Japanese Lesson 1

September 20, 2008 § 1 Comment

Japanese will probably be the easiest for me to teach because I just started learning it as well! I too am struggling to master the basics so don’t feel bad if it is hard!

First things first.  You MUST learn the alphabets.  Japanese has three different types of writing: hiragana, katakana, and kanji.  Kanji is Chinese characters that mean the same as they do in Chinese (and Korean) but have a different pronunciation.  Katakana is a derivative of Kanji and some characters are simply Chinese radicals.  Hiragana is the pure Japanese alphabet that is used for pure Japanese words.  Katakana is only used for foreign words or things like brand names while Kanji is used anywhere.

As you can see in the chart above, the sounds are romanized.  There are the 5 vowels: a, i, u, e, o and then the consonants: k, s, t, n, h, m, y ,r , w.  Your first assignment is to memorize these two alphabets!  I suggest making note cards with the sounds on the back and flipping through during any spare time you have.  Something a lot of language learners do is connect what the character looks like with the sound.

For example: the hiragana ‘ka’ looks like someone karate chopping.   The katakana ‘me’ almost looks like an x mark that you would get on an assignment.  I memorized it by thinking, “People who don’t really care about school (and would be likely to get x marks) would say ‘meh’ to an x.”  Hehehe.  Be creative and relate things to your own life and interests.  This way you will be more likely to remember them.

Ja mata ne = じゃまたね= see you later!

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