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How did you memorize Hiragana?

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How did you memorize Hiragana?

Postby Ukeath » Mon 06.30.2008 8:40 pm

I'm curious as to how other study hiragana and katakana. I'm still finding it really dificult to do. It seems like my mind can only hold so many characters.
Anyway, how did you do it? Also do you have any tips? :D
Thanks Ukeath
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Re: How did you memorize Hiragana?

Postby chikara » Mon 06.30.2008 8:48 pm

Repetition, write them over and over again.
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Re: How did you memorize Hiragana?

Postby piepiepie75 » Mon 06.30.2008 9:19 pm

I practiced writing them, quizzed myself on them nearly everyday, and then started on reading them in long sentences. It can seem like a huge task for those who are just starting out, but I think just taking your time and going at a pace your comfortable with will allow you to pick it up fairly easily.
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Re: How did you memorize Hiragana?

Postby becki_kanou » Mon 06.30.2008 9:48 pm

When I was in highschool and just beginning to study Japanese, our teacher gave us print-outs that had cute mnemonics relating the shape of the kana to the sound.

E.g. い is two eels, ち is a cheerleader etc.

I found them very easy to remember, and I can still recall each mnemonic even now 12 years later.

I wish I could remember the name of the book...Perhaps someone here is familiar with it? It's similar to Kana picto-graphix, but by a different author.

And of course as everyone has recommended, just write them over and over and over again.
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Re: How did you memorize Hiragana?

Postby chikara » Mon 06.30.2008 10:10 pm

becki_kanou wrote:.... い is two eels, ち is a cheerleader etc. .......

A couple I remember from my Japanese course are;

る is someone/something with a ruby
ろ the ruby has been stolen by a robber

Some of the mnemonics I've come across don't make sense to me. For example in this set of mnemonics sob is used for さ, say is used for せ, knot is used for な. I guess it depends on how those English words are pronounced in your particular flavour of English.
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Re: How did you memorize Hiragana?

Postby furrykef » Mon 06.30.2008 10:30 pm

I learned the kana from the CD-ROM book "Human Japanese", which was a part of the package "Instant Immersion Japanese" (worthless, don't buy it). I mostly just wrote them over and over again... I'd do so once every day or two, and I'd bring pencil and paper with me to restaurants (one of my idiosyncracies... I always bring pencil and paper to restaurants) and practice them there while I wait, and I'd practice them at idle moments at work...

It did have a few mnemonics, though. Draw the second stroke of と big enough to fit a "toe" in, for る, think of a curly kanga"roo" tail, and for り (and katakana リ), think of a pair of "ree"ds, and for ふ, think of Mt. "Fu"ji, つ looks like a tidal wave from a "tsu"nami, and katakana ノ has "no" strokes attached to it. Those are the only ones I remember, but there may not have been any more in any case.

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Re: How did you memorize Hiragana?

Postby Harisenbon » Mon 06.30.2008 11:47 pm

my favorite mnemonic was ね is for ねこ, わ is what the cat says after you cut off his tail. ;)
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Re: How did you memorize Hiragana?

Postby JaySee » Tue 07.01.2008 5:57 am

I agree with Chikara that the only way to properly learn the kana (and kanji for that matter), is by constant repetition. It all depends on the effort you put in because there really are no shortcuts.

Try writing them down over and over, visiting Japanese websites to try and pick out the hiragana you can read on there, and test yourself every so often by writing down some Japanese words you already know in kana.

I personally never used any mnemonics because I didn't find them useful at all, though this of course depends on the person and you should figure out what works for you yourself.
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Re: How did you memorize Hiragana?

Postby Ukeath » Tue 07.01.2008 5:36 pm

Ok thank you for the info guys :D .
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Re: How did you memorize Hiragana?

Postby Ukeath » Tue 07.01.2008 8:35 pm

Sorry for the double post but since we are on this topic, is there one that should be learned before the other? I was thinking katakana first because they look less complicated. But I have heard you should start with the hiragana. Any thoughts?
Thanks again :D
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Re: How did you memorize Hiragana?

Postby Sairana » Tue 07.01.2008 8:40 pm

Ukeath wrote:Sorry for the double post but since we are on this topic, is there one that should be learned before the other? I was thinking katakana first because they look less complicated. But I have heard you should start with the hiragana. Any thoughts?
Thanks again :D


A generic consensus is, if you're going to Japan in the near future, learn katakana first as it has a higher "survival Japanese" factor.

If you're not headed out the door to Japan just yet, hiragana will serve you better earlier since most grammar elements are in hiragana (conjugations, particles, etc).

Though, you're probably going to learn both in a (relatively) short period of time, so it doesn't really matter which you do first.
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Re: How did you memorize Hiragana?

Postby chikara » Tue 07.01.2008 8:52 pm

Sairana wrote:A generic consensus is, if you're going to Japan in the near future, learn katakana first as it has a higher "survival Japanese" factor. ....

Yes, in that scenario hiragana will not help a lot as you will not be able to read the kanji that are used for the nouns and the verb stems. However, having said that, although you can read katakana characters doesn't mean that the loan word they represent will be immediately obvious. I found it an interesting exercise to go into one of the European style bakeries (such as Andersen) and try and work out just what the products were. Some were obvious and some took quite a while to get.

Sairana wrote:If you're not headed out the door to Japan just yet, hiragana will serve you better earlier since most grammar elements are in hiragana (conjugations, particles, etc).

Though, you're probably going to learn both in a (relatively) short period of time, so it doesn't really matter which you do first.

I agree, learn hiragana first but you shouldn't take long to learn them bot.
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Re: How did you memorize Hiragana?

Postby furrykef » Tue 07.01.2008 9:21 pm

Or you could learn katakana first for the thrill of being able to read a lot of Japanese words immediately. "Bus" is "basu", "computer" is "konpyuuta" (or "konpyuutaa"), "credit card" is "kurejitto kaado", "sign in" is "sain in" (which I saw at amazon.co.jp), "hotel" is "hoteru", "sex" is "sekkusu"... the list goes on and on.

But then you'd have a bunch of words and no way to form sentences from them. You need grammar, and for that, you need hiragana. On the other hand, plenty of real Japanese sentences use no katakana at all. Myself, I learned both before really studying either vocabulary or grammar, though I did do hiragana first.

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Re: How did you memorize Hiragana?

Postby JaySee » Wed 07.02.2008 4:25 am

I learnt katakana first. The fact that I was then able to go to Japanese websites or open Japanese newspapers and pick out some words that I could actually understand as well, was a pretty good incentive for me to keep on studying.

But I agree, you'll have to learn both hiragana and katakana in the end anyway, and the amount of time this takes is many times less than the amount of time it will take to get a good grasp of kanji, so it doesn't really matter that much.
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Re: How did you memorize Hiragana?

Postby robrave » Wed 07.02.2008 8:43 am

I unconciously learned hiragana when converting them to romaji.

We love to buy anime cd's and tapes before. Of course, there is an accompanied lyrics. Cassette tapes has lyrics in which kanji has furigana. Well, in order to be able to sing the song I converted them to romaji. No forcing myself to memorize. When I see the character, I look it up then write. I did this for all the songs I want. Then I just realized, there's no need for the hiragana tables. I unconciously memorize it while still having fun ;)

I'm not that fluent in katakana as compared to hiragana as most of the lyrics are in hiragana. But I memorized it using repetition.

For now, SRS is the best option to memorize symbols :)
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