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Thread: Should I learn to both speak and read/write Japanese at the same time?

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Aug 2009

    Default Should I learn to both speak and read/write Japanese at the same time?

    Here's the issue. I just recently began studying Japanese using the book, Japanese Demystified. Every lesson in the book is taught in Romaji as well as in traditional Hiragana/Katakana/Kanji. However till this day, Ive been strictly reading the sentences in Romaji as well as writing them out in Romaji simply for the purpose of memorizing speech.
    I have however, learned and memorized every Hiragana and Katakana character (as well as some kanji) however I simply have not begun writing with them.
    I figured I would use Romaji for now since I figured the natural way to learn a language is to speak it, then read/write it. Am I wrong? I figured this to be true as when we were children we all knew how to talk quite a bit before discovering how to read/write.
    So tell me, what do you guys think? Should I be writing sentences in traditional Japanese writing before having a solid grounding in speech?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Spore13's Avatar
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    Mar 2009
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    Default Re: Should I learn to both speak and read/write Japanese at the same time?

    yes. try to use vocabulary both ways, and start writing in hirigana and katakana. If you know them, it shouldn't be that hard to start using them, and that way you won't have to re-train yourself later on. I'm not an expert by any means, but everyone I've talked to recommends dropping romaji as soon as possible. It is a crutch more than anything else, and though it may not seem like it at first you aren't doing yourself any favors. Sure, you may not process as fast, but it is better to get over that hump now.
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  3. #3
    ITIL's Favorite Beaner! Gusuke's Avatar
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    Feb 2008
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    Default Re: Should I learn to both speak and read/write Japanese at the same time?

    The only thing I have to say is ween yourself off of that romanji shit as fast as you can

  4. #4
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    Don't use romaji. I can tell you that I still, to this very day, have trouble with a few very simple words that I learned in romaji. I either make mistakes pronouncing them, or spelling them in hiragana.

    Besides, all the time you spend time reading/writing something in romaji, you could be practicing your Japanese reading/writing. So at best you're wasting time you could be using on hiragana.

    The analogy to children doesn't quite work because little children don't write English flashcards, either - they just have mothers who bombard them with Japanese all day. You can't have that experience, but you CAN learn how to write faster than a child (because you understand the concept of writing, can hold a pencil correctly, etc.), so you may as well take advantage of that.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Should I learn to both speak and read/write Japanese at the same time?

    I would recommend learning the kana as soon as you can. Romaji is more of an approximation of the sounds used in Japanese than the kana, and there are several different systems of romaji that are used, so you'll find that using kana gives a better guide to pronunciation than romaji.

    (Controversial point, so feel free to ignore: I would also go so far as to say that if I were in your position (again), I would go through Heisig's book (Remembering the Kanji) to learn how to recognise all of the basic high-school kanji (which can take anywhere from one to six months, depending on how diligently you study). Then, when you learn new vocabulary you will learn how to read kanji which is much more useful than kana. And when you can read kanji it is much easier to learn Japanese because you expose yourself to Japanese in many different ways - it might be counterintuitive, but a lot of experts believe that reading in a particular language can improve your speaking/listening skills in that language.)

  6. #6
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    I would stop using romaji as soon as possible. I feel like it leads to a lot of mispronunciations. Same logic as Japanese people using katakana to learn English.
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  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by Gusuke View Post
    The only thing I have to say is ween yourself off of that romanji shit as fast as you can
    I say cold turkey. Just don't touch anything that uses romaji.

    You could even go a bit crazier and type with the kana keys rather than typing it out in romaji. I find that my lingering romaji-thinking is largely because, well, when I type か I hit command-slash to switch over to Japanese and then hit K-A.
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  8. #8
    Member bizarrojosh's Avatar
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    Apr 2009


    Edit: I didn't read Taurus' post so I am actually reiterating his point!

    like everyone has said, romanji is probably not the best thing to be studying with if you want to read. But unlike everyone else, I suggest that you start with Kanji and then move to the kana. If you are going to strickly be using kana then its not much different than using romaji. Just about everything in Japan is written with kanji so you should just start learning it. Go to the "Like Heisig" thread and read what others have said. There's a guy named Nukemarine or something like that who wrote a lot that you might find interesting.

    Kana is important, but if you are just trying to learn how to speak and not write or read native Japanese then romanji is not much worse than the kana (except if your pronounciation is crap you can atleast write the word in kana and a japanese person might understand what you are trying to say). Oh, if you don't care about reading Japanese I would check out "Japanese the spoken language" textbook published by Yale University. It is fucking awesome for speaking and understanding spoken Japanese. Lots of people don't like it because it is in Romanji, but again, if you aren't worried about reading then it shouldn't matter that much to you right?
    Last edited by bizarrojosh; August 28th, 2009 at 13:36.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Should I learn to both speak and read/write Japanese at the same time?

    At least learn all the kana ASAP. Focus on speaking/listening, as you won't be able to read most stuff anyway (too many cangees). Romaji is like learning "creative spelling" before learning how to actually spell stuff - while helpful at a super rudimentary level, it only cripples you in the future.
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  10. #10
    Daimyo ***** dombay's Avatar
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    Feb 2006
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    Default Re: Should I learn to both speak and read/write Japanese at the same time?

    Yea ditch romaji.

    Learning to speak and write at the same time is far more natural because you'll associate one with the other. You'd be doing yourself a disservice doing it any other way I think, particularly if your goal is functional Japanese while in Japan.

    Search for the Heisig threads though. Those are some pretty epic debates.
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  11. #11


    I'm with the others here: ditch romaji. Kana just takes six to ten hours to learn and then you'll reinforce it with your studies.

    After that, try to gain basic literacy which can take 300 study hours. With that in your back pocket, you find you can utilize native sources (Dramas, Manga, books, etc) to enhance not only your literacy, but your fluency.

    Trust me, you're NOT going to find a drama with romaji subtitles. It'll all be in Kanji / Kana. With basic literacy, you have a better chance of figuring out what is being said by what you're able to read and vice versa.

    It's still a long road, best to walk it without crutches.

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