Are You New to this website? Start Here!

...And if you're not new, check this out, playa :) ↓

IMX

@Random Post

↑ Click up there to read a randomly selected AJATT post -- the electronic version of thumbing through a book :)

[Archive]

Help A Reader Out

February 21, 2008
By

A reader named X-star sent me an email today. Here it is, slightly abridged, and with sections added to ease referencing.

Hey. I found your site very motivating, but slightly confusing at times. I’ve dabbled in a bit of Japanese, learned the kana/a very small amount of kanji, picked up words here and there, textbooks and classes (which I agree, suck). I’m now highly considering your method, though I have some uncertainties with it that I’d like you to clear up if you don’t mind.

(A) Learning general use kanji first. I’d understand if it was learning the readings, but if you’re only learning the meaning, I don’t see how it could be much help without knowing how to read them. By the time you could actually put your knowledge to practise, wouldn’t you just completely forget the kanji? The kana seem hard-wired into my brain now, but that’s only because I spent a lot of time on each letter – just one gyo a day, if I tried to do 25+ a day, of an even more complex writing system with a lot more strokes, I don’t think I could keep it in my long-term memory. Maybe I just have a bad memory, though. :P

(B) No English subtitles. I suppose it sounds logical. I watch a lot of anime, and even if I say “I’ll try to actually LISTEN this time” I usually forget in a few minutes and just stare at the subtitles, though I’ve picked up a little of the shorter phrases/words that are repeated a lot, maybe I’d pick up even morefrom discarding subtitles. My only problem with it is, I don’t see how it’d be much fun watching something and not understanding what is going on most of the time, and like you say, you should always be enjoying yourself. Even something you’ve watched before would seem quite stale. Wouldn’t it be better to just put more of an effort into actually listening to the dialogue while reading subtitles? Also, I’ve heard, albeit from an unreliable source (Internet forum know-it-alls), that learning from anime and such is a bad way to learn Japanese. I can see why it could be true though, if a foreigner was learning English completely from media, with little actual contact with English-speakers, they might sound a little dramatic and out of place. For example, “temee” and “kisama” are supposed to be very rarely used, though they’re used a lot in anime, even among friends (love/hate friendships?). Though that’s probably obvious as there is a lot more drama and hatred in anime than real life. I don’t know. What are your thoughts on it?

(C) Hypnopaedia. Were you serious about listening to Japanese when sleeping? “Sleep learning”, I’veheard, is a theory that has been debunked for years now. Do you feel it actually helps? Or do you just mean listen to Japanese in the little time between while you’re trying to sleep, and until you’re sleeping?

(D) Oh and one last thing, if I follow your methods to the letter, completely immersing myself in Japanese while doing a significant amount of SRS, how long on average should it take me to be semi-fluent? As in, just know enough to understand enough sentences to say, understand the basic plot in an anime/manga/whatever? I think if I could get to the point where I can read/comprehend a decent amount of sentences, I’ll find it infinitely harder to quit than I will to keep going.

Thanks.

I actually found his questions quite difficult to answer in a way that would be satisfying to a complete beginner. I’ve been doing this Japanese thing for a while now, so a lot of it seems blindingly obvious to me. That, and, I tend to go with “the justification is in the results” style of thinking. But these are legitimate questions, and it would be nice to get an answer. Some of you who read this site have just finished Heisig, others have been working on sentences/phrases for a short time, perhaps a few months. It is to you who have just finished “Phase 2″ or just started “Phase 4″ that I make this request: could you answer some or all of X-star’s questions, from your personal experience?

Thanks for your help!

For my part, I did attempt to answer X-star’s questions, but I feel like my answers have the air of someone removed from the process and who’s forgotten what it was like for him, and keeps wondering why people’s questions even keep coming up in the first place. So, I would very much appreciate any help you can give!

I don’t think I could keep it in my long-term memory. Maybe I just have a bad memory, though. :P

Short answer is: “You can. Use an SRS”.
Long answer: You don’t have a bad memory, you simply lack memory tools and techniques. If you’ve never ever read and applied something like The Memory Book, then you can’t blame it on your memory any more than a farmer who’s never planted a single seed can honestly say: “the soil isn’t fertile”. Well, try planting a freaking seed, farmer! No water? Live in the desert? Build a canal and irrigate the mother! OK, that’s kind of preachy.

I don’t see how it could be much help without knowing how to read them.

A lot of people don’t before they do it.
Short answer: Try it first, and you’ll understand.
Long answer: kanji primarily have meaning. That’s why Mandarin, Japanese, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Korean…all can use the very same kanji despite pronouncing them completely differently. That’s why a single kanji in Japanese can have multiple readings. Because the meaning is the same. You can understand so much through “only” knowing the meaning and writing. For example:

機種名であるYS-11の「YS」は輸送機設計研究協会の「輸送機」と「設計」sの頭文字「Y」と「S」をとったもの。
machine-type-name: model name
輸送機
transport-send-machine: transport plane
設計
establish-plot(plan): design
頭文字
head-writing-character: initial (letter)
自己複製
self-ego duplicate-manufacture: self-replication
火山
fire-mountain: volcano
花火
flower-fire: fireworks

Parts of this example were taken from here.

When you know and understand the parts, a logical composite whole is often much easier to understand. When you don’t know the parts, you’re just lost. But what about readings, you say? I’d learn those later…Seriously. There is not enough un-fuzzy logic there, see for yourself:
火山/か-ざん
花火/はな-び

For more on kanji, get it from the horse’s mouth. Read the intro and “note to the 4th edition”. Pay particular attention to this:

One only has to look at the progress of non-Japanese raised with kanji to see the logic of [this] approach. When Chinese adult students come to the study of Japanese, they already know what the [individual] kanji mean and how to write them. They have only to learn how to read them. The progress they make in comparison with their Western counterparts is usually attributed to their being “Oriental”. In fact, Chinese grammar and pronunciation have about as much to do with Japanese and English does [Khatz: no, really...this is not an exaggeration]. It is their knowledge of the meaning and writing of the kanji that gives the Chinese the decisive edge. My idea was simply to learn from this common experience and give the kanji an English reading. Having learned to write the kanji in this way — which, I repeat, is the most logical and rational part of the study of Japanese — one is in a much better position to concentrate on the often irrational and unprincipled problem of learning to pronounce them. [Emphasis and silly side comments added].

Another thing I will add is that there are plenty of words you simply cannot grasp if you don’t know the kanji; the author of the book The Kanji Way to Japanese Language Power refers to it as a sort of glass ceiling. Not only that, but a lot of times in conversations in Japanese (and Chinese), when people hear a word they don’t understand, they will ask “what’s the kanji for that?”. Kanji is the foundation of Japanese. Kana themselves are nothing but kanji mutant children. Returning to your questions:

though I have some uncertainties with it that I’d like you to clear up if you don’t mind.

I don’t know if I can clear up your uncertainties for you…what you are asking me to do is to demonstrate my powers of persuasion, and that may not work out well. Even if you remain uncertain after reading what I have to say, which you may, I would recommend you get to work, rather than stand around thinking about it. Quite often the worst crime isn’t doing it “wrong”, it’s not doing it at all. As I discuss in the FAQ section and in this article, your time should never be wasted attempting to believe or not believe in a method; your time should be spent getting results. Belief and opinion are irrelevant. Japanese is the goal. So just do something, try something.

I’ve heard, albeit from an unreliable source (Internet forum know-it-alls)

Well, there you go. You already know those guys are idiots only writing to inflate their egos.

What are your thoughts on it?

Anime’s fine. Just do what you enjoy. Sure, there is some “specialist vocabulary” and usage unique to anime — every field has its tropes. I mean, it’s like saying you should never read academic papers because you’ll end up starting all your sentences with “近年” and saying “著しい発展を遂げている” several times a day and qualifying your speech with “と考えられる” — wives’ tales are great until their wrong. The fact is, despite the presence specialist patterns, the remaining 90-95% [rough stat] of the vocab and structure in any genre, whether anime or even a period drama, is still so-called “standard”/”normal” modern Japanese. The specialist topping is just icing on the selfsame cake.

Were you serious about listening to Japanese when sleeping?

Yes.

Do you feel it actually helps?

I do. At the very least, it kept me doing Japanese all the time — from first thing in the morning to last thing at night with no time wastage (even an extra 20 – 120 minutes per day really adds up over 6 months or 1 year), it also sometimes helped me dream in it or be thinking about/in it, especially in those half-asleep half-awake states.

how long on average should it take me to be semi-fluent?

Hard to answer…It depends on how much work you put it. I’m not sure because I don’t remember when it was for me…And I don’t really know what “on average” means. Plus it doesn’t take much knowledge to understand the basic plot of anything. Besides, it’s never ignorance of the basic plot that trips you up, it’s those little twists and nuances — the things that actually make the story unique and different and interesting. Cop-out answer?

I don’t see how it’d be much fun watching something and not understanding what is going on most of the time, and like you say, you should always be enjoying yourself

Again, best to try it first. I can’t really explain it to you fully. The best I can come up with is: you still learn sounds, rhythm and other non-lexical patterns. Also, you put yourself in a position to learn incidental vocabulary. Your powers of inference are greater than you might assume. For example, I forced my English-teacher friends who want to learn Japanese to watch Japanese TV one morning, and they kept hearing the word “ほかほか” used on TV. Someone would be advertising longjohns — winter underwear — and talk about how “ほかほか” things were, and then there would be a food commercial and there’d be this piping hot rice and that word “ほかほか” would come up again. This all happened in the space of like half an hour, and these guys pretty quickly figured out the meaning and of ほかほか. But, yeah, I do recommend movies you’ve seen before.

People are always whining about how “if only I’d been raised in Japan”, or “if I lived in Japan I would be immersed in it and it would be so much easier and quicker to learn it”, right? Now, I don’t know any of the theory behind language immersion, but I decided to simply take that excuse out of the equation — I would put myself in a Japanese environment all the time, no exceptions, no excuses. What I discovered was a confirmation of both my hunch at the beginning of the process and my personal life experience up until that time: getting good at a language is not only the cause of doing stuff only in that language, it is also the effect. You will be able to do stuff in Japanese because you did stuff in Japanese, rather than the other way around. Anyway, what worked when and how much is an interesting topic…for a linguist…but I am not a linguist, I’m just a guy who wanted to know a language so well that there would be zero language barrier between me and a native speaker, so that I could control the language at will, like the finely tuned machine that it is, like a musical instrument or a program, manipulating people’s feelings and perceptions with razor-sharp precision, pushing just the buttons I wanted when I wanted, all based on what I said or did not say, and how I said it.

My intuition tells me that there may be more to it than that, but I do not know for a fact whether or not that is the case. Whether or not I have read the law I will continue to avoid killing people, whether or not I understand electromagnetics I will continue to watch my TV. Research both inside and outside linguistics, is a moving target; it is a living organism. For one thing, people are always disagreeing with each other. Textbooks would lead us to believe that the truth is all cut and dry; what’s known is known and set it stone that’s all there is to it forever and ever amen. If you go out and read some actual academic papers in any field, you’ll find that everyone’s disagreeing with each other on everything, even on some of the fundamentals — virtually nothing is sacred; nothing is not up for question. Not only that, but new information is coming out all the time. All the time. Your best bet, at least in language learning, is to ignore anything that tells you what you can’t do, and just keep running experiments for and on yourself, usually using “common sense” — but sometimes going directly and deliberately against common sense. Try. Do. Always remember that Arthur C. Clarke quote: “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.” If you live anything resembling an interesting life, you will quite likely find yourself doing things that no one’s ever done before. It may take some time for the rest of the world (and for you) to catch up and figure out just what you did and just how you did and why it worked, but that shouldn’t stop you doing it. We — humanity — simply do not know everything yet, so as long as you don’t do something stoopid like do drugs and/or join a cult and/or kill yourself, then you’re pretty much good to go, I say.

Even something you’ve watched before would seem quite stale.

1. Have you tried it?
2. It’s not only a matter of having seen it before, it’s also helps if you enjoyed it at some level.

Wouldn’t it be better to just put more of an effort into actually listening to the dialogue while reading subtitles?

In my experience, the subs always took over.

And now, I open the floor to everybody’s comments, suggestions and advice :) .

No! I will not make out with you or take your money! Just...leave me alone! Just...just go! Go!

The Emotional Sentence Pack
The MCD Revolution Kit

62 Responses to Help A Reader Out

  1. Saleem on February 21, 2008 at 14:01

    Though I watch way more live-action movies than anime myself, here’s how I personally think about the ‘why it’s probably okay to learn Japanese from anime’ thing (note, I make no claims to be an expert, this is just how I happen to think about it at the moment):

    Say we have a big, tough, Thai-kickboxer who learned English exclusively from episodes of, I dunno, reruns of mid-nineties family sitcom Full House (he was totally obsessed with it and watches it all the time). Say he moves to America in attempt to be an action hero and, I dunno, win easy cash in freestyle fighting contests in North Carolina bars*.

    I mean, at the very beginning, that dude would talk pitiful, right? Here you’d have this big intimidating guy saying absurdly family friendly nonsense. Like some dude comes up to him talking about how he’s going to make him wish he’d never been born, and our kick-boxer friend makes the Uncle Joey hand-gestures while saying “Cut. It. Out.”

    Highly inappropriate English for the situation.

    BUT imagine you’re put in charge of bringing him up to speed in appropriate English after he’s already “Full House Fluent”. All you’d have to do was stick him in the right environment, give him a few pointers here and there, and he’d learn how to sound all Jean Claude in no time, right? Because he’d have lots of the grammar already, and most of the phrases. And, more importantly, he’d be completely used to HEARING REAL ENGLISH sounds.

    Contrast that with being charged with teaching proper English to someone who’s not much heard full-speed, non-textbook English at all before. Maybe he’s watched a drama or two, but not much. Probably going to be harder, because there’s a chance that this person can’t really HEAR English yet, and might not have been exposed to much of the grammar variety that makes up most friendly and unfriendly colloquial conversation.

    Point Being: If you came to work with all the Japanese folks that I work with, and you’ve really ONLY learned Japanese from anime, of course you’re going to be completely confused/off for a bit. You might even sound a little psycho.

    But I’d guess that you’d figure out how to talk proper pretty quick, because a lot of the main grammar bits are the same, and, maybe more importantly, you’d already have a really good EAR for the language. For me, in that whole getting an ear for the language stage, it doesn’t seem to matter what you use. If you love anime, roll with it. Just my two cents.

    *not recommended, my friend lost a tooth this way

  2. Sutebun on February 21, 2008 at 14:23

    Listening may be (read: will be) overwhelming and you won’t get everything. In that case, keep plugging away at written things, making sure to add NEW words and phrases to your knowledge (while listening to lots of audio — even if you don’t understand it). As you learn more words and phrases, you will begin to hear those ones very easily in any of the audio you listen to.

    It’s like Khatz says, just do it. The hardest thing about learning a language is that it is so easy to quit. Learning a language requires constant devotion and thousands of hours of immersion and interaction. If you turn on that anime, start watching without subtitles for 5 minutes and then decide “This is impossible” and put the subtitles back on EVERYDAY, then it will be impossible and there will be no progress (likewise, if you keep saying, I can do it later, or I don’t need to know that, or my mind can’t learn that way etc etc). But if EVERYDAY you watch something in Japanese for hours on and listen intently, you will hear more, you will be able to pick out words. And then if you take those words and go find them in a dictionary EVERYDAY and you learn a sentence with them EVERYDAY and have the determination to not let anything get in your way, then nothing will stop you.

    It’s a mind set. It’s the most important thing in learning a language. If you don’t believe you can learn the language you will never be able to actually spend the time learning it. There is a reason Khatz wrote added the section “Belief — Phase 0: Mental Tools”

  3. Tony on February 21, 2008 at 14:33

    A) I studied Heisig from July-August 2008 [2007? -- KhatzuMoto] and finished all 2000 kanji. I was using www.kanji.koohii.com so I could get the flash cards and have a specific kanji SRS. The truth is, I still have to do kanji review every day even though I’ve ‘finished” all 2000. By finish I mean that I have stories for all of them. Now on an average day I make a mistake on 10-20 out of 80 per day. I guess percentage wise this seems pretty high, but I also don’t take a lot of time to re-review the story. Once I see it and make a mistake, I remember the story again. Lately I’ve been trying to do better at visualizing then. I don’t believe I will ever be able to miss less than 5 a day, but I still continue to try. Also keep in mind that over time the repetitions will get farther and farther spaced out for the ones you remember so it is possible I’ll get to where I only need to review 5 a day instead of 80. The ones that I forget tend to be the same ones over and over. I find it helpful to know these kanji because now when I see a new word I recognize the kanji. It’s no longer just a group of random lines that mean nothing to me. Overtime since you can recognize them you begin to notice them in different words and you know how to write them so they get in. Sometimes I see a new poster or something and try and think of the meaning though. I find it useful to be able to recognize the kanji and write it even if I have to do like this: “使い (つかい) 用 (よう)” delete the い and I’ve made 使用 which I might not know the reading for, but thanks to the computer I can look it up and see the reading.

    B) This is actually fairly new for me. I just didn’t watch a lot of TV in Japanese before, but one day I was doing something away from the computer and I was like “huh?!” and I turned around and started watching this show because I could actually understand the majority of what was going on. Now I watch a lot more TV. I definitely agree with Khatz about words popping up over and over. It’s kind of like getting a free review everytime that happens. More exposure means you’re more likely to hear it. One for me, since I’ve started snowboarding with Japanese guys lately, is “もくひょう” I don’t know how to write it since I’ve only heard it. I kept saying 目的 and they continued to correct me. This relates to subtitles, because one day I was watching Gundam 00 on TV and I heard “もくひょう” a lot. It clicked in really fast. Also if you want to try and see what it’s like to read subtitles in English and listen to Japanese, try reading websites and listening to Japanese music sometime. I find that I can only focus on one or the other. For me when I watch movies with English subtitles, in English, I read the subtitles even though I can just watch.

    C) For me I’ve slept with the TV on in Japanese a number of times and all it’s done is make it harder for me to sleep actually. However, when you wake up and you’re already understanding what’s going on without going “Ok, I’m going to think in Japanese” it is really amazing.

    D) I would say this depends on how you are doing things. If you only do Heisig in the beginning without doing the SRS it’ll take longer. If you do Heisig, then start the SRS but don’t listen to Japanese it’ll probably take longer as well, etc. Until recently I always reviewed my kanji first thing in the morning because I really wanted to get under 5 a day. Now I’ve switched to doing my SRS first thing because I’m more concerned with actually being able to communicate than write the kanji. And when you’re reading the sentences you’re looking at kanji and learning the words associated with them at the same time so it’s ok with me. But, as I said I started in July with Heisig, and there was a really marked improvement in my communication skills by late October/early November. Keep in mind that you can’t really measure language process from day to day because one day you might really get a new grammar point down that you’d been messing up before and you’ll sound different. In English it’d be like if someone always said “I like animal dog.” “I like color red.” And one day they’re like, oh, I don’t need animal/color. It’ll sound really different. Just imagine that in a conversation with something a bit more important like は or が in Japanese.

  4. AwkwardMap on February 21, 2008 at 15:34

    I’m in second year, second semester Japanese at my university and I was really fed up with the progress we were making. We’d learn maybe 10 kanji every two weeks, and several compounds to put together and some new grammar. I looked forward to see myself doing the same thing a year down the road, only marginally closer to my goal of fluency.

    So, this led me to try the Heisig method of learning kanji again. Because, see, I tried it last summer using flashcards and well, that really sucks. Trust me at least on this: the SRS really does wonders.

    Anyways, I started in early January and have entered about 1400 into my SRS. It really does help with recognizing things that crop up in shows (such as 電車男, my current favorite). I took a test in my Japanese class yesterday, my “midterm” as it’s called. It was pretty much a cakewalk on the kanji aspect. I was reading through, noticing words that I was supposed to study for the test and well _didn’t_, but it wasn’t a huge deal. I could infer a lot of what was going on from just the kanji.

  5. phauna on February 21, 2008 at 15:47

    I think the learning while asleep is debunked, but not during the dreaming phase. You can hear things in the REM phase, like the sound of your alarm, for example, and it often gets added to your dreams and somehow explained in a dreamlike fashion. Like your alarm may become a fire truck’s siren. So you can hear Japanese too, and it may allow more Japanese dreams. Of course when fully asleep you are not dreaming or hearing much at all.

    However to have the sound being heard during the six REM phases that you probably have a night, then you are going to have to leave the Japanese on the whole time.

  6. John B on February 21, 2008 at 17:14

    Regarding the usefulness of RTK: having started by learning Chinese and then moving to Japanese, I can attest to the tremendous advantage Chinese have because of their character knowledge. I tend to find myself wishing Japanese was still written as it was before WW2, because characters are terrific and kana makes my head hurt :).

    That said, I don’t know if I would have been able to learn the characters through RTK. It seems the difficulty that people find in doing it is the sheer pointlessness of it (at the time — the payoff is delayed). At least when I learned the characters, while studying Chinese, they were immediately useful in communication. Moving over to Japanese, I just had to learn a couple dozen (a hundred? I dunno, not many) characters that were simplified into Japanese-unique ways. If was starting with Japanese having never done Chinese, I don’t know if I would have had the patience to put off communicative learning for long enough to finish RTK.

    Maybe Khatz should start recommending people just learn Chinese as the first step of learning Japanese :P

  7. Cooper on February 21, 2008 at 18:09

    I used to get really let down when I’d learn a bunch of new characters for the day and then find that I’d forgotten some, or even a lot of them, in spite of using a mnemonic system. Then I started noticing that my Chinese friends (and teachers) would forget the writing of various characters. More often than I’d have thought, in fact.

    So now I don’t expect perfection, I just get on with it. Revision is obviously good, but I don’t think it’s wise to get put off from the task just because you won’t have a 100 percent recall.

    Even Dominic O’Brien had a few errors when he was setting memory world records.

  8. John B on February 21, 2008 at 18:33

    @Cooper,

    Chinese forget the writing of characters with remarkable frequency. Mostly they’re “brain farts” — I forget how to spell pretty simple words sometimes in English, too. There are other characters that are just not very commonly encountered in written contexts, even if the word is common in spoken Chinese. 喷嚏 (噴嚏), pen1ti4, meaning “to sneeze,” is a good example — 喷 is commonly used and easily written, and basically nobody can ever remember how to write 嚏 because it’s only used in a tiny handful of sneeze-related words.

    I shoot for the same level of competency with characters that I have with English — damn close to perfect, with the occasional human lapses. Still not quite there, but getting close.

  9. Wan Zafran on February 21, 2008 at 19:17

    “Not only that, but a lot of times in conversations in Japanese (and Chinese), when people hear a word they don’t understand, they will ask “what’s the kanji for that?”.”

    Ah! Considering the amount of homonyms there are in Japanese, I’ve always wondered how they could speak without becoming confused — thanks for the clarification!

  10. Charles A. on February 21, 2008 at 21:12

    I’ll offer up my replies prior to reading the others. Mainly so as not to taint my perspective.
    (A) Learning general use kanji first. I’d understand if it was learning the readings, but if you’re only learning the meaning, I don’t see how it could be much help without knowing how to read them. By the time you could actually put your knowledge to practise, wouldn’t you just completely forget the kanji? The kana seem hard-wired into my brain now, but that’s only because I spent a lot of time on each letter – just one gyo a day, if I tried to do 25+ a day, of an even more complex writing system with a lot more strokes, I don’t think I could keep it in my long-term memory. Maybe I just have a bad memory, though.
    That’s why we created the term “counter-intuitive” (insert smiley face). The idea with “Remembering the Kanji” is that you can recognize (either via a keyword or the kanji itself) and be able to write correctly (ie the stroke order) these kanji. When you do the method correctly (which means using good stories and an SRS), you find you do remember them and write the correctly. The time spent should only average out at 5 to 10 minutes PER kanji after you’ve finished learning the 2000 kanji and successfully recalled about 90% after a 4 week review (ie you CORRECTLY reviewed a card 4 weeks after you last correctly reviewed it). That’s the SRS at work.
    (B) No English subtitles. I suppose it sounds logical. I watch a lot of anime, and even if I say “I’ll try to actually LISTEN this time” I usually forget in a few minutes and just stare at the subtitles, though I’ve picked up a little of the shorter phrases/words that are repeated a lot, maybe I’d pick up even morefrom discarding subtitles. My only problem with it is, I don’t see how it’d be much fun watching something and not understanding what is going on most of the time, and like you say, you should always be enjoying yourself. Even something you’ve watched before would seem quite stale. Wouldn’t it be better to just put more of an effort into actually listening to the dialogue while reading subtitles? Also, I’ve heard, albeit from an unreliable source (Internet forum know-it-alls), that learning from anime and such is a bad way to learn Japanese. I can see why it could be true though, if a foreigner was learning English completely from media, with little actual contact with English-speakers, they might sound a little dramatic and out of place. For example, “temee” and “kisama” are supposed to be very rarely used, though they’re used a lot in anime, even among friends (love/hate friendships?). Though that’s probably obvious as there is a lot more drama and hatred in anime than real life. I don’t know. What are your thoughts on it?
    First, I recommend using the English subtitles ONCE and only ONCE to get an idea of what the story is about (this is based on my experience with Tiger and Dragon and IWGP as Japanese only first with low results). This replicates the idea behind watching dubbed US movies you like. After that switch off the subtitles, (or put on the Japanese subtitles if available) so that you can concentrate on the Japanese in context with the stories. If you keep English subtitles going on the second or later viewings, that’ll be what your mind gloms onto. It will be the 500 lb gorilla in the room throwing English feces at your Japanese learning process.
    As for know it alls, according to them anything and everything you do will not work. Learning outside of class (won’t work), learning in class (won’t work), learning by moving to Japan (won’t work), learning kanji first (won’t work), etc. YOU, and only YOU will decide what you will try and what eventually is working.
    (C) Hypnopaedia. Were you serious about listening to Japanese when sleeping? “Sleep learning”, I’veheard, is a theory that has been debunked for years now. Do you feel it actually helps? Or do you just mean listen to Japanese in the little time between while you’re trying to sleep, and until you’re sleeping?
    This is not meant as a “learn while you sleep” late night ad. This is meant to get you hearing Japanese when you’re going to sleep and when you’re waking up. In addition, as your mind WILL incorporate things it hears into your dreams, you get the side effect of dreaming in Japanese now and again (personal experience speaking here). Remember, you should be listening to audio rips of your TV shows, news broadcasts, pod casts, music, etc. So, this is not a theory. I think any of us has experienced a dream that we wake up to and realize that something happening in the real world was going on in the dream (usually this happens if you fall asleep watching TV or the radio alarm goes off).
    (D) Oh and one last thing, if I follow your methods to the letter, completely immersing myself in Japanese while doing a significant amount of SRS, how long on average should it take me to be semi-fluent? As in, just know enough to understand enough sentences to say, understand the basic plot in an anime/manga/whatever? I think if I could get to the point where I can read/comprehend a decent amount of sentences, I’ll find it infinitely harder to quit than I will to keep going.
    Ok, I can’t completely answer this one from experience. Assume 250 hours active study time for Kanji (assuming you’re doing RevTK), about 400 hours of active study for your first 1000 sentences (utilizing starter sentences meant for building vocabulary, grammar and kanji readings) with additional 400 hours for every 1000 past that. So, after 1500 hours of active study you should be damn close. Estimate 2 hours per day active with the others hours in passive mode (listening, reading, watching TV, radio, movies, manga, etc.) that could equate to two years. These are rough numbers based off my current experience of only 300 sentences. I assume you’ll put in the work everyday in addition to enjoying Japanese things outside of studying.

  11. JT0104 on February 21, 2008 at 22:19

    I’ve studied Japanese formally for over three years in both high school and university. Ive always got top grades in the Japanese exams that those institutions have set me, yet everytime I went to Japan or talked to exchange students i would find communication extremely difficult! I was certainly not scared of making mistakes like some students are so I was wondering why Japanese people couldn’t even pick out meaning from me shouting nouns even though it might have had terrible grammar. As I was scoring top marks in schools I quickly realised that their methods most certainly aren’t very useful to lean real Japanese.

    I started using and srs to drill sentences before doing heisig, kanji were an incredible pain. of course I would mine from websites and they would be mainly kanji. so my sentences featured a lot of kanji. but my brain just had no hope of remembering these abstract strokes. after a lot of reviewing i would slowly remember to recognise the kanji shapes and be able to read them more. Yet I had no hope in hell of trying to read them.

    I went out on a whim and decided to do heisig I started in january and am only at about 1100 so far. but should easily be able to finish before my self appointed deadline of the end of march. I am not going through it at a lightning pace because I am reviewing them a lot. My recal rate is pretty high I would guess I have the first 1000 kanji 95% right.

    After only being half way through the book, suprisingly my japanese communicative ability has improved a lot! I speak to exchange students a lot, probably everyday. and when i dont understand something they say the first thing i ask is them to draw the kanji in the air. more often than not I can understand straight away from that. Everyone who has used traditional methods will tell you of how they spend so much time learning characters drilling and drilling and then they are soon to forget how to write them. Many will tell you that they can read kanji but it will take you more time to just learn the readings from kanji without heisig than to learn the reading and writing of kanji with heisig plus immersion.

    my university gives me weekly kanji tests which i don’t study for at all. due to not agreeing with their methods of language teaching at all. but i still manage to fare highly on these tests.

    from someone who studied the traditional way for three years, and realised that he didnt want to take 7 years full time to learn kanji so he would rather finish it in a few months. you need the dedication and motivation to do it everyday and that is not easy. after all no one is saying heisig is easy. but when you’ve wasted three years drilling kanji to no avail like me and you start something like heisig you realise how beneficial it actually is. I find a lot of people who have done heisig later in their japanese educations like me always tell of how they wished they had started with it. Trust me readings are the easy part just learn them in context. your brain pieces together all the hard parts really.

    Heisig isn’t essential but it will drastically cut down the time it takes to learn japanese to fluency. for example without heisig i think to become fluent in japanese 5-6 years full time study is about right. with heisig it can be achieved closer to two years. after heisig is done its just about how much time you spend swimming in japanese pretty much.

  12. Chiro-kun on February 22, 2008 at 00:18

    Nothing really new to add since the experts have said it all. However, since you learn Japanese through anime, try getting RAWs when they first release and visit anime blogs (like Random Curiosity or visit AnimeNano to hunt out blogs with the series you’re watching) to get a gist of what the episode was about. That way:

    1)Less English
    Takes less than 5 mins to read, subs would’ve taken 25

    2)You get what’s going on
    And subs become unnecessary. Your mind no longer has an excuse for tainting your Japanese prime time with English.

    P.S: Ah about those “guys at Internet forums”, please ignore them. I’ve been a victim of the same phenomenon so I can say this with great conviction. I’ve been using the AJATT method for around 3 months now and I can perfectly distinguish between 俗語 and
    尊敬語. I would’ve never thought this possible if I listened to those whiners about how “hard” Japanese is. More often than not, people on forums who tell you learning through anime is a bad idea are mostly intellectual snobs who can’t bear to see “n00bs” having fun and doing better than them. You’re better off just grabbing a copy of Heisig and taking the first steps. Not later. Not tomorrow. Not after dinner. But right now (The words of a wise man :wink: )

  13. Rob on February 22, 2008 at 00:50

    My quick two cents:

    I’ve recently finished the first RTK book and I can say that learning the characters through Heisig is in a word: HUGE. I had the same reservations at first and in fact a few years ago I came across the Heisig book in the library but quickly dismissed it. What good would learning all the English meanings do without knowing the readings? Then I stumbled onto this website and the more I read about what Khatzumoto was saying, the more it made sense. Now I can go over an article in Japanese and while I may not be able to sound out every word, I can understand the article as a whole through the kanji. That ability in itself is very satisfying and highly motivating. It truly does “unlock” the language in a sense.

    The only part of the method that I have struggled with is the sleeping with Japanese on. If it was going, my mind would usually just refuse to shut down and go to sleep no matter how tired I was. To remedy this, I’ve experimented with muted MP3s that I turn on when I first go to sleep and then after 20 minutes or so the Japanese kicks in. This has worked out fairly well, though some nights I just have to say screw it and put the MP3 player away.

  14. nacest on February 22, 2008 at 01:31

    Sorry for being off-topic.

    Chiro-kun has mentioned English blogs about anime. Are there such things in Japanese too?

  15. Brittany on February 22, 2008 at 01:35

    I’m only responding because the more people agree with something, the more an undecided person may be convinced. (And just because it’s useful to know where people come from, I’m taking my fourth semester of Japanese at Uni. I, like so many other people, realized that uni classes weren’t going to make me fluent and I started supplementing my studies last semester. I, unlike so many other people, really enjoy Japanese class, probably because I perform really well and that makes me laugh, haha).

    1. Kanji. Just do it. Do it do it do it. I’m not super awesome about doing mine all the time (I’m in the 850s) but I do it often enough and it makes a huge difference to doing none at all. My Japanese text uses furigana, so we’ll learn a word and not necessarily learn the kanji, but I recognize the kanji and having already learned it and the meaning, THE WORD STICKS BETTER, WHICH MAKES THE KANJI STICK BETTER. I had a hard time remembering 泊, the story just didn’t stick with me. Once I encountered it in my textbook as 泊まる (to stay overnight) I have never had a problem remembering the kanji, the pronounciation, and the meaning.

    When I was a little kid, my teacher made us write our spelling words, spell them aloud, read them, etc. Her theory was that your brain is a filing cabinet and the more places you stick a new file, the easier it is to find, and she’s right.

    As far as remembering the kanji, YOU HAVE TO USE THEM TO REMEMBER THEM. That’s why you have an SRS or use the Reviewing the Kanji website. My mom is perfectly literate in English, was taught to write in print and cursive, and used cursive for most of her life. Now that she’s a teacher, she always always prints. She was writing a note in cursive to a girl named “zoe” and could not remember how to write a cursive Z. Why? Because she hadn’t used or seen a cursive Z in years. If you don’t use kanji, you lose it, which is why it’s so important to SRS and engage in Japanese everyday.

    2. Anime
    You have to listen. It’s very difficult to listen in one language and read in another, particularly when you’re fluent in one and not in the other – the fluent one wants to take over. It’s really important to listen because when you encounter words in real life, you’re more likely to remember them. I never formally learned the word for ‘keys’, but I watched one 10 minute episode of REC where apartment keys, or lack thereof, plays a huge role and now I’ll never forget it. I don’t know why it works, it just does.

    3. Will It Really Honestly 100% Work?
    That’s basically the wrong attitude to have, I think. In your language learning, you’re going to try lots of different things to see what you like and what you don’t, what works and what doesn’t (everything from what anime you like, what books you like, what SRS you like, what music you like, anything). If this method doesn’t 100% promise to work just how you want it to, what are you going to do? Give up on the idea of learning Japanese? No, you’re going to take what works, leave what doesn’t, and try some stuff that’s new. So it doesn’t really matter if we, or he, can promise you that it works.

    My #1 rule of language learning is: If it works for you, it works. IF IT WORKS FOR YOU, IT WORKS. If standing on your head upside down while eating banana sandwhiches and watching J-drama makes it work, it doesn’t matter that you’re the only person in the world that that method works for, all that matters is that IT WORKS FOR YOU.

    PS: Memory:
    Your memory doesn’t suck, you just never used it in this way before. Since I started learning Japanese, I’ve become pretty impressed with my brain. It just works so wonderfully, and everything seems comparatively easy. And the more Japanese you know, the easier Japanese is.

  16. Nivaldo on February 22, 2008 at 03:25

    Well, as many comments have taken the words out of my mouth I just need to add a few things.
    After you’re done with kanji and kana, finding words will be so easy that the only obstacle will be YOURSELF. If YOU want to learn a word, YOU just have to look at a word and decide if YOU really want to learn the word and if you do then just add the sentence with that word to your SRS. If you want you can search for more sentences with that word. As Khatz said somewhere, he just gives the minimum, all the rest is curiosity.
    As for listening and watching, it’s just that. LISTEN. LISTEN. LISTEN. WATCH. WATCH. WATCH. When you start doing sentence-mining you’ll already be accustomed to these sounds and eventually you may even start sentence picking from the ANIMES themselves. I’m a huge fan of anime. When I get to Tokyo I think I will buy a whole collection of many animes I can’t watch right now. Also, the idea of the “temee” and “kisama” is not entirely true. In animes like “Death Note” and “Serial Experiments Lain” I would hardly find one of these words. If my memory doesn’t fail, Raito used “zo” only once and never said “kisama” or “temee”. In contrast, animes like Bleach and Naruto have tons of these words.

    @nacest
    Wow. thanks for the idea. can anyone give links for such things? I would love too.

  17. X3R0 (X-star, hehe) on February 22, 2008 at 05:37

    Thanks everyone. A while after I sent an email to Khatz (Last week), I decided to stop procrastinating and just try out the kanji. I’m now 400 kanji in and can remember most of them pretty well.

  18. bubble on February 22, 2008 at 05:56

    I’ve been lurking for a while, and I thought I’d give my thoughts on the time it takes to understand spoken Japanese.

    I’m doing Heisig (frame 1350ish). I started studying Japanese in class in September, after a couple of earlier, abortive attempts. In December I started Heisig; later in the month I started listening to Japanese maybe 8 hours a day on average (mostly music). I do not listen while I sleep, because it wakes me up.

    Right now, I can understand not only the basic plot of a simple kids’ anime like Digimon (not hard since I watched it in English back in the day) but also, depending on the episode, anywhere from 30-80% of the dialogue (usually more like 30-50%).
    On the other end of the spectrum, I can barely tell at all what’s going on in the more cerebral, dialogue-based live action shows, and understand very little of the dialogue.
    Most of the things I watch are somewhere in between, where I understand relatively little dialog but follow the central plot. An example would be Galileo, a live-action CSI-like show (but more melodramatic) in which I can follow the basic plot and the continuing relations between recurring characters, but have trouble understanding the motives. Digimon is currently the only show I’m watching that I’ve seen before.

    I would recommend for a raw beginner that you watch shows you loved or that have nostalgic value that you’ve seen in English, as well as shows with simple or episodic plots and comedic shows with visual gags.

    Also, from my experience with French I can tell you that if you don’t start listening early on it’ll be trouble later, because you’ll have the annoyance of feeling like you should understand, but not quite catching the words because people talk quickly or mumble. Also, your accent might end up sucking and you won’t be able to tell unless you listen. It is possible to make up for lost time, though.

    Personally I like rewatching some shows… if I don’t want to rewatch it’s probably not holding my attention in the first place. It’s also really cool to rewatch something a month later and understand much more.

  19. Forrest on February 22, 2008 at 06:28

    re: anime blogs. I just googled アニメ ブログ and got TONS of results… lol

  20. Tony on February 22, 2008 at 06:47

    About anime blogs:
    I’m in Japan so google automatically searches Japanese websites first, so when I look up something in English if I change it to English settings I get American/British sites on top priority. You might try switching to Japanese in the preferences when you’re outside of Japan and see if you get other sites as well?

    Blogs about anime:
    animation.blogmura.com/

    Blogs about manga:
    comic.blogmura.com/

  21. nacest on February 22, 2008 at 07:53

    Well, I asked here because generally there are quite a few blogs out there, and I was looking for recommentations. So, yeah, I expressed myself inefficiently. :P

  22. wakela on February 22, 2008 at 10:47

    [quote]“Not only that, but a lot of times in conversations in Japanese (and Chinese), when people hear a word they don’t understand, they will ask “what’s the kanji for that?”.”

    Ah! Considering the amount of homonyms there are in Japanese, I’ve always wondered how they could speak without becoming confused — thanks for the clarification!
    [/quote]

    Dude, *I* do this. I often ask someone to explain the kanji or write it down for me. Doesn’t work all the time, but it does enough. And it makes me feel like a badass that I even consider it.

    I’ve completed Heisig, and would not be able to pull this off otherwise.

  23. Chiro-kun on February 22, 2008 at 11:32

    @nacest

    Yeah though I don’t really visit blogs nowadays. I first stumbled upon one by searching for いぬかみ! There’s also a certain blog called Ex-Fansubber which has blog entries in english AND 日本語 like some of Khatzumoto’s posts here. You can check it out:

    www.minaidehazukashii.com/hinano/

  24. Chiro-kun on February 22, 2008 at 11:37

    That’s odd. There doesn’t seem to be any 日本語 posts anymore. Oh well. There are other anime blogs too, in full 日本語.

  25. quendidil on February 22, 2008 at 13:13

    Set your google preferences for 日本語.

  26. Jeniko on February 22, 2008 at 19:33

    I just want to add about the learning from anime thing – I don’t think that there is anything wrong with it, but I would reccommend not solely using anime, add in some japanese dramas, or podcasts or something as well so that you get a feel for different kinds of japanese. I would really reccommend watching Japanese dramas, they can be absolutely hilarious.

    About the subs thing, I would say try to watch without subtitles, you might surprise yourself at how much you understand. (If you download anime with subtitles already on from the internet then you can use a piece of paper or something to cover up the bottom of the screen so you’re effectively turning them off). I know that it’s easier to watch with subtitles, but I find that even though I can watch things without subtitles and understand on average about 95%, if I ever watch anything with subtitles I end up still listening to the Japanese, but not actually trying to work out what it’s saying, if that makes sense.
    Plus, some fansubbing can be extremely extremely wrong.

  27. Ivan the Terrible on February 22, 2008 at 21:54

    Say, John B., what’s the difficulty of moving from Chinese to Japanese anyway? Do you start out way ahead of the curve, given that you already know a gazillion Hanzi and their meanings, or is that pretty much mitigated by the really stark differences in other aspects of the two languages?

    I’m presently in Taiwan intensively studying Mandarin with traditional characters, which I’m hoping will give me a leg up when I start studying Japanese in a year or so, but frankly my knowledge of Japanese right now….outside of the shared Hanzi/Kanji….is almost zero.

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts!

  28. Codexus on February 23, 2008 at 03:29

    A) Yes, the Heisig method will really help. It makes an incredible difference to be able to identify most of the characters easily. I really think this should be done as quickly as possible. Not learning the readings at the same time really isn’t an issue. You’ll learn *words* rather than readings once you’re done.

    B) Personally I like subtitles. I think I learn a lot more with subtitles than without. This is likely to change at some point but for now I’m not banning subs. Try it both ways, see what seems the best for you.

    C) Scientific studies have debunked the “learn while you sleep” concept. So while it might be nice to hear some Japanese just before you sleep and when you wake up, I don’t think it’s worth it if it has a negative impact on your sleep. Sleep is very important and getting enough is crucial to efficient learning. An extra hour of sleep is more beneficial than an extra hour of learning Japanese.

    D) Nobody can guarantee any results and I question the whole notion of following blindly “Khatzumoto’s method”. Some parts of it might be what you need and other might not work at all in your case. You shouldn’t see this website as a magical recipe to fluency: “Just put 10’000 sentences in your SRS and become fluent!”. It’s a source of inspiration, of ideas you can try. You need to find out what works best *for you*.

  29. John B on February 23, 2008 at 18:55

    @Ivan the Terrible, I think knowing Chinese before learning Japanese is like knowing English before learning French — the vocabulary you get for free is a huge bonus, but you don’t have much of a clue as to how to use it, and there’s a lot that’s different.

    Most importantly, I think, is that having studied Chinese you’ll have a healthy view of characters — so many Japanese students look at 2000 characters as some insurmountable obstacle, whereas 2000 is just breaking a sweat in Chinese.

  30. quendidil on February 24, 2008 at 00:26

    If you must have subs, try downloading mkvs instead. You can turn off the subs when you want with mkvs.

    BTW, to get priority on Japanese sites, just set your Google language preferences to 日本語.

  31. Ivan the Terrible on February 24, 2008 at 11:22

    “Most importantly, I think, is that having studied Chinese you’ll have a healthy view of characters — so many Japanese students look at 2000 characters as some insurmountable obstacle, whereas 2000 is just breaking a sweat in Chinese.”

    Precisely the reason I felt it might be wise to study Chinese first. As I understand it, Chinese students of Japanese tend to blow past their Western counterparts for precisely this reason. By the time I set eyes on Tokyo International….setting aside variant characters simplified by the Japanese themselves…I’ll have a grasp of all the characters they know and several thousand more, dammit! That can’t help but ease the learning process a bit.

    Thanks for the help. :)

  32. Chiro-kun on February 24, 2008 at 17:12

    “…Chinese sudents of Japanese tend to blow past their Western counterparts…”

    And the same applies for Japanese students learning Chinese I guess? Well Khatz would be able to answer that one :D

  33. Ivan the Terrible on February 25, 2008 at 08:51

    “And the same applies for Japanese students learning Chinese I guess? Well Khatz would be able to answer that one”

    Yeah, Japanese guy in my class certainly doesn’t seem to be having any problems. :)

    However, I’d guess it’s a bit more difficult, at least in regards to Hanzi/Kanji; Japanese students of Chinese have to work their way up through another 1000, 2000, 3000 or more Kanji memorized that the Chinese use and they don’t. Chinese students of Japanese….at least from Hong Kong and Taiwan and other 繁體字 using areas….just have to learn the characters that were simplified by the Japanese, and from what I understand start dealing with the fact that those characters have suddenly gained about 10 different readings and have been dropped into a language with actual grammatical complexity!

    But, yes, Khatz would probably be a better authority on this. :)

  34. John B on February 25, 2008 at 17:15

    When I studied Chinese “formally” in school, my Japanese classmates started off way ahead with characters, but had a rough time with pronunciation (limited set of mother tongue sounds and all that), so overall we were pretty even. Anyone coming from one 汉字-using language to another is going to have an advantage over someone whose native language doesn’t have anything to do with characters. I suspect in terms of pure character knowledge the Chinese have the largest advantage because they use the most characters in their everyday language, but starting the study of Chinese with “just 2000″ characters under one’s belt is a lot easier than starting with “abso-freaking-lutely zero” characters. :)

  35. Jerry on February 26, 2008 at 02:00

    There’s not much else I can add to the discussion around the original question. There are quite a few great points made that I think should help out. I’ll just chime in on the recent conversation around the Chinese to Japanese crossover, and vice versa.

    Having learned Chinese over 19 years ago and keeping it part of my daily life, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to ingrain all the commonly used characters into my mind. I took some online test once to determine how many characters I recognize, and it’s around the 4,000 mark (which surprised me since I stopped really trying to learn characters years ago). So when I came to my Japanese study 10 months ago, I really had a leg up on reading. I found myself reading in Japanese/Chinese for a while. The biggest hurdle I’ve faced is learning the 17 different readings for one simple character and learning some of the differences Japan has incorporated into their Kanji use.

    But otherwise, knowing all these Kanji hasn’t really set me “ahead” except in reading. Doing a lot of reading is helping. Knowing Kanji doesn’t do anything for listening comprehension. It might help, as someone pointed out, with speaking, since you can write out a word you might’ve forgotten how to say. Anyway, that’s just my experience.

    As for the anime and subtitles debate…. I don’t think you need to sweat it. I love anime and it’s my entire reason for learning Japanese (probably more for the manga, actually). So when I watch a new series, I want to know exactly what’s going on. So I leave the subtitles on. But then I watch the series again (as long as I liked it) with the subs off or covered up. Then it’s almost like watching a dubbed version of a movie or show you saw in English. So, my opinion, is to go ahead and enjoy your anime first, and then mine it for language learning opportunities. It seems to be working for me pretty well… though I still miss an awful lot (especially if the anime uses a lot of unusual vocab, which a lot seem to do.)

  36. Ivan the Terrible on February 26, 2008 at 12:00

    All the thoughts on the transition between Chinese and Japanese are very helpful. Sorry if I dragged this away from the original point of the post, Khatz!

    But….while I happen to be doing that, I’d be curious if Jerry or John B. or Khatzumoto himself have any thoughts on how the sudden switch to the study of a completely different language effects their competency in the language they’ve been studying before. Right now, my spoken Chinese is fairly poor (tones in isolation are very easy, but it’s so easy to screw them up over the course of a long sentence), but my writing and reading is improving dramatically. If I suddenly devote myself to Japanese, I have a lingering fear that I won’t just fail to make progress with my Chinese, I’ll actually start to regress. Not good.

    Perhaps set aside an hour or so every day to practicing my Chinese even while studying Japanese, just to make sure?

    Ahh, we’ll see.

  37. ModishMinuet on February 26, 2008 at 12:08

    I don’t have a whole lot to add, since you all seem to be doing a good job of responding to his questions. I just want to vouch for listening to Japanese while you sleep. I may be possible that you don’t “learn” Japanese while sleeping, but the listening itself helps put you into a Japanese mind-frame. For instance, I doubted the ability of listening at night to help with Japanese at all, but then I decided to listen to it at least as I fell asleep. The result was that I fell asleep thinking about Japanese, and I had Japanese interspersed throughout the dream. Keep in mind: input is the key. To me, at least, we are trying to be Japanese children, and since we lack many years of Japanese input, it couldn’t possibly hurt to listen to it at every possible chance, no?

    Just my two cents, sorry if it made little sense. (Haha, no pun intended.)

  38. quendidil on February 26, 2008 at 23:38

    BTW Khatz, would you recommend shadowing or repeating after an audio file? At this point I can get all (I think) of the dialogue in 涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱 but I find myself unable to speak it as fast as キョン, the narrator/protagonist, especially the his narrations which can stretch fairly long. E.g.: サンタクロスをいつまで信じていたかなんてことはたわいもない世間話にもならないくらいのどうでも話だが、それでも俺がいつまでサンタなどと言う想像上の赤服じーさんを信じていたかと言うとこれは確信を持って言えるが最初から信じてなどいなかった。 I can get up to “ならないくらいのどうでも話だが” matching him but he speeds up and I just can’t keep up with him. he takes about 7 seconds to speak up till where I can keep up but the remainder takes 9 secs!

  39. quendidil on February 26, 2008 at 23:47

    Addendum
    My record for the second clause is 10secs but I slur over some words at that pace while キョン is still very clear.

  40. quendidil on February 27, 2008 at 01:09

    typo:サンタクロース

  41. Jerry on February 27, 2008 at 01:52

    @Ivan the Terrible

    There’s no diminishing ability with Chinese for me. I have to use it everyday with my wife, anyway. So it’s not going away. I haven’t done any Chinese reading for a while, though. So maybe I should check on that and see if I’ve slipped any. I’m exclusively reading Japanese these days.

    As far as one foreign language influencing the other, whenever I try to say anything in Japanese I end up speaking Chinese. My mind tends to think that Chinese is “THE” foreign language. So whenever I want to say anything in a language other than English, out comes the Chinese. It’s pretty automatic. Fortunately, I’m just “rehearsing” by myself once in a while and am not actually talking to anyone!

  42. Nivaldo on February 27, 2008 at 02:31

    Aaaargghhhh! Sometimes I feel like a complete 馬鹿. How come I didn’t look at any of the sites in the [External Sites] section? Just going over and over again with the same grammar doubt with Tae Kim’s 素晴らしい guide only one click away!! 信じられないぞ。The links are just GREAT!!! They are all I was needing to get in the right path. Thanks for all, Khatz!!

  43. nacest on February 27, 2008 at 03:13

    quendidil,
    That’s the starting sentence not only of the anime, but also of the book. It’s given me a few headaches, and he speaks so fast! Especially the 「赤服じーさん」 part, you can’t even distinguish the words clearly…

  44. quendidil on February 27, 2008 at 21:52

    I know :) I find reading the books easier though, you can read at your own pace and using a dictionary is far more convenient with a book. It is slightly shortened in the anime though, so I didn’t copy it exactly from the book.

  45. watashimo on February 28, 2008 at 00:51

    Hi,
    I love 涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱. Where did you get the book?

  46. quendidil on February 28, 2008 at 20:33

    From Kinokuniya :) you could try amazon.co.jp. I had a nice torrent of the first 8 novels in 青空文庫 format but it’s no longer seeded; there are scans of the pages in jpg format in rar files available on eMule.

  47. Meshi on February 29, 2008 at 07:28

    [quote]Ok, I can’t completely answer this one from experience. Assume 250 hours active study time for Kanji (assuming you’re doing RevTK), about 400 hours of active study for your first 1000 sentences (utilizing starter sentences meant for building vocabulary, grammar and kanji readings) with additional 400 hours for every 1000 past that. So, after 1500 hours of active study you should be damn close. Estimate 2 hours per day active with the others hours in passive mode (listening, reading, watching TV, radio, movies, manga, etc.) that could equate to two years. These are rough numbers based off my current experience of only 300 sentences. I assume you’ll put in the work everyday in addition to enjoying Japanese things outside of studying.[/quote]

    ———–

    Personally I haven’t had many hours open for active study, so I tried to be very time efficient. I realized that since we are dealing with large numbers of kanji and large numbers of words, a small difference in time spent on each one can have a huge impact on the overall time it takes.

    RTK1 took me about 150 hours. I tried to make use of as many shared stories on RevTK as I could to save time (for over 90% of kanji I borrowed a story) , and by doing so I quickly got very good at making other people’s stories work for me. Now a little over one month after finishing the last kanji, I have 98% in the last stack and on average about 25 reviews to do per day, which take about 5 to 10 minutes to review daily, so count 2.5 to 5 hours ongoing review per month for RTK1.

    I know some people spend a lot more time than that on RTK1. I didn’t do anything magic, just used Anki for reviews adding about 20 new kanji per day (spending about 2~3 minutes learning each one) and always doing every outstanding review every day. It was all about learning how to use the visual stories, and never letting failed kanji build up at all.

    For sentences initially I picked things from grammar books. This is fairly quick because it doesn’t take much searching, as grammar books usually provide example sentences with translations to use with your SRS. As I got more happy with grammar I wanted more vocab, and I started going through the 2001.Kanji.Odyssey books. Again this is fairly quick since you have example sentences for each compound in the book with translation, and the examples are designed to be efficient in introducing related vocab. The amount of time spent setting up each SRS card is short while doing this. About 90 hours per 1000 cards.

    For sentences that I have to search the required time is longer, so I try to do only a limited number of these per day for now, just plucking things that I hear repeatedly on TV or read somewhere and is interesting to me.

    I know Khatzu recommends just doing whatever interests you. I do plenty of that, but I am also trying to use 2001.K.O for systemized vocab study because it seems to me to be time efficient. It’s a learning experiment on myself, if you like. A lot of the vocab I’ve learned through 2001.K.O later turns up in my Japanese input, so that’s very satisfying.

  48. Barron on February 29, 2008 at 09:38

    Kanji without readings written on them are a pain for beginners. If you’ve done Heisig, they aren’t anymore!

    I know wading through Dragonlance in translation, my life was made a hell of a lot easier by understanding meanings, regardless of whether or not furigana were present. Reading is FUN with Heisig. Promise.

  49. khatzumoto on February 29, 2008 at 14:46

    One the Chinese/Japanese deal…It doesn’t matter what other people know at the beginning of the process (if you really want to go into it, we all start ignorant as babies). All that matters is what you know at the end. Quit talking about it and just learn what you need to learn….that goes for all of us.

    …Sorry for doing the condescending dad thing… :)

  50. khatzumoto on February 29, 2008 at 14:49

    @quendidil
    >BTW Khatz, would you recommend shadowing or repeating after an audio file?
    Yeah, I do it all the time…I call it “imitating Cantonese Batman”, but, yeah, definitely.

  51. watashimo on March 5, 2008 at 02:48

    There’s a digital version of 涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱? Where did you find that torrent? Any chance for an upload?

    Just installed Winny hoping to find your version. Well, I just feel totally lost in there. Dowloaded a bunch of doujinshis, but nothing like a novel.

    BTW, what’s the 青空文庫 format? A special format that’s used by the aozora website? Just speculating, heard a few things about that site.

  52. X3R0 ("X-star") on April 7, 2008 at 04:27

    I’ve finally finished RTK1 and I’m loving reaping the rewards. I’m reading the Death Note manga because I loved the anime and know the plot, and I’m learning quite a lot from it by looking up interesting words I don’t know. I can see now why learning the kanji is so important, it makes it so much easier. Though, Japanese writing is very strange, writing one thing and saying something else at times, according to the furigana. Like writing 死神界 but saying ここ, which is understandable because they are in the Shinigami World but why don’t they just write ここ? When people fluent in Japanese read something like that without the furigana, would they instantly read it as ここ because of the obvious context? Sorta confusing, I hope I don’t pick up a wrong reading for kanji that way.
    It’s also confusing that some words can have more than one reading, like 人間界 was said as げかい and then later as にんげんかい, is this common?

  53. X3R0 ("X-star") on April 7, 2008 at 05:24

    I’ve finally finished RTK1, and am reading the Death Note manga ‘cos I loved the anime and know the plot, and I’m learning a lot from looking up interesting words I don’t know from it. I understand now why learning the kanji was so important, it makes it so much easier. Though, I’ve noticed from reading manga how strange Japanese writing is, sometimes one thing is written and a different, but related, thing is said. eg. 死神界 was written as that but said as ここ from the furigana which is understandable because they were in the Shinigami world, but why couldn’t they just write “ここ”? Slightly confusing, I hope I don’t pick up a wrong reading that way.
    Compounds are quite hard to remember too, should I memorize them with mnemonics or start trying to associate kanji more with Japanese than the Heisig meaning? One that particularily tickled me was 邪魔 which is made up of “wicked” and “witch”, so now I think “the wicked witch was じゃま/in the way”

  54. khatzumoto on April 7, 2008 at 10:29

    Hey X-star
    Mucho congralutatos (< -- these aren't even words) on finishing RTK1!

    >I hope I don’t pick up a wrong reading for kanji that way.
    Don’t worry, man. There’s no, like, “pure” “unspoiled”, “proper” version of Japanese that Death Note is somehow preventing you from acquiring. If it’s made by and for native speakers then it’s fine. We’d never tell someone to not watch Friends because “you’ll start talking all sarcastic, like Chandler”…

    >is this common?
    It’s part of the beauty and flexibility of the Japanese language. It’s an amazing discovery, I think — that you can disconnect the meaning and the reading of a word. People are sort of inventing new readings all the time, especially when it comes to their kids’ names..

    I don’t know if these are very convincing answers, though. Anyone else care to pipe in?

  55. Nivaldo on April 7, 2008 at 18:02

    Hey, X-star! You like Death Note too, that’s nice. I love the intellectual challenges between the characters, full of enormous chess(or shogi, etc) plans. In fact, I think it teaches the way one should think when facing a problem, like when L showed up to Kira. Kira held on till he was home to free his anger AND find a counter-attack plan.
    By the way, this “Death note” topic(?) came right in time because I’m really stuck. I was following Khatzumoto’s advice about Native Japanese Words but I started feeling like “Hey I’m tired of seeing 君が好きです. I want to go back to my デスノート.”, so recently I got the Death Note v13: “How to read”(in image form which makes it difficult(?) to sentence-mine). But then again, in contrast to the love manga/anime, these words don’t seem to be used everyday. What should I do? Continue with the love manga/anime thing or switch to my loved デスノート?
    As for the readings thing, I also found ここ for 地球 and other words. I didn’t know it was common. Well, sorry for the long text, my worst habit I think.

  56. Nivaldo on April 8, 2008 at 02:31

    Oh! I’m so sorry, guys! Just making the page bigger and bigger with useless questions. I’ve just read the “Language is Like a Video Game” article and I’m perfectly satisfied with it as an answer to my question. So, sorry. Got to read read this site thoroughly. :)

  57. X3R0 ("X-star") on April 9, 2008 at 21:14

    Sorry for the double post back there. That’s weird. I posted once and it didn’t show, then I posted again and it didn’t show, then I came back the next day and one showed and a couple of people replied, and then it appeared a few days later o_O

  58. Links of interest - Nihongo Notes on December 4, 2008 at 11:39

    [...] Help A Reader Out Some excellent advice from Khatzumoto. [...]

  59. edsmaffs on January 26, 2009 at 05:13

    Agree with you on the subs… they always take over…

  60. Nii on March 27, 2009 at 08:41

    WTF?!? You blog post says Vietnamese has kanji? I’ve been missing out =P. I’m pretty sure it uses the french script now (used to have Chinese characters looong ago).

  61. Marshall on November 5, 2009 at 11:21

    Ok, I’m doing kanjis too. There were a couple weeks where i wasn’t adding new kanjis( something along the lines of i shouldn’t have downloaded a deck, making ur own cards is best), but i got really good at the ones i knew in that time, cuz i reviewed! But what i want to say, is that its really good to have lots of japanese text around. I can’t read yet, but what i do, is i look through my 朝日新聞 newspaper, look at all the titles, and through w/e kanji i knew discover what the article is about. You could even do this in the bathroom! Its like having your SRS right there, but its recognition, not production. You might also learn some new words, even if you don’t know how to pronounce it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *