Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Spiral Manipulation

I've come to a somewhat depressing realization today - that while I may be pretty good at the reproduction part of kanji (that is, writing the kanji when presented with the keyword), my recognition ability really, really sucks. When fumbling around in Windows, I'll often stare for several seconds at a kanji compound, my mind going completely blank, unable to remember the meaning of any of them - sometimes relatively simple ones that I'm amazed to have missed.

Now, in a way, this isn't all that surprising... After all, I've put a couple hundred hours into this reproduction process, while having dedicated how much time to recognition...? Exactly. I've been telling myself this all day in an attempt to prevent myself from becoming frustrated, but today's revelation has also led me to question my 日本語 priorities. I'll certainly continue to hammer out kanji until my Anki deck dwindles down to minuscule numbers, but beyond that, I'm a bit uncertain.

Do I simply dive headfirst into the awfully confusing world of Japanese sentences? Quite frankly, I'm more than a little frustrated with this method already, as my grammar, vocabulary, kanji recognition and practically everything else seems to suck just enough to slow the process down to a crawl. Of course, as Khatzumoto-sensei has said many times, we all suck at first. But presently, I find the thought of going through 50 Japanese sentences a day (or even half of that) just staggering.
On the other hand, I've memorized a few dozen words and compounds already, using this method, so I can certainly see its merit and power.

Another part of me is tempted to do things a more "old fashioned" way and learn vocabulary word by word, rather than via sentences. I've surely had some luck this way in the past, but sentences promise to make this specific method redundant, right? Perhaps, then, I'll make an additional deck for selective vocabulary - things like words in my operating system, or games, or whatever that I feel I'd benefit instantly from memorizing, while resisting the temptation of throwing every new word I find into it. Actually, the more I think about it, the more this sounds entirely practical.

But you know, in the end, it probably doesn't even matter what method I use, as long as I'm learning and progressing every day. Although it may not feel to me like I'm making much progress, especially lately, I know that every kanji I learn to produce cleanly and immediately, every word, every kanji reading, brings me another step closer to my end goal - whichever method I'm using.

On a lighter note, I've taken the big ol' step of watching raw (unsubbed) dramas. My listening comprehension isn't exactly fantastic either, but I'm generally able to pick out pretty much any words I don't understand (read: most of them) and punch them into a dictionary, so that's probably not a bad sign.
I'm four episodes into Bloody Monday and really enjoying it. Pretty easy to keep up with, given its plot, and what little Japanese I know already has been helping tremendously. Lucky for me, there are loads of interesting dramas out there, so I'll likely never run out of "study material", ahem.


Thomas (nihonhacks.com) said...

Glad you like Bloody Monday. I downloaded the first episodes of nodame and densha otoko. I haven't watched them yet (JLPT study) but I will soon.

As for kanji, recognizing them comes later as you get exposed to new words. They'll just click, like puzzle pieces and it will help you to remember other words with the same kanji in them.

Burritolingus said...

Definitely enjoying Bloody Monday. I didn't know what to expect at first, but I'm hooked!

As for recognition, I've begun to notice what you mean about kanji snapping like puzzle pieces, in fact. I don't expect to recognize everything I've learned from RTK for quite some time, but the ones that snap into place REALLY snap.