How to start learning Kanji? [FJL Podcast]

Today I’m talking about Kanji.

Have you started learning Kanji?

Kanji is really different from Hiragana and Katakana,

So many learners struggle with learning it.

One of you asked me

“How to start learning Kanji?”

Great question!

In this episode, I show you the first step of Kanji learning.

If you do this, you find it getting easier to learn Kanji!


Why is Kanji difficult?

Kanji learning is challenging because each Kanji character has several readings.

Hiragana and Katakana are phonetic letters.

It means, even though there are a few exceptions, one letter has only one pronunciation.

Once you memorize how to read each letter,

you can read sentences or texts!

The primary function of Hiragana and Katakana letters is to represent Japanese pronunciation.


BTW, If you want to master the correct pronunciation of the Japanese language,

I explain the details in the books, Complete Japanese Hiragana and Complete Japanese Katakana.

You can buy them at your local Amazon store.

Please click the links to learn more.

Complete Japanese Hiragana

Complete Japanese Katakana


Kanji is different from Hiragana and Katakana.

Each Kanji character has several readings.

But why? Let me explain.


Kanji originally came from China

In the Chinese language, each Chinese character usually has only one reading.

Even though there are many Chinese characters, you can read Chinese text if you memorize how to pronounce each character!

Then, why Japanese Kanji character has several readings?

When Chinese characters came to Japan, our ancestors use them with Chinese pronunciation.

But, soon, our ancestors noticed that each character represents meaning.

“Oh, we also have the word which has the same meaning!”

So they started using Chinese characters to represent Japanese words.

Then Japanese Kanji was created.

Many Kanji characters have Chinese origin reading, which is called On reading,

and Japanese origin reading, which is called Kun reading.

And this causes the problem when we learn Kanji because there are so many readings.


Then how can we approach Kanji?

I recommend you to learn Kanji words rather than each Kanji character.

For example, the word Sunday is 日曜日 にちようび in Japanese.

When we write this word in Kanji, にち, and び are written in the same character, 日.

Within one word, we use the same Kanji character twice, and the pronunciation is different!

It’s really confusing, isn’t it?

But once you focus on a word and meaning, it’s getting easier to understand.

にちようび means Sunday. The first character, にち 日 part shows the meaning “the Sun.”

The rest part of the word, ようび 曜日 means “a day of the week.”

When you see the Kanji word and understand the meaning, you find it easier to memorize this word.

And this is the way Japanese kids understand Kanji in their daily life.

Before learning Kanji at an elementary school, Japanese kids see lots of Kanji words in their life and hear adults read them.

Gradually, they can guess the meaning of each word and character.

Then they start learning how to write and use Kanji characters at school.


I recommend you to learn Kanji like Japanese kids

Open your Japanese language textbook, and see the vocabulary section. Most Japanese textbooks show words written in Hiragana and Kanji.

For example, the word “Sunday” is written in Hiragana, にちようび but also in Kanji 日曜日.

Most beginners read the Hiragana part only but just have a look at Kanji as well.

Don’t worry, they won’t bite!

Soon you’ll get used to Kanji words, and once you start learning Kanji, you find it easier to understand the meanings and memorize them.

Don’t be afraid. Look at Kanji words and absorb them.


Recap: The first step of Kanji learning

Kanji is different from Hiragana and Katakana, so we need a bit different approach.

My recommendation is to look at Kanji words when you learn Japanese and get used to them.

If you get familiar with them, it’s much easier to learn Kanji!

Happy learning! ✨?✨

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