Learning Hiragana: The Foundation for any Japanese language learner

There’s good news and bad news with learning Japanese. The bad news is there’s three alphabets, two with about 50 characters, and a third, Kanji, with 2-3,000. The good news is the first alphabet you learn, Hiragana, has sounds that are repeated for the rest of the alphabets. So once you’ve mastered Hiragana.  

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Introduction to Learning Japanese Kanji

Learning Kanji can be a daunting task. There are about 1,000 – 2,000 Kanji that are necessary to learn in order to be able to read newspapers, street signs, and menus in Japanese. With all these Kanji characters, it’s important to know the most effective order for learning them. In this article we’ll explain how to start learning Kanji, and give you the very first beginning Kanji.

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今年の漢字

WIT Life is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends along with her own observations. Well, it’s the end of the year already, and if you’re like me you’re wondering where 2015 went.  The last time I checked in here was four months ago, which was pre-Paris attack and pre-Presidential ...

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今年の漢字2

WIT Life is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends along with her own observations. In a follow-up to yesterday’s post about the top 10 buzzwords in Japan this year, the country’s “kanji of the year” was just announced. 税 (zei) or tax was selected, referring to the consumption tax increase ...

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2014年の現代用語

WIT Life is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends along with her own observations. Every year Japan picks the top 10 buzzwords for the year, out of an initial pool of 50 nominated phrases.  You can find the list and explanation of selections in Japanese here, and below I will break them ...

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Successful Strategies for Remembering and Using Kanji

Let's face it, 漢字 kanji is torture. It is. It's Chinese characters that have been tweaked to *fit into Japanese, and have both Chinese readings, 音読み on'yomi, and Japanese readings, 訓読み kun'yomi. Not to mention that a lot of kanji has the same exact reading as other kanji...

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What is the difference between Miru and Mirareru? 日本語の文法

A lot of students at Hills Learning that are learning Japanese have questions on grammar. I found this question in particular to be of significance, and felt that it had been repeated quite a few times. So I decided to write an article on it! What is the difference " miru" and "mirareru"? 「見る」 と 「見られる」 見る? 見られる? 

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Learning Katakana - Interesting Tips and Tricks

It's always confusing for new learners to become masters at reading and writing Japanese, especially because Japanese has three "alphabets" instead of one. Luckily, you have come to the right place to get better at all three, but in particular, Katakana...

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The Art of Speaking Japanese - "Chunking" Level 2

A few weeks ago I wrote an article on “chunking.” Simply put, “chunking” means to treat long strings of modifiers along with the modified noun (usually) or action as a “chunk,” a unit. Longish Japanese sentences can look complicated and complex when they’re actually very simple, structurally. 

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The Art of Speaking Japanese - "Chunking"

As native English-speakers learning Japanese, there are a few extra tools that’ll really help you make sense of what’s going on in the more complex Japanese sentences. In this lesson I want to introduce you to one of them l call “chunking.” Long Japanese sentences can look complicated and complex when they’re actually very simple, structurally. 

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Written Japanese - The Lowdown on the 3 Alphabets

Scared of written Japanese? Does the thought of learning kanji 漢字 (the Chinese characters) give you sudden dread and make you want to sign up for French or Spanish or German or Farsi?? Japanese is generally considered to have one of the most fiendishly difficult writing systems on Earth. 

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Learning Hiragana: Finishing Up the Final Rows

Learning Hiragana is a crucial part of becoming a speaker of the Japanese language. Not only does the alphabet provide you with all the pronunciation sounds you’ll have to learn in Japanese, but also gives you an opportunity to be able to read the Japanese language. 

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Learning Kanji – Beginner Concepts and Simple Strategies

The most daunting yet fulfilling to learn alphabet in Japanese is Kanji. Kanji literally means “Chinese character,” because literally the alphabet derived from Chinese characters. In English, it’s similar in that the roman alphabet came from Latin, however Japanese Kanji words and Chinese words are actually quite similar. 

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