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MochiKana - Learn Japanese step by step easily

Don’t know where to start?

View detailed guide for beginners

3 steps to learn the Japanese language at home

How should beginners learn Japanese?

You're looking for a study technique but there's too much information coming at you. You get lost and can't help but wonder in confusion "Which is the right one for me? " Don't fret! This is a normal phenomenon. Language learning is a long strenuous process that it is no surprise if you ever get lost at the beginning and don't know where to start.There are 3 pieces of advice for you on how to reach Japanese fluency:
  • Learn the Japanese alphabet and pronunciation: If you’re thinking about learning Japanese, the Japanese alphabet is a great starting point. This is the backbone of all Japanese learning courses. It helps you learn the basics of pronunciation in Japanese and start to understand the building blocks of the language.
  • Learn the basic Kanji and vocabulary: Kanji and vocabulary require a never-ending learning process as you can come across unknown words from time to time. Hence, you should first concentrate on learning Kanji and then learn vocabulary to improve your Japanese.
  • Regular practice: First, you must set specific goals for learning Japanese. From there it will be easier for you to create an effective study plan

Step 1: Learn the Japanese alphabet and pronunciation

The Japanese alphabet is three writing systems that work together. The names of these three alphabets are Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Don't worry if it seems overwhelming. If you plan to visit Japan or want to learn the basics of Japanese, knowing Hiragana and Katakana would be very helpful. Kanji is a little more challenging to learn. Let’s learn together about the Japanese alphabet from A to Z!
1. Hiragana : Hiragana is the foundation of learning Japanese. You can learn the fundamentals of Japanese pronunciation with it. There are a total of 46 basic Hiragana in this Japanese alphabet. All start with 5 basic vowels a-i-u-e-o and the rest are just those 5 vowels with a consonant to form a new syllable. For example the second row with “K” consonants we have 5 new Hiragana Ka-Ki-Ku-Ke-Ko or with “T” we got Ta-Chi-Tsu-Te-To, and so on."
step1 table hiragana
2. Katakana :Compared to Hiragana, Katakana is used for non-Japanese or loanwords: a word adopted from a foreign language. The Katakana character set conveniently includes the same sounds as Hiragana. Some of the characters even look a bit similar, like ‘mo’ – and – and ‘ya’ – and .
step1 table katakana
3. KanjiThe first thing you need to know is that Kanji isn't always just a collection of symbols you connect together to create sounds and words as Katakana and Hiragana are. A Kanji can represent a single word. Additionally, Hiragana and Katakana are frequently employed to explain the meaning or pronunciation of a Kanji.

How to learn Japanese Alphabets with MochiKana

We offer a clear and detailed learning path to help you learn Japanese step by step, starting from the basics Japanese alphabet: how to learn Hiragana and Katakana. Let's have a quick look at what you'll learn!
  • Unit 1: 46 basic characters
  • Unit 2: Dakuon & Handakuon characters
  • Unit 3: Small & long vowels
  • Unit 4: Hiragana/Katakana combination
In each unit, you will go through:
  • Character lessons: Learn how to write and pronounce Japanese characters.
  • Practice lessons: These lessons consist of words that are created by combining Hiragana/Katakana characters, which helps you remember lessons better.
  • Practice Test at the end of the unit: Challenge yourself on MochiKana’s tests to evaluate your memory ability.

Step 2: Learn the basic Kanji and vocabulary

1. Reasons why Kanji is necessary?

Learning Kanji is undoubtedly the most difficult challenge for Japanese language learners. But the deeper you dive into Japanese, the more you understand why Kanji is so important!
First, Kanji helps distinguish between words making sentences easier to read. Hiragana won't be sufficient to convey what you're writing once you've advanced to the point where you can use it to write complete sentences. Sentences in Japanese are not separated by spaces; so, Kanji helps separate the words from each other, making it easy to read and understand the right meaning of the sentences. The Kanji are the points that start a word. Take a look at the example below:
(Both sentences mean exactly the same thing and are read exactly the same (ni wani wa niwatori ga iru). The only difference is that one is written in Kanji, and one is written in Hiragana only)
  • にわにはにわとりがいる: There is a bird in the yard
  • 庭には鶏がいる: There is a bird in the yard
Next, Kanji helps distinguish the meaning of words with the same reading. You can understand what you mean in Japanese by using Kanji (Chinese characters), which has several homonyms with various meanings. Example: The word あつい (atsui) has 3 meanings:
暑い: hot (the weather)
熱い: hot (thing)
厚い: thick
So how to pronounce Kanji?In terms of pronouncing Kanji, there are two different methods: Onyomi & Kunyomi. The readings (on'yomi and kun'yomi) of Kanji are very complicated.
  • Onyomi ( 音 読 み): Readings derived from Chinese pronunciations. A two-Kanji (or more) compound usually takes the on'yomi readings.
  • Kunyomi ( 訓 読 み ): The original, indigenous Japanese readings. These include the majority of the beginner words you learn from textbooks and in class, including nouns.

2. Japanese Vocabulary

How Many Words Do You Need To Be Fluent In Japanese?

To be regarded as fluent in Japanese, you just need to be familiar with roughly 5,000 vocabulary words. But for some, these figures can still seem excessively high. Stop concentrating on the numbers, please. Let's focus on learning Japanese vocabulary instead.

How to memorize Japanese better?

People take hours and hours just to read their vocabulary lists and remember Kanji over and over again. Some people could write down the same words hundreds of times, filling entire notebooks with them. But nobody seems to benefit from this. When you finally put the notebook and pencil down for a few hours, it simply adds to your tension when you realize that you barely recall what you studied hours later. It's being studied incorrectly by you. Finding the best method of study might be difficult for many beginners. So, here's a technique to get you started learning Japanese the right way with Spaced Repetition method

What is Spaced Repetition?

Spaced Repetition is research-proven the most powerful technique for strengthening one’s memory. Remember all the lessons you frantically crammed the night before your exam but faded away a few days later? We don’t want our users to just merely pass a test like that. In opposition to the “cramming” method, by which you can learn information in a short period but will forget soon afterward, Spaced Repetition method asks you to revise material at systematic intervals.
spaced repetition table

Step 3: Practice Japanese

Let’s spend time practicing your Japanese skills! After you have finished the alphabet and some basic Kanji, the next step depends on your learning goal.
1. Certification goal: Take time to review basic Kanji, grammar, vocabulary, practice Japanese writing, reading, and listening tests at all levels to enhance your level.
2. Communication goal: You need to focus on practicing listening and speaking Japanese for beginners by watching movies and videos, and listening to Japanese conversations, and podcasts,...

Extra tip: How to type in Japanese?

You can now read and correctly pronounce Hiragana (take your time, speed isn't that important). It's time to get good at typing on a computer or mobile device.
You must first install a Japanese keyboard.

1. How to install a Japanese keyboard?

The first thing you need to do is figure out what kind of computer you're using. Here's an easy way to tell:
If you're struggling with typing Japanese on your smartphone, follow the steps below to add Japanese on the keyboard:
  • IOS: Setting --> Language & Region --> Add Language --> 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Android phone: Setting --> Language and Input --> On-screen keyboard -->Samsung keyboard --> Languages and types --> Manage input language -->
  • Japanese Mac OS: System Preferences --> Language & Region --> Click on the plus + symbol underneath the Preferred languages list --> Add日本語 - Japanese
  • Window computer: Setting --> Language settings --> Click on Add a preferred language --> Search for Japanese, select 日本語 - Japanese -->Install

2. How to type in Japanese

Before you start, turn on your Japanese keyboard.
Hiragana: This table displays Japanese keyboard characters and the inputs you type to make them appear. Based on tables, you can easily type Hiragana. For example, to produce あ you type a.
Katakana: To switch from Hiragana to the Katakana keyboard, you have to do is hit the spacebar after you've typed the word in Hiragana. If you spelled the word correctly, your IME will almost always recommend the word in Katakana.
Convert to Kanji: You can start converting some of it into Kanji now that you know how to type in Hiragana and Katakana. similar to how you did with katakana letters, by using the spacebar. Press the spacebar when you've finished typing it. A dropdown box with conversion options will be provided. Select the desired one by scrolling through the list.
Repeat pressing the spacebar until you locate the desired option.
Wait! Have you scrolled through a thousand Kanji and are now unable to discover the first kana? It only takes one escape key press to return to kana. (Only once, as otherwise your writing will be deleted.)
It takes some getting used to, but after some practice you'll be typing the Japanese alphabet Kanji and using space and enter to cycle through your options automatically.

3. How to type some difficult letters in Japanese

  • Typing small tsu: The small kana " tsu"is a Hiragana or katakana "tsu" character reduced in size. You don't need to type ltu, xtsu, or any of those other combinations to get the little tsu. Let's use a double consonant to write the Japanese word in romaji. Your Japanese keyboard will know what to do and generate a in the proper place.
Typing small tsu table
Typing half-sized characters: You can see lots of half-sized characters in casual Japanese. If you follow Japanese users on social media, you've easily seen these chibi kana mixed in. Below's how to type in your social media messages:
Typing half-sized characters table
There are several odd kana pairings because foreign words that have been translated into Japanese are frequently used, in addition to foreign names. This is how to type those uncommon combinations:
how to type those uncommon combinationshow to type those uncommon combinationshow to type those uncommon combinations
Typing 「ん」 = “nn”: Notice that typing requiress you to type nn. When you type "n" , you have the chance to hit a,i,u,e, or o to create な,に,ぬ,ね,or . To tell the keyboard, "I'm attempting to type ," you need an extra n. It will mean the difference between:
create な,に,ぬ,ね, or の table