Teaching alphabet stroke order and stroke count to Japanese children

Not as clear as it first seemed


I’ve also been meaning to write this post for a while 🙂

A couple of years ago it came to my attention that some of our students were being told by their elementary school teachers and junior high school teachers that they were writing English letters wrong.

After an initial reaction of annoyance (this seems to be a perennial problem with some teachers who don’t have the confidence to deviate from the one correct answer given by the textbook), I decided that it might be better to find out what the official ‘stroke order’ for the alphabet in Japan is and make sure our students know it.

I have done some quick research and there doesn’t seem to be any official stroke order. I found the following two online:

stroke order nintendo

This is from Nintendo

stroke order gakuryoku

And this is from GakuryokuUp.

As you can see, they are slightly different (lower-case w, for example). Presumably the teachers are going off whatever textbook they are using in class, and are so insecure that they won’t accept alternatives.

Which kind of takes us back to the beginning. I guess we just need to teach our students that there are different ways of writing letters, and some of their teachers in the future are going to be particular about how they are written in their class. Always do things the way your current teacher wants you to, even if they are wrong (like the ALT who told one of our students that the only correct response to ‘how are you?’ is ‘I’m fine, thank you’).

Any experiences with teaching letter-writing?


1 Jun 2015, 10:10pm
by Trevor Lawless


Some Japanese parents think there is one correct stroke order for writing English. When they observe a lesson they may think the teacher is not teaching their kids the correct method if they are not made aware that while there are general rules there are several acceptable ways to form some letters.

Very good point! Managing parent expectations is probably harder than dealing with the children 🙂

actually, after teaching English to children in Japan for 30 years I have had to make my own lessons. Both of those images are incorrect and not the way natural writers write.


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