What's the Best Way to Memorize the Japanese Alphabet?

r_folsom November 12, 2009, 4:49 am
Konnichiwa! I like to know what the best way to memorize the Hiragana and Katakana alphabet is. I've tried going over it agin and again. It helps some. But I need a little more help please. Arigato!
What's the Best Way to Memorize the Japanese Alphabet?
NX172 November 13, 2009, 2:46 am
I assume your question is more on the technique / process of learning the characters. Of course, seeing all those funny looking symbols is a scary sight at first! But try to find your own way of remembering them - these stick in the head the best. Such as, are there any similarities from hiragana 'る/ru' and 'ろ/ro', 'め/me' and 'ぬ/nu', how can you distinguish them? Do they look like pictures that you can familiarize with? , etc Some examples: - I distinguish ね/ne and れ/re, by knowing neko (cat) has a tail, so 'ne' curls out, weird idea, but I remember! - Another would be 'に/ni' and 'た/ta', which look alike, too. Well, ni contains the character for '二/ni/number 2' and た has a T shape on left hand-side, t, for.. た/ta o.o) , etc. you get the idea. Here's how i've learnt my kana: Personally I learned them by using Flashcard software, this is included in the MegaJapanese games, plenty on Google, too. What I would do was write down the set of characters until they seemed familiar, then try flash cards on that particular set of kana, say, Ka/ki/ku/ke/ko until I was able to recognise them lightning quick, repeat for the rest of the characters. Then take them into practice by writing down words I knew in hiragana (example, べんきょう/benkyou) and the same in kana (example, アメリカ/amerika). Try reading the transcripts in RJ in hiragana/katakana instead of romaji, you'll be recognising the characters quicker and develop better habits later when reading and writing.
What's the Best Way to Memorize the Japanese Alphabet?
463960 November 16, 2009, 8:20 am
Building off the Flashcard idea mentioned by NX172. http://www.readthekanji.com has a very nice SRS (flashcard) program that has "decks" of flashcards for different levels of characters. It has a Hiragana, Katakana, JLPT 4 Kanji, JLPT 3 Kanji, JLPT 2 Kanji, and JLPT 1 Kanji decks. You can use all simultaneously or go at your own pace and use 1 deck at a time or 2 etc. Best of all, Its free! This will help with reading comprehension a lot! If you listen to music in Japanese while doing this then it'll potentially help with listening comprehension too. In regards to writing, the best method I have found is repetition... So just take some time, a pen, and notebook and just write out the main hiragana table. Just remember: A KA SA TA NA HA MA YA RA WA And then going to the right from there you have A I U E O. Using that method it becomes much easier to remember the characters... just remember the special characters that don't really follow the above pattern such as the YA and WA rows don't have 5 characters in them, that N doesn't really have a specific spot (usually placed in the middle of the WA row or just as its own seperate row). As for characters with the " or the little circle... eventually you will notice that characters of the same kana row have similar sound changes with the addition of the " and/or little circle. In regards to katakana... I have found it easier (to some extent) to use hiragana as the base character set and that when you think of katakana characters you remember them based upon the hiragana character it represents... Lastly, for kanji. Do NOT try to remember them by reading! Kaji's primary focus is on conveying an idea. Remember a kanji by it's meaning, its reading will be taught to you through sentence usage and context. 頑張ってくださいね! (がんばってくださいね!) Gannbattekudasaine! じゃね、 デレック
What's the Best Way to Memorize the Japanese Alphabet?
akiko021 January 3, 2010, 5:30 am
I lived in Yokota Air Force base and had to take "Japanese Culture" every year. I was 10 when we learned hiragana and katakana. I can only remember a few. I hope it helps. a あ  i い looks like ii u う e え o お golf course. a ball going into the whole with the flag sticking out of it. remember we were 10. i loved this explanation. KA か is a cliff with a bird flying to the right of it. The bird says "KA” ki き is a key going into a lock. ku く is a birds beak saying Coo. ke け is a kendo person holding kendo stick. ko こ is a coin sa さ i think of a person who has sat down. shi し is she, the hair of a girl. su す se せ set the table so そ to sew. looks like a fancy sewing stitch ta た looks like t a chi ち tsu つ  te て table I pronounce it teible to と looks like a toe with a funky toe nail na な i think of a knot. ni に I think of ichi, ni. one line and then two. nu ぬ noodle. this is cute and goes with the next one. ne ね NEver eat noodles with one chopstick. this is another favorite from my teacher in japan. no の ha は hi ひ someone smiling, hee hee hee fu ふ mount fuji he へ hill ho ほ ma ま mi み mu む me め looks like an eye, which is me in japanese mo も ya や yu ゆi just remember it looks like a fish that has nothing to do with the letter. yo よ ra ら ri り ru る the loop at the bottom. re れ if you remember ne and nu then just remember this is re. ro ろ doesn't have the loop wa わ wo を n ん looks like n Well that's it.
What's the Best Way to Memorize the Japanese Alphabet?
Sayaka-Matsuura January 4, 2010, 7:57 pm
Konnichiwa Akiko-san! Thank you for your post. It will surely help many Japanese learners! - Sayaka :P
What's the Best Way to Memorize the Japanese Alphabet?
grejyedi January 30, 2010, 4:17 pm
To add to the list I found these useful su す sue is pregnant tsu つ tsunami wave no の No sign (ie no smoking) ma ま Mast of a ship mu む Moo cows face yo よ Man with Yo- yo ru る the loop at the bottom. (to hold the rubies) wo を wo – (not to) ho ほ House with TV ariel ha は I remember this as not ho he へ heaven This site has a good drag and drop game __http://www.csus.edu/indiv/s/sheaa/projects/genki/hiragana-timer.html__ I must admit I found the __http://www.smart.fm__ Iknow interval training flashcard more useful that the rocket one.
What's the Best Way to Memorize the Japanese Alphabet?
463960 January 30, 2010, 6:38 pm
Am I the only one here who's actually learned it the old-fashioned "write it over and over again!" way?
What's the Best Way to Memorize the Japanese Alphabet?
grejyedi January 31, 2010, 7:53 pm
Hi I'm fluent in French and German (I'm English) and I have worked extensively in these countries as part of country operations management teams. In the twenty years I have *handwritten* precisely zero notes or documents - however I have written many Memos and e mails. So to me actually being able to *hand write * is not a skill I really need - particulary as you input to a Japanese keyboard using Romaji which then converts it. So in fact knowing the romaji is quite important If I was taking an exam or something then that would be different, but by then I would really know them by heart and the learning curve would be shorter.
What's the Best Way to Memorize the Japanese Alphabet?
463960 February 1, 2010, 4:24 am
[quo]*Quote from * grejyedi Hi I'm fluent in French and German (I'm English) and I have worked extensively in these countries as part of country operations management teams. In the twenty years I have *handwritten* precisely zero notes or documents - however I have written many Memos and e mails. So to me actually being able to *hand write * is not a skill I really need - particulary as you input to a Japanese keyboard using Romaji which then converts it. So in fact knowing the romaji is quite important If I was taking an exam or something then that would be different, but by then I would really know them by heart and the learning curve would be shorter.[/quo] I'm going to be taking the JLPT sooner or later, if I want to be able to get a nice IT job in Japan they require level 1 or 2 depending on the company so xD... I've got a lot of work ahead of me... I'm aiming for level 1, but it's a long road.
What's the Best Way to Memorize the Japanese Alphabet?
Sayaka-Matsuura February 7, 2010, 7:14 pm
Minnasan Konnichiwa! I believe there is no one set way to learn Hiragana, Katakana or Kanji. Japanese children learn it by (as Derek-san calls it...) the 'old-fashoined-way'. Writing each one over and over again, until it sticks in their brain. This is aided by actually living in Japan where you are continuously seeing words, phrases, signs, etc, in Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. For some whose Japanese is a foreign language, having tricks to memorize each Hiragana is handy and can be fun to learn. Now, as for working in Japan, if you are working in a Japanese company, you should know Hiragana, Katakana and basic Kanji. They'll surely expect that from you. If you're working in an international company based in Japan, then the story is different. You'll most likely not have to know the Japanese syllabaries since most of your work will be in English... that is, it will be a foreigner-friendly environment. Japanese companies will rarely use romaji in their notes, emails, newsletters or documents. Well minnasan, I hope you continue to enjoy learning Japanese! :P Sayaka
What's the Best Way to Memorize the Japanese Alphabet?
genevere April 6, 2010, 10:14 pm
I used James Heisig's "Remembering the Kana". It claims that is takes 3 hours to learn hiragana and further 3 hours to learn katakana. It works. It uses mnemonics (visual memory). You don't have to have a great memory.
What's the Best Way to Memorize the Japanese Alphabet?
Sayaka-Matsuura April 8, 2010, 4:20 am
Genevere-san, Yes, if you have a good memory, studying Kana through mnemonics can be the key to becoming an expert on Japanese writing! がんばってください。 YOU CAN DO IT! -Sayaka :P
What's the Best Way to Memorize the Japanese Alphabet?

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