Focus Is On Reading, Not Writing
“If you can read this, thank a teacher.” – Anonymous
Making this decision was particularly difficult, but as always, I’m going to let you know why (so important to know why you’re doing something, especially if you’re self-learning Japanese) you’re doing this. On TextFugu, at least when it comes to kanji, the focus is only going to be on reading the kanji, not writing it. If you want, you can still practice writing kanji, there’s nothing stopping you there, but there are some pretty specific (and good, I think) reasons why reading should be your primary focus.
- Most “writing” in Japan (or anywhere, actually) is done via a cell phone, computer, iPad, or some other electronic device. Typing in Japanese and converting what you type into kanji is incredibly easy. You do, however, have to be able to recognize and read kanji to do this. In reality, though, even Japanese people in Japan are forgetting how to write kanji by hand (it’s called “Kanji Amnesia,” look it up) because almost all writing is done via typing on some kind of keyboard. The ability to write is becoming pretty unnecessary.
- I want you to do me a favor and think about “effort” as something a little more tangible. For our intents and purposes, you can spend 100 “effort points” every day. Now, you could spend 50 points on learning to read kanji, and 50 points on learning to write it… Doing this, let’s say you were able to learn 10 kanji. On the other hand, if you had spent 100 of your “effort points” just on learning to read kanji, you (in theory) could have learned 20 kanji. You wouldn’t be able to write them, but since reading kanji is infinitely more useful, you’ve spent your time way more wisely. If you really want to learn to write, I’d recommend you do it afterwards. It’s not doing you much good right now.
All that being said, I don’t want you to worry too much about being able to hand write the kanji you learn. “Traditional” kanji learning approaches do in fact have you write kanji over and over and over again to help you remember the kanji. Luckily for you, TextFugu isn’t the “traditional” approach. For the time spent, repetition doesn’t actually help you to learn things (you may think it does, but I’m willing to bet it doesn’t help as much as you think). You’re going to focus on using really great (and simple) memory science to help you remember kanji. Your time is important, and if you eventually have to tackle 2000ish kanji, something’s gotta get better somewhere.
Takeaway Learning to read kanji is way more important and useful than learning to write it. Although the ability to hand write kanji could be important, being able to read it is so much more useful that spending your time there will get you 1000 times more bang for your buck.