How do you learn the Japanese alphabet?


Quick Answer

According to TakeLessons, the best way to learn the Japanese alphabets is to learn proper pronunciation, create flashcards and study the two primary Japanese alphabets simultaneously. Learning romaji can be helpful for reading certain texts online, and learning kana is essential for getting by in Japan and reading many documents.

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Full Answer

Japan uses two primary alphabets: the hiragana alphabet and the katakana alphabet. Both alphabets have 46 corresponding characters. After studying proper pronunciation, learners can use flashcards and flashcard programs to memorize which characters correspond to which sound. Learners can study both alphabets simultaneously since both are pronounced the same.

The romaji alphabet uses Latin characters to represent Japanese sounds. This alphabet is fairly straightforward to learn since letters are pronounced somewhat similarly to how they are in English. Romaji notes can help learners using flashcards learn corresponding sounds in hiragana and katakana, and romaji is popular for writing Japanese online.

Kana is a set of Japanese characters derived from Chinese characters. While kana is not an alphabet, it's common in Japan and in Japanese texts. Again, flashcards are a great tool for memorizing these characters. Learning the primary Japanese alphabets generally takes a few days of study; learning kana often takes years. While the set of kana characters is large, most students learn about 2,000 characters, which is enough to cover about 95 percent of characters writers commonly use.

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