What is KanjiLearn?
It is often thought or said that kanji (also called Chinese Characters) are one of the most difficult part of learning Japanese. The Japanese themselves sometimes find kanji boring to learn, too easy to forget and the 10 years that it takes to assimilate the necessary 2000 kanji is sometimes seen as a waste of time. Well, like everything else, it is only a question of how it is taught and learned. With the proper tools, it is not difficult to learn and keep remembering these characters, it is a lot of fun, it widens one's perspective to the language and it is an important factor to understanding the culture and mind set of the Japanese (and to some extent, the Asian region).
And THE proper tool to learn kanji is a good set of flashcards!
KanjiLearn is an electronic set of 2135 two-sided flashcards, which is as easy to use as paper flashcards. It is Web-based (nothing to download, install, or configure), all you need is Microsoft Internet Explorer version 4.0 (IE4) or later, with the Microsoft IE4 Japanese Language Pack installed. See the KanjiLearn Requirements chapter for details.
Each KanjiLearn flashcard contains similar information as a paper-flashcard (kanji number, grade, readings, meanings, stroke count, radical, sample words...) and a lot more, such as frequency of use for each character, same reading characters, same radical characters, same meaning characters. KanjiLearn also includes search capabilities, by number, frequency, etc...
The navigation between flashcards is also much more flexible than paper-flashcards. Using just 3 buttons (Back, Flip, Next), you can navigate randomly among the 2135 cards (or among subset of these, such as "All Grade 4 Cards", or "All Japanese Proficiency Test Level 2 Cards"), linearly to the next card by number, to the next card by frequency... At any time, you can go back to the last card, or any other card before that. And of course you can flip the card back and forth. You can click on anything you see and a context sensitive popup menu will appear, whether showing characters with similar characteristics (for example if you click on the radical of a kanji, the popup menu will show all characters that have this radical).
For details on KanjiLearn usage, click on the item you want to checkout on the big bitmap on top of this page.
If you have comments, ideas on how to improve this program, or just want to drop me a few lines, do not hesitate to e-mail me.
The History of KanjiLearn
When I started learning kanji, as part of my 2 years Japanese course in Tokyo, I wanted to learn efficiently, have fun and make sure that I would not forget them. I was easily convinced that flashcards are THE only way to efficiently learn kanji (the Japanese have 10 years to learn them, we gaijin don't). I looked at all flashcard sets commercially available at that time and only one seemed really appropriate, Alexander Kask's Kanji Cards, which includes the first 440 kanji. I bought these and found them so good that I recommended it to my school and now many people I know are using them. Note that a second set was released later, Kanji Cards II, which is almost as good as the first one and includes the next 566 kanji (both sets all together, containing the Grade 1 to 6 kanji).
But after a while, I realized that I needed more than that. I needed to know all kanji that are similar in shape, pronunciation, or meaning to a new kanji I was learning. I needed to quickly checkout a kanji I learned a year ago that I felt I was forgetting. I needed to review from time to time, the hundreds kanji I had learned before, especially the important ones, not the useless ones. Paper flashcards didn't provide all these, my Sharp Zaurus either and only an electronic flashcard program could do it.
So I went shopping for software flashcard program. I guess this is a small market because there aren't many. There are the commercial ones, with cool animated stroke orders, buttons everywhere, 3D pictures of characters, advanced tests generators and all. I found them really too complicated to use. Then there are the shareware or freeware ones, which are as complicated as the commercial ones, and often limited to a small number of kanji. Not to mention that many flashcard software are based too much on the KANJIDIC kanji dictionary, which often contains quite many useless information.
I now use KanjiLearn almost everyday, to review old kanjis, prepare exams and learn new ones.
Soon, I will be moving all Kanji related pages (including KanjiLearn) to my own Web server at http://www.kanjilearn.com. Stay tuned...
The KanjiLearn data, which come from different sources, are copyrighted. Please check the KanjiLearn Copyright page for details.
This page was last updated by JP on 06/20/99.