Part 2: Learn the Script


Now that you have your immersion iPod all set up and play awesome native content, the next step is to learn the script of the language. For European languages, that’s not too hard. You’re most likely fluent in English so you don’t need to go about learning a brand new alphabet. However, I learned Japanese. And Japanese definitely does not use the same alphabet as English. So in my case, I just had to sit down and memorize the basic Japanese syllabaries: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji.


Hiragana and Katakana are easy. I memorized them through brute force and mindless repetition since I didn’t know about Anki at the time. You’re smarter than me, so all you need to do is download a kana deck from Anki’s shared decks or create your own. Then blast through them and be a master in a matter of weeks.


Kanji is a huge barrier for most people who are interested in Japanese, but thankfully a man named James Heisig made it easy for us. He wrote a book called Remembering the Kanji. The book will give you a familiarity with all 2042 most commonly used kanji and makes learning vocabulary words that use those kanji a breeze. The real strength of his book is that it breaks kanji down into what Heisig calls “primitives”. Each kanji involves combining these primitives to create the character. Once you learn the primitives, learning kanji is really quite easy.


It may sound like I’m trivializing something as intense as leaning the meaning and how to write 2000+ kanji. I promise you it’s not as difficult as it sounds. I did it in 3 months. As long as you create the habit of completing your daily reps and plug away at 20 to 30 kanji per day, you will finish without any problems.


For more specific help in what deck to use, how to test yourself, card layout, etc, check out JLUP’s guide to mastering kanji. I think these are the best articles regarding how to approach RTK and (the next subject of discussion) sentence mining.


Part 3: Sentences (coming soon)
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