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PpJt
March 7th, 2012, 04:25
So yeah, as the title says, I'm just beginning to attempt to learn Japanese. This is of course partly because I plan to apply to the JET programme next (technically this) year and the thought of flying blind isn't exactly pleasant to me, and because I (well, so far) find it interesting.

While I won't properly be starting to study properly til I have finished exams and the like(mid May) I'm starting to think on several things which I feel I should ask someone more knowledgeable about. For example - what should I learn first - Hiragana or Katakana. Should I avoid Romanji like the plague (several places on der interweb seem to say so). And are there any 'must own' books other than a good dictionary? (Planning to buy this beast Kodansha's Furigana Dictionary: Japanese-English/English-Japanese: Amazon.co.uk: Kodansha International: Books (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/4770024800)).

Sorry for asking a bunch of questions so soon after joining up - but I plan on sticking around here so it's not like I'm going to take the advice and run.

Edit: I just realised that I could probably have raised a thread from the dead rather than creating a new one, as I doubt I'm the first to ask this. I dun goofed.

PpJt
March 7th, 2012, 08:36
Well I plan to apply for the next session (While I'm doing my honours) so I roughly have about 15 months? Though I obviously won't be able to study straight through. My summer is fairly free with just volunteer work however many times a week I like and a few trips to meet my mates in England.

I imagine if I can't learn two sets of what, 50ish characters each in that time I must be doing it wrong. Is this 'Remembering the ____' Series by Heisig any use? Some of the reviews make it sound almost miraculous but I'm naturally pretty skeptical of it.

I suppose I'll start getting hiragana learned in my spare time then - I've already quasi-started to learn katakana (That consisted of writing all of them down and a few flashcard-esque internet quizzes though).

As an aside, is it doable/worth aiming to do the JLPT's lowest level by December? I think having a concrete goal to work towards would help motivate me somewhat.

PpJt
March 7th, 2012, 08:45
I'd just have to slide to Edinburgh for the test I think. Only a £20 quid ticket for a return I guess. I'll see as to how much the test costs though.

And before I head off to bed, thanks for your help, I don't doubt I'll be asking more questions and annoying the grizzled vets of the forum in the future though :P

PpJt
March 9th, 2012, 01:33
Right, well I'm back, looking for a recommendation for a text book or two. In my search, I see a book called 'Minna no Nihongo' recommended a lot, but the fact that it's all in Japanese puts me off a bit - I'm guessing it's meant for people who aren't total beginners. Should I get something like this and attempt to learn Katakana and Hiragana asap then use it, or find another book?

I also have LEGALLY ACQUIRED ebook copies of Heisig's books to have a look at as well when I wan't to try some Kanji.

Rz1
March 9th, 2012, 02:38
If you are looking for something that is easily digestible, you could try the Japanese for Busy People series. Book 1 starts off with only Hirigana and Katakana and it focuses on building up day-to-day language. Book 2 and 3 slowly add a few Kanji into the mix.

PpJt
March 9th, 2012, 05:52
Might have a look at that, but I'm more looking for a good book that will last me a fairly long time.

coop52
March 9th, 2012, 08:16
The Genki books are pretty good.

PpJt
March 9th, 2012, 08:40
They do sound good, with having cds as well for listening practise. I'm guessing I need Hiragana before I can do much with that too though?

coop52
March 9th, 2012, 08:52
IIRC, it starts out romaji, then replaces it with hiragana and kanji as you go. But, you can go ahead and learn hiragana if you want. You can find charts and such online.

PpJt
March 9th, 2012, 09:03
I have been over the last two days. But I struggle to discern between some of them like ra and chi.

coop52
March 9th, 2012, 09:17
Just give it some time and keep practicing. Katakana's probably going to be harder for you, too. There's a bunch of them that look almost exactly the same, except for the way they're written. Get a chart that has brushstrokes or handwriting. The print versions are ridiculously hard to tell apart at first.

PpJt
March 9th, 2012, 09:23
Yeah I've already written out all the katakana first, and I also filled a few pages with a line for each character of hiragana, complete with a little column for stroke order at the side. Amazingly organized for me. Still going to take a while to remember it all. I can remember most of them if I look at them and think about it, but writing it from memory? Forget about it. Also pretty difficult for me as my handwriting is atrocious.

jwkelley
March 9th, 2012, 13:54
See if your school has free copies of Pimsluer and Michel thomas for listening practice. If not go to Japanpod101 and get a free 2 week trial, download everything and use that.

I also really like this list. http://thejapanesepage.com/grammar.htm it gives you simple explanations for the grammar.

wicket
March 9th, 2012, 16:13
Have you got a DS? If you have, get Kakitori-kun.
It's used by Japanese kids and you can study katakana, hiragana or kanji with it, in the order that Japanese kids learn it.
It might be tricky for you to figure out the instructions for what to do since the whole thing is in Japanese, but you can look up English walk-throughs.

PpJt
March 9th, 2012, 20:59
Cheers for that site kelley. And I'll check out that game Wicket, though I have to find my DS first - I never use it.

I currently have the grammar book rom linked me to, and Genki + Genki workbook in my basket. 90 quid. :'(

PpJt
March 10th, 2012, 06:56
So I just bit the bullet and bought the aforementioned books. So by the end of next week I'll have 120 odd quid worth of books . I can't wait. It's gonna be tough concentrating on my actual degree :lol:

Cytrix
March 10th, 2012, 18:01
I found the White Rabbit White Rabbit Press Kana Flashcards : Flashcards (http://www.thejapanshop.com/White-Rabbit-Press-Kana-Flashcards/dp/B003V5G4A6) flashcards a godsend to help me learn my Hiragana/katakana. I find it much easier to think of what the kana looks like and then create a mnemonic in my head (e.g. く is a bird going Kuu Kuu, ほ is a prostitute (ho) beside her pimp).

But yes as someone who came here with barely ANY Japanese, I highly recommend you learn as much as possible....especially that katakana so you can decipher what is in the cake you are about to eat

Prospective
March 11th, 2012, 11:33
Genki starts off with with romaji in chapters 1-2 and transitions to hiragana/ katakana fully by chapter 3. Over those 2 chapters you should try and get a handle on both kana scripts. You might want to google "kana mnemonics" if you are struggling, there's a few lists around that can help you remember hiragana/ katakana by linking them to pictures and English keywords.

For learning characters (or sentence structure, or in fact anything that involves memory, which is y'know, most of the language) I'd use an SRS (http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/blog/what-is-an-srs). The one I recommend is Anki (http://ankisrs.net/) (free for the PC, but if you have an iPhone/ iPad it's US$25 but totally worthwhile for the mobility, it's also free for Android tablets/ phones).

My approach to learning Japanese from scratch would be to watch Tae Kim's Learning Japanese From Scratch (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBYMuJ7B5Dg&feature=related) (he does a much better job of explaining grammar points than most textbooks do, though you already have Genki, which has a pretty good reputation, too). I'd then SRS the Hiragana and Katakana in anki over two weeks until I had a decent handle on them- about 80% retention should be your goal.

Then I'd look at the first few grammar points in Genki, alongside Tae Kim's videos and website and start plugging whole sentences from your textbook into Anki as a way of learning vocab and grammar. You could try multiple cloze deletions (blanking out a single word) there's a plugin for anki for MCDs. That way you are learning vocab and grammar in context.

For kanji, I'd use the lists in Genki, but the stories from Heisig. I don't think Heisig's order is the most useful, even if it's the most logical. If I came upon a primitive through Genki that hadn't been covered yet, I'd learn that first so I'd still be learning in the "building block" method that makes Heisig so strong.

Finally, I'd read some of the motivational advice at AJATT (http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com) and consider building an immersive environment. I'd try and watch at least 1 Japanese TV show/ day without subtitles (anime is okay!) and I'd have some Japanese podcasts loaded up on my iPod/ smart phone ready to play whenever I had downtime (during commutes, while waiting in lines, while going grocery shopping, etc).

I'd also consider joining a language meet-up group and/ or finding a language tutor on Skype. Benny the Irish Polyglot (http://www.fluentin3months.com/) has a lot of advice about why it's important to actually speak if you want to learn to speak.

Living in 2012, there's SO many resources out there for language learning. It does require a small amount of self-motivation compared to classes, but otherwise self-study is such a great way of learning. There are so many tools that are so much more effective that traditional classroom education and you should try them all and see what works for you and your own language-learning style. Personally I use a bit of everything. Some people love Heisig, others hate him, for example. I'm pretty neutral towards him- I try and take the good while leaving the bad and incorporate it into my own method.

Best of luck!

PpJt
March 14th, 2012, 04:12
Thanks for that great post. I'm sure it will be really useful when I start getting properly down to it.

My copies of Genki 1 and my grammar dictionary arrived. Pretty bad when I look at the four books on my shelf for learning Japanese and realise they cost me like 120 quid. Still, actually pretty excited, looking forward to when I have time to get working at it.

PpJt
March 20th, 2012, 01:43
Random question that I thought should be in here, rather than cluttering elsewhere. A few of the resources I've been using to learn Hiragana have the unfortunate problem of completely ignoring the combination ones or one with accents or w/e it's called. Like kyu kya kyo etc. Is this because they suck or because it's a simple concept? I'm pretty much done learning the basic characters (in terms of being able to pick them out anyway) so that's why this is relevant now.

Prospective
March 20th, 2012, 07:12
I think some resources may ignore them because in terms of WRITING they are the same characters. You do need to learn some rules in order to produce all the "bonus" characters.
eg: か → が means add voicing (so /k/ goes to /g/)
き+や → きゃ means drop the /i/ and palatalise the /k/ for /kya/
but you still write the components as か き や so resources that are focused on remembering how to write, get the correct stroke order, etc aren't really interested.

I'd recommend Tae Kim's blogs/ videos starting here: Japanese from Scratch 1.1.7 – Voiced sounds in Hiragana | Tae Kim’s Blog (http://www.guidetojapanese.org/blog/2011/10/08/japanese-from-scratch-1-1-7-voiced-sounds-in-hiragana/)

It goes over the changes in characters, long vowels, double consonants, etc.

jwkelley
April 12th, 2012, 14:08
Effortless Japanese, Learn Real Japanese (http://effortlessjapanese.blogspot.jp/)

This is a good podcast site for podcasts, nice and simple and done almost entire in Japanese in a simple way even beginners can use it. Basically they tell parts of a story then ask you questions about the story using the same vocab. You will hear the same vocab many times and in different context.

Kewne
April 21st, 2012, 09:45
I'll re-recommend Anki if you've a smartphone. I find it really useful to remember hiragana/katakana. My friend also used to do something where he had two computer screens, one showing whatever movie he was watching and the other next to it with Anki and an auto-clicker to change the flashcard every few seconds. He said it helped him remember a lot.

As well as the more obvious cards with one hiragana/katakana/kanji on, you can download ones with things like example sentences/fill the gap exercises/grammar rules.

I found it helped putting a chart on my wall when I started to try remembering hiragana/katakana. Helped at the time (then I forgot a load due to not studying it for a year and a half).

I originally intended to recommend a book focussing on grammar particles that I read, but now I can't find the title.

Takoyaki
April 21st, 2012, 16:52
Hey i was wondering on the other side of things, I have been shortlisted so there is about another 3 months before I head off to Japan.

I study for 2 hours or so a day at work during downtime so im slowly making progress/
I'm about half way through Genki 1, have gone through the Pimsler course a couple times in the last year and know maybe 200 kanji.
I'm just not confident in the practicality of these resources for a new JET.

What im looking for is the right material that will help make the transition to living/working in Japan as painless as possible and elevate my knowledge base from completely illiterate to just mostly =P

Any suggestions?

Takoyaki
April 21st, 2012, 16:53
double post

Prospective
April 21st, 2012, 17:39
When I went to Japan I'd completed year 12 Japanese (VCE level, basically) which is around the same kind of level as finishing Genki I.

I think the most important thing is to be REALLY comfortable with numbers and the kind of phrases used in stores. Being able to conduct transactions and just have smoother interactions generally is important. I'd also focus on getting comfortable with REAL Japanese- the plain form and plain past of verbs is FAR more common than ます forms. Especially since you'll be in a school. Kids will seldom, if ever, use polite Japanese.

To be honest, Anime is a better resource for learning Japanese as it's used than a textbook like Genki is. Maybe watch some Japanese dramas (school ones would be good) or Anime. Just something that uses REAL, unsanitised Japanese at a natural speed, instead of stuff produced for foreigners. While some people may use simpler Japanese for your benefit most don't know what's simple and what's not so the only luxury they'll extend you is speaking more slowly (and even that isn't guaranteed).

Of course if you go down that route, try to avoid subtitles (except for clarification/ translation of particular phrases). The main aim should be to listen to real-speed Japanese and try to extract basic information from it.

Textbooks can still be a very useful way of learning, but I recommend exposure to real Japanese to supplement it. You're going to be exposed to real Japanese in short order, after all. People in Japan aren't going to know what words you've learnt from Genki and what you don't.


Personally since I'm already at a semi-conversational level I'm focusing on building up my kanji. It's not the most practical, but I feel 3 months for learning the remaining 1000 or so Joyo kanji is a good timeframe and goal for me. Since I'm functional, I'll be able to build on speaking, vocab, etc while on JET. But I can work on written literacy now easily, without being around any native speakers.

Prospective
April 21st, 2012, 17:40
Forum double posted....

UPGRAYEDD
April 21st, 2012, 17:58
I'd also focus on getting comfortable with REAL Japanese- the plain form and plain past of verbs is FAR more common than ます forms. Especially since you'll be in a school. Kids will seldom, if ever, use polite Japanese..


Haha you have no idea what you're talking about.

You are a teacher. Kids will talk to you in ます form because their teachers will slap the shit out of them if they don't. If you ever hear a kid start talking to you in plain form you need to regulate that kid real fast because they are intentionally insulting you. Your fellow teachers are going to talk to you in ます form too. Also big surprise coming up here too, wait for it, most teachers will talk to each other in the office using ます form.

Welcome to adult society in Japan, where most people talk in ます form unless it's with their close friends or family.

Prospective
April 21st, 2012, 18:13
Haha you have no idea what you're talking about.

You are a teacher. Kids will talk to you in ます form because their teachers will slap the shit out of them if they don't. Your fellow teachers are going to talk to you in ます form too. Also big surprise coming up here too, wait for it, most teachers will also talk to each other in the office using ます form.

Welcome to adult society in Japan, where most people talk in ます form unless it's with their close friends or family.

Sorry, I forgot that you know more about MY experience in Japan than I do.

I should have consulted you first before posting since you are such a qualified expert when it comes to the topic of my life experiences.

UPGRAYEDD
April 21st, 2012, 18:19
Sorry but you were clearly posting bad advice and someone had to point it out.

Prospective
April 21st, 2012, 18:24
Okay... my bad... You should only learn the conversation patterns used in Genki I, because that's all you'll ever face while in Japan. Slang is only used in Japanese TV shows, but never in real conversation. They keep real conversation easy and follow textbooks so foreigners can easily follow it. Ignore regional variations, too. All Japanese is the same and all kids show the same level of respect regardless of the particular dynamics in their school/ town.

Better?

Takoyaki
April 21st, 2012, 18:47
ummmmmmm kinda awkward but thanks to both of you for your opinions, so im going to take from this i should simply broaden my horizons beyond genki then???

UPGRAYEDD
April 21st, 2012, 18:51
Here is the deal

1. A student talking to you in plain form is an insult everywhere in Japan.
2. Most of the teachers you will work with are going to talk to you using polite forms.
3. Most people you meet on the street, even people you meet in bars, are going to use polite forms.
4. Anime and drama are bad for studying Japanese unless you have a strong understanding of Japanese sociolinguistic norms.
5. だから learning polite forms first is the best.
6. Genki will eventually teach you all you need to know about rule 4.

Kewne
April 21st, 2012, 19:02
4. Anime and drama are bad for studying Japanese unless you have a strong understanding of Japanese sociolinguistic norms.

^--- Note: I do generally agree with this, but I've found if it's subtitled then it's a good way to pick up a lot of vocabulary for beginners without it feeling like you're working too hard. You do have to remember that the way they speak isn't normal though.

Takoyaki
April 21st, 2012, 19:02
Here is the deal

1. A student talking to you in plain form is an insult everywhere in Japan.
2. Most of the teachers you will work with are going to talk to you using polite forms.
3. Most people you meet on the street, even people you meet in bars, are going to use polite forms.
4. Anime and drama are bad for studying Japanese unless you have a strong understanding of Japanese sociolinguistic norms.
5. だから learning polite forms first is the best.
6. Genki will eventually teach you all you need to know about rule 4.


ahhhhh this was most helpful, thankyou very much, I guess I shall keep plowing through Genki then :)

Just one more inquiry, I have read that as an ALT you receive something along the lines of JET published textbooks to aid in your studies.
Are these a worthwhile resource, in that they provide you with JET specific content that have some practical use in the workplace or is Genki just as good (only asking as i have already purchased both Genki 1+2 already :P)

UPGRAYEDD
April 21st, 2012, 19:10
I never used the JET books but it is true that they contain a lot more "ALT work" related vocabulary than Genki.

I'm pretty sure they are free too so it doesn't cost you anything except shelf space.

Takoyaki
April 21st, 2012, 19:15
I never used the JET books but it is true that they contain a lot more "ALT work" related vocabulary than Genki.

I'm pretty sure they are free too so it doesn't cost you anything except shelf space.

thankyou, you have been most helpful :)

PpJt
April 21st, 2012, 19:16
While I've not really started learning anything other than basic vocab and the kana due to university, I was thinking that Genki would be like any other foreign language textbook I've ever seen - useful for people learning, but not exactly how people really speak. Which is fine by me, because if it gets you in a position when you can actually speak some Japanese, even if it is in a polite form, then that's infinitely better than only learning informal stuff I'd guess. Since we be going over dere to work and stuff. Plus, excuse me if I'm wrong but if you speak basic, polite Japanese, you'll probably pick up casual forms fairly quickly if you tried?

Eudox
April 21st, 2012, 19:52
Going to add my 2 yens about my Japan. I'm quoting UPGRAYEDD here to contrast, I don't disagree with these... it's just different for me.


Here is the deal

1. A student talking to you in plain form is an insult everywhere in Japan.
2. Most of the teachers you will work with are going to talk to you using polite forms.


I know that my school is pretty lax, but as much as students shouldn't ever talk to you in plain form, it tends to be about half and half. Obviously it depends on the kid and how strict their homeroom teacher and JTE is about it, but when they quickly change between talking to their friends and talking to the teacher, they're bound to accidentally use plain form sometimes. A student (intentionally) said "おいで" in the staffroom to get a teacher to come with them yesterday. Clearly this was pushing it and they knew it, but we all just had a good laugh about it.

Same goes for the teachers, except when they're talking to kyoto/kouchou or teachers they rarely talk to. I use plain form with kyoto and most of the teachers because we are friendly enough for that, but I always do my best to use desu/masu when talking to kouchou.



3. Most people you meet on the street, even people you meet in bars, are going to use polite forms.


Every conversation I've had at a bar has been in plain form.



4. Anime and drama are bad for studying Japanese unless you have a strong understanding of Japanese sociolinguistic norms.
5. だから learning polite forms first is the best.
6. Genki will eventually teach you all you need to know about rule 4.

This, this and this.



I'm pretty sure they are free too so it doesn't cost you anything except shelf space.

The books are generally considered to be crappy but they're free and give you another source of vocab and grammar points once you're done with genki and haven't found what else you want to use yet.


While I've not really started learning anything other than basic vocab and the kana due to university, I was thinking that Genki would be like any other foreign language textbook I've ever seen - useful for people learning, but not exactly how people really speak. Which is fine by me, because if it gets you in a position when you can actually speak some Japanese, even if it is in a polite form, then that's infinitely better than only learning informal stuff I'd guess. Since we be going over dere to work and stuff. Plus, excuse me if I'm wrong but if you speak basic, polite Japanese, you'll probably pick up casual forms fairly quickly if you tried?

All of this.

Moral of the story: stick with a proper course until you're comfortable enough with the basics to move on. You get pretty comfortable with plain form in a proper course anyway, given that, you know, it's the basis for everything.

Prospective
April 21st, 2012, 20:44
Sorry Eudox. You're wrong. Those people talking to you in bars are just being insulting and should get slapped down. Obviously our experiences in various parts of Japan are wrong. UPGRAYYED has experience in every school in every part of Japan and obviously knows better.

Facetiousness aside, I was based in Kansai, not as an ALT but mostly in Jukus, etc. I almost never heard polite forms from students, partially because there wasn't a school teacher around. I was also primarily teaching Elementary students, but even the JHS kids I taught were more casual unless they were particularly academic or mild-mannered. You can try and tell me I'm wrong and that every Elementary student speaks perfect teineigo if you want, but that simply isn't my experience and it's boorish for you to try and claim that your experience is anything other than YOUR EXPERIENCE.

I was also speaking from the point of view of someone that only had a minimal background in Japanese before travelling there. I had studied polite forms in year 12 and when I got to Japan I found IN MY EXPERIENCE that I needed them far less than I needed plain forms. I found myself wishing I'd spent less time on polite forms in class and more time on plain form.

BTW I never said "learn ALL Japanese from anime". I said (paraphrased) "you can use anime as a supplementary source to get familiar with casual use and natural speed Japanese". Textbooks, including Genki, don't drop words like pronouns anywhere near as often as actual Japanese does. That's one difference that anime (or dramas, if you prefer) can teach you.

As I see it, any material made for foreigners is NOT going to properly prepare you for real language. That, to me, is one simple truth about textbooks. Not all textbooks are created equal, though, and Genki is definitely one of the better ones. But I still recommend you supplement it with REAL native material. It doesn't need to be anime, it could be the news or Japanese variety shows (hell that's more spontaneous and natural than anime that is genre-specific and scripted)- I recommend anime because animated shows are usually more fun to watch with limited language proficiency (which is why young kids often prefer cartoons in their first language). Watching Japanese TV isn't the best preparation for learning to SPEAK Japanese, but it does familiarise yourself with the sounds, speed and natural rhythm of the language far more than メアリーさんはよくすしをたべます。

Ini
April 21st, 2012, 20:59
I was also speaking from the point of view of someone that only has a minimal background in Japan

oh, that makes more sense.



Truth is whatever you study people will think you sound strange, just accept it

UPGRAYEDD
April 22nd, 2012, 11:16
Sorry Eudox. You're wrong. Those people talking to you in bars are just being insulting and should get slapped down. Obviously our experiences in various parts of Japan are wrong. UPGRAYYED has experience in every school in every part of Japan and obviously knows better.


They most likely were being insulting or there was a clear sense of social equality going on. Go back to that bar and listen to native Japanese people talk to eachother. Listen to someone trying to talk to someone they never met before. 90% of the time they will open up with polite forms and will not switch over plain forms until they get very comfortable with the person. Also pay attention to the age of the speakers. Eavesdrop in on someone 27 talking to a 22 year old, you might be surprised.There is a reason why one of the first questions Japanese people ask you is how old you are. They will be using that information to determine "how" to talk to you.

Of course you could be hanging out in a dive with a whole bunch of working class type of people....




Facetiousness aside, I was based in Kansai,


Kansai is not some special place where people use plain forms more often.



not as an ALT but mostly in Jukus, etc. I almost never heard polite forms from students, partially because there wasn't a school teacher around. I was also primarily teaching Elementary students, but even the JHS kids I taught were more casual unless they were particularly academic or mild-mannered. You can try and tell me I'm wrong and that every Elementary student speaks perfect teineigo if you want, but that simply isn't my experience and it's boorish for you to try and claim that your experience is anything other than YOUR EXPERIENCE.

The kids were intentionally insulting you and you did not have the linguistic capacity to know what they were doing to you. Every kid in Japan older than 10 years old knows better not to use plain forms with a teacher and since there wasn't a native speaker around to correct the kids they took the opportunity to basically walk over you. When you go back to Japan as a "real" teacher in a real school, your experience is going to be very different.

It is far more important for new ALTs coming to Japan and wanting to learn Japanese to get their polite forms down before touching on plain forms. There are a number of reasons for this but I'll just mention a few

1. When the ALT goes out to buy furniture to furnish their new apartment, the sales people are going to speak using polite forms
2. When the ALT goes shopping for food and is looking for (whatever) and asks someone at the grocery store where it is, they are going to talk to you in polite forms
3. When the ALT shows up at their school and meets everyone, they are all going to talk to them using polite forms
4. When the ALT plans lessons with JTE's, the JTE's are (most likely) going to use polite forms
5. When you talk to your students - unless they are preschool kids - they are going to use polite forms
6. When you want to set up internet...
7. When you open your bank account...
8. When you sign up for your gaijin card...
9. When you ask for directions on the street...
10. When you order food at a restaurant...
11. When you ask what platform the train going to Tokyo is on...
12. I can go on and on here

therealwindycity
April 22nd, 2012, 14:04
Everyone has already given a lot of good advice - I'm going to second Anki/some kind of SRS and AJATT. Also what Ini said about no matter how you talk, there will be plenty of people who give you funny looks.

I think one of the most important things starting out is to remind yourself that you're not going to be fluent right away. You're going to have a lot of times where you sound like an idiot and make stupid mistakes and don't understand basic things, and that's ok. Find a system to study every day that works for you, and most important, if it doesn't work, change it. Don't become one of the thousands of people out there beating themselves up because they "should be" studying Japanese.

Also, I'm really, really going to recommend Japanese movies/TV with Japanese subtitles. Your reading and listening will help reinforce each other, and you'll get a lot better at picking up slurred, quick speech that is often used (by guys especially) in Japan.

Prospective
April 22nd, 2012, 16:28
I think what this thread has shown is that the people that will be most judgemental about your Japanese are going to be other foreigners, so do your best, don't sweat it and learn what you feel most comfortable learning. Japanese people will appreciate any language you use with them.

coop52
April 23rd, 2012, 09:22
My kids usually use more keigo to their club sempais than they do to teachers. A few teachers are even called by nicknames and ~chan. I think politeness has a lot to do with where you are and the environment of the school. More inaka areas tend to be more familiar.

You still need to know polite Japanese. ~masu/desu is something you'll use everyday. You should at least be able to recognize keigo since shop staff will use it at you. Remember that keigo/kotobatsukai is hard for a lot of Japanese people; next time you're in a book store note how many books are available for how to properly use keigo.

therealwindycity
April 23rd, 2012, 09:54
I think what this thread has shown is that the people that will be most judgemental about your Japanese are going to be other foreigners, so do your best, don't sweat it and learn what you feel most comfortable learning. Japanese people will appreciate any language you use with them.

At least we're not as bad as French language learners. I couldn't so much as say the word "hors d'oeuvre" in college without someone who's taken three semesters of French jumping in to be like "ACTUALLY it's pronounced ---."

coop52
April 23rd, 2012, 09:59
On using anime to study- you're most likely to learn useless vocab and speech patterns. If you stick with non-fantasy high school shows, it's an ok way to practice listening. Manga's a little better since you can pick up kanji. Dramas are usually ok. They definitely don't work as a sole study method.

PpJt
April 23rd, 2012, 10:02
At least we're not as bad as French language learners. I couldn't so much as say the word "hors d'oeuvre" in college without someone who's taken three semesters of French jumping in to be like "ACTUALLY it's pronounced ---."

Lol, I remember when I was in Germany on a school trip, I was talking to a bunch of german kids (In really basic german) and my teacher came over and commented on how my pronunciation was off and then proceeded to say some shit to the kids and walked away. The kids then commented that my pronunciation and accent were better than hers anyway. I then proceeded to organise a game of football with them.

I now realise after typing that, that it's a bit of a Cool Story Bro, but meh I've typed it now.

Ini
April 23rd, 2012, 10:18
who goes on a school trip to germany? thats like going on a wine tasting tour to scotland

MJN
April 23rd, 2012, 10:26
I think when talking about plain/polite/casual speech forms, you'll find everywhere will be slightly different. I agree with whoever said the "because we're inaka" comment, due to the fact that's what I've been told. Kids use incredibly plain/slang forms with teachers, and teachers with each other. As for student-teacher interaction though, I've heard teachers being called ~chan, or just simply by a name with no honourific. No one seems to kick up a fuss.

I usually try to use more polite terminology when I'm talking with kyoto/kocho, though, as do other teachers, and the tone of voice chances incredibly on the phone by all the teachers from what I can understand.

I'm from an area with a lot of local slang, that I know I've unintentionally picked up - without realising it. I've had conversations in Tokyo and have been asked "Oh! you're from ___?". A habit I really need to kick, I know, if I ever enter a more serious Japanese workplace into the future. (I've also picked up using 'ore' a lot rather than 'watashi', which I'm wondering is good or bad.)

therealwindycity
April 23rd, 2012, 10:30
Kids use unintelligible local dialect with teachers, and teachers reinforce it.

Fixed

Jiggit
April 23rd, 2012, 10:37
Just do what I do and only ever speak to your kids in English. Teach them how to say "I like AKB48 because they are cute" and "I like Arashi because they are cool" and you've already learned everything they have to communicate anyway.

Ini
April 23rd, 2012, 11:46
JETs are so pampered you can probably get away with just speaking english to everyone

Prospective
April 23rd, 2012, 11:59
Two clarifications:
1) です・ます is important, but it's also covered to death in starting courses. My point wasn't "ignore polite Japanese" it was "get exposed to casual Japanese- it's common and textbooks introduce it quite late". My experience was that I did a course equivalent to Genki I in High School, got familiar with です・ます forms went to Japan as an 18 year old and found it hard to understand a lot of what was being said around me because it was in plain form. I wasn't at an advanced level, just like takoyaki isn't, so my advice was based on what I wish I'd have known back then. Textbooks give you PLENTY of exposure to polite Japanese in the early levels. Supplementing that with other sources can only help, IMO.

2) Re anime: just because Naruto has essentially useless vocab like 下忍 doesn't stop it from using normal verbs and sentence patterns. Even the most out there anime usually covers a lot of useful expressions and vocab that is often given a miss in textbooks. Stuff like ふざける (and variants), しっかり, 当たり前, いきなり, くだらない, ありえない is all quite common in various anime and in real Japanese conversation but not covered early in any textbook course I've seen. That's the benefit of using Japanese media, IMO.

But it doesn't need to be anime specifically- it could be Japanese podcasts/ radio talk shows, variety shows, drama, news, manga. Anything with natural Japanese language that gets you used to native speed and a native level. My main point is that textbooks don't deal with native level material, by design, and that some exposure to native level material can help with your preparation for being in country (where everything is designed for natives).

Prospective
April 23rd, 2012, 12:06
JETs are so pampered you can probably get away with just speaking english to everyone

Just bring your supervisor with you any time there's a chance you might be exposed to that primate language so they can deal with it for you.

therealwindycity
April 23rd, 2012, 12:06
Two clarifications:
1) です・ます is important, but it's also covered to death in starting courses. My point wasn't "ignore polite Japanese" it was "get exposed to casual Japanese- it's common and textbooks introduce it quite late". My experience was that I did a course equivalent to Genki I in High School, got familiar with です・ます forms went to Japan as an 18 year old and found it hard to understand a lot of what was being said around me because it was in plain form. I wasn't at an advanced level, just like takoyaki isn't, so my advice was based on what I wish I'd have known back then. Textbooks give you PLENTY of exposure to polite Japanese in the early levels. Supplementing that with other sources can only help, IMO.

2) Re anime: just because Naruto has essentially useless vocab like 下忍 doesn't stop it from using normal verbs and sentence patterns. Even the most out there anime usually covers a lot of useful expressions and vocab that is often given a miss in textbooks. Stuff like ふざける (and variants), しっかり, 当たり前, いきなり, くだらない, ありえない is all quite common in various anime and in real Japanese conversation but not covered early in any textbook course I've seen. That's the benefit of using Japanese media, IMO.

But it doesn't need to be anime specifically- it could be Japanese podcasts/ radio talk shows, variety shows, drama, news, manga. Anything with natural Japanese language that gets you used to native speed and a native level. My main point is that textbooks don't deal with native level material, by design, and that some exposure to native level material can help with your preparation for being in country (where everything is designed for natives).
l
v

It's all ok.

Calm down, girl; it's going to be ok. I think the website you're looking for is FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions | AJATT | All Japanese All The Time (http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/blog/faqs-frequently-asked-questions)

coop52
April 23rd, 2012, 12:08
2) Re anime: just because Naruto has essentially useless vocab like 下忍 doesn't stop it from using normal verbs and sentence patterns. Even the most out there anime usually covers a lot of useful expressions and vocab that is often given a miss in textbooks. Stuff like ふざける (and variants), しっかり, 当たり前, いきなり, くだらない, ありえない is all quite common in various anime and in real Japanese conversation but not covered early in any textbook course I've seen. That's the benefit of using Japanese media, IMO.

But it doesn't need to be anime specifically- it could be Japanese podcasts/ radio talk shows, variety shows, drama, news, manga. Anything with natural Japanese language that gets you used to native speed and a native level. My main point is that textbooks don't deal with native level material, by design, and that some exposure to native level material can help with your preparation for being in country (where everything is designed for natives).

Out of the words you picked, the only ones that would be useful in daily life are 当たり前 and ありえない, both of which can easily be found in textbooks. You're counting on people to remember the words that would be useful rather than the words that sound coolest. I know I definitely remembered stuff like まぼろしの銀水晶 way before common words like 病院 back when I watched anime.

Ini
April 23rd, 2012, 12:12
Just bring your supervisor with you any time there's a chance you might be exposed to that primate language so they can deal with it for you.

I see you've met lianwen

Prospective
April 23rd, 2012, 12:19
I guess the good thing about self-study from a textbook is that you're not forced to learn every word in the textbook because it MIGHT be on a test. You can be judicious and if you weren't an economics or literature major you can skip over 経済 and 文学, even if they are in Chapter I of Genki.

That said the same principle can be applied to any kind of self-study. It's pretty obvious that 幻の銀水晶 isn't going to see a lot of play, even if it's common in one particular anime.

On that note I'm off to spend some time doing anki reps and watching some anime. One way to NOT learn Japanese is to spend your time arguing about the best way to learn Japanese on the interwebz :lol:

Ini
April 23rd, 2012, 12:29
genki 1 is so easy that if you got your head down and studied rather than watching anime all the time you could blast through it in a few weeks and move onto book 2 and then onto more advanced books.

Kewne
April 23rd, 2012, 17:32
genki 1 is so easy that if you got your head down and studied rather than watching anime all the time you could blast through it in a few weeks and move onto book 2 and then onto more advanced books.

I do think textbooks are useful and I'll be going through Japanese for Busy People for a second time, along with looking at Genki some more before my departure, but there are times I've been able to understand what someone is saying only because I've seen that particular word/grammar used in an anime/game/movie and never came across it in a textbook.

I often feel like a lot of the textbook vocabulary is useless to my situation, since I don't buy postcards and I'm not attending business meetings. That said, if anyone knows a textbook aimed at getting someone to a high conversational level for everyday speech quickly, let me know. Or even an Anki deck with a lot of the grammar for everyday speech.

Eudox
April 23rd, 2012, 23:02
I often feel like a lot of the textbook vocabulary is useless to my situation, since I don't buy postcards and I'm not attending business meetings. That said, if anyone knows a textbook aimed at getting someone to a high conversational level for everyday speech quickly, let me know. Or even an Anki deck with a lot of the grammar for everyday speech.

You'd be surprised how much of that vocab you will actually need in everyday life - once you get past "can I buy you a drink?", "what are your hobbies?" and "want to go somewhere?".

The problem is that any "everyday speech" for actually talking to people is going to need a base of vocabulary from every possible subject, which is where the textbook comes in. You may not plan on buying a postcard, but what happens when you ask someone what they did during the weekend and they say they sent a postcard to their friend? (I'm stretching the postcard thing a little, but this does happen quite often).

I also realise you've already said you don't plan on ditching all textbook blah blah.... just some food for thought.

MJN
April 24th, 2012, 08:38
I've used 4 things to study to get to where I am:


1. Anki with the Smart.fm Core 2000/6000 decks

Incredibly good at vocab building, very lightweight in how much effort you actually put in compared to other study methods, and pays off incredibly well, considering the effort (or lack there of) seemingly needed to actually study. 20-30 cards a day, more if you want (I actually have a backlog just now). Stick with it, and you might find you'll bolster your vocab a surprising amount. I first started using it when I was starting out, it goes through incredibly simple words to begin with, so you may find yourself doing a lot more than just 20 to start depending on your ability.

I thought Anki was so good I spent £15 getting the iphone app, well worth it in my eyes.

2. Remembering the Kanji, Heisig.

I'll get hate for this, but I liked his books.

He does an obscure visual memory thing which truthfully I'm not a massive fan of, but I do like the way he breaks apart Kanji and explains them well. I only partially use his storytelling method, combining in part with just brute force memorisation of kanji meanings. (and writing!)

I've found I can read sentences very detatched-ly in Japanese, if I come across compounds etc. I can read them, but only in meaning rather than reading. Annoying, sure, but covering the kanji meanings is a hurdle in itself.

I wouldn't reccomend his method alone, however, use something else to reinforce - in my case, I used Anki for vocab (with a deck that showed kanji) combined with RtK.

3. Tae Kim's grammar guide

This (http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar) website. No bullshit, covers simple, vital Japanese gammar in amazing detail with examples friendly to all japanese levels.

4. JLPT N3/N2 grammar books

Covering more than what Kim's guide can, I've noticed my grammar is far weaker than my reading ability. Teaches by example rather than trying to give a direct translation, so forces you to 'discover' meanings in your head rather than reading a fact.

miss_doitsu
May 3rd, 2012, 04:25
I don't know if this fits here but I found a useful site for very beginner Japanese learners.

istudyjapanese (http://istudyjapanese.wordpress.com/)

jwkelley
May 7th, 2012, 08:25
i have been using smart.fm website, the vocab is nice but they keep you on the damn decks for a long time. 10 hours for a 100 words.

Lurkeratthethreshold
May 11th, 2012, 10:00
(Planning to buy this beast Kodansha's Furigana Dictionary: Japanese-English/English-Japanese: Amazon.co.uk: Kodansha International: Books (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/4770024800)).


I bought this book - good design and easy to lookup words. Unfortunately half the words I want to find are not in there. I'm not even intermediate level. This massive book now just collects dust on my bookshelf and I carry my ipod touch around instead. It's smaller, faster and has a far larger vocabulary with "Kotoba!" and "Japanese" installed. Also being able to draw in kanji is incredibly useful.

I also use Anki and regret not starting to use it sooner. It's improved my vocab uptake so much it feels a bit like cheating...




My favorite reference to keep on the shelf are the grammar dictionaries. You can start out with the Basic one, and it'll tide you over for a quite a while. Dictionary Of Basic Japanese Grammar, A - Japan Language Centre (Europe) by JP-BOOKS (http://shop.jpbooks.co.uk/product.php?id_product=4932)



I also have to second this - when my textbooks confuse me or I come across something I don't understand these books are my first stop.

miss_doitsu
May 27th, 2012, 17:55
I found another interesting website Learn Japanese language online | LinguaLift (http://japanese.lingualift.com/)

If anyone tries it, do let me know.

Gizmotech
June 5th, 2012, 13:43
Can I just say that this thread was amazingly entertaining. Carry on!

Ps genki one and two were both boring as shit and I forgot evening from them before I came to Japan. That being said they definitely covered all the forms you would need grammatically, just not practically.