Japanese Kanji Made Easy:
An Easy Step-by-Step Workbook
to Learn the Basic Japanese Kanji
To be published some time in 2023
by Lingo Mastery
Nonfiction/ Language book/ Japanese
Ecopy received for review
You may have read that I recently decided to learn Japanese, and this has become a bit of an obsession. Actually, can you even manage to learn Japanese if you are NOT obsessed, lol?
So today, I’m presenting a very special kind of nonfiction, an ebook I just received from Lingo Mastery for review: Japanese Kanji Made Easy: An Easy Step-by-Step Workbook to Learn the Basic Japanese Kanji.
I already have two books published by Lingo Mastery, on Hiragana and Katakana (two of the 3 Japanese alphabets). I like the way they work, so I was thrilled with this one on Kanji.
And obviously, you first need to master hiragana and katakana to be able to fully enjoy kanji learning.
I am currently working with a few other tools, so I’m planning to start working daily with this book in January.
But I have been through it and can see that it will be very useful to consolidate what I already know and expand my vocabulary.
The goal of the book is to present 102 most basic kanji used in daily life in Japan. They all appear in the JLPT 5 (which is the easiest level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test). And this is roughly the number of kanji you need to know to pass this forst level test.
The focus is also on helping to write Kanji, though I was told that in fact it is not that useful to focus on writing. A lot of Japanese are not that good at writing Kanji, and when you take the JLPT tests, it’s just reading not writing them. But writing can definitely help memorize! And that’s how I will approach the writing practice.
The book starts with a nice and simple presentation on the history of kanji.
Then there are 5 thematic lessons. Each contains 3 sections:
- Explanation and structure
- Boxes where to practice the kanji writing and learn vocabulary at the same time, by adding the kanji in a box
- And advanced section, to practice listening (audio files are available through a link), reading, and writing longer sentences
Lesson 1 has 30 kanji on people, nature, and body parts
I like that they start with pictograms, and where the kanji came from. It makes it easier to remember. They repeat the pictogram on the following pages for each kanji.
They also give the basic rules of stroke order and stroke endings.
The advanced section contains the days of the week.
Here is an example:
Lesson 2 has 26 kanji on numbers and time
It explains 6 different counters. Also how to tell time and date.
The advanced part is also about the price of clothes.
Lesson 3 presents 19 kanji on places and directions
Lesson 4 has 17 kanji on verbs, with basic conjugation rules
Lesson 5 has 10 kanji on adjectives
Not sure why they included only one color!
There’s actually a 6th lesson, but it is a review lesson, covering all the 102 kanjis learned throughout the book.
It works with short paragraphs (a few are in audio) on different characters, and questions on them, some in English, some in Japanese.
And obviously, the Answer keys are at the end of the book.
It’s also thrilling to know Lingo Mastery is preparing a second book on more advanced kanji!
I hope they will soon publish it in print, obviously better, so you can really practice the writing in the boxes prepared for that purpose.
And I can’t wait to start diving into this! Thanks Lingo Mastery!
VERDICT: Perfect tool to start learning basic Japanese kanji!
Emma, do you know the author Susan Spann, who writes historical mysteries set in Japan? She is a cancer survivor and an American lawyer, who retired to Japan and is climbing all the mountains there. She is a student of Japanese writing and has won awards for her work. I follow her on Facebook.
Denise, you have the most wonderful finds! No, I didn’t know about this author and her project. I added book 1 in the series to my TBR and signed up to her newsletter
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I have followed her for years. When she still lived in California she would post beautiful pictures of her coral reef aquarium. She raised seahorses and kept us up to date with stories of their life. After her struggle with cancer she decided to climb 100 mountains in Japan and moved there to accomplish her goal. Follow her on Facebook too. She posts more there about her travels in Japan, her house and kitty there and lots of posts about the food in Japan.
Fascinating, thanks for sharing
Joyeux Noël et bonne année! 🥳
Merci, à vous aussi
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Et à Toi. 😉
This sounds like such a good guide. I learned a little Kanji when I was studying Japanese, and I found it to be a really fun challenge😁
Yes, it IS fun!
I do very much like the pictograms you feature – mother, friend – showing how they might visually relate to the ideas they represent. It’s a bit late in life for me to consider a disciplined approach to learning a language like Japanese, though the fact that the Chinese writing system also derived from pictograms has always intrigued me.
Well, for years I have been saying I was too old to learn Japanese (I’m in my late 50s), but finally a young person managed to convince me it was NOT too late! And it’s actually really good for your brain, as you need to make lots of visual and vocal associations to remember, so it activates a variety of zones in your brain!
Actually the Japanese kanki come from the Chinese pictograms
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You’ve taken on a real challenge here. Do you have anyone you can practice the oral skills with?
Not really for now. I may get a tutor down the line, though my purpose is the reading, not the speaking per se, as I’ll probably never be able to go to Japan. Actually the speaking is easier than the reading, lol
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That looks like a great format for learning and good it has an audio link too. I’ve learned just a few Chinese words since my son learned Mandarin and my d-i-l is Chinese. Interestingly – I had French in 6th grade and although I can speak only a little, I can still read pretty well in French.
Yes, reading French is rather easy, as there are so many cognates with English
Sounds like an interesting book and author.
Auhor not sure, but the book yes
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This is very cool! Part of me would love to learn a little Japanese, and I think it would be exciting to learn a language where the written characters are very different. But I also would really like to make sure I keep my Italian and Spanish in practice, since I’m getting pretty rusty in both! I’d love to be able to balance them all.
That’s exactly what I have been doing to learn Italian (and allow me now to read books by Italo Calvino in Italian).
If you choose Duolingo for instance (which really is a good beginning), you can say say you speak Spanish and you want to learn Italian, so everything will be between Spanish and Italian, no English. That’s what I’ve been doing, so I review my Spanish at the same time.
And I use Duolingo for Japanese as well, though I complement it with several other tools, like this book.
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That’s a clever way of doing it! I need to return to Duolingo.
And Duolingo has a new interface, using more space repetition
A great review, good luck! and I understand what you mean. It is my third year studying Japanese, and, to be honest, I am starting to struggle quite a bit. I changed 4 teachers so far and three textbooks (started with Genki, then Japanese For Busy People, and then Minna No Nihongo), and it has been hard for me, but I am getting there. At least I got hiragana, katakana, and the present, past and imperative tenses down! I also find it easier to learn kanji by writing them down. I have recently purchased a book “Breaking Into Japanese Literature” by Giles Murray, and finding some stories advanced, but some very doable! I also watch anime and read manga, as I know you do the latter, too. It would be nice to hear about you learning in future and maybe exchange learning tips!
wow, that Murray’s parallel book sounds fantastic!
I’m using wanikani for kanji. https://www.wanikani.com/ is really an awesome space repetition program, with clever mnemotechnics. And you can edit the stories if you have other ways to memorize a word.
And Alivia’s videos were life savers for me. especially this one that encouraged me to launch into Anki – and she explains here the best way to change the default settings and use the deck for JLPT5: https://youtu.be/Zbrq1-euph0
So that’s basically my 2 main tools, though I also use duolingo everyday. Duolingo by itself would not be enough, but it really helps me too combined to these 2 other tools.
Tadoku https://tadoku.org/japanese/en/free-books-en/#l0 is great for free books at all levels. I started a few at level 0, and want to do more with those in the coming months.
Congrats on being in your 3rd year!
I want eventually to go to Genki. What made you give up on it?
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Thanks very much for introducing me to all these resources! This is immensely useful. This site https://happylilac.net/ is also a great resource for learning Japanese and Kanji. It has all the material to teach Japanese kids and I print out a lot from it to help me memorise, including basic Kanji, numbers and words related to time.
Minna No Nihongo is more thorough than Genki and there is no English there (I am not using a romanised version) which helps me to immerse myself fully into it. It also covers a broader range of grammar and is more serious than Genki. Genki is still great, especially for beginners, but another issue for me personally is that there is this American character Mary in that book, and I am just tired of reading this theme of Japanese man Takeshi constantly “rescuing” “this clueless American female” and teaching her the ropes. I was fine with it at first, but as I progressed, I
noticed this message of “we, the knowledgeable Japanese”, vs. “you, the ignorant American reader” gets repeated too much there, including in explanations of some bits of the grammar.
Thanks for happylilac – learning as Japanese kids do is definitely a plus! And I see they have a youtube channel as well.
Oh I hope there’s no romanji in Genki! I’m not there yet. I want to cover at least the first 10 levels of wanikani (I’mat level 6; they have a total of 60 and spend a few more months with the JLPT5 deck on Anki befeore starting Genki – or Minna No Nihongo, if I feel up to it by then.
Thanks, I had no idea about this annoying thing in Genki! Though I would probably identify easily with the American/French clueless girl there, lol.
And to go back to romanji: I was looking at Japanese books in my public library, for tourists etc, and I was shocked that so many were using romanji!! As if it could even be helpful when tourists arrive in Japan, lol!!
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