The Kanji Conundrum

漢字==かんじHere’s a little story on my ever ongoing Japanese language escapades. XD
I got in a little hot water in my weekly Kumon Kokugo lesson over the importance/neccessity of Kanji. XP

As always when advancing to the next level at Kumon, I took a diagnostic test to guage my Japanese skillz. My results were pretty good; 100% on all sections (w00t!) bar one; written Kanji… where I got 0%. ^_^;

My tutor was somewhat confused about the apparent contrasts in scores, and asked me what happened. I didn’t really think about what I said, but just blurted out “I don’t really have any drive to learn to write Kanji”, as to which the reaction I received was somewhat of mortification.

In any case, I spent the last day thinking about this, and I thought I should post what I concluded with here.

Even after 13 years of this studying this language, I don’t see any really good reasons to learn to write Kanji, but, I see a dire need to be able to read it very well.

And now I’ll try and explain that hehe.

The main reason for this is because of our entry into a era of digital communication. In an era where our main for of writing is merely pushing buttons on a keyboard, it seems to be a pointless exertion of time and effort to learn and then maintain the ability to write complex symbols such as Kanji.
A lot of my Japanese friends have said this as well, where they only do their writing on PCs or mobile phones and that this is affecting their Kanji writing ability.

Personally, when I spent 8 months in Japan, the only times I wrote out anything in Japanese on paper was when I was filling out registration forms. And even then, I had my Japanese mobile on me that could show me how to write any Kanji I didn’t remember. XD
Every other time I wrote was with my PC, in which case, it was very easy.

But on this note, I would also point out that because of digital technology making writing Kanji so easy, the scope and vocabulary of the symbols has the potential to exponentially increase. If that’s so, then it would imply that being able to read it is doubly more important than being able to write it.

Either way, that’s my opinion on it. I’ve been struggling with Kanji for a good 8 years or so (The first few years being Hiragana/Katakana lol XD), and I’m feeling my progress has been slow at best. So this is why I’m going along the line of totally ignoring how to write it, in favour of dedicating more time to being able to read it.

In any case, what do you think? I may be totally wrong and completely missing something here… ^_^;

  • Published May 17, 2009
  • Categories Travel