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New feature for Japanese course: writing Hiragana

Hello all,

I've been using the Japanese course on my iPhone for a few days and I love it. Learning Hiragana characters is a lot easier than I had imagined. Those of you that have been struggling with this, I highly recommend Tinycards.

Anyway, I was breezing through the Hiragana lessons when it occurred to me: I can recognize all these letters but I have no clue how to write them.

My proposal is to incorporate a writing exercise system for the Japanese course. Duolingo can also show learners the stroke order of each letter. To begin, Duolingo can have learners trace letters. The way the course is now promotes reading, but not writing. I feel that if a writing system were implemented, we would be actively learning, instead of passive learners (how it is now).

This system would probably be easier to implement on mobile devices. I'm thinking of a system like Google Translate:

(I know, my handwriting is bad)

I'm no expert, but I know this system would not be easy to implement. Google Translate has no idea what letter you're going to write, so it has to be programmed to recognize every possible letter that's going to be written. On the other hand, Duolingo will be looking for only one specific letter to be written, so it will probably be easier to program. However, I feel that it will be very rewarding for learners.

That's all. Thank you for reading. Please upvote this post if you agree and leave your thoughts in the comments.

May 23, 2017



Though I'm not learning Japanese, I think that sounds like a great idea!


Reminds me of when I was learning Farsi. I felt like the calligraphy was actually more difficult than learning the actual abc.


Thanks for suggesting! I hope Duo staff takes this into consideration.


That is a very cool suggestion–not super easy, but definitely something I've heard thrown around before :) Keep them coming, especially if a companion illustration is going to be attached!


I have an app on my IPhone called Hanzi Kanji, it doesn't have hiragana and Katakana, but it does have kanji, and stroke order, and is great for increasing your vocabulary. With hiragana, there are probably worksheets you could print out like they have for elementary school students to trace and write the letters.

edit: typo


Thank you for sharing!


Hiragana and Katakana are the "Kana". Did you mean Kanji?


thank you, I edited it.


No problem :)


We now have a Japanese from English forum and we are now moving Japanese-related discussions over, including this one. Please post future Japanese conversations there. =]

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    You can learn how to write with something like this, or just by practicing with a handwritten stroke order chart and writing on paper:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yXwHenj-tkU (for hiragana)

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XCoCnRZUL0A (for katakana)

    You should note that some characters look different in text than writing, like き and さ, if you didn't already know.


    Depending on the font. Some fonts connect them and some don't.


    Sincerely, there is a pretty cheap book you can get to do this. It makes the most sense to learn handwriting physically in the real world, so I can see why they have left it to books in this one case. Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/Easy-Kana-Workbook-Practice-Hiragana/dp/0844285323/

    If anything, something that I found surprisingly easy was learning to type in Japanese. The Japanese keyboard has been written beautifully, at least on my two operating systems (I use Fedora, a version of Linux, on my laptop and I have an iPhone). I have really enjoyed learning to type in Japanese. It is so much more intuitive than I ever imagined it would be.


    Thank you for the resources!


    I made a YouTube video on how to type in Japanese. https://youtu.be/eVlQk8rXc2Q

    Does your phone keyboard use a standard keyboard or the 12 key style? I'd love to learn the 12 key one but it takes a lot of practice. It's supposed to be faster when you get used to it. I have both options on my phone.


    Mine uses the standard keyboard, which was fine by me, as it meant the skill was very similar on my phone to on my laptop.


    If they could do that with kanji too, that would be just amazing.


    I agree that learning to write Japanese scripts is important but I don't think Duolingo is the right place to do it. It's a great place to learn and practice vocabulary but I think other resources are better for learning the scripts. I'll confess I learned to read Kana on memrise before this course released so can't comment on how well it covers that.

    There are many great Apps to study Kana and Kanji including the strokes. Of course, there's no substitute for a pen and paper either... actually a lot of my Kana practice was on a whiteboard and checking them against my phone (or a native Japanese speaker). Call me old school but I learned Hiragana and Katakana in just a couple of weeks that way.

    I don't think writing Kana or stroke order should be included in Duolingo. It will disrupt the flow of the lessons.

    Side note: it would be very tedious for someone who already knows them to test out of. Perhaps it is may be better an an elective course? Honestly though, they're better off just linking to existing Kana learning resources to refer to if you're struggling with the early lessons.


    Good point. I agree that paper/pencil or marker/whiteboard will always be superior to writing on a phone screen. You're right that it would be hard to test out of. I think if the writing activity was something that you could purchase with lingots, it would address these problems. Do you agree?


    Yeah IF it needs to be included in Duolingo at all (by popular demand). Personally, I think it's better to learn Kana elsewhere before you start but hey, that's just what worked for me. You do you I guess.

    PS for writing on the screen Kanji Study does pretty damn well. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mindtwisted.kanjistudy&hl=en


    Thanks for sharing!


    I dont agree. Writin, no matter where and how is extremly important, not to mention that is also how you memorise the characters, never mind correctly drawing them. as for disrupting the flow...there can be option to practice kana or not!


    A small hint: Because learning japanese writings needed so much paper I exercised Kana and Kanji mainly on a magnetic drawing board


    and for calligraphy you may better use a Buddha board



    Thanks for sharing :)


    Yes please!!! Please duolingo make this happen!


    That would indeed be nice but I wouldn't count on it for the near future =)

    In the meantime, another site which has character drawing - among many other useful things - is jisho.org. It also has animations about the order of the strokes if you're interested


    Thanks for the resources!


    Thank You! I gave you a lingot for your help :)


    I know it's different from learning it on duolingo, but there's a free app for android phones called Obenkyo, which you can use to learn to write kana as well as all the kanji. The app is free and you can use it side by side with duolingo, since there is a lot more than just writing. I used it before


    Thanks for sharing :)


    I would use a Buddha Board for Calligraphy instead of wasting all the paper. (lol Calligraphy takes ALOT of practice!)


    I agree! I can recognize ''Good morning'' but when I try to type it or write it? My mind just goes blank! Great idea.


    exactly. the point.


    Thank you for the support!


    You're welcome!


    I thought that myself. While I find myself starting to recognise how Hirigana works and being able to recognise the symbols, I have no clue as to what the stroke orders are - especially since I tend to jot down in notebooks when I attempt to learn a language. So something like a writing module would be handy!


    Thank you for the support!


    I totally agree!!


    Just google "hiragana worksheet" and "katakana worksheet." There are TONS of free ones on the Internet already. There are even apps that do exactly what you want, both free and paid, on the app store.

    For PC or Mac, it's fairly easy to install the Japanese language pack so you can type kana. I've found that the Windows version is very good at guessing possible kanji that you want based on the hiragana spelling. :)


    I agree, but my main issue is kanji. I'll probably just stick to other sources for that one anyway.


    I know all the hiragana, but when i write it becomes hard to remember. Strange, but actually writing them and practire would be good! Im using duolingo and im searching on other places to do this, but it would be grat to have it all in one place. i have graphical tablet for PC and a tablet android with a pen, so it would be great for me!


    This is EXACTLY what we need for the Japanese and Chinese and Korean courses! Learning how to write characters is so important, and it should be easy to implement touchpad-like drawing functionalities.


    I saw this feature on a friend's Duolingo recently, but I don't have it

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