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I'm trying to use some flash cards to learn the kana (hirigana first, but both in time), and there's simply too much for me to learn at once. Is there a recommended or practiced learning "order" or series? How are children introduced to them?

I already have basic pronunciation down - if I can see it spelled out in Romaji script I can say it with acceptable/reasonable accuracy. I am not concerned about learning actual words or kanji right now, I only wish to master this "basic alphabet" first, to the point that I can sound out words written in kana.

I've thought of simply adding a flashcard from the deck at random each day and drilling through the resulting stack a couple times per day, but I wanted to seek out greater wisdom before doing something so random or rash!

I've got the flashcards produced by White Rabbit Press.

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Related: What is the equivalent of “alphabetical order” in Japanese? I'm not sure it's a duplicate... –  Alenanno Apr 27 '12 at 16:47
    
I didn't ask what the alphabetical order was, but what order children are taught. These are not necessarily tied together. –  draeath Apr 27 '12 at 17:59
    
That's why I didn't vote to close or flagged, but they are very close. And yes, they are tied: letters or symbols are taught in alphabetical order. That's why in school you didn't start from Z going backwards, but rather starting from A, B, C, etc. –  Alenanno Apr 27 '12 at 18:31
    
When you say kana, I assume you mean hiragana and katakana. Not sounds and groups of: あ い う え お. –  dotnetN00b Apr 28 '12 at 19:22

5 Answers 5

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The equivalent of "alphabetical order" for kana that hangs on the wall of classrooms is as follows:

あかさたなはまやらわん
いきしちにひみ り
うくすつぬふむゆる
えけせてねへめ れ
おこそとのほもよろを

I believe children are introduced to them based on this, probably vertically (i.e. あいうえお、かきくけこ and so on). [Thanks to Jamie Taylor in the comments.]

I can't really give specific advice on order to learn since that's not the focus of JLU, and different ways work for different people. You can check our resources thread for some resources that may help you learn, or ask in chat.

Once you've learnt the above, make sure you know combinations like しゅ(shu), know about dakuten (eg し(shi) -> じ(ji)), and the purpose of the small っ.

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+1 -This is the order that all of my Japanese friends remember being taught the Hirigana (a,i,u,e,o -> ka,ki,ku,ke,ko -> sa,shi,su,se,so -> etc.) –  Jamie Taylor Apr 27 '12 at 15:54
    
My thanks, ジョン ! –  draeath Apr 27 '12 at 16:04

I think if you watch this video for 24 hours straight, you will have learned basic hiragana and katakana without much effort. My apologies for any ill effects on your mental health.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Zxuy6eojZY

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That is the best video ever. Thank you :) –  silvermaple Apr 27 '12 at 16:12
    
Don't suppose you know where to find one that doesn't sound like a VHS transcode? Excellent find, by the way! –  draeath Apr 27 '12 at 16:39
    
youtube.com/…. you can find a lot to look through. –  yadokari Apr 27 '12 at 17:24

I had a similar problem when first learning how to write kana. It was frustrating to start with the gozyuuon order when you realise how few words you can write after having learned the first ten or fifteen hiragana in that order: あいうえおか…

So what did I do? I (unscientifically) analysed some bodies of text for frequency. The text wasn't properly normalised (it contained kanji), but I did group the small and large kana together. Then I divided it into groups of ten, and randomised each group. This is what I came up with:

1. しかいたんつてな <-- most frequent

2. よのやうあはとら

3. ちさもこるまくに

4. わそきれねすけお

5. せみをほりふえめ

6. むぬろゆへひ     <-- least frequent

This method gave my brain enough immediate rewards to get through the task.

(A frequency analysis of katakana would likely end up quite different)

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To learn the kana: write, write, write!

Fill a page with あああああ。。。 then いいい。。。

Write the kana tables over and over again many times.

Try to look at examples less and less as you do, until you can reproduce the tables from memory.

If you're going to Japan soon, you will get more "mileage" out of katakana in some sense, if you can decode the English out of it, so I would make that a priority.

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As far as I know, most people learn (and most likely master) hiragana first. Then katakana. Then finally kanji. I'm sure there is some overlap but this seems to be the order of learning the different scripts (is that right word for them?).

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