Japan has an incredibly high literacy rate of 99%. Meaning that basically all Japanese people can read and write. But isn’t it really hard to learn all 2,000 kanji?
At first you might think that having a complex writing system would lower the country’s literacy rate. But it’s exactly BECAUSE it’s so hard that they study it every single year in school!
When most non-Japanese people (you and me) learn the language, they first focus on learning how to speak and then later learn how to write in Japanese. But there are very good reasons to learn them both at the exact same time. Let’s go over some of them now!
First Off, Does It Even Matter?
In English, people used to use cursive writing all the time. This was before computers, and more specifically TYPING, became the primary method of writing. Many schools in America no longer teach kids how to write in cursive.
Likewise, over in Japan most people write on keyboards, both on computers and phones, rather than writing with pen and paper. So is it still important to learn to write Japanese?
Well, the short answer is YES! I wrote about the reasons why learning how to write in Japanese is so important in an earlier post (it’s #3).
The 7th Declaration
Now for the 7th declaration: I WRITE IT DOWN TO LOCK IT DOWN.
What does this mean and why should you do it?
Well, to put it simply, you write down what you want to learn in order to solidify it in your mind. You see, you can’t write something down that you don’t know for sure.
Writing down new Japanese words forces you to KNOW them! Even if you only slightly know them at first. It will then help to reinforce the newer words and lock them in.
Let me put it this way: when you see a word and think it, that is one level of energy that you’ve put into it.
When see it, think it, and then say it, it’s a HIGHER level of energy that you’ve put into it.
But, when you see it, think it, say it, and then write it down you put a HUGE amount of energy into it!!!
As an example, when you bake cupcakes you need to put them into a hot oven in order for them to solidify. Writing it down applies heat to your current level of knowledge and solidifies it just like that oven does. Yum!
Even if you have to copy off of a picture or book at first, you should still do it. Eventually it will be ingrained into your mind so much that you no longer need a reference.
As a final note on reasons why you should be writing, think of the way our new digital age has desensitized human interaction, especially with texting (which I love, don’t get me wrong).
Our words to one another have become very robotic and devoid of any emotion.
I can promise you that if you HAND WRITE a letter to someone, especially in their native language of Japanese when you are not Japanese yourself, it will have an enormous impact on them that will truly touch their hearts.
You don’t even have to say anything profound! Just a “thank you” or a “it was so nice to meet you” will probably be remembered by them for years to come. I challenge you to try it out and see if it’s true for you.
The Scriptorium Technique
Okay, so these declarations aren’t just something that I pulled out of a hat. There are very specific reasons for each one that I’ve gone over in the last few posts. And for this one there is a specific technique that will help you to learn faster and remember longer. It’s called “The Scriptorium Technique.”
This one is most effective when you are learning new words within the context of a sentence. For example, don’t use it to just learn the word “hat.” Instead, use it to learn the sentence (and ALL the words in it) “I want to buy that blue hat. How much is it?”
Here are the steps for the technique:
- Read a sentence out loud
- Write the sentence down and say each word out loud (again) as you write each one
- Read the sentence a final time, exactly what you wrote down.
A few tips for this. First, make sure that you know the correct way to write each Kana and Kanji. Stroke order is VITAL!
Secondly, make sure that you use correct grammar. If you use this method on phrases that you’ve learned from a course or book you should be okay.
And finally this technique will, I repeat will, LOCK IT DOWN. So it is very important that you focus on QUALITY rather than quantity. It is better to write it down slowly and correctly one time, rather than to rush through ten times and make mistakes.
A Final Thought
Look, I use this technique myself, but not on every single thing that I learn. You see, some things come really easily (especially as you get better at Japanese) and you only have to hear/say them a few times to really get it and be able to recall it when you want to.
But some times there are certain words and phrases that no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to get them right or remember them. When that happens, use The Scriptorium Technique. I promise you it will help immensely.
And I hope that this post today has also helped you immensely. Trust me, I don’t write about all these things because I love to write it. I write them because I believe that it is my mission to help you and others like you with what I know and with what has worked for me.
If this helped you, that’s awesome. And if it didn’t, that’s totally fine. There are many other techniques that might work out better for you.
Regardless, thank you for reading and let me know with a comment if you enjoyed this! Thanks!