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Best way to start off learning Japanese?


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I've been really interested in learning Japanese recently (mainly due to anime :D), but I'm unsure yet where and how to begin. I was thinking that books may be my best bet, but I'm not sure which book is best, and they're usually not available in my local bookstores. Buying online is quite a hassle since my country is really annoying regarding shipments and charges a bunch for "entering the country".

So I'm thinking about studying online or using mobile apps. Any tips what would be a great way to start? Maybe I should try to memorize Hiragana/Katakana first? I'm learning Chinese currently, so it might help my Japanese learning (or make it worse cause I have to memorize even more characters :().

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Pitfall 1: there is no such a thing as "the best way", it differs per person and each person has a different goal too.

But in general, learning Hiragana and Katakana is what every Japanese learner should start with, you simply can't avoid not seeing it while learning, no matter if you focus on speaking or reading, communication or passing exams, friends or business, etc.
If you happen to use a Windows PC, I have made my own app to learn those 2 (and some more): https://github.com/Blaveloper/Alpha-Windows/releases/tag/v0.11

Pitfall 2: learning Chinese does not help learning Japanese at all, both are totally unrelated languages.

Learning Kanji: https://www.wanikani.com
Hardcopy textbooks: Genki and Minna no Nihongo are the standards in Japanese learning, but I haven't used any of these before (Genki was sort of unused, since I used it as PDF scans over Skype).
Digital textbook: http://www.humanjapanese.com/home
Speaking exercises: https://www.italki.com
Grammar: read real books or other media.
Listening: https://www.youtube.com (find any video of interest, just make sure you don't go with videos that's spoken too fast in the beginning, spoken Japanese is a very quick language).

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Wow that's really detailed. I'll check them all out. Thanks a lot for your advice.

Hmm I thought learning Chinese would help, since I saw several Chinese characters mixed in Japanese characters. I know the pronunciation is different, not sure about the meaning though.

And that's pretty cool that you made an app. I'll definitely give it a try!

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  • 4 weeks later...

@Blaveloper - Would you say that italki is worth the money and is there a Japanese teacher on there that you recommend? I just briefly checked the site out and while it looks promising, I'm not sure if the results will be worth the price. The average charge is about $20 a lesson (or an hour??) and that seems really pricey to me.

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It may be a good path to start off with learning their alphabet first. I haven't learned Japanese and I'm also still in the process of learning it but I did this with Chinese and after learning the alphabet I was able to read words and learn them on my own as long as there is an alphabet accompaniment to the words which most educational books do. I think the Japanese also use this a lot even in their shop signs and street signs to make it easier for foreigners living there. 

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@Miya

Each teacher is different.
I took lessons with this guy for a whole year, but he started to act a bit strange recently. :/

Then I've been looking after a couple of other teachers.
I took him occasionally last year, he's really nice, but will most likely exclusively explain you stuff in Japanese.
This is another nice person, but his schedule is always full, so make sure you schedule lessons with him weeks in advance.
I also had her, though I only forgot how she was.

Then recently, I've been trying 3 new teachers to get some training with job interviews.
This woman is really good, although you can likely have difficulties understanding her.
Then there is this guy, he gave me the best tips so far, although we went over time too quick.
And lastly there's this guy, to him I had to speak EXACTLY how you should speak, or he won't understand you and think you're a much lower level student than you actually are.

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Thanks @Blaveloper. I'll have to do some more research. Looks like every teacher has their good and bad points. I also have to factor in price because the lessons on there seem to be pricier than even real life one-on-one lessons. 

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