Point of interest: 5 Effective Techniques for Learning Japanese Kanji

5 Effective Techniques for Learning Japanese Kanji  The long history of learning Japanese kanji in America.
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The Japanese language has a long and fascinating history. The history of written language in Japan began in the 8th century. Initially, documents were written in Classical Chinese and retained their Chinese pronunciation and to an extent grammar. Over time, Chinese characters (kanji) were assigned to Japanese words, resulting in multiple ways to read the same Chinese character in Japanese.
It proved to be quite complex to write Japanese sentences using this system, however. As a result, two phonetic systems were invented to simplify the situation - hiragana and katakana - which could be used to spell out any word, in the same way as the English alphabet.
Although the written language has changed drastically throughout history, the modern Japanese written form combines Chinese characters and the syllabic kana. For more information about the rich history of the Japanese language, see [An Overview and History of Japanese Language: Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana]( ⇗).
  1. Learn and associate kanji visuals: Kanji, written Japanese, is highly visual. Each character is unique and often complex. A very effective technique is to identify ideas and images that the characters remind you of, and remember those associations. This will be a lot easier and a lot more effective than rote memorization.
  2. Use flashcards: Create [flashcards](/srs) for yourself and test yourself to make sure you understand the meaning of each word you learn. You can use index cards and create your own paper flashcards if you'd like, or you can use apps on your phone to create virtual flashcards. This is an excellent way to master both kanji and vocabulary.
  3. Learn through storytelling: If you enjoy stories, this is an excellent technique. It is a comfortable and entertaining way to learn kanji. Each kanji is composed of one or more components which have meanings in their own right. You can build a story using these components, and create a rhyme or sentence that describes the story. This technique, known as [mnemonics](/kanshudo_system), will help you deeply understand each character because you will remember the significance of each element. 
  4. Use a dictionary: There are many digital [dictionary apps](/searchq) that you can use in order to find a word if you don't understand it. You can also use a physical dictionary if you prefer a more traditional approach - or a combination of the two. The phone apps are wonderful because they tell you exactly how to write the kanji and they explain the meaning of the word.
  5. Practice every day: It requires a lot of practice and dedication to learn Japanese. Practice is paramount to mastering the art of kanji. Try each of these practice techniques, combine them, and figure out what works for you. With time and dedication, you will be able to read and write Japanese kanji fluently!
For an extensive collection of information on learning Japanese kanji, read our [blog](/blog), or take our [tour](/tour). Feel free to contact us with any questions.
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