Learning gives creativity. Creativity leads to thinking. Thinking provides knowledge. Knowledge makes you great. - APJ Abdul Kalam
To learn Japanese writing, you need to be motivated enough to learn the language. Because learning the language can seem intimidating at first. Japanese writing practice has many benefits that include learning important skills of self-discipline and memory. They say that if you can master the Japanese language, then conquering any other language will be a walk in the park.
Japanese language writing teaches you learning skills and habits that help you learn and tackle any other foreign language later in your life. Your memory, concentration, and the ability to think analytically also improve significantly when you expand your Japanese vocabulary.
When you learn Japanese writing, you also learn about the rich Japanese culture. Japan, being one of the cultural centers of the world, is also one of the most thriving economies. And is also considered one of the most economically safe countries to live in if you're looking for a higher quality of life. And living in Japan would demand that you have a good grasp on the Japanese language and vocabulary. Only a master in English may not get you a long way.
You will be thrilled to know that there is a whopping 130 million native Japanese speakers in the world. But the majority of these speakers live in Japan, which means that there is roughly about 1 million native speakers outside the country. This has a positive implication in terms of the demand for bilingual speakers in Japan and outside when it comes to the job market.
So, not that you're pretty much aware of the benefits of learning the Japanese language, take a look at how you can improve Japanese writing practice.
Learning Japanese Hiragana
Any Japanese language book that you pick up will start with the hiragana alphabets. Hiragana is the category of Japanese words that is used to form most Japanese sentences.
Even if you don't know the harder categories like kanji, hiragana can help you write full sentences in Japanese. It maybe noted here that kanji is mostly used to form nouns, while hiragana is used to form verbs and adjectives. The latter is usually used with kanji or even as standalone words. All particles are in hiragana.
Just like English language, you have to start with the basics of hiragana. For example, starting with あいうえお (A,E,I,O,U) helps you form a strong base for Japanese pronunciation. But how do you remember all of this? Simple. You just lay it all out on a piece of paper and try to remember it by the stroke order from the beginning. So A is あ, B is い, and so on.
This stroke memory pattern will help you as you progress through Japanese writing practice. A good way to memorize is to write down one character at least 15 to 20 times so it is impossible to forget the pattern.
It is advisable not to learn too much too fast. 5 is a good number to start with per session. It will be hard to remember everything at the start. But you will get better through Japanese language writing practice. Spend enough time with each character before moving onto the next one. In 2 to 3 weeks you should be able to learn all the hiragana characters and move on to katakana.
Learning Japanese Katakana
Learning Japanese katakana is like understanding the history of the language itself. In modern Japanese, katakana is used mostly for words imported or borrowed from foreign languages. These words may also include brand names or any other name, in general. For example, the Japanese word terebi (テレビ ), which means television, is directly derived from its French counterpart.
There is not much difference between the pronunciations of hiragana and katakana words. But the primary difference is in their writing styles. Learning Japanese hiragana first is always a good way to start your Japanese language writing before moving onto katakana and kanji.
In order to learn katakana, you basically follow the same tried and tested method for hiragana. But be careful of the writing style here. Katakana has fewer round shapes and uses more straight lines than hiragana. While some of the characters in katakana overlap with those in hiragana, the former takes lesser time to memorize and learn since you are already familiar with the basic Japanese writing style.
To learn hiragana and katakana, you can rely on free online resources like the Jisho dictionary. And if you're willing to invest some money to learn Japanese writing, then there are many books and tutorials that you can sign up for. Two great books recommended by experts are,
- Learning Japanese Hiragana and Katakana: A Workbook for Self-Study.
- Japanese From Zero 1.
Both books can be purchased on e-commerce sites and are great for beginners. They will clarify concepts around basic Japanese grammar and vocabulary. But for more in-depth and advanced studies, there are other books and resources available.
Learning Japanese Kanji
Learning Japanese kanji helps to expand your Japanese vocabulary. If one had to draw a parallel, Japanese kanji is similar to English affixes like un or re. Learning kanji is more than just a language skill, especially if you live in Japan. It is almost a survival skill if you have to get around the country and have conversations.
Just like hiragana and katakana, memorization is the best way to learn kanji as well. The use of flashcards may greatly boost your memory retention and make the task a little less monotonous. It is easy to remember the meanings of certain words in kanji than to remember how to read them. This is because most kanji characters usually have two or more pronunciations depending on how they are used.
The Anki learning app is a great tool to learn kanji. It uses flashcards to help you memorize the readings and explaining meaning associated with them. But memorization through flashcard alone will not get you very far. You also need to be able to apply them in real-world scenarios. And rest assured because this too can be handled by a tech-based learning tool, the FluentU app. It is an online Japanese language site with real-world videos to help you learn kanji. It uses extensive quizzes integrated in videos to help you learn. It is both informative and entertaining.
You will find about 2,000 kanji characters that are commonly used in Japanese language writing. And with the help of the tools and resources, you should be able to get a hang of most. Once you're past this hurdle, you can easily up your game by reading Japanese newspapers and books. or even listening to the news in the local language. Even the native Japanese may not be well-versed with more than 2,000 kanji characters (Yes. There are more!).
Tips to Improve Japanese Language Writing
Language is the roadmap of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going - Rita Mae Brown
Just mugging up the language is not enough to learn the language well. Make sure you have the basics right in order to become a master of the new skill.
The Correct Stroke Order
When it comes to Japanese writing practice, this is a rule of thumb. It is there to ensure that you can never go wrong. Even if your writing is a bit sloppy, the stroke order is enough to ensure that it's legible and follows the correct pattern.
Write in Boxes
This is a great trick to get better at Japanese language writing. Use a graph paper to start writing instead of the normal ruled sheets. It helps to keep things inside the box while working on the correct stroke and pattern.
Write Big & Slow
Do not rush it. Use bold and big characters while writing. You don't have to be excellent from the word go. But you do need to be precise. Write slowly, yet perfectly. You can gradually diminish the size of the characters as you move up the ladder of mastery.
Characters in Your Face
Have large cut-outs or prints of the Japanese characters that you are learning to practice, right in front of your eyes. Since you would have borrowed these from reliable sources like Japanese language books or expert notes, you would have the most accurate representation while practicing on your own.
Overall, learning a new language requires patience, commitment, and persistence. Without these three, the world's best experts will fail to teach you even the basics.