This week we'll be doing KanjiSteps Part 3 (MA, YA, RA, and the remaining kana -- this week is 4 sets, totalling 16 characters.)
You'll note that there are only 3 Y- kana: YA, YU, and YO. There is no 'ye' or 'yi' in modern Japanese.
Note the difference between WA, RE, and NE. They all begin the same way, but they end with different tails. RE curls out, WA curls in, and NE loops around.
I should also point out that NU and ME are very similar (from last week's kana), once again differing only by the end stroke. Pay attention to RU and RO as well, because (once again) the kana differ only by their end stroke.
KanjiSteps says the pronunciation of 'WO' is similar to that of 'oil' (ie; the same as 'O'). WO can also be pronounced with the overt W -- similar to "Woah". I think it sounds more literary when the W is pronounced. You'll hear WO pronounced with the 'W' in songs, too. HOWEVER, for our purposes here, you will -never- need to pronounce the WO as "Woah". In modern Japanese, O and WO sound the same, but WO is used as a direct object particle (woo! grammar!) and is not in words
(For those wondering, there used to be WE and WI kana in Japanese, but they were depriciated in the early 20th century. this link has pictures of them.)
with any luck i'll have review materials online for this last week and this week shortly... hopefully... but as it stands, think 1 more lesson for the kana... and then we can leave KanjiSteps behind and actually begin working on grammar, which will be the 'real' start of the Japanese lessons!