Kanji literally means “Chinese characters” and represent sounds and meaning. There are thousands of Kanji in Japanese although only about two-thousand of them are necessary to read a newspaper. The Japanese government keeps track of them and changes the order every so often. Reading Kanji can be tricky because each one can have multiple readings. For example, 一 means one in English and that is straightforward enough but the multiple readings could be: （いち）ichi, （いつ）itsu, （ひと）hito, etc. The intended reading depends on the context of the sentence as well as surrounding characters.
It seems very daunting at first but things begin to make sense after a while. Just be sure to remain calm and let the language come to you naturally. Don’t force it. Think of your new language as an extension of your first rather than separating it into distinct camps of grammar and vocabulary. It is an idea that has helped my language learning a lot although I have heard that other people experience a blending of languages. In the end, do what works best for you.
I’ve decided to set a goal of learning eight Kanji a day, which comes to about 250 days total. I’m sure that I won’t remember them all but I am going to go forward with all gears running. Join me on my journey as I post what I learn each day on a new page.
Let’s take a look at the 80 Kanji that make up School Grade One!