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Katakana is very similar to Hiragana; you should be able to pick it up without too much trouble. Actually [begin: Clay's confession] I have never studied Katakana. But I can read it just fine. What do I mean - you ask? Well, in real written Japanese, Katakana is used very sparcely unless the subject has a lot of foreign words or names. So I picked up Katakana when I needed it. That is, when I came across katakana I would look it up. Because I read a lot, I was able to learn Katakana without specifically studying it! Sounds like I am trying to discourage you from studying, huh? Ok I will stop. Gambatte!
SUGGESTIONS: Tackle 2 or 3 katakana a day (or as many as you feel comfortable with); Be sure to write each one down many times; Look for katakana you have studied elsewhere while you study and try to recognize the ones you've already learned. This helps build your memory.
You may want to hear all hiragana pronounced before beginning. However, if you've already learned the sounds for the hiragana, the sounds for katakana are exactly the same!
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and so forth.
And to finish up, a few closing pointers to cover the loose ends and bring it all together.
NOTE: You will need to be able to view Japanese Characters - Click here to find out how
Most sounds in Japanese are found also in English. Unlike English, the 'letters' in Japanese only have one sound, with a few exceptions that will be mentioned later on. Please click on the sound files to get a feel for the sounds. The most important to master are the vowels (the first row). The sounds are all found in English. Please repeat the sounds many times. If you spend a few moments looking at the chart, you should be able to see a clear pattern (each column has the same vowel sound and each row has the same consonant sound). チ (chi), ツ (tsu), ヲ (wo), and ン (n) are the only ones that deviate from the pattern.
- almost never used.
Usually the hiragana is used as a particle.
These are all the basic katakana letters. The rest are simply combinations of two katakana. (For Example: to make the 'sha' sound - add シ(shi) + ヤ(ya) = シャ(sha) - Notice how the second letter is smaller; but we will look at this later.)