When learning a new alphabet, all the shapes look weird and foreign. So, to remember them most people use mnemonics. When learning hiragana and katakana, i used mnemonics extensively! Almost every letter out of the 94 or so that I've learnt, i have learnt using mnemonics! And i havn't forgotten any of the mnemonics (even thought i've forgotten some of the letters LOL), the trick is having them be funny or stupid, that way you WILL remember them! Some of the ones i made up were obvious but others you just couldn't see even after i told you what it was. My little sis used to help me study them and she sometimes just couldn't make out what i saw in the letters' shape! you probably didn't understand half of what i said, so let me give you examples:
ん N- this is an obvious one coz it actually looks like a lowercase "n"
と to-this is a toe with a needle sticking in it.
に ni (pronounced like knee)-this is a knee with one line missing, can you see it? the creases like a knee and the incomplete leg? My sis could never see what i was talking about here but to me it looks exactly like a knee.
ね ne-looks like an n and a little e on the end of the n. Do you see it?
ひ hi- a smiley face (minus the eyes) laughing/smiling (pronounced hee not, so hes saying hehehe)
ふ fu- a nose surrounded by smells, saying "fuuu, what a horrid smell"
む mu-this is a cow, can you see it? a head with that nose ring thing? saying "muuuu"
シ shi (pronounced she)- this is a smiley face-obviously- sating "sheesh, aren't i happy today?"
ソ so- this one is related to shi, its the same guy from shi except hes saying "SOrry but i think i lost an eye"
LOL you see what i mean? some are so stupid that i just can't forget them =) but some of the letters' shapes are so meaningless that you can't find anything to relate them to!
Don't know about you but I'm more of a visual learner so this helps. Do you use mnemonics (even thought you might not know what they're called)? Do you use verbal or visual mnemonics? I'm interesting in knowing so please leave a comment.
Thats it for now. Will post later, hopefully!