learning japanese script

drainer@mpinet.net drainer
Tue Aug 14 10:19:50 EDT 2007

I'm sure there will be plenty of replies regarding the usage of 
kanji/hiragana/katakana, so I'll try to quickly summarize what worked for 

Now, keep in mind that I lack a very functional command of the Japanese 
language (I am like a deaf/mute, I can understand what people say, but have 
a hard time expressing my thoughts)...

Hiragana and katakana were initially the hardest for me to learn. Basically, 
I just had to memorize them. But once you pick it up, it's there, and it's 
instant recognition (almost the same way with many kanji). Although, to be 
honest, I still have problems with katakana to this day, but luckily, they 
usually turn out to be words that you can make out from the context, once 
you look at them a few times.

As for kanji, I learned it through visual memorization. Maybe it's different 
for everyone, but I've always found it easy to remember kanji meanings once 
I learned the kanji meaning/what it looked like, or someone told me the 
kanji meaning. I tried those "learn kanji" books but none of them worked for 

Three things that worked for me:

a. Living in Japan and having to "memorize" place names, then applying that 
when I saw the kanji elsewhere, at work (I didn't work with English speaking 
people), etc...  I know that living in Japan isn't a feasible option for 
everyone, but whatever I learned there I could have learned elsewhere. The 
constant exposure to reading obviously did help. Alternatively you could try 
internet TV? I know a fella here who gets all the Tokyo channels live at his 
business (discussion about this service has popped up on this list before).

    And as an aside -- I will always stand by television and visual/auditory 
media as an excellent way to learn another language. I speak from experience 

b. This program: http://web.uvic.ca/kanji-gold/

c. Typing in Japanese. If you communicate with Japanese speakers via e-mail 
or a messenger often, it will definetely improve your kanji skills, as IME 
lets you type in hiragana before converting to kanji.

These are definetely the "wrong" ways to learn kanji -- if you'd like to 
follow the path of erudition then it would be in your best interest to learn 
radicals, etc... but if you want to be practical about it and apply what you 
know in order to get to a decent level of coherence, I suggest doing what I 
did. Nothing but practice will get you to the level that you desire.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Emma Newbery" <emmanewbery at hotmail.co.uk>
To: <kinejapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, August 14, 2007 9:53 AM
Subject: learning japanese script

> Hello all.
> I have just embarked upon the long path of learning to read and write 
> Japanese. I am using the 'Japanese for busy people' workbooks, and have 
> been sailing through learning hiragana, but much to my dismay when i went 
> to try out my new skill on www.amazon.jp i find all the sentences to be 
> combination of hirigana, kanji and katakana. I realise to all you who know 
> how to read japanese this is very obvious, but it there anyone out there 
> to whom japanese is not their first language who can instill me with some 
> confidence that it is possible to learn it all -  and why are there 3 
> forms within one sentence!
> Emma Newbery BA (hons), MA, PGCE
> Programme Leader
> BTEC National Diploma in Media Productions
> Blackpool and the Fylde College
> _________________________________________________________________
> The next generation of Hotmail is here!  http://www.newhotmail.co.uk

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