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PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 12:36 pm 
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So I plan on moving to Japan someday to get a job at one of the big tech companies, However, to actually live in Japan, you have to be able to speak Japanese. I've never learned a new language previous to this, and if anyone has any tips, they would be helpful!


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:32 pm 
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Speaking from experience, get Rosedda Stone. It's been the most helpful thing by far, but learn Hiragana and Katakana first. They try and teach you this in Rosedda stone, but you'll be much better off. Same with learning the sentence order and other basic concepts (what particles are).


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:57 pm 
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The vast majority of my Japanese studies have been spent reviewing words in Anki.
Beyond that, there are a ton of resources (grammar guides, decks to use with Anki, etc.) you can find on this forum.

If you plan on getting hired in Japan, it's a good idea to try and pass the N1 level of the JLPT. This typically takes at least a couple of years of studying, unless you're doing some very intensive studying. (it took me 3 years, iirc, studying ~30-60 minutes every day)


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 2:02 pm 
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Go buy some Manga. Something you actually want to read.

Find someone else who knows Japanese, and write lots of emails in Japanese. Talk on the phone, etc.

BTW, I gave up learning Japanese years ago and forgot everything I know.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 3:06 pm 
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  • Use Genki, it's a really good textbook/audio course
  • Take classes to guide you, keep you focused, and give you good opportunities for practice
  • Study every single day
  • Don't rely on romaji or kana; start learning kanji right away
  • practice writing write away, even if that seems less useful; it'll help you internalize the characters better
  • Yes, find media you like and use it to practice...
  • ...but don't rely on it, because manga/anime/video game Japanese is very different from normal conversational Japanese, and you'll sound creepy if you talk like that in real life


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:15 pm 
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It took me about a year to memorize the katakana and hiragana tables, and during that time, I would practice writing the characters frequently, though I don't actually know any of the Japanese language outside of being able to read the kanas. Try learning one row of the table per week, filling an index card full of a single kana when you first learn how to write it. It takes practice because Japanese characters require your fingers to move in awkward ways if you're used to a latin-like alphabet. Same with pronouncing words and phrases, there are sequences of sounds that you'd never make while speaking English, and the first couple of times will feel like mouth-gynmastics.

You can start by writing the kanas in the same order as the tables over and over, but then you'll need to shake it up and start writing kanas in a random order so you can remember what each one means individually. Remembering the table helps though, because you can visualize where each kana is, and that can help you when you're confused; it's kinda like how you sing the alphabet song when you need to remember which letter comes after something.

Finally, you need to challenge yourself by recognizing the kanas in stylized logos and different fonts and handwriting, because everybody writes things differently. This will help your error tolerance, so you can recognize the shapes when they don't look like the textbook's, or when something's written sloppy or really stylized.

That's as far as I've gotten though, I don't actually know many words and have to rely on google translate (and bing, since it helps to have a second opinion) a lot, but the particles aren't that complicated, and you'll at least be able to tell what the subject, object, and verb is.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 6:55 am 
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Drag wrote:
It took me about a year to memorize the katakana and hiragana tables, and during that time, I would practice writing the characters frequently

A year sounds like a lot of time for just kana. If you are diligent you can probably learn it within a week at least.
I was very lazy and practised only about 5 min a day (one new column a day, plus some repeating old columns), and was still able to at least recognize all hiragana within a week I think (katakana took a bit longer though). I still couldn't write anything at that time though as I only practised reading them at first. Writing them will help you memorize them better though.
And of course when you are reading texts in your textbook and write while doing exercises you practice them even more, eventually they will feel as natural as your mother tongue's characters, but it takes tons of practice.

Quote:
It takes practice because Japanese characters require your fingers to move in awkward ways if you're used to a latin-like alphabet.

I'm not sure what you mean by moving fingers in awkward ways. You draw the strokes generally from the left to right, up to down, a lot like with Latin letters. And unlike Latin letters, there are only one set of stroke order rules that everyone follows, so once you learn that, drawing becomes very easy (although memorizing the kanji are not easy).

Quote:
Same with pronouncing words and phrases

I think because it has so few sounds, Japanese is probably one of the easiest languages in the world to pronounce, especially for people with European languages as their mother tongue. But yeah, there are most likely lots of sound combinations that your tongue isn't used to, so you still needs lots of speaking practice to not stumble on your tongue when speaking.





Finally here are my tips I usually give to people that are learning. No matter if you are taking formal classes or are learning yourself, these general guidelines makes out what I think are the most important points. Some of these are very similar to other tips in this thread, but anyway this is from my own experience in studying Japanese:

1.
Learn kana as soon as possible (normally hiragana is learned first but the order doesn't really matter, you need both), and after that avoid using romaji at all cost.

2.
Get a squared noteblock and start filling it with the characters you are currently practicing (one character per big square). Writing will help you remember the characters too. Be extra careful to get the stroke order correct. A few minutes of practice every day should get you very far.
This is the very basics of writing Japanese, and the basics is the most important part. If you don't get this right, nothing will go right in your future studies.

3.
Use a textbook that doesn't use romaji. It's ok if the first few lessons are in romaji, but not the whole book. In the book you study grammar, text reading, vocabulary, standard phrases and kanji for every chapter (the early chapters probably don't have kanji though).
Japanese grammar is generally quite straightforward, it's just that it's a lot you need to learn (but it's not endless unlike vocabulary).
Trying to mechanically memorize kanji and vocabulary out of context is very hard and makes you forget fast. So that's why you should memorize the ones in the chapter you are currently studying. That way your brain associates the words with the context you found them in. Practicing writing words in your notebook is also a good way to memorize them. You can start out by only using kana, this will help out with your kana/writing practice as well.

4.
Do the exercises in the book for each chapter. This gives you a chance to get practical with your grammar and writing studies. Remember that the basics are the most important, what you learn now will affect all of your future studies.
Listen to the cassette-tape/CD and practice by repeating after the reader over and over (mind the proper pronunciation). It feels very stupid to talk to a wall like this but it is necessary. Even if you are fluent in Japanese in your mind, your tongue also needs to get used to the sound combinations so you need to practice speaking out loud a lot.
There's a study technique called shadowing that is useful, but quite hard to do IMO (but if Japanese was easy we wouldn't need to study in the first place).

5.
If you are serious about learning Japanese, you'll probably need to get yourself a kanji book. The kanji in textbooks are a good start but generally not enough. Basic Kanji Book vol 1 is what I started with (plus the few kanji in Genki 1 and 2) and I liked it. Kanji is also best learned in context, so use the kanji book's texts and exercises as well. Kanji gets easier the more you learn so don't get discouraged if it's a very slow start.

6.
When studying kanji, write them in your noteblock every day like you did with kana, and be extra careful that you get the stroke order correct early on. The general stroke order rules are very easy, and you've already learned the basics just by learning kana, so this shouldn't be a problem by now (what did I say about learning the basics is the most important). Proper stroke order doesn't only make it possible for other people to be able to read what you are writing, but it also helps in the memorization process of kanji. And unlike with roman letters, there is only one set of stroke order rules, and basically all Japanese people knows these general rules.
You'll also need to know about radicals. You learn the radicals for the kanji that you are currently studying. If the book doesn't tell you what radical the kanji has, then look it up in a dictionary or on the internet and write the radical in your book beside the kanji or somewhere in your noteblock, that way you will naturally learn the most common ones pretty fast. You don't do this to memorize what radical every kanji has, but to get a good idea of the most common radicals. Knowing about radicals helps out with the memorization process (since the radical more often than not have something to do with the meaning of the character) and also opens up the possibilities to look up kanji, which will be essential for your future studies. I actually learned all the 214 radicals in the end because I'm interested in kanji, but you are perfectly fine by learning only the most common ones since there are quite a few radicals that's not used much anymore at all.

7.
When writing kanji in your noteblock, you might as well write kanji compositions (words with at least two kanji) that you find beside each kanji in your kanji book. These compositions will now be part of your glossary memorizing so you'll need to memorize the pronunciation as well.

8.
You will probably want a bilingual dictionary. You can get by using only free online dictionaries or smartphone dictionaries for a long time, but a paper dictionary is also good to have. There are vocabulary dictionaries and kanji dictionaries. Paper kanji dictionaries requires that you have learned some radicals.
When you get more advanced in Japanese you will eventually want a good electronic dictionary "denshi jisho". They are usually made for native Japanese people though which is why they aren't very useful for beginner Japanese learners. A denshi jisho is much more practical to use than those smartphone dictionaries, and you will soon find it hard to live without one. You'll want one that at least has a "jump" feature, bilingual word dictionary (your language and Japanese, both ways), monolingual word dictionary (Japanese-Japanese), kanji dictionary with radical lookup, touch-pad/screen + stylus (so you can write kanji in it) and physical qwerty keyboard. I use a Casio EX-Word Dataplus 6 (it's a few years old now) and it has all of that plus a lot more.

9.
As you get more advanced it gets easier to read and understand but you still needs lots and lots of practice. Read lots and lots and lots of written Japanese, listen to lots and lots and lots of spoken Japanese. You can use youtube or Japanese radio or TV and have it always on in the background when you are home. It doesn't matter if you don't understand it or not, the idea is to expose your ears to lots and lots of spoken Japanese. It's not enough that you are watching tons of anime. This is actually what did it for me to finally understand rapid spoken Japanese and then finally pushed me over the threshold for actually start talking with flow.


As with anything you learn, you need lots of patience and will to succeed. Do exercises over and over again even though they are boring. BTW I hate studying but I eventually learned Japanese by forcing myself to.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 7:55 am 
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Quote:
BTW, I gave up learning Japanese years ago and forgot everything I know.

Same here, actually I just learnt kana and the very basic grammar and figured out that this wasn't for me.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 5:54 pm 
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I think that the value of meaningful input should never be underestimated. Getting a somewhat solid grip of the basic grammar together with a varied amount of everyday vocabulary early on makes picking up and understanding the language quite a bit easier rather than off the bat focusing too much on input from movies, comics and whatnot.

As soon as one has gotten the kana syllabaries under one's belt, one should get working on the kanjis. Kanji illiteracy brings you close to nowhere in Japanese.

Also, understanding what is said in Japanese is one thing, understanding what is not being said is often just as important.



Following is the tools that I would like to recommend the most:

- guidetojapanese.org (there's also an app called 'TaeKim's Learning Japanese', which I think is more convenient than the original website).
- Aedict: an IMHO flat-out fantastic smartphone dictionary and more (it costs a little; not much).
- NHK's NEWS WEB EASY: This one combined with RikaiChan (a Firefox plug-in) makes for an effective way to accumulate a varied vocabulary as well as enjoying select news articles.



Don't mean to necessarily make a detriment to your wish to live in Japan; I really do enjoy that country and go there 1-2 times a year. I personally know of several families (mostly men married to Japanese women) who has lived there for some years but left for their native countries mainly due to the insane work culture and lack of quality time with their respective families. There's a what I would call an alarmingly high rate of marriages where the spouses has become estranged from each other due to lack of time actively spent together.

It is very common for people working in Japan to find it difficult taking any reasonable amount of days off from work. One example of that is a male cousin of my wife; he and their youngest son came over to visit us in Europe two years ago. Despite him being the manager of a local bank, it was difficult for him to get a mere week off from work. To atone for himself "putting a burden" on the colleagues' back, he felt obliged to buy souvenirs for all those working in his department.

I'm sorry for the digression, but I felt that it might be of some value to you. As a visitor able to communicate freely, Japan is a great and interesting place to spend a lot of time on, however, I don't see myself ever moving there.

No matter the outcome, I hope that you might have a wonderful time learning this beautiful language.


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