I’ve often said that, as a language, Japanese is simple if approached the right way. It doesn’t need to be as difficult as it is often made out to be.
However, there is no getting around the fact that if you want to read and write Japanese, there are a LOT of characters to learn.
Even if you can save yourself from months or years of confusion by grasping the fundamental grammatical structure of Japanese with a single blog post, you can’t do this with characters or vocabulary.
You need to learn them, practice reading them individually, practice reading them in different combinations, and continue to use them repeatedly until they’re firmly embedded in your long-term memory.
Tools like Anki can help tremendously, but you still need to actually do it.
This raises a few questions…
- Do I really need to learn hiragana?
- What about katakana?
- Do I need to learn kanji too, and if so, how many is enough?
Then there’s the question of when…
- When should I start learning them?
- Is it better to dive straight in, or is it better to focus on learning other things first?
All valid questions, and particularly difficult to answer when you’re first starting out.
So, I’m going to try and answer these questions for you so you can make the best decision for yourself based on your personal goals.