Learning the Basics : Kana


When you start your Japanese language learning journey, I highly suggest that you learn their writing system right away and do not use romanji. The Japanese writing system may seem complicated at first, but it really isn’t. The writing system is a combination of kanji and kana. Kana consists of  two syllabaries, called hiragana and katakana.  Hiragana is used for native Japanese words, and Katakana is used for foreign words, names, as well as loan words. Kanji isn’t something that I would worry about at the beginning though, I recommend focusing on kana first.

For me,  before jumping into vocabulary and other things, I made it my mission to learn kana as best as I could. It really helped me in the long run. I printed practice sheets online and would write the character while saying it out loud to myself. I studied it until I felt as if I had a firm grasp of it and could recognize characters without having to double check. That way, when I  began to learn vocabulary, I already knew the kana for the words as I began to learn them. This also helped me to increase my reading speed as well, because I could recognize the kana faster.

A good place to learn online is japanese-lesson.com. There, they have practice sheets with a break down of the correct stroke order of each letter. You can print it and use it to help you memorize the characters and practice hand writing. If you prefer  physical study aids to digital I suggest the kana flashcards from white rabbit press. Their flashcards have diagrams as well as vocab words on them. Once you have a basic understanding of them there are  free quizzes online like realkana.com and if you have an android device there are kana quiz apps, like Kana Mind, that you can use to test yourself. The amount of different characters may seem overwhelming at first glance, but, once you start practicing I guarantee that you will be surprised at how fast you learn it. All you need to do is figure out which way works best for you, whether its an app or old fashion pen and paper. Ganbatte!


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