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Does Remembering The Kanji Actually Teach You Japanese? — 4 Comments

  1. I totally agree!

    Recently I learned the word 霧 completely from context from the novel I’m reading キノの旅VI:

    昼でも、雨でも、霧でも相手が見える、とても優秀な光学センサーを装備しているのに、それなのにいつまで経っても見つからないんだ。

    Then later, I saw it appear again multiple times in the manga I’m reading, セーラームーン, which reaffirmed the meaning not just through context, but also pictures. It also taught me how to pronounce the word, since セーラームーン has furigana.

    I never needed a dictionary. And one of the things that helped was the radical in 霧 is also found in 雨 and 雪. I don’t know if I would’ve picked up the word so easily if I hadn’t known that radical.

    This kind of thing happens all the time. A good foundation in kanji will go a long way.

  2. My current method has been to get a head start on RTK (all 3000, as I want to do translation work at some point) and only started the J-E sentence deck this past weekend. I’m now 630 kanji in and have gone through 40 sentences, increasing both by 10 a day. I’ll move into the second group of 1000 sentences when I get to that point, then move onto the J-J deck.

    I really like Matt’s (the other Matt) explanation, as it fits into my understanding of how the brain works: you create a foundation of facts and build up from there. Basically, RTK is the foundation. J-E builds the walls of vocab and grammar. J-J finishes things by creating the roof that binds it all together.

    • “Basically, RTK is the foundation. J-E builds the walls of vocab and grammar. J-J finishes things by creating the roof that binds it all together.”

      I think this analogy actually misses something which is key to the problem many people have with RTK, so let me share what I’m getting at.
      If we are sticking with building analogies, the thing about RTK is that a lot of it (if not most) is actually “scaffolding”, i.e., the temporary stuff that helps support the building during the construction process but which is removed once the thing can sustain itself.
      One of the most common arguments you’ll find against RTK is then that learning the english keywords isn’t worth it since they aren’t part of actual Japanese, but ultimately such an argument is akin to dismissing the usefulness of scaffolding when building a skyscrapper.

  3. Wow, what a nice surprise.

    This site has been a great resource for me, so I’m happy that I was able to contribute a little bit :)

    Also, it seems I should attempt to be more creative with my choice of name. Hi other Matt ^_^

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