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Best Method to Learn Japanese


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I have just begun to learn Japanese. I picked up a couple books from the library. It is all in romanji. I wonder if learning to read and understand how to pronounce the words is more important or if I should be starting somewhere else? I am trying to teach myself. I heard that Rosetta Stone is absolutely awful for Japanese. I could not find a decent program that was comparable. I am open to all suggestions.

Edited by Wanda Kaishin
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  • 3 weeks later...

I have several close friends who decided to learn (even though they had family members who were proficient) and they found that a study group was very helpful. They got together every week and even shared in exercises together. They said that this helped them progress in the language. Even the ones who have family who are native speakers said it was challenging, so it would probably be advisable to pull out 'all the stops'.

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In my case, I am currently enrolled in a traditional Japanese class, which is concluding in three weeks time.  You can do self-study, but you can only go so far as mastering hiragana and katakana.  When it comes to grammar, sentence structure, and vocabulary, a traditional class is one possible avenue, since you can ask a teacher regarding any questions you may have.  Also, having a teacher will help you correct your mistakes, and this is where self-study will not be sufficient in helping you.

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I was able to study Nihonggo/Japanese when I was in college because it was our subject for our Foreign Language class. It was totally a fun experience. Aside from enrolling in a program, you may also try watching anime shows and reading manga to be able to get exposed to their language and culture.

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I think regardless of language, the ability to speak, that is, to accurately pronounce and relay what you want to say, is the most important. Yet, of course, it all depends on why you are interested in the language.

Considering the cases: past, present, and future. To understand the past, depending on how extended the period, reading might be more necessary and that would be recognition that should be worked on. If it is the present, speaking is sufficient as it is immediate as compared to writing, which is primarily used to travel over time and space. If it is the future that you hope to influence, shouldn't it be writing? However, this would not be recognition and instead recall, which is much harder for a language such as Japanese which has kanji.

I suppose, all in all, the important thing is to tailor the learning to what you want to accomplish. "I want to learn Japanese" is not specific enough, perhaps setting a goal of "Why do you want to learn Japanese?"

This is just personal opinion, though the previous was as well, but I think with any language, immersion is the true, best method.

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I was able to study Nihonggo/Japanese when I was in college because it was our subject for our Foreign Language class. It was totally a fun experience. Aside from enrolling in a program, you may also try watching anime shows and reading manga to be able to get exposed to their language and culture.

Ah, so you actually got to study it in college? I'm sort of jealous. Sorry for the barrage of questions, but what do you think made the experience fun for you and not simply another batch of work to complete? How far did you end up going in your studies?

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I am following this board as I am extremely hopeful to learn Japanese too. I have grown up watching anime from Japan and that's about the learning that I have. Too bad that we don't have a foreign language class in college like @missbookworm. That would have been fun and I'm sure I'd learn Japanese in no time. Sadly, our course curriculum didn't include foreign language in it.

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My friends are learning a little Japanese because they are addicted to reading manga comics. They do not want the english versions if there are any that is why they are doing their best to learn the language to better appreciate the comic books. From what I see they are doing self study using some textbooks and they also watch movies.

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Over the past decade, I tried pretty much everything.
But the most effective methods I bumped into are Skype sessions (talking to native speakers), and SRS + mnemonics (spaced reputition system + association with your languages' vocabulary, like Anki, WaniKani or Memrise).

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I learned Japanese through a Community College course, and I think it was the best method. I was fortunate to find a summer class that met four days a week for 4 hours each day, which was perfect. Immersing yourself in a language is always the best way to learn it, so no matter which method you choose, do it often and do it all the way, don't half ass it. If you can find others to learn with, that's even better. You'll always help each other out and you can be sure that no one's judging you since everyone's still learning. Bonus for you if you can find a native speaker to join you and a professional setting such as a school might be the best way to find that. I know the college I went to offered native speakers credits or something along the lines to get native speakers to help out the students either in class or as tutors.

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Immersion into Japanese via living in Japan is the best method. I would know, since I've done it. I did use Rosetta Stone in the beginning, but it is as you say: worthless. I mean, I did learn vocabulary, pronunciation and the basics of grammar. But when I got to Japan I could only saw that I was hungry and that there's a cat on the roof. Not very helpful. Regardless, self-study is a great means of reinforcing what you learn elsewhere. What I mean by elsewhere is through direct conversation with a nature speaker. You might want to search for Japanese lessons on Fiverr or check out educational tutorial websites where there are people willing to teach you through conversation. 

As for my experience learning Japanese in a university... I had gone to Japan two years prior to taking the class. My short time in Japan afforded me enough skills to test out of EVERY LEVEL AVAILABLE at the university. The class was taught in English, although the instructor was Japanese. No one spoke more than four word sentences. You'll learn more translational skills at university or college rather than actual conversation.

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