You are currently browsing the archives for the My News category.



Finished Remembering the Kanji

By Mike Lin

W00t! I’m now the proud owner of a brain containing the 2000 most common kanji. I can’t believe I’m done! It only took 9 months. I could have had a baby in that time. I kind of feel like I did have a baby, a kanji baby! I can’t wait to get on to sentence mining now, ala AJATT. I’m tired of telling people I’m working on my Japanese and not having any improvement to show for it conversationally.

It’s an amazing feeling, this literacy. I got some manga in Japanese off ebay and sometimes I can go pages without missing a kanji and my handwriting has improved a million times! People now say “it’s good… for a boy” instead of “it’s good… for a North American” !!!



Remembering the Kanji

By Mike Lin

I took Japanese in school from grades 5-11. At the end of it, I passed the BC provincial exam and knew, maybe, 200 kanji. I didn’t put much work learning kanji it because I never thought I’d ever be able to learn the 2000 or so I needed to be barely literate. Furthermore, if my teachers were realistic, I’m sure they never thought I’d be literate either.

In the mean time, I’ve forgotten most of my Japanese. But last summer I took a beginner Mandarin course at George Brown College, which restarted my learning of ‘kanji’. It was slow going, maybe 10-20 a week while I was in the course, and it was hard work! I’d beat them into my brain for hours at a time.

Eventually I thought I might as well refresh my Japanese while I’m at it, and looking around online, I found lots of people advocating this book Remembering the Kanji. So I picked it up without too much thought, and it turns out it’s strikingly different from any other way of learning Kanji.

First, it doesn’t teach them in any traditional order, like the order in which japanese school children first learn them, or the most common ones first. It teaches them in an order that takes most advantage of the psychological phemonemon known as chunking. It teaches a few primitive pieces at a time, and then all the characters from the list one can make from these pieces and ones already known. This order pays no regard to the usefulness of the character, but because you already know the pieces remembering the new ones is simpler. How obvious is that? Why shouldn’t adults approach things differently from children? At different ages we have completely different mental capabilities.

One really big caveat about the book though is that it does not teach you the pronunciation at the same time. Rather it associates each character to a keyword that supposedly is related to its primary meaning. So until you get through the course and start connecting the characters to your vocabulary, your new knowledge is useless for communication.

Still, in this way in the past 5 days I’ve gotten through the first 150 characters in the book, of which I already knew about 50. So I’ve learned 100 characters in less than a week, and it wasn’t even hard! We’ll see how it works out in the long run, but it’s already given me the most important learning tool: the belief that I can eventually become literate in Japanese and Chinese.



Things I liked about 2006

By Mike Lin

I wanted to do some reflecting and make some kind of new years list but I didn’t know what kind of list, so this is just going to be a list of stuff I liked in 2006.

The only thing I’m going to leave out of this list is people, because I don’t think I can express how much I really appreciate the people in my life in just a sentence or two each.

So here they are in no particular order:

Read more »



Shock Game

By Mike Lin

So Pat got this ridiculous and awesome game where, get this, you test your reaction time against others by pushing a button when a light goes off, and if you’re the slowest, and here is it straight up, you get electrocuted! Check it out: Lightning Reactions

Of course we had to get some suckers… I mean friends over to try it out. So we had a party at me and Kerry’s place.

Read more »



Ghost House

By Mike Lin

Ghost House album cover
Ghost House

One of the things I hadn’t managed to do in Van until last week was go shopping for comics and CDs on 4th. The comic shop on 4th and … Yew(?) is stocked! Then across the street is Zulu records, where me and JonF spent a good time with their 25 disc changers. The changer I was listening to was titled “Canadian and Local” which contained another band I like, You Say Party!, and stuff. In the end I got one called Ghost House, which I thought was pretty fun.

They’re right down my alley, being high energy and fun. Furthermore the lyrics were pretty much describing the time I was having with lines like ‘Fly by night on bicycles’ and ‘Midnight adventures in a drunken state.’

And it turns out this is one of these bands that lets you download the entire album online! which is good because I got the last copy at Zulu. Check it out. I think my favourite track is ‘Your Big Day.’