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What are the best ways to learn Japanese?!
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19 / F / Japan 日本
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Posted 3/25/13 , edited 3/25/13
Studying plus Immersion put together is the best way. Without both of them together you'll be lacking.
If you just study but never talk to japanese people online (skype, chat, etc) or listen to people speak then or write japanese then you'll be very primitive and/or slow in those areas...
If you just immerse yourself but never study unless you are in japan then you wont learn a substantial amount

So... study and immerse guys!

Personally, i got to the point where i can hold conversation and understand 80% of TV so i gave up on studying and now just immerse like crazy cause its fun. I learn new words every week but i would be alot more fluent if i was still studying aswell
but i hate studying now -_-

.
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53 / M
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Posted 3/28/13 , edited 3/28/13
quote LelouchZeroist
"Is japanesepod101 really any good? I looked at it and they want me to pay for 1$ bandwith meaning we have to share files with other people or something I believe...I'm just a little skeptical because it sounds sketchy"

I do not know about the $1 charge for band width. I never had to pay that. i just went to site and didn't have to do that.

they have different levels of memberships including free. basically it's a pod cast. which you can get from Itunes or other places. they have higher prices for other things. it is better then Pimsler or other CD programs. the premium membership can cost some bucks. you don't have to do that. they have a trail membership for the premium for free. I think it's 30 days.
if you are trying to speak and understand Japanese then i think it is real good. the teach formal as well as informal. plus the have pod cast geared for different levels ( beginner to advanced)

another podcast comes from the NHK. it's free
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Posted 4/2/13
If I could go back in time and advise my past self. I'd impart the following:

I got the best results with an online textbook at Yesjapan.com, probably because I could listen to everything in the lessons. I would probably go that route again for learning the basics.

I wish I could take all the money and time I'd spent on textbooks, online services, and educational trips to Japan and use it on a good tutor, instead. They're expensive on a per-hour basis, but the results can be so much better, as a good tutor will focus on your weaknesses to bring your skill level up faster.
Artfan 
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34 / M / Earth
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Posted 4/2/13
As of now, I've been certified at N5 level (2012) and then N4 level (2013) of the JLPT Japanese Language Proficiency Test. Those are beginner levels.

My suggestion is to immerse yourself into the language: watch, listen, speak, read, and write.

Beware of locking into definite rules, as one example may be misleading.

Contact with Japanese people is a definite. I joined a Japanese calligraphy class, and a weekly language class. My ability is still in its infancy, but I do succeed in simple exchanges with some difficulty.

So as a beginner, these are the tips I offer.
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20 / M / Nashville, TN
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Posted 5/15/13
Buy Japanese for Dummies and get the basics down, then grab a English to Japanese/Japanese to English Dictionary and plow through it. This is how I'm personally learning Japanese, but I'm better at learning things by just finding it and figuring it out myself. If your a group person, you should probably have somebody teach it to you, imo. There are lots of websites and apps and programs and such, and if those work for you then kudos! But nothing beats learning it from a local, if that is possible for you.
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27 / M / ロンドン、カナダ
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Posted 5/15/13

DanielLWall wrote:

Buy Japanese for Dummies and get the basics down, then grab a English to Japanese/Japanese to English Dictionary and plow through it. This is how I'm personally learning Japanese, but I'm better at learning things by just finding it and figuring it out myself.


That's a horrible way. Japanese for Dummies doesn't even write in kana, they write with romaji. And their explanation of grammar and sentence structure is seriously lacking. Plus, nobody learns a language by just memorizing random entries from a dictionary.

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20 / M / Nashville, TN
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Posted 5/16/13

Mono-no-Aware wrote:


DanielLWall wrote:

Buy Japanese for Dummies and get the basics down, then grab a English to Japanese/Japanese to English Dictionary and plow through it. This is how I'm personally learning Japanese, but I'm better at learning things by just finding it and figuring it out myself.


That's a horrible way. Japanese for Dummies doesn't even write in kana, they write with romaji. And their explanation of grammar and sentence structure is seriously lacking. Plus, nobody learns a language by just memorizing random entries from a dictionary.



I'm looking through it right now and yes, they do have romanji, but for every romanji word in the book they have it in hiragana, and they have a chart for hiragana and katakana as well. And their explanations aren't lacking, they just don't go into full detail because they have to fit as much general information as they can in the book, which is why if there's something unclear/not mentioned, I just google it and move along (probably should have mentioned that part). And the whole purpose of me putting the then before grab the dictionary is because I was suggesting to get the basics of the language down and then start building up your vocabulary.
Aryth 
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25 / M / Nashville
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Posted 5/16/13

DanielLWall wrote:


Mono-no-Aware wrote:


DanielLWall wrote:

Buy Japanese for Dummies and get the basics down, then grab a English to Japanese/Japanese to English Dictionary and plow through it. This is how I'm personally learning Japanese, but I'm better at learning things by just finding it and figuring it out myself.


That's a horrible way. Japanese for Dummies doesn't even write in kana, they write with romaji. And their explanation of grammar and sentence structure is seriously lacking. Plus, nobody learns a language by just memorizing random entries from a dictionary.



I'm looking through it right now and yes, they do have romanji, but for every romanji word in the book they have it in hiragana, and they have a chart for hiragana and katakana as well. And their explanations aren't lacking, they just don't go into full detail because they have to fit as much general information as they can in the book, which is why if there's something unclear/not mentioned, I just google it and move along (probably should have mentioned that part). And the whole purpose of me putting the then before grab the dictionary is because I was suggesting to get the basics of the language down and then start building up your vocabulary.


No, the idea of learning the language is to learn it's structure. Words are but ONE part of it. You need the grammar structures (that aren't necessarily words), and the rules which put them all together. Without either of those, you will only catch vague meanings in sentences and you may miss something important altogether in translation. Plus, there are many words with EXACTLY the same readings that only differ by which kanji is used to represent them, so kanji is incredibly important (if you want to communicate effectively).

If you intend to learn a language, you can't just stick to ONE portion of it. You must put it all together to improve total comprehension. You need to hear it, speak it, read it, and apply it to acquire it completely.
CaelK 
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Posted 5/16/13 , edited 5/16/13
Meh... honestly, I think getting a good grip on grammar is a good first step. That's how I started at least, and my first year went by pretty smoothly. Sentence structure (of course), particles (holy crap, particles), conjugations (and what they mean)... all that stuff.

But why go through a dictionary for words? There's a variety of games/manga/novels to run through out there. You can make a vocabulary list by just running through a bunch of those, and you'll be cracking open sentences while you're at it. I mean, it might take you twenty times as long to beat whatever game you're playing, or you might spend two hours figuring out you're looking at five kanji that mean composite silicon alloy (when will you ever use this word?), but it's practice and (hopefully) there'll be some fun involved as you glean some knowledge.

Admittedly, it is the Iron Man way of doing things, but if you've got no one to show you the ropes, you'll have to make your own rope - pulling out your own hair if you have to. Hey, fun doesn't always have to come easy, right? ^_^

Just if you do this, get yourself an IME and look up the rules for stroke order in kanji. That way, you can look them up without too much back-breaking.
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30 / M / Dallas, TX
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Posted 5/16/13
I'm plowing through JapanesePod101 and I must say it's quite good. If you don't have the money, I say that $1 "bandwidth" fee is fine. You'll get a 30 day trial membership. Take advantage of all the downloads and whatnot that they give you, but make sure to CANCEL the renewal as soon as possible.

Personally, I'm still skeptical about the premium membership, but there are a few advantages it carries that I find convenient. Money isn't an issue for me so I'm willing to pay the price, however if you're low on funds then go right ahead and skip the premium membership.

Other advice for learning a language:

-Stick with it, make sure you don't skip a day (no more than a couple if you're ABSOLUTELY busy).
-NOTES NOTES NOTES NOTES
-Seriously, take notes on everything
-Find situations in which to practice or utilize your new skills.
-Don't be afraid to make mistakes, you will be corrected and often taught a better way of saying something or maybe something new
-Pick your motivation and HOLD ON TO IT. It doesn't matter what it is. Want to travel to/live in Japan? Translate games/anime? Make Japanese friends? DOESN'T MATTER - Just go for it. always hold it in your thoughts. and don't give up on whatever your goal is.
-GRAMMAR IS KEY. You'll be able to pick up words once you know how proper sentences are formed. You'll be able to use context clues to learn those words you're missing. Before you know it, your vocabulary is growing on its own.
-keep a dictionary handy

Another good way of learning a language is just going where it is primarily spoken...you'll learn stuff REAL quick. Japan may seem a little out of reach for many of you, but believe me, it shouldn't be. The plane ticket is the most expensive part. After that, the cost of living isn't really all that different. It might seem high if you go to Tokyo, but the same is true if you visit New York. Basically, don't spend your money on stupid crap.

Experiences > Material possessions
(buy that friggin plane ticket)


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29 / M / Puerto Rico
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Posted 5/17/13
I use Japanese demystified, Easy Kana workbook and livemocha.com
Perseverance is the key.
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Posted 5/19/13 , edited 5/19/13
Hasn't livemocha shut now? I thought Rosetta Stone had bought it?

I started with Rosetta Stone, it's quite good in building the basics, specifically sentence structure. I also like the speech feature to check pronunciation, although it is somewhat temperamental. I have on occasion been known to sit screaming "kazoku" かぞく(family) at my computer for a good 20 minutes, heh

I also use -
Japanese For Busy People
Dr.Moku hiragana/ katakana apps for the iPad and iPhone
Lets Learn Basic Japanese
ETA - Michel Thomas audio for the car!

I've found a couple of websites that have free resources for say, hiragana reading and writing practice which have been most helpful. Personally I think it's very important to get the kana down before jumping into words, phrases etc. by learning that each consonant is paired with a vowel (except "n" ん) and their individual pronunciations your overall pronunciation will improve. Obviously immersion would be the best thing but we can't all be that lucky
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15 / M / California
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Posted 5/19/13

wondermind wrote:

the best way is to watch tv shows or anime with english subs. you will learn everyday phrases and learn how words are pronounced!!


Actually no you really shouldn't try to learn Japanese that way, you won't be able to speak it fluently since it's not clean English to Japanese subs.
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Posted 5/20/13

CR_Otaku wrote:


wondermind wrote:

the best way is to watch tv shows or anime with english subs. you will learn everyday phrases and learn how words are pronounced!!


Actually no you really shouldn't try to learn Japanese that way, you won't be able to speak it fluently since it's not clean English to Japanese subs.


Yup because word order is not the same. Like let's say ( this is a easy one too ) English - I am cute! - Japanese - Watashi ( I ) ha ( support word ) kawaii ( cute ) desu ( am ) わたしかわいいです So it be "I cute am."

I used this http://www.easyjapanese.org/write_hiragana.html It helped me get better at writing hiragana.
I also like http://www.njstar.com/cms/

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Posted 5/23/13
I don't mean to hijack this thread, but I was wondering if anyone could recommend an easy way to meet people to speak Japanese with? I mean, obviously I'd just have to find people in my city, but what about online? Are there any online communities that are all about learning Japanese and communicating with native speakers?

I'm great at learning things out of a textbook, but I think the next step for me would be to actually be able to speak Japanese with somebody. I'd like to know if my pronunciation is good and it would also be good to have someone to tell me, "no, that's not quite right, this is how it goes." Textbooks and computer software can't do that.

Although, here are a few things I can recommend for newcomers to the language:

-learn hiragana and katakana and ditch romaji (Japanese text using our alphabet)! Romaji is a horrible crutch and if you rely on it too much you'll never really learn how to read or write in hiragana or katakana. The thing is, a lot of self-study books use romaji, so I would recommend whiting out the romaji you come across or covering it up. It might be time consuming, but if the book is good otherwise, it's probably worth it. The Japanese from Zero series does a good job at fazing romaji out. It teaches each line of hiragana and katakana in each chapter, so as you go on, if forces you to really know hiragana (then katakana in the second book).

-Know how you learn best so you can decide which resources to use. Does repetition work really well? I recommend flashcards. Do you need images more than text? Maybe a program that uses images to help memorize. Ultimately, if you learn more by immersion than by going through a textbook, then find resources that cater to your needs.

-Buying manga/manga magazines in Japanese helps with reading practice. The great thing about manga and manga magazines is that they have what is called furigana, which are tiny katakana characters that allow you to know how to read the kanji within the context, since kanji can be read several different ways. Manga in Japanese on eBay isn't too expensive, the only problem is when you can't find specific volumes because nobody is selling them. I currently have Fushigi Yuugi volumes 1-7 and 9 because I just cannot find volume 8. Sometimes you can find someone selling the whole series, but be careful it' not overpriced. Manga magazines tend to be a little cheaper, but don't expect to find consecutive issues. So, if you find January 2010, don't be too hopeful about finding February 2010. I'm not saying you won't ever, just that it's not easy.

-Watching subbed anime isn't all bad, but it isn't all good either. It does help reinforce listening skills and it's always interesting to hear a phrase or word you're familiar with be translated different than how you learned it. Although, part of that has to do with context, and sometimes if a translator goes with the most basic translation, it won't make sense in the subtitles. The thing to be careful about though is that you shouldn't rely too much on anime as a language learning resource. First of all, it won't teach you anything about reading, writing, or kanji. You also won't learn any grammar. And, as I've said, sometimes things are translated a little different to fit the context. So, while anime is a good listening resource, don't rely too heavily on it.
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