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Do the Japanese acknowledge the learning of Kanji through mnemonics?

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  • Do the Japanese acknowledge the learning of Kanji through mnemonics?

    So do they? Cos' learning Kanji through mnemonics seems like a way more efficient and fun way than the usual "memorize till the brain hurts" method I've heard the Japanese use as and on students.

  • #2
    Do you acknowledge the use of mnemonics to memorize the script of your native language? You probably don't even think about it, because you learned it so long ago.

    I've actually seen discussion of a similar topic on a forum dedicated to learning Japanese (and a lot of the members have an interest in linguistics); one thing that was mentioned is that children don't have the mental capability to learn with a method like Heisig's RTK. Also, traditional school systems are too structured for a more lax system. There's also the fact that children have to learn the kanji in an order that prioritizes usefulness over difficulty of the character, which throws out such ordered approaches as RTK (in which you learn some fairly rare characters early on, and some common characters near the end, just based off of the number of strokes).
    The thing about children is that they have to repeat things a lot to learn them. You always hear people saying how children have a huge advantage over adults when it comes to learning, but just think: a child has all day long to do nothing but figure out how to communicate, how to walk (which it takes years to get completely figured out), or how to play with things they're not supposed to mess with. They also have no fear of failure (it takes extreme results to deter a child from doing something), so they'll try again and again. They don't have the benefit of an experienced, mature brain to start puzzling things out before they even begin something.
    The one super power that children have that adults usually don't is the ability to do something over and over again without getting tired of it.

    That doesn't mean there are no abstract associations with some characters that are easy to show to children (木, 本, and 口, for instance, lend themselves to being paired with pictoral aides, since they pretty well resemble what they mean).

    I'm sure that some Japanese, that are learning kanji for something like Kanken (or medicine, or classical literature, or really anything that requires high-level language skills; or heck, probably calligraphers, since they tend to learn old, complicated characters), use mnemonics to remember those, but they likely don't resemble anything an L2 learner would come up with and probably are based on the 部首 and 旁.

    But yeah, basically, the only viable way to teach kanji to a class of school children is to make them do drills. I remember doing writing drills in school too (for letters and numbers; clearly they don't make your writing pretty, because mine sucks), we just don't have so many characters to learn.

    Learning kanji isn't as difficult as some people make it out to be; it just takes time and attention. The problem for adult learners is that they usually don't have a lot of time to devote to studying, and they have too great a fear of failure.

    Well, that's a long, messy response. Hopefully it says what I want it too somewhere... Pain pills and lucid expression don't seem to go together very well.
    Do I need to say anything?
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    I'm about to just spill some coffee, take a picture, call it art, and throw it on here...

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    • #3
      Originally posted by sholum View Post
      Learning kanji isn't as difficult as some people make it out to be; it just takes time and attention. The problem for adult learners is that they usually don't have a lot of time to devote to studying, and they have too great a fear of failure
      That probably requires some elaboration, since you only spoke about how Japanese learn kanji for the majority of the post. What you didn't mention though that Japanese children not only learn kanji for a language they've already spoken for most of their lives, but also over a period of 9 years till they should have memorized the 2136 jōyō kanji. Obviously, that would be an insanely slow pace for every foreigner trying to learn the language. Combine that with the fact that you not only have to learn the kanji, but also the words they're used for (and order of which you should to that is generally not agreed upon) and you have yourself quite a mess. So there's obviously a need for foreigners to learn kanji completely different than the Japanese themselves do. Not to mention that even an adult Japanese's knowledge of the jōyō kanji can be shaky (even if they can recognize them when reading, it's often hard for them to write them).

      Personally, I think knowledge of the readings of kanji is way harder to learn then the kanji themselves. But I may have just tried to learn things in the wrong order, as I said above.

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      • #4
        I don't fully agree with your statement sholum. Well, I do but I don't buy that children just have nothing else to learn basic things, it's not just that. Children by nature are learning sponges compared to adults so it doesn't matter if they learn by drills or by mnemonics, they will eventually remember more things even if and adult takes the the same time learning.

        Anyway, I think they learn the basics the same way any other kid learns their language, I mean, how did you learned to write "a" or "dog"? Just learning the basics and from there watching them over and over everywhere and adding something new in your knowledge. For a foreigner it's more difficult because after learning for a few hours you don't see them being used anywhere else (at least this happened to me) but when you are surrounded by Kanjis you can see the patterns or understand the meaning of many of them with normal learning of the language.

        In my personal case mnemonics never worked with difficult kanjis I remember the easy and funny ones with that picture explanation but after that it's difficult to me to imagine any kind of story for a kanji. Some are quite funny when you check the combination of the radicals involved but for me it worked learning the hard way (and combine them with an environment full of them).
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        • #5
          Originally posted by sholum View Post
          They don't have the benefit of an experienced, mature brain
          Well, s***, like, Haha =¬=""" Some of us could do away with that benefit. =¬=""""

          My professional take on the matter is that, mnemonics would be logically effective to improve the evocation potential of meaning and content through visual clues and in turn help you recognize a kanji and what it means, always noting that this technique relies on at least two different types of memory, those being visual, and then a bit of context-specific memory in order to get optimal results.

          I can tell this is true because I'm known to have an awesome visual memory, but average to poor context-specific, so what happens is that, from time to time, I see a kanji in a sentence, and I actually know what it means, but then after a while, if I'm asked to actually write it down, manually, without any visual aid, I can't do it even if my life depended on it, so at the end, it doesn't helps if your goal is to learn how to write it because there's intelligence involved in the process, and by relying on mnemonics alone you are only creating an "impression" without any associated "intelligence" so in that sense, it's probably a half-assed way of achieving results, in the ALL-OR-NOTHING scaled model of learning, that is (which I'm guessing is the one favoured by the Japanese, being the hardcore people they are)

          Take this kanji for example: 否 easy to remember for me, because it looks like a sad face, and it forms words with other kanji as in 拒否 to mean things like "denied" or "rejected" so I can create a mental association of the word with the concept of rejection, hence the sad expression. But this link only works when I'm presented with the image, because if you were asked to draw the kanji, you are prone to make mistakes like, drawing this 丕 .. or this 杏 (<< got it wrong with this one) .. or even this 益 (.. well, it kinda looks like a face too) instead, because you would be trying to substract visual data from an abstract source (sad face, denial, rejection) and just like when a computer has to compare variables with different data types, it isn't gonna work.

          The only way to be good at this is adding intelligence to the formula, mnemonics are shortcuts, they help you get to the end faster, but that's all they really do, their intended goal isn't to benefit "learning" or "understanding"
          Last edited by Beam7 Network; 05-26-2016, 09:16 AM.

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          • #6
            It's funny how complicated can sometimes work for kanji as well.
            Single case Issue, sure but 欝 is such a goshdarned complicated kanji it was actually among the easiest for me to learn just because there's nothing even close to it in the jōyō kanji.
            But I made some online tests today and had no clue what some four stroke kanji meant.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by JAHT View Post
              That probably requires some elaboration, since you only spoke about how Japanese learn kanji for the majority of the post. What you didn't mention though that Japanese children not only learn kanji for a language they've already spoken for most of their lives, but also over a period of 9 years till they should have memorized the 2136 jōyō kanji. Obviously, that would be an insanely slow pace for every foreigner trying to learn the language. Combine that with the fact that you not only have to learn the kanji, but also the words they're used for (and order of which you should to that is generally not agreed upon) and you have yourself quite a mess. So there's obviously a need for foreigners to learn kanji completely different than the Japanese themselves do. Not to mention that even an adult Japanese's knowledge of the jōyō kanji can be shaky (even if they can recognize them when reading, it's often hard for them to write them).

              Personally, I think knowledge of the readings of kanji is way harder to learn then the kanji themselves. But I may have just tried to learn things in the wrong order, as I said above.
              Yeah, the time scale is important; I can't believe I forgot to mention that...
              Kanji education goes by the kyouiku (education) list until junior-high. Can't remember how schools handle it after that.
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ky%C5%8Diku_kanji

              Requested Elaboration:
              You will hear a lot of people who made some amount of an attempt to learn kanji complain that it's impossible for foreigners to learn them; that it's just too hard. This is absurd. It takes some time, but basic recognition can be reasonably accomplished in a year [EDIT: basic reading recognition within a year; the kanji themselves can be recognized at a basic level within three to six months, depending on how much time is put into it]; but this is through self-study methods, as many JSL courses (that people have told me about, and that I've looked at, at least), promote very poor techniques; partially because that's how it's always been done, partially because it's difficult to incorporate those better methods into a college course: it's very difficult to make tests for, and progress is based on individual achievement.

              The most effective method for learning a data set like the kanji requires that you learn the data in a school unfriendly way: one fact at a time. In other words, instead of learning {[木], [き, こ], [モク, ボク]} all at once on top of how to write it, you learn to recognize 木 (and maybe how to write it) by studying just the kanji, then you separately learn the words 木, 木材, 木刀, etc. and study them as [word; reading, definition] (or if you're a stickler for minimum information, [word; reading] and [word; definition]) and gradually accumulate those readings. You could also approach it by learning that 木 can be read as もく and then intentionally learn words that use this reading. Whatever the details are, the important thing is to test as few facts as possible when studying, and focus on individual facts when learning.
              By using this kind of method, with or without an SRS (I prefer with), there is a large amount of anecdotal evidence of significant improvement in reading that far out-performs traditional teaching methods.

              Personally, I studied written Japanese as follows:
              -Learned the kana (with audio ques)
              -Got comfortable with the kanji through RTK (mostly through the order used; I didn't use mnemonics for everything, as the book suggests); I used an Anki deck that associated each character with a keyword, but this could likely have been skipped.
              -Started studying vocabulary with kanji
              -(Grammar study is extraneous)
              -Started reading (though, its wasn't really 'reading' in the beginning, because I didn't know enough words yet)

              The reason this method of learning is pretty much exclusive to adult learners (well, people who aren't learning it as their L1) is because young children don't have the capacity or the leisure of learning things in the most efficient way; children have to learn in the most immediately effective way.

              Originally posted by Juas View Post
              I don't fully agree with your statement sholum. Well, I do but I don't buy that children just have nothing else to learn basic things, it's not just that. Children by nature are learning sponges compared to adults so it doesn't matter if they learn by drills or by mnemonics, they will eventually remember more things even if and adult takes the the same time learning.

              Anyway, I think they learn the basics the same way any other kid learns their language, I mean, how did you learned to write "a" or "dog"? Just learning the basics and from there watching them over and over everywhere and adding something new in your knowledge. For a foreigner it's more difficult because after learning for a few hours you don't see them being used anywhere else (at least this happened to me) but when you are surrounded by Kanjis you can see the patterns or understand the meaning of many of them with normal learning of the language.

              In my personal case mnemonics never worked with difficult kanjis I remember the easy and funny ones with that picture explanation but after that it's difficult to me to imagine any kind of story for a kanji. Some are quite funny when you check the combination of the radicals involved but for me it worked learning the hard way (and combine them with an environment full of them).
              My response to JAHT somewhat elaborates on what I meant about children being limited. Also, I don't buy that children are sponges; I think they just seem it. They start with nothing, so everything they learn, when they finally learn it seems like a miraculous result (consider how long it takes a baby to figure out how to form basic words; they are working against the disadvantage of having no prior language knowledge outside of crying and the fact that their brains are nowhere near fully-developed); this isn't just for babies, young children aren't sponges either; they copy, mess up, are possibly corrected, and try again; and their knowledge is still so little that there is plenty available for them to learn, and that piece of knowledge that they gained is a significantly larger chunk of their total knowledge than if a thirty year old picked up a new piece of knowledge, which they'd likely have to go out of their way to gain.
              Children have almost no capacity for logic; think about how difficult arithmetic seemed as a child (or if you don't remember, observe a child currently studying it). It takes a good chunk of time for them to understand that having three things and getting two more means you have five things; they similarly struggle with multiplication and division, and not even just the memorization of times tables, the very concept that it is always true for two groups of three to have a total of six objects.

              I learned the alphabet before I went to school, then I studied it there. In both cases, I (and my peers at school) were shown how to draw 'a' correctly on a piece of lined paper (lined so as to help enforce proportion; didn't work on me, apparently), then we practiced it. When being taught to spell, we were given lists of words to memorize (and had a phonics workbook...); at least one year required that we write each vocabulary word assigned for the week ten(?) times as homework, and I remember car rides to school spent being quizzed on spelling as practice for spelling tests.
              The majority of my higher language ability came from tons and tons of reading; I'd often only remember parts of words if asked to produce them (because we chunk information when we read), and so I learned them by looking them up in the dictionary when I needed to write them; this is when I was older (as a child... in other words, I wasn't five anymore; at least ten or eleven); I learned to spell them quickly.
              (I have a very good memory of my childhood; I remember having difficulty with English homework that wouldn't bother an ESL student using more effective learning techniques)

              Needless to say, pure repetition is not the best way to memorize things, but that's what's available to children.

              The advantage children have with language acquisition is that they're constantly exposed to the language, people patiently teaching them and putting up with their questions and mistakes for frequent, extended periods of time, and they don't have a problem with doing things over and over again or making mistakes. There's simply no data to prove that children learn better than adults that accounts for all (or even half) of these factors.

              I think that humans in general are sponges, it just requires good conditions.


              @Beam 7 Network
              I remembered how to write 否 by knowing that the top is 不 and the bottom is 口. Whether it's by the official 部首 system or something like RTK, chunking is, in my opinion, the best way to remember how to write the kanji, once they get above a few strokes. Even complicated kanji like 鬱 can be broken down: 缶、木、木、かんむり、鬯部 (yes I copied that... and I don't know its production off the top of my head (I have a half-decent guess though), but it is a recognized thing... I'd probably remember it by separating the top and bottom parts)、三.
              However, writing is a motor-skill, so actually producing it consistently requires that you activate that schema; chunking and mnemonics are merely a stopgap, when it comes to writing.

              However, imagining the execution of a motor skill improves that skill similarly to actually performing it (they tested this with gymnasts at one point); I know that some people use Anki to practice kanji production by prompting with a word in hiragana and imagining the correct stroke order (the reverse of the card usually has the kanji in a stroke order font).

              Not that you actually want to bother to do any of that, but it's the immediate solution I see to what you've described.


              EDIT:
              I elaborated into a whole essay... Hopefully it's clearer this time.
              Last edited by sholum; 05-26-2016, 10:11 PM. Reason: 0_0 I built a wall... Will you pay for it?
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              • #8
                I've noticed that there's a focus on children here. I acknowledge and agree that mnemonics would be harder for children since they have less knowledge and hence less things to correlate to, which is essential to mnemonics. But, I'd like to steer the focus from children and onto the teachers, I can understand them using the traditional way on natives and what not since that's what they've been doing for centuries but what about foreigners? I've heard Japanese teachers making their foreign students learn Kanji the Japanese way, why can't they employ a method like Heisig's? Or do some of them already do?

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                • #9
                  I briefly mentioned JSL somewhere, but...
                  Anyway, all of the courses I've looked at (and most that I've heard about) use the same methods they've been using forever. I think the second reason (after academic bologna) is that learning the kanji individually in the horrendous mess of {[kanji],[on],[kun]} is easier to prescribe and grade. I can't think of a way to implement a freely-paced, one thing at a time approach in a highschool or college course; in the case of RTK, the whole point is that you're associating the kanji with personal mnemonics and keywords, which doesn't really allow for any sort of grading; in order to test recognition, they'd have to all use the same keywords, and to test production, they'd have to all use the same keywords or already recognize words well enough to know how to write them in kanji (which is just too indirect a measure for people who are that early into their Japanese studies).
                  They might be able to figure out a decent in-between method, but I can't think of one that would be both more effective and easy/possible to grade.

                  On top of that, most Japanese courses are designed to (attempt to) produce students capable of performing basic functions in Japanese; as such, they prioritize the spoken language (and screw up a lot there, too), so dedicating so much time to the written language would be counter productive to that goal. There might be higher JSL courses somewhere, but I've never seen anything that really goes deep into the spoken language or much at all into the written language outside of Japan (that doesn't mean they don't exist, but they certainly aren't common; of course, in most of the States at least, Japanese programs aren't terribly common to begin with).

                  I think this is the case for most language courses, but it's really the case with languages that use Chinese characters: taking a language course won't teach you hardly anything, it merely gives you a push to learn on your own; it's up to the individual to learn enough for it to be of any use. Three or four 14-week courses do not produce even competent users of language.

                  EDIT: I know this isn't really a good solution, but I think language is just one of those things that requires mostly self-study and individual guidance; it's just not something that fits well into the college program framework.
                  Last edited by sholum; 05-27-2016, 06:34 AM.
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                  I'm about to just spill some coffee, take a picture, call it art, and throw it on here...

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                  • #10
                    I'm kinda jealous of the guys here who actually can afford courses. (._. )
                    I wonder how learning though an actual course is, since I only learned from the net and my Remembering the Kanji books, which means in essence I learn completely random and probably in very inefficiant ways.

                    About the children/adults thing: One thing I think that gives an adult a huge boost over children is that unlike those, an adult tends to be unsatisfied with his current knowledge and hence has way more motivation. Or did you remember going to school each day with nothing but an all consuming desire to learn?

                    Originally posted by sholum View Post
                    You will hear a lot of people who made some amount of an attempt to learn kanji complain that it's impossible for foreigners to learn them; that it's just too hard.
                    Oh wow! Like, what the heck? I never even heard a single person saying that. Who are those people proclaiming such things to you?


                    Anyway, my personal history is that I learned the kana first (easy, took me 8 days) and then I didn't really know how to continue. So I got the books and tried to memorize all the kanji. But that kinda was frustrating since I only knew their general meaning but not how they're used in practise. So I stearted learning grammar along with it and somehwere I probably lost the plot completely.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by OppaiTaishō View Post
                      I've noticed that there's a focus on children here. I acknowledge and agree that mnemonics would be harder for children since they have less knowledge and hence less things to correlate to, which is essential to mnemonics. But, I'd like to steer the focus from children and onto the teachers, I can understand them using the traditional way on natives and what not since that's what they've been doing for centuries but what about foreigners? I've heard Japanese teachers making their foreign students learn Kanji the Japanese way, why can't they employ a method like Heisig's? Or do some of them already do?
                      OK, let's talk in foreigners and adults case, that's exactly my case. My Japanese teachers taught us the Kanjis the Japanese way indeed. Showed us the traces and made us repeat them few times, then gave us a few charts with the kanji being used in different words so we have to learn the pronunciation and so look for a pattern of the meaning. Tedious? Yes, effective? Yes.

                      Now, with mnemonics or Heisig's way. Do you learn kanji's easily? Maybe. And I'm skeptical for two reasons; the first mnemonics can be quite personal and what works for some may not work for others. Indeed that book is thought to be as helpful as possible but still you take things with a grain of salt. In most complex cases the advice it gives to you is the one you use without help: trying to find smaller kanjis and learn them all together to form the word.

                      The second reason is that it doesn't really teach you kanjis. It somehow teaches you a way to recognize them but you don't learn a way to read them or see a meaning when it's combined to other kanjis.

                      I remember my brother buying me its first book and I couldn't get most of the techniques to remember them, so in my experience the most effective way is a normal learning and an environment full of them. I remember watching every single day ご注意 in the train station and learning both writing and reading eventually only with that daily reminding.
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                      • #12
                        Dividing the ideogram into quadrants is an option, definitely, I'm sure I must have done this at some point, when reading Chäos;Head, I eventually started to recognize 妄想 as "a tree, an eye and a heart" so well the first one I'm sure it looks like "forget" but even now, I have to look it up to be sure, because I don't always remember which one of the three goes first, and even if I did get them all correct, to say that is preceded by something that looks like "forget" is still tricky, because if you don't remember the "woman" at the bottom there's a lot of ways to get that wrong, you know, the character on top is a radical on many other kanjis.

                        All in all, I'd say mnemonics pose an unacceptable error margin on reproducibility, in the sense it's a hit or miss method to memorize effectively, and for a person like me -- mind you -- one of the most laid-back people when it comes to studying (you have no idea I'm like IDGaF man, anything goes), mnemonics might be just fine from time to time, but I imagine that wanting to use it as a replacement for the traditional approach must be blasphemy for those people who do take their studies seriously .. just saying.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JAHT
                          Oh wow! Like, what the heck? I never even heard a single person saying that. Who are those people proclaiming such things to you?
                          People who gave up. I've been told that kanji are just impossible for foreigners... Honestly, it's just the complaints of someone who gave up. Giving up on something isn't necessarily a bad thing (prioritizing is important), but complaining about it and pulling things out of one's ass like that is just bothersome to other people. People who haven't tried to learn Japanese or Chinese also say similar things, but without the venom ("How can you possibly learn all those characters without being born there / living there for years?")

                          Mnemonics are a stepping stone; I don't use them at all, unless they're staring me in the face (like 木 looking like a tree and 本 emphasizing the root of a tree); I barely even used them when going through RTK (which, as I think I mentioned before, I didn't do by Heisig's instruction); when I recommend RTK, I recommend that people try to find it at the library, because it's best use is for being able to recognize kanji better.

                          Originally posted by Beam 7 Network
                          All in all, I'd say mnemonics pose an unacceptable error margin on reproducibility, in the sense it's a hit or miss method to memorize effectively, and for a person like me -- mind you -- one of the most laid-back people when it comes to studying (you have no idea I'm like IDGaF man, anything goes), mnemonics might be just fine from time to time, but I imagine that wanting to use it as a replacement for the traditional approach must be blasphemy for those people who do take their studies seriously .. just saying.
                          I don't think I've been very clear about my stance on mnemonics: they're mainly a temporary measure. Since I waited to learn how to write kanji for five years now, I'm familiar enough with them that I don't have trouble remembering what the construction is, or where things are placed, I just have to practice writing them (how to move my hand so as to proportion it correctly and get things where they're supposed to be). As I said before, writing is a motor skill, and thus requires repetition. It doesn't matter how much you look at something, unless you know how to draw it, you can't draw it; thus writing practice.

                          The traditional method fails not in the repetition of writing itself, but in that it's used as a rote memorization technique. Along with the previously mentioned problem with the data format that's used, the traditional method requires far more time and effort to see results from than other techniques. It's far more efficient, for instance, to used spaced repetition (my main tool, though extensive reading has taken over quite a bit since I've stopped adding vocabulary from lists); it is easily demonstrated that using rote techniques is less efficient than using spaced repetition. Of course, memorization tools only work if you use the knowledge you're memorizing elsewhere, so it's not like you can just throw everything into Anki and know Japanese.

                          Spaced repetition and extensive reading aren't new ideas, but they aren't part of traditional techniques (though for the past couple of decades, reading programs based off of extensive reading have been implemented in many schools). Spaced repetition is just flat out incompatible with children, and since it requires daily use for the best effect, it's not something that can be easily employed in adult classes (teachers can do little more than recommend it).
                          Spaced repetition systems (henceforth SRS; and since this is a Japanese related thread: 間隔反復) outclass rote methods by far. Maintaining a new fact rate of 30 per day would already be pushing it for rote, but requires next to no effort with computer assisted SRS (less than an hour per day of use, from personal experience), and you can forget adding 60 or 100 a day with rote (both numbers I and others have maintained, with good results, for weeks at a time, though 100 required about two and a half hours a day, for me; did a lot of that while waiting on college classes to start).

                          If serious learners scoff at using anything other than the traditional methods, then I don't know what that makes me... Well, I am lazy, I guess; that's probably why I went for the more efficient technique (though I still don't use it to its limits: maintaining the most efficient rate of new facts is just too much hassle, not to mention disheartening (retention rate of about 78% means a lot of missed cards)).

                          Originally posted by Juas
                          Showed us the traces and made us repeat them few times, then gave us a few charts with the kanji being used in different words so we have to learn the pronunciation and so look for a pattern of the meaning
                          What volume is this presented in, how did you review, and how were you tested? Genuinely curious, and depending on the answers, my criticisms will differ (because I must criticize everything; it's almost like my job). Also, were these courses in or outside of Japan?
                          One thing that stands out to me immediately, though, is that vocabulary is included; are these new words, or words you already know?
                          Also, effective doesn't mean best. Copper tools are effective; after all, the pyramids of Egypt were built using copper tools; pretty sure I'd prefer modern industrial equipment if I were to replicate that feat.

                          As for RTK, again, I recommend people borrow it and give it a once over, not study from it the way it says. The order is very useful though, because rather than a jumbled mess of kanji that are given in school (for both children and adults) based on usefulness that you have to slowly puzzle the similarities from (for example, learning 食 and 飲 before 良 or 欠, though there are better examples that I can't think of at the moment), it gives you a list based on simplicity which presents the idea that all the complex kanji are just combinations of simple kanji right from the beginning. The order is what's useful. I've never used the second book (and even a lot of people at the koohii forum disregard it, and it's a forum that was initially built around RTK), and no one should need the help from the third book (which is just an extra set of kanji which are common, but not in the Jouyou set).
                          Someone who already knows kanji has no use for RTK, but I think it provides and expedited experience to those who've yet to learn them.


                          Obligatory 'you do you' note:
                          While I am telling everyone that the techniques I use are better than the techniques presented to most students (objective fact, not just my big ego), my posts aren't attacks, but attempts to spread the techniques that have lead to my relatively quick progress. They're hardly known by people outside of communities obsessed with learning, despite being around for quite a while.
                          *incredibly haughty and/or snooty tone* It is simply my goodwill towards the intellectual peasantry.
                          In case it wasn't clear yet, I know I sound like an asshole at some parts of this and other posts; it's not intended, I just can't find a way to say certain things in a way that doesn't come across as condescending. I feel the need to periodically post this kind of note.
                          And in case you're worried that I suddenly care about people's feelings more than what I think is the truth; rest assured that it's only because I want to continue getting along well with everyone.
                          Do I need to say anything?
                          [/URL]
                          I'm about to just spill some coffee, take a picture, call it art, and throw it on here...

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by sholum View Post

                            What volume is this presented in, how did you review, and how were you tested? Genuinely curious, and depending on the answers, my criticisms will differ (because I must criticize everything; it's almost like my job). Also, were these courses in or outside of Japan?
                            One thing that stands out to me immediately, though, is that vocabulary is included; are these new words, or words you already know?
                            Also, effective doesn't mean best. Copper tools are effective; after all, the pyramids of Egypt were built using copper tools; pretty sure I'd prefer modern industrial equipment if I were to replicate that feat.

                            As for RTK, again, I recommend people borrow it and give it a once over, not study from it the way it says. The order is very useful though, because rather than a jumbled mess of kanji that are given in school (for both children and adults) based on usefulness that you have to slowly puzzle the similarities from (for example, learning 食 and 飲 before 良 or 欠, though there are better examples that I can't think of at the moment), it gives you a list based on simplicity which presents the idea that all the complex kanji are just combinations of simple kanji right from the beginning. The order is what's useful. I've never used the second book (and even a lot of people at the koohii forum disregard it, and it's a forum that was initially built around RTK), and no one should need the help from the third book (which is just an extra set of kanji which are common, but not in the Jouyou set).
                            Someone who already knows kanji has no use for RTK, but I think it provides and expedited experience to those who've yet to learn them.
                            About volume, I'm talking about hundreds of Kanjis during 3 courses. One during 5 years in my country with Kanji charts and vocabulary as I explained. Other two in Japan, in classes for foreigners using the same formula. Sometimes I knew the word but not the kanji and mostly it was new things. The way we were tested was by normal exams, filling gaps to write the kanjis listening the pronunciation and write the lecture of a kanji given. Also in every lesson we had readings with them and the final test was real life. It was really useful to go outside and could read the things you've learned.

                            And I mean reading, as in making and order to someone else because when I started with RTK my excitement to find an easier method broke when I saw no pronunciation at all. Maybe that's why I gave up with that, because I felt I had to make the job twice, mnemonics for writing and again remember them with the reading so that wasn't practical to me.

                            I'm just assuming, sholum, that you are very happy and confident with your method and it worked really good for you, but in my case I need the way I mention for whatever reason because people's brains work different to each other and I've never felt myself doing a complex task learning Kanji the way I was doing. Everybody is free to do as they want and what works for some may not work for others but at least the "old way" has been working for Japanese people for ages so it's not like it doesn't work.
                            Last edited by Juas; 05-29-2016, 02:15 AM.
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                            • #15
                              It works for the Japanese (not well, it just works; there was more than one instance of proposals of how to do away with kanji (not just during the occupational government either; those are thought to have been platitudes) because of how much time was required to teach them; heck, it's the whole reason South Korea switched from hanja to hangul (which has caused it's own problems, and I'm definitely on the 'kanji are good' when it comes to Japanese)), because teaching children things they don't care about is difficult (hell, teaching children well is difficult in itself), and the traditional methods are the only ones applicable.

                              I promised critique (well, criticism...):
                              1.) Volume: hundreds over multiple courses (assuming a generous 900 kanji and thirty weeks over three courses) is quite slow at about 4.3 facts per day if we're just talking about kanji. Adding five to ten vocabulary words makes it much better, as far as pure fact count goes. I don't know how much time was required for this, so I can't say if it was terribly efficient (and I know that all science points to learning so many things about one kanji (well, any fact) at once increases the difficulty more than the added knowledge), but assuming this good scenario, that's not too shabby for progress. I do want to emphasize the 'not efficient' part though.
                              2.) Testing: testing kanji production in context is fine (good, in fact; makes it less ambiguous), but from the way it sounds (I'm having a bit of trouble understanding that part of your post (specifically "write the lecture of a kanji given"), but I think I got it), you were being tested by writing the kanji for a word given in some other script or through audio? If that's correct, that's too many to effectively judge what is and isn't known: did you fail to get it because you couldn't hear it? Didn't know the word? Didn't know the kanji? That's less important for the individual (who can probably figure out where the knowledge was lacking) than it is the educational institution though.
                              3.) Review: I know it's somewhere between difficult and impossible to remember how you did a chore from years ago, but this is where most of the inefficiency with traditional techniques are.

                              I can understand being disappointed by RTK, but the way I (and others online that I can't quantify) used it is nothing resembling its original intent, which is why I've been stressing that it's the order of it that's important. RTK was published as an aide for learning to write the kanji, nothing else. RTK2 was basically just released because the first one didn't do anything with the readings, and even the second book only goes over a couple for each kanji.
                              In other words, there were no readings because it wasn't meant for learning to read; it's referenced today because people found that the order helped them learn to read faster.

                              Story Time! (I'm too tired to precisely cut out the crap, so I chopped a few things off later in the post and shoved this in a spoiler)
                              Spoiler

                              I'm not happy with my past progress at all (this is a lot of storytelling, if you want to skip it, but there's something in the way of information in there); that's why I get so adamant about the subject of learning: I didn't spend the first year or so of my learning very well at all. I spent so much time figuring out how to learn Japanese (because everything I'd been trying, i.e. traditional methods (self-imposed, seeing as I couldn't take a class), was failing spectacularly), that I barely learned any Japanese. Eventually, I figured out that the reason I was having so much trouble learning vocabulary was because the kanji all looked the same to me, eventually, along with a couple of useless blogs that wasted tons of my time, I found the previously mentioned site based on RTK; it was that site that convinced me to try Anki and RTK, though it was something else that gave me the idea to just ditch all the writing and production cards in general (probably something from AJATT, because that was one of the sites wasting all my study time around that period). I didn't like that I wasn't learning vocab or grammar at the same time (which is one of the things I regret not doing), but that priming of simply learning to recognize the kanji made learning vocabulary much easier (which is why I've mentioned in passing that people that are already past that have no use for it), it took me about three months (again, I wish I'd studied some more basic grammar at the same time, and it shouldn't have taken that long in the first place).

                              Anki has likely saved me tens of thousands of hours and increased my productivity immensely. I didn't start at a very good rate (something far too small, maybe five a day, assuming I added any cards that day), which is part of the reason the RTK part took so long; it was good as an introduction to Anki, I guess. Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, thirty vocabulary words per day eventually became the norm, after I got used to using Anki. Unfortunately, I had trouble forming the habit of doing reviews daily and hit a few bumps (burnout) that made me need to halt new words because I'd stopped too long and thus needed to reacquaint myself with some words.


                              Only counting the words that have cards in Anki, I've studied 10,000 words (and done the grammatical constructs listed for the JLPT N3 and up); had I done things the way I know to do them now, I could have achieved that in a little less than a year, with only about an hour invested per day, but it took far longer than that (about three times as much).
                              (Extensive reading is a separate topic, I think, but suffice to say that only studying words and grammar points doesn't make you able to read much of anything.)

                              The point is, I've tried all sorts of things, I discovered an efficient review method that (until recently, at least) was only known in communities dedicated to learning itself (and before computers, difficult to implement), I did a bunch of things that didn't work, figured out what did work, and can show, through simple arithmetic, that it allows for great volumes of data to be studied in timescales unimaginable with traditional methods. I'm not the only one that has done this, and it's backed by science. (Also, with computers and the Internet, it's all free.)
                              If I can save someone years of doing almost nothing (and maybe some cash) with this, that'd make me quite happy, so I get excited when this subject comes up (perhaps too excited, from some perspectives).

                              And of course, I ultimately don't care how you go about your business (I'm not going to demand that you do things as I say), but I do want to make sure that I'm getting things across. I keep replying to yours and others' posts because certain parts make me think I wasn't understood. For instance, your focus on RTK not appealing to you because it doesn't teach readings; RTK is ultimately a minuscule portion of my studies, not insignificant as it significantly eased my studies, but something I only bothered with for a short while before moving onto vocabulary and as I keep saying, I butchered it so that it's only the order of RTK.

                              Now, I'm going to leave this massive pile of a post and go to bed.
                              Do I need to say anything?
                              [/URL]
                              I'm about to just spill some coffee, take a picture, call it art, and throw it on here...

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