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Brickman
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Anyone learnt Japanese? How long did it take you? 

I’ve started learning it so I  would appreciate any advice people have, apps/websites you used.

Also any tips on studying Kanji, I have remembering the kanji and I’m finding it really helpful so far.

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25 minutes ago, Shmup said:

Anyone learnt Japanese? How long did it take you? 

I’ve started learning it so I  would appreciate any advice people have, apps/websites you used.

Also any tips on studying Kanji, I have remembering the kanji and I’m finding it really helpful so far.

What is your focus? Reading/writing or speaking/listening?

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Not Japanese but years back we used to have free access to Rosetta Stone through work.  Tried my hand at a bunch of languages including Mandarin and Russian.  I remember thinking that the program was not great with explaining unfamiliar ie; non indo-European, grammar systems as there’s really no direct explanations and it’s all done by example.  

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3 minutes ago, Shmup said:

Both ideally, but for the immediate time reading and writing because I like manga and also would like to be able to read Japanese heavy games. 

Hmm, for that then I'll have to think about it a bit what the most efficient method would be. 

I have a method for rapidly learning spoken language from the ground up, which I hope to use myself in the upcoming weeks to learn Taiwanense. Japanese will probably be next on my list after that.

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2 minutes ago, Hammerfestus said:

Not Japanese but years back we used to have free access to Rosetta Stone through work.  Tried my hand at a bunch of languages including Mandarin and Russian.  I remember thinking that the program was not great with explaining unfamiliar ie; non indo-European, grammar systems as there’s really no direct explanations and it’s all done by example.  

I hate the Rosetta Stone programs. My father had bought the Chinese one after I moved to Taiwan, and he did basically nothing with it other than a few early lessons, whereas I had tried several of them after downloading torrents with them as a uni student. I never found them very useful.

Gotta find a balance between no grammar and too much grammar, and imo it really depends on what your needs are in terms of one is learning.

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8 minutes ago, Hammerfestus said:

Not Japanese but years back we used to have free access to Rosetta Stone through work.  Tried my hand at a bunch of languages including Mandarin and Russian.  I remember thinking that the program was not great with explaining unfamiliar ie; non indo-European, grammar systems as there’s really no direct explanations and it’s all done by example.  

Yeah I found Rosetta Stone to be awful. I used Michel Thomas for Spanish and really found that useful to help with basic speaking.  Haven’t tried Japanese though.

 

9 minutes ago, fcgamer said:

Hmm, for that then I'll have to think about it a bit what the most efficient method would be. 

I have a method for rapidly learning spoken language from the ground up, which I hope to use myself in the upcoming weeks to learn Taiwanense. Japanese will probably be next on my list after that.

I’m happy to hear the method even if I don’t use it straight away. Does Taiwan use Kanji? If so, how did you go about learning it?

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Sort of unrelated but we’ve been pretty heavy into Dr. Seuss the last few months  here and I’ll say I never realized before what a fantastic learning resource it is for basic vocabulary and the use of  prepositions.  Don’t know if they have Japanese text dr Seuss.

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15 minutes ago, Shmup said:

Yeah I found Rosetta Stone to be awful. I used Michel Thomas for Spanish and really found that useful to help with basic speaking.  Haven’t tried Japanese though.

 

I’m happy to hear the method even if I don’t use it straight away. Does Taiwan use Kanji? If so, how did you go about learning it?

Yeah, let me write it out and I'll DM you about it.

Taiwan uses traditional Chinese characters, but from my understanding, many of these are very similar if not identical to Japanese kanji. So if I see 日本, 大阪,拉麵, etc I can read it immediately, or at least I think I can. 

I actually have a method for learning characters too, though I'm not sure how effective it would be when applied to Japanese, since I'm not sure how prevelant they are when compared to the other writing schemes. I'll post that later too, just gotta get it from my head and onto paper.

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@Shmup Yeah avoid rosetta stone, it's awesome, if you want to do something conversational as that's really what that is good for.

If you're wanting to dig into it, lean the symbols, learn the words, and the way the grammar works, it's best to use more painfully traditional sources.  I found when I learned it 20 years ago (mostly gone now...argh) english is best understood as backwards to the world.  I was forced to take spanish, hated it, took Japanese a year in college on the way out, loved and aced it both semesters and my teacher was a freshly retired NHK reporter so she was a nice fun bit of help.

Her plan was to use some solid workbooks that had english, japanese.  Also coupled it with a free resource I'm going to give you now, this was VITAL for me, and even 20 years ago it was f'ing hilarious because the video component was a dude in a damn leisure suit named Yan!  The Yan series had a set of books called 'Let's Learn Japanese' and on their own they work well, with the book they're stunningly helpful.

Here's book #1 (of 3) of the series on Amazon as a visual reference: https://www.amazon.com/LEARN-JAPANESE-BASIC-LEARNERS-TEXBOOK/dp/4327384135/ref=pd_sbs_1?pd_rd_w=U3qyv&pf_rd_p=2419a049-62bf-452e-b0d0-ca5b7e35a7b4&pf_rd_r=RRNC5W58TXWPTPWQW855&pd_rd_r=b6575813-897f-4678-887b-41efb82f031f&pd_rd_wg=ZKajd&pd_rd_i=4327384135&psc=1 (YES that price is bs, check ebay, alibris books, etc as that amazon seller is a scammer.)

And now the real gift, these old tapes/converted disc have been put up by the company for FREE use on youtube.  You're lucky, I kept it bookmarked.  I actually have kept all my old Japanese materials to reference stuff in games/manga-anime.  I've got all 3 of the workbooks (bought 3 last year, had the other 2 as we never completed it all in a semesters time.  Also have the Random House JP-ENG dictionary here, and then the workbooks I mentioned not related to the video series I really strongly suggest "Learn Japanese - New College Text Vol I and II from Young & Nakajima-Okano.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL_CJBjde0bTOnhNopIHmkw

EDIT: I forgot about this fantastic wikipedia entry for the series, it breaks it down very well so you can see what's all there to expect.  This just made me sit through Ep1 of it and it's well done.  30min~ long for each, the whole middle breaks down the key components of the lesson very well.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let's_Learn_Japanese

I've want to try and pick this back up, problem is no one around here gives a damn and finding people online isn't any better either.  So try and use these resources.  Also as a learning tool I had these before class as I used to try and translate some basics in my SFC games in the 90s so I had the dictionary already but also got the symbol learning book Kana Can Be Easy by K Ogawa.


Use this stuff and you'll have a good leg up.  Between those resources I mastered Japanese 101 and 102, which at the end gave me an understanding of all hiragana, katakana, couple hundred kanji, and a fairly solid set of grade school grammar skills and quite a basic but good starter vocabulary level to work with too.  If you can nail these down, it'll be far easier to start learning more kanji and more words as you'll have the basics on words and grammar to take it from there.  It will work.  Screw rosetta stone.

 


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@fcgamer The Japanese kanji are basically chinese symbology, they stole them long ago.  There may be in some cases a slight variance in them, but they're straight up borrowed.  Whatever trick/mechanic you figured out probably would work.  If you want to tip us off on it I can look at see if it fits with the materials I've held onto.

Edited by Tanooki
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Member · Posted

I'm doing the Duolingo thing but only one lesson a day for now to keep the streak going (I'm now at 457).  I mean it's better than nothing and I'm sure I can always do more lessons as well as that My Japanese Coach on the DS when I'm more in the mood for it.

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Okay for my method to work I guess we need to understand some sort of romanisation scheme for Japanese. But this method worked great in helping me learn hundreds of basic Chinese characters, without much effort, and then from there once you got your foot in the building so to speak you can use radicals and stuff to boost the number of characters known even faster, and again effortlessly.

I definitely have an advantage being surrounded by the stuff day in and out, but thanks to the internet, you can create a similar environment without leaving your house.

fcgamer's characters memorization technique, Lesson 1: 

Grab a map, or go on Wikipedia and grab a list of the major cities in Japan. Go down through the list, exam and compare the characters in each city name to the romanisation listed.

Repeat as often as needed but sooner rather than later, you will start to see and recognise the sound connection between each character and the how it is romanised. At this point we are not worried about meaning, just sound and recognition.

For example, I took a look tonight and noticed that 田 = da/ta , and 古 = go, without even trying to memorize anything.

The idea at the moment is to connect the sounds of the characters with the shapes. Meaning is not important at the moment, period. The key is to get your brain familiar with the sounds and shape.

Anyone in for trying this? Come back in a few days / weeks with results, and then move to stage two?

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I'm working on it, slowly. I have no advice since I'm still a noob, so what follows are just my nooby opinions. The only resources I've used so far are Japanese From Zero books 1 and 2, but I feel like they've given me a strong foundation to continue from. 

Looking for language-learning advice online is a giant cluster. The strongest opinions seem to rise to the top: when I was looking for beginner resources I read so many opposing views. Some insist speaking/listening are more important than reading/writing. Some insist you must have substantial input before any output. And vice versa for both of those.

I eventually abandoned that sort of advice and just went with what felt right for me. My main motivation for learning Japanese is to enjoy written media, so for now I'm focusing on reading. Any exposure is better than no exposure, generally. But, anecdotally, I do think it is important to combine immersion (native resources for recreation) with structured, intentional learning. 

As far as the JFZ books go, they're more workbooks than textbooks. They teach gradually requiring no prior knowledge. Book 1 teaches initial grammar structure, all of Hiragana, and about 200 words, mostly nouns. Words are first represented phonetically using romaji and sounds are replaced with Hiragana as they're learned. That seems to be the biggest point of contention with JFZ. I didn't find it confusing though, and I think I would have had a harder time remembering Hiragana without any context. Book 2 teaches more grammar and Katakana in the same way, and Books 3+ cover more grammar and start dipping into Kanji. I plan to supplement them with other books (Genki to skim, Tae Kim, RTK, a dictionary) and novels suitable for my skill level.

 

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Thanks everyone for all your help and suggestions. Especially @Tanooki, @fcgamer and @Alder for taking the time to write up such detailed replies. I’ve bookmarked everything suggested and will add it to my studies.

Also great idea fcgamer about learning kanji through cities. I feel that kanji is very important so I want to start learning this ASAP. Even if I can learn 5 kanji a day I’ll be happy with that.

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Member · Posted

Oh yes I've done the Japanese From Zero book (just the first one so far) along with the little Hiragana book they also do.

Since my main inspration/motivation is to be able to someday play JP-only (Super) Famicom games, obviously I can't get by with just romanji.  I don't get why it's so hard for me to get the hiragana down cold/memorized...I mean it can't be much different than when we learned our times tables in 2nd/3rd grade, right?

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6 minutes ago, Estil said:

Oh yes I've done the Japanese From Zero book (just the first one so far) along with the little Hiragana book they also do.

Since my main inspration/motivation is to be able to someday play JP-only (Super) Famicom games, obviously I can't get by with just romanji.  I don't get why it's so hard for me to get the hiragana down cold/memorized...I mean it can't be much different than when we learned our times tables in 2nd/3rd grade, right?

I think it just takes time. I’m pretty comfortable with hiragana but katakana really throws me. I use Duolingo like yourself and find that really useful for learning both.

Also, not sure about SFC but Famicom games are mostly either hiragana or katakana so you should give those a go too.

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I felt really comfortable with Hiragana after JFZ book 1. I did every exercise and read the book cover to cover. JFZ book 2 teaches Katakana in the same way but there's just way less of it in the examples since... it's Katakana. I'm a lot less comfortable with it still, so I might pick up the Kana from Zero book they have. Btw, the author of those books, George Trombley, has associated Youtube videos that pair really well with each chapter of the book.

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Member · Posted
13 hours ago, Shmup said:

I think it just takes time. I’m pretty comfortable with hiragana but katakana really throws me. I use Duolingo like yourself and find that really useful for learning both.

Also, not sure about SFC but Famicom games are mostly either hiragana or katakana so you should give those a go too.

You know those little cartoon characters they use when they give you questions?  I especially love getting that girl in the light blue/pink because she smiles at you with those big anime looking eyes at you when you get it right...it's so cute! 😄 

Though not nearly as cute as actual Japanese girls; observe 🙂

 

 

Edited by Estil
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For what it's worth about the post I did before.  The books are able to be publicly shared as PDF online.  The youtube videos had them linked but I realized the links are dead, but I'm sure they're out there.  What I did give you with the videos though, especially if you find the book scans or ebay them (cheap on there vs ama-scam pricing) you get a good 3 semesters of college supplemental Japanese training out of that.  Each of those books (I got the 3rd on my own) lasted the full college semester around the work in the other workbooks I mentioned as well.

They help a LOT as it's conversational, broken down extremely well, and the print side of things make it even clearer.  No reason to pay some clown with his fancy plan to get it quick as most those apps/sites are now as this is based on Japan, out of Japan, and funneled by their big media NHK so it's a good source.

 

Almost seems like a few of us could feed off each other trying to re-learn this if people were more on the same page about it.

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@Tanooki I was able to find those books by googling the name and putting pdf at the end. I started watching the videos but without the book it was a bit confusing. Now that I have them I can read along and do the activities.

For anyone interested or for future people who might read this. I found this beginners guide to be excellent to give a guide on where to start with learning: https://www.tofugu.com/learn-japanese/ they also have a lot of extra articles to work through.

@fcgamer I have been taking your approach with looking at the kanji for Japanese cities while also learning Kanji using WaniKani (space repetition program). You were right, learn the readings to the kanji and worry about the meaning as it comes. 

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@Shmup Yeah that's why I added the notes, why they had given the books away free, but being old files on youtube the links croaked and NHK just hadn't corrected it probably being forgotten.  Combine with the book which helps a lot, because while the video does it, it's far trickier, it's a great combination.  It will give you a LOT of vocab, but the major thing, you get situational Japanese backed with ALL the grammar needed for a kid or adult to hold an intelligent conversation.  So if you can master that book/video you'll be able to do excellent in written and spoken Japanese, mostly conversational which is normal, but has formal as well too.

 

That Kirsten Dunst modern version of that classic 80s tune is awesome.  The comments leading to that, it's making me think I need to check out duolingo.  I would like to get the rust off my Japanese as I keep bumping into it online and the lack of ability to handle once what I could comfortably do is slowly bluntly pissing me off.

 

Edit: Installed that duolingo/made account.  Kind of surprised I got a perfect on lesson starter bit 1.  Curious to see how this works long term, cost, etc.  Seems a bit too good for free.

Also I forgot to mention Tae Kims Guide to Learning Japanese on ios (android?) is free and has some helpful stuff.

Edited by Tanooki
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Like Tanooki, the last time I was actively working on my Japanese was 20 years ago. I took weekend classes that were open to all ages, it cost $20 a semester and my teacher was a retired teacher from Kyoto who moved to Canada when her husband retired. The weekend classes were a massive help; there were textbooks/workbooks, homework to be done for the following week, and an even focus on reading, writing, and oral. Check what's available in your community; classes are still cheap and the structure of a class setting - at least for me - helped.

On my own, I'd go to a Japanese convenience store close to me and get the newspaper (the owner would have them brought in every week with his shipments) and the local Japanese community centre would publish a weekly newsletter that was free, so I would use those to practice. Check to see what your local Japanese community centre is doing and what resources they have available.

I took a 'Japanese as a second language' course (101 & 102) in college which had a bunch of other great workbooks (I'll look for them downstairs later today) which was a great way to stay immersed throughout the week.

So, while not as specific as others, the key for me was immersion and repetition, and an expectation that it was going to take time, so I needed to be patient. Having another language besides English is a great asset, as other languages have commonalities grammatically (for me, having French and Spanish helped).

I'm rusty now, so it's been nice reading through this thread as it's really stoking the fire and making me think it's past time to get it back.

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