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Feature request Japanese course: colors for the writing systems

I hope this is the right place to discuss course suggestions: Could you perhaps color-code the different scripts? For example: show all hiragana in red, all katakana in blue, and all kanji in black. This might prevent confusion by learners.

Thank you so much for making the course!

August 11, 2017



I'm straight-up going to be the voice of dissent on this suggestion because it solves the wrong problem at best and creates new ones at worst.

One should focus on recognizing the difference in style between the three scripts rather than learning to rely on an external system. Take ロ and 口, for example. The first is the katakana "ko" and the second is the kanji for "mouth," or くち. I agree that it would be easier to tell them apart if they were different colors but you'd have a harder time telling them apart when they're both black.

There's far more benefit to building that contextual intuition, even at the expense of more effort up front, than there is to adding a crutch you have to learn to live without later.

That said, I think there needs to be more emphasis on teaching each script separately and that kanji hints should show hiragana readings alongside English translations. Heck, you could even show hiragana readings for katakana when you hover over it, then you know it's a different script but you can still figure it out.


You know, I wouldn't object to this system at all, but I feel it might be even more useful to colour code by function. Things like particles frequently catch me out with being pronounced differently as a particle than as a standalone kana, like は for example. And sometimes verbs are kanji with kana endings, but other times they're kana themselves. If all verbs were blue, it would be helpful navigating a sentence with no spaces!

I have no idea if this is even possible on Duolingo, of course!


The advantage is that it would seem easier to learn. The disadvantage I see with doing this is that you are not going to see colours when reading Japanese anywhere else.

I am careful to read the discussions on most questions, especially if I am not 100% confident of my understanding as to what's going on. That usually answers my question (or gives me a reason to ask one).

Having said all that, there may be something to your idea. It might be argued that particles should be taught in a more gradual way (and likewise for the distinctions between kanji and kana).

An interesting suggestion and discussion, regardless!


It's kind of an interesting idea. However, note that the current Japanese course as far as I've seen doesn't even tell you that there is more than one writing system, it just throws a whole lot of kana at you without saying that they don't all belong to the same system. I assume that people coming to this course without any previous knowledge of Japanese at all would be confused. That a question can ask for one reading of a kanji, mark that as correct, and then say another reading of that kanji aloud doesn't help either.

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I gotta agree with Scruffy on this one, my Japanese teacher and Japanese friends have both made the same recommendation. Learn to recognise the hallmarks and style of kanji vs hiragana vs katakana. It will be more useful later on and more useful in the real world to learn via style even if you just start off with basic Katakana = sharp, hiragana = curly kanji = complex/mix methodology, to read properly.


I feel like it may be good for the first few lessons using all, but after that it should probably turn to all black.

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