Learning kanji is like meeting new people. At first this neighborhood is full of complete strangers, but we will begin to remember the faces we've seen before as we go about life.
Introductions are made, and we hear the names of a bunch of characters, then quickly forget. In order to really understand character, we need to see them in context. So we watch what they do in various situations - how they work with others.
Time go by and the neighborhood is less strange. We finally learned some names, and know several characters well enough to guess what will happen in new situations.
We notice familiar details in new characters that hint at meaning and pronunciation - kanji do not mind.
06 January 2013
10 November 2012
I think these kinds of games can make us a special kind of stupid. We can’t help but learn from everything we do. And what lessons do these games teach us? Things randomly happen, material items are important, and rewards come from time spent butt-in-seat. As a player, I don’t want to spend hours inside that kind of warped world view. I switched games.
The ideal game would store all skills inside the player. Digitally there would be nothing to lose. The lessons taught could be useful in the real world. That material things are just tools. Empathy. Teamwork. The achievements of others proves the possibility of your further success.
Can we imagine new games starting from life lessons?
15 August 2012
- Get Lots of Sleep
- Watch Less Crap
- Eat Better
- Walk & Take Stairs
- Find Your Peak Brain Time
- Reduce Noise
This year I'm even more careful with foods, after reading the research. Some foods do give me a brain boost, and others make me feel like wasting away in front of the TV. I quit french fries, ice cream, and cola because they made my brain tired. And appetite problems are strongly associated with stress and sleep problems.
Over the years I figured out that I feel smarter in the morning, so that is when I do the tough stuff. Monitor your focus throughout the day too. You might be surprised how much it changes.
I hear friends say they're "not good at learning". Well, when I stay up late, eat junk food, and watch a lot of TV, then I'm not good at learning either.
What else can we do?
15 July 2012
photo by tuzen on Flickr.
There a dozens of books that "explain" kanji. I've spent hundreds on textbooks, and my experience can be summed up as, these things are expensive. In addition, books that focus on kanji can be interesting, but they often don't teach whole vocabulary. Native speakers learn words first, and how to write them second. We should study in much the same way by learning whole words, and that study should map directly to language ability. Learn how kanji are used in context.
study whole words
Whole-word flashcards seem like a better/cheaper choice, until you actually try it. I have a box of thousands of flashcards I purchased in Japan, and let me tell you it's a mess. You need a backpack to carry it. Searching and sorting the deck takes hours. And it isn't fun or interesting. I only have so much time to study, and there is much to learn, so I want every minute to count.
I believe software can solve these problems. But software that duplicates the old problems isn't what we're looking for. With the right software we can learn whole words, lower costs, and keep study interesting and fun. The world of software is full of fun examples, and that is what we should aim for.
How much study is right? It depends on your level of focus and the tools you have, but about 20 new kanji-words per day is probably the max for me. I recommend 45 minute sessions reviewing both new and old material. Many people keep this up almost daily, for several years, to steadily improve their working vocabulary.
20 words for 45 minutes