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MonkeYMaideN (Offline)
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Thumbs up How is my "Japanese Learning Method"? - 03-27-2010, 04:27 PM

Hello everyone, I'm new here. I just signed up after reading several threads over the past few days, and I think I'm gonna like it here. Pleased to meet you!

Now it's time for my question. I'm a 17-year-old senior in high school, and like many Japan-fans developed my fascination with the culture through anime/manga. But now, my friends and I are taking our interest seriously and have decided to learn Japanese language/culture and visit (or possibly live in) the country someday.
So, over the past few months I have acquired various resources and started my own "Japanese Learning" plan, and have already put it into action. However, after reading some of these threads, I want to post my plan here and have experienced Japanese learners review it to see if I'll actually benefit from it in the end.
Okay, I'll be as detailed as possible so it'll be easier for you to correct or suggest anything. Here goes! (It might be long...)

1.) Learn Hiragana & Katakana
- I have already learned this using Smart.fm - 世界最大無料英語学習コミュニティサイト ** I'll admit I still occasionally mix a few Katakana up **
- I use Nintendo DS games like "The Legend of Starfy 4", "AIUEO Study with Anpanman", and "Kumantanchi" daily to practice the H & K by reading them (even though I don't know the meaning of the words being used)

2.) Learn the First 500 Kanji
- Out of all the websites I've seen, Kanji alive: A free, web-based tool for learning to read and write Japanese kanji is hands down one of the best kanji-learning websites in my opinion. It'll only take a few minutes of your time to click this link to see why it's so good, instead of me wasting time/space describing it here. Anyway, I'm using the "Basic Kanji 500 Textbook" on this website to learn the kanji (meaning, stroke order, ON/KUN reading, vocab) ** I focus mainly on the meaning/stroke order, the rest are "bonuses" for me right now **
- I try to do 10 kanji a week, and after about 40 kanji use Flashcard Machine - Create, Study and Share Online Flash Cards to make flashcards to test/review with
- I am currently at 97 kanji, and moved on to the next set of kanji three days ago.
- Once I learn all 500 kanji, I'm going to read "Crazy for Kanji" (a book I got for X-mas) to rest my brain from all the studying while still getting an in-depth look at Japanese kanji

3.) Grammar Structure - Reading/Writing Sentences
- I know the basic *subject-object-verb* format, and basic particles like "ha", "ga", "ka", "no", and such. Other than that though, I'm clueless...
- The books I plan on using to learn Japanese grammar are "Japanese Demystified" and "Barron's Japanese Grammar 2nd Edition" (I also got these for X-mas)
- I also own a "Random House Japanese-English/English-Japanese Dictionary" <-- the one with the geisha on it
- When I become experienced enough, I'll use Lang-8 - Multi-lingual language learning and language exchange to learn how to correctly type Japanese sentences/paragraphs from native speakers via forum posts
** I am currently unable to purchase anymore books **

4.) Speaking - Communication
- I know basic pronunciation rules such as how to say the vowels, consonants like "r", and the difference between "kite" and "kitte"
- I plan to use japanesepod101.com to learn how to speak basic Japanese
- Please suggest any other websites that I can use
** As of now, I have no way of contacting a native speaker to verbally communicate with **

Extra Japanese Helpers
I took Chinese 1-4 (they don't offer Japanese) during high school, but I only remember a few things from it
I watch KeyHoleTV on a daily basis
I own "The Japanese Have a Word for It" that discusses Japanese thought/culture (I haven't read it yet)
I'm learning how to make my own bento boxes!


That... was A LOT.
Anyway, if you had the patience to read all of that, please post your opinion. I honestly don't know how long it will take me to complete all of this, but I'm determined!

Thank you for your time!


They're up in your face, they don't think you belong
Man, you got it, you got it goin' on
What breaks the weak just makes you strong
You got game, baby bring it on, bring it on

~ Donna Summer
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KyleGoetz's Avatar
KyleGoetz (Offline)
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03-27-2010, 08:25 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MonkeYMaideN View Post
Hello everyone, I'm new here. I just signed up after reading several threads over the past few days, and I think I'm gonna like it here. Pleased to meet you!

Now it's time for my question. I'm a 17-year-old senior in high school, and like many Japan-fans developed my fascination with the culture through anime/manga. But now, my friends and I are taking our interest seriously and have decided to learn Japanese language/culture and visit (or possibly live in) the country someday.
So, over the past few months I have acquired various resources and started my own "Japanese Learning" plan, and have already put it into action. However, after reading some of these threads, I want to post my plan here and have experienced Japanese learners review it to see if I'll actually benefit from it in the end.
Okay, I'll be as detailed as possible so it'll be easier for you to correct or suggest anything. Here goes! (It might be long...)

1.) Learn Hiragana & Katakana
- I have already learned this using Smart.fm - 世界最大無料英語学習コミュニティサイト ** I'll admit I still occasionally mix a few Katakana up **
- I use Nintendo DS games like "The Legend of Starfy 4", "AIUEO Study with Anpanman", and "Kumantanchi" daily to practice the H & K by reading them (even though I don't know the meaning of the words being used)

2.) Learn the First 500 Kanji
- Out of all the websites I've seen, Kanji alive: A free, web-based tool for learning to read and write Japanese kanji is hands down one of the best kanji-learning websites in my opinion. It'll only take a few minutes of your time to click this link to see why it's so good, instead of me wasting time/space describing it here. Anyway, I'm using the "Basic Kanji 500 Textbook" on this website to learn the kanji (meaning, stroke order, ON/KUN reading, vocab) ** I focus mainly on the meaning/stroke order, the rest are "bonuses" for me right now **
- I try to do 10 kanji a week, and after about 40 kanji use Flashcard Machine - Create, Study and Share Online Flash Cards to make flashcards to test/review with
- I am currently at 97 kanji, and moved on to the next set of kanji three days ago.
- Once I learn all 500 kanji, I'm going to read "Crazy for Kanji" (a book I got for X-mas) to rest my brain from all the studying while still getting an in-depth look at Japanese kanji

3.) Grammar Structure - Reading/Writing Sentences
- I know the basic *subject-object-verb* format, and basic particles like "ha", "ga", "ka", "no", and such. Other than that though, I'm clueless...
- The books I plan on using to learn Japanese grammar are "Japanese Demystified" and "Barron's Japanese Grammar 2nd Edition" (I also got these for X-mas)
- I also own a "Random House Japanese-English/English-Japanese Dictionary" <-- the one with the geisha on it
- When I become experienced enough, I'll use Lang-8 - Multi-lingual language learning and language exchange to learn how to correctly type Japanese sentences/paragraphs from native speakers via forum posts
** I am currently unable to purchase anymore books **

4.) Speaking - Communication
- I know basic pronunciation rules such as how to say the vowels, consonants like "r", and the difference between "kite" and "kitte"
- I plan to use japanesepod101.com to learn how to speak basic Japanese
- Please suggest any other websites that I can use
** As of now, I have no way of contacting a native speaker to verbally communicate with **

Extra Japanese Helpers
I took Chinese 1-4 (they don't offer Japanese) during high school, but I only remember a few things from it
I watch KeyHoleTV on a daily basis
I own "The Japanese Have a Word for It" that discusses Japanese thought/culture (I haven't read it yet)
I'm learning how to make my own bento boxes!


That... was A LOT.
Anyway, if you had the patience to read all of that, please post your opinion. I honestly don't know how long it will take me to complete all of this, but I'm determined!

Thank you for your time!
If it works for you, that's the only metric that matters.
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MonkeYMaideN's Avatar
MonkeYMaideN (Offline)
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03-27-2010, 10:04 PM

Oh, thank you.

I had already had this plan thought out when I posted it, but after finding this forum and reading some of the threads about learning Japanese and kanji, I started to have doubts.
I was afraid I might be approaching it the wrong way, and get so far into my studies only to have a difficult time in one area because I taught myself a previous area poorly...

But thanks for assuring me that I have nothing to worry about with my current course of action.


They're up in your face, they don't think you belong
Man, you got it, you got it goin' on
What breaks the weak just makes you strong
You got game, baby bring it on, bring it on

~ Donna Summer
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KyleGoetz (Offline)
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Posts: 2,965
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Location: Texas
03-27-2010, 10:09 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MonkeYMaideN View Post
Oh, thank you.

I had already had this plan thought out when I posted it, but after finding this forum and reading some of the threads about learning Japanese and kanji, I started to have doubts.
I was afraid I might be approaching it the wrong way, and get so far into my studies only to have a difficult time in one area because I taught myself a previous area poorly...

But thanks for assuring me that I have nothing to worry about with my current course of action.
Everyone learns differently. I have, when prompted, suggested a generic method of learning Japanese that I believe is highly effective for self-study. However, if you have crafted a method and you know you are learning a lot using it, don't fix something that isn't geborken.
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03-28-2010, 02:39 AM

To add to what has been said - the important questions are ones you need to ask yourself.
Am I learning? Am I happy with my learning pace?
If you can answer yes to both of those, then you have a good method going.

Really, the "best method" is so incredibly different from person to person that I don`t believe anyone can really tell you if it`s going to work for you. You can get great advice on ways to improve something you do know is working, and great resources to make use of... But figuring out what works for you is really going to come down to trial and error.

I learned Japanese with a handful of phrases, substitution of words into those phrases, and a pocket sketchbook. I never studied with a book, I never gave a single thought to any "plan". I just tried my hardest to talk to people and when I didn`t know a word - I would describe to the best of my ability, point, gesture, and scribble tiny drawings of such thing or situation.
Worked for me, but I most definitely wouldn`t recommend the same strategy to anyone else out there.


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MonkeYMaideN's Avatar
MonkeYMaideN (Offline)
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03-28-2010, 09:33 AM

That's awesome, because I can answer "yes" to both of those questions!
You're right, you can't use the same teaching method for everyone. Whether or not a method is worth a person's time depends entirely on whether or not he/she is getting decent results from it.

I'll see where I am in about a year or so and report back here!
(I'll still be on the forums though)


They're up in your face, they don't think you belong
Man, you got it, you got it goin' on
What breaks the weak just makes you strong
You got game, baby bring it on, bring it on

~ Donna Summer
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steven (Offline)
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Posts: 544
Join Date: Apr 2010
05-20-2010, 01:59 AM

I'm new here too, and I'm sorry that this is a bit late, but I think there can't be enough stress put on listening. Listening is where your foundation for speaking comes from and writing/reading can sometimes impede on that. (I think romaji is dangerous in that your eyes and brain are used to deciphering English sounds from certain letter combinations thus slowing down or evening worsening your learning).

I think it helps to familiarize yourself with simple grammar and simple words, but opening a dictionary can also be dangerous. I think words in different languages, especially languages as different as Japanese and English, hardly ever completely overlap in their usage and meaning. That is to say, it might be helpful to think of words like a venn daigram. Sometimes you can use a word in the same instance in both language, but a lot of the time you cannot.

Another habbit I've seen in my own learning early on and in many of my students' learning of English is that we often try to take phrases from our mother language and turn them into our target langauge (in your case, Japanese). Your English I'm sure is already fully developed and your brain uses English to describe everything, including foreign languages. Appreciate that a word in English may be a verb while in Japanese it becomes an adjective-- things like this happen, so be careful of it. It might also help to not overthink things too much and keep things simple at first. Watching and listening to Anime may be a good tool for this. Learn when certain things are said and in what way they are said and almost try to mimic it. I would probably recommend immitating real life people over cartoons, though.

Lastly- culture and communication. Language is about communication and culture totally affects ways in which people communicate. Manners and etiquette are very important in any language. Knowing when to say things is just as important as knowing how to say things. It might help to pay close attention to reoccuring phrases that you hear in Japanese in TV shows when people are being interviewed. There are complicated levels of politeness in Japanese (I think they exist to a certain degree in English, too... but they are things not as often spoken about and are just ingrained in us having been brought up as English speakers). People write books on this stuff, and it may be something that you might want to look into in College if you have the chance or time (and can get credits for doing so).
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PrinceKevin (Offline)
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04-04-2011, 04:18 AM

This is a bit late, but let me emphasize that the gap between English and Japanese is as wide as the Pacific ocean, although there is certainly a narrow and short strip bridging the two languages.

The bridge is to get used to the way Japanese people process information in their mind or head. This is called framework of language, but it is different from learning grammar and it is more fundamental. The reason why I can say that is I have crossed the bridge from the other end, from Japanese to English, and finally found out the basic reason why our Japanese people have so much difficulty in learning English.
Japanese people process information from the widest scope in conceptual space, followed by gradually narrowed down scopes in coceptual space. This may be exemplifed in our representation of addresses, which starts, for example, Japan, Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, blah, blah, blah. Similarly, the first message, or information element to be conveyed should be the information element that is supposed to have the widest scope in conceptural space, and any information element that comes thereafter is expected to be interpreted in the context of the widest scope in conceptual space. An analogy may be found in climbing a mountain... you go from the bottom to the top, or from periphery to a center (subject matter).

Contrary to this, English language speaking people comes from the top to the bottom, or from a center to periphery.

If you get used to this type of difference in information processing between Japanese and English, your learning Japanese will become much easier than otherwise. Try it.
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nellie1208 (Offline)
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04-17-2011, 01:48 AM

Ohayo gozaimasu!

Wow! That's good monkeymaiden, I've been trying also to learn Japanese, but I also refer to my English-Japanese translation. Some bookstores are selling translation books with CD/VCD's in it. SO that, we'll be able to learn and practice more of it. I am so glad because I am gaining knowledge of this language and it's great! =D
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