Post Reply Learning Japanese
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29 / Naked in a pine tree
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Posted 2/2/18 , edited 2/2/18
Currently I have completely memorized all Hiragana, and have almost memorized all the Katakana. I've barely even scratched Kanji yet.

My primary goal at this time is reading proficiency, and to actually comprehend what I am reading. I figure if my reading comprehension is higher, it will translate over to being easier to understand the spoken language better when watching anime and such.

Any tips on what I should focus on next? Kanji memorization? Comprehension? I know I want/need to learn Kanji, but I feel like learning Japanese will remain really boring for a long time until I finally begin to comprehend what I'm reading/hearing.

Basically I'm hoping there's a really intuitive way to develop general comprehension while also learning the characters/structure.

Posted 2/2/18 , edited 2/3/18
After a while you start to see rules and patterns that they don't "officially" tell you in the text books. If you just learn with baby steps you can probably learn how to in general read kanji that you haven't really seen before and even if you can't read it you will understand what it's meant to mean in general.

Basically what I'm trying to say is there is a general way of reading and comprehending that will probably come naturally as you learn basic kanji. I suppose a tip is try not to see it as pictures but as parts? idk.

but hey what do I know.
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☆Land of sweets☆
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Posted 2/2/18 , edited 2/3/18
grammar and vocabulary should be your highest priorities. learn the basic grammar structures and basic vocabulary, and slowly build your way towards more complex grammar and more vocabulary. learn kanji only as a convenient way of representing vocabulary you already learned, not the other way around.
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Posted 2/3/18 , edited 2/3/18
Japanese For Busy People has two versions: Romaji and Kana.

Get the Kana version. It teaches grammar, sentence structure, conversation, and gradually introduces kanji.

If you can find the supplemental audio CDs, I highly recommend them as well, so you can be sure you're "pronouncing" in your head correctly by hearing native speakers.
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51 / M / Side 6
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Posted 2/3/18 , edited 2/3/18
Learning to write the kana (and kanji as you pick them up) will really solidify them for you. There are apps to learn and quiz yourself. Or you can write them out by hand.

Kanji are made up of 'radicals', and some of the radicals are kanji themselves. Learning the radicals will help with remembering them and how to pronounce them in some cases.

I use Anki (spaced repetition flashcard app) and gradually build up my own kanji deck. When studying kanji, I learn the onyomi (Chinese based pronunciation) and meaning. I also keep a separate vocabulary deck and add common words, things i hear a lot in anime, things I'm interested in, etc. So when I add a new character to my kanji deck, I add a few new words containing that kanji to my vocab deck (trying to pick common ones and using both onyomi and kunyomi if possible). Try not to learn too much at once though.

dictionary for kanji and radicals and vocabulary: http://jisho.org/
another good one: http://tangorin.com/

Anki: https://apps.ankiweb.net/

A couple different ways to approach kanji...
kanji by grade: https://www.memrise.com/course/141583/2136-joyo-kanji-by-grade/
kanji by frequency of use: http://kanjicards.org/kanji-list-by-freq.html
Akoiya 
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Posted 2/6/18 , edited 2/6/18
First off I want to stress that learning a language of any kind is not about how much you memorize.

It sounds to me that you have hiragana and katakana down to the point that you can recall the English alphabet (if I am wrong I recommend taking a step back before you start kanji). You have your foot in the door so at least you can make the correct sounds (pronunciation) when you move onto actual words.

Its not a good idea to memorize kanji before you can speak actual words and phrases. You need to know what the words sound like and attach them to the correct object or phrase (or whatever) so you can attach the correct kanji and meaning to the correct vocabulary in 日本語 (the Japanese language). Attaching Kanji to vocabulary in English will lead to translating kanji into English into Japanese, and having to translate in your head all the time is not they way to truly comprehend and gain true fluency.

Everyone talks about grammar, learning grammar is great but learning text book grammar is not important. Think about it in terms of English, in school you were taught that grammar is important and it is but it is not necessary in day to day life. Instead of studying grammar you should start off with understanding basic sentence structure (English is: subject, verb, object; Japanese is: subject, object, verb) so that you can comprehend and convey Japanese; As long as you can understand in what order vocabulary belongs, you will be fine.

Lastly, I cannot stress enough that you should not make a habit of translating Japanese into English, if you are now that is fine but get to a point where you can attach the Japanese vocabulary you have learned to sounds, objects or phrases (or where ever it belongs) and not to English words.

One of the best ways to simultaneously learn how to learn Japanese words and phrases and to read Japanese script (Japanese script consist collectively of hiragana, katakana, and kanji for maximum readability) is to listen to music and follow along with the lyrics (in kana not romaji). In the beginning stages of learning a new language its all about quantity over quality; Remember when you learned English as a toddler it was all about imitating (hence the baby talk). So if you can't exactly follow along at first that is fine, eventually your mind will associate the sounds you hear into long term memory (something flashcards will not do) and eventually you will start to see patterns (patterns between the words, sounds and symbols naturally); Trust me this is how you learn a new language (its what you did as a baby too).

To find more study resources I highly recommend this website: https://www.tofugu.com/learn-japanese/

If you prefer to study proper hiragana, katakana and kanji stroke order on your own, I highly recommend this Kanji Study mobile app:
-For Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mindtwisted.kanjistudy&hl=en
-For Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/kanji-study/id400074354?mt=8

For when you are studying kanji online (like the lyrics I recommended) and you want a quick definition I recommend Rikaikun, a free extension for chrome: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/search/rikaikun
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Posted 2/7/18 , edited 2/7/18

Akoiya wrote:
Its not a good idea to memorize kanji before you can speak actual words and phrases.


very much this. vocabulary should always be a top priority over kanji, though Japanese teachers tend to spend a significant amount of time teaching individual kanjis, the different pronunciations and the stroke order, with vocabulary only sprinkled in as a bonus.
example: spending the time to learn how to write 長, and how it can be pronounced as either なが or ちょう, and then teaching words that use 長 (長い, 校長)instead of the other way around. depending on the class, the teacher could spend an entire class-day teaching 5 kanjis.
i'm actually serious here.

it's quite possible Japanese teachers teach kanji this way becase that's how they themselves learned kanji while in school in Japan.
the problem here, though, is that students in Japan are already very familiar with Japanese vocabulary long before they even start learning kanji. non-Japanese, by contrast, are not very familiar with Japanese words, but are still expected to learn the same way Japanese people in Japan do. there may also be pressure to prioritize kanji, since proficiency tests requires kanji knowledge, and it gives a perhaps false sense of accomplishment ("i know 300 kanji. i'm pretty much a pro now!")

as i said before, kanji should be seen as a convenient way of representing words that eliminates ambiguity - nothing more, nor less.
learning kanji stroke order is of dubious benefit, since computers automatically gives you the kanji. you only need to recognize the correct one when typing (so you know it's 学校 and not 月光 when you meant school, for example. the computer doesn't know). knowing the stroke order is of zero benefit when reading a novel or a local newspaper, nor are they helpful when listening to drama cds or an audio podcast. the only exception may be if you want to write a hand-written letter to someone in Japan, take a Japanese proficiency test, or work in a Japanese company that requires a strong kanji writing skill.


Akoiya wrote:
you should not make a habit of translating Japanese into English

agreed. it's best to try and learn Japanese with Japanese, instead of somehow trying to always find an equivalent in English, which may or may not exist. this is not an easy endeavor though, especially when one doesn't have a strong foundation in vocabulary and basic grammar.
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F / Rebranding
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Posted 2/7/18 , edited 2/8/18
I've been studying Japanese for a little bit now and I think that before learning Kanji, I would learn some basic sentence structures and vocab. I used the Genki textbooks for my studies, and they work really great and start to incorporate kanji as you go along. So far I've personally just finished the first book, but I'm trying to get my vocab down more before moving on.

I think what you should focus on learning depends on your goals. You talked about how you were interested in reading, so in that case kanji is important to learn since it is what is seen in the written form of Japanese; however, if you want to be able to understand and speak more I wouldn't stress about kanji too much in the beginning because it won't affect learning how to speak.

Just make a little progress everyday and you will be understanding more and more Japanese before you know it

Info about Genki: http://genki.japantimes.co.jp/index_en
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27 / F / Washington state
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Posted 2/7/18 , edited 2/7/18
This is one of my favorite resources for learning Japanese.

https://www.erin.ne.jp/en/

I used it when I was in college because yeah the teacher used it for our Japanese class.

I personally would start with basic phrases, greetings, describing what you like and what you don't like, talking about the weather.

Next I would learn how to talk about work or school such as say where you work, if it is difficult work or not, what you are studying. Try getting into where things are. From "the book is over there" to "turn left at the bookstore"

First kanji suggestions: Japanese, Like, numbers 1-10, Person, Book, Tree, Forrest, Day, Speak, Mouth, Rain, River, Spring, Rice Field, Cat, Dog, Fire, To read, To eat to watch, to listen, eyes, ears, Woman.

I picked these more because they are either easy or share radicals with each other or you might want to use them a lot.

Another more creative suggestion: Learn Japanese by learning some folk songs. There is an entire youtube of just folksongs.

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51 / M / Side 6
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Posted 2/8/18 , edited 2/9/18
Unfortunately we all don't have the time or resources or magical ability to become a young child in Japan and learn the natural way, or even to travel to Japan and submerse in the language for a few years, so making use of memorization to build up some vocabulary isn't a bad thing. Anki isn't just a flashcard app by the way, it uses spaced repetition to show you cards you are learning at increasing intervals, which gets them into your long-term memory efficiently.

After you build up some vocab, you'll start to hear those words in songs and anime. Eventually you go from translating in your head to understanding. It just takes time and dedication to practice and learn a little every day. Memorization and "osmosis" learning, gaining listening skills, all that stuff works together I think.

Writing out the kanji by hand has to be the best possible way to learn them quickly and solidly. I put off learning how to write the kana and kanji for a long time, but once I started it was totally worth it. I should have done it from the beginning.
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