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Learning Japanese: Tips wanted


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#1 Muramasa

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Posted 01 February 2008 - 10:36 AM

So I'm in the process of being given access to a lot of software for learning japanese (legally, I should add), and I was wondering if anyone had some tips for things I could do to supplement this in the home, office, out and about, etc. What worked for you? What didn't?

Thanks. :)

Edited by Muramasa, 01 February 2008 - 10:36 AM.

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#2 Benjinx

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 12:55 PM

I heard Rosetta Stone was a good learning program from an infomercial lol... I mean thousands of people can't lie....RIGHT?!!? lol, but why not try it ya might be able to get a free demo somewhere.

#3 Pieaholic

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 01:40 PM

While not teaching it to myself (AACC classes FTW) I have found that our textbooks are pretty good. You can pick the textbook up for about $40 (with a supplementary workbook [useless without answers obviously] for $20), and it apparently contains enough information for 4 semesters.
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#4 Muramasa

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 02:31 PM

While not teaching it to myself (AACC classes FTW) I have found that our textbooks are pretty good. You can pick the textbook up for about $40 (with a supplementary workbook [useless without answers obviously] for $20), and it apparently contains enough information for 4 semesters.


What book/edition/website/store? :)
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#5 Pieaholic

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 02:39 PM

While not teaching it to myself (AACC classes FTW) I have found that our textbooks are pretty good. You can pick the textbook up for about $40 (with a supplementary workbook [useless without answers obviously] for $20), and it apparently contains enough information for 4 semesters.


What book/edition/website/store? :)

Oh wow, guess I forgot to mention the book title. Real smart of me. xD

Anyway, it's simply called Genki, and you can find it on the AACC books site. Not sure if they'll sell to those who aren't students, but it's worth a shot. If you click the buy link at the top, you can just go to spring semester and choose any japanese course.

EDIT: Also, if you ever want to hit me up with a question about japanese, or just to practice I'll be happy to try and reply. No guarantees though. :D

Edited by Pieaholic, 04 February 2008 - 02:44 PM.

OtaLARP
2009, Rufus Shinra
2008, Sora - Rock Lee's Clothes = Success!
2007, (Ex-)Officer (Imposter) Light(-chan) - Justice
ate the bread...
2005, Maggie Mui - So a paper bird flies to NERV...
2007, Jubei - Yaoi = Coma
2003, Seymour - I only get Anima once?!?
It's okay, I'm Chaotic Neutral. I can kill him over the loot.

#6 mailechan

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 03:52 PM

Try to find a group of people to study with, or who are willing to take in someone who is studying. One of the best things I've been able to do is get together with a handful of other people and spend a lunch hour doing nothing but talking (or trying to talk) in only Japanese. For me, full-immersion has always worked best when learning new languages. If you can't find a group to talk with, then watch japanese programs on television, or movies in Japanese without subtitles then watch it again with the subtitles to see how much of it you thought you knew and how much you did know.

Also, for reading purposes, manga and kids books are always good. Especially the ones more oriented to children, as these will have simpler words and less kanji to remember. It's always encouraging to stumble through something, then go back to it a few months later and realize just how much more you know.
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#7 Muramasa

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 04:18 PM

Awesome, thanks guys.

I figured immersing myself would be the best bet. I live next to American University and University of DC so I'm thinking of starting with language software & books, then taking an intro Japanese course in the fall. I didn't even think of using children's books, that's a great idea. I really like the idea of watching anime without subs before seeing them subbed, I'll try that as well.

Next step: Learning how live without a daily dose of red meat with a blood type that requires a lot of it and picky tastes. :-\
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#8 kaki

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 10:41 PM

I think what's important here is what your goals are in learning Japanese. Your strategies will differ depending on your goals.

Do you want to become a good speaker?

Do you just want to be able to understand anime? Japanese movies?

Do you just want to be able to read books?

Do you want to pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Exam?

Books will never make you a passable speaker by any means. They won't help you understand much dialogue either. Not even college classes alone will bring you anywhere close to native levels. If speaking Japanese natively is your goal, it'll be very difficult to advance unless you spend time in Japan. But if you want to gain the ability to read novels or watch television shows, there are different strategies you can take for each.

I've skimmed through several different textbooks owned by friends or at stores. I thought the Japanese for Busy People series was quite good for self-study. I haven't been too impressed with college textbooks though, as those are made for use in a lecture setting and run through materials quite slowly. And the lecture setting is dependent entirely on how good your teacher is. I do however HIGHLY recommend classes over self-study. As self-study often creates bad habits. There are limits to what you can learn from a classroom (as with any subject), but a good teacher will help you get a good start.

Do not use anime as a basis for learning Japanese dialogue, unless you are only learning Japanese to understand anime. Those people who learn Japanese from anime tend to speak strangely. If you want to learn about speaking mannerisms (as well as cultural nuances), then I think drama serials or variety shows are much better.

If you're looking to become a better reader, after you pick up some vocabulary from studying, I recommend getting some easy (but not geared for small children) fiction to work through. It'll be difficult at first, but you'll learn to recognize more natural sentence structures as you go and this will help you pick up vocab faster than if you use textbooks.

Study partners are good, but try to find native speakers. The problem with using only non-native speakers often is that you end up reinforcing unnatural habits. At most college campuses, there are always international students looking for help with their English. You could always try a language exchange.

No matter what, practice is important. I went to a Japanese saturday school before college, but despite being in a native environment, the kids who found every way to worm out of speaking Japanese when they could really never became good speakers. And even here in Japan, those who don't make friends with non-English speakers don't advance much either. As long as you put yourself in a situation where you have to use it (partially out of necessity), you will pick it up more naturally.

Edited by kaki, 04 February 2008 - 10:43 PM.

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#9 Muramasa

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Posted 27 August 2008 - 03:55 PM

I think what's important here is what your goals are in learning Japanese. Your strategies will differ depending on your goals.

Do you want to become a good speaker?

Do you just want to be able to understand anime? Japanese movies?

Do you just want to be able to read books?

Do you want to pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Exam?

Books will never make you a passable speaker by any means. They won't help you understand much dialogue either. Not even college classes alone will bring you anywhere close to native levels. If speaking Japanese natively is your goal, it'll be very difficult to advance unless you spend time in Japan. But if you want to gain the ability to read novels or watch television shows, there are different strategies you can take for each.

I've skimmed through several different textbooks owned by friends or at stores. I thought the Japanese for Busy People series was quite good for self-study. I haven't been too impressed with college textbooks though, as those are made for use in a lecture setting and run through materials quite slowly. And the lecture setting is dependent entirely on how good your teacher is. I do however HIGHLY recommend classes over self-study. As self-study often creates bad habits. There are limits to what you can learn from a classroom (as with any subject), but a good teacher will help you get a good start.

Do not use anime as a basis for learning Japanese dialogue, unless you are only learning Japanese to understand anime. Those people who learn Japanese from anime tend to speak strangely. If you want to learn about speaking mannerisms (as well as cultural nuances), then I think drama serials or variety shows are much better.

If you're looking to become a better reader, after you pick up some vocabulary from studying, I recommend getting some easy (but not geared for small children) fiction to work through. It'll be difficult at first, but you'll learn to recognize more natural sentence structures as you go and this will help you pick up vocab faster than if you use textbooks.

Study partners are good, but try to find native speakers. The problem with using only non-native speakers often is that you end up reinforcing unnatural habits. At most college campuses, there are always international students looking for help with their English. You could always try a language exchange.

No matter what, practice is important. I went to a Japanese saturday school before college, but despite being in a native environment, the kids who found every way to worm out of speaking Japanese when they could really never became good speakers. And even here in Japan, those who don't make friends with non-English speakers don't advance much either. As long as you put yourself in a situation where you have to use it (partially out of necessity), you will pick it up more naturally.


Whoops, forgot to reply to this. Bad Charly, bad.

My intention is to visit Japan, and to speak (& perhaps eventually write) Japanese. I'll likely be going to Okinawa next year for Aikido training, so I'd like to do a little sightseeing while I'm there and maybe some shopping -- nothing too difficult. Being able to watch anime and so forth would be fun, but I'm definitely not considering it a supplement for speech learning at this point, mostly due to the speaking styles. I plan on watching the news for that. :)

Anyway! Thanks for the advice. More tips are certainly welcome.
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#10 VincentIII

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Posted 27 August 2008 - 04:39 PM

I thought the Japanese for Busy People series was quite good for self-study.


That series does seem to help out a lot. You can easily find it on Amazon for pretty cheap and it comes with supplemental CDs. Another thing that helps me is getting kids educational books from Japan. You can find some on JList, but the stuff they use in Japan to teach their children basic kanji and such.

#11 kaki

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Posted 27 August 2008 - 09:29 PM

Whoops, forgot to reply to this. Bad Charly, bad.

My intention is to visit Japan, and to speak (& perhaps eventually write) Japanese. I'll likely be going to Okinawa next year for Aikido training, so I'd like to do a little sightseeing while I'm there and maybe some shopping -- nothing too difficult. Being able to watch anime and so forth would be fun, but I'm definitely not considering it a supplement for speech learning at this point, mostly due to the speaking styles. I plan on watching the news for that. ;)

Anyway! Thanks for the advice. More tips are certainly welcome.


Hahaha, bad Charly.

About Okinawa, the local dialects differ greatly from the mainland dialects. My sister put it this way, "It's like being drunk! Everything you should be able to understand or read, you can't!" Of course, most people also know standard dialect, but many people there do have an accent, so it's not going to be what you're used to. It's still one of my favorite places to visit though. I'm in fact going in the fall.

The news is quite dry though. You don't want to talk like a newscaster, in Japanese or English. I do suggest that you pick up some variety shows to get used to what people speak like in daily life.
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#12 greygula

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Posted 27 August 2008 - 10:18 PM

I think what's important here is what your goals are in learning Japanese. Your strategies will differ depending on your goals.

Do you want to become a good speaker?

Do you just want to be able to understand anime? Japanese movies?

Do you just want to be able to read books?

Do you want to pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Exam?

Books will never make you a passable speaker by any means. They won't help you understand much dialogue either. Not even college classes alone will bring you anywhere close to native levels. If speaking Japanese natively is your goal, it'll be very difficult to advance unless you spend time in Japan. But if you want to gain the ability to read novels or watch television shows, there are different strategies you can take for each.

I've skimmed through several different textbooks owned by friends or at stores. I thought the Japanese for Busy People series was quite good for self-study. I haven't been too impressed with college textbooks though, as those are made for use in a lecture setting and run through materials quite slowly. And the lecture setting is dependent entirely on how good your teacher is. I do however HIGHLY recommend classes over self-study. As self-study often creates bad habits. There are limits to what you can learn from a classroom (as with any subject), but a good teacher will help you get a good start.

Do not use anime as a basis for learning Japanese dialogue, unless you are only learning Japanese to understand anime. Those people who learn Japanese from anime tend to speak strangely. If you want to learn about speaking mannerisms (as well as cultural nuances), then I think drama serials or variety shows are much better.

If you're looking to become a better reader, after you pick up some vocabulary from studying, I recommend getting some easy (but not geared for small children) fiction to work through. It'll be difficult at first, but you'll learn to recognize more natural sentence structures as you go and this will help you pick up vocab faster than if you use textbooks.

Study partners are good, but try to find native speakers. The problem with using only non-native speakers often is that you end up reinforcing unnatural habits. At most college campuses, there are always international students looking for help with their English. You could always try a language exchange.

No matter what, practice is important. I went to a Japanese saturday school before college, but despite being in a native environment, the kids who found every way to worm out of speaking Japanese when they could really never became good speakers. And even here in Japan, those who don't make friends with non-English speakers don't advance much either. As long as you put yourself in a situation where you have to use it (partially out of necessity), you will pick it up more naturally.



Which one would you suggest? Of the Japanese for Busy people.

http://www.amazon.co.....Ci:stripbooks
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#13 Champagon

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Posted 27 August 2008 - 11:05 PM

I have taken and passed Japanese 1 and 2 at my old university before i transferred and what the best tip i can give you is study, HARD everyday a minimum of 2 hours
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#14 kaki

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 05:10 AM

Which one would you suggest? Of the Japanese for Busy people.

http://www.amazon.co.....Ci:stripbooks


Get the level that works for you in the kana version. I think learning using romaji-base is not very helpful, unless your focus is only on speaking. Whether you get the CD or not is up to you. I'm not finding the CD on this beginner Spanish book to be very helpful, but I guess someone must like these CDs if they include them. If you're disciplined enough to do the exercises on your own, you may want to consider the workbooks to help reinforce what you learn in the textbooks.

How much you study is up to you though. There is no formula that works on everyone anyway.
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#15 jrosario7

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 07:32 AM

My wife just recently got "Japanese for Dummys" seems she is learning a lot but some things sound like it will definitely point her out as a foreigner (excluding her appearnce of course). Of course i only gauge this by japanse shows and movies i have seen and it doesnt seem that they would talk the way the book explains, like saying certian phrases after certain responses (everytime!!). I think more slang or abreivaited terms are used more then formality. Anyone ever picked up one, if so whats your take on it.

#16 LightSyaoran

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 05:06 PM

I'm also in the process of teaching myself Japanese.

I second Pieaholic's recommendation--I'm also using Genki.

I also really like Japanesepod101.com's podcasts. If you look for coupon codes you can get a good deal like I got such as $80 for 2 years ($40/yr)... or you can just get the free ones that come out every week... but paying for the premium membership is totally worth it. They're fun to listen to and keep you entertained :lol:

Also, I haven't really used it but Livemocha.com is pretty good. It has a Rosetta Stone interface and is free.

And watching Live Japanese TV / Drama or Raw Anime might help too =P.

And of course, listening to Japanese music.

Hope that helps! ^^
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