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I wish Japanese sentences had furigana

Sometimes they speak so fast I can't really understand the pronounciation and when I try to press on a single kanji in order to listen to how it's pronounced alone, they say completely different thing.

For example in this sentence 母と父の間にわたしがいます。 they pronounce 間 as "aida" but when I press on the kanji to get a hint they say "ma".

If there was furigana あいだ above the kanji I wouldn't really have any problems with learning the pronounciation at all.

June 20, 2017



Yes, Furigana would definitively be helpful for beginners. The different spellings of single kanji and kanji compoundsrespective providing the correct spelling is one of the issues, that should be resolved, before this course goes into the alpha phase.


If I’m really unsure I just paste it into jisho. But usually I can guess.


Adding to this, there have been a few times in EN -> JP challenges when I've tapped an (English) word to get possible translations for it, and the suggestions all contain kanji (usu. w/ okurigana) to which I haven't been introduced. This is especially frustrating if the tiles are all hiragana. Furigana would help with this immensely.


while this won't help right now, there are browser extensions that add furigana to kanji. if furigana is not added to the course by the time the desktop version comes out, you might want to use one of those.


Well, you can download Rikaikun or Rikaichan depending on your browser. Once you activate one of this extensions, when you hover over Japanese words they'll be translated in a pop up. If you hit shift/enter, you'll see some information about the first Kanji. You will also see pronunciation. You can use it on any website. Although I never tried it on Duolingo, I'm sure it will work.

P.S.: I'm not good at English, I hope you understand. :-)


thanks alot, that extension is wonderful :D


I believe furigana suppresses the learner from progressing at a faster rate. When you click on the individual kanji it is reading it as a single character. Depending on the context on how it is written there is a different reading. But yes there should be a setting to which the user can select how the kanji is presented. Personally for me I would not want the furigana because I need to practice my listening skills. But for you and many other users furigana would be a huge help!


I may agree with you, but on the other hand may the use of more complex kanji in the earlier stage (and the duolingo Japanese course is actually only a first sight into Japanese) encumber a successful progress of a beginner.

In Japan, the kids learn first to read and write kana with some simple kanji first and then in 9 years more and more complex kanji. Furthermore, they see kanji and kanji compounds everywhere: In mangas, magazines, newspapers, commercials, TV, public transportation, infos and so on. They get used to also complex kanji in their life (that´s why Japanese forget some kanji as well when the live abroad). Additionally Japanese people are already able to speak, they know the words mostly, before they begin to read. For us abroad, it is much harder.

The duolingo course seems not to follow the official jōyō kanji list, so you have to be a very enthusiastic lerner, to learn more complex kanji along the way. So either I wouldn´t use complex kanji in this course at least till the kanas are fully teached. Students should first become fluent in reading kana (both!), before they get deeper into kanji.

Also I think, you can´t learn really kanji without effort, you have to learn them, the structure, the different readings and there are many: For JLPT N1 (Japanese Language Proficiency Test), which is at least needed to read newspapers, you´ll need all kanji of the jōyō kanji list and the jinmeiyō kanji list. A duolingo Japanese course can only aim for JLPT N5 or maybe N4.

Maybe it would be helpful, if they would add a section only for teaching some kanji, to teach some basics, like radicals, stroke counts and the structure of kanji. If you know, that the complex kanji are mostly built of some or more simple radicals, which are not rarely kanji itself, you can better recognize more complex kanji, even if you do not know them good. My favorite example is the kanji for tree: 木 If you write two of them 林 it is a grove, three of them 森 means wood and the connection of wood and grove 森林 means forest. It is not always so simple, but there are many more examples like that, so that the beginners can see a structure in more complex kanji and will learn to recognize them faster.

Providing furigana may suppress the progress of some students, but it is up to the student, how he goes around with this. Some may only read the furigana to get more quickly through the course, but others may use this to learn the connection between the reading and the appearance of the kanji. In Japan it is common to use furigana for more complex compounds, difficult name readings or rare kanji, even in daily newspapers. So why shouldn´t we use this possibility?

And sorry for this long post, but kanji are very faszinating for me and the main reason, why I learned Japanese (second is, that I love the sound of the Japanese language much more than Chinese).


InuzukaShino, thank you for saying this! It's exactly the issue I've been noticing lately. I took several years of Japanese in college, and I'm primarily using Duolingo to review and deepen my understanding. We didn't learn ANY kanji for a very long time, and many of the ones presented here are so complicated that I can't imagine how people would learn them by simply encountering them through the app. I think learners (especially first-time learners) would be better served by reserving kanji for a specific "level." Perhaps once a skill has been leveled to 5, and people have had a chance to focus on the grammar and vocabulary, the kanji could unlock to be learned in all their complex glory! :)


The order of learning Kanji is something that will be debated forever. If you are going to learn Japanese fully, you do need to learn Kanji from the beginning.

Aligning the Kanji to the orders that are wanted by the JLPT; Yes, and they do that to some extent. Someone did graph introductions by level, and it is certainly looser than most courses, but it's not at bad as you think. But are topics too complex too early?

The suggestions to introduce them only at at higher skill levels of one lesson - NO NO NO. The repetition across course levels is REALLY important to your initial learning.

Lots of people have complained they are introduced too late - you have to relearn vocab. I agree with this - Learning a word WITH its kanji actually helps you place it. Where I think Duo has got it wrong is they don't put enough emphasis on Kanji having multiple meanings. It's hard to display that within a hint unless you display a specific entry for the Kanji - for instance, the Aida/ma one; that Kanji has 8 readings. No single one is right in isolation.

What I would like to see is

  • A properly integrated Flashcard app

  • Use of the "Drawing tool" to show you how to order them

  • Better explanations of radicals and Kanji in the tips


Perhaps but it may be useful as a learning aid? How about optional as they hints are? I think this will be implemented in due course but it is technically very challenging as the Kanji have different reading depending on the context. I suspect that they've focused on the Apps with clicking tiles to circumvent the issue for now, although I actually find it easier to type Japanese myself (via an IME).


Hey, is that Rin (Vocaloid) as your profile pic?


Yes, you're right !


This happens all the time to me. You just have to memorize all the pronunciations for any given kanji and live with the limitations.


i think it’s far more important to fix the incorrect audio attached to many kanji bubbles. if the audio is correct you can write the furigana yourself in your notes.

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