Monday, June 10, 2013

Reading Japanese Is Easier Than English

"Japanese is easier to read," says my five-year-old daughter reading her Nontan ノンタン library book. And it is!

English has crazy spelling rules that can be broken (ex: sight, site, cite, psyte, seit ... ok, i made up the last two), hundreds of sight words to memorize, and lots of frustration for beginning readers before they can read a book on their own. The Japanese language has a hiragana alphabet chart to memorize. Once you do that, you can read a children's book. By yourself! Yes, it gets more complicated than that afterwards, but for beginners learning to read in Japanese is straightfoward. If you take the letter "su" す and add the letter "shi" し, you get sushi すし. The names of the letters are the same as their sounds. Spelling is a breeze. None of this "H says hhhhh. T says tttt. S says sss" nonsense. In fact, there are no such things as spelling bees in Japan because it would sound like this: Spell the word "sushi." "Hmm, SU, SHI ... sushi." Boring.

If you don't yet have a hiragana chart, here are some cute ones from hiragana mama's blog. Start memorizing!

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