Speaking Japanese

Your typical Japanese class is about 80% listening, and 20% building dialogues off the lesson of the day. At least, in the classes I’ve attended, which have been classes where English was the language used by the teacher. There is one immersion school in Toronto, but I’m not convinced the only difference in the structure is that everyone has to use Japanese. (Of course, this means you speak more Japanese from day 1, which might be a better approach.) Photo via Good Free Photos But there’s a problem, because next week, you start in on a brand new lesson, and some brand new dialogues. Maybe grammar from some of the… Read More

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Kanji Wrap-up

Wow, so many posts about kanji. Why do I think they’re important? You can’t do anything with reading or writing in Japanese unless you know them. They will help you in learning vocabulary and grammar. They are thus essential to Japanese studies. Otherwise, nothing much else. When you confront your own cranky dog of kanji, have the positive attitude of the guy below. No, I don’t know what these kanji say. 頑張ってください!!

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Writing the Kanji

Writing? Kanji? おい、おじさん、2017年だぞ!みんなはコンピューターを使ていますぜ! No need to get upset, I know quite well that the IT revolution has made Japanese resources so abundant that even a clod like me can study the language in the comfort of my own home. You just fire up your IME (on computer), or keyboard app (on your smartphone), and start typing in sweet, sweet English letters. These letters form kana. The drop-down list shows you a bunch of kanji that match the kana you are entering. If you know your kanji well enough, just pick it from the list. If not, just leave the kana in and hope anyone reading what you’re writing is excellent… Read More

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Pronouncing the Kanji

So, you’re doing pretty well in your Japanese studies. You can now stride confidently into any Japanese restaurant and say 一つとんかつラーメンおねがいします。(Is it totally correct? Well, you won’t starve as a tourist, anyway, as long as you go into tourist-friendly restaurants.) You even proudly know that you used a kanji in 一つ. Wow! Super! And teachers give you kanji that have two or three or four pronunciations, and you’re a bit worried, but hey! You’re a language expert from birth! You can do it! And then comes the mountain. Not the mountain 山, but this: I mean, the first time I saw this, my eyelid started to twitch. If yours didn’t,… Read More

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Examining the Kanji (kanji form and composition)

To learn the kanji, we have to learn the following: kanji form and composition kanji pronunciations (on’yomi/kun’yomi) kanji writing This post will talk about the first one. This article describes everything very well, and was the basis for me wanting to write this post. Basically, every kanji has one and only one radical. Every radical has a meaning, some more clear than others. But acquiring an idea of what each radical means can really help in some cases when trying to figure out what an unknown kanji is referring to. If there’s only one radical in the kanji, then what are the other parts of the kanji made up of?… Read More

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Don’t Fear the Kanji

So, you start off wanting to learn Japanese for any number of reasons. Mine was culture and travel. Yours might be anime or movies. “How hard can it be?” you ask yourself. “It’s now almost all English words in katakana and a few connecting Japanese words, right? I can do this in 10 days, like this book ‘Learn Japanese in 10 Days’ says I can!” Photo via Good Free Photos The thing is, a lot of Japanese schools will not attempt to tell you any different. In fact, they treat kanji carefully around their beginner students, like they will render these 外国人students weak and helpless, like kryptonite. Teachers create the… Read More

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