How YOU Will Learn Kanji

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” The Dalai Lama

If you’re using TextFugu, you’re probably not a normal person. You’re not “old fashioned” or “old school” and you’re willing to try something new (and maybe nothing else worked?). TextFugu’s kanji method will seem pretty weird to people who haven’t tried it before, but if you spend some time with it you’ll definitely fall in love.

The reason that most kanji methods / teachers teach kanji the old way is twofold:

  1. They are native Japanese speakers: Now, I don’t want to put a downer on native speaker teachers, because they’re great… the problem, however, is that they have absolutely no idea what it’s like to learn Japanese. They learned it before they could even remember learning it. They have no idea what you are going through, plus they learned kanji by memorizing it as a kid in school. So, obviously this is the best way for you to learn, right? (wrong).
  2. If they are not native Japanese speakers, then at this point they have probably been studying Japanese for so long that they also can’t remember what it’s like to learn something like kanji from scratch. On top of that, they probably learned the old way too, which means they will pass that on to you, too.

TextFugu, on the other hand, has really taken kanji learning apart (and actually thought about how it should be done). So, stick with me here. Other Japanese learners will look at you funny, but they’ll convert over at some point, when they see how much you’ve learned in such a short amount of time.

Here’s how you’ll be learning kanji on TextFugu.

Step 1: Learn the radicals (you’ll learn about these soon). Radicals are like pieces of a kanji – kind of like how the letters make up the words you’re reading. Instead of learning kanji stroke by stroke (which is dumb), we’ll put together radicals to create bigger, slightly more complicated kanji. You can’t spell “dumb” without the letters D-U-M-B, right? Basically, we’re doing away with the notion that kanji should be learned stroke by stroke. Instead, you’ll be putting radicals together, like pieces of a puzzle, which means you’ll be able to learn kanji faster and more effectively (especially from a memory standpoint).

Step 2: After you’ve learned the radicals, we’ll start putting them together to build kanji. Using mnemonic devices, you’ll learn the pronunciation of each kanji as well as how to read / write it. We’ll also learn common words that use these kanji in them. With the 80-20 rule, too, we’ll cut the fluff (i.e. anything you probably won’t end up using 99.9% of the time… and there are a lot of these).

Step 3: Continue to progress in this way. Instead of focusing on starting with the simplest kanji meanings, we’ll focus on learning the simplest kanji (from a number-of-strokes standpoint). By starting with easier kanji and working our way up to more complicated kanji (i.e. kanji with more strokes), we’ll be able to use kanji you already know to build more complicated kanji later on. That’s fewer things for you to remember, which means you won’t have to strain your brain as much.

Step 4: You’ll use practice worksheets, unconventional memory tricks, and the best tools out there to study these new words and get them into your long term memory. Once you get a kanji into your long term memory, it’ll be there for a while. With everything we do, that’s going to be the goal. Thinking ahead and focusing on this will help you learn much more quickly.

All that being said, I’d love it if you got started. Learning kanji radicals will be your foundation, so it’s important you do this step well. Think of radicals as your foundation. If you don’t have a foundation, there’s nothing solid to build on.

Radicals are the first thing you will learn about kanji, so you’ll need to spend some time getting familiar with them (that’s what the next chapter is about). Radicals aren’t usually taught in traditional Japanese classes, though they really should be. It might seem like extra work right now, but there’s so much carryover between radicals and kanji that the time you save by learning them first will be so obvious once you get into kanji as well.

Anyways, no better way to get started than to get started. Let’s move on to radicals!

← 後 Next Lesson β†’