Kana memorize learn hiragana and katakana with mnemonics and flash cards game
If you want to study Japanese either for fun or to pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), it is best to start from Kana.
Remember Kana is Fast and Easy
There are about 102 symbols (46 monographs, 36 digraphs and 25 diacritics) in both hiragana and katakan. But the good news is that you only need to remember monographs and rules about how diacritics and digraphs change the sound of the monograph. So for both hiragana and katakana we need to memorize only about 100 symbols.
The majority of people can remember kana in one day with enough effort and using the correct techniques. With little effort, about one hour a day (split into a few sessions), hiragana or katakana may be learned in a week.
There are a few techniques you can use to boost memorization and you should choose those that works best for you: For some this means memorizing the look of the kana symbols whilst others find it easier to remember a few words of text, associations, etc.
Some exercises that may help you to remember kana:
- try to draw kana. This will help you to remember, so you'll remember how the kana table and what each kana looks like
- pronounce kana sound when drawing it, handwrite kana/sound, it may boost memorization
- try to find any associations between kana and something you know well, for example, kana う has something similar to Latin i
- if you have difficulty finding associations by yourself, there are mnemonics made by others, try them and try to remember the mnemonic image and mnemonic text
- memorize kana in small blocks of about 5-10 symbols each
Mnemonics and other tips
Mnemonics refers to any system or device designed to aid memory–usually, patterns of letters, ideas, or associations, such as ROYGBIV to remember the colors of the rainbow.
For example, this mnemonic image is for は:
The mnemonic text is: "I live in a house."
Some mnemonics can be connected:
ほ - "A house becomes a home with a satellite."There are hiragana mnemonics and katakana mnemonics.
Some kana symbols are similar, like katakana カ (ka) which is similar to hiragana か (ka). Some kana looks similar to Latin or Cyrillic symbols, for example: ゆ (yu) looks like Cyrillic: ю.
Consolidate your knowledge
With techniques described above you can memorize kana quickly, but at the same time it is easy to forget everything you've learnt. When we learn new things they are stored in the short term memory first, and if the brain considers the information as useless or irrelevant, it erases it. In order to save kana into our long term memory, we need to use the information - practice.
According to the forgetting curve, you will lose ~50% newly remembered information within one hour and in 2 days only ~30% will remain. This is where spaced repetition systems can help. If you want to remember something long term such as vocabulary in a foreign language or facts you need for your profession, the most efficient way to learn that material is spaced repetition.
Kana memorize iOS app
The Kana memorize app provides all you need to learn kana, in your mobile phone. It includes both hiragana and katakana tables with each kana containing sound, strokes, mnemonics, tips and a flash cards game.
There are two ways you can learn kana using the app: the kana table and the flash cards game, with kana details easily accessed from both.
The app tracks your progress overall and for each individual kana symbol. Kana symbols that need your attention are colored in red or yellow and those you have already memorized are colored in green.
The flash cards game algorithm is optimized for exactly one purpose - helping you to memorize kana. There is a question with 4 answer options. You must select the correct answer or tap on the question for help. Once you made a wrong choice there is a details page available for the kana where you can revize the correct sound, mnemonic and tips.
There are 4 question sets:
- hiragana / sound and sound / hiragana
- katakana / sound and sound / katakana
- hiragana word / translation
- katakana word / translation
You can choose which sets you want to study. The app follows the common practice which is to study hiragana first and katakana next, however you can change this in settings if you so choose.
There is a web version of flash cards available.