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Japanese Society watch


    (Original post by R T)

    I'm interested in learning Japanese with the aspiration to become fluent or at least passable. I recently bought a book by Berlitz just to get started, however in retrospect I think I have been quite naive about what I was hoping to accomplish with this alone (I have already gone over a good ~1/2 of the book and I don't see myself improving much even if I was to learn everything in it).

    Anyway, I'm sure this is a common question, but does anyone have a favourite or particularly good website or textbook to recommend? I'm limited by money more than anything, what I don't want is a dumbed down version that isn't very helpful (which seems to be the case for the book I bought). I know I'm more of an active learner, so if it has a built in quiz or any interactivity that would probably help me.

    Anyway, thanks for any responses in advance

    Edit: when I say complete beginner, I mean I'm vaguely familiar with a few words and common phrases and I am aware that the sentence structure is very different and word mutations are quite common (e.g. for negatives I think).
    Tofugu (http://www.tofugu.com) is quite useful for beginners, and has some free guides you can use.

    When I started japanese I used Tae Kim's Guide to Japanese (http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/) it was really useful in terms of grammar etc. and if you have an iphone/android phone there's an app for it too.

    You might find it a bit boring working on grammar at first, but without any knowledge on grammar, it will be impossible to say anything. As you mentioned above, all verbs have a number of different forms (16 to be precise), and even though you only need learn about 10 to start with (though you could get away with 5), it's still very complex (but gets a lot easier with time)!!

    Other things I did were watch anime, listen to japanese music then write down words they said and try and translate things. It also helped me get accustomed to hearing the Japanese language.

    In terms of text books, I used japanese for busy people 1,2 and 3. I found them useful for vocabulary, and they explained grammar too, though I didn't like the fact that things were mostly in hiragana. The textbooks were good overall, and I used 1 and 2 for gcse and 3 for AS. They cost about £15 each though, so I'd suggest getting 1 to start with then seeing if you like it. Other people might suggest Genki, which I've heard is a good textbook, but I haven't used it so can't really comment.

    In terms of kanji, I followed the edexcel gcse then a level syllabus, as you cover the kanji in their order of importance which is good. I got the kanji lists off the edexcel website as well as the vocabulary lists. Kanji learning is quite complicated when doing it by yourself, and I could probably write a whole essay on how to do it by yourself lol, but basically, you want to make sure that you learn ALWAYS learn the correct stroke order (see this: http://www.tofugu.com/guides/guess-kanji-stroke-order/) and that rather than going and learning the individual on-yomi and kun-yomi readings (japanese readings and the Chinese readings - of which there can be loooaaaads) you learn vocab specific to those kanji instead. It's much more productive and much less boring!!

    Finally I got an app on my iphone called 'Japanese' (inventive name lol) that allows you to make vocab lists, test yourself on vocab/kanji and also acts as a japanese dictionary too. I mainly use it for learning vocab/kanji and the test function, which uses spaced repetition to help you remember words. If you don't have an iphone, there's a program on the computer you can get called 'Anki' which is free + uses spaced repetition, and you can make your own vocab lists to test yourself.

    I hope this was all of some use and hopefully not too long! I taught myself japanese up to gcse and I'm doing a level mostly self taught, but it's always difficult giving advice on this sort of thing, as I take quite a boring approach to learning (write everything out loads of time until I remember it)!!

    If you need anymore advice on anything, feel free to pm me

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