Saturday, June 9, 2007

Let's learn Kanji!!

So the way I figure it, I've been learning Japanese for about 12 years this summer. (JeeeSUS, that was fast!) Admittedly, I haven't been in classes for most of that time-- and can only say that I've taken about two and half years of formal Japanese classes all told but I've spent a lot of time in Japan and working for Japanese people (that and learning a language is an on-going living process).

My Japanese speaking and listening skills are excellent, my reading is so-so and my writing is about the same. While not illiterate, there's a severe imbalance here; I read like a 5th grader.

Well, I'm sick of it; it's seriously embarrassing that I don't have the reading and writing skills to match my communication skills. I feel like a smoker who's tried every trick there is to quit but keeps on puffin' away. (But instead of quick fixes like patches and hypnosis, I've got a stack of Kanji books and flashcards.)


Poking about on-line for a school program here in LA (which yielded surprisingly little, actually) I found myself on the Japan Foundation Los Angeles website. I'd actually gone out with the director of Japan Foundation LA and the head of the performance arts section a few weeks back and they'd mentioned that JF had a lot of resources available. It's true, but what I discovered through a link on their site was that there's pretty much everything you need to study Kanji (and Japanese, really) available on-line-- except for the fear of embarrassment that participating in a class room setting gives you so you park your ass at a desk and REALLY study until you REALLY know it.

So if you're in the same boat as me and are trying to get your Kanji game up to a professional level, Charles Kelly's Online Japanese Language Study Materials (link) site has a bunch (and I mean a BUNCH) of tools to get you 'learnin' yer Kanji.'

Myself? I've been studying away on two different Kanji drills:

1) Roger Meyer's "Learn Your Japanese Kanji" is awesome for it's quizzing of On-Yomi, Kun-Yomi and various meanings: Link

2) The "Nouns with Kanji from Japanese Newspapers" is great for learning compounds and not the incredibly vexing and random Kanji on their own. Link

My goal now is to get my reading good again so that if this film directing thing never manifests, I can go and work in Japan at a cardboard box factory and at the very least read the signs so I don't get my fingers cut off in the machines.


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Jason Gray said...

Kanji Café is a good one, too! And it's founded by Jim Rose, he of Jim Rose's Circus Sideshow which I saw a couple times in the early 90s.

Nicholas Rucka said...

Jim Rose is a Kanji nut? Intriguing.

He came up in conversation fairly recently (I forget how). The person I was talking to didn't know who he was, which is interesting because there was that time when he was, like, EVERYWHERE! Lollapalooza. Opening for Nine Inch Nails. Touring by himself! (Even that guy in his group, Enigma, that dude who tattooed his whole body like a jigsaw puzzle, was on an episode of the X-FILES from what I recall.)

Thanks for the link!