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    Hey all!

    I was wondering whether anyone of you is stidying Japanese? Is it really hard to learn this amazing language, or if you're coping with A-level MFL you're OK?

    Thanks (Btw, I'm talking about studying it in uni, starting from a scratch)
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    So long as you're enthusiastic about foreign languages and have a general passion for language learning then i'd see no problem with learning Japanese ab initio. Also, in the case of Japanese, it'd help you in your language-learning if you already speak a foreign language with a hefty grammar (such as Russian or German) or have learnt an MFL to A-level, so that you won't have to cope with trying to understand language/grammar terms and ideas such as word classes, declensions, tenses, moods etc. in addition to the new language itself. Japanese isn't difficult if you're motivated and determined, and have realistic expectations about what level of fluency you wish to reach. The main difficulties, i'd say, would be the honorific system: the different levels of informal/formal language; the different syllabaries - the most difficult being the Kanji (consisting of a few thousand Chinese characters), the easiest is the phonetic script; and lastly learning to write Japanese and Chinese properly (ie form the characters). The grammar might appear difficult at first glance, but it's quite logical much like German, except more simple.
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    It's not exactly the same, but I'm doing Chinese from scratch at uni. I agree that learning the characters is hard, but it's in no way impossible.

    Have you thought about taking a gap year and spending some time in Japan (e.g. working, studying in a Japanese uni), so you'll have a little head start before you go to uni? The only problem with this is that you may have to "un-learn" some things when you actually go to university, but on the other hand you'll know for sure whether Japanese is what you actually want to do.

    Also, it's VERY important to study at least one language at A-level (or equivalent). There's a huge gap between A-level languages and degree level courses, and it would be even harder to bridge that gap with only a GCSE in a language.

    Another thing - check the content of courses very carefully, because some are more literature based than others. It all depends on what you want in a course, really. Do you want to be fantastic at spoken Japanese, but have little knowledge of Japan's classical literature? Do you want to know everything there is to know about ancient history, but know little about modern social trends in Japan? Obviously, many courses will cover all of these things briefly, but the compulsory units may be heavily weighted towards one or two topics.

    One last thing - be aware that language courses at uni (any language, but particularly languages you start from scratch) move QUICKLY. The idea is to get you exposed to as much as possible as soon as possible. At school you may spend months learning one grammatical point. At uni level, it may be covered in a week.
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    (Original post by Laylah)
    It's not exactly the same, but I'm doing Chinese from scratch at uni. I agree that learning the characters is hard, but it's in no way impossible.

    Have you thought about taking a gap year and spending some time in Japan (e.g. working, studying in a Japanese uni), so you'll have a little head start before you go to uni? The only problem with this is that you may have to "un-learn" some things when you actually go to university, but on the other hand you'll know for sure whether Japanese is what you actually want to do.

    Also, it's VERY important to study at least one language at A-level (or equivalent). There's a huge gap between A-level languages and degree level courses, and it would be even harder to bridge that gap with only a GCSE in a language.

    Another thing - check the content of courses very carefully, because some are more literature based than others. It all depends on what you want in a course, really. Do you want to be fantastic at spoken Japanese, but have little knowledge of Japan's classical literature? Do you want to know everything there is to know about ancient history, but know little about modern social trends in Japan? Obviously, many courses will cover all of these things briefly, but the compulsory units may be heavily weighted towards one or two topics.

    One last thing - be aware that language courses at uni (any language, but particularly languages you start from scratch) move QUICKLY. The idea is to get you exposed to as much as possible as soon as possible. At school you may spend months learning one grammatical point. At uni level, it may be covered in a week.
    I assume it's Mandarin you're learning? Just out of curiosity, how many characters are you expected to learn, say, in month? Do you have to memorise stroke-order, moreover are you examined on it? Do you learn the simplified or orthodox script - what about archaic characters (eg when studying classical texts and literature)? And are you taught according to the Beijing dialect, or that of Taiwan? Where are you doing it? Sorry for all the questions, i've just always wondered about studying Chinese languages at university level Oh, and one more, are you given the chance to study another dialect, say Cantonese, or Hakka?
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    (Original post by Kiril)
    Hey all!

    I was wondering whether anyone of you is stidying Japanese? Is it really hard to learn this amazing language, or if you're coping with A-level MFL you're OK?

    Thanks (Btw, I'm talking about studying it in uni, starting from a scratch)
    I am starting it ab initio at Bath, what about u?
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    I personally don't think that studying Japanese from scratch at university is very useful. Well, do it if it's just for your own academic satisfaction, but don't do it if you think its going to make you more employable. A three/four years' undergraduate course would never ever enable you to reach the level of fluency that employers of Japanese/international firms are looking for. I can say this because I've seen many native Japanese businessmen who have been learning the language for all their lives and still get scolded by their bosses for not speaking 'proper' Japanese. So there's no way a foreigner with his best phrase being "konnichowa, baka" will be useful. This is how intricate the Japanese language is. As a person who has reached fluency in Japanese after 17 years of severe Japanese language education I always feel like strangling those people who shamelessly declare: "I'm gonna study Japanese for three years and then become soo fluent that the top Japanese firms like Hitachi will immediately want me as their marketing officer, blablabla..." :rolleyes:

    As for the scripts, there's no way you can cover all the Japanese (including the Chinese) scripts in just three/four years. For the native speakers it takes at least 12 years to cover most of them.
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    (Original post by mongoose)
    I assume it's Mandarin you're learning? Just out of curiosity, how many characters are you expected to learn, say, in month? Do you have to memorise stroke-order, moreover are you examined on it? Do you learn the simplified or orthodox script - what about archaic characters (eg when studying classical texts and literature)? And are you taught according to the Beijing dialect, or that of Taiwan? Where are you doing it? Sorry for all the questions, i've just always wondered about studying Chinese languages at university level Oh, and one more, are you given the chance to study another dialect, say Cantonese, or Hakka?
    LOL. No problem with all the questions. OK...

    1. Yep, it's Mandarin.
    2. Number of characters: well, it really depends. In the first year you spend ALOT of time learning characters, whereas in the later years you spend more time on literature, grammar etc. So, I can't really answer this one exactly, but as a rough estimate, you should have an "active vocabulary" of about a thousand characters at the end of the first year.
    3. You do have to memorise stroke order, but you're not examined on it per se. It's really more for ease of writing than anything else - it really is faster when you know the stroke order, and it makes learning new characters a million times easier.
    4. I'm learning the simplified script, but also classical Chinese for the literary texts.
    5. Beijing dialect.
    6. At the moment I'm studying in Shanghai, but I'm going to Oxford.
    7. As for learning other dialects, I personally am not "officially", but as they speak the Wu dialect here in Shanghai I pick it up as I go along. Alot of people study subsidiary East Asian languages (Korean, Japanese, Tibetan) instead of other Chinese dialects.
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    (Original post by oh_sweet_surrey)
    I personally don't think that studying Japanese from scratch at university is very useful. Well, do it if it's just for your own academic satisfaction, but don't do it if you think its going to make you more employable. A three/four years' undergraduate course would never ever enable you to reach the level of fluency that employers of Japanese/international firms are looking for. I can say this because I've seen many native Japanese businessmen who have been learning the language for all their lives and still get scolded by their bosses for not speaking 'proper' Japanese. So there's no way a foreigner with his best phrase being "konnichowa, baka" will be useful. This is how intricate the Japanese language is. As a person who has reached fluency in Japanese after 17 years of severe Japanese language education I always feel like strangling those people who shamelessly declare: "I'm gonna study Japanese for three years and then become soo fluent that the top Japanese firms like Hitachi will immediately want me as their marketing officer, blablabla..." :rolleyes:

    As for the scripts, there's no way you can cover all the Japanese (including the Chinese) scripts in just three/four years. For the native speakers it takes at least 12 years to cover most of them.
    You are completely right - no one studying ANY language expects to be fluent after such a short time as three years: I don't expect to be fluent in Chinese ever.

    But I think the OP wasn't saying that he wanted to study Japanese because it would make him more marketable to future employers, but rather because the culture/language/history of the country fascinates him. In this case, I say go for it! Even if you don't become fluent, the knowledge and enjoyment you will gain from the course will be far greater than if you studied some random subject just because it would make you employable.
 
 
 
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