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Wrestling with the Readings

#1
I'm going through Genki, reviewing 27 Kanji every day (did the 2200 over a year ago almost now), doing audio lessons for listening and speaking, and doing 27 vocab daily.

My question: Things are going good, but what is the most effective way to truly grasp all these various kanji readings? Just thinking about it all makes my head spin. I'll admit I'm picking up on them slowly from the vocab anki deck(s) I have, but surely this isn't going to be the one method that gets me to understand them all effectively. 

What are some of the things you guys are doing for readings? I've considered picking up Remembering The Kanji II as I've heard it covers the readings. BUT i've also heard it doesn't do an effective job. 

Anxious to get some feedback on this.

-FakePearBear
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#2
I finished RTK1 several years ago and now I'm focussing on reading, supplemented by study of RTK2.

As for RTK2, I've summarized all the signal primitives and their readings into an alphabetized list and I regularly review them and refer to my list while I'm reading. It's a BIG help. 

Fun game:  I make a list of compounds from my reading material.  I look at side one of the card (English meaning and RTK1 keywords for the kanji that make up the compound).  Then, I try to write the kanji using my memory of the keywords, and then see if I can pronounce the kanji using my knowledge of the RTK2 signal primitives  (and of course my knowledge of vocabulary in general). Then I push the spacebar (it's in Anki) and view the back of the card with the kanji and the pronunciation of the compound.

I get a surprisingly large number of kanji correct.  It's a fun game.
Edited: 2017-03-12, 11:06 pm
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#3
Personally, I just picked them up with vocabulary, but there has been some similar discussion over on this thread that might give you some ideas:
http://forum.koohii.com/thread-14428.html
[EDIT: similar in that it has to do with learning pronunciations versus meaning, not specifically kanji study]

Honestly, I wanted nothing to do with organized practice of the readings (too many for some kanji, only one or two for others, some go with certain patterns or meanings and some with others, etc); that was far too much for me to think of tackling as a learning task for each kanji, so I just learned them as I needed them with vocabulary. I haven't had any particular problem with the readings by doing things the way I have, but others have said that they struggle with this, so...
Edited: 2017-03-12, 11:08 pm
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JapanesePod101
#4
The thing that worked best for me was going from kanji --> all possible readings (or at least, all common/joyo readings). I put a number next to the kanji to remind myself how many readings I have to come up with [e.g. 静(2) - SEI, shizu(ka)]. Admittedly though remembering several readings for each kanji is difficult, so if this doesn't work for you, by all means try other methods. A lot of people prefer to learn by associating readings with the vocabulary they learn. I didn't like doing it that way because I felt like it produced weak/easily confused memories.

Sometimes I'll write extra words/compounds on the answer side of the card to help me remember if I can't fix a reading in my memory, but I try to keep the readings somewhat separate from the words, so I won't depend on any one word to remember a reading.
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#5
For my case, I learned quite smoothly the pronunciations of the Kanjis with my sentence deck. My question template for each sentence was recognition : question showing the sentence including kanjis and play its audio in the answer. With time, you I think your mind links uncounsciously the sound with the kanji image.
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#6
Read a lot and look up stuff. Why are you studying so much anyway? What is it that you want to read? Go read that. Or find something. Also audio is really helpful so talk variety shows with the huge text everywhere were helpful for me. 
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#7
I'd go with "just learn vocabulary, don't worry about readings" personally. Although there is some regularity to the readings there are enough exceptions, multiple readings, etc that learning vocabulary via the intermediate step of memorising readings has never struck me as giving an overall efficiency benefit. The only "real life" reason for caring about knowing readings of kanji is to be able to make guesses about the readings of unknown words so you can look them up faster; and you'll naturally pick that up as you go along learning vocab anyway.
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#8
I find learning/reviewing the RTK2 signal primitives is worth the time and effort and is extremely efficient as there are only around 350 signal primitives and they turn up ALL the time in my reading. Of course there are exceptions but it's still worthwhile.
Edited: 2017-03-13, 2:00 pm
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#9
You could take a hybrid approach and learn the 700 or so pure kanji which have the same readings 90% of the time. Then learn the remainder of the kanji readings via vocabulary. The good thing about this approach is you are learning systematically the readings for which there is a clear system and learning readings which change depending on the word they are in via the words themselves.
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#10
(2017-03-13, 9:24 pm)yogert909 Wrote: You could take a hybrid approach and learn the 700 or so pure kanji which have the same readings 90% of the time.  Then learn the remainder of the kanji readings via vocabulary.  The good thing about this approach is you are learning systematically the readings for which there is a clear system and learning readings which change depending on the word they are in via the words themselves.

Yes, if you do anything from RTK2 at all, at least try to learn the "pure" signal primitives.  Just make a list of the primitives and their reading and study the list.  Don't bother trying to memorize each of the "exemplary compounds" provided by Heisig; it's not necessary (and as I found, I would instantly forget them anyway).   It's enough to simply learn the signal primitives, and then make note of them in your own reading/vocabulary study.
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#11
I don't think it's worth putting too much effort into Kanji readings. If you instead spend that effort learning the spoken language, that knowledge will act as a solid foundation for everything else...making things much, much easier.

P.S. Immersion is the best way to learn the spoken language, but, since you seem like a max effort kind of language learner, there are ways to add difficulty to your immersion, to speed up your progress (studies show that adding difficulty makes all forms of learning more efficient: https://bjorklab.psych.ucla.edu/research/#idd).

One good method to make sure you maximize your focus, and get the most benefit out of immersion, is to take notes about the more difficult parts, as you watch/ listen to something. English notes with some Kana is fine, if you can't write Kanji...the main role of the note-taking is to force you to focus on what you're listening to, so it's not that important to do it in Japanese.

One exception, where you want to make sure you're taking notes in Japanese (maybe by taking e-notes, since learning to write Kanji on paper might not be worth the effort) is if you're watching with English subs. Then, the note taking becomes the "immersion" activity...a very effective one, as well, since it's auditory input combined with written output, rather than just input. (There's a philosopher I like, Leonard Peikoff, who said that the best way to integrate new knowledge is to spend some time "chewing" on it...which is an accessible way to phrase something otherwise complex. E-notes of spoken Japanese seems like a really good way to "chew" the materials, since you have to think about the meaning of words, the Kanji involved, the role of all the particles, etc., but you don't risk producing bad Japanese, because you have the native audio to check your notes against).

Or, if you're fairly advanced, and in a giving mood, join a subtitling team. I don't have any experience with this (I'm doing some subbing on my own, but I don't have the time to do enough to make it worth joining a team), but I think these teams have specific roles that match people's skill sets: one person does the actual translations into a text file, another proof reads the English subs, another times them, another takes care of publishing them...and the first role is the one most in demand, so I don't think you'd have to do any work that doesn't help you learn Japanese.
Edited: 2017-03-14, 9:33 am
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#12
(2017-03-12, 11:07 pm)tanaquil Wrote: The thing that worked best for me was going from kanji --> all possible readings (or at least, all common/joyo readings). I put a number next to the kanji to remind myself how many readings I have to come up with [e.g. 静(2) - SEI, shizu(ka)]. Admittedly though remembering several readings for each kanji is difficult, so if this doesn't work for you, by all means try other methods. A lot of people prefer to learn by associating readings with the vocabulary they learn. I didn't like doing it that way because I felt like it produced weak/easily confused memories.

Sometimes I'll write extra words/compounds on the answer side of the card to help me remember if I can't fix a reading in my memory, but I try to keep the readings somewhat separate from the words, so I won't depend on any one word to remember a reading.

How many have you learned this way?  This sounds like a nightmare to me, but if it works for you that's great.
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#13
Translating is a whole different skill. I don't understand why you're even mentioning it.
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#14
(2017-03-15, 12:22 am)theadamie Wrote:
(2017-03-12, 11:07 pm)tanaquil Wrote: The thing that worked best for me was going from kanji --> all possible readings (or at least, all common/joyo readings). I put a number next to the kanji to remind myself how many readings I have to come up with [e.g. 静(2) - SEI, shizu(ka)]. Admittedly though remembering several readings for each kanji is difficult, so if this doesn't work for you, by all means try other methods. A lot of people prefer to learn by associating readings with the vocabulary they learn. I didn't like doing it that way because I felt like it produced weak/easily confused memories.

Sometimes I'll write extra words/compounds on the answer side of the card to help me remember if I can't fix a reading in my memory, but I try to keep the readings somewhat separate from the words, so I won't depend on any one word to remember a reading.

How many have you learned this way?  This sounds like a nightmare to me, but if it works for you that's great.

I learned all of the joyo (old + new) this way, and it's still how I am learning new kanji beyond the joyo - although now I am much pickier about which readings I choose to learn, since there is no standard list of approved readings at the higher level (basically, I only learn the readings that show up in words listed with that kanji on wwwjdic).

Admittedly it is challenging. Although I still keep the deck above 90% in regular reviews, I very often remember part but not all - I remember what the kanji means but get a reading wrong, I remember one reading but not another, etc. I just make it a rule that I have to remember everything and let the ones that trip me up come back for a little more review. After so many years of doing it, there are many kanji that I never get wrong. I choose hard a lot (over good) because I know these memories degrade quicker than some.

It's useful now that I am reading novels because I can generally guess how a word should be pronounced in order to look it up - or at least I can use a valid pronunciation of each kanji to type them rather than having to draw them.

I can well imagine it might not work for everyone, I have a high tolerance for rote memorization (I teach Greek and Latin for a living after all). It helped me get through the JLPT because the exam so often would give ridiculous kanji choices that you could immediately eliminate if you knew a certain kanji wasn't read that way. At N1 they often give kanji compounds that look plausible and are not actually words but both kanji have the right reading - those are hard!

Am interested to see that so many people learn purely through vocabulary exposure. That always worked terribly for me. As in everything when self-studying, go with what works for you.
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#15
So, the way that I'm following to wrestle with Japanese is basically the ja-dark method.
This method is almost like what Steve Kaufman does, adding a large database of vocab words he "knows" but hasn't mastered.

It uses Kanji+Furigana on the front of each vocab card, with a Definition + Picture on the back, for learning each vocabulary word initially. It makes up what I like to call "Potential words known" and
It's pretty controversial, but it lets you read more difficult material more quickly and get more practice, since you can read more quickly and just look up kanji readings and already know the word, or enjoy content.

So, the reasoning is that basically, you initially "feel" into Japanese. You hear and see a word with its furigana, and because of the repetitive nature of kanji and phonetics, you wind up learning a large % of the words you learn this way as both listening and reading cards.
You also use a 250%+ Anki interval, so that you aren't testing the vocabulary cards too often much.


Sentences - Reading and Listening Mastery:

You use the MorphMan addon (look up kaegi) to track your vocab words, and go through and create your own sentences, or use Core10k and whatnot. Your sentences and listening cards shouldn't contain furigana, but because they're n+1, they'll always primarily have familiar words. So, you'll mater your Potential words through sentences, and since they'll be things you're used to, you can quickly learn to recall the readings when you already know the word by kanji+furigana. You'll also have an advantage with listening, because when you learned all those cards by kanji+furigana, you had audio. Now you can go listen to anime and find that a large portion of the words were memorized phonetically, or can be added to your phonetic memory with a quick lookup.

This method is pretty cool because it encourages you to have sentences for your pool of vocab words through MorphMan, and it help you simultaneously click the readings into place, based on patterns and getting used to the language. It's also a really low stress way of learning vocabulary and individualizing things.


Extra/Supplements:
So, with the kanji+furigana format, you also have the option of making a Card2 and Card3 version of the card that has Kanji-Only or Audio+Hiragana. I like to use these formats to target some words that didn't automatically stick, or maybe I just haven't seen in context enough. I suspend any ones that I already know.


The pure kanji+furigana and "getting used to the language" method, without Anki, with several hours of reading daily, can actually lead to fluency. I have a friend who got fluent in Japanese without every learning to write the kanji, or targeted grammar drills, and he did it in a year by reading a ton and getting massive exposure to the language. There are also thousands of words in Japanese that I can read and hear that I never specifically forced myself to produce the kanji reading for, or explicitly studied by audio-only.

I think things like targeting kanji readings can be useful as a supplemental review, as something to go "Ah, the readings for 判 are はん、ばん, わか. That makes sense, given the few words I know." Explicitly learning readings before knowing words puts off actually getting the practice in, and you might wind up overanalyzing words.

Context is really necessary and important for Japanese. It's way easier to remember how to write the kanji 判 or know the readings for it because you know the word 判断, and learned it in an anime delivered a final judgement, and you watched the scene and read 判断 in the sentence. If you never have this experience and you arbitrarily say "know that 判 can be read as 「はん、ばん、わか」but don't also have flash cards with words like 判断 used in sentences, it becomes a highly bruteforced method and won't stick.

Also, since vocab is meaning-focused, I think learning "はん" or "判" as the concept of "judgement" is more useful than learning 判 can be pronounced as はん,ばん、わかる, that it means judgement, and then that there are cool words like 判断。

There's probably a middle ground, though, and I think it would be cool to learn the common readings for kanji that use 1 reading 90% of the time, but I mean, if you know how to read words, you're already doing that, anyway. I guess one "issue" you have is that you might not know, without the context of vocabulary, all the readings for a certain kanji, but really is that what fluency means? Do you know all the meanings of com-, re-, be-, with-, as prefixes, without the context of actual words? Aren't you still fluent even if you can't come up with them?

I think as non-natives, we can definitely achieve more optimization by steering away from traditional native learning methods, like, by avoiding the Joyo kanji writing order in favor of a radical and RTK-based system. Sometimes I think we overdo it by trying to force ourselves to remember the readings of words and kanji we just learned without getting used to them.

There's a middle way - one that can get us used to the language, involve a lot of effort, while avoiding unneeded stress.

I'd like to see what other people think of this method, because I think it's mostly foolproof, as long as you have enough sentences (which you should, as a general Anki rule)
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#16
(2017-03-15, 10:28 am)tanaquil Wrote: there is no standard list of approved readings at the higher level (basically, I only learn the readings that show up in words listed with that kanji on wwwjdic).

This comment is tangential to the thread, but if you want an "official" list of readings for non-jōyō kanji (or non-jōyō readings of jōyō kanji) I would reference the 漢検 readings on Kanjipedia. They exclude readings used only for names and everything they publish is in accordance with the latest JIS standard glyph forms.
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#17
(2017-03-17, 3:27 pm)vladz0r Wrote: So, the way that I'm following to wrestle with Japanese is basically the ja-dark method.
...

Just curious how long you've been following this method? And what level you started?

I've been thinking about doing something similar but I'm not sure I want to go back to sentences. I like to read passages with a little more context.
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#18
(2017-03-17, 5:00 pm)yogert909 Wrote:
(2017-03-17, 3:27 pm)vladz0r Wrote: So, the way that I'm following to wrestle with Japanese is basically the ja-dark method.
...

Just curious how long you've been following this method?  And what level you started?  

I've been thinking about doing something similar but I'm not sure I want to go back to sentences.  I like to read passages with a little more context.

Until recently, I didn't know enough of the kanji properly, and I was mostly just reading VNs whenever I could in order to learn the words, but I was always doing kanji+furigana. Grammar-wise I'm comfortably around N2-N1 level with some gaps I'm filling in. My goals never included proper study of kanji, so I was just using furigana because it was easier, initially, but then I found the ja-dark method and changed my goals a lot. 

I think there's a lot of value in using things like sub2srs for sentences, or taking a sentence + a screenshot from an anime, so that you have text. I usually don't take sentences from google and stuff, because I don't feel like I'm at the level where I can enjoy doing that. 

I started sub2srs and listening cards about a month ago and have 954 cards from White Album 2 and Kanon 2006, and I do some Core10k sentences occasionally, along with self-added ones (currently on a roll with those). I'm at just 80 Reading cards from sub2srs, since I've been working on kanji writing a lot lately. I think the sentence cards combined with reading and listening is really useful, though, compared to straight vocab cards.

By "reading passages with a little more context" did you mean making paragraph-long cards with Anki, or did you mean that you just like to read stuff in context? I've seen those "Massive-context cloze deletion" card formats that have a paragraph of surrounding text, where you try and read the middle part, and that seems cool for LNs and stuff.
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#19
Thanks for answering.

Yea, more like a paragraph or more. To tell the truth, single sentences are getting a little boring and something about them seems like getting more context would be helpful. For instance, when I am reading something longer, I know a lot of things that make the sentences easier to parse. And often words are re-used a few times, so I can say oh there's that word I just looked up and get extra practice reading it without looking it up again. I feel like the extra context helps with better understanding of individual sentences and words and that makes learning more efficient. In other words, there are some sentences in core, which I am sure I would pass if I were reading them in the middle of a news article, but I end up failing. I feel like that's inefficient and any trick that I can do to increase comprehension is increasing my learning speed.

The problem is finding material which has a good density of words that need reinforcement but not too many (i.e. n+1). And also making sure I reinforce words that I've looked up. So far I've found re-reading the same material a few times is helping a lot with reinforcing semi-known words, increasing comprehension and noticing grammar patterns. Reading a manga series would also be good, but look-ups are harder because not e-text. I've been going through the japanese pod 101 material because it's graded by difficulty which has been ensuring I don't read things too easy or too hard.

But I have been mulling over other methods and materials. Subs2srs seems like a good route to go. I'm thinking of following nukemarine's subs2srs advice of studying in 4 minute chunks and then listening to the audio and re-watching the episode. This has a lot in common with what I'm doing with jpod101 except the the material is more enjoyable.

I like the idea you mentioned of putting larger intervals between vocab cards. I think that's a good idea because hopefully you are reinforcing those words through reading. It allows you more time for reading which is always a good thing.
Edited: 2017-03-17, 6:32 pm
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#20
(2017-03-17, 4:25 pm)fkb9g Wrote:
(2017-03-15, 10:28 am)tanaquil Wrote: there is no standard list of approved readings at the higher level (basically, I only learn the readings that show up in words listed with that kanji on wwwjdic).

This comment is tangential to the thread, but if you want an "official" list of readings for non-jōyō kanji (or non-jōyō readings of jōyō kanji) I would reference the 漢検 readings on Kanjipedia. They exclude readings used only for names and everything they publish is in accordance with the latest JIS standard glyph forms.

Thanks for the link! I always like to bookmark new resources.

(I had trouble reaching it as linked, but for anyone else who is interested)

http://www.kanjipedia.jp/

I do have spreadsheets that list a ridiculous number of possible readings, but if wwwjdic is any guide, most of them are never used. That's why I try to limit what I learn initially. I have discovered that if I already know one reading for a thing, it is much easier for me later to add additional readings when I encounter them, whereas if I have to learn five random readings the first time, it will never stick at all.

If I ever properly get through the KanKen study materials, I'm sure I will learn a lot of readings I haven't yet picked up.
Edited: 2017-03-17, 8:53 pm
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#21
(2017-03-17, 6:26 pm)yogert909 Wrote: Yea, more like a paragraph or more.

You might like these CosCom articles. Each sentence has its own audio clip with vocab words (gloss) translated to English, and they have a few different levels. It is a paid service, but it's a great value for a one-time fee.
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#22
(2017-03-17, 9:34 pm)fkb9g Wrote:
(2017-03-17, 6:26 pm)yogert909 Wrote: Yea, more like a paragraph or more.

You might like these CosCom articles. Each sentence has its own audio clip with vocab words (gloss) translated to English, and they have a few different levels. It is a paid service, but it's a great value for a one-time fee.

Thanks for reminding me about this site.  I've read through some of their free stuff from time to time but maybe I'll dive in deeper.  Decisions....
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#23
(2017-03-17, 6:26 pm)yogert909 Wrote: Thanks for answering.

Yea, more like a paragraph or more.  To tell the truth, single sentences are getting a little boring and something about them seems like getting more context would be helpful.  For instance, when I am reading something longer, I know a lot of things that make the sentences easier to parse.  And often words are re-used a few times, so I can say oh there's that word I just looked up and get extra practice reading it without looking it up again.  I feel like the extra context helps with better understanding of  individual sentences and words and that makes learning more efficient.  In other words, there are some sentences in core, which I am sure I would pass if I were reading them in the middle of a news article, but I end up failing.  I feel like that's inefficient and any trick that I can do to increase comprehension is increasing my learning speed.

The problem is finding material which has a good density of words that need reinforcement but not too many (i.e. n+1).  And also making sure I reinforce words that I've looked up.  So far I've found re-reading the same material a few times is helping a lot with reinforcing semi-known words, increasing comprehension and noticing grammar patterns.  Reading a manga series would also be good, but look-ups are harder because not e-text.  I've been going through the japanese pod 101 material because it's graded by difficulty which has been ensuring I don't read things too easy or too hard.

But I have been mulling over other methods and materials.  Subs2srs seems like a good route to go.  I'm thinking of following nukemarine's subs2srs advice of studying in 4 minute chunks and then listening to the audio and re-watching the episode.  This has a lot in common with what I'm doing with jpod101 except the the material is more enjoyable.

I like the idea you mentioned of putting larger intervals between vocab cards.  I think that's a good idea because hopefully you are reinforcing those words through reading.  It allows you more time for reading which is always a good thing.

>The problem is finding material which has a good density of words that need reinforcement but not too many

I feel like I might know what your problem is. I think you could find something interesting, like an anime or something, and use text analysis to start learning those useful words, if you're doing mostly core sentences right now. Core stuff stops being high frequency after like 1000 or so, when it comes to the fun material.
Maybe if you text analysis could help, like through using the Japanese Text Analysis tool. I used that in order to get to a high-ish % word usage comprehension in VNs (93% in a bunch of VNs). I actually just grinded out a ton of words before I started reading. Looking up 1/10 words instead of 1/4 is a huge difference. With text analysis, it's actually pretty easy to mass grab the top words you don't know form a source. Epwing2Anki and Japanese Text Analysis Tool are your friends for auto-generating flash cards.

Sub2srs + MorphMan is really fun, actually.
You generally learn common words because of how the algorithm works, and even if you don't, you get a useful sentence in context, and can improve your comprehension quickly.

Manga I feel like just isn't efficient to read until you know a high % of the words, so I'm doing Hunter x Hunter with sub2srs instead of reading my physical volumes.


The thing about "failing a core sentence card out of context, that you'd probably understand in context" might be part of how you have to grade your testing. You try to understand the sentence as well, literally, as you can, and be lenient with the context. If a card is so crap that you could read all the words but have to fail it due to lack of context, you might have to delete the card. Maybe there's some grammar that could be learned/revised, though? (taking a guess here, not sure)
Edited: 2017-03-18, 12:44 am
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