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Best source (book, website, etc.) to learn Japanese conversation based on Hiragana only

RobertWW

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Dear All,
Looking for the best source (book, website, course, etc.) to learn Japanese conversation where words and sentences would be written in Hiragana only. I checked some websites, but did not find anything.

The book or website does not necessarily have to present everything in Hiragana only. It would do if particular words or sentences are presented both in 1) Hiragana only and traditional 2) Hiragana/Katakana/Kanji mix.

I would not prefer to learn Japanese talking based on Romaji. I would like to practice my Hiragana writing and use it to learn talking.
I know that Katakana and Kanji are also used for writing.

Thank you.
 

Toritoribe

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Decent textbooks for beginner learners usually have furigana on kanji. Sentences written in hiragana only are quite hard to read. That's why you can't find those kinds of textbooks/sites. Here's a well-known example. The upper one is really annoying to read, right?

うらにわにはにわにわにはにわにわとりがいる。
裏庭には二羽庭には二羽鶏がいる。
 

RobertWW

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@Toritoribe Thank you for your reply. I agree that writing in Hiragana only may not be easy to read. Although, it is very good exercise to practice it in terms of writing and composing the sentences. Also I imagine that someone could develop Hiragana based course where words would be written separately. You do not find such a thing in a real life but in my opinion this would be useful for many learners.
 

Toritoribe

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Here's another well-known example to show the reason why kanji is important in Japanese other than the hardness in reading hiragana sentences.

ここではきものをぬいでください。

Two different interpretations are possible for this sentence; "Please put off your shoes here" and "Please put off your cloths here". Kanji version ここで履物を vs. ここでは着物を removes this ambiguity.

There is no problem for learners to write and compose sentences only in hiragana for exercise. In fact, many learners do like that in the early stage of learning. As I wrote above, kanji with furigana works as "hiragana only", furthermore it's good for exercise of kanji, too. That's exactly why hiragana textbooks are uncommon and less useful than kana-kanji version.

28417
 

Lothor

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Both language materials for native Japanese children 6 and up and every single low-level textbook for foreign-language learners that I have seen have katakana and kanji (with furigana) in. Kanji is so fundamental to understanding that Japanese with just hiragana would be like learning English without the capital letters or trying to learning to read English without ever studying phonics,
Really, kanji are not all that difficult, there will be loads of excellent online materials for learning them, and some familiarity with them and katakana will be immensely useful if and when you come to Japan - it's almost impossible to read a lot of menus in cafes etc., without knowing katakana, for example.
 

Buntaro

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Robert,

I may be in the minority, but I think it is a great idea for some beginning students to practice reading and writing in kana only. I think we have all heard ‘miracle’ stories of people who learn Hiragana in three days. This is all well and good, but there are also students who struggle with learning Hiragana, then struggle even more as they try to learn Katakana, then become downright overwhelmed as they move onto Kanji.

I usually teach English to Japanese people, but once in a while I teach Japanese to English speakers. Time and time again I have seen English speakers who struggle terribly with Hiragana. For 99% of English speakers who are learning Japanese, this is the first time they have ever had to use a writing system other than ABC’s, and for many people it is indeed a huge struggle. I myself took Japanese in college and struggled greatly with Hiragana all through my first semester. It really affected my final grade for first semester Japanese, making it much lower than it might have been otherwise. (And my professor wasn’t much help. He just handed out copies of Hiragana and said, “Learn it on your own.”)

I strongly recommend reading and writing in Hiragana-only for beginning students who are struggling. There are Hiragana-only resources on the Internet. Let me see what I can find.

Some students need a lot of practice. It is the only way. Regarding Katakana, they need practice with very difficult renderings of English into Katakana, for example, rendering "Wake Island" or "virus" or "format" or "liquid" into Katakana, which can really throw beginning students for a loop. Giving them 'dictation practice' with these kinds of words can be downright painful. The only way, then, is highly repetitive "dictation" practice in kana only.

Adding spaces is also important for beginners. Look these two examples:

きょうはげつようびです。

きょう は げつようび です。

The second example is much better reading and writing practice (and "dictation practice") for beginners than the first example is.

I also do not see an advantage to using furigana-based examples when having students practice "taking dictation" and having them write out complete sentences from listening class used as "dictation practice". (And any student who does not sometimes practice writing out kana as he/she hears them is missing out on an important type of practice.)
 
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RobertWW

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Buntaro,

Thank you for your reply.
Basically all you wrote about Hiragana and learning Japanese concerns me. Although, I think that in my case time limit is the biggest problem.
I think that I mastered Hiragana 'alphabet'. I feel now it is right time to practice it by writing sentences and simultaneously learning more words.

Indeed, I feel that I would be overwhelmed if I try to master all three Japanese 'alphabets' at approx. the same time.
I learn Katakana but very slowly (or should I say occasionally).
At later stage I do plan to learn Katakana and Kanji.

I do not hide that I asked the same question at other forums for Japanese learners and teachers.
Here is what I was recommended (in terms of Hiragana based sources):
- 'Japanese for Busy People 1'- it has a Kana version. It is Hiragana/Katakana, but predominantly Hiragana.
- 'Human Japanese'- phone application
- 'Human Japanese Intermediate '- phone application
- Duolingo online course- I use it myself. First several lessons are based on Hiragana.

'Human Japanese' and 'Human Japanese Intermediate' have some Kanji but very little and it is introduced at the intermediate level.

If you come across Hiragana based stuff please let me know ;) .

Thank you Buntaro.
Regards
 

Buntaro

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Hiragana reading practice




Some of the Fanta Jikan vidoes are in Hiragana only.


Listening practice



ひらがなぶろぐ

Japanese text with furigana. Good listening practice with sound recordings

Watanoc.com has some excellent reading articles with sound recordings. They are ranked in N1 level, N2 level, etc.
N5:
N5:
N4:

Hiragana and Katakana (and furigana) reading practice with sound recordings
 

RobertWW

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Buntaro,

This is great. I am very grateful.
Its quite a lot of sources.
I will go through those.

Thank you again.
If I come across more Hiragana sources I will post them here.
 

mdchachi

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- Duolingo online course- I use it myself. First several lessons are based on Hiragana.
I was going to recommend Duolingo. What don't you like about this method?
 

Buntaro

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Robert,

It is very important that you practice both reading and writing Hiragana. The writing part is more difficult to facilitate. Have someone read you single Hiragana, then try to write them. Then move on to writing two-Hiragana words, then three-Hiragana words, etc. You should wait until you have mastered doing this before trying to write out entire sentences in Hiragana.

The trouble with writing Hiragana is that you have to have someone read them to you. If you don’t have anyone who will help you with this, you should record yourself reading Hiragana, listen to your recording, and write them down. Your computer should be able to record your voice. If you need help in learning how to do this, please do not hesitate to ask.

Practice writing the 46 basic Hiragana. Then practice all the "ga" forms and "pa" forms. Then practice all the "small" Hiragana (small tsu, small ya, small yu, small a, etc.)

Practice, practice, practice! Work on this ten minutes a day. There is no way getting around the hard, hard work that this is going to take. Keep doing this until you have single-Hiragana words down cold, two-Hiragana words down cold, etc.
 
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RobertWW

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I was going to recommend Duolingo. What don't you like about this method?
@mdchachi
Duolingo is ok. It is nice to learn Japanese there. It is good in terms of repeating words in particular lessons.

Katakana and some Kanji are introduced relatively early in Duolingo.
From my point of view it is .not an advantage. I do not challenge Duolingo's idea how to teach a language. It is a matter of my personal preference to stay with Hiragana for a while and then start learning Katakana and Kanji..

Disadvantage of Duolingo is (in my view) that they use 'classic' approach to teaching a language.
You are being taught words like: bird, cat, dog, sunny, daytime, fermented soybean, etc.
I understand why they and others do that but again my personal preference is to learn a 'daily language' (I do not mean slang, etc.).
I prefer to learn words such as: must, to have, to be, necessary, tomorrow, often, always, to go, etc.
 
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RobertWW

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@Buntaro
I do practice both reading and writing Hiragana every day. Although I did not think about writing Hiragana syllable (or words) from hearing. I think this is great idea and I will definitely start writing that way (by recording and then playing my voice).. I will use my PC voice recording or my mobile phone.

I will follow your recommendation and I will start writing from hearing 46 basic Hiragana, then 'ba', 'pa', 'da', 'za', 'ga' and then 'small' Hiragana.
I am definitely prepared for hard work that needs to be done in order to master Japanese language.
Thank you Buntaro for your kind help. I am very grateful.
 

mdchachi

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Katakana and some Kanji are introduced relatively early in Duolingo. From my point of view it is .not an advantage. I do not challenge Duolingo's idea how to teach a language. It is a matter of my personal preference to stay with Hiragana for a while and then start learning Katakana and Kanji..
Well keep in mind that it should be a relatively quick process to learn both Hiragana and Katakana. It's only about 100 characters.

Disadvantage of Duolingo is (in my view) that they use 'classic' approach to teaching a language.
You are being taught words like: bird, cat, dog, sunny, daytime, fermented soybean, etc.
I understand why they and others do that but again my personal preference is to learn a 'daily language' (I do not mean slang, etc.).
I prefer to learn words such as: must, to have, to be, necessary, tomorrow, often, always, to go, etc.
Makes sense. Thanks for your opinion. I was just curious because I only became aware of Duolingo just a couple weeks ago and played with it a little bit.
I assume they'll get to the qualifying words eventually. But it takes some time to go from "This is a pen" to "I need to go to the store and buy a pen."

I do practice both reading and writing Hiragana every day. Although I did not think about writing Hiragana syllable (or words) from hearing. I think this is great idea and I will definitely start writing that way (by recording and then playing my voice).. I will use my PC voice recording or my mobile phone.
I don't think it's necessary to randomize it or go to such extents. I used to simply write the whole alphabet from A I U E O to YA YU YO. Or before I knew the whole alphabet I'd write the line e.g. NA NI NU NE NO. I definitely agree that writing the characters will help you memorize them more quickly. I never tried it but I suppose if you hear Japanese words in your daily life it would be good practice to write them e.g. TOYOTA, Prime Minister ABE etc.
 

Buntaro

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I will follow your recommendation and I will start writing from hearing 46 basic Hiragana, then 'ba', 'pa', 'da', 'za', 'ga' and then 'small' Hiragana.
Robert, I am glad to hear you are headed in the right direction. First work on the 46 Hiragana in order, then mix them up. (You will be surprised how much more difficult it is to do them in random order than to do them in order.) When you do your recordings, make flash cards, shuffle them up, then just read them off the cards. This way you will be sure to cover all of the characters.

After that, practice writing out various five-character lines, such as writing out na-ni-nu-ne-no followed by sa-shi-su-se-so, etc. Being able to write out all the five-character lines (and ya-yu-yo, etc.) will be a big accomplishment for you. After that, it's eventually on to ga-gi-gu-ge-go, mya-myu-myo, etc. Don't forget the atta, katta, chatta, etc. forms.

By the way, do you know the differences between these three?
Kite kudasai.
Kiite kudasai
Kitte kudasai.

Good luck. Keep us posted how it is going. Let us know when you can write a-i-u-e-o with ease!
 
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mdchachi

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Katakana and some Kanji are introduced relatively early in Duolingo.
From my point of view it is .not an advantage. I do not challenge Duolingo's idea how to teach a language. It is a matter of my personal preference to stay with Hiragana for a while and then start learning Katakana and Kanji..
I was just playing around with Duolingo a bit more and realized that you can do all the Hiragana lessons in sequence if you want. I originally thought you finish a lesson such as Hiragana 1 and move on down to next lessons such as Food, Time, etc. However there's no reason why you can't stay on Hiragana 1 and go through Levels 1 to 5. Then Hiragana 2, etc.
 

RobertWW

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@ mdchachi
I think that I will start learning Katakana relatively soon. But not now.

I agree that one should start with the approach "This is a pen" and then go to "I need to go to the store and buy a pen."
However, some of the curses, such as Duolingo, teach words such as 'sunny' or 'fermented soybean'. I do not find these and similar words as useful at the very start of learning process.

I have used the flash cards (for Hiragana). I found them handy but not absolutely necessary.
I will start writing the characters from hearing soon. I hope that this method will help me in memorizing the characters and new words. I will let you know about the effects.
 

RobertWW

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@Buntaro, Thank your advice. I will mix flash cards and recording methods. First, I will double check the correct pronunciation of Hiragana characters on Youtube or elsewhere.
I do not know the atta, katta, chatta, etc. forms. But I will check them.

I do not hide that in order to answer your question I had to search the web :) I am not sure whether my answer is correct ;)
By the way, do you know the differences between these three?
Kite kudasai- means 'please come' (short i pronounced in 'kite')
Kiite kudasai - means 'please listen' (long i pronounced in 'kiite')
Kitte kudasai - means 'please cut it' (rather short i and sort of double t pronounced in 'kitte' where intonation goes to 'ki', if intonation goes to 'tte' then 'kitte' means stamp)

1. Kudasai means 'please give me' or 'please do for me'.
2. 'Kiku' means "to hear". To say "I heard" I need to pronounce the i sound long. Therefore, *kiita' means 'I heard" or *kiite* the te-form of the verb 'kiku'. *Kiite* is short version of *kikimashite*.
If I pronounce the i sound shorter, that is *kite*, then, it's from the verb *kuru* "to come". Where *kita' is "I came", and *kite* is the te-form of verb *kuru*.
3. 'Kitte' originally seems to be inflection of 'kiru' (to wear).

Good luck. Keep us posted how it is going. Let us know when you can write a-i-u-e-o with ease!
Thank you Buntaro. I will let you how my writing from hearing is progressing.
Thank you for your support! :)
 

RobertWW

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I was just playing around with Duolingo a bit more and realized that you can do all the Hiragana lessons in sequence if you want. I originally thought you finish a lesson such as Hiragana 1 and move on down to next lessons such as Food, Time, etc. However there's no reason why you can't stay on Hiragana 1 and go through Levels 1 to 5. Then Hiragana 2, etc.
That is correct. You can go through all lessons (1-5) in particular 'Hiragana' in Duolingo before going to another 'Hiragana'. Katakana (and some Kanji) starts to appear in 'Hiragana' 4 or 5.
Despite some disadvantages of Duolingo that I was talking about earlier, I find Duolingo as generally good product. There is also a mobile version of Duolingo (I think it has really nice graphics and teaching system that encourages a user to start the next lesson).
 

RobertWW

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@Buntaro. @mdchachi
I have a kind question to you.
I was looking for a website, sort of English-Japanese online dictionary, where I could get quick and reliable translation of any word such as 'left', right', etc.
There are a lot of relevant dictionaries available. However, I like this one in particular:
This dictionary, for a requested word in English, offers Hiragana form ( :) ), Hiragana/Katakana/Kanji traditional mix and Romanji as well as audio version.
Besides, it seems to present various meanings of a word in a very 'tidy' way, i.e. basic word meaning is followed by other meanings and those other meanings contexts are always explained.

Would you recommend another online dictionary?
 
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mdchachi

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That looks like a nice dictionary. My go-to dictionary is JDic which is a crowd-sourced dictionary. Some of the entries are mine even.
The interface is not as elegant but it has kanji lookup, romaji-lookup, text-glossing tools. It also has multiple dictionary files e.g. names, medical, etc.
 

Toritoribe

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3. 'Kitte' originally seems to be inflection of 'kiru' (to wear).
Not really. Check again. (hint: godan conjugation vs. ichidan conjugation)

Kite kudasai- means 'please come' (short i pronounced in 'kite')
Related to the above, there is another possible interpretation for that sentence.
(It would be a misplaced kindness to repeat this, but kanji (or pitch accent in spoken language) can avoid this ambiguity.)

Would you recommend another online dictionary?
The following site is often used, too.


This would be another misplaced kindness, but I know members who tried to learn Japanese grammar randomly like that, and didn't get even fundamental knowledge after nearly 10 years, or gave up learning Japanese after all. Your way might fit to you, of course, but there are reasonable reasons that many textbooks use methods to teach grammar systematically. My two cents.
 

RobertWW

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That looks like a nice dictionary. My go-to dictionary is JDic which is a crowd-sourced dictionary. Some of the entries are mine even.
The interface is not as elegant but it has kanji lookup, romaji-lookup, text-glossing tools. It also has multiple dictionary files e.g. names, medical, etc.
Thank you for your opinion and for the link to another dictionary. I think that I will start using also your dictionary.
 

RobertWW

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'Kitte' originally seems to be inflection of 'kiru' (to wear).
Not really. Check again. (hint: godan conjugation vs. ichidan conjugation)
Ok I searched further, here is what I found:
Kitte can come from verb kiku. Kiku may have two meanings: to hear/listen or to ask.
Therefore, we may have kitte kudasan what may mean please listen or please ask. Both kitte kudasan(s) are pronounced identically. The listener must determine the meaning from the context.
I guess that Kanji may do a nice job here in terms of writing that (and other) expression with a single meaning.

Kite kudasai- means 'please come' (short i pronounced in 'kite')
Related to the above, there is another possible interpretation for that sentence.
(It would be a misplaced kindness to repeat this, but kanji (or pitch accent in spoken language) can avoid this ambiguity.)

That is why I also intend to learn Kanji, but little bit later.

Would you recommend another online dictionary?
The following site is often used, too.
Thank you for the link. This dictionary is also ok.

This would be another misplaced kindness, but I know members who tried to learn Japanese grammar randomly like that, and didn't get even fundamental knowledge after nearly 10 years, or gave up learning Japanese after all. Your way might fit to you, of course, but there are reasonable reasons that many textbooks use methods to teach grammar systematically. My two cents.
I actually use the book to learn Japanese (since short time though). It's title is : 'Japanese for busy people' (3rd edition).
However, I am also looking for another book which would explain grammar properly (verbs conjugation, etc.).
Quoted book is good in terms of quick learning of practical Japanese.
What book would you recommend?
 
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Toritoribe

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You still seem to be confusing.

Kitte can come from verb kiku.
This is wrong. Check again.

Kiku may have two meanings: to hear/listen or to ask.
Therefore, we may have kitte kudasan what may mean please listen or please ask. Both kitte kudasan(s) are pronounced identically. The listener must determine the meaning from the context.
typo: kudasai, not kudasan
That's right (except "kitte"). "Kiku" also means "to work well/to be effective (利く/効く)" other than "to hear (聞く)", "to listen (聴く)" or "to ask (訊く)", and indeed the meaning is determined by the context, but that's not my point. All these verbs belong to the same type of conjugation (godan verb).

Here's another hint.
'Kitte' originally seems to be inflection of 'kiru' (to wear).

What book would you recommend?
Genki is often recommended.
 
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