I just became a subscriber ! But I just saw a video that threw me a bit off

I don’t know. I’m pretty happy with how my Anki deck looks visually.

9 Likes

I saw this video recently as well. The main thing that I think is a problem with every YT video about the “best way” to learn kanji (or anything else for that matter), is that everyone’s brain works differently. Every person in the world has a different best way. So every video about the “best way” is wrong.

At the same time, (I’m only on level two WaniKani so take this with a grain of salt) I’ve encountered some of the problems he mentioned with WaniKani. When a kanji has multiple readings and one vocabulary uses one reading and another vocabulary uses a different reading, WaniKani seems to be falling short and every time one of those vocabularies comes up I feel like I’m just guessing which reading is right.

But the other side of that coin is that by the time I end up memorizing which reading is right in a dumb way I’ll definitely know which reading is right, even if some psychologist or linguist would argue I could have learned it in a better way, I’ve already learned it.

What I think is a much bigger concern is something brought up in one of Dogen’s videos. If I’m looking at readings of kanji but I’m not looking up the proper tonal accent pronunciation of each one, I’m probably assuming a wrong tonal accent in my mind and forming bad habits. But I think this might be a problem with RTK (which I haven’t actually looked at, so again, salt) as well. So I have actually been trying to look up pronunciations on the resources Dogen mentioned in this video as much as I possibly can: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRSXbqjC2Yg

What I really think the most is that Matt’s video seems to claim that using WaniKani is actively harmful, and I really don’t think that it is.

2 Likes

Oh cool! Been years since I used Anki but had no idea you could customize the UI :open_mouth:
In that case it’ll look into it again.

Just because I can’t stop myself…Here is a Template of my current layout to start you off if you like.

[Template Perfect Form - maybe]

9 Likes

Amazing! Thank you very much for sharing :cherry_blossom:

A kanji might have several readings, but most vocab don’t. Actually, when the same “vocab” has 2 readings, it is followed by a difference in nuance from each.

The readings WK offers is based on what they see as the most common ones. Then, they’ll give the less used ones through vocab. This way, they avoid throwing to you too much info at the same time.

For the Kanji reviews, if you actually try to type a different reading that you encountered on vocab, WK will tell you that they want another reading. They won’t consider wrong because it is not, but they want you to be able to recall the most common ones too. For vocab, there’s no escape. You only have one way of reading them. If you’re mixing the new readings, it just means that you should spend more time on the lessons. A lot of people tend to speed up the lessons, but taking your time is definitely very important. @rfindley is one important member of our community. He finished WK with only around 50 mistakes total. His #1 advice? More time on lessons.

Are you talking about the pitch accent? You can install a script that solves this:

1 Like

Y-You’re my template with the perfect form :heart_eyes:

1 Like

My personal feeling (and this is from someone who’s understood and spoken limited Japanese for over 25 years) is that pitch accent is kind of the flavour of the month in Japanese instructions, and it’s much less important than many other aspects of the language. I’m not saying it’s completely unimportant, but for a beginning learner it’s usually pretty unimportant. I say this because Japanese is not a tonal language like Chinese or Vietnamese, so there are no tones per se, and so you can’t get a tone wrong and change the meaning of a word. Pitch accent is different from tone and is more akin to (though not identical to) English emphasis.

Dogen himself has said that his main emphasis when beginning Japanese was to sound as close to a native speaker as possible in his pronunciation. That’s maybe a noble effort, but to most people would take a backseat to learning vocabulary and grammar, along with reasonably good pronunciation. Dogen has spent a lot of time training himself to speak as close to a native of Tokyo as possible, and yet even though he’s now quite fluent, a native Japanese person would easily be able to tell by listening to his voice that he isn’t Japanese. Dogen is providing a helpful service without question in his pitch accent tutorials, but he is selling something, so that should be taken into consideration when assessing how important pitch accent instruction is in the grand scheme of things.

Another point is that people from Kansai (a major population centre in Japan that comprises Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe) speak with a completely different pitch accent from Tokyo people, and yet Osaka and Tokyo people understand each other just fine (though sources indicate that they may make fun of they way each other talks).

In short, while learning proper pitch accent would be important if you want to ‘lose your accent’ I believe that actually learning the language to a point where you can be easily understood is far more important and a better use of your time for the vast majority of learners. A more important point for English speakers with regards to Japanese pronunciation is to learn how to understand and how to say short and long vowels (こーこう、ふ-ふう、etc) distinctly. Because that can really mess up your intelligibility.
But to learn basic pronunciation, just turn on autoplay in vocabulary lessons and reviews so you can hear how a native speaker says the words, and try to imitate them.

Or take this (free) online course:

5 Likes

You really will get better at this! I know a number of us comment on how we’re now able to guess the reading of a word we’re being taught before being shown the reading. You pick up the patterns and it becomes much more intuitive very quickly (though I do second jprspereira’s suggestion to spend time on your lessons).

2 Likes

This is a little disheartening, I thought Dogen was as 上手ですね as it gets…

I’m not really in a position to judge his Japanese ability as far as correctness, or even accent. He’s way above me (I have shown one of his videos to my wife who’s a native speaker, and she says he’s pretty good). But for someone to learn a second language anytime past the age of about 14, it’s extremely difficult verging on impossible to sound like a native, and there’s no shame in that.

I’m sure he has less of an accent than most non-natives do, but is losing your accent entirely even a worthwhile goal? To illustrate my point, I’ve watched and enjoyed a few of this guy’s food videos:


He has a very discernible French accent, and yet his English is just about perfect. Would I enjoy his videos any better or understand him better if he sounded like a native speaker of English? Nope. He’s perfectly fine just the way he is. I’d be so very happy if I could speak Japanese (or French for that matter) as well as he speaks English, and having an accent would be the least of my worries, as long as I could communicate effectively.

11 Likes

Last time I heard, having good language skills with a touch of foreign accent is hot :eyes:

4 Likes

私に汚い話、赤ちゃん…

1 Like

Just because there are different pitch accent patterns doesn’t mean that learners who ignore pitch accent can’t confuse Japanese people with incorrect/inconsistent/strange pitch accent on words. You can in fact change the meaning of words/sentences by changing pitch.

1 Like

Oh, thank you so much with regards to that script! Yes, I meant pitch accent.

Sorry if I miscommunicated earlier; I meant that I find myself guessing when one vocab uses one reading of a kanji and a different vocab uses another reading of the same kanji. I only brought it up because I haven’t had this issue with any of the kanji I learned from duolingo, which despite its many flaws I was using to learn a little Japanese before I started WaniKani. At my level I can only guess, but I do guess, that this kind of thing is what Matt vs. Japan is referring to.

I think I will over time; it’s just something that I noticed hadn’t happened for kanji when it was a vocabulary that I’d picked up the meaning + pronunciation for already. Not enough to poo poo the method, but enough to get me thinking about why is this happening the way it’s happening. I believe I’m already spending the right amount of time on the lessons for the way I usually learn things, which comes back to what I was originally saying: the video seems misguided because everyone learns differently. But more time definitely couldn’t hurt.

1 Like

Eh, I’m not worried about sounding like a native speaker, per se. I just believe that if I have an opportunity to avoid a bad habit, I should take that opportunity. I have a lot of faith that left to my own devices I could unconsciously create an extremely unintelligible accent if I’m not thinking about accent while learning.

2 Likes

That and also everyone has different goals and motivation. This guy’s mindset is: work Japanese 16h a day (+8h of listening while sleeping if possible) and reach a level beyond native (if your goal is not at least to be indistinguishable from a native there is no point learning a language and you should stop all together)…

2 Likes

Of course you’re right. Pronouncing words strangely can be disconcerting/confusing for others. The larger point I’m trying to make is that pitch accent (and I’m speaking specifically about individual words, not sentences) isn’t the be-all end-all of pronunciation. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a fairly minor one.

If one wants to pronounce Japanese reasonably naturally and most importantly intelligibly, one needs to learn how to pronounce consonants and vowels that are significantly different from English (ら り る れ ろ た ち つ て と ふ りょ りゅ etc.), learn to hear and say singled and doubled vowels appropriately, learn sentence intonation, converse with people who are able to provide accurate feedback, talk, talk, and talk some more. And some people just have better mimetic abilities than others. Whether studying the little pitch pattern graphs next to vocabulary items helps people become better speakers is something I remain unconvinced about.

My own Japanese teacher who is from Nagoya (and is excellent) has mentioned that she was unable to pass the official Japanese teaching certification (I forget what it’s called) because she couldn’t answer the pitch accent part correctly. Any my wife (a proud speaker of 大阪弁) knows that 橋 and 箸 are pitched differently in kansai and kanto, but when she tries to stop and think, she can’t remember which is which. I’m not saying that either my teacher or my wife is anything less than perfectly fluent or sounds in any way unnatural when they speak Japanese. No, I’m saying that perhaps analyzing pitch accent word by word is not even easy for Japanese people, and that most early learners would be better off trying to learn by imitation rather than analysis and memorization.

(But I’m probably spending too much time on this relatively unimportant point. I’m not really trying to discourage anyone from delving into pitch accent if they want to, just offering some perspective.)

6 Likes

You’re totally right about the long and short vowels, those are tripping me up like crazy. Fortunately I think forvo, etc. will also help with that in addition to helping with pitch.