From 1st grade to 6th grade, Japanese elementary schoolers must learn over kanji characters and commit them to memory. The strenuous task — one that all children in Japan face — is typically accomplished only by rote memorization: writing the characters over and over and over again. But an unlikely savior has recently emerged in bookstores across Japan: poop. It comes out of your butt and it stinks. So by incorporating potty humor into learning, the creators set out to make kanji learning fun and hilarious, instead of boring and tedious.
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In this time, they greatly increase their reading sophistication, moving from picture books to short novels and simple biographies. Characters are all around them and often graded to their level, whether they are taking lessons in social studies or other subjects, practicing calligraphy , or even reading manga and playing video games in their free time.
When they actually sit down to formally study kanji in kokugo Japanese language classes, there is more than just rote learning involved, as a look at a textbook—in this case a kanji drill book for third-graders published by Bunkei—will demonstrate. As well as the basics of the meaning, stroke order, and different readings for each kanji, there are colorful pictures appealing to children and easy-to-understand practice sentences.
There are also various tips and tricks for fixing the kanji in their memory. Often there is a short sentence or two highlighting different readings or words that use the kanji.
Pictures and sentences may indicate the differences between words that are pronounced the same, but written with different kanji. There are some simple quizzes and puzzles too, which put the emphasis on having fun with kanji. It is certainly true that the ability to write kanji is reinforced by a great deal of repetition, but other techniques play an important role at the initial encounter.
Even as the characters get more complex in junior high and high school, there are popular tricks for remembering how to write them. Given the option, some foreign students learning Japanese may choose not to spend time learning how to write kanji by hand. This is a reasonable decision in an age of computers and smartphones, when very little communication is done on paper. Prioritizing other aspects of Japanese could be wise in the early stages of learning in particular.
First, the repeated action of writing can help cement the knowledge more firmly than reading alone. Both of these factors can make characters more readily recognizable the next time they are encountered in reading. Copying example sentences can also be beneficial as a form of reading practice. It is all too easy to skim over sentences when simply reading. Actually getting involved through writing means slowing down, encouraging more careful attention to the content.
This instills knowledge of natural Japanese and the wider patterns of how words fit together. The textbooks used in schools are distributed free of charge to children and are not available for sale. Some free Internet resources also provide simple worksheets that support basic kanji practice. The best of these is Chibimusu Doriru , which even Japanese beginners will find relatively easy to navigate. More adventurous souls can try the quizzes for elementary school students or explore the idioms, proverbs, or four-character phrases a little further down.
Navigate around the Chibimusu Doriru site using the sidebar on the left. Japanese language education Kanji. Potential Benefits of Writing by Hand Given the option, some foreign students learning Japanese may choose not to spend time learning how to write kanji by hand.
A Free Online Resource The textbooks used in schools are distributed free of charge to children and are not available for sale. Banner photo: Writing out columns of characters by hand remains a common—and uncommonly effective—way to memorize them.
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