Kanji Memorization Tricks

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Kanji Memorization Tricks

Postby mysngoeshere56 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 2:58 pm

Hey everybody, so I've been teaching myself Japanese and I am currently taking on the (very lengthy) task of memorizing kanji. It's very hard, but very possible with a lot of work.

I was just wondering if anybody had some good (free) sites I could visit with tips on memorizing kanji, lists of all the kanji I need to know, some sample sentences, etc. They're easier to remember if there are tricks or techniques that I can use to help remember the meaning (i.e. the kanji for "rain" looks kind of like an umbrella). Anybody willing to share? :)
-Sno
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Postby aliveinHim » Tue Oct 11, 2011 4:59 pm

Learn the stroke order. My friend lent me her Kanji dictionary she used when she was in college. It really helped learn a few symbols.
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Postby Atria35 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 5:20 pm

Alike aliveinHim said, stroke order is a big one. Not only does it help because of repetition, but if you don't write them right, then it will be noticeable. A lot of them, it's sheer memorization and repetition. Some you can remember by thinking of what they sort-of look like (like the umbrella thing), but for a good number that's just not practical.
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Postby goldenspines » Tue Oct 11, 2011 5:54 pm

There's this classy site call http://www.coscom.co.jp/j-index.html that has a lot of tools for practicing Japanese grammar and kanji (it has an option to change the whole site from English to Japanese). It has a beginner kanji section (giving you the first 50 kanji, click on each one for more info) here: http://www.coscom.co.jp/japanesekanji/kanji50/index.html

But as for a list of essential/most commonly used kanji, you kind find a formal "list" here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyo_kanji

That is not all of them, but it will get you started. Also, I recommend getting a kanji dictionary as well.

But like AliveforHim and Atria mentioned, the best way to learn kanji is to write it over and over and over again (you'll find that reading it somewhere after you've written it many times is a lot easier).

Sample sentences? You'll find that almost anywhere since kanji can be used in almost every Japanese sentence! And, it makes a lot of Japanese sentences easier/sometimes shorter to read too.
Example:
こんがっき、わたしはにほんごのクラスをとります。 <--- In all hiragana

今学期、私は日本語のクラスを取ります。 <--- Same sentence with kanji.

Most of the time, unless your on a learning site, you'll see the kanji in the sentence.

Though, if it comes to reading kanji online and you're still learning, and if you're using Firefox, take advantage of the add-on rikaichan: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/rikaichan/
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Postby mysngoeshere56 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:37 pm

Thanks everybody! And I'll be sure to keep those sites handy, Goldy! :)

By "sample sentences", I guess I meant simple sentences that use kanji that also contain hiragana characters written above to help while reading (kind of like how Japanese childrens' books are written). Or, I guess simple sentences using kanji that'd be good as "starter sentences" to try to read. Sorry for not being more descriptive, was kind of multitasking when I made the thread.

And oh my gosh! That Rikaichan thing looks so cool! And, I *do* use Firefox! :D What an awesome add-on! Thank you, Goldy!

It has been a long time since I've downloaded add-ons, though. I'm not sure if I know how to do this one. I hit "download now", and when I restarted Firefox, it brought me to this page: http://rikaichan.mozdev.org/getdic2.html?version=2.03

I'm guessing for now, all I should do is download what's under "Japanese-English"?
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Postby goldenspines » Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:00 am

mysngoeshere56 (post: 1510205) wrote: And oh my gosh! That Rikaichan thing looks so cool! And, I *do* use Firefox! :D What an awesome add-on! Thank you, Goldy!

It has been a long time since I've downloaded add-ons, though. I'm not sure if I know how to do this one. I hit "download now", and when I restarted Firefox, it brought me to this page: http://rikaichan.mozdev.org/getdic2.html?version=2.03

I'm guessing for now, all I should do is download what's under "Japanese-English"?
Yep! Sorry, I forgot to mention that last time. ^_^
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Postby Kaori » Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:31 pm

There is one crucial strategy that hasn't been mentioned yet: learn the meanings of kanji radicals and use them in mnemonics in order to remember the meaning of the kanji. This will make it infinitely easier to remember kanji meanings, though it won't help you at all with memorizing their readings (pronunciations), and I don't know of any particular method for learning readings other than rote memorization with flash cards or some other form of repetitive practice.

An example of a mnemonic:

間 (あいだ) means "between" or "interval" and it is composed of two radicals:

門 (もん) - gate

日 (ひ) - sun/day

Since the radical for sun is in the middle of the open space in the gate radical, you can remember the meaning of 間 with the mnemonic, "the sun shines through the gap between the gates." This will also help with remembering how to write the kanji.
Reviewing the Kanji is a website you can use to drill yourself on kanji using mnemonics; you can use either the mnemonics that the website suggests or you can make your own (if you do, making your own is even more effective for memorization than using someone else's).

I also really like the About.com pages about kanji, because they have pretty much everything you need to know about a kanji--radicals, stroke order, readings, compounds in which it is used--with the exception of mnemonics. Here's a link to an index in which the kanji are sorted by grade level.

Sno wrote:By "sample sentences", I guess I meant simple sentences that use kanji that also contain hiragana characters written above to help while reading (kind of like how Japanese childrens' books are written).

How about raw manga? Shonen and shoujo both use furigana (those small characters written next to the kanji to show the pronunciation), and I would assume that children's manga do the same. It depends on the manga, but some are fairly simple and understandable--generally realistic slice-of-life manga will be the easiest to understand because they stick more to everyday vocabulary and don't have as many specialized terms. I recently read Cross Game in Japanese, and that is a good example of a very understandable, light read. The trick is finding something that is not too text-heavy, doesn't contain a lot of obscure/specialized vocabulary, and doesn't use very much slang.

I don't know of any websites for raw manga (and it would be against the forum rules to link to them publicly anyways), but I'm sure you can find some raws online if you look around.
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