PDA

View Full Version : Japanese from Zero!



Rachel1404
September 10th, 2008, 00:49
I've just started using a series of books called 'Japanese from zero' that I found on Amazon. I'm about 4/5 chapters in and it seems pretty good so far.The 1st book (that I'm on) gradually teaches you hiragana about 5-10 symbols a chapter. The new symbols then gradually replace any romaji so you get part hiragana, part romaji until by the end of the book all the japanese is in hiragana. The next books in the series do the same with katakana and kanji as far as I'm aware.

I was just wondering really if anyone else had any experience with this series and how they compare to other books available? I had a look for the genki ones but to get the text, workbook and cd was rather expensive!

newdawn
September 10th, 2008, 16:18
Genki is expensive, but it's good. I've also used a bit of Minna no Nihongo, but not enough to comment, and when I was at home I used Japanese for busy people, kana edition. My advice is to get into hiragana/katakana as quickly as possible. If you come out here, with just Roman characters in your mind, you will be completely illiterate (as opposed to almost completely illiterate like me :)) If you know the katakana, you can at least read many restaurant menus. and it wouldn't be smart to start learning kanji until you know all the hiragana. Expect to read like a complete retard for a while- I do. If the Japanese from zero is working for you keep using it.

dombay
September 10th, 2008, 16:29
I love Genki, it really helped me along. Japanese for JETs is evil and makes your Japanese worse. the CLAIR courses do as well. I do very very much recommend the Basic Kanji Books (red and teal in colour) they're excellent for learning kanji. I don't recommend so much their sequels, the Intermediate Kanji Books (orange and green) just because they aren't structured as user friendlily and I just enjoyed them less. But everyone, even if you already have 1kyuu needs Mary Althaus and Yan and the Japanese People. Just for the pure 80sness. And it teaches a beginner pretty well too I think. http://jp.youtube.com/watch?v=t58Hblk8xQM

Rachel1404
September 10th, 2008, 20:17
Lol i just watched the first one. When you said 80s I hadn't thought it would be quite that 80s! You gotta love the enormous stereo in the shop near the beginning!
Thanks for the link!
Yeh I bought 'Let's learn hiragana' which I'm working through at the same time hopefully start the katakana one soon.
I think I will stick it out with the japanese from zero. Has anyone else used the series?

UPGRAYEDD
September 10th, 2008, 21:51
Genki is awesome. That's all.

ext23
September 11th, 2008, 11:58
for those who are computer literate you can download torrents of the genki textbooks, workbooks (pdf) and audio in mp3 format.

Moving2fast
September 12th, 2008, 10:00
One book that has really stood out among all the Japanese books I own is "Japanese Sentence Patterns for Effective Communication." It's small enough to be a reference guide while teaching extremely useful and effective sentence patterns to help you quickly improve. I like it because of varied examples and instant applications of the lessons. It also teaches some useful vocabulary in the process, and it presents all examples in English, Romaji, and Japanese. It might help to know a little bit of Japanese before using the book, but I think it could be fine for absolute beginners as well.

http://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Sentence-Patterns-Effective-Communication/dp/4770029837

Ruairi
October 13th, 2008, 06:31
Waiting on my copy of Japanese From Zero 1. :)

Wakatta
October 13th, 2008, 19:47
Is the CLAIR course really so bad? I'm signed up for the Intermediate course.

jonesinjapan
October 14th, 2008, 08:40
I still have yet to get my beginner lesson, I plan on doing it but I also go to classes every tuesday.

I was thinking about Japanese from Zero, it looked like a really good set-up. I might still go for it, if Clairs doesnt fufill my learning needs.

dombay
October 14th, 2008, 09:07
the CLAIR course makes me want to gouge my eyes out.

I have finished the advanced course and found that last year it just interfered with my JLPT study time.

Excellently there is nowhere to go after the advanced course and I don't have to be subjected this year.

hayashirice03
October 14th, 2008, 10:19
I used Yokoso! my first and second years and they were amazing XO

dombay
October 14th, 2008, 11:19
Looks like they might have finally changed the CLAIR course. Everyone's only been saying it's shit for about 20 years. I'm basing this on the fact that the email address for the helpline from the new course is different from the one on the old course. this one is for the publishing company bonjinsha which actually has put out some very decent textbooks before so it might be alright? Update us kiddos who are doing it!

Oneiro
October 16th, 2008, 10:40
The CLAIR coursebooks I've seen seem relatively decent. Japanese for JETs would be a decent resource if they would just drop the stupid romaji from chapter two on. The Advanced Courses also seem decent and even on par with my school's Advanced Japanese textbook. For what it's worth, my neighbor used those and one other JLPT resource that was nothing but mock tests (not even Kanzen Master) to study and he has a JLPT 2 and some damn good reading ability to show for it.

dombay
October 16th, 2008, 13:17
I found the advanced course to anything but advanced.

There was things in there that I remembered from being 6 months in to Japanese studying and I'm currently studying for 2q - I think its best ignored in favour of finding a textbook that is more suitable to you personally.

If they have changed them then of course I don;t know but the only advantage I can see from the old ones at least was that they are free.

cvmurrieta
October 16th, 2008, 13:20
I signed up for the advanced course just to brush up. I also bought a Japanese grammar dictionary that basically covers grammar points found on 2q and 1q

Rachel1404
October 21st, 2008, 19:15
Waiting on my copy of Japanese From Zero 1. :)
Let me know what you think...

Waldroon
October 24th, 2008, 05:14
I've been using "Japanese for Busy People", but I'm also attending a class, and most of my real learning comes from that. However, I do kind of like the book, even though all the Westerners in it have huge noses.

On an unrelated note if you're feeling cheap you can pirate pretty much every Japanese book, workbook & audio CD from the web fairly easily with .torrents, if you want to try them out for awhile before buying the book (looking at a screen gets tedious).

Ruairi
October 25th, 2008, 00:38
Let me know what you think...

Will do, the wait continues... :D (too cheap for swiftpost)

skippy911
October 28th, 2008, 03:36
I must agree Genki is one of my favs. Japanese for Busy People is ok, nakama = crap, Japanese the spoken language = double crap. I mean who the hell uses the old style romaji now a days? JI is not ZI damn you JTSL! That book is written for linguists or something because I passed JLPT Level 1 without knowing the past participle of the adjucunct for's left butt cheek. (Yes I do hate that book and for GSU subjecting me to it). Pick up Genki 1 and 2 and you will be fine. After those books just get out there in Japan and live life for a year and im sure you can pass 1 or 2 kyu with no problems.

Mindflux
October 28th, 2008, 11:15
I found genki to be rather unmanageable. I'm bad at making up ways to practice on my own and all their shit is group based. Minna no Nihongo is pretty good.
You should learn katakana and hiragana in about 2 days. Go to http://www.realkana.com
Spend about 4 hours on that and...hurray, you know the kana's...kind of. You then have to read things for a couple weeks and keep looking back at the list to be sure of yourself. Taking a whole book to learn both kana's is unnecessarily slow let alone just hiragana. (One thing to note is that you won't be able to write unless you practice that separately.)
Assuming you're not already in Japan I'd recommend heisig. Try and finish the book before getting to Japan. That way you can sort of kind of read things a little and picking up the readings and uses of the kanji's after memorizing them is rather easy. If you have nothing else to do you can finish heisig in 4-6 weeks. More reasonable schedule is 3 months or so.

dombay
October 30th, 2008, 07:32
I took about a week to learn kana and I still wasn't expert at them.

Don't stress if it takes longer than some people say. A lot of them look very much the same and if you want to know them well enough for instant recall and be able to do them properly rather than just being able to relate them back to an English representation of them, it will take even longer again.

Don't stress in the beginning stages and you'll do fine :)

fidelity
February 4th, 2009, 09:47
A lot of people (including me) have issues with Heisig's system for remembering the kanji, but I found Remembering the Kana very, very useful. A couple hours each for hirgana and katakana and I knew them all. Not fluently or anything--definitely had to think about them until I got practice in--but I didn't have to look them up at all, just try to follow the associations in my head.

Wakatta
February 4th, 2009, 16:17
I'm actually at least kind of a fan of Heisig. Or if not exactly Heisig, at least the Heisig-like method that Slime Forest uses. However, I disagree with the idea of a total beginner starting off with it. I think it's better to learn a hundred or so kanji the old fashioned way, getting sort of familiar with components and such, and then you can add Heisig as a supplement. It's great for rapidly learning a bunch of kanji. And I find it sticks in your head better than muscle memory...at least until the muscle memory gets really good.

jeshipiyo
February 4th, 2009, 18:32
I like Genki. It's easy to get sucked into Mary and Takeshi's love story, and you even get to see Takeshi fondled by an older Japanese gentleman. Two thumbs up.

Waldroon
February 5th, 2009, 03:45
I just wish I could find a site that had lots of quizzes, reading assignments, Q&A, etc that matched okay with the level you'd be at after doing JFBP II.

Rachel1404
May 3rd, 2009, 08:12
Right so I've reached the end of Japanese from Zero! 1 and I need a change!! The series seems ok enough but the set up for each chapter has become very very repetitive. Not to mention it took them the whole first book to cover just hiragana - though thankfully this hasn't held me back because I've learnt katakana and 70-80 kanji on the side.

Anyways but I start rambling on! I've had a little look at both genki and minna and decided I'm going to go with genki as my new text. What I wanted to ask was which bits do I need? i.e. can I get away with just the textbook and answer key? I've heard the workbooks aren't very good? And I don't really want to shell out for the cds unless not having them is a big mistake?

I'm sure I've read the answers to some of these in a thread somewhere but I've looked and can't find them. So any input would be appreciated thanks!


[Ruairi: I'd be really interested to know how you've got on with the Japanese from Zero series in the end...]

FiercestCalm
May 3rd, 2009, 08:43
I never used the CDs for genki, but I was learning it in the classroom. Assuming you have a general knowledge of Japanese pronunciation, I don't think the CDs are necessary.

I think the genki workbooks were pretty useful, especially if you don't have a class to take with the book. I'd recommend getting the textbook and workbook.

hige
May 3rd, 2009, 14:55
get a japanese boyfriend/girlfriend.
it is way more effective than genki.

though i will admit that genki does a pretty good job at explaining grammar...usually. sometimes they over explain shit to the point that it makes you want to just skip said grammar point.

and the workbook is helpful, but you have to have someone make sure you are doing it correctly....herein comes that significant other.

OH! the chikan illustration is hilarious too. though I think that is in genki 2...

AliDimayev
May 3rd, 2009, 14:56
you don't need a boy/girlfriend. Just friends will suffice. You skirt chaser

patjs
May 3rd, 2009, 22:11
you don't need a boy/girlfriend. Just friends will suffice. You skirt chaser

A gf/bf is better. You will spend more time talking to them than friends.

Especially if said gf/bf refuses to speak English to you and you have no choice but to get better at Japanese really fast.

That's what helped me go from pretty bad to passable.

Rachel1404
May 3rd, 2009, 22:16
So then the general consensus seems to be that if no japanese gf/bf is available then it's worth getting the textbook, answer key and workbook then?
Now I just have to find a website to order from where they wont cost me an arm and leg!
Cheers for the replies everyone.

wicket
May 3rd, 2009, 22:35
getting a japanese bf or gf only works if you are gay because you'd be learning from someone the same gender.
a man learning japanese from his gf will end up sounding like a big girl.

Avocado
May 3rd, 2009, 23:08
getting a japanese bf or gf only works if you are gay because you'd be learning from someone the same gender.
a man learning japanese from his gf will end up sounding like a big girl.
Do you think that as long as you're aware of this fact and keep it in mind while you're 'learning' the effect of this will be diminished? I'm genuinely curious.

Virus FM
May 4th, 2009, 03:28
I've never used Genki but Minna really hits when i comes to reinforcement.

patjs
May 4th, 2009, 10:57
getting a japanese bf or gf only works if you are gay because you'd be learning from someone the same gender.
a man learning japanese from his gf will end up sounding like a big girl.

That's if you aren't smart enough to realize the difference.

hige
May 4th, 2009, 11:24
wicket makes a good point...as does patjs.

what i was referring to was that your speaking skills improve greatly because well..you are actually talking with someone on a regular basis and you get more comfortable speaking the language. alcohol does this for me as well.

of course platonic friends help (and they can also point out when you sound like a sissy). call it what you will ali, but in terms of vocab and shit....well yea, what patjs said.


also, good luck finding a copy of genki cheap.

that books is outlandishly expensive, even on the interweb. but all joking aside, I do think it is a pretty good textbook. Though I have never tried using it on my own...

patjs
May 4th, 2009, 11:55
I should add I'm not advocating going out to find some poor boy or girl to use to get better at Japanese. I wasn't even that serious about getting better when I met my gf but I did very quickly.

There really is no replacement for a friend/romantic interest who speaks non-textbook Japanese. All that keigo shit you do at university will come in handy talking to kyoto sensei but not at the bar having beers with friends.

kamukamuume
May 4th, 2009, 12:54
getting a japanese bf or gf only works if you are gay because you'd be learning from someone the same gender.
a man learning japanese from his gf will end up sounding like a big girl.

I have to disagree here. hige's point, that the speaking practice is really beneficial in and of itself, is very true.

and while there are differences, most elementary textbooks will cover them to a decent extent: if you're a guy, don't omit だ in casual speech, don't end sentences with the particle わ in standard dialect, don't use 私, etc. and for the times when you slip up or just didn't know, your significant other will almost certainly be willing to tell you. mine isn't strict or anything, but she'll giggle a bit when I say something that sounds effeminate, and that's usually enough for me to realize.

for the most part, though, I think the differences aren't as pronounced as people make them out to be.

Wakatta
May 4th, 2009, 13:00
don't use 私

What, you aren't supposed to use 私?

I suppose I don't hear a lot of guys use that in an informal context. I just remain weirded out somehow by 俺 and 僕. Probably because I'm still on some level stubbornly trying to translate them. Even without that, though, I haven't quite wrapped my head around using a different word for I based on your age and gender. That just seems crazy. What, do you wake up one day and start talking about yourself as わし? (Although come to think of it ... it seems like guys from a very young age call themselves 僕 or 俺. ... still, the very notion of changing your word for "I" based on context...I can't get it. I'm going to have to get rid of this hangup to get better at Japanese.)

Furthermore, my impression is that 俺 is for macho guys trying to sound aggressive or full of themselves and 僕 is for little boys or men trying to self-deprecate or cutesify themselves. I'm not sure I want to sound like either.

But I suppose that's a misconception...I mean, I hear ordinary guys talking about themselves as 俺. Maybe I'm thinking of 俺様 or something. Since the textbooks usually use 私 or maybe 僕, it might be that I have a false association of 俺 with growling anime characters. 貴様! 殺すぜ!

kamukamuume
May 4th, 2009, 17:12
I suppose I don't hear a lot of guys use that in an informal context. I just remain weirded out somehow by 俺 and 僕. Probably because I'm still on some level stubbornly trying to translate them. Even without that, though, I haven't quite wrapped my head around using a different word for I based on your age and gender. That just seems crazy. What, do you wake up one day and start talking about yourself as わし? (Although come to think of it ... it seems like guys from a very young age call themselves 僕 or 俺. ... still, the very notion of changing your word for "I" based on context...I can't get it. I'm going to have to get rid of this hangup to get better at Japanese.)

yeah, it was one of the first things I was corrected on when I came here to study abroad a few years ago. I can't say for sure that there aren't guys who don't call themselves 私、but based on what I've been told and what I've heard, 俺 is the most common, and 僕 is the best if you don't want to risk being seen as vulgar /childish.

on the topic of the old man thing, that is a really good question. I wonder about it, too. either people are like that lipsynching youtube guy, recognize they're old, and figure they should act like it; or the word わし itself is just retro. if you watch '50s sitcoms in English you'll hear, "That's swell!" (that's great!) and "No foolin'?" (seriously?); maybe it's kind of like that.


Furthermore, my impression is that 俺 is for macho guys trying to sound aggressive or full of themselves and 僕 is for little boys or men trying to self-deprecate or cutesify themselves. I'm not sure I want to sound like either.

But I suppose that's a misconception...I mean, I hear ordinary guys talking about themselves as 俺. Maybe I'm thinking of 俺様 or something. Since the textbooks usually use 私 or maybe 僕, it might be that I have a false association of 俺 with growling anime characters. 貴様! 殺すぜ!

this is one thing that textbooks missed the boat on. Genki, for example, is really great, but I think it doesn't sufficiently explain words like 私. my japanese teachers mostly said that 僕 was okay to use in class, and yeah, I end up hearing 俺 俺 俺 all the time.

meanwhile, some of the male teachers at my school were like "yeah I use 私 all the time," but I think it's one of those things like Ampersand was saying the other day: people can't describe their own speech patterns that well. I could probably count on one hand the times I've heard guys use 私 in an informal setting without being homosexual (not joking; gay people can use very effeminate speech here) or doing it for effect.

Avocado
May 4th, 2009, 17:41
I've heard a lot of guys here use 私, and while I wouldn't say it's the majority. It's certainly the most neutral, which I like. Whenever someone refers to themselves as 僕 I kind of want to punch them in the face, but that's just because I have bad associations with the word due to someone I knew awhile back.

Guys saying 私 is perfectly fine, and since we're all foreigners anyway no one's going to care that much. Maybe it's a regional thing?

UPGRAYEDD
May 4th, 2009, 19:07
Haha no.

私 is the safe word
俺 makes you come off as a douche
僕 makes you come off as a 13 year old zit-faced boy or a huge homo and douche

kamukamuume
May 4th, 2009, 20:18
Haha no.

私 is the safe word
俺 makes you come off as a douche
僕 makes you come off as a 13 year old zit-faced boy or a huge homo and douche

http://news.ameba.jp/trend-gyao/2009/04/37426.html

http://detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q1114367186

it might indeed vary from place to place, but I really haven't heard 私 used much with friends who're your age. as for the douche thing, looking around at polls, it seems like 俺 is not only the most common, but the 一人称 that girls like the most.

where're you getting your info? I honestly haven't seen much that'd back it up.

UPGRAYEDD
May 4th, 2009, 21:07
This is all just personal experience.

The people I've met and respect the most use straight watashi. The ones I like the least use boku. The ore guys are a bunch of tough guys who try too hard.

Another factor and the biggest one for us is that we were all raised outside of Japanese society and will probably never fully understand the right context to use these words in the first place. It's similar to cringing when Japanese folks try to use English slang. It just doesn't work most of the time and like it or not it brings a lot of undue attention to yourself. So I just fall on watashi.

Rachel1404
May 4th, 2009, 22:17
Thanks for the advice I took the plunge and sheeled out for the textbook, workbook and answer key :)

And now as you were..

Virus FM
May 5th, 2009, 00:53
I knew a Japanese guy who came here for study abroad, and he picked up the most thuggish 5 years ago ghetto way of speaking. It was the most cringe worthy thing I could think of besides for the youtube videos of black Americans in Japan rapping in Japanese.

And I really fear coming off like that in Japanese, but I'd still use ore anytime I wasn't in a professional or scholastic setting. Watashi is stiff, and I'd only use boku in a charming, tongue in cheek way.

There's plenty worse you can do than use ore around people you hang out with. Like omitting particles completely (which is some kind of equivalent to sounding thuggish with things like "dat they problem, I gots mine") and ending sentences with ze hahaha.

patjs
May 5th, 2009, 23:20
I still can't get the boku/ore thing. I really think boku tends to come off a little childish and I'd say most of the Japanese men I know use ore. Any girls I've asked tell me to use boku probably because it comes off less "tough guy." The guys I've asked seem to think either one is fine.

UPGRAYEDD
May 6th, 2009, 16:29
Boku has an underlying meaning of being submissive. Ore has the opposite, strong or arrogant depending on how much of an actual badass you are.

Watashi is 100% neutral. I like that.

AliDimayev
May 6th, 2009, 18:17
I took Japanese in high school, but I've forgotten most of it. I hope it will come back a bit when I do arrive in Japan. ::crosses fingers::

vdog
May 9th, 2009, 16:15
I knew a Japanese guy who came here for study abroad, and he picked up the most thuggish 5 years ago ghetto way of speaking. It was the most cringe worthy thing I could think of besides for the youtube videos of black Americans in Japan rapping in Japanese.

And I really fear coming off like that in Japanese, but I'd still use ore anytime I wasn't in a professional or scholastic setting. Watashi is stiff, and I'd only use boku in a charming, tongue in cheek way.

There's plenty worse you can do than use ore around people you hang out with. Like omitting particles completely (which is some kind of equivalent to sounding thuggish with things like "dat they problem, I gots mine") and ending sentences with ze hahaha.

I LOVE adding "ze" to sentences :lol:

A surfer-type told me I should use it, I didn't really trust him because he seemed to have something up his sleeve when telling me how much the word "suits" me, but it got some laughs when I used it and then the other Japanese people started using it when we talked, like some sort of inside joke, I guess.

I don't really know what it means, I just pretend it is like adding "dude" to a sentence but more assertive. I saw a dictionary definition that seemed to match that more or less. It's not something I'll use outside of friends though, since, like others have said, foreigners rarely use slang correctly.

Virus FM
May 14th, 2009, 00:06
Yeah I think it's something like "dude, man, bro..." or "yo, ay, yeah?". Not really any of those exactly, but something you add to a sentence to give it more casual or edgy tones.