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How to Remember Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji

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How to Remember Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji

Postby itsumademou » Sat 01.19.2008 12:30 am

There are plenty of ways to remember how to write hiragana, katakana, and kanji, but these are the ways I learned them, and I figured they might be helpful to some people. If you want to share how you did it, feel free! Everyone learns differently, after all. ^^

I recommend learning Hiragana first, followed by Katakana, and then Kanji.

For learning hiragana, take words you already know by heart, and instead of writing them in romaji, only use hiragana. I'll assume that everyone knows "arigatou" means thank you. So when you practice, write this:

ありがとう − Thank you.

You already know that, but by writing it in hiragana, you will quickly begin to remember everything. Do this with any romaji that you know by heart. I remembered all the hiragana in only one week by writing these down once a day. It could take longer or shorter for you though.

For katakana, basically do the same as for hiragana. So your notes should have entries like this:

アメリカ − America.

Kanji is, of course, the hardest of them all to remember. I remember them by finding a word it is used in and copying that word down, with the hiragana written above it, several times a day until I'm sure I remember. For example:
心 − Heart.

(Note that connections between kanjis help to remember also. For example, the kanji for heart 心, is actually in the middle of the kanji for love 愛. You love with your heart, so this makes sense!)

Another useful thing to do is to write them down on sticky notes and stick them on everything in your house. For example:

テレビ − Television. (terebi) <-- Stick a note like that on your TV.
林檎 (りんご) − Apple. (ringo) <-- Stick that on an apple.

Do that for everything you see. The wall, the mirror, a candle, a tree - anything!

After a while you not only expand your vocabulary, but begin to think in real Japanese instead of romaji, so reading and writing Japanese will become more natural and easy to do.

I hope this helps someone out. ^^
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RE: How to Remember Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji

Postby hungryhotei » Sat 01.19.2008 12:46 am

It's all good advice, but I just have to say that you aren't going to need to know these 林檎 kanji anytime soon, so there's no point in learning them as early vocab. I'd stick with just ringo.
Last edited by hungryhotei on Sat 01.19.2008 12:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: How to Remember Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji

Postby itsumademou » Sat 01.19.2008 12:52 am

^^ I know it's not exactly something a beginner would need to know, but I find it's very helpful to learn the kanji for something as soon as possible if you're truly trying to become fluent in Japanese.

That's also why you should write the kanji followed by the hiragana. If you can recognize the kanji for things (even if you can't write them), it's useful.

Unless you're just saying the kanji for ringo isn't usually used... In which case, please give me a better example! m(__)m
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RE: How to Remember Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji

Postby arbalest71 » Sat 01.19.2008 12:54 am

Easy answer for kanji...

1) open can of worms...
2) ???
3) profit
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RE: How to Remember Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji

Postby p-chan » Sat 01.19.2008 3:48 am

i get a magnetic stech board and practice writing it over and over again...
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RE: How to Remember Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji

Postby arbalest71 » Sat 01.19.2008 5:21 am

itsumademou wrote:

Another useful thing to do is to write them down on sticky notes and stick them on everything in your house. For example:

テレビ − Television. (terebi) <-- Stick a note like that on your TV.
林檎 (りんご) − Apple. (ringo) <-- Stick that on an apple.

Do that for everything you see. The wall, the mirror, a candle, a tree - anything!


I tried that method for a while actually, and found it useful. Then I fell in with a bad crowd, and learned a lot of new vocabulary. Will I try it again? Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin.
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RE: How to Remember Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji

Postby nukemarine » Sun 01.20.2008 7:55 am

Well, I have memorized how to write all three types so I offer the following:

Hiragana and Katakana - James Heisig's Remembering the Kana. Much better than the pictograph training and rote writing in my opinion. Give yourself 12 blocks of 30 minutes each and you should have all the characters down.

Kanji - Memorizing how to write the Jouyou list will take you about 150 to 300 hours via Heisig's Remembering the Kanji if you use secondary tools like an SRS and a good source for visual stories. Seeing that you seem to be doing that in part means you probably won't have a problem with it.

Gotta admit, labeling items around your house can work. But then, so can putting said words into a contextual sentence (via jdic on yahoo for example) then putting that into an SRS.
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RE: How to Remember Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji

Postby hungryhotei » Sun 01.20.2008 8:46 am

itsumademou wrote:
Unless you're just saying the kanji for ringo isn't usually used... In which case, please give me a better example! m(__)m


You'll find that many words have kanji, but are often written in kana (how often depends on the word and context though). I'm sure you are already familiar with ones like すごい. But I think these words are especially common in the animals and plants category. You'll commonly see ねずみ・ネズミ instead of 鼠, サル instead of 猿 and キノコ instead of 茸. I think ringo is written in kanji even less commonly than these, I think in most situations you'll find it as リンゴ. My example would have been 電話 those are very useful kanji and a very useful word to learn.

(As you mentioned candle too, I think I should say that I would learn ロウャN, not 蝋燭 for the moment. Even though this one isn't that uncommon to see in kanji, I do think it is a good idea to prioritise your kanji learning. )
Last edited by hungryhotei on Sun 01.20.2008 8:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: How to Remember Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji

Postby yukamina » Sun 01.20.2008 2:37 pm

For remembering kana, read it a lot, even if you don't understand, and/or write down lots of words and sentences in kana.


Trying to remember kanji by writing them over and over won't work so well... Not when you've got too many or kanji that look similar or are too complicated.
I suggest learning the components and tying them together to remember the kanji, along with exposure. If the kanji can be seen like a pictograph, use that too(even 心 can work). RTK is a book that does this thoroughly, if that's your thing.
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RE: How to Remember Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji

Postby furrykef » Sun 01.20.2008 7:01 pm

While we're on the subject of learning kana, I think I'll mention that it's a waste of money to buy a book just for learning the kana (and particularly wasteful to buy two books, one on hiragana and one on katakana). There are plenty of free resources all over the internet for learning the kana.

Unfortunately, learning the kanji is not so simple, so buying a book is perfectly reasonable for that.

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RE: How to Remember Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 01.20.2008 8:20 pm

I would mostly agree with that, with one exception. I think that the first volume of Japanese: The Written Language, which covers only katakana (in about 120 pages) is a good book, although a little overpriced. It covers not only katakana but how to convert foreign words into katakana spelling (and vice versa) and offers a lot of practice in reading katakana and converting them. It also includes all the "innovative" spellings like クォーター and テューバ, and contains a lot of useful explanations about how katakana are used in Japanese that are difficult to intuit yourself.

Anyone can use a katakana->romaji table to get a superficial understanding of the characters, but it can be useful to do a more in-depth study as well. I wouldn't recommend JWL 1 for someone who's on a tight budget and can only buy a small number of books, though.

I do think it is a waste just to buy a book that has stroke order diagrams and practice boxes; you can make that yourself just by printing stuff out on the Internet. But personally, I don't think you have "learned" the katakana if you have memorized a katakana->romaji table but can't actually read any katakana words.
Last edited by Yudan Taiteki on Sun 01.20.2008 8:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: How to Remember Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji

Postby kevinnwhat » Sun 01.20.2008 9:06 pm

i think easiest way to remeber is to just actually use it. Read japanese articles and write your own stories/blogs. If your not living in japan, gotta practice it on a daily basis to stay accountable.
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