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Thread: Learning Japanese

  1. #1
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    Default Learning Japanese

    As I said somewhere before the noob-rush, my knowledge of Japanese is limited to counting to 10 and saying "Thank you very much, Mr. Roboto."

    I have a beginner's Japanese book I bought ages ago, and it has a huge emphasis on the written language. Of course this is a huge part of living in Japan, but its guidelines are "Don't progress to the next chapter without mastering your current one." A good tactic, but with less than 4 months to learn as much as I can, I think I'd be better off learning some basic spoken language than memorizing kanji and whatnot. Syllables are cool and everything, but I'm thinking, "Sorry, I don't speak Japanese, but where is your bathroom?" might come in a little more handy.


    I have already been recommended the Pimsleur Audio Series and the Yookoso series. I also have Rosetta Stone, which is an interactive CD-ROM. I'd like to head to a nearby campus bookstore sometime soon. Does anyone have anything else good for crash-course learnin'? Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Senior Member kurara's Avatar
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    Well, make sure you learn hiragana and katakana first. I found the best way to do this was just to practice doing alot of words in hiragana and katakana everyday.

    As far as spoken, I don't know any good programs. But I did used to download little kids shows like Chibi Maruko-chan or Miffy and that helped with listening and identifying the flow of the language. I always just thought, "try to learn as though you're a child."
    "I'm so glad I didn't have to act out diarreah." (Me, 2/20/08, post lesson)

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    At university, we've used Nakama 1 which is a really good resource.

    http://www.amazon.com/Nakama-1-Seiic...6013223&sr=1-3

    On my own, I have Japanese for busy people as a resource. There are three books in the series, but they have lots of useful charts in the back of the book, and tests which make self study quite easy.

    http://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Busy-...6013396&sr=1-2

    Good luck!

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    Senior Member Zee's Avatar
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    Lauren, where are you located? I don't really know what books I could recommend, or how much help I could be, but I was a Japanese major. Even though I'm no longer at the levels I once was, I think I could manage at least helping you out with working through the basics. Plus it would probably be a good refresher for me. I think I have my old books around here in a box somewhere....

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    I'm north of Los Angeles in the extravagant Valley.
    Haha, you could also practice your teaching skills on me!

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    Senior Member Zee's Avatar
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    In the Valley? Ew. That's like all far and stuff. :P

    I'm based in the South Bay and work near LAX, so maybe we could meet halfway and do weekend reviews or something.

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    Learning Hiragana and Katakana is important. Even if you learn the most basic 200 kanji, you most likely won't understand any signs written in Japanese. Kanji is not a priority for you right now. =P

    The website I use for grammar and stuff is http://www.guidetojapanese.org/ I find it very useful, as he jumps right into heart of Japanese grammar, rather teaching you how to conjugate the masu form of verbs, because it's easy.

    Then again, your overall goals are important. Do you want to be able to survive in Japan, or do you want to be able to impress your peers with your Japanese literary ability?

    A good goal to go for, may be to work towards the JLPT 4 test. Although that doesn't emphasize speaking in any way whatsoever.

    I started with like no Japanese at all and I've used several books to varying success. If you want more info pm me. ^^

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    &%$#@!!! Timoshi's Avatar
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    I found this link on wikipedia

    http://buna.arts.yorku.ca/japanese/e...lecnotes.html#

    It's basically an entire JPS1000 course from York U in Canada available to anyone online for free. The site also hosts a set of video's on Japanese language and culture in addition to the lecture streams. There's not that much useful info in the lectures (though in one of them they have an ex-JET guest speaker for about half an hour), but the language, society and culture videos are quite informative and/or amusing to watch... enjoy!

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    Learning Hiragana and Katakana is important.
    I second that! This is a MUST! Trust me...you will appreciate learning it a lot when you go grocery shopping and out to eat

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    with less than 4 months to learn as much as I can, I think I'd be better off learning some basic spoken language than memorizing kanji and whatnot. Syllables are cool and everything, but I'm thinking, "Sorry, I don't speak Japanese, but where is your bathroom?" might come in a little more handy.
    I would suggest to you to learn and master as much writing as you can before you get to Japan. Katakana and Hiragana are a cinch but I'd say get some basic Kanji down too - you're going to want to be able to read the days of the week and stuff when looking at the ATM/post office schedule, etc.

    Also, I think the fact that you're not in Japan right now is the perfect opportunity to develop the reading/writing aspect of the language. Once you're in Japan, you'll have the chance to practice speaking/listening every second...and because of that you may lose motivation in learning kanji (that's what happened to me). Why spend time in your apartment staring at flashcards when you could go out to a bar and end up talking Japanese and not ever have to read Kanji, right?

    So take this opportunity of not being in Japan and build up as much kanji as you can so you have something to work with when you get there, cuz yer prolly not gunna wanna learn Kanji once yer there

    that's just my personal experience anyways

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    These are just the things I've learned. This is for people who want to learn the language, not for beer ordering.

    I think the most important thing is not to get too caught up on which books are the absolute best, nothing's perfect. No matter how good or bad the book is, the only way you're going to learn is to practice every day. Use a range of resources, but don't get caught up just collecting Japanese books. Find out what works for you and stick with it - wherever you're lacking, just pick it up somewhere else.

    Learn hiragana and katakana as quickly as possible. Avoid romaji - it's only going to cripple you later. You'll need it to use any decent text or anything to do with Japanese.

    Practice Japanese in as many ways as possible:

    Have a base text book that will take you through step by step covering grammar, pronuciation, reading and writing.

    I'm using the Genki (Japan Times) textbook at the moment. It's easy to follow. I've also used Japanese for Everyone, which is alright, but I don't like it as much. A little too much going on on each page for me to follow, and grammar explanations aren't as clear as Genki. Genki doesn't advance too quickly with kanji, but you can make up for that with other resources.

    For any grammar you're not clear on, or if you just want to have kick-ass grammar get "A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar" (Japan Times).

    guidetojapanese.org is the best online resource for grammar I can think of. Although a few too many linguistic terms for me. I suck at learning grammar through rules - I just learn by examples and listening to speech.

    For kanji, lots of people like Heisig's "Remembering the kanji". It'll help you to remember quickly, but I don't like it because it makes you remember through English descriptions (obviously not the way Japanese kids learn). I prefer to just learn radicals in the beginning (basic components that kanji are made up of) - their meanings and what they're called. Once you know them, you'll be able to guess how to read and write a lot of kanji. Makes it much easier later on. I just practice by writing kanji out repeatedly to make the flow of the character come naturally. Also write it into sentences to make sure you have the meaning and usage down. I use the same thinking for learning all kanji. For example, if I read a word in a sentence made up of two kanji, I'll look them both up instead of the whole word so I really understand what I'm reading. Make flash cards.

    I like Pimsleur. It's not perfect. Some of the voices are stupid in places, but oh well, it gives you a good idea for flow of the language and generally just gets you used to listening to and speaking Japanese.

    Another important thing is to find some things that are actually interesting to do while learning the language - because just learning kanji and grammar can get pretty boring if that's all you're doing. I like listening to music and translating lyrics, watching dramas with Japanese subtitles, reading news stories, cooking from Japanese recipes. You can watch NHK - it's boring, but they speak "standard" Japanese, so it's easier to understand. Use yahoo chat. Listen to Japanese voice blogs.

    Other stuff:

    rikaichan plugin for Firefox. When using this plugin all you have to do is put your cursor over a word and the reading and meaning will pop up in a box. Very useful.

    That's all I can think of at the moment. All my bookmarks are on my other computer. I can update this post with links and more info if anyone is actually interested.... (I doubt it).

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    I've been using Genki as well in my Japanese class, and I highly recommend it. I've been using it in a classroom environment, and get to see how it is learning by myself over the summer, but I like the textbooks. It's a good balance of kanji and vocabulary.

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    A lot of people rag on Heisig for the "That's not how Japanese kids learn" factor, but we're not Japanese kids. Obviously, it's going to have a varying degree of success for everyone, but it's been one of the best resources for me.
    Going through book one, and having some basic understanding of the character, not how to read it or whatever it really "means" but actually putting it in your head and being able to break it down does wonders. I'm almost three quarters through the first book and I've been finding that when I actually come across the characters in actual Japanese writing, it's much easier for me to distinguish them (they're no longer random lines), very, very, very easier to write them (god bless Nintendo DS dictionary <3 <3) and the remembering of everything else is much easier because I already know how to write the character and how to break it down into its different parts.
    It may not work for you, but I highly recommend going through Heisig's first book for anyone starting out kanji. (I do believe it would have been even more effective on me had I not started with the general "write this kanji 10,000 times" method.)
    The woman expresses her gratitude and goes back to Pope's house and sleeps with him.

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    Textbooks can be nice, but you can find everything you need on the internet. Websites that have grammar, kanji, vocabulary, audio samples, videos, examples, various people opining on learning methods, etc.

    I find one of the best things to do is to try and find 2-3 really good sites and look at all of them when learning something new in grammar. The fact is that there is never a perfect way to explain something, and each site will give you a different look and insight into Japanese.

    The only thing I can recommend for a study habit is actually not really related to studying. Keep your mind thinking about Japanese at all times. It is easy enough to do some workbook exercise, but life is never like that. Always be thinking how would I tell someone what I did today? How would I ask for what I just ate? How would I explain why I did something?

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    Senior Member kurara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zee
    In the Valley? Ew. That's like all far and stuff. :P

    I'm based in the South Bay and work near LAX, so maybe we could meet halfway and do weekend reviews or something.
    If I lived closer I'd have suggested the same thing.
    "I'm so glad I didn't have to act out diarreah." (Me, 2/20/08, post lesson)

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    Thanks all for your help. I've bookmarked everything, and it will be really beneficial!

    As for the Los Angeles area people, I have no problem driving to meet sometime. We have to have that pre-pre-orientation party sometime still! I'll study a lot before that, and you can quiz me then!

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    Okay, so I've got an introductory language pack and an introductory reading and writing pack, as well as the links above bookmarked. I have a feeling I may need a good dictionary as well. This is the list from Amazon UK:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_ss_...ese+dictionary
    I have no idea what type to get - which would you guys recommend?

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    Senior Member Igor's Avatar
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    I'm a Japanese major, too, and I used the Genki textbooks and Kodansha paper dictionaries starting out, but if you get familiar with kana enough to make using them plausible (they can be pretty intimidating if you're just starting out,) I'd really recommend getting an electronic dictionary, because they're super-portable and you can just whip them out and look crap up. But, yeah, learn kana, or it'd be a waste of money.

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    My favourite dictionary I've used so far is Random House. I find it has a lot more regular words that you'd like in a dictionary but isn't always put in. Plus, it's nice and small, unlike the other "Pocket" dictionary from Oxford, which you could use as a weapon if needed.

  20. #20
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    I recommend a crash course in studying kana by writing and reading words that you are for sure gonna need to know. That way you can pick up some vocab and learn your kana at the same time. Start with stuff like foods, bathroom, man, woman, train, bus, bicycle, telephone, numbers, etc. You know, the kind of stuff that you can't get by without from day-to-day. Next order of business is probably to learn a bunch of verbs. Once you've mastered that, it's probably a good idea to learn the kanji for your town, and maybe the next one over up and down on the train line (That gives you a month to learn your kana before you find out your placement). Learning kanji for the basic stuff mentioned above is probably a good idea too. If that doesn't work out, there's always "Point it"

    http://www.amazon.com/Point-Travelle...6062962&sr=8-1

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