Kanji selection and ordering in beginner-Level Japanese language textbooks

Simon Regin Paxton, Chavalin Svetanant*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated the selection and ordering of kanji in four beginner-level Japanese language textbooks used in Japanese as a foreign language courses at universities both within Japan and outside the country. The purpose was to ascertain which kanji are selected for inclusion and the types of kanji ordering strategies employed. Kanji included in beginner-level Japanese language textbooks were categorized according to multiple criteria to determine whether they are systematically arranged in a particular order. The study found that each textbook’s selection of kanji was different, however, kanji orders in all four textbooks closely resembled each other, with a similar ratio of kanji falling under the same ordering categories. In particular, all four textbooks adopted context and kanji compounds as their ordering strategies, and component-based ordering strategies were not present in the textbooks.

This study highlighted that, in terms of kanji selection and ordering, the predominant pedagogical approach to kanji in beginner-level Japanese language textbooks is to rely on context and kanji compound-based ordering strategies. While this approach offers many benefits, we argue that a more multi-faceted approach which exposes learners to an array of different strategies including identifying kanji components, may promote optimal outcomes for kanji learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-54
Number of pages15
JournalNIDA Journal of Language and Communication
Issue number39
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • kanji
  • kanji orders
  • Japanese language textbooks
  • kanji learning and teaching


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