Learning Kanji Tips Part 2
Kanji photos by Fabian Reus
Welcome to Part 2 of our ongoing series for learning kanji. Here are some more kanji learning tips you can apply to your routine or studies. These tips won’t work for everyone, but I’m sure you can get some inspiration from them. Let’s get started!
Put notes on everything in your house
Don’t laugh, because it works! Putting notes on objects in your house is a great way to remember vocabulary in a foreign language. In this case, being able to recognize the kanji on items you’d find in a home can be extremely useful. Learning in context will help you retain what you’re studying much more effectively than just trying to memorize words from a list. It’s also way more fun.
For example, everyone has a refrigerator in their home. What if every time you went to open the fridge, you could see the Japanese kanji for 冷蔵庫 (reizouko) on the door? It may seem unhelpful at first, but you’d get accustomed to seeing it on the fridge and associate those kanji characters with "refrigerator" -- much easier than trying to remember what the kanji is supposed to be by searching through a dry textbook.
The downside to this method is that it only works with nouns, so you’ll have to find other ways to remember verbs and adjectives.
Use your commute time to learn
If you happen to commute by bus or train, this is a great opportunity to review your kanji knowledge. People are busy and can’t always crack open study resources when they finish work and come home. Use the time available on your commute to be productive and review or learn new kanji. This can be applied not only to kanji, but anything new you’re trying to learn.
These days, people are usually glued to their smartphones. If you can study with your phone, go ahead and do it. Don’t get distracted by all the other apps and funny videos on your newsfeed, though! Perhaps make a rule that you have to first open a study app before opening a fun one.
Review kanji before going to bed
I can already hear the groans from some of you, but don’t worry. I know how you feel, but hear me out. While you sleep, your brain recaps what you did that day and it’s been proven that you are more likely to remember things you did right before going to bed.
So what if you reviewed kanji before going to sleep? That’s right! You’ll remember them better. This technique works best with flashcards or an app.
You’ll probably be exhausted and want to sleep instead, so don’t make it super hard on yourself. Just try reviewing or learning for five minutes before you hit the hay. It will make a huge difference in your ability to remember kanji.
Use your smartphone to take notes
Learning kanji is all about repetition and context. If you happen to live in Japan and encounter a kanji you don’t know, JOT IT DOWN! Make a note of it on your smartphone or a scrap of paper. You can always transfer the physical notes to digital later if needed.
For people that don’t live in Japan, chances are you don’t get many of these situations. But when they happen, take advantage of them. Take a note of the kanji you didn't know and the context you saw it in. Maybe you’re watching an anime or find something in a manga. Maybe a main character was standing in front of a store that said “本屋”. You could jot that down as “saw 本屋 in front of a Japanese bookstore”.
Later when you are back home, write down the kanji and vocabulary you learned using pen and paper, or even better: Make a flashcard.
How about you?
What did you think of these tips? Were any of them useful or applicable to your study routine? There’s no end to the many ways to study kanji, so let us know in the comments what works and doesn’t work for you. How many kanji have you learned so far and what are your goals? If you’ve got a great tip, let us know and we’ll add it to a future post!
- Bryan Kuro