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Learning RTK1 without writing Kanji: How it will affect my progress later on?

#1
Hello everyone,

I was speaking with a friend who has recently passed N2 and I was explaning to her that I will study RTK1 without learning how to write Kanji.

She (my friend) stated that all the electronic dictionaries works with stroke orders (she means the dictionaries can only perform searches with stroke orders). Is that correct?

Furthermore, I want to have your comments about going through RTK1 without any writing of Kanji.

My only purpose doing so is to shorten the learning period because my goal is to finish RTK1 at 100% in no more than 4 months. To be able to do that, I have decided not to go into writing.

My long term goal is to pass N1 and it means that I will have lots of things to do after finishing RTK1. So I am wondering if this decision will affect my future Japanese studies in a bad way.

Any comment would be appreciate and thank you very much in advance for your guidance.
Edited: 2016-11-07, 5:51 am
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#2
The writing comes almost for free with the RTK method. Learning the character components is the key to remembering the variety of characters and especially the ones who differ by a few strokes.

As for the stroke order, it's actually pretty easy. If you think of two levels, you have at level one the order of the components, and then at level two, the stroke order of individual components (eg, box/mouth, or tree). Characters which mix or change the individual stroke orders are few and exceptions. So all in all, it's pretty easy to remember the stroke order. For "level one" in my example you get a sense of the common case as you advance in RTK, that eg. tree is always first on the left. And for "level two" that is indeed muscle memory but there is only 150-ish components in total (radicals). So you really aren't remembering stroke order for 2000+ kanji, only for the components, and then the common rules for the order of the components.

What you can do to speed up reviews is skip writing on paper. Write with a finger in the palm of your hand or up in the air, or even visualize it. I personally always count the strokes as I draw the character in my mind.
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#3
As someone who skipped writing kanji, I'd like to suggest that it will hurt your retention of the kanji.  I finished RTK back in March and I'm still having trouble recalling a good amount of kanji.  My feeling is that occasional writing of the kanji, especially at the beginning would save you time in the long run.  I suspect that writing the kanji every single time would be overkill and even grading your reviews on correctly writing from memory may not be worth the time invested.  Although I only know how things turned out for the method that  I used, so it's hard to say for sure.

If I were to start from scratch, I would copy them by hand a few times during the learning phase(first few days).  Then occasionally write them when I have extra review time.  I would also practice writing from memory the kanji that were giving me trouble.
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JapanesePod101
#4
The most time consuming thing about RTK isn't the writing. It's how long it takes you to come up with a good story. Most kanji will probably take no more than a second or two to write, be it with your finger or on paper.

You don't need to write them every single time, but it's good to know the correct stroke order. I definitely comes in handy when you need to look up certain kanji but don't happen to know their readings. If you don't know it, just double check it real quick on jisho.org. In fact, you should probably look them on jisho often as there are a handful of incorrect examples in RTK.

I finished RTK almost a year ago and I don't really know how to write every single kanji the "right" way, but when you know that many kanji and how to write most of them, you can usually get by without much trouble.
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#5
I agree that learning stroke order is very useful. I'd spend the extra time to learn it while going through RTK1. It's not that much more time.
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#6
I subscribe to all the above.

Also, as you are just starting, an advice I'd have loved to hear about SRS, at that early stage (and please forgive me if I'm wrong on my guess about you not having much experience with SRS), is this: FAIL!

(Keep reading to understand what I mean... I know this is off-topic, but it's important, and I'll relate it to this thread at the end.)

Quote:- If in doubt, fail the card.

- If you got it almost right, fail the card.

- If it's taking you too long to remember the answer... Well, it depends. Sometimes, putting that extra effort to try and dig that out of your brain is good to reinforce the memory... but anyway, if you fail the card it would never be a bad decision.

- (RTK-specific) If you recall perfectly two (or more) kanji with very similar keywords, but keep mixing them up on the reviews, simply customize the keyword a little (I usually change it to something along the lines of "originalkeyword (≠ badkeyword)")...
...And then (c'mon, you know it already ;-) fail the card.
The main reason behind all this is you're doing a disservice to yourself by marking something you didn't answer correctly as "good". The whole two points of SRS are 1) to push things to long-term memory with the least effort and 2) to detect when something is starting to fade away (and correct it consequently).

And now, back to the topic: If I said all the above is because, in RTK, the stroke order is the only aspect where, in my opinion, you could be a little indulgent: If you get it wrong, there are (most probably) still plenty of kanji to study, practice and review that particular component again. So ask yourself if it would be better, in the long run, to a) fail it now and have the opportunity to practice it a little more, b) mark it as "hard" / "show it to me again soon", or c) just let it slip as if you had got it right.

Finally, an extremely useful resource for me was the "KanjiStrokeOrders" font. Search for it in this forum, and if in doubt don't hesitate to ask ;-)
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#7
(2016-11-07, 5:40 am)ShotOkan Wrote: She (my friend) stated that all the electronic dictionaries works with stroke orders (she means the dictionaries can only perform searches with stroke orders). Is that correct?
Probably. But stroke order is pretty obvious, for most Kanji. You don't need to practice writing them over and over again, just to use an electronic dictionary. Just spend an hour or two practicing with a few random Kanji, and you'll know enough for that not to be an issue.

If you don't care about learning how to write Japanese, there's no need to bother writing the Kanji. I wrote down the first couple hundred, just because it was fun, but then I stopped wasting time with that. Figured it's more important to get through RtK in a timely manner, so that I can start learning actual Japanese, than obsess about doing everything "perfectly".

In fact, even if you do plan on eventually learning how to write, it doesn't have to be now. So, let me rephrase that: unless your top priority is to learn how to write (I can't imagine why it would be), there's no need to waste time writing the Kanji.

So ignore your perfectionist friend, and follow your own intuition on this. Because you're right, getting stuff done is more important than doing everything perfectly. This is especially true for language learning.
Edited: 2016-11-08, 3:03 am
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#8
Back in the day I wrote it out every time. It does help solidify things and differentiate some of the more complex ones.

If you are only going to go to an N5 or N4 level it probably isn't worth it, but neither is learning 2000+ Kanji.
If you are going all the way, you are looking at a 2500 to 4000 hour project. I figured writing everything out would take about 200 or 250 hours. By that perspective, it seems worth it to me to eat some bitter up front. Even if you don't see yourself writing much or at all, it isn't a huge investment in time in the overall scheme of things.

Also from what I hear it makes for a cool party trick.
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#9
The purpose of RTK 1 is to learn to write the kanji. If you don't want to learn to write them, don't use RTK 1.
Edited: 2016-11-08, 9:35 pm
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#10
(2016-11-08, 9:34 pm)yudantaiteki Wrote: The purpose of RTK 1 is to learn to write the kanji. If you don't want to learn to write them, don't use RTK 1.

"The goal of this book is still to attain native proficiency in writing the Japanese characters and associating their meanings with their forms."
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#11
(2016-11-08, 6:47 pm)Dudeist Wrote: If you are going all the way, you are looking at a 2500 to 4000 hour project.
You are right in saying that it takes thousands of hours to learn Japanese. Ten thousand +, in fact. But not every hour is the same. It certainly doesn't take 2500 to 4000 hours of repetitive, energy draining tasks (aka work). It takes thousands of hours of comprehensible input, in whatever form you're able to get it. Early on, it requires mental focus and tedium to expose yourself to comprehensible input, but, past a certain level, it can be as effortless and enjoyable as watching TV or hanging out on social media.

Take myself, for instance: I estimate that I spent about 200 hours on learning Kanji, and another 4-500 on other stuff that involved "ass in the chair, gotta do this" work. The rest, I didn't spend working, I spent it consuming Japanese entertainment...which is something I would do anyway, even if I wasn't trying to learn the language. And, most importantly, it doesn't take energy and willpower to do...allowing me to spend that energy on earning a living, instead of Japanese.

That extra 250 hours you mentioned, for me, would've amounted to 30% more work that I'm not getting paid for. Certainly not insignificant. And for what? Not only is writing a barely useful skill these days, 250 hours spent writing individual Kanji won't actually give you that skill. It would take many hundreds of hours more of actual writing, before you could write the way someone who went through the Japanese school system and actually used writing to take notes and do homework and tests on a daily basis can.
Edited: 2016-11-09, 1:42 pm
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#12
(2016-11-07, 1:36 pm)yogert909 Wrote: As someone who skipped writing kanji, I'd like to suggest that it will hurt your retention of the kanji.  I finished RTK back in March and I'm still having trouble recalling a good amount of kanji.  My feeling is that occasional writing of the kanji, especially at the beginning would save you time in the long run.  I suspect that writing the kanji every single time would be overkill and even grading your reviews on correctly writing from memory may not be worth the time invested.  Although I only know how things turned out for the method that  I used, so it's hard to say for sure.

If I were to start from scratch, I would copy them by hand a few times during the learning phase(first few days).  Then occasionally write them when I have extra review time.  I would also practice writing from memory the kanji that were giving me trouble.

I think something similar to what yogert909 said.
In the beginning I wrote kanji and I feel that helped, but it required too much time so I dropped writing and flipped my deck. From that day I still review from kanji to "meaning" (to be sincere I review from kanji to japanese word, emphatizing onyomi) and in the end I'm happy that I switched to recognition.
It's true that in the beginning you will have a more vague knowledge in kanji, which will end up in things like confounding some similar ones. But it will mostly take care of itself with time, and it's not guaranteed that writing kanji is a 100% remedy to this issue of mixing up similar kanji.
If, after some time you still find kanji which give you this or other issues, you can always make a production deck for those kanji only. But most of the time it's just a matter of lack of exposition to words which use those kanji and it will take care of itself as you begin to read native material.
Another thing which helps is to take the problematic kanji apart and put them one beside another to see in what they differ.
For example I remember I did a thread here about this issue, where I wrote some kanji that I used to mix up, and they were like 50 kanji, maybe 100 exaggerating, and this was in the beginning where it's almost natural to have an hard time recognizing them without any fail.
So no need to write 2000 and more kanji just because of a bunch of problematic ones.
Then I tried to begin writing again but it wasn't so useful and I realized what I needed was just more exposition through reading books and so on.
Also I realized most of the time I didn't confuse kanji themselves, but readings.
For example I was aware that 能 was "ability" and 態 was "attitude", but when I started learning new words with them I had an hard way remembering which one was "ノウ" and which one was "タイ".
So I started adding onyomi to my kanji reviews (see "kanjidamage") and it was great for me. I know most of us here think that learning onyomi is unnecessay and useless, but it did good for me. Now I review like this

態 -> "tai" of "taido"

When I mixed up similar kanji, like 惑 and 感 I focused on the different elements, there wasn't even a need to make a full visual story. Feelings are something high, so the line is above. Another similar kanji was 域 but it has the "terrain" radical on the left. So you focuse on the big picture and when in trouble, you focuse on the elements which make one kanji distinct from another. While if you want to write them from memory you need good and complete stories.

Some other just learn kanji in context of words, I tried it but it was too hard for me.

Hope this helps!
Edited: 2016-11-09, 3:53 pm
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#13
(2016-11-07, 5:40 am)ShotOkan Wrote: Hello everyone,

I was speaking with a friend who has recently passed N2 and I was explaning to her that I will study RTK1 without learning how to write Kanji.

She (my friend) stated that all the electronic dictionaries works with stroke orders (she means the dictionaries can only perform searches with stroke orders). Is that correct?

Furthermore, I want to have your comments about going through RTK1 without any writing of Kanji.

My only purpose doing so is to shorten the learning period because my goal is to finish RTK1 at 100% in no more than 4 months. To be able to do that, I have decided not to go into writing.

My long term goal is to pass N1 and it means that I will have lots of things to do after finishing RTK1. So I am wondering if this decision will affect my future Japanese studies in a bad way.

Any comment would be appreciate and thank you very much in advance for your guidance.

As for searching for kanji, you can also search via their radicals and stroke count. Not sure about electronic dictionaries but you can do this with websites like jisho.org and most J-E dictionary apps. As someone who sucks at stroke order, I personally search kanji via the radical method.

As for writing out the kanji during RTK reviews, you can always use the whiteboard feature on Ankidroid. Here is a screenshot I took of Ankidroid with whiteboard featured enabled. You're going to need to setup your Cards formatting to get Kanji Strokes Order font to work on Ankidroid. There is a guide in the blog entry, An Efficient Anki Setup for Learning Japanese, under the "Kanjidamage" section.

[EDIT] Clearly I made a slight error in how I wrote the kanji lol oh well xD
Edited: 2016-11-10, 4:22 am
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#14
I wanted to show a few Youtube videos showing that there is actually a decline in writing kanji among the native Japanese. Specifically, younger people tend to be more inclined to use technology such as computers and smartphones.

The first video is someone asking native Japanese people on the street to try to handwrite kanji. As you will see, it isn't an easy task.




Here is another video by the same Youtube user continuing that though many have trouble writing kanji, it is important to learn to read it because it makes reading Japanese easier to read overall. It seems like a strange thing to say considering kanji is one of the most difficult aspects of the language, but I too agree with his reasoning as to why kanji makes reading Japanese easier (I don't want to spoil it for you Wink ).

Start watching about kanji at 2 minutes 10 seconds (for some reason I can't post the video at my desired start time).




Finally, here is a 3rd video about how technology is a major contributing factor in why native Japanese struggle with handwriting kanji.




Overall, if you feel the need to perfect handwriting kanji, that's great! But as you can see in the videos, you don't need to know how to write the kanji to learn Japanese. But learning to read it is essential to learning Japanese.

Hope this helps.
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#15
(2016-11-20, 8:53 pm)RawrPk Wrote: Overall, if you feel the need to perfect handwriting kanji, that's great! But as you can see in the videos, you don't need to know how to write the kanji to learn Japanese. But learning to read it is essential to learning Japanese.

Well... I kind of think you ought to learn how to write the kanji if you're learning Japanese. You don't absolutely need to learn how, and you certainly don't need to have excellent penmanship or be able to write thousands of characters from memory.

However, it is good I think to be able to write somewhat, maybe the simple characters from memory (本、人、日月火水木金土、などなど) and to be able to write in correct stroke order any character that you're looking at an example of. (Even Japanese that don't put down their electronics long enough to pick up a pen and haven't handwritten a character outside of new year's cards and resumes since graduation are still going to be capable of quite a bit more than that.)

While you're not likely to hand write often unless you live in Japan, having the basics of writing makes it much easier to look up characters digitally -- you're essentially going to either be counting strokes or writing the character into a handwriting interface after all, when faced with characters that aren't already on a computer. Both of which are made easier by being able to write correctly.

It's also a lot easier to recognize characters that have the separate strokes connected as in semi-cursive writing and casual handwriting that resembles it. (Grass script cursive is another issue altogether that would require separate study and is definitely far beyond what is needed for basic competence in Japanese.) It's hard for me to imagine using Japanese for very long without coming across handwriting that you want to read - there are margin conversations or comments and omake sections in manga, notes and signs in films and television (whether the content is fictional or real), new year's cards from real people that you make long term friends with, etc., etc.

Learning to write isn't mandatory, but knowing at least the basics is pretty useful in the long run.
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#16
(2016-11-20, 10:19 pm)SomeCallMeChris Wrote:
(2016-11-20, 8:53 pm)RawrPk Wrote: Overall, if you feel the need to perfect handwriting kanji, that's great! But as you can see in the videos, you don't need to know how to write the kanji to learn Japanese. But learning to read it is essential to learning Japanese.

Well... I kind of think you ought to learn how to write the kanji if you're learning Japanese. You don't absolutely need to learn how, and you certainly don't need to have excellent penmanship or be able to write thousands of characters from memory.

...

Learning to write isn't mandatory, but knowing at least the basics is pretty useful in the long run.
I wasn't stating that OP shouldn't learn at all but merely stating that not learning how to write kanji perfectly (correct stroke and size) won't hinder their progress too much. I can write about a handful or so of kanji off the top of my head and I'm sure about half of them I don't write in the correct stroke order lol  Angel Though I do know the stroke orders of the basic ones you listed.

If anything my issue is the size of the kanji. I tend to exaggerate the size of certain strokes or I just make the kanji 2-3x bigger than my kana to compensate.  Confused Yes, I do practice writing kanji but that is because I like to write kanji and being a kinesthetic learner, I prefer learning with some sort of mechanical motion on my end. Big Grin
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#17
One thing to keep in mind about that first video is there's a significant difference between knowing how to write kanji (i.e. physically) and knowing how to write words off the top of your head. Nobody had trouble writing them down in the video, the real challenge was recalling the correct ones.

In the case of this thread, it seems to me the OP was talking about learning how to write kanji rather than words, since he (or she) never said anything about "words", just kanji. In fact, that's all you can do if your goal is to learn all joyo kanji in advance with RTK, otherwise, you wouldn't even need keywords.

Details aside, that kind of information is definitely useful to beginners. It's absolutely true that the ability to write words on paper or what have you isn't that important nowadays for learners who don't even live in Japan. I feel recalling words becomes significantly easier as you become a more fluent reader, or more specifically, as your ability to recall specific kanji readings becomes second nature to you.

To illustrate this, the other day I failed to recall the kanji used in "goHAN" (sorry, I'm on my psvita so I can't type in Japanese). Then, I came to the painful realization that it was just the primitive used in food on the left, while the primitive on the right indicates the pronunciation. Since most kanji with the primitive on the right are "han", it's almost like cheating. I just can't see myself making the same mistake anymore.
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#18
(2016-11-07, 5:40 am)ShotOkan Wrote: Hello everyone,

I was speaking with a friend who has recently passed N2 and I was explaning to her that I will study RTK1 without learning how to write Kanji.
I don't think it will hurt you much at all. 

Regardless of whether you learn to write them or not, reading them is going to take a lot of time and practice. I am personally redoing RTK after 4 years of studying - I got through the book technically but didn't keep up the SRS to retain it once I had gotten all of the characters active or in learning status. So I forgot a lot. But I am living in Japan right now and think being able to write kanji is actually useful maybe. Then again, beyond writing my address I dont really need it. But I think having learned so many stories that it's  kind of a waste not to learn to write them. 

What I would do is add the RTK info to my Anki vocab cards and review RTK a bit as I studied vocab.  But this doesn't help you write the characters.  However, you might not care much about writing them. The only time it truly is a pain is if you take a Japanese language class. Then you will curse the day you stopped writing kanji with RTK. But only a long as the course lasts. 
*edit*
Reading this post has convinced me to just stop learning to write the kanji again.  I was redoing it thinking knowing how to write kanji without using my phone was worth it but the Anki reviews are about an hour every day.  Yuck.
Edited: 2016-11-24, 3:26 am
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