How to Learn a New Alphabet or Script: Our Top Tips

Japanese Language

How to Learn a New Alphabet or Script: Our Top Tips

.Congratulations. You are in fearless territory.

Language-learning-wise, anyway.

Yes, learning languages with distinct writing systems.

Most language learners choose Latin script languages like French, Spanish, and German because they are easier to read.

You have advanced beyond those students. It is possible to learn a script-based language, even though it is scary.

30% of the global population uses a non-Latin writing system. These include Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, Armenian, Pashto, and Ojibwe’s several writing systems.

We will help you comprehend these fascinating languages!
How Learning a New Alphabet Is not Scary

Recall your kindergarten writing lessons. You could speak your native language but not write when the year began. You spent the year learning to write shapes, linking them with sounds, and putting them together to construct words you already knew.

Sound familiar? We agreed.

The good news is that you have already made this journey, whether it was ten, twenty, thirty, or more years ago!

As an adult, you must teach yourself. It can be hard to stay consistent with your practice. We will provide helpful hacks and suggestions because we know this.

Remember that learning to read and write again is possible! It merely needs more patience than studying words in a script you already know.
Dissect it!

Thus, learning a language with a new script involves two approaches. These are:

Read it.
Write it.

Though obvious, you must develop both skills equally. Working on both at once exposes you to letters and words twice as much, accelerating your progress.
Starting Your New Script

Learning a new script starts with understanding the characters. Answer queries like:

Are letters phonemes or syllables?

Writing vowels?

Are the characters pictographic?

These questions apply to many popular languages. Three Japanese alphabets—kana for syllable sounds and kanji for ideas—are used.

Korean has phoneme-based letters grouped into syllable blocks.

Arabic and Hebrew have solely consonants, hence the sentence’s context frequently reveals word meanings. In children’s books, vowels are inserted as diacritics around consonants.

After understanding the theory behind the new characters, you can focus on studying to learn them rapidly.
New Alphabet Reading

Our top recommendations for learning a new alphabet rapidly.

  1. Select a Few Characters

Avoid tackling the alphabet all at once.

Learn the letters in groups of six. Before adding a new group, practice the letters you currently know.

The alphabet will be yours soon!

  1. Recall Sounds using Mnemonics

Mnemonics aid script learning.

My experience with mnemonics inspired this post: fifteen years after learning high school Japanese, I still recall my kana!

A letter’s narrative makes you utter its sound. My example:

The Japanese letter a resembles a sword-wielding fish. I imagine a hungry man exclaiming, “AH, I caught a fish!” I recall that meant “a”.

Mnemonics need some creativity to create, but their visual and linguistic prompts make them great for reading and writing.

As your recall improves, you will use the letters’ stories less.

  1. Practice Letters Daily using Flashcards

Repetition aids learning. Flashcards are ideal for absorbing characters rapidly by seeing small bits of information regularly!

Carrying character cards helps you practice and learn. You may rapidly review your flashcards while waiting in line at the bank, on a bus, or before bed. Add this to your language studies for fantastic results.

Flashcards and apps are great for vocabulary learning.

Finally, pronounce the letters. This reinforces the sound-shape association.

  1. Avoid Romanizations

We understand language learning.

Reading letters is a barrier to fluency.

Avoid Romanized transliterations of your terminology!

Remember: the slow start will pass with practice, repetition, and commitment.

Because Roman letters sound like English letters, using Romanizations makes it easier to speak your new language with an accent.

If you learn the new script right away, your pronunciation will not be affected by your understanding of another language’s letters.
New Script Writing

Writing is equally vital as reading.

It may be more crucial!

Writing requires active knowledge of words and characters (rather than passively recognizing them when reading), therefore writing from memory strengthens your understanding.

This skill must be mastered early. Our suggestion:

  1. Write the new script daily.

No negotiation.

Even if it is just a few letters jotted on a paper while on hold or scribbling symbols on the wall while showering, practicing your new script will make it feel more natural.

Try to sound out the letters as you write them, just like when you practice reading.

Anyone learning a new language should practice writing the characters, but kinesthetic learners benefit most.

  1. Write Words Beginning with Each Letter

This helps expand vocabulary while learning the new script.

Write a term starting with each character you practice. Write while pronouncing the word.

This is great since you get to learn vocabulary and repeat other letters (repetition develops competence).

For grammar practice, write sentences using the letter or word!

  1. Master Stroke Order

Japanese and Chinese learners!

To write pictographs like a native, you must know the stroke order.

Once you know enough characters, you will be able to write new ones without learning stroke order because strokes are ordered logically.

Not following the correct order makes your kanji look unbalanced and shows that you are not a native speaker. Stroke order is hard, but learning it early will save you a lot of problems later.

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