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Hiragana tips

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Hiragana tips

Postby fragilefigure » Fri 08.13.2010 3:59 pm

I looked to see if a thread like this existed and couldn't find one, but sorry if I was wrong!

Okay, so I seriously began studying Japanese about two weeks ago (not long, I know) and have not had much trouble with the hiragana so far, so I expect that and the katakana to go quite smoothly.

I made flashcards for all of the hiragana and have been trying to add five new ones a day to practice with, but lately I find that my recollection speed has slowed considerably down with the latest 10 additions. I'm worried that by the time I am using all the cards, some of the beginning cards will be forgotten, even though I review them everyday.

Should I stop adding cards for now and just completely solidify the knowledge I have of the first 35 hiragana before continuing? Or should I continue as I am going and then after I have all of the hiragana down, solidify them all together?

As well, do you have any tips for this mass memorization? What did you do to help with the beginning stretch of Japanese?

Arigatou!
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Re: Hiragana tips

Postby Snowflake » Fri 08.13.2010 5:05 pm

If you haven't had a chance to take a peek at smart.fm yet, that might be a very good option for you. Smart.fm is a free-to-use flashcard-like study site which uses spaced repetition to help you retain the information you study. In other words, the program itself will determine when to repeat a character you've learned. The better you are at getting a character right, the longer it will be before you see it again.

Smart.fm is just one of many sites, programs and iPhone/Touch/Pad apps etc. that use spaced repetition. I mention smart.fm because it's one of the sites I personally use and therefore know, from personal experience, how it works. Your study sessions are broken up into little chunks (you choose between studying 5 or 10 per session). They show you the character, show you an animation of how it's written and pronounce it for you. For testing, sometimes they'll show you the character, then give you a group of 5-to-10 multiple choice options. Other times, they'll show you the character and require that you type in the pronunciation with no hints. Either you know it or you don't. For all questions, you are on a timer.

Smart.fm calls its flashcard sets "goals". Since you're just starting, check out the goal called Master Hiragana (there's a corresponding one called Master Katakana). Smart.fm will track your progress on each individual item and for the goal as a whole. Even after you complete a goal, it will tell you when you should review it again. I have one goal now which I don't need to review for another 8 months (hope I remember the items then :P ).

Anyway, give them a peek -- they may be just what you're looking for!
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Re: Hiragana tips

Postby ending » Fri 08.13.2010 8:33 pm

I second smart.fm- I use it to learn vocab and it's really helpful.
For kana, I used the Real Kana website for drilling ( I liked that you can choose which kana you actually want to study).
I would also suggest looking at Read The Kanji- I'm pretty sure you can access the kana and jlpt 4 lists for free. That website uses spaced repetition also, and lets you customize how many cards you want to do at a time along with a few other things. I'm finding it really helpful.

Good Luck!!
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Re: Hiragana tips

Postby The Lady Ashuko » Fri 08.13.2010 10:26 pm

When I learned hiragana about 5 years ago, I knew very little about computers, so my method is a little archaic. I had a book written all in romaji (had I known this, I wouldn't have bought it because I didn't want to ever build connections in my mind between the Japanese word and the romaji) but it turned out to help me. I completely ignored the words and the grammar but just transliterated from the romaji to hiragana and if I didn't know it off the top of my head I looked at the chart and kept going. Every time I need to look at the front I did, but noticed that I retained it pretty well after a few pages.
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Re: Hiragana tips

Postby Rossie » Sat 08.14.2010 10:24 pm

Dear fragilefigure

I learned hiragana when I was 7 years old drawing them. Now I teach them and send my students to do drill exercises like repeating 25 times each hiragana:


first the pure
a i u e o - ka ki ku ke ko
sa shi su se so - ta chi tsu te to

then impure in the same order ( A KA SA TA NA HA MA YA RA WA N )

and Diphtonges .


Then I make Flashcards for each group with words that have the hiragana they learned

AOI > blue
AI > love

so they recognize them

I hope this helps you.
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Re: Hiragana tips

Postby Rossie » Sun 08.15.2010 12:07 pm

Dear Fragilefigure,

I learned hiragana when I was 7 years old. I learned the pure sounds (A ka sa ta na h ma ya ra wa n) withing a week with drill exercises and next week the inpure and diphtoinges.

what I do now as a teacher is prepare flashcards with the hiragana one side and the other side the romaji (with pencil) . After drill exercises, I ask my students to preprare their own flashcards using colors for each gyo , for example, a i u e o in green / ka ki ku ke ko blue.

Then , they have to look for words that use the hiragana they just learned, for example

ai > love one side of the flashcard in hiragana (each hiragana in a diferen color: a -blue- i -red- ) and the otherside the romaji ( a -blue- i -red- )

Personally I think drill exercises help a lot. I send my students a lot of homework. They have to repeat 30 times each hiragana.

Hope it helps, Rose
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Re: Hiragana tips

Postby CajunCoder » Wed 08.25.2010 6:25 pm

Don't get caught up on Hiragana/Katakana. By that, I mean... You don't have to go through so much effort to, sequentially, memorize each letter.

Are you studying the language yet? Even simple vocabulary and phrases? Are you taking notes?

Do not study Hiragana and Katakana "just a few letters at a time." Familiarize yourself with all of the characters quickly (flashcards are good for this initially), and as soon as possible, read and write hiragana as often as possible. Are you taking notes? Write any and every Japanese word down in Kana. Take the time to look up characters if you can't remember them. Don't be afraid to use a character just because you haven't "learned it" yet. You learn them through using them, so simply use them!

At first it is a pain, but very quickly, and perhaps partially because it is a pain, you will remember them as you force yourself to use them. Of course, some characters you won't use as often, and will forget more. If, after a few days, you've noticed that you remember nearly all of the characters, pay close attention to the ones that you find yourself forgetting. Focus on those characters a little bit, and then go on.

Don't make it harder than it is. You don't wait until you have systematically "learned" something before using it! If you do that, you will never become fluent in any language. It will be a long time before you know enough Kanji to read Japanese fluently, and without interruption. It will be a long time before you can have long, detailed conversations. But you if you wait until you have magically "learned" the language before attempting those things, you will never get there. So, do these things as soon as possible, no matter how over your head they may be. You will get a better idea of what you do know, what you don't know, and what you need to know, and it will serve to put what you learn into practice, and meaningful context. Those things are the key to learning.

So, to sum up this big post in a few words: Don't make it into a big deal. Just USE it! You can easily become fluent in reading/writing Kana in a week. You just have to... you know, do it! :P

PS. replace "reading/writing Kana" with "insert skill here," and "week" with "however long it takes," and that sentence is applicable to just about any area of learning any language. The key is, just USE it! :wink:
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Re: Hiragana tips

Postby Jerrid » Mon 10.04.2010 4:49 pm

I my self am studying Japanese. I started back in highschool, by just using cassette tapes and the books that went with them. I did not get very far, always had the fear of since I could not ask any one, the cassette could have possibly been incorrect due to over use or the sound was so faint I could not distinguish it. Regardless, I actually learned and still retain some of the "spoken" Japanese, but usually just the ones that sound like English.

But now I am almost completely starting from scratch trying to learn to read it. I am only 13 letters into it, up to "su" or す right now. I am also beginning to feel I am slowing down. But this is natural for me... I have a hard time paying attention even to some thing I want to learn. Even when I try to force it, it still doesn't seem to stick. In fact it seems that when I do not try and purposely say "screw it" I learn it... but that doesn't make any sense.

So what do I need to do? I try to keep my motivation up by looking at Japanese things here or on Youtube, particularly the Japanese culture and especially their food since I am trying to learn to cook Japanese food and I see Japanese typed and I like it that I can read it now, or at least a few... but I am not really reading any thing at the moment, only sounding out the sounds with out knowing what they mean... but it is still enjoyable.

Cajuncoder... you say to learn them all quickly, not a few at a time... but I can not learn them quickly. But how quickly do you mean? Three a day or the entire alphabet in three days? If I tried the later I would not know any thing in all honesty. Even with flash cards, I have to know the letter before I can try to remember it. Or does this trick work because it triggers some thing in the brain?

And Rossie... what is the point of the different colors? I am not understanding that concept? Does it make it easier to remember the starting sounds as in "ka" or "su" etc?

Also repetition of writing some thing does not seem to really help me... and I am not sure why... I can write some thing 30 times or 50 times and may learn it for the time being, but if I go to another one or even a previous one, I almost instantly forget it. The only times I seem to actually learn it is not repetition it self, but repetition of trying and failing, getting angry at my self and really trying to concentrate to recall it and then for some odd reason I learn it... but why should I have to get that far and angry with my self to learn it?

Also does writing bigger or even on a whole piece of paper one word make it easier to learn? Like in calligraphy they usually write huge, can that help to remember it since you are using your whole arm and wrist, opposed to just fingers and maybe a little wrist, writing so small on regular paper? I notice when I mimic it in the air, but doing it big, I actually feel like I can learn it faster...
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Re: Hiragana tips

Postby Snowflake » Mon 10.04.2010 7:36 pm

Don't worry about speed, Jerrid. Some people learn quickly (those who say "I learned all the kana in 3 days"); others (like me) move far more slowly. This is not a race. This is not a competition. You'll learn at the pace that's right for you once you settle in on a method with which you're comfortable. Or perhaps you'll use a combination of methods. There are no rules.

That said, if you're not happy with your current pace, or if you're frustrated by a lack of retention, don't fret. Eventually, it will stick. I'll repeat the suggestion I gave above: smart.fm. Have you had a chance to try it yet? It's free. The "Master Hiragana course (and its companion, Master Katakana) exposes you to 10 (or only 5 if 10 seems too daunting characters at a time. You see it, hear it and see a romanization of it. If I recall, you can also see an animation of it being written.

After you go through a few, they'll start to repeat. Perhaps you'll be given a multiple choice question (pick the proper sound from this group of 10). Or perhaps you'll be given a fill-in-the-blank (type in the sound for あ).

Gradually, they'll add in new characters, while drilling you on the ones to which you've already been exposed. Eventually, you'll see them all and, believe me, you'll drill them all because smart.fm works on an SRS system.

For what its worth, Jerrid, I'm *still* struggling with kana recognition (especially katakana, since I don't see it as often) and I re-started my studies way back in April. I'm a lot faster than I was 6 months ago but I'm still not lightning speed. I can't see and say as fast as I can with English and that's my eventual goal. I certainly cannot simple read kana. I have to decipher it.

Just keep plugging away at it. You'll get there. And don't let the lack of kana speed keep you from doing/trying other things. Every exposure to your kana, be it through drilling or through reading other things, strengthens your recognition.
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Re: Hiragana tips

Postby The Lady Ashuko » Mon 10.04.2010 10:27 pm

Jerrid, kana studies don't need to be as daunting as you are making them out to be. Don't stress out over it, because let's face it, if you constantly stress out over your progress you could decide to quit and no one wants that for you.

My advice is to use it as often as you can manage. Don't limit yourself to a textbook or flashcards. Write your grocery list in Japanese, or print out labels to put on the things in your home so that when you see them you have the opportunity to review. When I was still an uber beginner, I used to read manga or children's books solely with the intent to get the sounds. I ignored grammar and vocab.

The more you use it in a practical sense, the faster you'll retain it (or at least that's how it worked for me). I learned katakana in a little less than two weeks without studying it once. I was in Japan and eating often in bakeries, which label almost everything in katakana. I'm picky about food and I learned quickly certain characters to avoid and what they stood for, and gradually picked up the rest.
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Re: Hiragana tips

Postby Jerrid » Tue 10.05.2010 12:37 am

The Lady Ashuko wrote:
My advice is to use it as often as you can manage. Don't limit yourself to a textbook or flashcards. Write your grocery list in Japanese, or print out labels to put on the things in your home so that when you see them you have the opportunity to review.


Thank you Snowflake, I will have to try it. I did not click on the link before, but I will. And Lady Ashuko, I had actually planed to label every thing in my rooms with Japanese to help me learn. :D But I did not think to do that with me having to learn the alphabet first, since they are not full words, but sounds... Does it make sense to learn words by speaking and reading before you learn the alphabet? I know I could recognize the whole word with the suggestion you made with labeling every thing, but I read it is important to learn the alphabet first... so I have not labeled any thing yet or even tried to learn more words.
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Re: Hiragana tips

Postby The Lady Ashuko » Tue 10.05.2010 3:31 am

Jerrid wrote:And Lady Ashuko, I had actually planed to label every thing in my rooms with Japanese to help me learn. :D But I did not think to do that with me having to learn the alphabet first, since they are not full words, but sounds... Does it make sense to learn words by speaking and reading before you learn the alphabet? I know I could recognize the whole word with the suggestion you made with labeling every thing, but I read it is important to learn the alphabet first... so I have not labeled any thing yet or even tried to learn more words.


If I understand correctly all I can say is this: to learn in a vacuum is difficult. That's 46 arbitrary symbols you are trying to learn before you even start on the language (not including katakana).

What I'm talking about is, say you have a desk and it's labelled (つくえ) and you remember it as 'tsukue.' Then you see your shoes, and they are labelled (くつ). You may remember these symbols from the desk and so you know they are 'kutsu' Then you see black (くろい) and remember 'ku' and possibly 'i' from your studies, but don't know 'ro' until you look it up, but now you have a connection in your mind for when you see a word like (ふろしき) or 'furoshiki' (I don't know if you have furoshiki lying around, but I needed a 'ro' word to keep my example going). I'm not saying to ditch traditional methods or anything, but using this as a tool to cement the symbol with the sound in your mind (and you could even pick up a few words while you're at it ;) )
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Re: Hiragana tips

Postby furrykef » Tue 10.05.2010 8:43 am

I've probably mentioned this here several times already, but one more time couldn't hurt. :)

One of my odd habits is bringing pencil and paper to restaurants. This is so that I can have something to draw while I wait for the food. (This annoys my mother to no end.) When I was learning the kana, instead of drawing I usually just tried to write the kana from memory. The first couple of times I might have needed to compare what I did with a kana chart when I got home, but soon enough I no longer needed to compare it with a chart. That's not to say I always remembered the characters, but usually I would either remember one or I wouldn't remember it at all... it was rare that I wrote one incorrectly or wrote the wrong character.

After a while you just see the kana so often that you can't help but read and write them correctly. By now I can even read them with some ease, though I still can't read anywhere near as fast as a native speaker yet.

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