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Best way to learn hiragana and katakana?

Discussion in 'Japan Forum: Living there or planning a visit.' started by MonkeyBoyJoey, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. MonkeyBoyJoey

    MonkeyBoyJoey 70's Robot Anime Geppy-X (PS1) Fanatic

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    Hello everyone! I started learning Japanese through Pimsleur last month. While it is amazing and I'm grasping the language with ease, it is audio only. So I was wondering what would be the best way for me to learn Hiragana and Katakana so I can start reading and eventually writing?

    I remember as a little kid, I had a Windows 98 program which helped me learn how to read English (my native language). I then learned to write using worksheets and such in school. Is there anything similar to that program and worksheets for the Japanese language and non-native speaking adults?

    I have rented the box set of Living Language's Complete Japanese: The Basics from the library and while it is designed to teach Japanese through reading and writing, it uses a modified version of hepburn romaji instead of the Japanese script, which is making it a little more difficult since I would see some words and instantly think of the English word instead of the Japanese word.

    I would like to be able to read hiragana and katakana so that way I won't be confusing the words that are spelled similarly to some English words. What method do you guys and gals recommend? Any advice would be highly appreciated!

    EDIT: A quick note about kanji... I'll tackle kanji once I have hiragana and katakana under my belt. If there is a method for easily learning the most commonly used ones, do feel free to post it though!
     
  2. MasterOfPuppets

    MasterOfPuppets Site Supporter 2013

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  3. MonkeyBoyJoey

    MonkeyBoyJoey 70's Robot Anime Geppy-X (PS1) Fanatic

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  4. DeChief

    DeChief Rustled.

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  5. Doomtrain

    Doomtrain Active Member

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    There is no "best way" as far as I'm concerned because everyone learns differently. You'd have to take what your strengths and weaknesses are into account before finding whats right for you I'd reckon. I'm no expert by far but as someone who has constantly been trying to learn Japanese and failing in some aspects(mostly due to effort) I'll share some of the resources I keep for when my willpower returns(currently having a go at it this year again). You can get a pretty firm grasp on kana in a day or two using Mnemonics if you really want to and despite what some would say I'd recommend writing as well. The reason is because once you start writing kana down and you get used to the right stroke order before you move on because it helps with kanji(every character has a specific order that it must be drawn in that goes from the direction the writer has to draw the lines to the sequence of them) . The kanji radicals (as useful as an indicator as they are) may fail you when attempting to identify them from time to time but the proper stroke order becomes a dead giveaway with time. If you want even more kana practice you might wanna look into websites like realkana which lets you test yourself. From then on you're free to study vocab, grammar and etc. Oh and protip, dump romanji after a while because you'll find yourself using it as a crutch and your eyes being drawn to it rater than the japanese characters at hand. It gets so bad for people there have been fan edits of textbooks just to remove it.

    here's a nice article on stroke order here: https://www.tofugu.com/japanese/kanji-stroke-order/

    Here's a nice video series you might enjoy that covers both Mnemonics and how to draw Kata and Hiragana. It's geared towards people who want to learn at a slower pace iand splits itself iso theres a video on the subject to study with every night for almost 2 weeks(have a notebook ready) IIRC theres an error somewhere in the first video that gets corrected in the 2nd but also in the annotations so turn those on:

    Lastly just remember to take baby steps and not to force things on yourself. If you feel burned out keep studying old material but maybe slow down for a bit and take a short break instead of killing yourself if you're one of those types. Seeing other people try this gives me hope and motivation! I hope you have a fun time with this language and that we both get to reap the benefits at the end of the long tunnel.
     
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  6. MonkeyBoyJoey

    MonkeyBoyJoey 70's Robot Anime Geppy-X (PS1) Fanatic

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    I'll definitely try out those. I want to learn hiragana and katakana so I can ditch romaji lol. I did have a notebook already for writing Japanese but I stopped using it after a while. It did help me remember "あ" which is "a" but not much for everything else. I didn't really try hard with it so I will give it another go. Funnily enough, for a while the only hiragana I knew was "の" which means "no". That was because of Mario's Super Picross on SFC. Some of the puzzles on there are hiragana and katakana characters.

    You are definitely right about the baby steps. I try to study for about 30 minutes to an hour each day. Although lately I have been missing a few days in between Pimsleur lessons. When I do listen to it, I tend to repeat the lesson a few times over the course of the week until I can get almost all of the words and phrases down along with the grammar. I then move on to the next lesson and repeat.
     
  7. PixelButts

    PixelButts Well Known Member

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    Nama Sensei's Japanese course

    Though this is more for the people that learn through anger.
     
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  8. Nice.

    Nice. Member

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    I learned by just writing down 5 kana every night until I learned them all. I know some people that learned with books (they use picture synonyms to help you remember), but I found those to be very silly. It's just what you prefer.

    For future Japanese learning I recommend the Genki textbooks, WaniKani (online tool for memorizing kanji) and get a Japanese grammar dictionary.
     
  9. zeruel85

    zeruel85 Active Member

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    If you want to use a smartphone app, I can suggest you Kanji Study, it's a very nice app!
    You have Hiragana, Katakana, Radicals and N5 JLPT for free; then if you want to go deep, you can purchase it and you unlock N4-N1 JLPT.
    You can listen to the pronunciation, test your knowledge, write the symbols, a lot of examples of nouns and sentences, etc.

    Link:
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mindtwisted.kanjistudy&hl=en
     
  10. badinsults

    badinsults Peppy Member

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    When I learned kana, I wrote them down on a bunch of flash cards and just shuffled them until I learned them all. It took about a week. However, if you don't want to use physical flash cards (and I certainly don't recommend it if you want to learn kanji), I suggest using a proper spaced repetition software like Anki.
     
  11. AhmedXyz

    AhmedXyz Rapidly Rising Member

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    I second this. Definitely my favourite app for studying kana and later kanji. Been using it almost daily since a year.
     
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  12. pato

    pato Fiery Member

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    I would say that it also depends of how you are into the language.

    English is my second language (I'm brazilian), but most of what I've learn was from videogames and websites, that's how I got nice grades on English subject at school, in 2014 I was in a Japanese language course for one intensive month, and I pretty much forgot how to read, althrough I might still be able to know what the word/phrase means.

    Obviously, normally studying is important, but learning outside from the normal way helps to keep you knowledge too.
     
  13. Tripredacus

    Tripredacus Peppy Member

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  14. dark

    dark Intrepid Member

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    I started learning Japanese in highschool and I was way behind where the class was in terms of learning hiragana a couple months in. It was very frustrating, so I buckled down and found a way to learn it somewhat quickly largely through repeatedly writing the characters in the order that they appeared in the syllabary chart in the front page of my textbook (ie: every night I would write out in hiragana a, i, u, e, o, ka, ki, ku, ke, ko, etc. in that order) while simultaneously saying out loud what the individual hiragana I was writing was. I would also make fake words for myself out of the kana I had already memorized and then try to read them back to myself and look in the chart on my textbook to see if I had applied the correct sounds to the kana when I read them. In a very short period of time, I was able to reproduce the hiragana chart entirely from memory in the same order that it was in the textbook. This spacial memorization of the chart actually helped me to remember the shapes of certain kana, b/c I had triggered myself to think of particular shapes being in proximity to others, which helped me to identify the sound of kana when I would see it (ie: I remember this kana being on the farthest right column towards the top of the chart, but not in the top line itself, so it is probably ko or so).

    This is the chart
    http://www.omniglot.com/images/writing/hiragana3.gif

    At any rate, through repeatedly writing the kana, reading those kana I had memorized, and in particular, focusing on writing the kana in the order they were displayed in a chart on my textbook, that particular method helped me learn hiragana (and then katana) very quickly and I became able to read all kana very smoothly in a short period of time (like, a few weeks).

    Over the course of studying Japanese, I received some books from friends and family that had picture mnemonics for kanji (like a policeman in profile view holding up his hand for you to stop, for the kanji used in the verb tomaru/"to stop") but that kind of stuff has never helped me to learn any easier than wrote memorization through repeatedly writing kana/kanji. Repeatedy writing the characters also gets you the muscle memory which will help you remember the character without thinking.

    For drawing the strokes, a general thought is that any horizontal line will go from left to right and any vertical line should be drawn from top to bottom. I remember thinking it would be silly to follow this rule, in particular for the kana "ro" in katakana which literally looks like a square, but sure enough, if you draw it in the three separate strokes it will take using this rule, it takes no time at all and better sets you up for beginning to draw the next character.

    Btw, I took Japanese in college in the US and in the introductory classes, right off the bat, they expected students to learn maybe 2-4 lines of hiragana a night, to be tested the next day, and you were expected to have learned and be able to read all hiragana within the first few weeks of the class. That was difficult for a lot of people who had no prior experience with the language, and weeded a lot of people out.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
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  15. Tchoin

    Tchoin Site Patron

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    My 2 cents, stay away from mnemonics at least for kana... just learn it by repetition, there are not too many and going through mnemonics is just too much trouble.

    Practice a lot, write them over and over again, apps can help, especially those that not put out multiple choice suggestions but just show you the character and ask you to write it. Print practice charts and write, write, write.

    Below some suggestions I shared on another thread -

    Kana:
    • Practice Sheets: http://japanese-lesson.com/
    • Flashcards (web): http://realkana.com/
    • Flashcards (mobile app): Get Kana (flashcards with suggestions in romaji/phonetics)
    • Flashcards + vocabulary (mobile app): Kana Town (flashcards without suggestions, keeps track of progress, and also lets you practice vocabulary with packs of words using SRS system, really good!!)
    • Reading (web): NHK news web EASY イーシー (news website from NHK written in 'simple' Japanese; short, concise news with furigana - small kana on top of the kanji - and also with audio guide).
    • Translation (web): rikaikun (Chrome/Firefox add-on - translate Japanese words by hovering; good combination with the website above)
     
  16. krHACKen

    krHACKen Enthusiastic Member

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    And do not forget the :
     
  17. piplup10036

    piplup10036 Gutsy Member

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    If you like crude humor I'd recommend namasensei's videos.
     
  18. PixelButts

    PixelButts Well Known Member

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  19. Pea2nuts

    Pea2nuts Rapidly Rising Member

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    About 5 years ago I used two iPhone apps called Dr. Moku's Hiragana Mnemonics (and Katakana). They were separate apps that both cost money but I learned them both completely in about 2 hours. If you don't want to spend money I'd recommend Memrise
     

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