This system is designed for you to teach yourself to learn to read and write Japanese efficiently.

The Japanese writing system uses three different sets of characters: katakana, hiragana and kanji (Chinese characters). The first two of these are relatively easy as each character represents one mora (a Japanese sound unit); in other words, these two scripts are made up of phonetic symbols. Kanji, however, are not so easy, because the "common use" kanji in modern Japanese number almost 2,000. In fact, the number itself is not too bad, compared with the number of vocabulary words used in any language. The difficulty lies in how to read the kanji, as very many of them have at least two readings. These two readings are called the on reading (based on the original Chinese sound) and the kun reading (a Japanese word corresponding to the character's original meaning). In addition, there are large numbers of words made up of a combination of two or more kanji, creating more complex vocabulary items, some of which have unpredictable readings.

This system contains a workbook as well for those of you who wish to practice how to handwrite Japanese characters. Indeed you have all you need to master katakana and hiragana, but certainly not kanji. Indeed, even well educated Japanese natives find themselves reaching for the character dictionary now and again. Chinese characters have been in use for well over three thousand years, so all we can do here in this CD is to provide an introduction. For a more thorough study of Chinese characters, there are many available resources dedicated to helping you study kanji.

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