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I'm an expert
Formerly worldrevolution. The only reason I am nice to anyone else is to avoid being banned.
(04-12-2016, 02:21 PM)
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(Note: New thread is still under construction and will have layout/information updated daily. Apologies for the incompleteness!)

Welcome to NeoGAF's official thread for discussing the study of Japanese and Japanese related activities. This thread is a collection of resources and discussions aimed at people of all levels. In this OP you will find links to various interesting materials that we, the Japanese OT community, feel would be helpful in your Japanese studies. Please take the time to look through this post as you may find a question you wish to ask already answered here. You will find the bulk of the content in this post in the F.A.Q. below, which hopefully categorizes and addresses topics neatly. There is also a friendly disclaimer that you may or may not wish to read at the bottom of this post.

The previous thread can be found here.



Please read the first two questions at minimum if you are new to Japanese.

Should I self study or should I join a program/class/group?

This is usually the starting point of all Japanese study plans for an individual. Taking classes in school? Doing a program like Rosetta? Going completely solo? Whichever it is, realize that having the aid of a native speaker in some shape or form will always be more advantageous than not. There are also things like Lang-8 or Reddit's forum that can be used to look for that advanced level of help, but nothing will replace a live person.

Even if you are in a program, or for example a university class, it is important to realize that most programs will not go in-depth enough or push you enough to become proficient in Japanese. For that reason, some form of supplementary self study is always recommended. More likely than not, kanji will be the area that you wish to tackle on your own. This is discussed further below.

I just want to study Japanese to be able to consume media, I have no plans of ever communicating with it. What should I do?

This is one of the most common reasons that people online look for Japanese learning materials and as such we have dedicated this spot for the answer. We understand that most people simply want to enjoy things like their favorite video games, manga, tv shows, etc. and are studying Japanese for that reason. There is nothing wrong with this goal, but realize that studying for this purpose may overlap with the general study of the language. That is to say, there is no way to pinpoint your studies in a way that let's you study only for playing your favorite video game. You may have to invest your energies in a much broader form of study so that you build a basic foundation for all Japanese, and not just the small segment that you wish to partake in.

The next major thing to understand is that there are two skills you will need to be able to consume media - listening and reading. In today's age, it is easy to procure materials for practicing both, but please understand the commitment it takes to become skilled in both. Putting listening aside, the hurdle for most when it comes to media will be the Jouyou Kanji. At the bare minimum, anyone intending to read things at an intermediate or above level will need to tackle these. It is an interesting point to note that even if you master all Jouyou Kanji, there are still many, many more kanji you would need to know in order to truly consume all media.

In short, we still recommend you follow the advice in the rest of the questions below, even if your goal is not to become a native level Japanese user.

I'm a complete beginner, where should I begin?

The majority of this answer will focus on the self study or supplementary side of study, however, as said above, we always recommend joining some form of structured class or program with access to a native or advanced speaker. These options will vary for everyone based on their location, but university classes or language tutors are usually common. There are also sites like Wyzant where you can find online tutors, or Lang-8 where you can find native help.

First, this Reddit starter's guide is a great, quick introduction into the language and study. There are obviously various levels of beginner, but everyone can benefit from a few of these when starting out.

We recommend starting with the usual books that anyone would find anywhere, for example - Genki or Japanese for Busy People. Following these courses through at least a few texts will most likely get you to a basic foundation of understanding sentence structure, the writing systems, and vocabulary. For those with a head start or looking for a challenge earlier in their studies, there is also Tobira. While technically a bit above beginner, if you're looking for a more immersive study method from the start, this series can give you that experience.

Two resources we recommend in general for your beginner studies, and even all of your studies going forward,are A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar and Jim Breen's Legendary Japanese Online Compendium. The Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar is part of a 3 set anthology that most Japanese learners consider to be the absolute top when it comes to grammar explanations and examples. Having this text available to supplement and clarify your studies will prove to be an invaluable resource. Jim Breen's website was the first and is the largest online Japanese<->English dictionary on the internet. It is the main database that almost all dictionary website and apps use as their foundation. While we of course recommend getting things like paper or electronic dictionaries, when it comes to online resources, Jim Breen has done more work for online Japanese study than probably any human.

I'm not quite a beginner, but I'm not exactly advanced. What should I be focusing on?

As an intermediate learner, you will most likely have to delve further into self-study as your primary source of learning. Even if you have completed a course like Genki or are in a 4 year university program, they will leave you at a point of yearning.

A good place to really increase your Japanese level when transitioning from a beginner is kanji. Kanji is a common theme in this post and that's because it is the number one reason people quit studying Japanese. There are many reasons to learn kanji, but as an intermediate learner here is the big one - it will allow you to experience different types of content that will introduce you to new vocabulary, grammar, idioms, and culture.

So, how do we recommend you study kanji? There are a million ways and we can't recommend any over the other. Here are some of the usual suspects:

Spaced repetition using programs like WaniKani
The Heisig Method
Brute force method (aka whiteboard)

What we do plan to do is post a compendium of experiences/opinions/thoughts about these study methods here for people to see actual stories from people who tried them. Please keep an eye out for those links!

If you would like to focus on other topics before kanji, working your way through the topics presented in Intermediate and Advanced would give you the majority of grammatical foundation you need. Remember, most 4 year university programs usually stop around the beginning of the Intermediate text's content.

So how do I actually use all of the resources you've linked to study myself?

We plan to post more links/experiences that answer just this question soon! Please check back.


Are there any certifications or licenses I can work toward?


There are actually quite a few and this section will be updated with more detail in the coming days. For now, the main one to bring up is the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. It consists of 5 distinct levels that test your current level of Japanese reading, comprehension, and listening abilities. There are no writing or speaking sections. In general, the JLPT has been the main standard by which people judge or showcase Japanese proficiency, and most work places or schools often require a minimum of N2(the second highest level) for acceptance. The test is given once a year internationally and twice a year within Japan. It is important to note that even if someone passes the highest level, N1, it does not mean that they are fluent in Japanese. N1 level is equivalent to native level of a high school student. While this may not seem like a lot, understand that the test equates to about 12 years of Japanese schooling or, more specifically, kanji.

If you are interested in the JLPT, many people participating in this thread have taken it and can share their thoughts. Again, we will update this post with links of peoples' experiences soon.


What are my options for actually going to Japan to study, or living/working in Japan?


In general, most people find their way to Japan via English teaching. The English teaching industry Japan is, for better or worse, very easy to get into provided you are a native English speaker and have a 4 year advanced degree or equivalent. There are also study abroad programs and language school programs that many people take part in. If your country participates in a working holiday visa, this is usually one of the better ways to visit Japan.

While we agree that going to Japan is a great way to study Japanese, there are a few things we would like to make people aware of.

First, Japan is a very different culture than most Western countries, and often times people go to Japan with preconceived notions due to being exposed to cultural exports from Japan. It is important to note that what you think Japan is and what Japan is may not be the same.

Second, the Japanese visa system can be a bit of a hurdle. While most countries' citizens will be able to receive a 3 month tourist visa upon arrival, this visa cannot be used to work or study in a formal sense and must be changed via a Certificate of Eligibility. While Japanese rules require you to acquire the CoE before coming to Japan, exceptions are often made for those already in the country. Acquiring a working holiday visa is usually the best method for young people to come.

Third, if you plan to take the English teacher route, prepare yourself mentally and financially. You often will not be able to choose the place you live/work and you will also need to cover most of your initial thoughts. Many people suffer from culture shock, loneliness, and a lack of desire to study, which can all defeat the purpose of you going there. There is a wonderful Teaching English in Asia thread here on GAF that can help you with all of this.

If you have ambitions of going to Japan via other career opportunities, we will post more information/resources as time goes on. We have people with many different backgrounds in the thread so feel free to ask.

Can someone translate this for me?

If you make a post with enough detail or information, it is possible someone will be kind enough to come by and translate for you. Please don't beg.




This is just a friendly note from the community here. Studying Japanese can be a daunting endeavor that is not easily comparable to the study of other languages. It is important to note that Japanese is a high context language with various cultural cues that go beyond simply understanding a word or phrase. Learning the mechanics of Japanese takes time, but actually learning how to communicate in Japanese can genuinely take a lifetime.

Before taking any major next step in your studies, please realize that there is an incredible variety of ideas and methodologies when it comes to learning Japanese, or any language. Not every topic or method discussed in this thread may be right for you, in fact, all of them might not be right for you. Try your best to experiment with different study habits or try new ways of exposing yourself to the language. Eventually you will find something that clicks for you.

Thanks to Kansoku for banners.
Alanae
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(04-12-2016, 02:23 PM)
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Trust him, he's an expert.
LimitedTimeGamer
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(04-12-2016, 02:26 PM)
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Will be checking this thread regularly. I want to eventually move to japan, but i want to be able to at least speak it well first.
TheSporkWithin
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(04-12-2016, 02:31 PM)
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Originally Posted by Alanae

Trust him, he's an expert.

Good first post.

Originally Posted by LimitedTimeGamer

Will be checking this thread regularly. I want to eventually move to japan, but i want to be able to at least speak it well first.

Welcome aboard!
kuYuri
Member
(04-12-2016, 02:32 PM)
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Isn't there a thread like this already?

http://m.neogaf.com/showthread.php?t=232671&page=1

EDIT: Ah, didn't realize it was a continuation. Carry on.
hwalker84
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(04-12-2016, 02:33 PM)
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Originally Posted by Nostalgic Windy

Isn't there a thread like this already?

http://m.neogaf.com/showthread.php?t=232671&page=1

Someone didn't read the introduction.
Numb
Banned
(04-12-2016, 02:34 PM)

Originally Posted by Nostalgic Windy

Isn't there a thread like this already?

http://m.neogaf.com/showthread.php?t=232671&page=1

That thread has left me confused and disappointed it ain't about big asses multiple times
Forkball
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(04-12-2016, 02:37 PM)
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Has anyone used Aozora or Tobira for textbooks? How are they?
Jintor
Lit himself on fire to get
a mod to tag him
(04-12-2016, 02:43 PM)
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Originally Posted by Forkball

Has anyone used Aozora or Tobira for textbooks? How are they?

I recommend tobira. It won't hold your hand but at about n4 level you're ready to start.

I signed up for jlpt3. Cramming vocab everyday. Feel like my head's going to explode.
upandaway
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(04-12-2016, 02:44 PM)
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Much better OP
thequickandthedead
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(04-12-2016, 02:49 PM)
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Human Japanese is a pretty good app if you want to learn Japanese on your phone.
Resilient
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(04-12-2016, 02:49 PM)
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Well written OP, was time for a new one. Anybody mildly interested in starting - stay a while! Lot of helpful ppl in the community. And we are welcoming 🤔😏
Raw64life
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(04-12-2016, 02:51 PM)
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I've tried learning Japanese before but eventually gave up. I'm visiting for the first time in a couple months and hope to re-learn at least enough that I can say a few things without sounding like an idiot.
Pyramid head
Renowned Richard Harrison scholar
(04-12-2016, 02:52 PM)
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Originally Posted by thequickandthedead

Human Japanese is a pretty good app if you want to learn Japanese on your phone.

Seconding this. It's such an excellent and well written tool.
Rafavert
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(04-12-2016, 02:56 PM)
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Oh, man, I need to keep an eye on this. I did a year of Japanese back in college and would like to study it further, but often lack the motivation and discipline to study on my own.
I'm an expert
Formerly worldrevolution. The only reason I am nice to anyone else is to avoid being banned.
(04-12-2016, 02:56 PM)
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Originally Posted by thequickandthedead

Human Japanese is a pretty good app if you want to learn Japanese on your phone.

One of the things we want to do with the new thread is not just make it a list of links to resources, but more a list of peoples' experiences and thoughts. So if you and other people write a sort of mini review or share your thoughts about things like app/programs/schools then I will directly link your post in the OP so people can see those thoughts.

We're currently in the process of collecting those type of links from the previous thread.
LordOfChaos
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(04-12-2016, 02:57 PM)
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I learned a few dozen words that came up in certain contexts repeatedly in animes, lol. Nothing major,
Nani = contextual what/what's up/explain depending on the tone
Hai = yes
Wareware = we/our/us
Kippu = ticket


Stuff like that, it's not much, but if you're learning Japanese watching them can help reinforce what you learned when you pick up words you learned in certain contexts
Rafavert
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(04-12-2016, 03:05 PM)
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Originally Posted by LordOfChaos

I learned a few dozen words that came up in certain contexts repeatedly in animes, lol. Nothing major,
Nani = contextual what/what's up/explain depending on the tone
Hai = yes
Wareware = we/our/us
Kippu = ticket


Stuff like that, it's not much, but if you're learning Japanese watching them can help reinforce what you learned when you pick up words you learned in certain contexts

It helps a lot because of the exposure to the language. Sure, we won't understand half, but we pick new words on the way and hear them a lot, which also helps when pronnouncing them.

It doesn't help much with the writing, though. Dem kanjis...
PhillipCostigan
Member
(04-12-2016, 03:10 PM)
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Hey folks, looking at picking up Japanese for Busy People. Should I pick up the book and the workbook, or just the book?

cheers :)
I'm an expert
Formerly worldrevolution. The only reason I am nice to anyone else is to avoid being banned.
(04-12-2016, 03:15 PM)
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I used Busy People like 15 years but don't remember anything needed outside of the textbook. If it's literally just a practice book for kana, no. Get a piece of paper and two hours and you are finished with kana.
PhillipCostigan
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(04-12-2016, 03:16 PM)
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cool, thanks :)
VendettaRed07
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(04-12-2016, 03:18 PM)
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I've had an alarm on my phone set for 6pm every single day to "Study Japanese" since 2012.

I still haven' done it yet.

Maybe I should
maxcriden
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(04-12-2016, 03:24 PM)
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Originally Posted by PhillipCostigan

Hey folks, looking at picking up Japanese for Busy People. Should I pick up the book and the workbook, or just the book?

cheers :)

Originally Posted by I'm an expert

I used Busy People like 15 years but don't remember anything needed outside of the textbook. If it's literally just a practice book for kana, no. Get a piece of paper and two hours and you are finished with kana.

I'll sort of second this (awesome OP BTW, thank you!); the first book at least is pretty light on Kanji. Teach yourself Hiragana and Katakana. (It might take more than two hours to know them intuitively, though. I know did it for me.) If you know the kana, I don't think you'll need any workbook for following that first book, from what I've read of it. It's mainly focused on basic grammar and a good variety of everyday vocab.
urfe
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(04-12-2016, 03:25 PM)
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Originally Posted by PhillipCostigan

Hey folks, looking at picking up Japanese for Busy People. Should I pick up the book and the workbook, or just the book?

cheers :)

I starts on the busy people series. The three books get you to N4. I enjoyed it, but I definitely didn't study hard in the beginning. It gave me a great foundation as a semi-lazy studier.
eefara
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(04-12-2016, 03:25 PM)
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I'm liking the new OT! ^_^ I've been stalking the old thread for a while now, but never felt like I had anything to contribute. This is a good opportunity to change that, though, so I hope to talk to both newcomers and regulars much more in the coming months!
thenexus6
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(04-12-2016, 03:28 PM)
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Been learning for maybe 1.5 years casually. I go to night college once a week for two hours, meet up with my class mates, teacher for extra work / Japanese related things (watch movies, cook, go to events etc)

Its very fun, my next lesson is tomorrow night.

I primary use Genki 1 soon moving into 2 and I use memorise. I should get some more books, and maybe a pocket sized one to take everywhere with me.
TatteredHat
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(04-12-2016, 03:28 PM)
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I've been doing pretty well with Wanikani for about 5 months now, the only downside is that it doesn't teach you any writing.
Kimaka
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(04-12-2016, 03:28 PM)
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I've been using JA Sensei, the Japanese beginner course on Udemy, and Memrise to learn Kana. I have them mostly memorized which is further than I've ever gotten after trying to learn on and off for years. I am currently going through JA Sensei's lessons and will probably pick up the Genki workbooks.
shira
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(04-12-2016, 03:30 PM)
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narutohodo

kodoku
Lord Ghirahim
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(04-12-2016, 03:31 PM)
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Learn your collocations.
Linkark07
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(04-12-2016, 03:31 PM)
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Excellent, I have wanted to learn different languages, and Japanese is one of them. Will follow this thread closely.

May be because Spanish is my native language but in some ways, if it wasn't because of the Kanji and Hiragana, reading the text written in romaji is like reading in Spanish. Vowels and consonants are pronounced almost the same way.
Dynamite Shikoku
Congratulations, you really deserve it!
(04-12-2016, 03:32 PM)
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let's studying
Mecha
Member
(04-12-2016, 03:35 PM)
Good OP. Maybe if there's enough demand you guys could try to make a group for beginners to help keep each other accountable for studying. I have found that the mental aspect of getting yourself to consistently study every day is the hardest part about language learning.
Holundrian
Member
(04-12-2016, 03:35 PM)
I think it needs mention whatever method you use to learn the most important thing is staying engaged in the language.

What this means when classroom, study, kanji practice is over you need to make time to enjoy the fruits of your labor(or just enjoy the language).
Which means do the stuff that you want to learn the language for, listen to a jap song, watch anime, watch jap youtube vids, play a game in jap, or whatever.

But like I said I strongly believe that, that's the case for every language.
eefara
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(04-12-2016, 03:36 PM)
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Originally Posted by Kimaka

I've been using JA Sensei, the Japanese beginner course on Udemy, and Memrise to learn Kana. I have them mostly memorized which is further than I've ever gotten after trying to learn on and off for years. I am currently going through JA Sensei's lessons and will probably pick up the Genki workbooks.

If you're looking to get into Genki, make sure you pick up the textbooks as well; the workbooks are complementary to the textbooks, and don't teach you anything, instead just being practice exercises for the concepts taught in the textbooks.
Rutger
Banned
(04-12-2016, 03:45 PM)
Another day of studying kanji, but now there's a nice new thread to go with it.
I plan on making far better use of this thread than I did with the last one.

Though I don't have much to say at the moment. I'm just trying to figure out the best way for me to get one into short term memory, and increase the amount I'm studying from the 10~ a day I'm at now to the 25~ a day the whiteboard method suggests. I know I can pull it off, I just have to figure out the pattern that works best for me first.
LorDjidane
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(04-12-2016, 03:45 PM)
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In before JLPT failure.

Been doing the whiteboard method, it's alright but to me it's way too time consuming after ~1month. So I remove the early kanjis and every week-end I review everything, just in case.
ThreePiMatt
Member
(04-12-2016, 03:46 PM)
I should sub. I started taking classes at a local community college a little over a year ago. Every semester there are less and less students to the point where this semester we had to get special permission to even hold the class because there's only five of us left. There's no way the school will make another class for us. At some point I'm going to have to transition over to teaching myself.
Keyouta
Junior Member
(04-12-2016, 03:46 PM)
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The Kanji Study app for Android is great for drilling the kanji into your brain, has examples and stroke order drawing practice.
Crayolan
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(04-12-2016, 03:46 PM)
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I totally forgot there was a learning Japanese thread. I read your crazy whiteboard post and actually started on that, though quickly realized I don't have as much free time as I thought, doing a day's worth of repetition takes a lot longer than I thought, and I can't find a whiteboard anywhere (so I've just been doing it in the backs of notebooks).

I put it on hold until my spring break when I had some free time and now I'm actually making some progress, though it's going slower than I like partially because of classes starting back up but mostly because I'm a procrastinating fuck.

At least I'm actually in Japan so I have the advantage of being able to just walk around and see some of the Kanji in the wild which further burns it in my mind.
Hydrophobic
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(04-12-2016, 03:47 PM)
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Originally Posted by shira

narutohodo

kodoku

A+ 10/10.

It's cool to see a thread pop up for this. I figure I'll start off by sharing my studying methods at least. Right now I'm studying for the JLPT2 using the Kanzen Master JLPT2 series of books and Anki to drill vocab and reading. When I can be arsed to write more than sentences, I usually use Lang8 to practice composition. I've also recently started using the HelloTalk app to do a sort of language exchange and I've had some mixed results. I've had really good conversations with Japan natives and I think it's a great app, but if you want to get anything out of it the onus is on you to reach out and start conversations as well as keep them up. That's my experience, at least, YMMV.

Edit: A quick +1 for dictionary of (level) Japanese Grammar. I bought the Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar back when I was about a year or two in to my studies and I've seen intermediate and advanced. They generally have pretty good explanations and example sentences.
Jonnax
Member
(04-12-2016, 03:55 PM)
This Android app is pretty good:
It is an offline version of the WWWJDIC dictionary that you can search by English, Japanese and radical.
Jsho
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ric.Jsho
Kimaka
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(04-12-2016, 04:02 PM)
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Originally Posted by eefara

If you're looking to get into Genki, make sure you pick up the textbooks as well; the workbooks are complementary to the textbooks, and don't teach you anything, instead just being practice exercises for the concepts taught in the textbooks.

Thanks! I will be sure to get both.
Aeana
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(04-12-2016, 04:04 PM)
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I taught Japanese for several years, and while my students generally were all very enthusiastic about the language, it was like pulling teeth getting them up and speaking to each other, or honestly even doing 聞く練習 (listening practice). I think it would be a great idea to organize regular voice chats for people to practice, because it's going to help you so much.
maxcriden
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(04-12-2016, 04:07 PM)
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Originally Posted by Rutger

Another day of studying kanji, but now there's a nice new thread to go with it.
I plan on making far better use of this thread than I did with the last one.

Though I don't have much to say at the moment. I'm just trying to figure out the best way for me to get one into short term memory, and increase the amount I'm studying from the 10~ a day I'm at now to the 25~ a day the whiteboard method suggests. I know I can pull it off, I just have to figure out the pattern that works best for me first.

This is probably unusual, but rather than just radicals or just whiteboarding it, I'm using the Kanji Network site and other sites to learn the etymology of the modern Kanji that I'm trying to learn. I'm finding a lot of them have surprising and fascinating origins and I can learn them a bit more quickly this way, but not so quickly that I don't retain them (I hope.)

Originally Posted by Keyouta

The Kanji Study app for Android is great for drilling the kanji into your brain, has examples and stroke order drawing practice.

I like Kanji Renshuu for this. Free and has good flashcards.

Originally Posted by Jonnax

This Android app is pretty good:
It is an offline version of the WWWJDIC dictionary that you can search by English, Japanese and radical.
Jsho
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ric.Jsho

My favorite Japanese app of all.

--

BTW, if you're interested in practicing Japanese, The Mixxer is a really good language exchange site that can help you meet Japanese people looking to learn your language. I've made some terrific friends there and the language exchange via Skype/LINE/etc. is excellent practice. It's so helpful to have an actual native or fluent speaker to ask questions to, also.
linkman26
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(04-12-2016, 04:12 PM)
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Living in Japan for a year so far so this thread will definitely be useful.

Subbing.
eefara
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(04-12-2016, 04:15 PM)
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Originally Posted by Aeana

I taught Japanese for several years, and while my students generally were all very enthusiastic about the language, it was like pulling teeth getting them up and speaking to each other, or honestly even doing 聞く練習 (listening practice). I think it would be a great idea to organize regular voice chats for people to practice, because it's going to help you so much.

Originally Posted by maxcriden

BTW, if you're interested in practicing Japanese, The Mixxer is a really good language exchange site that can help you meet Japanese people looking to learn your language. I've made some terrific friends there and the language exchange via Skype/LINE/etc. is excellent practice. It's so helpful to have an actual native or fluent speaker to ask questions to, also.

Speaking is easily my weakest area. I'd love to practice it, but I'm super shy. :( I'll keep note of Mixxer, though, and any potential voice chat groups we might get going; gotta start somewhere.
hiro4
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(04-12-2016, 04:18 PM)
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Originally Posted by Aeana

I taught Japanese for several years, and while my students generally were all very enthusiastic about the language, it was like pulling teeth getting them up and speaking to each other, or honestly even doing 聞く練習 (listening practice). I think it would be a great idea to organize regular voice chats for people to practice, because it's going to help you so much.

Hearing and speaking Japanese with people helps so much, so I can recommend this to anyone who is learning Japanese.

I don't speak Japanese that much anymore as I used to, but after spending a couple of hours talking to Japanese friends or spending a couple of days in Japan I find that my Japanese gets back to a point where I don't have to think that much anymore to communicate things. Also it is an easy way to expand your vocabulary instead of reading books and practicing Kanji.
Mecha
Member
(04-12-2016, 04:19 PM)
I would suggest italki as an alternative to Wyzant. Online tutors are way cheaper than tutors that you meet in person.
maxcriden
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(04-12-2016, 04:40 PM)
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Originally Posted by eefara

Speaking is easily my weakest area. I'd love to practice it, but I'm super shy. :( I'll keep note of Mixxer, though, and any potential voice chat groups we might get going; gotta start somewhere.

I'm shy as well, so I hear ya. For Mixxer and I assume other some other similar sorts of sites, you can just practice via text/chat if you prefer.

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