How on earth am I going to learn to write Japanese?!?
This is something I’ve asked myself many times, and to try to overcome it I’ve had to try out many ways and also to think up various methods. Here I am going to explain one of these methods. It’s useful because it links what you are writing to the sounds of the words, and how you should pronounce them. So you are linking writing to sounds, and sounds to writing, a step up from just translating.
I will be using the Michel Thomas Method. This method traditionally has a focus on encouraging you to speak and not to write, however it can be used to help you learn to write as I’m going to explain here.
For this you will need:
- Access to a Smartphone
- A basic knowledge of the Japanese alphabets: hiragana and katakana
- The app “Michel Thomas: Japanese”. You will also have to check that your type of smartphone can get this app, for the iPhone it’s in the appstore.
In the “Michel Thomas: Japanese” app there is an option for Flash Cards:
If you select this then you will have a phrase that you are supposed to say out loud in Japanese, for example:
(This example features the word for ice cream, which is obviously a very important word to learn 😉 )
Here you would normally say the phrase that you have learnt in the class, which is in another part of the app. However if you want to practise writing, you can write out the phrase, so for the example above I would write:
(The part which means ice cream is this bit: アイスクリーム 🙂 )
The app will only give you the answer in romaji:
so it will help you to have a list of the words in the form in which they write them in Japanese, either in hiragana and katakana, or with the Kanji.
For the words that you don’t know how to write in Japanese, I would recommend that you enter the romaji version of the word in Wiktionary or in Google Translate. Then if you need help working out how to write the Kanji you can copy the Kanji that you’ve found and enter it onto this page here, made by Kanjicafe.com .
Now you can use this app to practise your Japanese writing using its Flash Cards system, while at the same time, pressing the button so that you can hear how the words and phrases are supposed to sound and link this to the writing. Then when you see the writing for the word, you will have how it sounds in your head also, because you will have heard it may times using this method.
So, very importantly, when you see the Japanese writing for ice cream, you will be able to say it right away!