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World Languages

IJC Japanese for Newbies: Hiragana + Katakana and Compounds (6-Week Flex)

New: Temporary Summer Discount Code (see below). Jump-start your Japanese reading and writing! A course for those ready to deep-dive into the world of kana. Learn the ins and outs of the characters, their variations, culture, and more.
Kelsey P. Payne ケルシー先生
302 total reviews for this teacher
10 reviews for this class
Completed by 59 learners
No live meetings
Over 6 weeks
year olds
learners per class
per learner - per week

How does a "Flex" course work?

No scheduled live video chats
Discussions via classroom forum and private messages with the teacher
Great if your learner prefers independent pacing or is uncomfortable with live video chat

Available Times


Mon, Oct 17

Oct 17 – Nov 28 (6 weeks)
Flexible Time
Don't see a time that works for you?


Class Experience

This class is taught in English.
Students will be able to:

 - Read and write the 46 Japanese hiragana characters
 - Utilize hiragana-based furigana and okurigana to decipher readings of unknown kanji characters
 - Read and write the additional 46 katakana characters
 - Appreciate the unique historical and cultural connections between Japan and its writing systems
I studied Japanese language, culture, history, and economics both at home (Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota) and a year abroad (Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan). I returned to Japan after graduating to live for another three years in Kagawa prefecture, Shikoku, where I worked in language instruction and Japanese-English translation. I attained certification in the 2nd highest level of the internationally recognized Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), and twice sat in for the 1st level. 

My teaching experience in language instruction (where I also often implement the Natural Approach and TPR) continues to this day in private lessons for both children and adults in ESL, Japanese language learning, and JLPT test prep. For Japanese, this includes literacy in kanji and the language's other character sets, as well as comprehension and production in both informal and business-level conversation. It also means a top-down approach to deconstructing, studying for, and tackling the JLPT for those students looking to take their Japanese to the next level and even get this important certification that can land them a job abroad. (Feel free to contact me for more information about the JLPT and suggestions on whether or not it may be right for your learner's language goals.)
While it isn't required, I highly recommend using Kana from Zero! by Trombley & Takenaka (see "Materials" below) as a supplementary textbook to this course. Homework will be assigned after every class. Game-type quizzes ("Kana Challenges") will also be assigned as per the assessment schedule (see "Assessment" section below).

Furthermore, students are also welcome (but are in no way obligated) to further supplement their studies using flashcard apps/extensions and language sites such as the ones below (my personal list of favorites).

 2 files available upon enrollment
While it isn't a requirement, I highly recommend Kana from Zero! by Trombley & Takenaka. You can purchase a copy here to support the authors: "The lessons and techniques used in this book have been taught successfully for over fifteen years in classrooms throughout the world. Kana From Zero! is perfect for current students learning to read and write Japanese hiragana and katakana." - Amazon I will also provide a Japanese character handwriting template sheet that can be downloaded and printed out for practice during class for those students who choose not to buy the book. Students are also welcome to use their own paper or a whiteboard instead if desired. Please be sure to use a fat-edge pen (or marker if using a whiteboard) in order for the teacher and other students to more easily see the characters that will be written and shown on camera.
In addition to the Outschool classroom, this class uses:
Students will be expected to finish the game-type quiz assigned through Quizizz as assessment of previous material on Weeks 2, 3, 5 and 6 (see the weekly breakdown in "Class Description" above). A link to each quiz will be shared on the designated days and is expected to be completed by midnight the day before the next lesson. Students will receive downloadable printouts and markups of their results soon afterward. This will include a final cumulative assignment given soon after the final lesson of the last week. 

Students who score 80% or higher on three of the four assessments, with one of the three being the final assessment, will receive a certificate of completion. Students who correctly answer all 20 Mastery Check activities and make 85% or higher on at least three of the four assessments , with one of the three being the final assessment, will receive a certificate of excellence.

In addition to this, we will be using a Course Badge Tracker for students to see their own and others' progress throughout the course. Badges include the following:

 - Inspiration Badges: Share a picture of your handwriting practice in the classroom discussion forum (10 total)
 - Hiragana / Katakana Challenge Badges: Complete each Hiragana Challenge game and share your score on the classroom discussion forum (10 total)
 - Hiragana / Katakana Apprentice Badge: Correctly answer three Mastery Check activities in a row.
 - Hiragana / Katakana Master Badge:	Correctly answer at least 8 Mastery Check activities.
 - Hiragana / Katakana Expert Badge: Correctly answer at least 8 Mastery Check activities and make 85% or above on both assessments.
No live meetings, and an estimated 2 - 4 hours per week outside of class.
According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), Japanese ranks as a Category V language among world languages in the highest level of difficulty (based on average time of acquisition) alongside Chinese, Korean, and Arabic. Learners of these languages often require approximately 2200 hours (or 88 weeks) of use and study to reach conversational fluency. (Source: 

It is important to help students keep in mind that more difficult languages such as Japanese require effort and diligence to master. As enjoyable as it often is to learn, it can also be challenging and even downright frustrating at times to achieve confidence. Please support them where necessary by reminding them of this fact and, if possible, finding creative solutions together toward continually rediscovering the fun and magic of this language. 

Need suggestions? Try looking through manga or watching an anime show together, or perhaps even practicing some basic phrases at the dinner table, to inspire and reinvigorate them when the going gets tough. And, as always, feel free to reach out to me for additional support at any time.
For suggested supplementary materials, see the Courses & Resources page of the IJC main website here:


Kelsey P. Payne ケルシー先生
Lives in the United States
Japanese Studies, Philosophy, and Math Educator for First Principles Thinkers
302 total reviews
133 completed classes

About Me

At a Glance

 + Magna cum laude graduate in philosophy with honors and concentrations in Japanese studies and religion
 + Praxis II 5161 (Mathematics Content Knowledge) certification-holder
 + 2nd Highest Level JLPT (Japanese... 
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