Matthew Sweebe
Learning Kanji

Hey everyone! 

So I'm looking for a good way to learn Kanji. I know a majority of N5 and quite a few N4 + sprinkled in because of university. But I won't be able to take another class in the Fall of this year because of classes. So I was wondering what a good approach to learning Kanji would be since it can seem pretty daunting at times. I am thinking about becoming an ASL (Assistant Language Teacher) for the JET program to help teach English in Japan and was thinking about studying the Kanji learned through 3rd grade since that would be around where I would most likely teach. 

Do you think this is a good approach? Thank you for any feedback!

Apr 16, 2019 7:33 PM
Comments · 3
There is no good way of learning kanji. Everybody is different. I would suggeat to try different methods and find the one which suits you best. I learn Japanese and Chinese and in both cases I needed to find what suits me best. So for me I learn with stroke order which makes it easier to weite it correctly. If you learn writting the character the reading should also become easier. There is the imiwa app which I very find useful. It is a dictonary with examples plus it shows how to write the kanji. とても便利です。
April 16, 2019
I advise you to use the book "Basic Kanji" (2 volums) and it's continuation (also 2 volums)
April 16, 2019

I strongly agree with Anna's advice! Everyone learns characters differently. I'll tell you a little about my experience, and maybe that will help you somewhat, but ultimately you'll have to find your own way. My advice would be to look at how other people try to learn kanji, try it yourself, see what works for you, or what adjustments you may/may not need to make.

When I was learning Mandarin (it's my mother language) in elementary school in Taiwan, they had us just write the characters over and over again, but we would "spell" the characters using radicals. I learned all of the radicals, and this was somewhat more effective, because I was essentially just spelling bigger characters using smaller ones, but it still wasn't that good. Learn why the characters mean what they do in terms of its radicals. Wiktionary is great for this.

After moving to America, I almost completely lost my ability to read Chinese until last year. My biggest revelation was learning the characters in compounds. Trying to learn individual characters (and, in the case of Japanese, all of the pronunciations at the same time), is inefficient in my opinion. I did this with Japanese as well; I can't tell you every pronunciation of all of the kanji I know, but I know how it's read in context when I see it, and sometimes I can guess.

Use a flashcard system like Anki, and when it comes up, write it. Nothing internalizes it better than writing it, with correct stroke order. (or as long as you're consistent)

April 21, 2019