How Not To Learn Japanese

I've met many forigners studying Japanese language in the Internet. I admire the effort to learn something completely different language like Japanese. But I concern some people studying the Japanese language in totally wrong way. By using Romaji and remembering Kanjis.

The Romaji is a mapping from Japanese kana to latin alphabet. Some people studying Japanese by using Romaji. That is a really bad idea.

They use Japanese like this.

Watashi ha nihongo ga wakaru.

This is as bad as following.

アイ ノー イングリッシュ(I know English)

No Japanese use Romaji for writing Japanese. Sure, Romaji is a one-to-one mapping to/from Kana. But learning Japanese by Romaji is like learning English by Kana or using Caesar ciphered version of alphabet.

If you really want to use Japanese. You must avoid using Romaji. Forgetting the Romaji is even better.

Remembering Kanjis is also a bad idea. It is true if you want to read Japanese text just like natives, you have to understand a few thousands Kanjis. But still, remembering each Kanjis doesn't improve your real Japanese skill.

Kanjis are mostly used in compound form. Remembering each Kanji meanings doesn't help you understanding the compound words.

For example, 名 may be translated to name and 前 may be translated to front. Then what does 名前 means? It means name. We, Japanese, recognize it a single word. We don't recognize it as "name + front".

Also, avoid remembering Kanji meanings by English translation. 名 means なまえ, not a name. "name" is a translation. You must understand it as it is. Not by translation.

To actually learn Kanjis, one must learn from context. Just remembering individual kanjis doesn't improve your practical Japanese skill.


Wakusei said...

I was a little surprised because I've seen many learners studying Japanese use hiragana and kanji. I'm using Lang-8, a language learning site, and met many learners there. They are basically using kanji-hiragana mixed form. So I don't think you need to worry about it. But of course I don't know all cases on the Internet.

江添亮 said...

That's good.
I think I should use Lang-8 to write more grammatically correct English.

yx_wh said...

Using "Watashi wa nihongo ga wakaru." is better than using "アイ ノー イングリッシュ" since "Watashi ha nihongo ga wakaru." is just the romanization of 私は日本語がわかる。No pronunciation is lost in this transformation.
Of course, transformation requires more time. that's inefficient.
The reading of Kanjis should be learned in context, but after that, one may start remembering individual kanjis, or even its pronunciation in Middle Chinese...(笑)