's meaning based on the location I wrote them on my notes, rather than by what it looked like. MIxing should help reduce the likeliness of it happening.

    I am able to tell those Katakana characters apart, but can't tell which is which yet~ ^^
    Realkana does seem to be a useful site. Thank you for sharing.

    That method to learn Kanji does seem logical and a 'Build up on' type of style.

    At first, aside from using this site, I was thinking of buying a simple book written in Japanese. And struggle my way on to reading all of it, by looking up Kanji and words I may not know, Likely to be frequent at first, but becoming less as I progressed through the book because of all the repetition of words used. My theory was that learning kanji that had context surrounding it would make it much more worth learning and remembering compared to just learning them at random with no real short term goal to motivate.
    It seemed like a good challenge that I could later on re-do by reading it once more to see how I have improved compared to the first time I read it all the way through.
    The book is 西の魔女が死んだ which I just randomly picked and not really knowing much about it, was thinking of buying because I enjoyed the look of the cover. ^^

    I still think it is a good idea, but after having my friend chat with me using Kanji/Hiragana {respectably} I realized how time consuming and difficult it actually is. I was really enjoying the process of figuring out each individual kanji in order to understand what she was saying. Maybe just because I knew it was well worth trying to understand her~ XD It was a rather fun challenge that I enjoyed~ ^^

    I will do what you suggested and 'master' Hiragana/Katakana first while still practicing some Kanji on the side. I will also still buy that or a book in Japanese to have as a reminder that I wish to learn how to read in Japanese as well as having it ready for when I believe I can take up the challenge of reading. Once I feel comfortable with what I know probably. ^^

    I will write out kanji both physically and mentally. It seems to help me remember better how to write them, by imagining out how it is done aside from just writing them on the computer/paper.

    I have yet to look over Anki, But I do like programs and have used several others for different purposes, so it may not be too difficult for me to figure out how to use it in the ways I need~

    Thank you for taking the time to read and answer my questions with helpful tips, tools and self experiences Peacherine. I have a better mind set on why I wish to learn Japanese, as well as, how to achieve my goals to learn it~ ^^
  • Peacherine
    You're welcome!

    If the book you were talking about on is the one I found on Amazon.jp, it'll definitely be tough! It's more advanced grammar and everything, and it doesn't have the little hiragana readings next to kanji. So it'll definitely be something to look forward to! But you can still use things like that. At first use it for kana reading practice, then to find kanji you recognize, then eventually start reading it and picking out grammar and conjugations you know. It's a great goal!

    You may also want to look in children's book sections for things with simpler words/grammar for something to practice right away with. (I just bought this book, Shiawase Onigiri: http://ec2.images-amazon.com/images/I/51evsdOBgkL._SL500_AA300_.jpg and it's so cute! I'm looking forward to really figuring it out. But I also have some harder manga and things I'm working on to keep me motivated!)

    A few other sites I'd like to mention, if they'd be any help...

    ✪ http://www.yosida.com/en/kanji.php?level=5&page=1 This is a great site for starting out kanji. It only gives the few basic readings for each (rather than a dozen little-used ones) and the stroke orders. You'll want to be on the N5 level at first.

    ✪ http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/complete This is THE ultimate online grammar site. It's all free, and it's amazing. Expect to read through the articles more than once though; it's a lot to process! But it's generally organized from beginner to advanced, so it's really helpful.

    ✪ http://www.jisho.org/kanji/radicals/ And this is a good site to help you look up kanji you can't just copy-paste in a dictionary site— you click on the small pieces you see in the kanji, and should eventually be able to find the one you're looking for!

    Most of all, try to stay motivated and don't give up! If you can stay interested in learning, it'll be much more fun. Let me know if you have any other questions! : ) がんばって!✰
  • Mica
    Sorry for delaying my response so long, had internet troubles as well as, had been busy looking things up and setting up some cards on Anki. ^^

    Yep, I had originally thought of aiming towards getting kid-oriented books, but I had been having trouble finding them. Another problem was that the ones I do find, are also usually more expensive {up to 4 times more costly} than other books I have found.
    I have yet to find the book you told me of. I didn't put much time to search, so I'll try again later. :3

    I also did hear about this 2 site that have old, no longer copyrighted children stories.

    I do like the first kanji site you linked. It seems helpful, and having how to write them helps since I at least write the kanji one time after seeing them, in order to try and better remember them.

    I have looked into the second site~ and so far from what I read~ It did seem to explain things in a simple, understandable manner. So once I get more time, I'll continue to read it.

    As for the kanji dictionary, I have just been copy/pasting them into this site's dictionary link.
    http://japaneseclass.jp/tools/dictionary/[Place Kanji Here]
    I like the info that this' site dictionary gives.
    I have used that kanji dictionary site before, but it took me a while to find the kanji I was looking for, since I didn't know exactly what radicals I was looking for and it was my first time experimenting with it. I was just clicking randomly of sorts~
    I do, however, intent to use a Radical based Dictionary later on, and am building a deck on anki based on the Radicals in order to remember them better. ^^

    I am glad to say that my motivation to learn Japanese has not wavered.
    I have just been a bit stressed over time management because of all the things I have to & wish to do, but can't, do to the time consume at school, going to and from places, and general daily life stuff. I am learning to draw and getting myself to read books in English as well. So quite a bit of activity all at once that I'm not used to.
    Suddenly realized I had to improve myself, and learning a new language was certainly something I have been wishing to do for some time. But figuring out what the most efficient & fun way for myself to learn it is quite a challenge so far.
    So, Thank you once more Peacherine, for giving me a direction to follow and opening the possibilities on how to learn things. :3


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