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Travel, Teach, Live in Japan

Kanji - 5 Tips to Those Learning Japanese
By:Natalia Veselova

I've started to study Japanese a year and a half ago, and, of course, I've encountered numerous problems. There's one thing that I can tell for sure: Japanese language is not hard. It is just different. It maybe hard to understand, but not hard to learn - you just need to find this "Japanese mode" of yours and switch to it when necessary.

This time, however, I'd like to share some thoughts about kanji. Much like anyone I had problems with learning kanji but then I found some ways that made this process easier, more natural and fun. Hope my advice will help you too.

1. Throw away all cards

Don't make any paper cards and shuffle them. Doing so you may learn some stand-alone kanji, their meaning and readings, but that knowledge will be of little use for you. Instead of messing with cards try to learn every new kanji as a part of different words. Find 3-5 words where the new kanji is used in different positions, read them aloud and write down several times. Try to use those words in combinations with the ones you already know - every kanji should be alive and useful, not just written solely on a card.

2. Break kanji into elements

Apart from the radical look up all the other elements of a kanji and write them down separately if you feel like doing it. I usually write the radical in red color and all other elements in black. Doing so may bring you more associations and help you remembering the meaning of a kanji better.

3. Write lines

Write a line of every new kanji at least once. While doing them, repeat the readings and the meaning aloud - don't forget your aural memory, it's often neglected.

4. Look up your favorite kanji

If you have some free time you may find some kanji that mean something you like. It may be something connected with your hobby, your favorite place, leisure or maybe the meaning of your name (every name means something: Sophia, for example, means "wisdom"). Write them down, make a list of your personal favorite kanji, use different colors if you like. Maybe you won't use those kanji at your lessons anytime soon, but you'll be glad when time comes to learn them.

5. Make cards

If you still cannot live without any paper cards, make them (like anyone can stop you anyway...). But don't write a single kanji on a card: write about 5-7 and just put them around your apartment or workplace. You can put one on a shelf in the bathroom, another one somewhere in the kitchen or on your desk. Try writing some kanji that are related to the place: the card in the kitchen can contain some utensils' names, the one on your desk can be a list of things you use for work and so on.

And one big tip in the end: Japanese language doesn't live without kanji. They may be hard as hell to learn, but the sooner you master them, the easier your studies will go. Actually, kanji are your best friends when it comes to learning Japanese, so don't let them scare you.

Happy studying!

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