BondLingo Blog

Learn Japanese kanji – Mastering the Kanji

I’m sure when you think Kanji you also think “OH MY GOD NOOOO”. There are tens of thousands of Kanji out there which, at first glimpse, seems to be an extremely soul crushing task. But … have no fear, In Japan, there are only 2,136 Jōyō kanji ,which are the ones taught in school, these are the ones you need to focus on and will cover 95% of all the Kanji you need to know.

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But where do I start? Well there is a really famous book called “Remembering the Kanji” and this book is a great place to start. The main technique is creating stories for all of the Kanji which in turn makes them easier to remember.

Although this is good, we are of course in 2019 now and with this we have more intelligent and sophisticated recourses than mere books! (books are awesome though and you should create a library through your life)

If you are serious about learning the Kanji you should head on over to Wanikani. This is a website/ app that teaches you Kanji through not only fun stories but also through a spaced repetition system. This is the single most powerful way to learn Kanji and have fun at the same time.

Not only can you learn all 2,136 Jōyō kanji within 2 years, but you can also learn tonnes of new vocabulary along with this. Imagine being able to know over 2000 Kanji 2 years from now? WOW!
So the way you start is through “Radicals” these are the small elements that make up the Kanji. It’s a but like learning the names of the bones in your body, they help you remember the structures they make for the real kanji.

Once you have learnt all the radicals, this usually takes a week or so, you can then start properly learning the Kanji with your radical knowledge to help you remember them more effectively.

WaniKani have a really cool app as well so you can level up through the Kanji while on the move.
If you want to have any chance of retaining your knowledge of the Kanji you must commit to a regimented study routine as well as including reading in your schedule on a daily basis.

It’s also a good idea to practice using the Kanji too when you send messages to your friends, write emails or even when you write creative stories.
To summarise, focus on the 2,136 Jōyō kanji, set your goals to learn x amount per month, and remember if you don’t use it you will lose it!

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