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What are the best ways to learn Japanese?!
Posted 3/17/13
I'm really keen to learn Japanese since I think it'd be a very nice language to learn and I hope to travel a lot to Japan in the future. The thing is all the options I can find available to someone like me are either really poor or incredibly expensive. Rosetta Stone is way too expensive for my 16 year old part-time job college budget to handle, and all the online resources just don't work all that well (unless I'm not finding any good ones?).

I've looked into classes but it seems there's no where nearby that offers part-time Japanese Courses in my area. I have found some Uni Degrees involving Japanese, but I'd rather take a Journalism course for my Uni years since that's going to help me get into my chosen field of work better.

I'm stumped really. Is there anyone out there that has learnt Japanese that is able to show / tell me the resources they used? It'd be of great help!

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M / 七十七 / ミシガン
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Posted 3/17/13 , edited 3/17/13
There's a thread on the second page of this forum with some good suggestions: http://www.crunchyroll.com/forumtopic-778123/id-like-to-learn-japanese?pg=0

Also, I would highly recommend learning the Kana (Hiragana and Katakana) first. U can do it anyway u want - some people just memorize them as there are many online sites that can help to do that. I learned it another way using a book called Remembering the Kana. James Heisig, the author, came up with a method called "imaginative memory" in which he reassembles the kana into images that fix the sound of each particular kana to its writing. His method, imo, is quite effective and was how I learned it right away. But one must be ready to exercise their brain for a few to several hours - but I believe it is worth it in the end, as u can literally learn it in a day or 2.

You can find his book Remembering the Kana on amazon for around $10 used. Or u might be able to find it at a library around you. You can prolly do an online search of all the libraries in your area, so u may not even need to leave your home to check for it.

Also, Pimsleur's Japanese Audio CDs work well. You might also be able to find them at a local library in your area.
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16 / M / Clayton
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Posted 3/17/13
Learning Japanese sounds awesome. But learning any language is very hard. I only know a few well known terms.

Why?

(I think the answer is obvious)
Lisu 
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29 / F / Philadelphia, PA
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Posted 3/17/13
I would say the first Genki book and Japanese Demystified are really good books to start with. Learn Hiragana and Katakana and their proper pronunciations to start with (you can even youtube the Hiragana song for that). Practice, practice, practice...those will let you break into the language.
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19 / F / Bali - Indonesia...
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Posted 3/17/13
the best way is to watch tv shows or anime with english subs. you will learn everyday phrases and learn how words are pronounced!!
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27 / M / ロンドン、カナダ
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Posted 3/17/13
^ That is a horrible idea. Subs are almost never an exact, direct translation. Plus, anime accents are often exaggerated, overly casual, and in a variety of dialects.

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27 / M / US South Carolina
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Posted 3/17/13
go to the country on vacation and attempt to talk to others some will be rude but others understanding
that's how they do it in the peace corps any programmers out there because I do have one idea
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M / 七十七 / ミシガン
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Posted 3/17/13

Mono-no-Aware wrote:

^ That is a horrible idea. Subs are almost never an exact, direct translation. Plus, anime accents are often exaggerated, overly casual, and in a variety of dialects.


I'll have to agree... u can learn some words and vocab though, but overall, it would definitely not be a proper nor a reliable way to learn the language.
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49 / Los Angeles / San...
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Posted 3/17/13
How do you measure best? Most fun? Fastest? Most natural? You get different answers depending on your goal. Basic japanese literacy and routine language functionality takes about 4000 hours of focused effort - the equivalent of two years of a full time job. You can cut that in half if you only want speaking and don't care about reading, but that's just basic stuff. With that level you'll be able to get around town and understand love stories in dorama, but you won't follow scifi anime and won't be able to have a real conversation with a local.

Bottom line - it takes lots and lots and lots of time. That's the bad news. The good news is it doesn't have to cost very much and, if you do it right, it's crazy fun. There's a lot of content available for free or cheap whether you're talking about anime, news, newspapers, podcasts, blogs, novels, or wikipedia in japanese. Anki is a free SRS that is excellent for japanese and you can get lots of excellent japanese flashcard decks (with audio and images) for free. There are a lot of web sites that can provide guidance and different methods work for different people. The major challenge is staying motivated for the years of time that it takes to develop satisfying levels of competency. So I recommend that you try different things and then go with whatever seems doable to you personally. If you're a grind-away I'm in a hurry self-starter then you can immerse yourself and pound away at it. If you're more of a my-pace wanna do it but not give up my life type then look for stuff that is fun but challenging and prepare yourself for a long, long journey.

BTW - I did all of the Japanese Rosetta levels and it was fun and but you don't learn a lot of Japanese. It costs $500 and takes a few months if you put in a 2 or 3 hours every day. At the end you have a feel for what japanese is like but you really don't know anything useful. It's tourist japanese and not even enough to order in a restaurant or ask for where the bathroom is. In real life I mean, not in the sanitized scenarios that the software sets up for you. Basically, I only recommend if if the money is no object and you're looking to get a feel for it before you start a serious study program.

Probably the simplest and most useful thing you can invest in is finiding some Japanese friends (or going to live in Japan and make friends there). The fastest, and maybe most fun thing, is to struggle with learning it while you laugh and enjoy time with someone that is helping you. You can't become literate that way, but you can learn to speak and understand japanese that way.
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F / R'lyeh
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Posted 3/17/13
Here are the Basic Steps I Recommend You Follow
Step One: Memorize the hiragana and katakana. I can recommend ways to make this a bit easier.
Step Two: Learn how to indicate that a consonant or vowel is to be held longer in writing.
Step Three: Learn basic vocabulary (directions, colors, days, numbers, etc.) and study the honorifics system.
Step Four: Learn about particles. There is no English equivalent to these and they're complicated, but I can provide extensive help with this.
Step Five: Learn about conjugation of "ru" and "u" verbs.
Step Six: Start putting together basic sentences. At this point I recommend either getting together with a group or joining a class.
Step Seven: Start learning kanji for the basic vocabulary you studied in step three. Go at a rate of no more than 5-10 a week.
Step Eight: Start learning more complex grammar and conjugation (such as the "te" form), continue building your vocabulary.

Some Tips
1. Learning a language is a social and interactive exercise. Don't confine yourself to reading and writing, and don't rely too heavily on recordings. You will eventually need to get together with a group of people and start speaking in Japanese.
2. Maintain the proper stroke order for your kanji, hiragana, and katakana. This helps you remember them better and gives you better handwriting besides.
3. Don't break the bank on a new textbook unless a class forces you to, there are plenty of used copies of the first volume of Genki: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese floating around in the cosmos. Buy one of those, it's a perfectly good textbook.
4. Sentence structure is very fluid in Japanese, so pay very close attention to which particles appear and where.
5. Don't get discouraged because you're learning kanji slowly. It took even native speakers who lived in Japan from birth to death years to learn all the kanji they used, so you can't reasonably expect to be any faster.
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長灘島菲律賓
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Posted 3/18/13
I'd like to recommend you JED - Japanese Dictionary by. Attila Korompai a popular mobile app in the Android Market it's free and you can use it anywhere and offline too. I copied some info about it.

Current features:
- Works offline
- Search and view results as you type!
- Multiple dictionaries ( English-Japanese, French-Japanese, Spanish-Japanese )
- Search in readings (romaji), meanings (english) and japanese (kanji, hiragana and katakana)
- Search results can contain words, expressions, kanji (both onyomi and kunyomi) and inflected form for adjectives and verbs.
- Filters results based on content type (meaning, reading, character type, parts of speech, common words, common kanji)
- Radicals lookup
- tags (vocabulary list) with possibility to search and export to Google Docs and Anki.
- Animated Stroke Order Diagrams for kanji
- Copy-Paste for most of the field and a notepad to gather information
- Move to SD card (above 2.2)

Hope this helps - well for me it helped me alot reading some Kanji since I don't read Japanese on speak.
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M / Fort Bragg, NC
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Posted 3/18/13
I learned Japanese well by hanging out with a lot of my Japanese friends and letting them just speak Japanese, not English. The only time I told them to talk in English was to describe and teach me what some words meant.

After about a week, I was already learning whole sentences, basic vocabulary, and basic grammatical rules. It's natural, fun, and easy. It's like a baby learning English because its surroundings are full of it. I just soaked the language in and let the flow guide my education.

I see all these people trying to learn Japanese in painstakingly slow ways such as tutors and such. It only goes so far if you have no firsthand experience.
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25 / M / Tokyo, Japan
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Posted 3/18/13 , edited 3/18/13
Visit sites like

http://lang-8.com/
http://heart.okwave.com/top

where people can help you learn that language.
These are communities made for that purpose.
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53 / M
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Posted 3/20/13
there is the right way and the fun way. If it's work and drudge why do it. unless you are going to make career of it. if something you want to to do then have fun with it. do not worry so much as doing the right way. i believe most people on this site enjoy watching anime. if it's fun then you will go deeper into the things that are less fun like conjagating verbs. I think Blue Oni かた (way) would bore me to death.
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22 / M / England
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Posted 3/24/13 , edited 3/24/13
I wouldn't rely on learning Japanese from anime and drama. You may be able to learn the odd word or phrase but Japanese television (especially anime) teaches you very colloquial forms of the language which aren't good to learn until you're advanced in the language.

Colloquial forms in Japan can really only be used with friends and people close to you, so using them generally is quite rude. More importantly, you won't understand how a language as been modified until you learn the basics of it first. Imagine you were a foreigner learning your mother tongue and you attempted to learn the slang first, it wouldn't make a lot of sense, would it? Thats why it is best to learn the polite forms of the language first.

I've been studying Japanese for 2 years at university and all the Japanese pen friends I've met up with tell me that anime and drama aren't good for learning the language, as the language they use isn't very realistic to every day life.

Any ways, to answer your questions, the best way to learn a language is to take a course. You can buy a text book and teach yourself, but 9 times out of 10, most people do not find the motivation and self-stimulation to carry on on their own. Thats why going to a course is much better. The next step is to meet up with Japanese students and talk with them. Plenty of Japanese students come over to study each year and most of them are desperate to make new friends in a stange new country.

Your Japanese teacher should be able to get their emails if you ask him and if they comply. Then just organise meeting up with them and go from there.

TL;DR - Do not rely on anime and drama to teach you Japanese. It teachers you very informal, colloquial and often "un realistic" Japanese that isn't suitable for every day use.
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