Sorry if this has been discussed before..
Having had great success with Heisig's Remembering the Kana (which use keywords to remember syllable prounciations), I'm now about to start the Kanji but wondering why I can't take the same approach and learn the pronounciation at the same time?
For example, adding another element to your story that inlcludes the prounouciations as well as the keyword meaning. Surely this would save the time involved by combining RtK2 with RtK1 and would allow you to actually start reading kanji you've learnt in sentences and the real world.
I know Heisig addresses this in the foreword and it's complicated by multiple readings, but couldn't the readings still be added to stories?
Maybe I will be blasted for being naive but would appreciate any thoughts...
Some people have tried such an approach.
Alyks devised a "Movie Method" to simultaneously learn on-yomi with the kanji. The method in brief is to associate each on-yomi with a particular movie and then set the image/story for all kanji that have that reading in that movie. He claimed the method worked very well.
Kanjidamage is a website which has a RTK-like method that also includes learning some readings.
The main disadvantage of using those methods is that you are more on your own and won't be able to use most of the stories on this site (though many could be modified).
Also, if you carefully go through all the stories on this site, you will find some people actually did this. I know it takes time to read everything for every kanji, but if you're interested, you'll be thorough.
Anyway, including readings in the stories is more complicated than it seems, and I'd bet sometimes it might even be impossible. That's why so many people learn the kanjis first, then the readings (in the most common compound for example), which you can then put (the compound) into your story. But by then, the stories start to fade, and the point of the method was to separate the various sectors of the kanjis, so I don't know. I know it wouldn't work for me (my mind quickly gets saturated).
Last edited by EratiK (2010 September 09, 6:31 am)
I and others have had some success with this and I think it's worth trying even if you abandon it later. Most common kanji have more than 1 reading (sometimes as many as 10 or so). I would advise only learning 1 common on-yomi reading for each character. The on-yomi reading is the chinese derived reading of a character and is used mostly in compound words. These readings are mostly monosyllabic so it's easy to make mnemonics for them. So as you learn new kanji, look up the on-yomi (usually written in Uppercase or Katakana in dictionaries) and make up sound primitives for each new on-yomi reading and incorporate them into your stories. An example would be 缶 which has the on-yomi KAN. I used the sound primitive Ghengis KHAN (mongol warlord) to represent the sound KAN and used him in my stories for any character read KAN.
Last edited by nadiatims (2010 September 09, 7:01 am)
Surely this would save the time involved by combining RtK2 with RtK1 and would allow you to actually start reading kanji you've learnt in sentences and the real world.
But it won't help you at all. Even if you know perfectly all possible readings, all that will allow you to do is guess possible ways to read some (not all) unknown words. The only benefit from that is that it's faster to look them up in a dictionary.
On the other hand, you don't need to know readings before you start learning vocabulary. As you learn new words, you learn how the characters that are used to write them are pronounced. Learning readings becomes a natural byproduct of learning vocabulary not a grueling forced memorization task. Actually, not knowing the readings perfectly forces you to remember the words better!
the method I suggested though isn't a grueling forced memorization task anymore than doing RTK the normal way is. It's just a way of getting one reading for free (which is better than nothing) while doing RTK. It also has the added benefit of teaching you how most kanji use a phonetic and meaning element which is really useful for reading, guessing word, dictionary use etc.
Somebody (not sure if they are a member here) once made a list of sound mnemonics that can be used to associate kanji with their on-yomi. I did something similar except with my own associations, and find it very helpful (e.g. for learning new words, triggering half-known words, looking up words, etc). Of course this could be used either while going through RTK1 or after finishing it; which is more efficient will depend on various factors.
I made a spreadsheet which includes RTK numbers and readings, so that might be useful if you go down this road. Less common readings are marked*, so you could omit those. (Instructions: Download the file; Open in Excel or simlar; Reorder & delete columns/rows etc to your taste).
As for kun-readings, I'd be inclined to take Heisig's advice: once you are confident you can remember a particular kanji, swap the English keyword for a Japanese kun reading on your flashcards.
Many thanks for the replies and links.
The Movie Method is quite interesting. I did a similar thing for learning Thai, which is a tonal language. I created a virtual town in my head with a school, shops, library, cinema, etc and assigned a building to each of the 5 tones. Then, every time I learned new vocab I would create a story linking that word with the corresponding building so that I'd always pronounce it using the correct tone. (Actually once you can read and write Thai the spelling will determine the tone, but it was a useful technique early on).
Obviously Japanese is completely different, but I think there is still room to add new ways that work for you. My plan now is to follow Heisig's method but incorporate on-yomi readings wherever they fit conveniently. When it's too complicated to do so, I'll come back to the reading after finishing RtK1 like everyone else
Perhaps this is in one of your spreadsheet's Katsuo, or is cataloged somewhere else, but how many Kanji characters have only one on reading, or one on and one kun reading? Pardon my ignorance on the matter, it's just every now and then while reviewing I hover over the kanji with rikaichan to check the frequency and other definitions and notice there is only one reading.
I'm doing a pretty good job learning the readings via in-context practice (Core6K+ other stuff) and that's relatively painless, but now and then I ask myself the question: If I were to brute-force memorize all the readings, what would be the most efficient method? I'm certain this has been discussed ad nauseam, but it seems like the single-reading characters would be the low-hanging fruit (weighted by their frequency).
If learning readings, I'd suggest using the Joyo list rather than Rikaichan. The Joyo kanji list is restricted to relatively common kanji and readings. Rikaichan uses KANJIDIC which includes many rare readings.
As I mentioned in my post above, the Joyo list also marks some of its readings as relatively rare, and those could be omitted as well.
Something like 1,800 of the new 2,136 joyo kanji have only one on-yomi listed. "Brute-forcing" sounds like hard work. For low-hanging fruit look at some of the "pure groups" in RTK2. For example 且 on the right side (組粗租祖阻狙) gives on-yomi ソ.