New to Japanese Advice
Some basic advice for beginners just starting out with Japanese
Learning a foreign language is a fantastic journey. It can however be intimidating at first. But if you are diligent, the intimidation quickly turns into excitement!
Basically the majority opinion for beginners is: 1) get a textbook and 2) learn Hiragana (& Katakana)
|DON’T BREAK OPEN THE PIGGY BANK!:|
There are tons of resources for learning Japanese (and other languages) avaliable FREE on the web and elsewhere. Buy a good textbook to follow, but resist the temptation to go overboard and buy anything that says ‘Learn Japanese’. Genki is undoubtedly the most popular now, but read about the pros and cons on many textbooks by our own Infidel. After you have a good textbook in hand, look around! The internet is full of good, FREE information ( and much bad, free information also!). If you don’t live in Japan, find an exchange student and make him or her a conversation partner. Foreign students are often very eager to practice English and they will trade off by speaking a little Japanese with you.
A few Popular Textbooks
(Click to read about each one)
“Japanese is one of the most difficult languages in the world!”
So, why should you study Japanese?
Simple conversational skills can be learned in a short period of time – really!
Japan has a rich culture which can become a lifetime interest
Japanese is spoken or studied by millions of people
Very few non-Japanese have mastered the language – Could you be one of the few?
If you make the language fun the ease or difficulty of learning the language really is not a factor.
Let’s look at the Japanese language:
Written Japanese consists of 3 writing systems
HIRAGANA – Hiragana & Katakana are phonetic “alphabets.”
KATAKANA – Very similar to Hiragana but with harder angles (used mainly to write foreign words and names phonetically)
KANJI – Adapted from China many, many years ago. You only need to know two thousand of these suckers to be totally literate in Japan! <But don’t worry! with only a few hundred under your belt, you can read quite a lot >
When writing, all three systems are mixed together. This may sound frightening to the new student, but there are specific rules they follow. For example: Kanji are used mainly for the roots of words and the rest of the word is Hiragana. (An English illustration: the root of ‘establishment’ is ‘establish’ which would be written in Kanji, the left over ‘ment’ would be written in Hiragana.) Foreign loan-words are almost always written in Katakana.
|HOW CAN THIS SITE HELP ME?|
Well, first you may want to take a look at our introduction to Japanese video:
To begin your official Japanese language studies, I suggest starting with Hiragana (unless you are going to Japan soon, in which case Katakana may perhaps be more immediately useful). For Hiragana go here . It is possible to learn in as short as 2 weeks if you study & review everyday.
After that find stuff that interest you, whether it be here or elsewhere (we prefer here of course!). The purpose of this site is to encourage people to learn interesting Japanese together. Pop into the forums and introduce yourself. If you have any questions many people on the forums will be happy to help, but please do a quick search to see if your question hasn’t already been answered a hundred times. 🙂
Here are a few pages that are of interest to the beginner:
Kanji a Day Email List – Join our free email list and learn a kanji a day!
Japanese Online Word and Phrasebook with Audio
– Hundreds of very useful words and phrases by categories
A Smattering of Japanese Grammar – A short, very short, intro to Japanese Grammar
Super Useful Greetings – Flash file with sound
Learn the Basic Set Phrases essential for daily life – Japanese has MANY set phrases that are used often
Japanese Traditional Songs – With Japanese, romaji, and an English translation
- TheJapanShop.com – Our sister site which sells quality – time tested – materials for learning Japanese.
Quiz – Test your knowledge of Japanese
ESSENTIAL FREE SOFTWARE:
- Rikai-chan – If you use Firefox, use this to instantly get word translations
- Japanese Learning Suite – by our own Phreadom! (Excellent FREE software for learning vocabulary and grammar)
Most of all HAVE FUN WITH JAPANESE!
What to do Next?