Looking to learn Japanese, but where do I start?

Posted on May 14th, 2011 by Ryu Sheng | 1 Comment

Something I’ve always wanted to do is to learn Japanese. That way I can read scrapped princess through to the end since it’s unlikely the novels will ever be finished.

However the UK has abysmal language learning centres, unless you want to learn French, Spanish or German. My nearest Japanese centre is 500 miles (each way) away. So not going to be going there lol.

I have been told that while there are other Japanese courses and centres closer, I really want to study for the JLPT N5 and N4, since if I do anything else I’m only going to end up having to do the N4 and N5 anyway, so may as well do it right from the start.

So, how do I get started? Given the vast number of books and texts available could someone point me in the right direction as to which books I need to help me get started?

One Response

  1. Tsuki says:

    To learn Japanese to the point of fluency (in reading or speaking, whichever), it will take quite a bit of time and effort. Writing/reading and speaking/listening comprehension seems to come hand-in-hand for Japanese, though that’s just from my experience.

    For starters, learning how to read all of the Hiragana and Katakana (before any sort of lessons) would help you tremendously. Hiragana and Katakana is pretty much basic essentials. You could easily google websites and tools to help you there. Youtube could also be a very valuable resource here. You should probably get to the point where you can instantly recognize and read any hiragana/katagana characters, almost like a native English speaker can with the standard English alphabet.

    Learning Kanji is significantly more difficult. You will need quite a bit of diligence to learn Kanji. A lot of people suggest using Heisig’s Kanji books, though I personally feel they are slightly gimmicky. Whatever works though ヽ(´ー`)┌

    You could probably teach yourself most of the very basic grammar rules via websites like this: http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar

    As for formal textbooks, American Universities use the Genki I + II series of textbooks for beginner’s Japanese. They are slightly outdated, but language only changes so much over a decade or two.

    The only issue with self-teaching is that you don’t really get much hands on experience with the language. Having a friend to practice Japanese with helps tremendously with fluency. You could always look around online for a person willing to practice with you (I believe Rosetta stone offers such a service), but I’m not too well informed on such.

    Also, watching subtitled anime helps with fluency/recognition of certain sentence structures and such. The only issue that you should be aware of is that anime is much more heavy on casual speech, whereas mainstream teaching guides and methods focus much more formal speech initially. There will be a slight disconnect between some learned material, and actual conversations you overhear in anime, until you start learning casual dialogue.

    Good luck with your endeavor, and hopefully you could finish those Scrapped Princess novels 😉