@Update: 10,000 Sentences is Dead. Let the MCD Revolution Begin! | AJATT | All Japanese All The Time is.gd/AWLzAv
- How do you decide which sentences from your input to copy over to your SRS?
- This is a tough one! If you’re like me, you’re a greedy little hobbit who wants to know everything. So here are some tips:
- Pick the ones that stretch your knowledge slightly, not so much that you’re lost, and not so little that you’re simply tagging “です” on the end. One vague guideline when you learn, say, a noun, is to learn it with the verbs that act on it.
- Picking the ones you’d like to say or write one day is an excellent start. There are many sentences out there and you’ll have to get pretty selective. Don’t be like me and feel like you have to learn everything you see. Go for what seems the most valuable.
- The other thing about picking sentences from your input is that it takes a lot of mental energy. So the key there is to just keep going until you drop. Go until you’re tired of it, then take a break from picking sentences but never take a break from getting Japanese input. As far as possible, you should spend every waking hour (and maybe even sleeping hours, if you it doesn’t keep you awake) receiving Japanese.
- This is a tough one! If you’re like me, you’re a greedy little hobbit who wants to know everything. So here are some tips:
- Where do you get the sentences? (internet, etc?)
- The short answer to that is anywhere and everywhere that native Japanese is spoken and written. More concretely:
- When I first started, I got them from the Starter Oxford Japanese Dictionary. As the name implies, it’s very good for starters, but you will soon outgrow it.
- 2ch is perhaps the most famous Japanese forum site. It’s got a forum for every interest. Here, you can read a lot of the words of just regular Japanese people. There’s lots of both slang and more formal-toned discussion. As you may be aware, it was thstarting point of the Train Man phenomenon.
- Electronic dictionaries, like the Canon IDF-3000 and later the Canon V-80, have been key sources of sentences. These can be quite expensive, so do shop around a bit.
- Internet dictionaries. If you don’t yet have an electronic dictionary and/or a software dictionary, the Yahoo online dictionary is a decent substitute. It has tons of example sentences in both the bilingual Japanese/English and the monolingual Japanese sections, respectively. BUT!! BE CAREFUL OF ANY EXAMPLE SENTENCED LABELED “[慣用表現]” — these are awkward; do not use them.
- Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC is the place to look up the pronunciation of Japanese names, in the “Translate Words” section. However, the example sentences on the site sometimes contain errors. They are mostly good, but I would avoid them to be safe; you don’t want to go learning erroneous Japanese, and when sentences are your primary learning medium, you need to be able to trust what you read 100%. The Yahoo online dictionary is mostly based on highly-regarded, rigorously edited paper dictionaries that have been around for a while (decades?). WWWJDIC is a bit newer and more open source. Don’t get me wrong, though, I mean no disrespect to Dr. Breen.
- In February 2005, I installed the Japanese version of Windows XP on my computer. This was an important move. It is also a reversal of our typical idea of cause and effect in that: it’s not that you know so much Japanese that you can use a Japanese OS. Rather, it is by using a Japanese OS that you learn a lot of Japanese. If you use a computer a lot, consider turning it fully Japanese.
- And, of course, there are the usual suspects: movies, books, dramas (dramedies and soap operas), news and videos.
- Fuji News Network’s online newscast can be depressing, but it’s how I learnt to understand the news.
- Yomiuri Online recently (2005-ish) started podcasting a lot of both audio and video content for free. You don’t need an iPod to watch/listen to it. They also have a superbly written geek section.
- If you’re a fan of BitTorrent, then the good people of D-Addicts record shows from Japanese TV, sometimes complete with commercial breaks. uTorrent is a good BitTorrent client.
- When it comes to movies, I watched a lot of dubbed Hollywood movies, because (a) I knew I already liked the movie, and (b) I already knew the situation and what dialogue to expect. Dubbed Hollywood movies can guarantee you both enjoyment and learning.
- I love Star Trek, Seinfeld and Will Smith. You can find Japanese versions of these on Amazon.jp. These generally come with Japanese/English audio and Japanese/English subs.
- If you don’t have a Japanese DVD player, then a PC or a region-free DVD player will work for playing DVDs purchased in Japan. You can score a region-free player in the $50-$100 range (shipping included) without breaking a sweat. J-List and Amazon.com are good places to start.
- A word of caution: never use English subtitles. You won’t learn any Japanese, you’ll just depend on the English subs. In my case, I have watched Japanese movies with English subs but then had memories of watching it in English. So if you have English subs, turn them off and keep them off.
- As far as books are concerned, manga are the absolute bomb for learning real Japanese. Personally, I prefer stories that are somewhat grounded in reality. In fact, there is even some very good non-fiction manga out there, such as the “Life: A 4.6 billion year journey” series produced by NHK. Anything written by Kaiji Kawaguchi will be very interesting. Again, Amazon.jp will be happy to sell to you.
- Japanese translations of good English books abound. Just like with dubbed movies, they give you the advantage of having a clue what to expect going in. About half my book collection is Japanese translations, the other half is homegrown Japanese books. In college, I even got Japanese editions of my computer science textbooks. Once again, Amazon.jp will hook you up.
- It is important that, when you hear spoken Japanese, you get independent written confirmation of what was said. So if you hear a sentence in a movie, you want to confirm it with the Japanese subtitles. Of course, there aren’t always Japanese subtitles for you to confirm with, so some solutions are to:
- Ask a Japanese person to confirm.
- Get a dictionary, look up the words you think you heard and use the dictionary’s example sentences, instead of the sentence you think you heard.
- Here’s a little dictionary trick: if you ever come across a word that you want to learn but that has no example sentence, then use the definition itself as your example sentence.
- Do you make example sentences for grammar points or just vocab?
- Yes. (Both). One of the best books for that is Naoko Chino’s All About Particles. Back in the day, I learned at least one example of every grammar point in the book. For a solid foundation in Japanese grammar, few books can be more highly recommended.
- Tad Perry’s legendary, free Quick and Dirty Guide to Japanese Grammar is also a keeper, in terms of the example sentences. Read the explanations, but don’t bother to memorize them and don’t worry if you don’t understand them. Focus on getting the example sentences.
- Last but absolutely not least, Tae Kim offers brilliant, lucid explanations of Japanese grammar in his Guide to Japanese. Great for example sentences, and a good place for you to go find out stuff that I had to figure out.
- I have a decent level of skill, do you think I should jump into the J-to-J cards?
- Yes! Absolutely! Start as soon as possible and reap the rewards! Or sow them :). Or whatever farming metaphor you like best.
Great series of posts. I am already collecting manga of fairly diverse genres, it’ll be my primary source of written input. I happen to like comics a lot, with very few restrictions, so I think I’ll enjoy it. And then there are some japanese writers whose books I like, e.g. Haruki Murakami; and books about Ruby (the programming language) and so on.
Of course, for oral input there’s anime. And the good thing is that many of them are based on some manga, so I can use either form to help me with the other.
It’ll be fun. I just have to finish RTK1 to get to it.
Great Post Khatzumoto!
Thanks for everything… Keep it coming!
Im just wondering about dictionary forms of words. Since you never actually say them in conversation do you learn them or do you just use the other forms?
Please continue this site, I find learning techniques fascinating and especially your sites. The more info the better, I am just starting out my learning journey and I think this will be the method I take.
That was very inspirational: “it’s not that you know so much Japanese that you can use a Japanese OS. Rather, it is by using a Japanese OS that you learn a lot of Japanese.” I spent the weekend downloading Momonga Linux, a Japanese Linux distribution, installed it on a VMWare Player, and am having a great time starting to figure things out.
If I waited till I knew enough Japanese to use it, I’d never get around to it. Your philosophy is a great one: just jump in and do it.
Daniel–Thanks for the compliment :). Yes, you can actually use dictionary forms of verbs, but other forms are important, too. So definitely feel free to learn examples of all of them.
This is a damned inspirational web site and method. I’m learning Mandarin Chinese instead of Japanese, but there’s no reason the principles can’t be applied to any language…well, any language that produces entertaining things. I’m guessing Star Wars in Latin hasn’t come out on DVD yet. Whatever the case, using this approach, I’m guessing I’ll be much better prepared for Taiwan this fall.
One question, though: how do you deal with sentences for which you have no verification of what precisely is being said? As an example, in Mandarin:
Ni gen ni de baba yi yang.
Literally, that means ‘You with your father same shape/manner/pattern/way/appearance.’ Going strictly from the Chinese-English dictionary, translated into English, that could mean anything from ‘you look like your father’ to ‘you’re going down the same road as your father’ or whatever….rather than it’s actually meaning of, ‘you’re just like your father.’
This has been my primary stumbling block in just going to a random Chinese forum and snatching sentences. If you don’t have anyone to make you understand the nuances of how the words are being used, how can you figure them out?
Thanks for your encouragement. 其實我也在學習中文！You asked:
“How do you deal with sentences for which you have no verification of what precisely is being said? If you don’t have anyone to make you understand the nuances of how the words are being used, how can you figure them out?”
Great question. Two strategies I might employ.
1. The Conservative Approach
If you’re not sure what exactly the original (unverified) sentence means, then don’t use the original sentence. Instead, find new (verified) sentences containing target words in the original sentence. (A good dictionary is treasure trove of verified sentences).
By extension, you might familiarize yourself with the surrounding (presumably verifiable), context of the forum post until you’re sure what the original sentence meant, *then* learn the original.
2. The Pragmatic Approach
With a sentence like 你跟你爸爸一樣, since its meaning will change depending on context anyway, just assign it a single context in which it does have a single, specific meaning, and use that context in your learning. In other words, “pick one now, and leave the rest for later”.
Learning language when you’re thirsty for knowledge is like shopping when you’re greedy for cool electronics. You want it all. A good way to focus yourself down is to say to yourself: “mathematically, for the sake of argument, I’m going to eventually learn/own everything in the universe anyway, so the question is not IF I will acquire this product or piece of information, but WHEN”. The whole thing then becomes a matter of order of acquisition, not of inclusion/exclusion.
I know that’s slightly off-topic and I’m sorry for being preachy at times. But hopefully that helps. Take care! Add oil!
This is really exciting reading about this approach. I use Supermemo already and learn about 10 new words a day but now I think I’ll start learning 10 sentences a day containing my 10 new words. I’ll continue reading and look forward to greater linguistic success!
For anyone looking for a site to help with getting started with their sentence-gathering, I’d like to recommend www.jlptstudy.com/4/index.html
Someone far more knowledgeable than I could probably scan through some of the sentences (particularly in the Grammar sections – approx 40 each) to make sure they’re suitable, but since they’re from the JLPT tests I assume they’re probably fine. It’s a pretty random assortment, but it would give a good base to begin from as you work on building your collection from other sources as well (and certainly can’t hurt if you ever plan to take the test yourself.)
As a sidenote, each level’s sentences are generally limited to just the kanji that correspond to its level; therefore, the level 4 ones are pretty kana heavy, but it should be a simple enough matter to convert them as you go along.
Very good sentences. The Japanese is fine. The English translations are awkward, but not incorrect. Truth be told, I wouldn’t know how to accurately translate something like “こんな所(ところ)”…it’s kind of more nuanced than “in a place like this”…but maybe that’s a fine point. Thanks for the link, :D, good stuff! It’s great because people can copy and paste, too.
I’ve read that you suggest to use hiragana.jp for websites to get the actual reading of Kanji.
But when you have sentences in books, manga, etc., where can you look for the pronunciation?
Asking a native speaker would be an option, but can you suggest me (/us) other ways to do that, please?
Dictionaries. Handheld electronic/web (paper sucks). There are links to several on the sidebar of this page: www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/blog/
Hey Khatzumoto do you think this Nintendo DS game would be helpful in finding good sentences and be used as a dictionary?
The description sounds pretty good, but I’m not sure how accurate the translations are.
I cannot give you any guarantees, but my rule of thumb is always “if it’s in Japanese, then it’s good for you”. No matter what it is, if it is in the Japanese language, then it can never be a complete waste of time.
“im Breen’s WWWJDIC is the place to look up the pronunciation of Japanese names, in the “Translate Words” section. However, the example sentences on the site sometimes contain errors.”
Yep, if nobody has mentioned it already, the example sentences are taken from the ‘Tanaka Corpus’, which even Prof.Tanaka didn’t think was very good! Apparently, the corpus was cleaned up before incorporation into WWWJDIC, but obviously some errors remains, and Jim B does state this and issues a few words of warning to users:
konnichiwa khatzumoto-sensei~ ^^
I have been studying Japanese for about 4 years now at the university and I came across your site a couple weeks ago. I found that just about everything you said (esp. about how textbooks suck~) are true! I forgot most of the Japanese I worked so hard to learn! T.T
Now, I started implementing your system and I can already notice some great results~! The recommendation for Heisig’s “Remembering the Kanji” book was great! I’m learning about 100 characters a day. As soon as I finish the book, I’ll move on to learning the sentences (as I already learned the kanas from school) and try to go monolingual a.s.a.p.! Thanks for sharing your method with us~!
As this is the ‘sentences section’, I thought I would share a great website for ‘mining’ sentences that I found on the “Reviewing the Kanji” forum. ( have to give credit to the poster, chamcham, so here’s the link to the forum post:
and here’s the website: dramanote.seesaa.net/
This website has scripts for many dramas (and some movies too, I think…), including very recently released ones. I tried following the script to an episode of one of my fav. dramas: 電車男. The scripts, while not exact, are really close to the dialogue in the drama. Maybe we (i.e. all of us students of Japanese) can use this to ‘mine’ spoken Japanese sentences! Also, if you have trouble catching what was said in a drama, you can look it up here!
I feel a bit stupid by asking this but… *HOW* do you change to Japanese-Japanese… I mean… Eh, there are enough sentences right now I just ‘get’ without needing an English translation… But if I leave out the translation in the answer part, what (besides from readings) do I put in there? ^^;
Also, even though I get the general meaning, I’m afraid I might miss the nuances. … Maybe I should just keep the translation for now until I know more words and all… Just wondering… But at times I just read the Japanese and don’t even read the translation at all because I know I understood it.
>But if I leave out the translation in the answer part, what (besides from readings) do I put in there?
Nothing. Only put in what you need. If readings are enough, then they are enough.
>Also, even though I get the general meaning, I’m afraid I might miss the nuances. …
You won’t. In fact, often, the English will only pollute it, IMHO.
I find wikipedia in Japanese really useful when I can’t figure out the meaning very well by the dictionary definition. If you’re a link whore you can go all day!
LoL. Wikipedia Japan is cool. And the writers are all kanji-bandits.
I’m thinking of mining sentences form Natsume Souseki and Akutagawa Ryosuke, but do you think the Japanese they use is too old to use as a source of sentence mining?
I’m a beginner, I’m about 450 sentences in my SRS, however I started reading First Night from Souseki and (beside a lot of kanji lookups) I almost understand it.
I’d go this way: read first the English translation; then read Japanese listening to the audio of an audiobook (repeat this a lot of times, until I’m not comfortable with it); mine a lot of interesting sentences from it (I think there will be a lot); read the novel imitating the professional actor of the audiobook.
Again, my concern is: are those two autors too old, I fear I’ll speak like a Edo’s Japanese 😉
>Are those two autors too old, I fear I’ll speak like a Edo’s Japanese
That doesn’t matter. What matters is that the work is engaging. Reading it will get you good at Japanese. Even if you do have some skewing, as long as it’s JAPANESE skewing (as in, you think and act and talk in a particular style that is natively Japanese), then I think that’s fine. You can always “correct” it later with more “standard”/”modern” input.
My early work consisted of cheesy anime and yankii (juvenile delinquent) speech. You can imagine what my emails sounded like…But spending more time in different situations has “normalized” my Japanese.
Don’t worry so much about “hurting” your Japanese. The most damaging thing is no Japanese input at all. If you do Japanese, and you do it all the time, then you deserve for it to be fun; you deserve to choose what you read. So read what you enjoy; it is a stepping to stone to even more Japanese.
BTW, from what I’ve read of Akutagawa’s stuff [which is not a lot–example sentences from his novels seem to turn up a lot in my dictionary, though], it seems really “current” to me…
Thankyou for the quick reply!!
I’ll definitely go with those two authors to start with. For what I see it is enjoyable enough (and challenging enough).
I love “your method”, it is almost what I did to learn english, even if I didn’t it consciously (and I didn’t use SRS).
Hey Khatzumoto, here’s a question:
You said it’s great to watch Hollywood movies dubbed in Japanese since you know what’s coming right? How about English translated manga you’ve already read before and now wanna read it RAW? One Piece is my favourite manga and since it isn’t available where I live, I’ve mostly read free scanlations and most of the dialogue is memorized! Would it help if I now read the entire manga in Japanese? (since I have a pretty good idea of what’s going on?)
A few days ago I flew back from the US on Singapore Air, I mention the airline as they had over 100 movies you could watch from your seat in addition to picking the audio. So I had the pleasure of watching Goblet of Fire dubbed in Japanese. Definately can see the fun in watching US movies dubbed, so now I guess a good question is how to decide if its a good dub. Certainly, many of us experienced the HORRENDOUS dubbing for some movies (Grave of the Fireflies’ dub makes me want to vomit) while you have true gems (Princess Mononoke, Inuyasha, Flying Tiger Hidden Dragon in my opinion). I’m sure there are Japanese equivalents of good and bad. Still, I’ll probably get Harry Potter (Movie 3 and above) seeing how much fun it was on the plane. Now to find out if Heroes and Battlestar Galactica and Babylon 5 are dubbed ^__^
As for Kodansha’s Childrens’ Classics (of which “All about the Particles” is in the set), I’m tempted to get the Verbs, Particles, Distinguishing Particles and Adjectives and Adverbs books. Seems to be about 600 sentences per book. Any comments on any of these?
Quick response Charles A.
I concur that dubbed US movies are fun to watch. I don’t know about Battlestar or Bab 5 are dubbed. I’m looking for that answer myself;) However, I do know that Heroes has just started here in Japan. So you may be able to find it on some of the J-dorama sites… I know there’s a first 5 episode marathon this weekend on Super Drama for those interested. I have my HD recorder set to record it:)
As far as the other books, I have many of them and they all are good. I can’t find a bad thing about them. For me personally, I think the best move would be pick up the Verbs (because they “are” the sentence) and Particles books. Just a personal bias. Those are my two weakest areas.
Charles, thanks. I got all three books (Adverbs and Adjectives, Particles and Verbs).
Khatzumoto, here’s a little something else to consider doing for inputting sentences. If you have a Japanese cellphone or at least can get yours to enter Kanji, use it to create your sample sentences. Now just mail it to your home e-mail for later input to an SRS. It’s two fold: you use spare time for something Japanese and you get used to texting in Japanese. PS: I never had a cellphone in the states so I don’t know if this is possible outside of Japan.
I have a question about this sentence strategy in regards to Chinese. I would consider myself upper-intermediate in Chinese. When looking for sentences, should I consider using newspaper material and other, more formal types of writing? Or should I stick with dialogues?
I realized that there are a lot of dialogues that I still don’t understand fully, mostly because of the vocabulary. I worry that if I just study a lot of formal, newspaper-type sentences, this won’t help my speaking ability at all, since no one speaks in the same way they write formal chinese. I can’t understand a lot of newspaper articles because of vocabulary and because formal Chinese is very different from colloquial Chinese. Any advice?
Just do what you enjoy. Don’t think of it in terms of what you “have” to do or what’s “good” for you; think of it in terms of what you *want* to do — because that is, in fact, what’s good for you! Maybe sometimes you want to read a newspaper articles, so you pick sentences from a newspaper article. Perhaps other times you want something more chatty/colloquial, so you pick a dialogue. Let your curiosity be your guide. More here and here.
Think of it less as “adding Chinese to Yun Seok Jeong’s repertoire”, and more like “making a Chinese version of Yun Seok Jeong”. Same person, same interests, same likes, just in Chinese. You do what you want to do, you read what you want to read, just in another language.
khatzumoto, I got just few questions, one for each sentence source I’m using.
Firstly, I like listening to Japanese songs, and it’s much easier to find lyrics with translations for them than, say, scripts for movies – got to go to all the trouble of ripping the subtitles, checking accuracy etc. However, if you look at english songs the lyrics don’t sound like something you’d say in normal everyday conversation. And what I hear in those songs sounds the same: short phrases, etc. Question: Is it safe to go use those sentences?
Secondly, I’ve also found stories with a transcript, translation, and audio recording (how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=6241&PN=1). I like the stories and can follow the audio, but the translations are not literal – I had to check by looking up the words in a sentence (in Wakan) and found out that they’ll compress, combine sentences, etc. Question: Do I need to go to the trouble of manually translating each sentence or is there a better method?
Thirdly, you mentioned something about using anime as a sentence source, and I’m interested in that, mainly because I keep this list of words that I recognize through hearing them waaay too often in anime (e.g. 魂, 愛する, 空, 馬鹿); kind of similar to your method actually, and I found that unlike other words I haven’t heard, I will never ever ever forget these or their meanings.
Ok, since you said that you did use anime as a sentence source I guess that’s ok even if it’s juvenile, but my question is: When you heard a good sentence that you wanted to learn, did you have to listen to it, manually look up the words in it, and then check the meanings against the subs?
I’m asking about sentence sources which need too much effort to translate and use not because I’m lazy… but I think that time spent translating is time spent not learning japanese. And anyway it’ll be a slow way to reach 10,000 sentences.
Sorry, somehow I let your comment slip through.
>Is it safe to go use those sentences?
Yeah. I mean, they are poetry, so treat them as such. I do put them in my SRS. But I also put other, more conservative sentences in there, USING individual words that are in the song. I mean, to the extent that most songs are strings of individual phrases that are more or less standard, it’s totally OK.
>Do I need to go to the trouble of manually translating each sentence or is there a better method?
>When you heard a good sentence that you wanted to learn, did you have to listen to it, manually look up the words in it, and then check the meanings against the subs?
If you can’t get some written, Japanese confirmation [having a native-level speaker confirm for you also counts] of what gets said in the anime, do not use those sentences directly. Use words FROM those sentences, but get the sentences from some other, confirmed, written source (e.g. you could Google what you THINK you heard and then use that; that might work). The reason for this caution is that you might sometimes mishear something, and that would affect your learning process. My Japanese friend T-star, when he was learning English hardcore in the US, thought for the longest time that “how’s it goin’?” was spelt “has gone?”; it’s errors like this that you want to avoid.
>time spent translating is time spent not learning japanese.
You are the dawg! It IS. It IS. It IS. Don’t bother translate. UNDERSTAND…but don’t go translating, AT ALL.
Anyway, as per your suggestions, I’m using only sentences from Yahoo dictionary – they’re enough for now, but I think I’ll need more sources in the future.
Anyway, I see you don’t have a seperate kanji page for comments so I’ll just ask it here.
I’m a native speaker of chinese, and in all the sentences I’ve seen so far the meaning of the kanji pretty much matches up with the original chinese meaning. Seeing that, I have skipped the phase 2: Kanji section of your….method.
More than OK.
The idea of phase 2 is, in a sense to make Chinese people of people who are not otherwise Chinese or Japanese. That is, they understand the meaning and can write kanji. Since you’re already in that state, you’re fine :D…
Here’s a nubtastic question: How about simply copying sentences from Yahoo, in general? www.yahoo.co.jp/ is an everlasting resource of updated Japanese content; perhaps visiting various sections of the site each day and picking out sentences would be a nice way to learn?
Basically anything real and in Japanese is good.
I have 2 quick questions.
First you mentioned using a Japanese OS. How do you get this? Do you have to buy a seperate Japanese windows cd, or is there already a language setting when you reinstall windows? (I use vista by the way)
After you finish the Heisig kanji and go onto the sentences, what did you do with your srs for that. Did you stop doing them, and only do the sentence srs or did you continue doing them for review, and do the sentence srs. If you completely stop the heisig srs, don’t you forget them?
Thank you so much for your very helpful advice here! I have started to put it into practice and the results are very satisfying.
Would you think it’s OK to also use sentences which my Japanese teacher created for me? Or do you see it as an essential part of the learning process that I find the sentences by myself?
Last night, I had an abrupt awakening while sleeping last night (ironic isn’t it?). I understood something from last night that changed the way I look at the kanji. Anyone who is currently reading and studying Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji part 1 for the first time (like me) will probably be doing the same thing that I was. Going through Khatzumoto’s famous process (he is famous and could even be considered a hero to many who wanted to learn the japanese language but had no where to start from), I believed that it was imperative that I FULLY memorize all 2046 kanji on my first read of this book. NO. It’s not going to happen.
To this date I’m at around 900 kanji and, while in order of Heizig’s book, I can recall them all (only because of TEDIOUS memorization and it started becoming un-fun) but this process is fairly in-efficient and I reccomend NOT doing it that way.
People at school ask me “Wow Talon, those are alot of characters to memorize!”, it’s true and that is the case. BUT, think about an English speaking person end of teen years going into his/her 20’s. From this point, we “primary English speakers” have used the A to Z alphabet to create countless words. There are only 26 letters in the AZ alphabet but try to think about, off the top of your head, how many WORDS you can come up with using only those few letters? ALOT probably. I mean in maybe one or two complete New York Times newspaper there are probably more possible words than kanji listed in Heisig’s RTK part 1. But nevertheless, you know the words in those newspapers, HOW? Don’t ask me but from early repitition, immersion in an english speaking environment and constant repitition probably lies the key.
I remember from a post a while ago concerning “Immersion in a japanese environment to learn things quickly”. I remember Khatzumoto saying that he wasn’t sure it would be any good to drop an english speaking person in the heart of Tokyo and expect him to have fun. It wouldn’t. You honestly wouldn’t know anything! BUT, concerning immersion techniques, look at the dramatic steps Khatzumoto had done to convert his surrounding “English environment” into a japanese one! Thats immersion right there! The only difference is that you know WHY and HOW and to WHAT level you are immersing yourself so that it can be an enjoyable one. Here’s what I have done so far: my bed, GONE. Sleeping on a low futon is the way to go (it’s honestly the only thing that is comfortable to me and makes my back feel like a champ!). I used to get up in the morning to go to classes and I would be in a crappy mood because I would get headaches from neck pain from, yes, sleeping on matresses. The floor for me was the only way to go all the way back to the beginning of my life. I also got a few other things but I think this post is going to be long already so I’ll make another on this issue someday when I have time.
Japanese is the opposite when comparing writing using kanji and the AZ alphabet. Using the alphabet we create words that MEAN something. Those meanings in turn come together to form a sentence which contains multiple meanings. Using those meanings, we can explain and describe just about anything we want. The AZ alphabet also has set SOUNDS when it comes to pronunciation of the letters. Those sounds come together in our words to justify our vocal pronunciation we create when using them.
The same goes for Japanese. Instead, you are given a symbol (here we can compare it to a word in english) and from that symbol it stands as a meaning for something (we learn that meaning in english through Heizig’s book). Using that symbol we can combine it with other symbol’s to form new meanings and with those meanings put together we can explain and describe a number of things using the story that the symbols (kanji) have put together for us.
Thr truth is that Heizig knows that not everyone will learn the kanji after reading his book because it is just too much for one mind to absorb in a reasonable amount of time. His book was created to make learning the kanji easier using stories that a person understanding english will comprehend easy enough. Kanji is not learned, it is remembered. What Heizig and Khatzumoto’s points are, is that you make your best possible effort to remember the kanji the first time around so that when given a word using kanji you will be able to pick up a few of the meanings. If you forget a meaning, go back and look up the kanji you don’t understand because learning something unknown in context to something understood, remembering becomes much easier.
You will get the kanji, just not by reading a book. It is through constant practice of reading words and sentences (in kanji) that you will remember the kanji. It all depends on your level of effort and dedication to learning this language because the payoff can really make you happy. For instance, even though I only understand a quarter of the kanji, I can actually understand part of the meaning when given a gramatically correct Japanese sentence. This tells anyone something, that your work toward understanding and remembering is paying off and that you will get there someday soon.
Keep working at it and don’t give up because I’m never going to, so there should be no reason that you should either.
Thank’s again to Khatzumoto and every dedicated fan on this website for your generous input that has helped me get on the track of learning my favourite language, Japanese.
Alot of you reviewing the kanji might be having trouble trying to remember the the english keyword to the kanji. If there is a kanji that is giving you lots of trouble but you have reviewed it lots of times, try it the other way around to see if it helps (even though Heisig says not to do this).
There have been a few kanji that gave me trouble trying to learn from the keyword to the kanji but if you can remember it better from the kanji to the keyword there shoudn’t be any difference because you can still recall the keyword.
In the end, you should be able to recall the kanji to the keyword on site of the kanji anyways BUT still try and stick to Heisig’s original plan of memorization: keyword to kanji. There is a good reason to this method but it can’t be helped if memorization is difficult that way but easier the other way.
I’m having a hard time finding a place to buy a copy of Japanese Windows XP that’s not over $300. That’s a little pricey for something I already own in a different language. :/
I would concentrate on looking for a Multilingual User Interface disc. It is a disc with all the language stuff but not the OS. It is normally sold only to international companies who require multiple languages, but I’m sure you could find it from a third party.
Hey! Thanks soo much for making all these precious info available to us so that we can alll learn Japanese in a fun way!
I’m really excited about buying Japanese DVDs from Amazon.jp
But i have 2 questions for you:
1. Will I be able to play the DVDs in my computer (or is there a player that I can dowload to watch Japanese Dvds in my computer)? Or is it a must that I buy a region-free player to attach to a TV? How did you do it when you lived in the US?
2. Will they deliver internationally? I live in US….
Since i don’t speak enough JP *yet* to understand all the japanese in the site….i just gotta know that when i click “buy”…i can actually get the products!!!
Thankkkk u soo much
hey Rebeca, download and install a program called dvd43. Just google it and download it. It will run in the background on your computer, and allow you to play any region dvd on your dvd drive. Also Amazon.jp may or may not deliver internationally. It depends on the individual vendors, the products and the law involved. So what you should do is install the peraperakun or rikaichan programme on your firefox browser, and use that to translate the text. In fact everyone studying Japanese should install that plugin on firefox, it basically translates html text from Japanese to English when you roll over it with your cursor once activated. Great for buying online, and for just getting through some stuff that’s still a bit beyond your level. Also, what a great way to get translations for your sentences!! It doesn’t translate outright, it just translates each word and particle as you roll over it, so the sentence meaning is still up to you to put togetehr in your mind and understand.
I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned, but if you head to jisho.org you’ll find a great dictionary. You can search for words in Japanese or English, search for Kanji by radicals, and the best part is all the words you look up you can click to see example sentences.
So try it out if you need source sentences. Just search for a word you want the defintion for, and underneath the definition click “sentences” and you have a nice list of examples.
I found a really cool site for sentences called www.jisho.org its a dictionary, and it gives lots of example sentences, etc.
This post was really helpful.
I’ve been doing SRS for about a year and I found it really helpful, but I focused on words rather than sentences and didn’t do much J to J input. Recently I got burned out on it and have been watching movies and reading manga instead of focusing on SRSing. Now I’m thinking about creating a new SRS deck and starting over. Do you think I should migrate any of my content from the original deck, or just begin again?
I would just start over. Words that you aren’t sure of will pop up into sentences that you enter, and words that you already know(I’m sure at least a big portion of your words only deck) won’t matter because you’ll just read those sentences easily.
Hello, Khatzumoto, thank you very much for this, I will try it right away!
I’m just wondering, do you recommend any Japanese movie/drama in particular? Something with words and sentences that are used in everyday life (probably not the sci-fi type), and a lot of dialogues.
Katzumoto and everyone.
Just started sentences, anyone know of a good/reliable online Japanese-English dictionary(to start with).
Right now,I’m working through “All about particles ” I’m putting them into my SRS like the starter packs. I’m learning the sentences but should I just understand what the particles implies when I see them ( what I’m doing) or should I learn how to use the particles ( I don’t think so). Any help would be great.
Thanks for the grea site, I’ve got a quick question. I’m just starting out on the sentence mining, but I’m finding it sort of frustrating. Ironically, it’s not the studying part, or finding what to study, but it’s finding the correct readings for the kanji! Even when I get a simple sentence (I’ve been using the yahoo dictionary sample sentences, or attempting to), there’s no furigana, so I not sure what I should be saying, even though I can understand the meaning. Does anyone know where I can find sentences that include the furigana reading as well, or what I should be doing to look up the correct reading for each character?
If you have a Nintendo DS, check out Kanji Sonomama Rakubiki Jiten (漢字そのまま楽引辞典). You can write out Kanji or Hiragana, then there will be J to J definitions of J to E. I highly recommend it, because I let it sit on my table and sometimes when I come across a word I don’t know, I would just use the DS to look it up. There are sample sentences too, as well as a whole lot of other features. I assume lots of the younger crowd here will have a DS, and also know how to play games for free… so it’s a great tool. Not to mention some helpful games such as Zelda have furigana on the Kanji in the dialogue.
I’ve been most inspired by this site and I’m trying to follow the method as much as possible. Im already at an advanced level but Im one of those people who should be much better for the amount of time spent in Japan and studying Japanese.
In the above article by Katsumoto he mentions taking sentences over from your input to your SRS. Could someone clarify that for me? So far Ive been trying to make everyword a sentence and not just learn by single words. I didn’t know there was a difference? I cant seem to find the article where he talks about this in more detail.
Any help from you fine gentleman or ladies would be much appreciated!!!
Great site; I’m currently starting RTK1 SRSing.
About the anime, would you recommend if I were to, say, watch it once with subs, then watch it without?
I’m wondering how you can know what is going on without actually knowing ANY of the japanese before watching. How would one pick sentences from this?
Anyway, thanks for the great site; I’d donate if I had any money 🙁
Japanese (and other languages) sentence generator:
Khatzumoto mentioned WWWJDIC example sentences in his post and someone mentioned tatoeba.org in the comments above…
You have to know that since December 2009, Tatoeba became the new place where WWWJDIC example sentences are maintained. The whole adding/correcing sentences process now takes place over there, with the benediction of Jim Breen of course. Sentences in WWWJDIC are a subset of the sentences in Tatoeba. Subset because Tatoeba is also extending the sentences collection to other languages, so there’s more than just English and Japanese.
I can only encourage you to drop by and contribute, because it’s a Wikipedia kind of thing, anyone can contribute. And we are distributing the sentences under the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY).
(Disclaimer: I’m the author of the project)
It is still true that NOT 100% of the sentences are reliable, but now they are open to everyone, and everyone can improve them. And hopefully someday, we’ll end up with a resource that can be 100% trusted. That’s at least what we’re aiming for.
Even though, right now, the system is not perfect… But there’s enough to get things done. For instance, one user created a list of English sentences he felt had mistakes (tatoeba.org/eng/sentences_lists/edit/29). If you’re an English speaker, you can check this list, and correct the sentences if they are indeed not correct.
This is something you could do for Japanese as well, if you’re a Japanese learner. You can create a list for Japanese sentences that needs to be checked, and whenever you find sentences that sound weird to you, you add it to the list. And drag your Japanese friends/penpals along, because Tatoeba still doesn’t have a lot of Japanese speakers hanging around, and we really them.
A note about operating systems in Japanese. If you are a linux user, most linux distributions offer the option of changing the systems locale even after installation, which changes, things like the menu bar, options/error dialog, and such in X applications. While you may change the system’s locale globally,it’s a better idea to make the change locally to ensure that other users’ interface will remain the same.
In order to change a user’s locale you must first enable the locale. Please refer to your distribution’s documentation about how to do this. The next step is distrbution agnostic. Simply add the following line to your .bashrc or .bashprofile
where “foo” is the name of your locale (mine is jp＿JP.utf8 so my line is export LANG=jp＿JP.utf8).
Once you do this simple log in and out and VIOLA! Your X applications are now in Japanese
Please note that changing your locale will not change the language of an application if it was not compiled with/or does not support UTF8/Japanese fonts
Basically i’m a complete noob (and i’m sorry but this is likely to sound really nooby.) Im just starting out and have a textbook “japanese for busy people” so ill mine the sentences from that my question is these will be my very first cards and the sentences are only in hiragana and katakana so should i try and get some kanji n there? After this i will use minna no nihingo. My other question was shall i learn how to write each new kanji as it appears in sentences? (i assume i will quickly pick up vocab, grammar and kanji this way) as i said i am really sorry for the noobyness of this but i do really appreciate any help!
Another good way to get sentences is by playing Japanese video games and PC games that can be downloaded from the internet. I learned lots of new words from there as well as new Kanji. If there’s an unknown Kanji all you have to do is remember the radical and search for the whole shape in Denshi Jisho as i have done.
I found a cool website for sentences tatoeba.org/
In addition to having great sentences, Tae Kim’s guide is also a great MCD resources, his practice exercises are full of them.
How does one get to the bilingual section on dic.yahoo.co.jp/ ? I’ve been looking around, but I can’t find a lead on how to get there.
Click the 英和(E-J) or 和英(J-E) button under the search.
Re-reading the website is a great way for me to find more cool advice on how to learn languages. I agree–you should always ask natives about sentences if you’re not sure that they’re correct.
I figure this is a good place to mention this:
If you’re wanting a new book or manga but don’t know what exactly, go browse the websites of major publishers (i.e. 電撃 or 角川) Most have an option to preview the first few pages — look for a link like 立ち読みはこちら. (Note that the reader for 電撃 will require a download.)
Small thing, but I’m finding useful in sorting wheat from chaff. (And, as always, it’s a time waster in Japanese, so…)
Khatzumoto, I am looking for sentences, but I cannot read a good amount of them.
So my question is, how much kanji should I learn before looking up sentences and how would I understand the sentences?
I already know Hiragana and Katakana, so I can sound out most sentences but cannot understand them, how do you suppose I understand them? Should I learn more first in terms of listening ? Should I use a dictionary with english to find the sentence meanings? What is a good Idea to do while picking out sentences in terms of finding their meanings?
I’m currently learning Kanji and after reading this post it got me thinking.
Wouldn’t Visual Novels be perfect for this purpose?
Most Visual Novels are voiced and written, and you can go easily 20-30 hours with one.
Fate/Stay Night for example. It took me over 100h to play everything and I’m thinking of replaying it after I’m done with the Kanji because I only played it with an translation patch. But those old and VN’s are pretty pricey. I got lucky and got a really good copy for 70$ from ebay 4 years ago.
The site I get a lot of my sentences from is www.jisho.org . Maybe add that to the list? It’s a really good dictionary anyway.
Im curious, you recommend sentences from sites such as 2ch and other native sites…Such sites (majority of the time) don’t have a translation so should a beginner still sentence mine from them? If yes, how would one go about “understanding” the sentences?
For exposure purposes (immersion); you must avoid the subs and translations even if you are clueless as to what they are saying you will understand them anyhow since you are getting visual cues; therefore if you are a complete beginner- watch purely movies for exposure- take a pass on written literature for now- you will probably learn the grammars and understand some of those soon enough – but let me ask you this (if you are not a native english speaker) you used to enjoy english cartoons as a kid althogh you probably don’t understand around 80% of the words! But you get better because you never cared! Do that with stuff in your target language! just watch/read them even if you dont understand everything just enjoy everything you can enjoy about it!
¡ESTUPENDO! By the way where I came from- jap anime is very popular. You could get a complete series of DVD bluray imitation of any anime you want from Dragon ball, cooking master, Boy, Naruto, Bleach, Lucky Samurai X, Lucky Star, You name it! Each for less than a buck if you convert the currency- you might say I am better off learning Japanese instead since some of those like YUYU hakusho, Slam dunk, and Hajime no Ippo I have already watched in our native language version (on local TV) for like TEN times!
Right now I am actually watching them in Spanish version – too bad there aren’t any pirated Spanish DVDs here – I had to download them on youtube.
But Katz-what is your take on using Animes for Exposure in language learning? I know you’re into manga but what about Animes?
So when you are sentence mining for your flashcards you already (in theory) have learned how to read and write the most common Kanji from the Heisig method which should cover most of what you need to know. But what do you do when you come across a new kanji sentence mining? Do you 1) keep doing exactly the same thing and learn the writing by copying the sentence out ect or 2) create a separate kanji flashcard and come up with your own mnemonic like in the Heisig stage?