The Japanese writing system consists of three different character sets: kanji (several thousands of Chinese characters), and hiragana, and katakana (two syllabaries of 46 characters each; together called kana). Japanese texts can be written in two ways: In Western style, i.e. in horizontal rows from the top to the bottom of the page, or in traditional Japanese style, i.e. in vertical columns from the right to the left side of the page. Both writing styles exist side by side today.
In comparison with other languages, Japanese knows relatively few sounds, and pronunciation poses few problems to most learners. The biggest difficulty is accented, which does exist, but to a much lower extent than in the Chinese language. In addition, there are relatively many homonyms, i.e. words that are pronounced the same way but have different meanings. In this blog, we’ll discuss how one can learn Japanese using various offline and online sources in India:
Ways to learn Japanese from India:
- Set your pace and schedule: There are so many apps out there that focus on daily lessons designed to fit a pace that the learner is comfortable with. Want to jump right into hour-long lessons? Go for it! Only want to spare 15 minutes a day? This is doable. But if you want to really get a handle on Japanese in four weeks, we suggest practicing Japanese and studying for 30 minutes a day at a minimum—aim for more study-time whenever you can! You have the option to join multiple online courses like Multibhashi, Duolingo, Fluentu, etc. Also, try to learn with free apps available on the app/play store which can be very useful during foundation. Practicing from online video sources like youtube and apps may be useful too.
- Learn Hiragana: Hiragana is the basic Japanese phonetic alphabet. Learning it may seem a difficult task at first, but it is a very important step for achieving Japanese proficiency. As, there are 46 basic hiragana symbols that represent every sound of the Japanese language and they are used for modifying the meaning of kanjis, adding grammatical structure to sentences (okurigana); showing the pronunciation of unusual kanjis characters (furigana) and writing words that don’t have kanjis of their own.
- Learn to read Katakana: Learning katakana is about the same as learning hiragana, with a few Shyamalanian twists. We have yet another mnemonic-based guide for you, and chances are you’ll be able to read katakana within the next few days if you’re willing to put in the work. Katakana tends to give learners more trouble than hiragana. This is because it seems to be used less than hiragana and kanji, especially at the beginning stages. Later on, katakana will appear more frequently, but for now, simply being able to read katakana is enough. .
- Learn to type Kanji: Typing in kanji is a little more complicated than typing in hiragana or katakana, but it still follows similar rules. Learn how to type in kanji using the kanji section of our guide then read to the end. There are some additional tips and tricks in there (punctuation, symbols, etc.) that may come in handy. This is an important time in terms of pronunciation too. Make sure you consciously mimic the vocabulary audio. Think about pitch accent as you do it. This work will prepare you for sentences later.
With all that in mind, it’s time to start on some intermediate material. Make sure you are good on 100% of the previous sections before moving on. This is, by far, the most difficult portion of your Japanese education. You must have a good foundation to jump off of. When you’re ready, you can start browsing our Japanese articles and Grammar pages. Good luck!