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Learning Japanese?
62872 cr points
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47 / M / Bay Area, CA, USA
Posted 2/15/12 , edited 2/15/12
While I can only speak from personal experience, I'll concur with Devoidtrueform that taking a formal class is among the best ways to learn a language (assuming you've a competent teacher and reasonably motivated classmates). Some 20 years after my last French class and 16 years after my last Mandarin Chinese class in college/graduate school, I'm still surprised how much I remember of these languages (including on my honeymoon in Paris last October). Having a live person teach you, correct you, make you do homework, write essays, perform skits, talk to you and force you to respond back in that language is invaluable.

Alas, particularly for those of us no longer in school, finding this sort of learning experience, especially for less commonly sought after languages like Japanese (as opposed to, say, Spanish, at least in the U.S.), may be difficult to impossible. Interesting also, your (Devoidtrueform) comments on Rosetta Stone. Back when I first started trying to learn Japanese, I naturally researched Rosetta Stone (hard to miss their ubiquitous advertisements), but heard from a number of reviews many similar criticisms you mentioned. People might learn vocabulary, but really not grammar nor proper sentence structure nor style, in the manner the language is actually used by actual native users-- they might progress through the program and feel like they've learned a lot, only to crash and burn when arriving in the country and finding they can in fact barely function at all. Some said it was a great review tool for those who learned the language earlier in life and needed a refresher, but much less useful for the true novice. I'm also personally a bit skeptical about the spiel about learning languages the same way a baby or child learns, particularly when one is no longer a baby/child. For languages that don't use Roman script like Japanese, the failure to teach the actual writing system used by actual users of the language is also a strange omission. If Rosetta Stone wasn't so expensive to begin with, I might nonetheless have given it a try.

Myself, I'm doing self-study in whatever free time I can scrounge up. I bought and have been using a textbook (Japanese for Everyone-- from Border's, back when there was a Border's... I miss them!) which used Romaji only for the first three lessons, and then forced one to use kana and eventually kanji (the main reason I bought that book among those in stock), supplemented by books mostly from Kodansha, and then found a Japanese conversation partner, a student at the local University, who has been kind enough to speak with me for free for a few hours a week! (We talk in English a lot, though...!) Watching anime on CR is also a nice little supplement. Knowing English and Chinese (from which Japanese has borrowed a lot of words) helps quite a bit too. For me, vocabulary is not all that difficult, nor writing-- it's Japanese grammar that really throws me for a loop!
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32 / F
Posted 2/28/12 , edited 2/29/12
try online language teaching program
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