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Too much Kanji too fast on new Japanese tree.

Hi everyone. I am new to Duolingo and trying to learn Japanese, but finding the amount of writing right at the start is crazy! This is specific to the "New Japanese Tree" (since I just joined this week). From what I've read, this wasn't really an issue before.

I just learned Hiragana, and thought "great now I can move onto learning some vocab and sentences." I was happy to get Hiragana down, but really want to learn to speak the language. Instead, the very next lesson is on Katakana, and the 3 lessons after that focus on introducing Kanji. This seems like a crazy way to learn. It's not like children in Japan learn it all at once.

It would almost be better if there were two trees, one that was just phonetic, and one that taught Kanji.

I really like the website, but with the way this course is designed, I feel like I will have to go to another website to actually learn to speak and then come back here in a couple years for the Kanji.

[ I am not a complete noob, I have studied a few other languages elsewhere before, and learned some Japanese, I just don't see the logic in learning 3 systems of writing before I can understand what it is saying ]

June 24, 2019



This may just be me, but learning kanji actually helped me learn Japanese, because with kanji, it was easier for me to tell which of the many homophones is used in which sentence, and even where words stop sometimes. I know it feels like they're hitting you with a lot right from the start, but avoiding it will only delay the confusion.


Although they don't learn it all at once, remember we are expecting the Duolingo Japanese Course to take an entire coverage of the Japanese language as taught in schools. With this in mind, as far as I've read learning Hiragana takes a long time in Japanese school through repetition being used to help memorize it. During this time, of course, they would be introduced to the speaking portion of Japanese while at home. Kanji does start being taught from Grade 1 in Japan, as far as I know from the Grade 1 to 6 Kanji Guide many talk about. That being said, as many guides talk about, learning kanji, hiragana and katakana are all very vital to learning Japanese. This being said, as kanji is very prevalent in the Japanese language it doesn't really help to avoid it, as it only introduces problems later on. Many believe introducing kanji is more important than grammar early on as it helps later when trying to understand grammar (as you know what the words individually mean, now needing to see why they are organized the way they are). If you're having trouble with Duolingo's process alone, which I have as well, many recommend learning kanji through services such as WaniKanji. As well, @DestinyCall linked not too long ago a very good guide which I think could help show you what many think is the best way to learn Japanese in a rapid, but also effective, manner on your own guidance (https://www.tofugu.com/learn-japanese/)


Thanks for the response. I took a look at the Tofugu website and tried the WaniKanji service, but I feel like that proves my point... I was hoping I could learn from Duolingo without having to do a bunch of studying elsewhere first (especially not a paid subscription). I am not against learning the kanji, but I would like to at least speak like a kindergartner first.


I agree. The introduction materials are like "red" and "cat". Then, the next lesson is "Nice to meet you. John and Maria can speak English."

Basically, you have to learn the patterns. Of course, Duolingo doesn't actually tell you any of the patterns. Or, if you click the key, they tell you some things, but it's either way too low level or way too high level for beginners.


This is a problem for me too. The sentences are introduced without practice ... so I am just making educated guesses. More information prior to each lesson would help.


Your post resonates. Back when many people were complaining that the old Duolingo didn't have nearly enough kanji, I kept pointing out that, for a complete beginner, there is a lot of information to be processed all at once, and, to keep frustration at a manageable level, kanji don't have to be there right from the start. (FWIW, I've been learning Japanese for nearly four years now, and I only started Wanikani last December. For me, that has felt like a good time.)

So (insert Captain Holt gif here): vindiCAtion!


I don't really use Duolingo for anything besides the forums anymore, but I made a new account a couple weeks ago to try the new tree (before it was updated on my main account), and I gotta say I agree. The pacing of the kanji is all over the place.

But then again I also think the way hiragana is introduced is horrible. I get why they have simple words learned alongside the hiragana (to help memorize the syllabaries), but learning random words out of any context like よる, きる, やさい before you even know all the characters is very strange.

The point of my rambling is to basically say that the Japanese course is pretty poor all-around at introducing the writing systems to a complete beginner. I think that kanji should be taught either as another course (which would be a lot of work, I understand) or in a separate skill(s) right before the "checkpoint" (or whatever they're called. The yellow buttons where you can test to skip ahead) that rounds up any kanji for words that you had already learned. I also think the hiragana skills should have all the fat trimmed so it's only the syllabaries being taught and not random words.


Thanks for everyone's responses, but I think my conclusion is that at this point Duolingo Japanese just doesn't make sense for me. I am only a few lessons in and getting hit with kanji like 飯. I look it up and find it's a fourth grade kanji, made up of other kanji I don't know yet. It seems like either way I will have to use other resources, and do a bunch of cramming, before Duolingo would be of any use to me. One other suggestion would be for Duolingo to add furigana (tiny hiragana) beside the kanji, like manga does.

*My opinion might be influenced by my father, who successfully learned Mandarin Chinese. He learned thousands of characters. Because he rarely had the chance to use them, they eventually faded from memory, and he feels it was wasted time that would have been much better spent learning more vocabulary and grammar.

Again, I'd love to learn it, but I'll use Anki and 'Remembering the Kanji' for that.


While I agree that learning a kanji like 飯 before a simpler kanji like 食 is odd, you're going to have a difficult time if you fixate on what grade the kanji is taught to native children.

You will learn kanji for words that you most frequently use or are essential to know as an adult (what I call "survival words"), as this is the most natural progression for an adult to memorize them. 飯 (or more specifically ご飯) means meal (and rice). As such, it's a very common kanji you will see. If you wait until you're studying at a fourth-grade level (for natives) to learn that kanji, you'll be handicapping yourself for a couple of years or more.

Here's another example, 飲 meaning to drink. It's taught in grade 3, but as an adult it's a survival word meaning that it's important to know early on (say if you ever visit Japan, it would be very useful to understand where you can buy something to drink).

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