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Thread: Starting out Learning Japanese.

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    VIP PpJt's Avatar
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    Default Starting out Learning Japanese.

    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).

    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.
    Last edited by PpJt; March 7th, 2012 at 04:30.

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    VIP PpJt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting out Learning Japanese.

    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.

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    Default Re: Starting out Learning Japanese.

    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

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    Default Re: Starting out Learning Japanese.

    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.
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    Default Re: Starting out Learning Japanese.

    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.

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    Default Re: Starting out Learning Japanese.

    Might have a look at that, but I'm more looking for a good book that will last me a fairly long time.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jiggit View Post
    Bronies aren't synonymous with clopping.

    Also I tried clopping but there's a lack of decent artists out there tbh.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    holding a gun is like handling gods penis, shooting hot divine jizz into the face of the heathens

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    Default Re: Starting out Learning Japanese.

    The Genki books are pretty good.

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    Default Re: Starting out Learning Japanese.

    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?
    Quote Originally Posted by Jiggit View Post
    Bronies aren't synonymous with clopping.

    Also I tried clopping but there's a lack of decent artists out there tbh.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    holding a gun is like handling gods penis, shooting hot divine jizz into the face of the heathens

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    chill yo coop52's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting out Learning Japanese.

    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.

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    Default Re: Starting out Learning Japanese.

    I have been over the last two days. But I struggle to discern between some of them like ra and chi.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jiggit View Post
    Bronies aren't synonymous with clopping.

    Also I tried clopping but there's a lack of decent artists out there tbh.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    holding a gun is like handling gods penis, shooting hot divine jizz into the face of the heathens

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    Default Re: Starting out Learning Japanese.

    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.

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    Default Re: Starting out Learning Japanese.

    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jiggit View Post
    Bronies aren't synonymous with clopping.

    Also I tried clopping but there's a lack of decent artists out there tbh.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    holding a gun is like handling gods penis, shooting hot divine jizz into the face of the heathens

  13. #13

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    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.
    Last edited by jwkelley; March 9th, 2012 at 13:57.

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    Resident ewok wicket's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting out Learning Japanese.

    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.
    "Like anyone with a sliver of honesty in them I believe what I find I believe when I wake up each morning."
    Stephen Fry, The stars' tennis balls

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    Default Re: Starting out Learning Japanese.

    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jiggit View Post
    Bronies aren't synonymous with clopping.

    Also I tried clopping but there's a lack of decent artists out there tbh.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    holding a gun is like handling gods penis, shooting hot divine jizz into the face of the heathens

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Starting out Learning Japanese.

    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
    Quote Originally Posted by Jiggit View Post
    Bronies aren't synonymous with clopping.

    Also I tried clopping but there's a lack of decent artists out there tbh.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    holding a gun is like handling gods penis, shooting hot divine jizz into the face of the heathens

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    Default Re: Starting out Learning Japanese.

    I found the White Rabbit White Rabbit Press Kana Flashcards : Flashcards 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
    tabemoto...: Cooking in southern Japan

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    Default Re: Starting out Learning Japanese.

    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. The one I recommend is Anki (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 (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 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 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!

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    VIP PpJt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting out Learning Japanese.

    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jiggit View Post
    Bronies aren't synonymous with clopping.

    Also I tried clopping but there's a lack of decent artists out there tbh.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    holding a gun is like handling gods penis, shooting hot divine jizz into the face of the heathens

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    Default Re: Starting out Learning Japanese.

    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jiggit View Post
    Bronies aren't synonymous with clopping.

    Also I tried clopping but there's a lack of decent artists out there tbh.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    holding a gun is like handling gods penis, shooting hot divine jizz into the face of the heathens

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