How to learn kanji
This question can (in my opinion) not be answered in a generalized way. The method I use is to take all the unknown kanji from a Japanese text I'm interested in and write flashcards for them. This approach however might not be suitable for everyone.
For Beginners it might be a good idea to start with just the kanji in their textbook or with the kanji from JLPT-level 4.
What kanji should I learn?
For a beginner it might be difficult to decide where to start with learning kanji. Some character dictionaries list up to several tens of thousands of kanji. 1.945 of those are the Jōyō-Kanji. They are general use kanji that are learned by the Japanese in school.
There are several different orders in which one one could learn the most important kanji.
- Following the order in which the kanji are introduced in Japanese schools has the advantage that you will be able to read the simple books for kids very soon. kanji introduced in Japanese schools
- If you want to keep track of your progress and take the JLPT-tests you should first learn the kanji for the corresponding JLPT-level. kanji listed by JLPT-level
- If you are taking classes in Japanese and have a textbook that contains kanji, starting with those would be a good idea as you have the possibility to use them often and thus it will take less effort to remember them.
- Especially for more advanced students it might be a good idea to take some Japanese text they are interested in and to study all unknown kanji they encounter. This text can be anything - a newspaper article is as suitable as a homepage or manga.
- This homepage also contains a possibility to generate individualized kanji lists.