Hiragana and katakana

The first step I took to learn Japanese was to memorize hiragana and katakana, what are known as the “50 sounds” of Japanese. Both have the same pronunciation, but katakana is used to sound out foreign words. I wanted to focus on learning hiragana without relying on the words and sounds of another language. I think I managed to work this out by using YouTube and a few other tools.

First, this YouTube video sings the sounds and shows the words:

I looked on the web for Japanese websites for children and found some worksheets at kids@nifty.com. There are worksheets for hiragana and katakana.

I think that starting to memorize hiragana and katakana can be intimidating. There are many different symbols to memorize. It was difficult in the beginning to decide the best way to break down the number of characters to memorize at once. Then there are different methods of memorization, such as flashcards or mnemonics. I found some helpful tools through MIT’s OpenCourseWare website. The hiragana study material breaks down the basics of hiragana into exactly seven days. The katakana study material is broken down into six days. I really like the materials because it includes listening exercises. It definitely worked for me. Give it a try if you’d like to learn hiragana and katakana!


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