Keystojapanese.com is dedicated to one goal: helping learners master the Japanese writing system efficiently, thoroughly, and inexpensively. This site brings together the most effective and comprehensive tools available today for learning kana, kanji, and kanji-based vocabulary.
To teachers: The tools introduced below allow learners to master the Japanese writing system with unprecedented efficiency. By assigning them to your students, you can free yourself from the task of teaching kana and kanji, and instead focus your time where it is spent most effectively – leading higher-order communicative activities, evaluating performance, and providing corrective feedback. 先生方のページはこちら。
If you’re just starting with Japanese, please take full advantage of the free Kana Learner’s Course mobile app. The Kana Learner’s Course series also includes a workbook (forthcoming) and The Ultimate Kana Wall Chart: A Visual Guide to Japanese Phonetic Writing.
Learning kanji (Chinese characters)
For kanji learners, this website provides information and supporting tools for Kodansha’s widely acclaimed Kanji Learner’s Course (KLC), a step-by-step guide to mastering all the kanji needed for genuine literacy in Japanese. KLC’s self-guiding, self-reinforcing curriculum teaches non-native learners to read kanji, gain a native-like understanding of kanji meanings, and acquire a rich kanji-based vocabulary — all faster than was previously possible. Users have described it as follows:
- I am convinced that there is not another book on the market to beat it for teaching non-native speakers kanji quickly and effectively – C. Cameron
- I’m pretty sure I looked through 90% of all the available resources on learning kanji and this is, without a doubt, the best one I’ve come across yet. – Jomteon
- As a kanji learning tool, this book has no peer… Absolutely essential for all students of Japanese! – R. Nagell
KLC Graded Reading Sets
The KLC Graded Reading Sets are a series of e-books containing over 30,000 mini reading exercises covering all 2,300 kanji in the Kanji Learner’s Course (download free pdf of Volume 1). The exercises for each entry contain only kanji already introduced earlier in the course, and are focused on giving you contextualized practice with reading the kanji and kanji-based vocabulary introduced in the KLC. The Graded Reading Sets allow you to begin using kanji and kanji-based words as you learn them, and to continuously review what you have already studied. Visit the GRS page to learn more and sign up for notices of occasional discounts.
- For combined volumes 1-3 (iBooks) (Kindle)
In six years of “studying” Japanese, I can definitely say this is hands-down in my TOP 2 best Japanese study materials. Along with the author’s previous book, The Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Course, which gets the #1 spot on my list, this is an absolute must. I can’t say enough about the quality of these graded reading sets, as it’s obvious the author put a lot of time and effort into creating them. The example sentences provide a solid understanding of the actual kanji used in various contexts. Some kanji have up to 30 example items, and the examples the author used were also fantastic. The advantage compared to every other Japanese language study material is that you can actually see and understand the kanji in different forms, which greatly helps remembering them. I think this is best used side-by-side with the KKLC, but if you’ve already advanced quite well through the kanji, you’ll still find this useful. I personally wish there were a printed version, but that’s not enough to justify anything lower than 5 stars. Overall I can’t give anything but praise for this. – Alex Williams
- This Graded Reading Sets series is fantastic! This provides something no other kanji learning method does: carefully curated, increasingly complex context to add value to the kanji learning experience. – Àlex Zerkalo
- This series is honestly such a godsend when paired with the Kanji Learner’s Course. It’s clear a lot of time went in to this and it really helps cement your understanding of the kanji characters and gives you invaluable reading practice.…. If you struggle with kanji, this series will really help you! – “Cha_rris“
Our Grammar Resources page lists several popular tools by other content creators. Each is cross-referenced from the “grammar glosses” within the KLC Graded Reading Sets series, which introduces over 600 grammar patterns as they arise in the exercises.
Join our kanji learning group
Join the growing community of KLC users on this website and on the KLC User Group on Facebook, and gain new insights into learning Japanese by subscribing to our blog. Follow the KLC author Andrew Scott Conning on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and/or Goodreads. Announcements of occasional discounts for the KLC Graded Reading Sets series will be made via the blog and Facebook group.