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Thread: What's good for learning me some Japanese?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Mindflux's Avatar
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    Default What's good for learning me some Japanese?

    I know NO Japanese. I learn things real fast. How should I do this?

    I'm currently using Heisig's book for Kanji (up to ~450) but this doesn't teach any Japanese which is probably more important for me.

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    Daimyo ***** dombay's Avatar
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    Genki.
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    Senior Member karumu's Avatar
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    every one here will have personal favourites. i loved minna no nihongo series. best thing to do is get yourself into a bookstore selling foreign language materials and see which one appeals to you the most

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    Member MesYeuxSontOuverts's Avatar
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    I don't want to call myself a product of the JSL system, but it's the system my university uses since the chair of our East Asian language department co-authored the book. A lot of people absolutely HATE the books because they read like stereo instructions and uses a ton of inside vocabulary. You basically have to learn the special vocab of the book before you can fully understand what it's saying. I hated the book myself at first and studied by myself for the first 9 months and then jumped into the program for the 2nd year part in order to study abroad.

    I will always recommend that simply hanging around and communicating with Japanese people is the best way to learn Japanese because speaking styles differ so much between the two languages. Most people, including myself, who study Japanese on their own without much exposure to native Japanese speakers often speak Japanese in a very anglicized manner. Sentence structure, exact translations from English, inability to speak more fluidly, etc. So, although the grammar explanations in JSL can be extremely boring to read, they're very in-depth and give you a better understanding of the grammar than some of the more simplified Teach-Yourself-Japanese books that I've seen in the bookstore. Also, the audio material for JSL is pretty extensive. I can access it through my university but I'm not sure how it works if you just buy the book independently. One drawback of JSL is that it focuses more on business situations instead of more casual encounters, but it does include both. Vocab is rather limited though.

    I have never actually seen the Genki series, so I can't say anything positive or negative about them. I just know that it's another one of the main Japanese textbook series. But as I said before, speaking to Japanese people on a daily basis and picking up on how natives speak helps out so much. I think this is simply because it's difficult for any textbook in any language to mimic real life conversations.

  5. #5
    Senior Member SarahJ27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MesYeuxSontOuverts
    I don't want to call myself a product of the JSL system, but it's the system my university uses since the chair of our East Asian language department co-authored the book. A lot of people absolutely HATE the books because they read like stereo instructions and uses a ton of inside vocabulary. You basically have to learn the special vocab of the book before you can fully understand what it's saying. I hated the book myself at first and studied by myself for the first 9 months and then jumped into the program for the 2nd year part in order to study abroad.

    I will always recommend that simply hanging around and communicating with Japanese people is the best way to learn Japanese because speaking styles differ so much between the two languages. Most people, including myself, who study Japanese on their own without much exposure to native Japanese speakers often speak Japanese in a very anglicized manner. Sentence structure, exact translations from English, inability to speak more fluidly, etc. So, although the grammar explanations in JSL can be extremely boring to read, they're very in-depth and give you a better understanding of the grammar than some of the more simplified Teach-Yourself-Japanese books that I've seen in the bookstore. Also, the audio material for JSL is pretty extensive. I can access it through my university but I'm not sure how it works if you just buy the book independently. One drawback of JSL is that it focuses more on business situations instead of more casual encounters, but it does include both. Vocab is rather limited though.
    Yeah, JSL's English is hard to understand, but once you get into it, the grammar explanations are fabulous. I think it's also a very well-structured series. You learn things very thoroughly following the course as it's meant to be followed. It's probably the best book for learning keigo, because it goes over it in a very digestible manner, whereas other books are like "This is keigo. Memorize it!"

    But it's definitely not the only book a person needs to learn Japanese (I don't think any book could be...). It doesn't teach you writing at all (though there is a companion series: Japanese: The Written Language. Though we used those books, we didn't do so very extensively, so I honestly can't tell you how good they are), and one of the criticisms is the use of romaji. But the idea is that you're not supposed to read the conversations and drills, you're supposed to listen to them and repeat them, and the sound files that accompany the book can be downloaded for free off Ohio State's website.

    Some other criticisms are that it's a bit old now (I really wish they would update) and yes, the vocab is limited. But like I said, it's absolutely great for speaking, grammar (the grammar used in speaking anyway) and keigo. I also like to use the drills just to keep up with my speaking (By the way, though they seem old fashioned, I think oral drills are very important for incorporating grammar and vocab into your speech patterns naturally, so whatever you do, be sure to somehow include that).

    So that was long. I anticipate some JSL hate, but I still think they're great books for what they set out to do.

    Oh, and JSL stands for Japanese: The Spoken Language by Eleanor Harz Jorden and Mari Noda, by the way, lol. Probably good to know.

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    Senior Member Mindflux's Avatar
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    Various good points in here.

    Yeah, immersion is the only real way to learn the language. I'm going to Japan the end of July, so - check.

    It's unlikely that a single book will be ideal in what it covers and it's style as related to the person, true.

    More specific as to what I'm looking for:
    Right now, I've done an audio course so I know some basic structure but not enough to really function at all - like I said I'm learning kanji (as in memorizing the symbols) but that's not going to pay off for a while. I want something that I can read through in the next couple months and have some sort of basis for communicating in and learning Japanese.

    After spending some time in Japan I'll need new materials and hopefully by then will have some idea about how they differ and what would work best for me. But for now, I just need something basic, a lot of people go on about how the book should always be in Japanese with no romaji. Yeah, that's great...I know basically NO japanese - somehow I think that would be ineffective. I actually already ordered Genki from amazon, I was wondering if anyone had any other suggestions or opinions.

  7. #7

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    My school used a book called Nakama, a book I've never seen discussed anywhere else (it seems to be mostly genki and JSL) but it was OK. It does have English, although a bit outdated, but overall it was pretty good for beginners.

    If you buy the full package it comes with workbooks and CD's, and obviously can be pricey.

  8. #8
    Daimyo ***** dombay's Avatar
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    Immersion is great. But you'll get more out of it if you can get your grammar, vocab etc up to 3q level.

    If you just waltz into a pub you can listen to Japanese people rabbiting on till the cows come home and you won't understand a word of it. You have to study.
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  9. #9
    Member MesYeuxSontOuverts's Avatar
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    Definitely. You need to have a descent grammar and vocab base to build off of. I knew tons of people who came to Japan with no Japanese and pretty much left that way too after a year. Immersion isn't really helpful to an absolute beginner but is exponentially helpful to someone with a solid base of knowledge. So study as much as possible before and after you arrive.

  10. #10

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    In another thread someone recommended the Kanji Box application on Facebook, and I absolutely LOVE it. The drills automatically increase the frequency of kanji you have problems with and you can printout lists of them. If only they had something like that for grammar and listening.

  11. #11
    Sloppy Second maidenindigo's Avatar
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    Another KanjiBox fan. Especially since I'm usually on Facebook because I'm bored, so I always have time to use the flashcards on that site.

    The only thing it's good for really is kanji/vocab, though. Genki is quite easy to understand, but I only ever used Genki, so I can't compare it to other texts.

  12. #12
    Pandilex
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    I reckon the best way to learn is to get an english native speaker to teach you, unless you can find a Japanese person that is extremely adept at English explanations and can emphasise with what you struggle with.



    If you live near me I'd be willing to teach you the basics.

  13. #13
    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    your best bet would be to learn chinese and go live in taiwan.
    Japans shit

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    Racist Ojichan Powers's Avatar
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    JSL has too much romaji. I like genki, or minna nihongo.

  15. #15
    Senior Member tedcase's Avatar
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    try living in Japan.
    The locals possess a peculiar aversion to the bayonet.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Mindflux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tedcase
    try living in Japan.
    I love responding to to threads before reading to them too. thanks.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Paper_'s Avatar
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    I went to my local library and borrowed a bunch of books. Once you read or skim through a few you get an idea of which ones work for you.

    I've currently re-borrowed Teach Yourself Beginner's Japanese Script because its set out soooo well... I wish I owned it.

  18. #18
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    Pimsleur
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    (郷に入っては郷に従え.)

  19. #19
    Senior Member Mindflux's Avatar
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    already doing pimsleur, thanks. It's actually surprisingly effective for what it is. Wanted to explicitly learn some grammar and things though. Just got Genki I and at first it seemed pretty terrible but I haven't spent much time with it yet, hopefully I get used to it.

  20. #20
    Daimyo ***** dombay's Avatar
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    Genki is hard work but it pays off. The advantage to Genki is that it throws you in the deep end with kanji (with furigana) really quickly. So you need to know your kanas very well. If you do though it will be really good for your reading and kanji skills though.

    It also explains grammar very clearly which I find most Japanese materials to be a bit wanting in. Learning grammar is unfortunately important. It's deadly boring but you need to communicate so Genki is good because it will make sure with the clear explanations and all the exercises in the textbook and the workbook that you do actually know it. PLus if you complete both books you can do 3q JLPT (Japanese exam that everyone does here) which is a really good start.

    But its by no means easy. But then learning the Japanese language isn't easy and anything that tells you that it is is lying.

    I think the thing I liked most about Genki is that it was written originally for overseas students in Japan. So it's really good for preparing you to do everyday life stuff here which is what you need while still preparing you to be able to tackle the JLPT.
    Melanie: back!

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    'Oh it's so wonderful to be an older woman. All this old stuff to do'

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