The first and most important step that I discussed in a previous blog is mastering Japanese pronunciation.
The next step for those who are studying Japanese to speak, read and write Japanese is to learn the Hiragana script. The best way to do this is to break 109 characters into smaller parts to ensure you can remember the characters more easily and to ensure you do not feel overwhelmed. I suggest you learn 10 characters at a time. If you are using the Japres Hiragana Flashcards, each day add all the characters you have learned to a pile and go through them to make sure you still remember them easily. Soon that pile will grow and grow until it contains ALL of the cards! 🙂
Once you have mastered the hiragana cards, it is time to move onto the katakana script. Follow the same strategy and soon you will know the 115 katakana characters on each of the katakana flashcards as well!
Now that you have learned all of the characters, you can begin to practise your knowledge and see how quickly you recognise the characters by reading the Japanese vocabulary on the bottom of each flashcard. You will notice that there is no romaji (Japanese words written with English letters), this is on purpose. Another piece of advice from experience is not to rely on romaji once you have learned the Hiragana and Katakana scripts. I learned this the hard way. When learning vocabulary during my school studies, I would learn them by translating them back into romaji and wasted so much time in reading comprehension tests as I was not able to read the characters as fluently as I could have and sometimes ran out of time in tests. When I taught my daughter Japanese, I used the wisdom I had gained from my own experience and as soon as she had learned the Hiragana script, all of the vocabulary and sentences she was learning, I typed out in Hiragana and I was amazed at how quickly she was able to read and translate the sentences. So BIG advice for you – let go of romaji as soon as you have learned the Hiragana (and Katakana) scripts and you will be amazed at how quickly you will be able to read and interpret the written scripts, especially during your reading comprehension tests.
Reading the scripts is not the only important part of learning Hiragana and Katakana, being able to write the characters properly is very important too. Each of the cards contains the characters with stroke order to allow you to copy and learn to how to write the characters properly. Practise regularly and at first they will look a little funny but with practise, you will be writing them quickly and perfectly.
OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION
What does a little tsu っ or ッ in the middle of Japanese vocabulary mean?
When you see a little っ or ッ in between two characters it means that there is an extra consonant for the next character (e.g. if the っ or ッ is before the ko (こ/コ) character then it is kko as in Nikko.
How are long sounds shown in the Hiragana and Katakana scripts?
In the Hiragana script, there will be an additional vowel character after a character. A great example is the word Ookii (big, large) おおきい shows two vowels at the beginning to indicate a long ‘o’ sounds and an extra い at the end of the word to show the word ends with a long ‘i’ sound. This is the same with other vowels such as ‘あ’ e.g. じゃあまた (after ja there is an extra ‘a’ character to indicate the long ‘a’ sound is required). The other very common way to indicate a long ‘o’ sound is to add the ‘u’ う character after a character that contains the ‘o’ vowel (e.g. ありがとう and たんじょうび); even though they are written with the ‘u’ character, we read and pronounce these words as arigatoo and tanjoobi.
It is easier in the katakana script as the words that require a long vowel sound contain a dash ‘ー’ (e.g. ケーキ and コーヒー). These are read and pronounced as keeki and koohii.
I will add more tips and tricks and useful information to the FREE RESOURCES section of the Japres website – www.japres.com.au
Leave me a comment to tell me of your experiences and if there are any areas you would like some resources to help you with your Japanese studies, let me know and I will create these too. 🙂