This quarter I finally bit and taking Japanese 101, despite the 8:30 class time. When we were starting out with the hiragana we had to write them in a workbook, learning a few characters a day. I didn’t remember jackshit about which character is which or what something is supposed to look like – writing the same character over and over isn’t effective at all (at least for me it wasn’t, I have a really bad memory), except ‘ki’ for some reason. Probably because I kept saying kikikikikikikikikikikiki as I wrote each line. A random string of characters would work better.
Which leads me to: songs! About the only things that are regularly translated to romaji are lyrics, since everything else is directly translated to English for the people who don’t know Japanese, and the ones who do know Japanese can read in the original kanji/hiragana/etc. But songs are for singing so you need to know how they’re said, hence the giant surplus of romaji that’s in relatively random (for this purpose) order.
Update: I used this method when we had to learn katakana, and it worked like a charm just like it did with hiragana. I don’t have trouble distinguishing between them or recalling the right character either. Read the rest of this entry