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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm sure most of us want to learn Japanese. Do you try to learn on your own? Or do you have a teacher? Or do you just dream of learning, but have no way of doing so? If you are learning somehow, let us know what your experience is like.

I have been trying to learn by myself through books and computer programs. I've only been midly successful, considering I've tried to make it routine to practice, but just can't find the time. I would love to find a teacher, but I may just have to wait until I can get into CU and study it there. The hardest part of learning by yourself is not knowing whether or not you're correct. I have a book that allows for free written answers, so it's hard to tell if I've gotten things right. I can't wait until I can focus more on my studies and learn the language properly. I'll just have to use my books for now.


message 2: by Cindy III (last edited Sep 18, 2012 07:36PM) (new)

Cindy III | 192 comments When I was in high school I did try to learn on my own. Not too long ago I took a couple of classes in college. My first teacher was good. She was not from Japan, so she could relate to the students in that way. My second teacher was from Japan. She was also really good. There is a limit to how much books can teach. I think it is helpful to have a guide in learning.


message 3: by harshini (new)

harshini  (watchmeread) | 451 comments I think the only way of me learning this language is by picking it up while people are talking, and then eventually I might get it!


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

I agree that books can't teach you everything you need to know. But for now it's all I've got. I really wish I could devote more time to learning, let alone find a teacher. But I'm going to keep trying!


message 5: by Cindy III (new)

Cindy III | 192 comments @ Wednesday: That's the right way to think. Determination can carry you far. I started with a book too.
@ Harshini: Study a little. Japanese has a formal and informal way of speaking.


message 6: by harshini (new)

harshini  (watchmeread) | 451 comments Really? I mostly learn the informal way of speaking and just a little formal for my elders just to get by lol


message 7: by Cindy III (new)

Cindy III | 192 comments Oh, then nevermind what I said if you learn some formal.


message 8: by Hannah (last edited Jun 18, 2012 05:24PM) (new)

Hannah (faize) | 194 comments Japanese is very high on my list of languages-I-wanna-learn-someday.

Most of the good videogames are Japanese, as are the horror movies, anime, and the really advanced technology. There are so many reasons to learn Japanese, I can't list them all.


message 9: by Jypsel (new)

Jypsel I'm certainly not a pro at learning Japanese but I am going to do the best I can to explain how I got to a moderately advanced level when I was younger. I've since lost a lot of it because I didn't practice to keep it up. Keep tip there! Always use it, even if you're talking to yourself! I wish I had.

I'd also like to point out that while books cannot teach you everything, if your desire is very strong you absolutely can learn Japanese on your own. It takes patience, discipline and motivation, but if you have the passion then you can do it.

The first thing you need to do is understand that learning Japanese from anime or video games is absolutely not the way to do it. Japanese people do not speak this way. It is a very exaggerated form. You can learn a very little bit of slang from some Jdorama's, but that's it.

You should take advantage of online resources. My favorite is LiveMocha. I am a HUGE fan! They not only helped my Japanese skills, but also my Italian skills. This is truly a great website. There are many, many others out there including Babbel. Also, if you have the money, then Rosetta Stone is fantastic and will shorten the time it takes for you to learn. If you don't, don't worry about it because there are other things just as good - like LiveMocha.

Understand that you will not be able to speak Japanese immediately. In fact, I studied it for two years before I even began speaking it! This is perfectly okay. When you get to a point where you're comfortable speaking, start giving yourself commands. If you're cleaning or cooking, tell yourself what to do or try to translate the recipe.

Books are a fantastic resource! My favorite is Minna No Nihongo...:... Kanji.... It is a wonderful series that helps so much. I feel like this book really took me to the next level. However, you do need to have a basic understanding of how to write Japanese because you will be reading it. You can get the Kanji version of the Hiragana version (that's what I got).

I did end up getting a tutor for about a year to help me get to a better level of fluency. However, I have a lot of friends who got to a higher level than I did all on their own! They had more dedication and motivation than I did and in the end, it really showed. Don't be discouraged because you definitely can do this.

You have to dedicate at least two hours a day to this, and if you're doing it on your own, possibly more. That's why it's absolutely imperative for you to be passionate about this. if you're not, you may burn out, which is what happened to me. By the way, even if you burn out, don't worry about it. I took a break for six months, but I feel as if I'm ready to start my studies again. And I'll be able to start at a higher level than before :D

On a final note: surround yourself with the language. If you have some JPop or JRock CDs, then go for it! Play them and try to learn the words. When you're at a better level, try and see if you can write the lyrics and translate them. Watch anime, definitely! Just remember it's not the most reliable source. Watch Jdoramas and Japanese movies. It definitely won't hurt.

Good luck! :)


message 10: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (faize) | 194 comments THANK YOU!!!!!!:D


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks for the tips, Jypsyjulia! I agree that anime should not be a primary resource for learning Japanese. It does do good with listening comprehension, though.

Some books I recommend are Japanese Demystified, Japanese in Mangaland: Basic Japanese Course Using Manga, and Kanji in Mangaland: Volume 1: Basic Kanji Course Through Manga. The Mangaland series is great because each chapter is accompanied by a manga reading exercise. There are also written exercises for every chapter. That's the one thing I don't like about JD, is that there aren't any reading exercises. It also uses romaji, kana, and kanji. I wish it didn't use romaji, because if you're going to learn Japanese, you need to break away from reading romaji and start reading actual Japanese text. But I really like the format because it's simple and easy to understand. JD should be used in conjunction with other books. I've seen good reviews for Genki I: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese I, but it's pretty expensive now. $30-$40 for each book.

I know people say a lot of good things about Rosetta Stone, but I don't like it. I've tried it and have come to the conclusion that it doesn't suit my learning style. I'm very big on learning the ins and outs of grammar, but RS focuses on immersion. Luckily, I didn't pay for it, and am glad I will never have to. I wouldn't say don't try it, just know that if you learn languages the way I do, it's not for you.

One great resource I've found for working on reading is buying manga in Japanese. I've bought 22 volumes on ebay for a total of $86 (not all at once). The most expensive group was only $20, for 8 volumes of Ayashi no Ceres. When you consider most manga costs between $8.99-$9.99, $86 for 22 volumes isn't too bad. The draw back of this is that I don't always get consecutive volumes and you're at the mercy of what people are selling and for how much. I still really recommend it though, because you get to read Japanese as Japanese teenagers would!


message 12: by Jypsel (new)

Jypsel Wednesday, I have never heard of those Kanji in Mangaland books before but they sound awesome! I've been meaning to start up my studies again and one thing I was never very advanced in was Kanji. I'm definitely going to give those a look, thank you!

Y'know... I always meant to buy Japanese manga, but just never got around to it. I'm not sure why. $86 for 22 manga is a really great deal! I think I'll try buying one off ebay and see if I enjoy this as well.

Thanks for your post!


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

I've also used the My Japanese Coach for the Nintendo DS. It's useful, and teaches a lot of the basics, but is another thing that should be used with other resources. The draw back with this is that you have to pay for a DS (if you don't have one) and the game. However, it is still useful.


message 14: by Jamie (new)

Jamie (juvia_winter) | 195 comments @Jypsyjulia- thank you for your post! I have been trying to figure out where to start and it seemed so overwhelming. Thanks for breaking it down for us.

@Wednesday- thanks for the book recomendations. I was at the book store the other day and there were too many books to choose from!


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

I recommend reading reviews on Goodreads and Amazon before buying any. Also, you can ask around to see if a particular book is useful or not. Japanese Demystified is great for beginners, but you should get out of relying on romaji (spelling Japanese words in our alphabet) as soon as possible. Japanese Demystified uses romaji a lot, so I recommend covering the romaji while you try to read the actual Japanese characters. Reading romaji is no way to learn Japanese properly. It can be helpful, but don't rely on it too much.


message 16: by Selena (new)

Selena (sailorstar165) | 2025 comments Mod
I'm learning Japanese at school and can highly recommend our textbooks. They're very helpful, though very geeky. XD

Genki I: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese I and Genki II: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese II


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

I've been interested in these books, but they're always expensive when I manage to find them. But I've heard they're really good.


message 18: by Selena (new)

Selena (sailorstar165) | 2025 comments Mod
Wednesday wrote: "I've been interested in these books, but they're always expensive when I manage to find them. But I've heard they're really good."

They are really good, though a little out of date (they still use "cassette tapes" in the lessons rather than CDs or even mp3s). They're cheap compared to other textbooks (I got mine for $49 new). Check Amazon or Chegg to see if they're used and they should be cheaper. :)


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Amazon is awesome. Sometimes you can find things pretty cheap, other times not.


message 20: by Velveteen (new)

Velveteen Rabbit (balthiersrabbit) | 39 comments HOpefully i get to take a japanese class in college


message 21: by Selena (new)

Selena (sailorstar165) | 2025 comments Mod
^ That's what I'm doing. A lot of work, but so worth it. ^^


message 22: by Nekokit (new)

Nekokit | 747 comments Here is a link to a website for introduction of Japanese:
http://www.howtodrawmanga.com/learnja...
If you click review vocabulary it will tell you the Japanese spelling and how to say some words in the video. It is not very long, but I found it fun to watch.
On the website they have books that help you learn Japanese as well!


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

Another great book I'd like to recommend is Japanese from Zero! 1 by George Trombley . I'm currently using it and it is probably one of the best beginner books I've come across. It does a really good job of breaking learners of relying on romaji through its "progression" system. Basically, as you learn new hiragana, it begins replacing the romaji with the new hiragana, until it's fazed out altogether.

I also really like the formatting of it. Each lesson begins with the lesson itself, then moves on to reading, writing, and speaking exercises. Some of the speaking exercises call for a partner, but you can still speak both parts of dialogue. The back of the book also features answers for all of the writing exercises and translations for the reading exercises.

My biggest complaints would have to be the fact that only hiragana is taught. If you want to learn katakana, you'll have to get the second book (there are 3 in the main series, as well as hiragana and katakana specific books). Also, like what Japanese Demystified has, I'd love to see chapter quizzes and section quizzes. There are reading drills at the end of the chapters in JFZ, but there are only 2-3 sentences and there are no translations for them.


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