Adopting a Japanese Method to Learn Chinese Characters | 採用一個學習日文的方法來學習中文字



Have you ever travelled to Japan, walking on the street, looking at various store banners? Did you feel a sense of familiarity? Was it surprising to you that you could read some characters on the banner and guess the meanings of them? At that moment, were you confused about where you were and your new language skills?


In Japan, Chinese characters are used in everyday life. Children are required to learn them. In the Japanese writing system, there are kana and kanji. The kana system is used for native Japanese words, grammar, and foreign words, while kanji represent the adoption of Chinese characters. Elementary school children are required to learn about 1,006 kanji characters before they graduate (MEXT Japan, 2009). Similar to children in Hong Kong, it is not an easy task for Japanese children to learn so many kanji, and, thus, teachers adopt different ways to help children to improve learning.


Various effective strategies have been introduced, including learning through radicals, learning by the meaning, and memorizing through stroke order (Shimizu & Green, 2002). Some teachers adopt the method of making a connection between characters and daily life events. Teachers using this means of teaching ask students to think of one event that relates to the character to help them to memorize the word. Some textbooks also demonstrate this method by showing colorful pictures related to the characters (Medhurst, 2016). An extension of the method of making this connection is to break the character into smaller parts and to give each part an elaboration to make a story for that character. For instance, the character “鮪” is “yūmei na sakana” (有名な魚 = famous fish) since there is “有” component in the name “名” of the fish “魚”. Another example is the character “鬱” which means depressed or gloomy. By breaking the character into several elements, “鬱” can be explained as “Lincoln drank three cups of American coffee” (リンカーンはアメリカンコーヒーを三杯飲んだ = Rinkān wa Amerikan kōhī o sanbai nonda). Detailed explanation as the picture (Medhurst, 2015; Mori & Nagy, 1999). Breaking the character into various components gives the character a lively elaboration and perhaps makes learning more interesting!


This context strategy (making connection between character and prior knowledge) is used by educators to teach kanji and by teachers who are more aware of cultural traditions associated with kanji. Those who emphasize the usefulness of kanji also tend to adopt this method. By integrating the context strategy and repetition practice, students’ knowledge of kanji improves (Shimizu & Green, 2002). Due to the similarity of kanji and Chinese characters, the context strategy may also be helpful for Hong Kong students, especially when learning complex Chinese characters such as “鬱”. Thus, it may be a good try to adopt the context learning strategy as one important tool for learning.



References

Japan, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. (2009, March). 学習指導要領「生きる力」. Retrieved February 27, 2019, from http://www.mext.go.jp/a_menu/shotou/new-cs/youryou/syo/koku/001.htm

Medhurst, R. (2015, July 19). Making It Memorable: Japanese Mnemonics for Dates and Kanji. Nippon.com. Retrieved February 27, 2019, from https://www.nippon.com/en/nipponblog/m00088/making-it-memorable-japanese-mnemonics-for-dates-and-kanji.html

Medhurst, R. (2016, June 13). How Japanese Children Learn Kanji. Nippon.com. Retrieved February 27, 2019, from https://www.nippon.com/en/nipponblog/m00104/how-japanese-children-learn-kanji.html

Mori, Y., & Nagy, W. (1999). Integration of information from context and word elements in interpreting novel kanji compounds. Reading Research Quarterly, 34(1), 80-101.

Shimizu, H., & Green, K. (2002). Japanese Language Educators’ Strategies for and Attitudes toward Teaching Kanji. Modern Language Journal, 86(2), 227-241.

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This article was written by our guest blogger Miss. Merrisa Lin.  Miss. Lin is currently an intern in the Life Span Development Laboratory of The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Miss. Merrisa Lin

Research & Social Media Intern

Life Span Development Laboratory

Department of Psychology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong


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你曾有過這樣的經驗嗎?到日本旅行,走在日本街道上看著各式各樣的商店招牌時有一種熟悉的感覺?對於能讀懂一些招牌上的文字並猜測意義,你感到驚訝嗎?在當下,你有對於新的語言技巧及自己在哪裡感到困惑嗎? 在日本,中文字(漢字)在日常生活中被使用且小朋友必須學習此類文字。日語書寫系統中有日語假名和日文漢字,日語假名系統包含原始日文字、文法和些許外來字;日文漢字則是以中文字(漢字)為基礎的系統。日本小學生在畢業前須學習約莫1,006個日文漢字 (MEXT Japan, 2009)。與香港的小朋友相似,對日本的孩子來說,學習如此多的日文漢字並不是一件簡單的事情。因此,老師們採用了各種方法幫助孩童學習。 日本的老師採用各式各樣的學習技巧,包含由部首學習、由意義學習以及記憶筆畫順序來學習 (Shimizu & Green, 2002)。有些老師採用文字與日常生活連結方法,即請學生將一件生活事件和相關文字連結以記憶文字。有些課本也以彩色圖片來解釋此一學習方法 (Medhurst, 2016)。文字與日常生活連結方法的一種延伸技巧即是將文字分解成許多小部分並給每一部分一個簡短闡述,連結所有闡述以創造一個屬於此文字的完整故事。例如,文字「鮪」可被解釋成「有名的魚」,因為此種「魚」類的「名」字裡面有一部件為「有」。另一個例子是文字「鬱」,意思為黯淡、陰沈。將「鬱」分解成許多小部份後,此字可以被解釋成「林肯喝了三杯美式咖啡」。詳細的說明如下 (Medhurst, 2015; Mori & Nagy, 1999):

將文字拆解成許多小部件給予文字生動的解釋並讓學習更有樂趣! 情境連結技巧(將文字與先備知識連結)被許多教育家和關注漢字文化傳統的老師採用來教導日文漢字且強調日文漢字效用的老師較傾向於採用此方法。學生的日文漢字知識在學習情境連結技巧及不斷練習中將會進步 (Shimizu & Green, 2002)。有鑒於日文漢字和中文字的相似,情境連結技巧對於香港的學生亦有潛在幫助,尤其是在學習如「鬱」般的複雜中文字。因此,情境連結技巧是幫助學習的一個好工具。 參考文獻: Japan, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. (2009, March). 学習指導要領「生きる力」. Retrieved February 27, 2019, from http://www.mext.go.jp/a_menu/shotou/new-cs/youryou/syo/koku/001.htm Medhurst, R. (2015, July 19). Making It Memorable: Japanese Mnemonics for Dates and Kanji. Nippon.com. Retrieved February 27, 2019, from https://www.nippon.com/en/nipponblog/m00088/making-it-memorable-japanese-mnemonics-for-dates-and-kanji.html Medhurst, R. (2016, June 13). How Japanese Children Learn Kanji. Nippon.com. Retrieved February 27, 2019, from https://www.nippon.com/en/nipponblog/m00104/how-japanese-children-learn-kanji.html Mori, Y., & Nagy, W. (1999). Integration of information from context and word elements in interpreting novel kanji compounds. Reading Research Quarterly, 34(1), 80-101. Shimizu, H., & Green, K. (2002). Japanese Language Educators’ Strategies for and Attitudes toward Teaching Kanji. Modern Language Journal, 86(2), 227-241.


______________________________________________________________________________________ 此文章由我們的客席博客林筠晴小姐撰寫。林小姐現為香港中文大學心理學系生命全期發展實驗室的實習生。 林筠晴小姐 研究及社交媒體實習生 生命全期發展實驗室 香港中文大學心理學系

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