- To learn hiragana is to create a foundation for the rest of your Japanese. By learning hiragana, you will learn the basics of Japanese pronunciation. It will also open doors in terms of the Japanese resources you can use. There are no (good) Japanese textbooks or learning resources that don't require you to know hiragana. In essence, it's the first step to learn Japanese.
- Many classes and individuals spend months learning hiragana. This is too long. You should be able to learn everything in a couple days. A week, tops. Some people have reported back that they could read all the hiragana after a few hours, using this method. How long it takes depends on you, but if you follow the steps laid out below, you'll come out the other side with the ability to read hiragana.
- To make this possible, you will employ a few important methods.
- Mnemonics: Due to hiragana's relative simplicity (at least compared to kanji), image-based mnemonics are a perfect method for memorization. Each hiragana character has a memorable illustration that goes along with it. For a long time I believed that mnemonics were a waste of time. If this is you, I recommend you give it a serious try. It's amazing what you are able to memorize when using a mnemonic method.
- No Writing: "WHAT? NO WRITING!?" you scream. I know what you're thinking. But, think about it for a moment. When's the last time you actually wrote something by hand? Probably the last time you had to sign your name on a receipt at a restaurant. The need to write by hand is going down. Most of your written communication comes in the form of typing. Learning to read can be done very quickly and is very useful. Learning to write doubles or triples how long it takes to learn hiragana, with very little real-life benefit. It will be important to learn eventually, but for now you have more important fish to fry.
- Exercises: As I mentioned earlier, there are exercises for you to go through. They also happen to be very well thought out, too. If you do them, and you don't cheat (yourself), you will learn hiragana. In these exercises, you should do your best to force yourself recall items, even when you don't think you can come up with the answer. The more effort and strain you put into recalling something, the stronger of a memory your brain will end up building (as long as you actually recall it, that is).
- For the most part, if you follow along and do everything that this hiragana guide says, you will learn the hiragana. It will be difficult not to.
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- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2023
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