Japanese includes three scripts, namely, Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. Just like how you would start learning English by learning the ABCs, you should first start by learning the basic writing system for Japanese called Hiragana. Hiragana is the main phonetic writing system used to represent every distinct sound in Japanese language. Thus, learning Hiragana will teach you how to pronounce all the sounds in the language.
While Katakana represents the same sounds as Hiragana, it is mainly used to represent words imported from other languages.
Kanji, which are Chinese characters adapted for Japanese, are heavily used in writing. There are no spaces in Japanese so Kanji is necessary in order to separate the words within a sentence. Kanji is also useful for distinguishing homophones, which occurs quite often given the limited number of distinct sounds in Japanese.
There are 46 basic Hiragana characters. It includes
- 5 main vowels, which are ‘a’ pronounced as ‘aa’ as in ‘mark’ ‘i’ pronounced as ‘i’ as in ‘eat’ ‘u’ pronounced as ‘oo’ as in ‘soon’ ‘e’ pronounced as ‘e’ as in ‘tell’ ‘o’ pronounced as ‘o’ as in ‘more’
- 39 consonants which are made by joining a vowel at the end of a character like “ka”, “ki”, “ku”, “ke”, “ko”
- One single consonant “n”
- An alphabet “wo” pronounced “o”.
Based on my experience with Japanese language, I can suggest an easy way to learn and practice Japanese.
- Learn Hiragana (the Japanese “alphabets”)
- Learn vocabulary (with Kanji) and grammar
- Practice listening, speaking, reading, and writing
- Learn Katakana (the “alphabet” for foreign words)
- Learn how to use various tools such as online dictionaries
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 with progressively more advanced topics
Japanese is not a very easy language to learn, so the course that you pick for learning the language should be designed in a way that ensures you gain proficiency in the spoken and written language. Rocket Japanese fits the bill exactly well. It is one of the best and most sought after online Japanese language learning courses available in the market. Rocket Japanese offers a very simple, flexible and yet a pretty cost-effective way to learn Japanese. To know more about the course and its pricing, click on the link below.
Hopefully, this site and my advice will save you a lot of time and frustration, and get you started on the right foot.