Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Committee Chair

Yukari Amos

Second Committee Member

Joshua Nelson

Third Committee Member

Anne Cubilie


Kanji are ideograms, a morphographic system borrowed from the Chinese language and used in Japanese writing. 2,136 kanji are used in the average Japanese newspaper, required for academic certification and for expat job placement. A qualitative study was conducted to observe the optimum methods to learn and acquire kanji. Japanese native speakers who were educated by the Japanese school system grades 1 through 12 are classified as L1 or first language speakers. American students, L2 or second language speakers, must have been educated in the American education system grades 1-12. L1 speakers were students attending Central Washington University (CWU) study abroad programs and L2 students were Japanese Major or Minor degree seeking CWU students. A comparison between L1 and L2 speakers was observed by interviewing 10 students from each group on acquisition strategies. Both groups of participants were asked what methods and techniques aided them in passing standardized tests for Japanese kanji. Students described drilling repetition of kanji ideograms for memorization combined with reading for real time comprehension as the best method for kanji retention. Current study results show that frequent reading of Japanese kanji and understanding of the semantic and phonetic radicals that makeup each ideogram are the best ways to strategically acquire kanji.