How to Learn Japanese Kanji : Learning kanji is probably going to be the thing with Japanese that will take you the longest. Most of my friends who have learned Japanese (save a few exceptions) have found kanji a bit difficult to tackle. I didn’t start learning kanji until I was already at a decent level with speaking just because I didn’t need to write.

How to Learn Japanese Kanji

In this article, I give some tips for how to approach learning kanji in a way that’s actually useful, even for a beginner in Japanese. If you start learning kanji early, it will just be easier to add on to it as you go.

Learn Japanese Kanji –Things to Focus On

When you’re first starting with kanji, you’ll want to focus on a few things. This will make learning kanji easier in the long run.

The first thing is stroke order. It might not seem important, but writing a character with the wrong stroke order can make it difficult or even impossible for a native speaker to learn. Generally, strokes go from top left to bottom right for each character. As you learn more characters and their stroke order, it will become intuitive. Just pay attention to it as you start.

Along with stroke order is handwriting. Messy handwriting with kanji is impossible to read, so try to be conscious from day one, and keep your writing neat. 

Also focus on meaning. I find it much easier to learn kanji if they are paired with my vocab words. Plus, then you’ll know they are words you’ll actually use. Learning the meanings of individual kanji can help you guess at words that you might not know if you know the meanings of the individual characters. The kanji for words in Japanese aren’t random.

Radicals can actually be a really good resource while learning kanji. Maybe this is the side of me that studied Chinese talking, but they might help you too. Radicals are the pieces of a kanji character, For example, the kanji in 好き (suki: like) has two radicals: 女 and 子. Characters that share radicals will often either have similar readings or meanings. Radicals are also great for looking up unknown kanji, and most Japanese dictionaries will have a way to look up characters using radicals. 

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Learn Japanese Kanji – Things to Not Focus On

This might sound a little crazy, but when you first start learning kanji, don’t worry too much about learning the pronunciation. There are generally two—the on-yomi and kun-yomi—but that doesn’t track for all characters, especially some really common ones. For example, 日 has five (hi, bi, ka, nichi, jitsu). Learning how to say the compound words themselves is a lot more useful than trying to guess which reading to use when you see a character you’re learning in a new compound word. If it helps you feel better, a lot of Japanese people mess up readings for kanji all the time. Don’t be afraid to ask a native speaker how to read something. It’s totally normal for everyone. 

Another thing to not worry too much about nowadays is learning how to write kanji by hand. Yes, the directly contradicts what I said about having neat handwriting before. Here’s the deal. If you write, do it neatly. But you probably won’t be handwriting much.

Everything is electronic now and everyone texts and uses computers. It’s more important to know how words are pronounced so you can type them into a keyboard and recognize the correct kanji than it is to remember how to write thousands of characters off the top of your head.

As an example, I once had a Japanese friend who literally had to pull his phone out and look up kanji when he was asked to write a single sentence on paper. It’s not that he didn’t know the characters, he just couldn’t remember how to handwrite them because he worked every day on a computer. Think about it like autocorrect for us. All of my English speaking friends constantly complain that they don’t know how to spell things because they always use autocorrect. It’s the same kind of thing. 

Learn Japanese Kanji – Study Tips

As far as actually studying kanji goes, it’s going to take effort. I recommend flashcards and a lot of reading practice. If you want some more specific resources, I gave a few in my article on study recommendations here

Studying kanji isn’t something you can do overnight. It’s going to take time and patience and you might feel like you’re never going to learn all the kanji. You probably won’t. Start by focusing on what you need. You can always expand from there. You’ll be surprised by how much you pick up over time!

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How to improve your Kanji knowledge quickly

How to improve your Kanji knowledge quickly : Hey guys and welcome to another incredible online Japanese lesson. Not if you were like me then you probably tend to avoid kanji like the plague. It seriously hurt my brain and left me feeling overwhelmed and defeated.

A guide to mastering the kanji as fast as humanly possible.

At least until I found the most amazing technique to supercharge my Japanese Kanji knowledge to the next level. Let me tell you, you are in luck, today I am going to share with you my methods and techniques to vastly improve your Kanji knowledge. If you are ready to move guys let’s go! What are we waiting for!

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Back to basics: Returning to the essential radicals.

If you already have a grip of kanji and are progressing pretty well then congratulations, you have done what most could only dream of. For the rest of us we need to return to the basics and learn to harness the power of the radicals.

Most of you have probably already heard of the radicals and come across them at the early stages of your kanji study. For those of you that don’t know the radical are small elements that are used to make up specific kanji. You remember these basic shapes first to then be able to master and remember the complete kanji.

If you don’t have a good grasp of the radicals, then you need to get back there and memorise them like your life depends on it. That is the absolute definitive step one that cannot be skipped. Wanikani have an awesome app and piece of software for this so you should check that out.

Master those before moving onto any types of kanji learning as you will need the stores from the radicals to be able to remember complete kanji effectively.

Get a good book, recourse is key for quickness.

Get a good book, recourse is key for quickness.

James Heisig’s “Remembering the kanji” is a sound investment when you are about to embark on your Kanji journey. This is the holy grail of Kanji learning techniques and should be a strong weapon in your arsenal to learn kanji quickly. Heisig’s technique uses the radicals to build your kanji knowledge, consistently and progressively over time. Even though you are not learning the most commonly used kanji first, you get to learn many similar kanji and build your experience and knowledge in a set pattern which definitely benefits you in the end. This book is fantastic for anyone looking to master over 2000 kanji quickly.

Read and write to increase your might

In order to secure a deep contextual understanding of the kanji that you are studying you will need to understand them in situ. This means you are going to need to read and write, a lot! Once you learn a kanji read sentences online where the kanji is used. This could be on www.jisho.org as they have some great recourses with thousands of sentences. Learning this way is integral to solidify the meaning of the kanji in your memory.

The nest step will be to integrate it in your writing. Message your friends or write a diary using the kanji. Get used to using it in daily like and this will really serve you well as you move forward with your Japanese. If you are studying specific Kanji for the JLPT then you can find specific kanji books for that level too as well as get access to many articles that use the kanji from that level. These can be found on amazon or even much cheaper if you are already residing in japan.

The number one hidden technique: The secret weapon

The number one hidden technique: The secret weapon

This is the biggest secret of all, without this everything else would mean nothing … constancy. Without daily consistency and discipline, you will not be able to master the kanji either quickly or efficiently. However, implement consistency and efficiency and Kanji mastery is there for the taking. You must create a routine and commit to it absolutely You need to make your kanji learning a priority and do not steer from the path. If you don’t take this seriously, it won’t be possible. Some people wont like to hear this but it’s the cold hard truth. Only those who can truly commit to the challenge day in and day out will be successful. There are no shortcuts.

Well guys I hope I didn’t scare you too much with that last one, but it is really true. It doesn’t mean that the daily commitment can’t be fun and enjoyable. Always keep in mind your end goal and what it will mean to you when you finally emerge victorious over the kanji. Thanks for reading todays online Japanese lesson guys and we wish you the best of luck on your kanji path. 

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Learn Japanese Online with BondLingo?

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