I started learning Japanese 4 weeks ago but ever since then I’ve realized that there is so much I need to learn if I want to be fluent. I am having a hard time justifying learning the meaning of Kanji rather than the reading of Kanji. I think I’m putting way too much thought on this. I just got the RTK 1 book today and I was disappointed that it doesn’t have the Om’yomi and Kun’yomi reading. I then thought “Wait, what is more important, learning the meaning of the Kanji only, or learning both the meaning and reading? Will I be able to progress to comprehension learning only the Meaning of Kanji?” I want to learn how to read and comprehend what those words mean.
I looked at multiple sources but I still feel confused and conflicted. It feels like I’m wasting time learning the meaning only but I know its important for comprehension. I’m trying to piece the information together but I think I’m being rash. I also learned that vocab Kanji like Person 人 (にん) when put in a Jukugo (I think that’s what it is) like Two People 二人 (ふたり) it completely changes how you pronounce it. It went from Om’yomi nin にん to futari ふたり. Sorry for the rant, I never had the thought about how language worked. I think I took being fluent in English for granted. When you start from 0 on a language, you don’t know what the letters in the alphabet is, what words means or how they are pronounced, and what are the rules for grammar. I’m feeling lost and a bit hopeless right now. I would appreciate if anyone can provide a bit of guidance for me. Thank you very much for reading this.
Edit Thanks so much to everyone who wrote words of encouragement and guidance. I got a solid understanding and calmed down a bit in my head xD. I will continue to read this post if there is anyone else who wants to give me tips on getting through the exciting but difficult journey of learning Japanese.
Just keep grinding, if you are truly longing to become fluent you will have to put the work in, and Japanese certainly requires a lot of it. I started a similar time as you did about two weeks ago, have been progressing through Wanikani, kaniwani and bunpro concurrently and at first it did feel like someone threw you into a lake a you forgot how to swim but as you progress and things will start to make sense.
There is no sense in trying to rationalize why some readings are different than others, it’s just something you will have to recognize and learn. Kinda how like non-native English speakers probably hate how there is 13 different vowel sounds for 5 letters and you just have to know what one to use.
I highly recommend working through grammar too with Wanikani as grammar tends not to be as hard as the vocabulary (at least at the beginning I may rue the day I spoke these words). As you progress further it will all start to make more sense.
Thanks for reply, after much thought I think I really was overthinking a little xD. Thanks again. I will definitely put in the work. I think that was my quitting self talking, Ill turn that around!
I know it is easy to feel overwhelmed, especially with Japanese being one of the most difficult languages to learn. I would say learning the meaning of the kanji is extremely important. Kanji are essentially pictographs with meaning hidden in them. Knowing your radicals will help with grasping the meaning as well. If you know the meaning of a kanji, you will better understand the vocabulary related to it. Recognizing a kanji in an unknown word will help you deduce meaning because you’ll know the concepts are related. For example, 食べる means to eat and 食堂 is a cafeteria/dining room. See how the 食 kanji which means “eat” appears in both these words. You know it is likely food related if you see this kanji. Wanikani’s method is solid and backed by science on learning and memory. If you commit, you’ll reap fabulous rewards. Keep at it and happy studies!
This may be an interesting post that you might want to check out, it goes over RTK - MIA or WaniKani
It’s pretty long though, but when I first started learning Japanese I came across RTK and was wondering if I should do that or WaniKani.
I came very close to quitting when I got into the whole onyomi/kunyomi thing…oh, yeah, and counters. It is tough sometimes because - like you said - you’re starting to learn from zero. FWIW, I’m finding Japanese less frustrating to learn than other languages I’ve learned (e.g., Spanish, German) because it doesn’t have gendered nouns, no accents on syllables, etc. I’ve been working on Japanese for a little more than a year, and started WaniKani about two months ago. I’ve really expanded my vocabulary and am much less frightened by Kanji than I was when I was just using Duolingo.
So while it’s a daunting task, keep your chin up. Learning the first few is the most frustrating. It doesn’t get easier, but I think you’ll get used to it.
Thank you, I should’ve realized that I can deduce the meaning of a kanji later in a sentence. Thanks!
Oh I didn’t know it Japanese doesn’t have gendered nouns and the other stuff. Thanks, hopefully in the future I can search up words and be half right with my memory of its meaning lol. I’ll keep my chin up for my dream of learning the language.
it’s supposed to help you get a “feel” for the kanji. in the long term it’s going to help you justify why some kanji are used/ what the word mean.
At the end of the day you’ll have to remember whole words rather individual kanji, because reading kanji by kanji is going to be very slow. However, having an idea about kanji can really help you guess the meaning and reading of a word. Furtheremore if you know the meaning of a kanji, it’ll often help you remember the meaning more easily.
ever heard of pitch accent?
Don’t think about the massive hill we have in front of us! Just think about the next few steps and try to get those done (and hopefully enjoy them!). I started from absolutely zero about 100 days ago and - somehow - WK has managed to hammer 1500 words/kanji into my head. To my school-age language-lesson-hating self, who used to struggle with remembering any vocab at all, this would be unthinkable - completely unthinkable. I doubt I remembered that much in 5 years of French lessons.
I say believe in WK’s repetition system and keep going for a bit. You too may be converted to the way of the Crabigator by the time you run out of free levels
Seriously - keep going. A little at a time. At your own speed. And find other materials that appeal to you on the way. That way lies encouragement and success.
Yeah I have a hard time to not look whole massive hill in front of me, Ill need to set it up in steps. Thanks for the words of encouragement!
Japanese is a difficult language, one of the hardest for a native speaker of a western language. The secret is to put in a little time every day. Every single day. Keep doing Wanikani alone until level 10, then get a copy of Genki 1. Work through that, then Genki 2. Keep reviewing your WK while you’re doing it. At that point you have a few options, but that’ll be a while so don’t worry about it. The important thing is to understand that Japanese is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll get there. The sense of being overwhelmed will slowly go away, and then Japanese will become simply a difficult and alien language. Then you will gain mastery over it, bit by bit, until it’s neither difficult nor alien. There are no shortcuts and no cheats, but the sense of mastery will snowball and make you excited to continue learning, if it’s really what you want to do. And if it’s not, that’s okay, too: find something else that you can put time into, like learning to play an instrument or program robots. Good luck!
My advice would be to just step back and take it one thing at a time. You aren’t going to understand everything all at once and like others have said, it’s going to take a long time to be even semi-fluent. Breaking it down into small, doable, segments will make it seem more obtainable.
がんばって! It’ll be more fun and feel more rewarding once you’re a few steps in and get to experience the realisation of “hey, I actually know some stuff now!” Good luck pal!
Anybody who ever spends any significant amount of time studying Japanese eventually comes across the US State Department’s categorization of languages.
Scroll down to Category IV. a.k.a Super Hard I presume the state department knows what it’s doing when teaching English speakers foreign languages. You’ve only got 84 more weeks to go. Apparently for people going through that training they spend a year full time in Virginia, and then like 6 months full time Japan. Just to learn the language.
For many of us, it’s just a life-long hobby.
Learning a new language is always quite overwhelming at the beginning. Even if it’s one similar to your own at first everything is new and like a massive wall with no apparent way through. I find it helps to focus at the things you can do, going little by little. A structured textbook or a course or similar might help with that. Trying to read/watch/listen to advanced stuff might be fun, but it can very easily just lead to noticing all the things you don’t know yet (which at the beginning will be pretty much everything). Rather than that, put some blindfolds on and just focus on the lesson you’re working on right now. (Which funnily, is easier to do when you’re forced to learn something at school, instead of wanting to learn something out of your own motivation haha.) Once you made a little progress you can find some more fun reading/listening practice at beginner level as well.
Also, absolutely learn all the meanings and readings and basics. I used to absolutely loathe revising vocabulary and grammar charts and whatnot back in school, but now I realise that having that groundwork is incredibly important. The start is quite bothersome, yes. But once you make it over the initial hurdle it gets fun. Still hard work, but also lots of fun and “ohhhh! I get it now!” moments.
As others said, just keep at it, do a little bit every day. It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed. Just keep in mind that you can get there Good luck!
I think with every language you go through a rant period. Something frustrating always appears, you have to allow yourself the time to rant about it, and then accept and keep going… Hahaha I had given up on learning every language that I know now before I resumed my studies and became fluent in it! it is part of the process, don’t worry!
It won’t be the last time you feel overwhelmed! Just keep accepting and keep going!
Oh were it only one. I go through periodic rants. More often than I’d like to admit.
These are just subtle reading difference that come naturally once you read it, I know it’s dumb, like kinda like english Knight being pronouced night and not k-night. But with memorization it’ll be automatic. Good luck! And don’t quit!