Topic 1 Unit 4: Talking about Birthdays

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By the end of this unit, you will:

  • enhance your understanding of the Japanese national holidays,
  • enhance your understanding of how Japanese people celebrate birthdays,
  • be able to ask and say when your birthday is,
  • be able to talk about what you will do and did for your birthday and
  • be able to invite someone to do an activity with you.

Contents

  1. Expand!
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Kanji
  4. When is your birthday?
    (Months, Dates and Days of the Week)
  5. Understanding verbs
  6. What will you do on your birthday?
  7. Would you like to come to my birthday party?

Hiragana

Basic Hiragana

The Japanese writing system is made up from 46 basic syllabic letters. The basic hiragana are shown in the chart below. The method of writing them is shown in the Stroke Order Videos further down the page.

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Basically, in Japanese script, all letters are pronounced individually (exceptions to this will be mentioned later). For instance, look at the first column.

あ い う え お

あおい, blue, is pronounced, a, o, i, as three separate vowels. There is no blurring of vowels as in the English word peal. An exception to this is when one vowel is repeated. It is then read as one long sound (i.e. the sound is held for two syllables), rather than being voiced twice. For instance:

  • いい good
  • ええ yes
  • ああ oh!

 

 

 

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See more from https://mono.style/blogs/discover/62391173-learn-to-read-japanese-hiragana-mnemonic

 

Similar Hiragana

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Click image for more

Reading practice

Reading Practice

Advanced Hiragana

Modified Syllables (dakuon)

Some basic syllables can be modified by adding two dots (e.g. が) or a circle (e.g. ぺ). The pronunciation of these syllables is shown below.

hiragana-dakuon

When ga, gi, gu, ge or go is in the middle of the word, it may also be pronounced with a nasal ng or with the English pronunciation sound.

  • おりがみ paper folding
  • でんわ telephone
  • かぞく family
  • ともだち friend
  • さんぽ walk/stroll
  • えんぴつ pencil

Consonants plus “y”

If a small ゃ is added after the syllable き, it is then pronounced kya and written as きゃ. The small ゃ,ゅor ょ can be added any い sounds.

See Combo Hiragana below.Combo.PNG

Examples:

It has been previously mentioned that いい, ええ and ああ are each pronounced as one long vowel. The vowels that are sounded in combination with consonants may also be lengthened by adding a vowel. For example, かあ is pronounced kaa (long a), not ka, a (two distinct vowel sounds).

Long vowels

It has been previously mentioned that いい, ええ and ああ are each pronounced as one long vowel. The vowels that are sounded in combination with consonants may also be lengthened by adding a vowel. For example, かあ is pronounced kaa (long a), not ka, a (two distinct vowel sounds).

RULES:

  • あ sound + あ = long a sound
    • おかあさん mother
    • おばあさん grandmother
  • い sound + い = long i sound
    • いいえ no
    • いい good
    • ちいさい small
    • おにいさん older brother
  • お sound + う = long sound
    • こうこう high school
    • こうえん park
    • どうぞ please
  • え sound + い = long e sound
    • せんせい teacher
    • せいふく uniform
    • ていしょく set menu/meal
  • お sound + う = long sound
    • こうこう high school
    • こうえん park
    • どうぞ please
  • However, the following common words are exceptions, since they are lengthed by adding お instead:
    • おおきい big
    • おおさか Osaka
    • とおい far

Double Consonants

There are no syllables for individual consonants in Japanese. Hence, a special device is needed to indicate a double consonant. This device is called small tsu, っ.  Notice the difference in the size between つ and っ. The small っ is not pronounced. Instead, it indicates a pause before the next letter.

Practise writing hiragana including those with ten ten and maru.
(Click to download)

Practice booklets

Practise writing hiragana including those with ten ten and maru.
(Click to download)

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Tools to help you learn

Hiragana by Marugoto

Hiragana stroke order animations, listen to each hiragana, see how the hiragana is used in common vocabulary, and take hiragana quizzes.
(Click image to play)

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Hiragana Drag-n-Drop

(Click image to play)

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Hiragana Listening Acitivity

(Click image to play)

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Hiragana Memory App by Japan Foundation

Download Link: http://www.jfkc.jp/en/material/memoryhint.html

Hiragana Board Games

(Click image to download)

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Basic Version
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Advanced Version

Stroke Order Video Playlist

Japanese Writing System

ROMAJI

Japanese can be written in the same alphabet as we use for English – this is called rōmaji (roman letters). However, the Japanese themselves do not use this system of writing; instead, they use a combination of three writing systems.


 HIRAGANA (ひらがな)

Hiragana is a phonetic system of writing.
It is made up of 46 characters which stand for a vowel sound such as /ah/, a consonant + vowel such as /ka/ or the letter n. All words of Japanese origin can be written in these characters and this is the first set of characters taught at a school in Japan. These characters have a rounded shape and are made up of no more than 4 lines.


 KATAKANA (カタカナ)

This set of characters stand for the same set of 46 sounds as hiragana, but they are only used for very specific purposes. These are:

  • writing words borrowed from other languages (other than Chinese)
  • writing place names (other than those in China and Japan)
  • writing personal names (other than those of Chinese and Japanese people)
  • sometimes used for the names of companies and their products
  • to highlight, emphasise or decorate words

These characters are quite angular and have fairly sharp corners and straight lines. They are also made up of no more than 4 lines.


 KANJI (漢字)

The third system of writing is kanjiThis very large set of characters com from China and are often called Chinese characters. They stand for particular meaning and are often read in a number of different ways depending on their place in a word. The Japanese commonly use almost 2000 of these characters. Although some of these characters are very simple, many of them are impressively complicated.


You can write all Japanese by just using hiragana and katakana, and indeed this is how young children in Japan start writing. Kanji can be included in your writing as they are learnt and they make it easier to quickly see the meaning of a passage of written Japanese.

In standard Japanese script, ひらがな,カタカナ, and 漢字 are all used together, as in the following example:

先週の日曜日に ハイキングに 行きました。