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Learning written Japanese. Where to start?

djl_ottawa

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I am wondering. What steps should they be learnt?

Katakana and then Hiragana? or viseversa?

:p
 

kalyani

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Hi,
I would suggest go for Hiragana first and then Katakana. Once you are comfortable in both, then start learning basic Kanji.
I know some good web sites. If you want I can look them up and tell you.

Kalyani
 

djl_ottawa

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Nah am good :> I have books and also a learning website I go to. am learning Hiragana first but wanted to know which steps to go. so far...last night I started and now know A I U E O...sigh...4 down. to many to go.
 

Oliver Twist

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Hello !
First I think that learning written japanese should be done in this order :
- hiragana
- kanji (not 2000 or more but at least the 100 most used)
- katakana

In my opinion, learning katakana is not very important. it will be useful to read and write foreign names and some words came from english or other languages.

With hiragana you can write any japanese sentence, and you will be able to read what japanese people write (if you ask them to write only with hiragana).

Now you want to how to study ?
I can tell you how I studied but maybe it is not the best way... You probably already know the order... as you wrote : A I U E O and after that : KA KI KU KE KO... GA GI GU GE GO... etc...

I began with the first 5 and I wrote, wrote and wrote again until I know them. After that I continued with the 5 next but I never stopped writing those I learned before.
At once you think you know hiragana, I suggest you go and try to read a full japanese written website. You will not be able to read kanji but try to read hiragana wihtout any help. Try to remember it and if you really can't then look at the solution. You will maybe think "of course, I knew it !" but after 2 or 3 times you will probably be able to remember it by yourself.

Learning hiragana doesn't take a long time...
I suggest you to find a penpal friend and ask him/her to write his/her messages with hiragana only, and when you will be able to read it correctly by yourself, ask him/her to progressively introduce kanji...

Sorry for my english... I'm still studying ! ^-^
 

djl_ottawa

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Cool thanks Oliver Twist...do you know if any websites that have Hiragana and then the translation?
 

Oliver Twist

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Sorry I don't know a such website.
But I've quickly searched and found these :

- Hiragana Lessons - Stroke Guide to さ, し, す, せ, そ
You can find here some lessons to learn how to write correctly hiragana, and more about written japanese...

- どらねこさんとぼく3

And here you can find a letter written by a cat ^^

There is no translation into our alphabet but I think there are 2 good points :
1- it's long enough for you to become accustomed with hiragana reading
2- words are separated, so you can easily look them up in a dictionary

I hope it will help you
 

mdchachi

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In my opinion, learning katakana is not very important. it will be useful to read and write foreign names and some words came from english or other languages.

If you ever go to Japan you will find that reading katakana will be your most important reading skill. It will help you navigate menus for one thing. Also product packaging & advertising. Plus it's sometimes used to write words that are normally written in hiragana or kanji for emphasis or clarity. It's an integral part of the language.

Take a look at the front page of yahoo.co.jp. All the words are either kanji or katakana. Since katakana's easy to learn, I'd suggest getting it memorized sooner rather than later.
 

Erik

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Originally posted by mdchachi
If you ever go to Japan you will find that reading katakana will be your most important reading skill. It will help you navigate menus for one thing. Also product packaging & advertising. Plus it's sometimes used to write words that are normally written in hiragana or kanji for emphasis or clarity. It's an integral part of the language.

Take a look at the front page of yahoo.co.jp. All the words are either kanji or katakana. Since katakana's easy to learn, I'd suggest getting it memorized sooner rather than later.

I also agree to this. I barely saw any hiragana, and when I did, it was translated into romanji! Learn katakana!
 

Oliver Twist

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Of course katakana are also an important, integral part of the language. But when you begin learning japanese I think that learning hiragana first, and then basic kanji is more important that learning katakana. That's because hiragana and katakana represent the same pronounciation but a different writing (not all). I think this could be confusing for a beginner. But as I said, this is just my opinion.
Nevertheless I admit I was wrong when I've written " In my opinion, learning katakana is not very important"... maybe I should add "when you begin learning japanese"...
:p

I remember having learnt katakana one or two months after hiragana and approximatively 50 kanji. In 3 hours it was done ! After that I was able to buy something with amazon.co.jp because as mdchachi said, you can easily navigate with katakana, especially when you don't have to use a japanese dictionary because a lot of words come from english.


There are a lot of ways to learn japanese and a manner doesn't always suit all people.
djil_ottawa, you will probably have to try different manners before finding the one which best suits you.
I've just written my opinion and my experience.
mdchachi and Erik have another one... and maybe you will have another one : while learning kanji, you also learn katakana by writing the ON readings in katakana... ^^

It also depends on your purpose. If you want to write with japanese people, I maintain what I've said : basic kanji are most useful than katakana (in my opinion... at the beginning. Of course that doesn't mean that you will never have to learn katakana).
But if you've decided to travel to Japan soon, or if you want to use japanese commercial website, you should learn katakana after hiragana...

But remember that if you want to write correctly, sooner or later you will have to learn all : hiragana, katakana and kanji.

がんばって! ガンバッテ! 頑張て!



PS: after having learnt katakana, when you learn kanji, try to write kun readings in hiragana and ON readings in katakana... That's perfect to memorize the whole written japanese.
 

Elizabeth

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Originally posted by Oliver Twist
PS: after having learnt katakana, when you learn kanji, try to write kun readings in hiragana and ON readings in katakana... That's perfect to memorize the whole written japanese.
And as I understand it, the katakana syllabary was actually first derived in mid-Heian (9th C) times from Japanese Buddhist monks experimenting with developing their own abbreviated pronouncation-key workmarks above or alongside Chinese texts to denote the phonetically 'correct' ON reading as well as to translate workable Japanese sentences (using katakana as diacritical marks of a sort indicating changes in word order, adding particles, inflections, etc). At least a handful of these base kanji are still used primarily phonetically even today (people and place names, etc.) Almost like a kanji alphabet. :D

As a process it makes (almost!) perfect sense in the context of the development of kanji where the vast majority of characters were originally created with a strong combination of semantic & phonetic elements (meant to invoke the meaning of certain specific other similarly-pronounced words). Of course this isn't very helpful for learning modern readings since webs of associated ON sounds and usages have largely evolved and been watered down over time. (Not to minimize the astonishing patterns still evident across many radical families -- "shu" (master) also used as "chuu" in pillar, pour or "shou" in small, few, resemble, value, etc).

Another thing that has always seem curious is the unclear (to me) orthographic mapping of hiragana back to their base kanji. If you look at them side by side it is obvious where most Katakana symbols have come from, but hiragana on the other hand are actually said to be a simplified stylized form of the full character (and often the same one!). Anyone who has some clue about the resemblances here, please let us know.
🙂
 

ZillyMonk

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If you're looking for a cheap but incredibly useful resource for learning Kanji, I highly suggest checking out the Tuttle Kanji Flash Cards by Alexander Kask. The second set is currently available on Amazon.com but I got both sets of mine at Borders. Using them, on a good day I have been able to solidly learn about 15-20 kanji per hour. Currently there are only about 1000 in the complete set, but they should put you well on your way.
 

thomas

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By the way, check out our current Site of the Month:

kanachart.com

It's a remarkable site for kana starters.
 

GaijinGirl

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I just started learning hiragana too! :D
There are so many resources on the Internet, it's hard to sift through them all.

I really like these two sites:

Hiragana Lessons
Hiragana Lessons - Stroke Guide to さ, し, す, せ, そ
The woman who makes the lessons for the hiragana characters uses actual handwriting as examples, which is nice because nobody writes by hand in a font.

Teach Yourself Japanese
Series: Teach Yourself Japanese | Japan Forum
This guy has some useful (if you are learning primarily by internet) technical explanations of the sounds that the characters express. The site is pretty well-ordered, there are sound files for each character, and the occasional interesting side note about something. There are also a bunch of nifty little java programs for character memorization and writing demonstration.
 

chelo

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hiragana sites

ohayo!
i have learnt hiragana and katakana...i'm now starting to learn kanji...

here are the sites i visited most when i'm just starting to learn hiragana and katakana...
:)

genki-online.com
Hiragana

😄

hope this will help...
good luck
 

chelo

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ohayo kanjikat!
i have visited the site that you recommended just now...
dilemma is i cannot see the japanese writings..
how will i be able to view this?

thank you.. ^-^
:)
 

hua he

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By the way, can somebody show me some kokuji(Japan National Words)?

Thanks.,
 
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