The TextFugu Kanji Methodology
“The only real valuable thing is intuition.” – Albert Einstein
You already know a lot of this, but there’s just a little more t0 fill in. You know that we’re going from easiest kanji to most complicated kanji (not easiest meaning to most difficult meaning). You also know that we’re using radicals and prior knowledge (i.e. building on what we already know) to learn future kanji, making it really easy to make memory associations so that you can recall both meaning and pronunciation of kanji quite easily.
Each kanji on TextFugu has its own page and “kanji narrative,” as we’ll call it. In theory, you should be able to learn quite a bit about a kanji just by doing a quick read through of one of these narratives. Of course, if you really want to learn the kanji you’ll have to study a little more than that (not much more, though). Essentially, though, I’ve made it as easy as possible for you to learn the kanji. If you’ve used any other resource to try to learn kanji, you’ll notice that it doesn’t get any better than this.
Here’s how the kanji is broken down in each narrative.
- Summary of the kanji: Just a quick table so you know all the things you’re about to learn
- The meaning of the kanji: So you know what you’re about to get into. This doesn’t necessarily teach us the meaning yet. There are mnemonic devices for this in the next step so you actually remember this.
- The build of the kanji: Radicals and kanji you’ve previously learned will build the kanji you’re learning now. This means you can use memory associations with things you already know to learn something new. This is the absolute best way to remember something. In here we’ll also use mnemonic devices to help you learn and remember the meaning of the kanji and associate it with the build. Kanji builds will get more and more important as kanji gets more complicated.
- On’Yomi: The on’yomi (you just learned about this!) section is probably the hardest for most kanji learners, but we’ll make it pretty easy for you. Using the meaning of the kanji (which you just learned in the previous step), you’ll create a memory association in order to learn and remember the on’yomi. On top of this, I’ve made it a lot easier by “cutting the fluff” and getting rid of on’yomi that’s barely used (which, in reality, is most of the on’yomi out there). I don’t want you to learn something that’s fairly useless when you could be learning something really useful.
- Kun’Yomi: The kun’yomi is the Japanese pronunciation, which means the best way to learn it is via common vocab. That’s the next section.
- Common Vocab: Since each kanji is associated and used to build many many vocabulary words, it only makes sense to solidify what you just learned while learning new (common) vocabulary that you can use. These common words are super useful, too. It’s better to learn 5 words you can use all the time than to learn 30 words you may or may not see more than once in your lifetime. The point is the learn the kanji, and see how the kanji interacts when used in vocab, so that’s what we’re doing here.
- Review: A quick checklist to make sure you learned and remember all the things that you need to learn and remember before moving on.
I’ll take you through step by step with the first few, so it won’t be confusing. Just follow along and do what the text says, and try to start forming new habits in how you remember things. Don’t worry! Everything is there and explained as you’re actually doing it!
Big Picture Takeaway
Consistency is key. Study a little bit every day and you’ll be much better off than the person who studies once a week for 12 hours at one time.
The kanji you’ll be learning is a modified version of the 常用 (じょうよう) kanji list. These are the kanji you’re supposed to know and learn in order to function in Japanese society (and be able to read a newspaper). There are approximately 2000 of these kanji, though our list will probably have around 1900. There are just some kanji that aren’t used very often in that list (not to mention some kanji that aren’t on that list but should be… we’ll be learning those too), so some changes have been made. I want to make sure that the kanji you’re learning is useful and that you’ll be able to see it and practice it often. So many people try to learn as many different kanji as they can rather than learning kanji in a smart order (and cutting the fluff), which causes burn-out and often has you studying things you don’t need to study (right now, at least).
Anyways, sorry for the essay. You should get started, since really that’s the best explanation of them all. Enjoy!