How to study kanji?

Studying kanji can be a laborious task. It’s one of these things that you just need to invest a lot of time in. Don’t be fooled by books, websites and apps that promise you quick results. From my own experience I learned most characters by actively using the language, and then in the background reviewing the characters that were less used.

For that reason I made this website. Even though this website is primarily made to review kanji, you can also use the site to study the characters for the first time. However, to help you with these initial steps there are plenty of free apps (such as Koohii) and books (such as Remembering the Kanji by James Heisig).

My 5 step approach to study kanji:

  1. Write the character several times while studying, do not underestimate the power of the connection of the motion of your hand and your brain
  2. Focus on the words that this character is used in, not the meaning of the character
  3. Focus on the sentences that those words are used in, learn the context in which the word is used
  4. Review short-term what you’ve learned
  5. Review long-term: to help you with that, use this website!

My biggest problem when studying Japanese was that I kept forgetting characters and that I encountered words that I did not know. You can study all the characters you want, if you do not actively use them, you will forget them as quickly as you learn them. And if you do not know the words, guessing the meaning is easier said than done. Spaced repetition software is one way to go, but with more than 2000 characters to study, and even more words, a long term review approach is necessary, something you can do using this website.

I found that I had a lot of exposure to characters in JLPT N3, N4 and N5. When you are studying Japanese and you read materials in Japanese, you will automatically review these characters. However, JLPT level N1 characters and to a lesser extent JLPT level N2 characters are less frequently used, which means that you will forget them very easily. This is a problem as you will encounter one or more in most texts that you will read. As they are quite specific, it is often difficult to guess their meaning through context.

This website is connected to twitter in order to let you consistently review 3 characters a day. Why 3 you might ask? Because one is just not enough. Reviewing with 1-a-day will take you almost 6 years to get through all kanji, with 3-a-day it will take you around 2 years. I have tried with 5-a-day and 10-a-day, but that interfered too much with my daily activities. Please keep in mind that the goal is to review, not study. When I was studying kanji for a test I did up to 20-a-day.

I designed this website with the specific reason to review JLPT level N1 characters. Reviewing all these JLPT N1 characters with 3-a-day will take you around 1 year. If you review them this way for a couple of years in addition to using Japanese in your daily life, you will slowly but surely engrain them in your brain. When you are dealing with this many characters and words, it is best to think long term!

Use twitter to receive 3 kanji a day of the level you are reviewing: