Forum Settings

First steps to learning Japanese, and best iPhone/Android apps to help?

Must be a Club Member to Reply 
May 22, 2012 1:53 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 3
*** Sorry if I should have put this somewhere else in the forums.
First, I need to ask should I start learning Kanji, or Kana first?

If I need to learn Kana first, should I learn Hiragana or Katakana first?

I also heard Romaji is a bad way to start learning Japanese. Is that true?

I also bought two apps called iKana & iKanji Touch for my iPhone considering how much I use my iPhone & the extra money I had on my Apple Account.

Would you consider, if you have used them, to be good apps?

Thanks for answering and hope I will make friends in this club.
Ignorance is bliss.
peace sign chink eyes
May 27, 2012 6:29 PM

Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 386
do song lyrics to learn to read hiragnaa katakana.

今はどんでん返しの時代ではない★너와 함께 했던 일상은
어느샌가 작은 영화속 풍경이되고 ☆
May 27, 2012 11:52 PM

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 107
My Japanese teacher never taught us using romanji. She said it was a really bad thing to do and just made things more difficult later on. If you want to get anywhere with the language you need to learn to read and write the scripts. Start with hiragana, then katakana, (they shouldn't take you long) then move on to simple kanji. Remember to pay close attention to the stroke orders. :)
Jun 27, 2012 12:30 PM
Joined: Jun 2012
Posts: 2
Begin with Remembering the Kanji by Heisig.
Jan 23, 2013 11:52 AM
Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 8
I would consider Hiragana the best to learn first. It's easier than the others and it's a good way to get started.

Also, the app 'imiwa,' which I believe used to be called, 'Kotoba,' is very useful!
Jan 26, 2013 3:33 PM

Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 4797
Midori dictionary is arguably the best japanese dictionary for iOS - in addition to the basic functionality (looking up words in Japanese> English or English > Japanese), you can look up kanji by drawing, browse kanji by grade, occurrence, meaning/stroke order, and you can also save words in "folders", and later review them with the built-in flash card (=SRS system). The only problem is the price (10 bucks), but it's worth it imo.

it also comes with a table of hiragana and katakana. tapping each character shows the stroke order and such - useful for those who are just starting to learn the language
Feb 7, 2013 8:30 AM
Joined: Jun 2010
Posts: 4
I'd definitely go kana first - hiragana, then katakana. There are some good workbooks out there for them, and once you've got the kana down you can read (maybe not understand, but read at least) manga with furigana, the little kana over the kanji for people who don't know those characters yet. I've actually picked up a few kanji like that. I'm embarassed to admit it, but it's true.

After the kana, kanji seem much easier. I'd look at a lot of reviews on various kanji learning systems first though, as rote memorization or cute stories aren't for everyone. I opted for using the Kanjidamage website over Heisig, as it seemed to make more sense to the way I learn. It all depends on what you think is best for you.

As far as apps go, the free StickyStudy SRS program seems pretty good to me so far, although I only use it in the restroom. Ah, iDevices, revolutionizing bathroom habits for nearly a decade.
Mar 3, 2013 5:16 PM
Joined: Feb 2013
Posts: 66
Personally, i did hiragana, katakana, and now i'm onto kanji. i would think romaji would not help if you started with it, but if you already know it, i do not think there is any harm done.

There's QWIZ for hiragana, and Katakana Scholar for, well, katakana.

I have a bunch of apps for kanji, but I don't find any of them particularly good (and they all have flaws in some area or the other, which is why I got more then one) so I'll leave it to other people to tell you about a kanji app.
Jun 8, 2013 3:12 AM

Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 636
Get Obenkyo Android app to learn kanji. It teaches you how to draw each character with the strokes, comes with plenty of examles and quizes to test your knowledge. It's free.
Kihel:"from Dianna Soreil to Dianna Soreil."
Dianna: "from Kihel Heim to Kihel Heim."
Jul 1, 2013 3:08 AM

Joined: Feb 2013
Posts: 20
You definitely always want to learn Kanji last.

What you learn first really depends on what you want to do with what you learn. To be totally honest, Hiragana won't be the most useful syllabary for the average otaku (or really just anyone who isn't too interested in learning the language and culture to advanced degrees) because it is used strictly to spell words which haven't been borrowed from other languages. If you are interested in reaching any sort of fluency in Japanese, then start with Hiragana.

Katakana doesn't require you to actually know Japanese to understand. For example, words like "Straightener" are transliterated to ストレイテナ- (sutoreitena-)phonetically, which means you'll have no problems recognizing and understanding words which are borrowed from the English language. If you're not totally interested in fluency in Japanese, then Katakana would make the most sense to learn first.

You'll want to know both syllabaries before Kanji, though. Kanji often looks like, or even incorporates Hiragana, so it's best to be able to recognize the differences and the contexts before hand. Besides, you'll be amazed at how overwhelming memorizing all the strokes can be, much less understanding how the on and kun-yomi system works. You'll REALLY want to learn the basics about the grammar and pick up some general vocabulary before you give much thought to Kanji.

As for apps, try iStart Japanese from Mirai. They don't go in depth with Kanji, but it's a decent app for picking up some basic grammar/sentence structure, vocabulary and learning how to write the kana (with proper stroke order and all). You can get the first 5 lessons for free and the full version with 50 lessons for something like 5 bucks.
Modified by Aurumai, Jul 1, 2013 3:34 AM