Friday, June 25, 2010

How to study the 196 new joyo kanji list for the N3 JLPT test?

Photo: How to study the new Joyo kanji list 2010 for the N3 JLPT

How to study the 196 new joyo kanji list for the N3 JLPT

1. Before you start to study the new Joyo kanji list it is probably a good idea to refresh yourself with the base radicals used to make up a kanji. There are 214 historical radicals, check them here.

2.Get two exercise books. Mark one ON yomi and the other marked KUN yomi. Using a ruler draw three vertical lines, using the width of the ruler to draw the first line from the left hand edge of the exercise book and then draw, two more equal spaced toward the binding. So now you have four columns. Repeat this in both exercise books. The first column is for writing the kanji, the second column is for writing the reading of the kanji, the third column is how the kanji is written in a word and the fourth column is the English meaning. PS don't forget to indicate the base of the kanji, verb, noun or adjective (it will save you going back later to do it). Write up the on yomi of each new kanji first and then write up all the kun yomi second.

We suggest you use the kanji clinic list of the new 196 Joyo kanji list as it breaks down the new kanji into an easy to read and study format. Remember that these kanji are so new that you may not be able to find them in your existing dictionary which was based on the old Joyo list. You will need a new dictionary that includes the new joyo list in the future. Put it on your to do list!.

3. Now that you have written the kanji out, learned its reading, learned a word that uses it and its English meaning. It is time to sort the kanji into some more usable topics. For example: you may sort by grammar, for example: noun, verb or adjective or by food, body parts, animal, place names,etc. It is up to you how you sort the new 196 kanji but sorting them may help you to memorize some of the new kanji.

4. Get a voice recorder. If you have a digital camera that has video, switch the camera to video and talk. You can record your voice. Or use a cassette or record function on your personal computer. What you are going to do now is to read the new kanji entries you made in your exercise book, starting with on yomi and start by looking at the shape of the kanji in the far left column and then read across from left to right, for example: MAI, aimai, vague. Note: MAI is an example and not one of the new JOYO kanji. So in this exercise you read the kanji, say the on yomi, read a word that uses it and then say the english meaning. Read all the on yomi kanji you wrote and turn off. Then replay what you have recorded and using a piece of paper go back to the first on yomi kanji entry and look at the kanji in the first column and use the paper to cover the other three parts of the entry (for example: MAI, aimai, vague). So you see the kanji and hear the reading and english meaning from the recording. This forcing yourself will help you to remember. Not all but some of the kanji. Then move on to the next kanji and repeat this for all on yomi kanji. Then try the same thing for kun yomi, read and record, playback, read and listen. 

5. Build flash cards, either home made ones made from cardboard or use an online flash card system such as anki or Mnemosyne. To make your own flash cards you need to have Japanese language IME downloaded from Microsoft installed on your personal computer (see here for how to install) and see the tool bar. Then you need to select the flash card software you want to use either anki or Mnemosyne. Then start with a new set of cards and name the first file on yomi and the second file or pack of cards kun yomi. Then using your exercise book start with kon yomi and make a flash card for the first on yomi joyo kanji. Make a card for each kanji. Step one, type the reading in hiragana, for example, MAI types as まい、then hit the space bar on the keyboard to then search for the same shape as the one in your exercise book from the alternatives given. Select the same kanji and hit enter. The kanji shape should now be on the flashcard. Underneath type the on yomi reading in hiragana, and then write a word using the kanji, eg, aimai, あいまい(na keiyoshi - adjective) then the meaning in english : vague, obscure. 

Then once you have typed in all the ON yomi characters, readings , example word and meaning in English, save your work and then do the same for KUN yomi characters. Then you will have two sets of cards. Practice these often.

6. Make a vocabulary list of all the new words you learnt studying the 196 new joyo kanji and split the words into an on yomi reading list and a kun yomi reading list. Read and record the words. Playback and read the shape of the character and cover up the meaning so you are forced to remember the shape, reading and meaning. Start with on yomi and then move on to the kun yomi. Repeat often.

7. Visit a Japanese language website, for example: Asahi Shimbun in Japanese and pick one article, hopefully a small one and try reading it. See how many of the new kanji you remember, how many you can read and how many you cant. If you find you having too much trouble go back to step one of this list and start again. Welcome to the slow and patient world of studying kanji.

Pre- made kanji cards

Photo: Kanji cards

To help you study better try kanji flashcards

Volume 1: 300 Beginner level Kanji suitable for students studying for levels N4 and N5 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.

Volume 2: 739 Kanji cards - for the old level 2 of the JLPT