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What are the best ways to learn Japanese?!
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36 / M / So Cal
Posted 6/3/13 , edited 6/3/13
Regardless of what anyone tries to tell you, the best way is spending lengthy periods of time there.

Immersion forces you to learn non-stop, consciously and subconsciously.
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25 / F / The Desert
Posted 6/6/13 , edited 6/6/13
If you want to learn Japanese you have to dedicate your time and yourself.
I started learning this language five years ago but I'm not as good as I should
be because I didn't dedicate myself enough.

The first thing you should learn is the Japanese writing system: Hiragana, Katakana, & Kanji (evolve with this as you go).

some good websites: (great way to meet native speakers)! (it's like rosetta stone. It also offers speaking and writing exercises. Native speakers are on this site as well). (lots of helpful videos - annoying, but they stick in your head).
Erin's Challenge by Japan Foundation

I also think listening to nursery rhymes helps you get the tone and speaking fluctuations right.
Taking a class would probably be the best option because it forces you do to the work and you're in an environment where there
are others just like you wanting to learn.

Good luck!
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23 / M / United States
Posted 7/4/13 , edited 7/4/13
There are several ways, but I think the best would be to make Japanese friends and talk to them every day. It makes for a lot of practice apparently. A lot of my American friends make me talk to them in Japanese all the time because it helps them process it much faster in the long run. Also, go to Japan!! We love foreigners and visitors! haha Whenever I'm in Japan with my friends, we always run up to foreigners to high five and hug them. It's pretty fun. Going to Japan will definitely help you learn Japanese far more quickly than any college course (I've taken the college courses and they are at most, elementary japanese with little to no socializing/speaking skills that are taught)
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Posted 7/21/13 , edited 7/21/13
I don't know much but I learned hiragana and some minor Japanese thigs from an app. It is called Human Japanese.
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F / Everything slowly...
Posted 7/26/13 , edited 7/26/13
Lose yourself within the country. From then on desperation will kick in.
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29 / Nagoya-shi, Aichi...
Posted 7/26/13 , edited 7/26/13
Have you ever asked yourself "How should a person learn English or what's the best way to master English language?"

My best recommendation is this:

1. Know the two forms of the verb (辞書形 (jishokei) & ます形 (masu kei)). If you know these two, you should have no problem changing the form of each verb

2. Master the vocabulary. Some of the words are taken from English e.g エスカレーター (Esukare-ta- / Escalator)

In the end, if you can go as a exchange student in Japan, you should be able to master the language in a year or two.
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23 / F / United States
Posted 7/26/13 , edited 7/27/13
Well, I want to learn Japanese too and I know some Japanese because I used to study online, and listen to a lot of Japanese music and memorize their lyrics. Also, watching Anime and TV shows from Japan with subtitles can help you. After a while, you start to be familiar with some words. For me Is music, anime, and online classes. By the way, I'm planning to study languages in College. I want to be an interpreter. I hope to someday, travel to Japan and learn a lot more.
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38 / F / Manila, PH
Posted 7/28/13 , edited 7/28/13
I studied Japanese at a time where there were no learning apps on smartphones
I enrolled in a school that specializes in Japanese and also supplemented it with online lessons from a native Japanese teacher.

But many of us do not really have the time to go to language schools to study. The good news is, there are a lot of online and offline resources for learning Japanese.

If you like audio programs like Rosetta Stone, be sure to also use a reliable grammar book. Rosetta will teach you sentences and phrases but does not go into the nitty gritty of grammar. Some good books are: Japanese for Busy People, Genki, Minna No Nihongo, A Dictionary of Basic/Intermediate/Advanced Japanese Grammar.

Tae Kim's website teaches kana and grammar. There is a smartphone app that has the same content too.
For kanji and vocabulary learning, some good apps are Anki, ScribeOrigins, Brainscape, Kanji Study.
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M / http://myanimelis...
Posted 8/15/13 , edited 8/16/13
I'm sure there are many thousands of non-Japanese speaking Anime and Manga fans around the world who have thought to themselves, at one time or another:

"Subtitles... grrr!" "Dub? ... that's even worse!!" "I know! I .... I will learn Japanese!!"

Well, I am among those who have said as much. Having done a little digging just to start, I know it's a long learning curve to be sure... years... if I were to study and practice a little each day. Of course, that would be more for language fluency, as apposed to just "getting the general idea" while watching shows.

So.. I have often wondered, if I am really going to do this, at least enough to enjoy shows without subtitles, just how much must I learn?

So here's my plan:
1) Learn how to read Japanese Kanji & Kana (including pronunciation) from online resources
2) Learn proper Wāpuro Romanization
3) Study using "Frequently Used" Language and Vocabulary cheat-sheets flashcards and online sites

Backup plan: ... take some beginning Japanese Language courses at the University LOL

- Anyone tried these steps?
- What is your progress?
- What was your method of learning, or more importantly what do you wish you had done?
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36 / M
Posted 8/24/13 , edited 8/25/13
I'd say go with the "Minna no Nihongo" series. It's what they use at most universities that teach Japanese around where I live. It's a good start, but you need to learn the kanas first (try finding animated gifs of the stroke order).

Make sure to get for the each of the 2 beginner levels :
- the main text book,
- translation an grammatical notes (the non romaji version for your language)
- CD
- Kanji Edition

The beginner level is a little bit more expensive than the intermediate book since with the intermediate ones, the CD is included with the main text book (but unlike the beginner ones, it's only for the listening comprehension exercises) and there are no intermediate level Kanji books. Also, while the 2 kanji book might not seem that important since you also have them in the vocabulary sections of the translation and grammatical notes books, it's still a good idea to get them because they teach you proper stroke order which will be very useful later on when looking up kanjis while reading.

Until you get to the intermediate level, I wouldn't recommend attempting to read novels / manga / etc., since you'll have difficulty understanding the grammar, not to mention you'll have a lot of difficulties with the kanjis.

Once, you're at the intermediate level, then you can start reading. It'll be a good for vocabulary building, including kanjis readings. However, at that point, you'll absolutely need an electronic dictionary that allows you to search by directing drawing the kanas / kanjis. The Casio Ex-Word XD-D10000 is a great one (or whatever current version will be available at that time). It's on the expensive side, but you'll barely need anything else. That's what I use along with the "Advanced Favorite Japanese English Dictionary" (paper dictionnary) for the very rare occasions the examples provided are a little too ambiguous for me and I want cross validation.

But be warned that trying to read a light novel at that point, is going to be a painstaking process, because although you'll have little problem understanding the grammar, you'll need to look up most words in the dictionary. This is where the electronic dictionary comes in. It will accelerate the process. It's a lot faster than looking up in a kanji dictionary (for proper reading when there is no furigana) then in a regular dictionary.

If you want to go the paper dictionary route, avoid the Basic Oxford Japanese - English Dictionary and the "Japanese - English / English - Japanese" dictionaries. They contain so few word that they are barely even useful. The "Kodansha's Essential Kanji Dictionary" is decent, but they are kanjis or compounds that are not in it, so there are times where it will be useless and will leave you frustrated for not finding what you are looking for.

Apparently, the 3 books : A Dictionary of Basic / Intermediate / Advance Japanese Grammar are good, but I cannot comment on them at the moment since I'm waiting for their delivery.

When it comes to apps, you might want to look at Mindsnacks, it won't teach you grammar, but it's a fun vocabulary builder.

Finally, just know that learning Japanese is a long process and you'll need to study on most days of the week if you want to make significant progress in the long run.

Hope this helps.
Posted 10/5/13 , edited 10/6/13
@Ecchi-Go: It's best to find people who know how to speak Japanese fluently and learn from them. That way, at least in speaking, you'll sound more accurate.

I started off with kana, then basic grammar (think: XはYです。Yes, really), then I built up some vocabulary, and continued with grammar from there. Kanji inevitably come up, so I learned some of the important ones (such as for dates, commonly used words, &c. i'm leaving the obscure ones for later). If you have Chinese background, kanji won't be as difficult. If you have no prior experience with characters, then the whole concept can be difficult to understand, but it's not impossible. It just takes time to get used to, and more time to beautify your handwriting, heh.

I haven't had a problem with word processing since I've known Romaji fairly well, even before learning Japanese.

At some point, you'll know enough grammar to start picking apart Japanese sentences. You might not understand what each word means, but you'll get the gist of the sentence. The same is true, to some extent, with English or any other native language.

The beginning is fun, then you hit a point where learning becomes difficult or tedious, and you'll question whether or not you really want to continue with Japanese. You either quit or break out of that mentality and continue learning.

I suppose this advice applies to anyone who wants to learn Japanese. My best regards to all of you.
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F / Boston-ish
Posted 10/9/13 , edited 10/9/13
OP nuked

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