Best way to learn Japanese?

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Best way to learn Japanese?

Post by HellCat » Mon Mar 18, 2013 5:57 pm

It's been an aspiration for over a decade now but I'd like to learn written and oral Japanese. It didn't become an available option in UK schools until after I graduated, which leaves independent further education my only option. Given a fair few people here are fluent for various reasons, I wondered what they considered the best means to learn it? I've seen some people suggest Rosetta Stone and recently I stumbled across this-

Generally my interest is to learn for the sake of hobby/entertainment stuff but the more fluent the better. I've heard the horror stories of people who pick up the language wrong from too many cartoons and comics.
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Re: Best way to learn Japanese?

Post by ShadowCell » Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:41 pm

moved to General. carry on.

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Re: Best way to learn Japanese?

Post by harotype » Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:42 pm

You didn't say whether you were bound and determined to learn self-directed, so...

I'm not even remotely fluent, but what I do know, I picked up at "intensive summer university course", where they covered a year of instruction in ten weeks by way of 40 hours in the classroom every week. :twisted:

It melts your brain and hurts your head, but you DO learn. And you do learn correctly.
(And this was about a decade ago, and yes, I decided to learn in hopes of understanding anime better. And what I do remember, I remember thanks to anime, manga, and reading Japanese websites.)

So if the finances and facilities are at all an option for you to do something like that, I'll give it my props.

There really is no substitute for classroom exercises, other people to converse with, and teachers kicking your posterior.
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Re: Best way to learn Japanese?

Post by Quiddity » Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:56 pm

From a written Japanese standpoint, I tried self teaching myself Japanese back when I was in college and had a lot more free time and I found that James Heisig's books were a very helpful way to learn the english meaning of kanji. Not as helpful from a reading and pronouncing standpoint unfortunately, but it did make understanding what the characters mean a lot easier.
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Re: Best way to learn Japanese?

Post by Antares » Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:36 pm

I strongly recommend getting into a study group. Some people can pull this stuff of alone, but a second opinion can help you navigate the delightfully murky depths of Japanese grammar, especially if you don't have a teacher or a native speaker at hand. Within the group of self-learning savants, I've also encountered people who've made a really unfortunate compromise; they are utter wizards with written Japanese, but can't speak the language worth crap (because they haven't had anyone to talk to).

Watching anime is a good idea to get a bearing on the inflection (sometimes), but when it comes to vocab, the language can be overtly contrived on the polite side, or incredibly rude. For anime-minded people, subjected to anime-Japanese quite often, it can unfortunately stick (for a looooong time). Nothing to be overtly worried about, but just so you know, the stories ain't all lies. :twisted:

The books the teachers use over here include at least Japanese For Busy People (I-II) and Japanese For Everyone. As I recall those books were readily available, affordable and easy to navigate (with English notes).

Also speaking from extensive (but personal) experience, I recommend, once you get the basic words down, to write a journal. Like a single entry worth 4-5 lines per week as a continued exercise. You get to repeat certain (=most common) words, their writing style, and general kanji recognition. This works best for people who memorize things by doing it (writing it down) themselves. You'll shortly notice you'll be using the dictionary only for hard/new words.
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Re: Best way to learn Japanese?

Post by Shinigam_Newtype » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:51 am

I've been learning a few languages over the past few years, I would say of them all, I'm most proficient in Japanese.

By far the best method for learning Japanese IMO is the incorporating the AJATT method.
AJATT stands for All Japanese All The Time. Essentially, this involves surrounding yourself in Japanese media almost all day every day for a long period of time.

An example of this would be to listen to Japanese media whether it be internet radio or podcasts, play Japanese video games, read untranslated Japanese media, watch Japanese media, not so much anime but perhaps news reports or live action dramas etc.
Using this method, you'll find that you won't understand much - if anything at first, but overtime you'll become familiar with Japanese sentence structure, the different tones and inflections used in everyday speech and perhaps even different styles in writing. If you use this method regularly whilst also using textbooks( I would Recommend the Japanese For Busy People series of books), I'm certain that you'll feel satisfied with what you've learnt in a matter of months.

What I've found is that the best motivator for learning a language is the actual reason you want to learn the language. The more profound an effect learning the language will have on your life, the more dedicated you will be to actually learning the language.
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