Reason why we don't want to teach Kanji in our Japanese beginner courses.

At Dear Asia London, we prioritise providing the most effective and comprehensive learning experience for our students. One aspect that sets us apart is our choice not to include Kanji (Chinese characters) in our Japanese beginner courses, there are some good reasons why we don’t introduce Kanji until elementary level. We are going to explain why learning Kanji at a later stage is a good approach. But first of all, let’s understand what is Kanji and the origin of it.

What is Kanji? Where did they come from?

Kanji are Japanese characters, and one of three writing systems in Japanese. The other two are hiragana and katakana, collectively called kana. Kana are basically the print and cursive alphabet of Japanese, a phonetic syllabary system.

Kanji are Japanese symbols that represent whole words. Kanji symbols can stand alone, or combine with other kanji or kana to create more words, ideas, or turn a kanji into a verb. Their pronunciation and readings vary based on what other kanji or kana they’re connected with — that’s the difficult part. The easy part is that they make reading easier.

Even if you don’t know how to pronounce the kanji, if you recognize it’s word meaning, you can get the idea of the sentence. Kanji originate from China but were imported into Japanese sometime around the 5th century. According to Japanese history, Wani, a scholar from Korea, introduced Japan to both Confucianism and kanji. Before that, Japan had no writing system of their own. So they adopted kanji.

However, kanji didn’t match up with the already established Japanese grammar. A new system of writing was developed to adapt kanji to the Japanese language, and this eventually turned into hiragana.

Why introducing Kanji at a later stage is a good approach?

Building a Strong Foundation

Language learning is akin to constructing a sturdy building. Just as a solid foundation is essential for a skyscraper, a strong foundation in the basics of a language is crucial for mastering advanced concepts. When you’re just getting started, learning a few kanji won’t really help you much in the real world. We firmly believe that focusing on the fundamental components of the Japanese language—such as grammar, vocabulary, and the scripts of Hiragana and Katakana—during the beginner lessons allows students to develop a robust linguistic base.

Minimizing Overwhelm

Introducing Kanji in the initial stages can be overwhelming for beginners. Kanji characters, derived from Chinese characters, come with their own intricate strokes, meanings, and readings. While Kanji is certainly an integral part of the Japanese writing system, its complexity can discourage beginners and hinder their progress. By omitting Kanji from our beginner courses, we ensure that our students can gradually and confidently build their language skills without unnecessary confusion.

Focusing on Effective Communication

Our goal is to empower students to communicate effectively in Japanese as quickly as possible. For beginners, this means concentrating on practical language skills that facilitate everyday interactions. By dedicating more time to speaking, listening, reading, and writing in Hiragana and Katakana, students can gain a strong foothold in the language and begin using it in real-life situations sooner.

Progression to Intermediate Levels

Learning a language is a gradual process, and each phase contributes to a student’s linguistic growth. After mastering the essentials in our Japanese beginner courses, students are well-equipped to tackle more advanced concepts, including Kanji, as they transition to intermediate levels. This approach ensures that students have a solid grasp of the language before delving into its more intricate aspects.

Prioritising Proficiency and Confidence

Our mission is to provide our students with a language learning experience that empowers them to thrive. By focusing on the core components of the Japanese language—Hiragana, Katakana, vocabulary, and grammar—we ensure that our students build a strong foundation for effective communication. While Kanji is undoubtedly a fascinating and valuable part of Japanese, we believe that introducing it at the right time enhances our students’ proficiency and confidence, enabling them to navigate the complexities of the language with enthusiasm and skill. Take a look at our Beginner Japanese Courses and explore yourself how we can help you to learn Japanese in a fun and efficient way!

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