3 Facts About Learning Japanese Characters

Sure, Japanese is not as common as Chinese as a world language, but I know it is one of the most fascinating (…but pre-tty difficult) languages in the world.

After living in the US for about 9 months, I’ve realized that Japanese has become quite popular thanks to manga(マンガ) and anime(アニメ).

I’ve met quite a few people who are eager to learn the language, and in fact, some of them are impressively good! However, it seems that Japanese learners manage to listen and speak, but the problem is the reading and writing part.

Yep, Japanese is so complicated because it has three different characters — kanji, hiragana, and katakana.

So, as a native Japanese speaker, I would like to share three tips to become more comfortable in reading and writing Japanese in a shorter period.

1.Learn how to read and write hiragana (partially katakana) before jumping into practicing kanji

I know. Kanji is so cool. However, you cannot learn how to read them efficiently without knowing hiragana well. I’ve seen many people struggling just trying to memorize as many kanjis as possible, but if I were their Japanese tutor, I would not recommend doing so. By saying to “learn” hiragana, I mean like you will have to be able to recognize each hiragana character instantly. Then, you can finally start incorporating kanji into your Japanese vocabulary list.

2.Don’t waste your time writing exactly like your character textbook

I’m serious. You will know how long it takes to write with that “perfect” form if you are one of those who just think that you have to right exactly as your textbook. The fact is that it is highly possible that your hand writing is good enough to be comprehended — no matter how ugly they seem to be. You‘ll be able to spend more time learning new vocabularies instead of getting frustrated looking at hundreds of “imperfect” letters on your workbook.

3.Know that you don’t have to practice all character on your kanji dictionary

We (I mean Japanese people) don’t use all kanji that exists. In fact, you don’t have to know more than 1000 characters to be able text in Japanese with a native speaker. It is even possible to text only in hiragana. Unless you want to use professional Japanese, you are good to go. You should focus on practicing most common characters even though some of them seem to be a little bit challenging. There are simple characters that you will not see in your entire life after you finish writing on your notebook.

Japanese language could be frustrating to learn since it is a mixture of different types of characters with different rules.

I hope these tips will help to improve your learning efficiency, and make the learning process less stressful and more enjoyable.

Noelle Moore

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