I’m incredibly new to learning Japanese and finding it a struggle to balance learning hiragana, katakana, and kanji all at the same time. I’m wondering what suggestions anyone has for being an effective learner and which route I should take in learning the language. Also, in learning the kanji, doe future lessons feature the sounds of Japanese? Thank you so much! ありがと!
Welcome! All words have audio recordings, which I definitely recommend enabling. Listening to the words while reading the kanji helps reinforce the readings, and it will help make sure you pronounce the words correctly, especially with regards to some non-obvious pronunciation details like pitch.
If you’re looking for a more basic guide on general pronunciation, you’ll have to look elsewhere, though.
Kanji lessons and reviews include the reading. For vocab items, there’s also audio that you can set to autoplay during lessons and/or reviews, but you have to change the setting to that in your user settings.
My thought is that if you are Very New - - then take one week,., or two… and just focus only on hiragana and katakana. Your Hiragana foundation is essential to everything else you will do.
Struggling to find a balance seems incredibly common for us early learners; remember that this is a long term proposition, so be sure to keep yourself motivated in the short term by setting near-term goals, then ,., - - ,., don’t listen to that voice of long-term discouragement.
Prepare yourself for a long hike to the summit, and find your comfortable pace. Re-evaluate from time to time, but keep walking forward!
Definitely learn kana before starting to learn kanji. I have heard of people learning hiragana and katakana at the same time, but I think most people learn hiragana first and then katakana. Find whatever works for you, it’s not a race.
Not kanjis, but vocabulary. Kanjis have multiple readings and only the most common one is taught in the kanji lesson, so it wouldn’t be very helpful to have audio for that. Go to Menu / Settings/ App and enable autoplay audio in lessons and reviews.
In order to avoid being a statistic, have solid goals (both short-term and long-term) which will help remind you why you’re studying Japanese. You need to develop established study habits so that major or minor blips in your life don’t derail your progress. Study Japanese in a well-rounded fashion will afford you opportunities to be successful at something (e.g., include grammar studying, listening practice, writing practice (handwritten, typed, or both), speaking practice, etc.). Have a person or a group to help you stay motivated/accountable (preferrable a fellow learner) and be ready to drop people who are negatively affecting your studies (i.e., people who have nothing constructive to help you with your studies). Be sure to enjoy yourself in your studies; negativity (excessive anxiety, etc.) affects one’s ability to acquire language skills. EDIT: Be sure to check out these resources as well.
Quite right. And just to elaborate: the readings that various kanji have are only used ultimately in vocabulary. To put it another way, when you study kanji (pink background) on WaniKani, you are not studying vocabulary per se. It’s more that you are studying the building blocks of vocabulary. It’s only when you study vocabulary (purple background) that you are actually studying words and therefore hearing the sound becomes appropriate. Otherwise you might be left with the impression that for example こう(kou) is an appropriate way to pronounce 口 when you see it by itself.
But all that’s a bit confusing because many “words” in Japanese are made of two or more kanji attached to each other (like 人口 -じんこう-jinkou). And with no spaces between words in written Japanese, it can be difficult to distinguish where one word ends and the next begins.
To digress just a little, I think this is an area where WaniKani excels. By teaching you the relationship between kanji and applied vocabulary as taught here, you get a much stronger understanding of the written language. I have studied and been exposed to Japanese for many years before starting WaniKani, and while my grasp of grammar is decent, I’ve always struggled with kanji. This method has been way better at teaching both kanji and applied vocabulary than whatever I’ve tried in the past, and it’s not just the mnemonics and SRS. A big part of what’s effective with this site is the way they build from radicals to kanji to vocabulary.
As others have stated, I wouldn’t bother with kanji until you’ve mastered both hiragana and katakana. It should only take a month or two at most. Once you do that, you can join us in the neverending kanji grind. What fun.
I totally agree with everyone suggesting learning the kanas before turning to Kanji.
I do have a few tips for learning and coming more comfortable with hiragana and katakana.
Don’t think that just because you can identify them on a flashcard that you are doing studying. Since hiragana and katakana are alphabets, you need to practice reading them in sentences.
I suggest finding some random things online to read. Don’t worry if they aren’t 100% hiragana and katakana. Just pass over any kanji that you don’t know (for now).
Read aloud. It may feel silly at first, but you need to teach your tongue to do the things your mind is hearing.
Don’t worry about vocabulary (just for this exercise).
Try to read accurately and at a steady pace. This will take some times, but your goal should be to find and keep a rhythm when reading. Obviously, don’t push it too fast. Accuracy is more important than speed.
I think if you do the above you’ll reach that moment when your brain is no longer turning か into “ka”, but it just voices the sound instead. Also be sure to throw in some writing practice. It may feel like an extra step at the beginning, but the method of recalling the information is different. Being able to turn “ka” into か without pause will form an even stronger relationship in your brain!
I hope any of this info helps. Best of luck on your language learning journey!
Most important! Have fun
Try to make it fun and interesting, always. Otherwise it just becomes a big chore. Have it relate to the content you dream of consuming when you’re “fluent”. When you’re inventing mnemonics make them silly, gross or offensive. Same with example sentences for learning grammar. A fun and emotionally engaging study session stays in the memory longer than than a boring ass repetitive grind.
Consistency is next most important. Studying Japanese for half an hour every day is more effective than doing six hours at the weekend even though it’s nearly half the total time. Every day puts things into your subconscious mind more quickly. Have you seen the movie The Shawshank Redemption? It has nothing to do with learning Japanese but has a good philosophy/message that can be applied to learning Japanese.
Don’t underestimate the importance of daily listening practice. It helps you to remember readings that are exceptions to the rule and is the single most important factor in being able to hold a conversation.
If at any point you feel really frustrated, that is normal. It’s usually a sign of burnout or a least mental tiredness. Similar to lactic acid in the muscles after exercise. It’s OK to take well earned breaks. Plan rewards for achieving learning goals. For example, once you feel like you know hiragana and katakana like the back of your hand celebrate (go out and get hammered? ) that in style giving yourself a big psychological pat on the back.
Always keep this in mind. I AM NOT STUPID. Japanese can be rather challenging at times.
This is a week later so im not sure it will still be helpful but to this point of learning hiragana first then katakana second, I truly recommend learning them both at the same time. Letter by letter, I think this will make a stronger tie in the long run.
I learned hiragana first and katakana much latter and honestly i still struggle with reading katakana as quickly. the more i tie kata into hira, the more im able to read it naturally.
It is perfectly acceptable in Japanese to write in hiragana, especially as a beginner. Children’s picture books are usually written almost entirely in hiragana, for example, which makes sense because small children will have a relatively huge phonetic vocabulary. They will know many words by sound, but will know almost nothing of kanji.
Of course you’ll want to add in kanji to your writing as you learn them, to the best of your ability, but definitely start with a good foundation of hiragana (and katakana).