Mnemonics, really?

A lot of replies mention reading (which I agree with 100%).

Many replies hint that spending two years learning kanji without getting into reading shows a lack of direction in learning Japanese.

Following these, I recommend reading through the Refold web site. (It’s for language learning in general, so it doesn’t go into anything Japanese-specific.)

Start by reading through their Simple Guide for Stage 0, Stage 1, and Stage 2A. You can go back and read the Detailed Guide for those stages later, and you can save reading 2B and beyond for when you’ve reached Stage 2A in learning Japanese.

How well you do in reading will be directly related to how much grammar you’ve learned. I think the Refold method is geared more to jumping into reading, and looking things up as you go. (This is essentially what I did for learning grammar, alongside watching Cure Dolly’s videos on youTube.)

To help ease yourself into reading, I highly recommend joining the Absolute Beginner Book Club here on the forums. We’re starting a new manga in a couple of weeks, which you can buy digital.

Once you get to know the basics of Japanese grammar, reading should become quite a bit easier. However, you’ll want to learn the readings for kanji rather than just knowing the meanings. You can subscribe to WaniKani to start learning them, and see whether than will work for you. Or, you can start putting together a vocabulary deck in Anki to start learning the readings.

If you’ve never watched anything in Japanese, you should start doing so, so you can get used to how the language sounds. If you’ve already watched shows in Japanese quite a bit, you’re good here.

If you start reading soon, learn grammar as you go, and keep at reading every day, you will see improvements including in kanji recognition. The brain is a pattern recognition machine, and you’ll start recognizing kanji that comes up again and again, and in what kind of contexts it appears.

Reading will be slow at first (could take an hour to get through a few manga panels, including time to learn the grammar used). But if you read daily, then after a year you will see substantial progress. (Many first-time readers see amazing progress by the end of their first book club manga volume read.)

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