Free Online Course
"HIRAGANA - JAPANESE LETTERS"
Is this your first time studying Japanese? Learning a foreign language can be very exciting, but at the same time, it can make you a bit nervous. It might be okay to jump into any Japanese language class with no knowledge, but you may feel overwhelmed by the unfamiliar language first. In fact, it could be a very uncomfortable environment for some people. Therefore, the impression and future direction of studying may be affected by how you start. Most people tend to have a busy schedule and could be difficult to find the right class. Since this course is a completely self-paced online course, you can study in a comfortable and flexible environment. You won't concern about how other people do and you can focus on your learning. Additionally, you don't need to fight with traffic and leave work earlier for your class.
The purpose of this course is to help you get some ideas of Hiragana. This course requires that you already have a passion for studying! That's all you need. The most important thing for you to recognize in this course is having the effort. Basically, all you need is to be able to access the internet. However, I suggest having a notebook and a pen to practice Hiragana, as well.
Steps for mastering Hiragana:
Learn how to pronounce each letter. Watch the videos and practice how to pronounce each letter.
Learn how to write each letter and practice. You should make an effort for this. Stroke order videos are available, please watch them and learn how to write each letter. Also, Printable flashcards are available. If you have a printer, you can print them out and use them for studying.
Try the practice sheets and take note of the results. If you mastered them, congratulations! You can move forward. If you are not satisfied with the result, I strongly recommend that you review them again. Hiragana is the base of reading and writing skills. Creating a solid base is more important than rushing.
Japanese Writing System
In the Japanese writing system, we use three types of alphabets: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. We combine them when we write vocabulary/sentences. Regarding children's books, some are written all Hiragana. Also, some books have Furigana which is are pronunciations of Kanji. Reading those books is very helpful for improving your Japanese writing and reading skills. The books for adults have Furigana attached to uncommon Kanji. Also, originally the vertical writing was main, but these days you see mostly horizontal writing. However, Japanese novels are still in vertical writing.
Hiragana, Katakana, Kanji ? What's the difference?
If I describe them very simply,
Hiragana: In Hiragana, every letter has one sound. You can express all of the Japanese languages in Hiragana. Hiragana is the first step for learning Japanese writing.
Katakana: Regarding Katakana, each letter has one sound as well but mainly use for foreign words. It is very uncommon to write sentences using only Katakana.
Kanji: Kanji was Imported from China. Students in Japan learn 2136 Kanji in the school system (12 years). Learning Kanji will be a long process.
It isn't easy to memorize them all at once, so we will focus on Hiragana in this course.
Hiragana is phonogram. Each letter has only one sound. Japanese has only five vowels a-i-u-e-o. These are based on Japanese pronunciation. Using Hiragana, you will be able to write all of the Japanese languages. Therefore, all students should start by studying Hiragana as the first step of Japanese writing study.
History of Hiragana:
Hiragana’s origin is Chinese characters. However, Hiragana is functioning only as sound and doesn’t have any meaning. Hiragana was called “Kana” or “Onna-te”, it was mainly used among women for a long time. They used Hiragana for writing stories, diaries, letters, and waka (Poems). Women using Kanji was not undesirable. After going through few language developments such as “Manyou-gana” (8th century) and “Sou-gana” (9th century), and became the current Hiragana letters. The accurate time when Hiragana was completed is still unknown.
Currently, we say Hiragana has 46 letters. However, until the Edo period, Hiragana has 50 letters. The Japanese language has been changing and those four letters sound went extinct.
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