beginning japanese, day one

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What have I gotten myself into??

Taking beginning japanese as a five-week summer session course seemed like a great idea...until I found out how much we'd have to accomplish each day. The first assignment is to learn the first fifteen hiragana characters--recognizing them, pronouncing them, and writing them. By tomorrow. Ack.

I did find a great site with javascript-powered hiragana flash cards , which is helping tremendously with recognition. I'll deal with the writing part tomorrow.

This is going to be a rough five weeks, I think.

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Preparing for our holiday in Japan I took some Japanese conversation classes. Liz does too. It's fun and Japan's a fascinating place, but it's not... Read More


I couldn't help but smile when I read this. I don't know why. (See ya around campus, Prof!)

See link from my name... I blogged about some stuff I found to help with all that... :)

Courage! ;)

Liz, you can make it. I know: i've learned them. My suggestions?
Index cards. Yes, they're a pain to make, but they rule for portability.
Do *not* get into the habit of writing in romanji. Commit the kana to your brain as soon as possible, and write with them for all your notes. you'll be glad of it by mid course.
Mnemonics are useful. Like 'ka': the KArate KAna Kicks (the board). has a little windows/linux RPG where you 'fight' little slimes who quiz you on characters and phrases. Its probably not what you need right now, but its an entertaining way to review.

Good luck!


Good luck, and I mean that sincerely. Back in the day, I took 5 terms of nihongo, and I regret to inform you that hiragana is only the tip of the iceberg. Sometimes I wish I'd stuck with it over the long haul, but most of the time, I'm just happy to catch one or two words over an episode of Iron Chef...

When you start with the kanji flashcards, stick with hiragana on the backside--it's been more than 15 yrs, and I still remember most of the hiragana, I think, as a result.

And again, good luck. I've got equal parts sympathy and admiration for those who tackle hard as it was for me, I've always thought it was an amazing language and one that taught me alot about English as well...


Liz -
Best of luck with it!
Learning your ka-ki-ku-ke-ko's are a great way to get really good pronunciation. Romaji is a terrible thing for students of Japanese as their habit of pronouncing diphthongs in the words is a hard one to break.
The fun thing about learning the other set, the Katakana, is that a lot of the words spelled out in it are loan words that you actually have a hope of understanding.
I used to have one of those little books that had pictures integrating the kanas to help you remember - there was a bird with a "Ku��� for a beak saying "Kooo!" Dumb? Yes. So dumb that it stuck.

Pretty exciting!
"javascript-powered hiragana flash cards" I took a look and seems a nice tool for the purpose. My friend(from RIT of course!) also created a similar tool,

to pull your interest into those unknown CHARs.. or maybe too much "hiragana" I guess?

Thanks for all the encouragement!

The textbook we're using has a bunch of those little mnemonic pictures to help remember the kanas, including the "Koooo" bird. They've been extremely helpful, as I tend to be a visual learner. (The "sa" is represented as someone with their mouth open, asking for more more SA-ke, which made me laugh.)

Since Lane's been studying Japanese for two years, I have an in-house study partner, and we also have a cache of Japanese children's books that he's been given as gifts (several of which we acquired during our February trip).

Kotaro, thanks for the link to to the JChar site! And Boris, your links are great, too!

goooooooood luck, liz. i spent 6 years studying Japanese. By the end I could read children's books, but still couldn't have a four minute conversation.

of course, i'm foreign language impaired, so that may just be me. ;)

I assume you're using James Heian's /Remembering the Kana/ books ... That man should be stood on top of a cake and asked to make a speech for /Remembering the Kanji/, esp vol 1, which has got to be one of the most brilliant language-learning books ever conceived. But for an O(10) glyph repertoire such as the kana, brute force may be more efficient. That's how I learned to write Devanagari in two days for a compressed Hindi course.

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This page contains a single entry published on June 7, 2004 8:06 PM.

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