Monday, November 22, 2010

not feeling the 感じ(kanji) in 漢字(Kanji)

    I decided to try something that was more at the core of Japanese culture. Something that comes from China and becomes part of the culture itself, Kanji, is now losing its hold over the language. As time progresses, people have forgotten some readings and many writings. In order to make some research on this, I decided to give some Kansai Gaidai students a 二級(level 2) test on a Nintendo DS Kanji Practice game called "Zaidan Houjin Nihon Kanji Nouryoku Kentei Kyoukai Kounin." Interestingly enough the results were all over the chart; here they are:

48, 32, 96, 132, 36, 60, 72, 48, 36, 88, 64, 68, 104, 92, 132, 44, 52, 116, 28, 108, 48, 44, 136, 24, 108, 60, 96, 84, 96, 76, 20, and 142

   Interestingly enough, I asked each person to see if they had studied abroad.Only 3 out of all the people had the experience of studying abroad (Australia 3 months, Mississippi 4 months, Canada 7 months). I thought that the scores would be worse from these people, but instead they ended up being very different (52, 84, 136). Furthermore, I also asked if they were freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior to see how this would affect the scores. I thought that being in a foreign language university where many classes are given in English, the people are the junior/senior level would do the worst. This is actually wrong. The three highest scores (132, 136, and 142) were people in the junior/senior level and were all guys (one of the 132 was a freshman). 3 participants decided to opt. out, because they said they were tired of know knowing so many of them. Most of the lower scores were freshman/sophomore (although some were also senior/junior). Lastly, 16 of the participants were females and 19 were male (35 total).
    I'm not sure how the change of Kanji can be portrayed between the different grade levels in Kansai Gaidai, but as far as scoring goes. The person who scored the highest (142) still didn't pass the exam. The passing grade is a 160. This shows the amount of Kanji that is lost. Below are two videos of participants. The reactions to the test varied among them. (I asked for permission to use these videos for the class):


  1. I like these posts that focus on daily and real life things for the Japanese (like curry soba and kanji).

    Interesting methodology. Perhaps some reason for the lack of kanji ability might be the use of computers and cell phones - people simply are not writing as much as they used to. I know I can read many more kanji than I can write. The decrease in kanji ability might also be the result of the experiments with the so-called relaxed education system (which is being dumped). What did your participants have to say about their low scores? Did you ask you Japanese teachers about this? How about asking your Japanese teachers to try the game and see how they do?

    I was expecting (hoping for) more dramatic expressions of frustration in your video clips...

  2. Regarding the comments. My participants who would usually say they liked Kanji or that they never/rarely cheated in their Kanji quizes. Many of the participants would jokingly say that they're not japanese when they got good scores, but wouldn't say anything serious about the fact they got a low score. I have noticed that people don't write frequently in our University. It's probably because of the use of computers and phones. I haven't asked my teachers regarding this, but I'm interested to see if they'd take the quiz. I'll ask and see what happens when I get the chance.

  3. Ohhh and about the expressions... I didn't capture the most dramatic people, but some people would try to remember Kanjis by doing both air strokes of the kanji and also mimicing. Other people did scream at the DS a couple of time (that was rather interesting, as I hope they wouldn't throw it away lol), and some people tried cheating as well lol


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