Japanese thoughts, JLPT

Learning to write Kanjis

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As we know, Japanese language has three scripts – Hiragana and Katakana which are phonetic and are similar to English alphabets and then we have around 2000 Kanji characters.  Native Japanese can read and write all the 2000 plus Kanjis by the time they finish school.

But what about us foreigners? Remember feeling really disappointed when I was told by my Japanese teacher that I wouldn’t be taught to write Kanjis. Since JLPT exams don’t have a writing section, for most of us foreigners writing Kanjis is mostly self taught. While I can read, I can not really write Kanjis with any amount of confidence – even really simple ones like say the Kanji for “natsu” 夏(summer):-)

Even if you lived in Japan, it is perfectly possible to get by without knowing to write Kanjis. If you’re working you’d be using a computer where you would just have to type – there is no need to worry about stroke order or stroke count there. Even in the rare instance of filling out medical forms or an application form there is not really much writing involved.

So since there is no need, there is somehow no pressure or motivation to learn to write Kanjis. For a brief while I tried practising Kanjis using “The Kanji Learner’s Course Green Book” on a daily basis. I then purchased “genkou youshi(原稿用紙)” or practice sheets and toiled on a daily basis. But, I just had to give a small break of a week for my stroke order and even stroke count to go completely haywire.

The only way to master writing Kanjis is by keeping at it day after day and not let minor setbacks let you down. After all, as foreigners we have to make up for the 12 years of school life that Japanese kids spend internalizing Kanji characters.

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