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Alanae

Guide to learning japanaese

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Learning Japanese is something that might seem like a daunting task that will take forever, which probably scares off a lot of people.

However, it can actually be quite a fun experience depending on how you decide to tackle it, as it's possible learn it through reading visual novels and other media.

It's also quite likely that you will be able to get good enough at Japanese to finish a VN you've been hyped to play before it finishes, or even starts getting a translation, and once done, you'll still have plenty of other VNs  to read, that you might never be able to otherwise. 

For those interested in trying, I hope the guide here will help you with starting out and having a nice time.

 

(note: while it might tempting to do so after you've gotten some proficiency with reading, I'd advise against learning through translating, as it will be much slower than simply just reading more instead, as you'll now have to concentrate on both your japanese and english and the result will probably not be very good yet (translation is difficult).)

 

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I always find it intriguing that people post guides on how to learn a language. I understand that it is very useful, but as a teacher who has viewed hundreds of lectures on teaching pedagogy and methods, I always find user guides to be very focused on one style of learning. In this specific example, I'm referring to Japanese. While I understand that self-study is a great tool for some learners, a lot of the guides I have read don't seem to take into account the other styles (visual, aural, kinesthetic). These are great guides for adult learners who care about self-study, but I want to see more variety. Not only that, but all of the guides I read are for how to actually read the language. When it comes to actual language learning, the 4 core skills are extremely important and can really help in assisting in other parts when learning a new language.

I also find it interesting that Japanese learners really try to learn how to speak English, while Japanese learners who enjoy otaku related material only care to read it. It's a completely different style.

TLDR: Language is awesome, and being a teacher for the past 4 years has really made me appreciate the different styles of learning, not only based on background and culture, but also personality. I hope more people post guides on how to learn Japanese without, for example, Tae Kim and intense grammar study and memorization. I don't believe visual novels, manga, and anime should be the only tools people use to learn a language.

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Personally, I just watched tons and tons of anime and I got to know the grammar and some colloquial sayings very well (but often times, people who learn through these styles speak very awkwardly and most of the times like a shoujo although they are men). This probably has something to do with the fact that I know Korean though. Very similar grammar.
People always chide me for learning this way, but in my personal opinion, it can be extremely, and I mean extremely confusing when you are learning a new language that is in a completely different language group than your mother tongue. When I was learning English, it didn't even make sense how they were using English terms to describe things such as infinitive form of verbs. In the end, you just have to learn a new concept to fully understand it and the best way to do it is to immerse yourself in constant conversations and anime is a great medium.

 

The real hard part for me is learning the plethora of kanji characters and some sayings/proverbs.

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6 hours ago, OriginalRen said:

I always find it intriguing that people post guides on how to learn a language. I understand that it is very useful, but as a teacher who has viewed hundreds of lectures on teaching pedagogy and methods, I always find user guides to be very focused on one style of learning. In this specific example, I'm referring to Japanese. While I understand that self-study is a great tool for some learners, a lot of the guides I have read don't seem to take into account the other styles (visual, aural, kinesthetic). These are great guides for adult learners who care about self-study, but I want to see more variety. Not only that, but all of the guides I read are for how to actually read the language. When it comes to actual language learning, the 4 core skills are extremely important and can really help in assisting in other parts when learning a new language.

I also find it interesting that Japanese learners really try to learn how to speak English, while Japanese learners who enjoy otaku related material only care to read it. It's a completely different style.

TLDR: Language is awesome, and being a teacher for the past 4 years has really made me appreciate the different styles of learning, not only based on background and culture, but also personality. I hope more people post guides on how to learn Japanese without, for example, Tae Kim and intense grammar study and memorization. I don't believe visual novels, manga, and anime should be the only tools people use to learn a language.

Most of the tools and advice in the guide will also work for reading things in that aren't those, there's also a part with methods that will help out will learning through listening (aural) as well.

I feel that once you've learnt to read well, simply practicing actually talking/chatting to people will let you get down the other 2 core skills (the tricky part is to find people to do this with :( )

If you're looking for materials to directly start speaking with, there's actually a lot of books that will teach you useful set phrases.

I'm kind of curious to how you could apply kinesthetic learning to learning a language, any examples?

6 hours ago, sanahtlig said:

This guide looks familiar.  Where have I seen this before?


you've probably seen it on the /vn subreddit before.

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4 hours ago, Alanae said:

 

I'm kind of curious to how you could apply kinesthetic learning to learning a language, any examples?

 

Go to Japan and live there? :)

On a more serious note here's a slightly different approach to learning Japanese for reading VNs:

Usually people who watch anime a lot will actually have some level of listening skills - that should get you into reading VNs which are close to fully voiced without having issues understanding things when combined with a week or two of hirogana/katakana memorization, pick your target VN after that (Hanahira's a good example)

Then read Ixrec's Guide to Japanese (http://amaterasu.tindabox.net/guide/j-comi.php) fully then apply it for each sentence in the VN and focus on BDT each sentence into pieces in your head combined with your favorite text extraction program (Use romanji display to help out those pesky Engrish Katakanas) - it'll be slow to start since your available vocab will be pretty low - BDT will help you learn to extract the important information from each sentence combined with text extraction program for vocab.

The next step up from that is building up vocab - some people say dont' rely on romanji but it seems to be a good starting point than to face the kanjis - this is so that you can comprehend in an efficient manner by recognising romanjis. Eventually you'll recognise common words and you should be less reliant on the romanjis and more on the actual hirogana/katakana/kanjis shapes. Some point down the track you want to turn off Romanji display and see if you are hanging in there.

Remember the Kanji is somewhat useful in the vocab stage - so if you do run into the kanjis you can make a reasonable guess as to what it means, and move on.

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I want to read some Japanese VN, and my problem is vocabulary (I'm alright with hiragana and katakana), so I just began to write down a quick reference guide for common kanji.

I draw the kanji, write down the pronunciation and the meaning. I'm pretty okay at drawing kanji. But that's only because I've done it before when I was 17. I can see how some people get lost.

My problem with using JDIC is that usually I don't have an association between the kanji draw and the pronunciation. If all VNs had furigana they would be pretty much a breeze to read. But that's the trick, folks. That's why a need a quick reference to associate the kanji with the pronunciation and meaning.

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2 hours ago, Okarin said:

I want to read some Japanese VN, and my problem is vocabulary (I'm alright with hiragana and katakana), so I just began to write down a quick reference guide for common kanji.

I draw the kanji, write down the pronunciation and the meaning. I'm pretty okay at drawing kanji. But that's only because I've done it before when I was 17. I can see how some people get lost.

My problem with using JDIC is that usually I don't have an association between the kanji draw and the pronunciation. If all VNs had furigana they would be pretty much a breeze to read. But that's the trick, folks. That's why a need a quick reference to associate the kanji with the pronunciation and meaning.

Well the nice thing about VNs is that you can parse it with a texthooker and get the furgina that way.

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16 minutes ago, Asonn said:

Well the nice thing about VNs is that you can parse it with a texthooker and get the furgina that way.

Right, bad thing that I tested some text hookers and they crashed on me.

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I find it very ironic that what got me started with learning Japanese was an online guide on fuwanovel (Aaeru's guide back in the day is what got me to begin learning). But to be perfectly honest with you, most of these online guides are terrible. In fact, about the only good thing about them is that they might inspire people to take on this behemoth task of learning  a foreign language. But the actual advice they give is really bad most of the time. It doesn't help that a lot of the time they over emphasize the importance of reading, without focusing much on speaking/listening.

By focusing on speaking/listening and actual conversations, it actually helps a lot with reading the language in manga/VNs. Most of the writing in those mediums (especially manga) is very colloquial. You are basically reading spoken Japanese in most manga, so focusing your efforts on learning how to speak and listen will actually help. 

Also, maybe it is because I am cynical. But I often get the feeling from these "guides" that they are more of an ego boosting exercise than anything else. The vibe I get from them is "Look at me, I learned (how to read) Japanese, aren't I cool. Now let me tell you about how I achieved my meager reading skills". These guides are not coming from experts who learned the language to complete fluency. So they really should be taken with a grain of salt. 

Also, who ever said "Go to Japan and live there" as ironic advice is wrong to say that ironically. That is actually the best way to learn the language, by being there. Although I also realize that for many people, that is a difficult opportunity to get. But if you are a high school student, then I encourage you to look into applying to colleges with good study abroad opportunists to Japan, since being in the country will be the best way to learn. (Its also the most fun way to learn imo). 

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1 hour ago, Zalor said:

By focusing on speaking/listening and actual conversations, it actually helps a lot with reading the language in manga/VNs. Most of the writing in those mediums (especially manga) is very colloquial. You are basically reading spoken Japanese in most manga, so focusing your efforts on learning how to speak and listen will actually help.

The wrong way to read Japanese is to read it as a series of kanji pictograms with meanings.  That works for a while, but eventually you'll hit a wall.  The right way to read is to parse the words and recite them, pronounce them, as you read.  If you listen to the voices as you read you'll be polishing your listening and reading skills at the same time.  The real dichotomy is not between listening and reading, but between consumption and production.  The skills required are very different.  I can only fallteringly write and have little or no capability to speak, but I could translate just about anything I come across.  There's nothing wrong with determining how you want to use the language and focusing on those aspects.

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The Guide mentiones an offline alternative to Jisho, I can't reach the site though.

Did the URL change or is the site down and in the second case is there another offline alternative? My internet connection is very unstable sometimes.

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Hello everyone, 

I'm somewhat troubled with my current situation in learning japanese so I would love to hear your advice(s). You see, I've been studying Japanese for at least 4 years by now. First of all, I read through Tae Kim's grammar textbook at least ONCE. BUT I'm not 100% proficient with the grammar yet. Then, I have completed BOTH human japanese and human japanese intermediate at least ONCE. After that, I have only been playing VN with the help of machine translator as part of practical. But have not continued to properly study japanese with textbook, etc. until now. And currently I'm lacking lots of kanji/vocab, that is why I'm using the Obenkyo app as solution. 

However, I'm intending to take the JLPT N2/N1 this July, and if I fail, I'll take the November session. In regards to this, my time is quite limited so I'm afraid of studying it the wrong way, that would jeopardize my JLPT for this year. Therefore, I would like any of your advice some other methods that I should carry out while I'm studying the Obenkyo app (for kanji/vocab). For example, should I start doing some translation work, etc. 

Thank you so much for the attention!

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5 hours ago, Fuez said:

Hello everyone, 

I'm somewhat troubled with my current situation in learning japanese so I would love to hear your advice(s). You see, I've been studying Japanese for at least 4 years by now. First of all, I read through Tae Kim's grammar textbook at least ONCE. BUT I'm not 100% proficient with the grammar yet. Then, I have completed BOTH human japanese and human japanese intermediate at least ONCE. After that, I have only been playing VN with the help of machine translator as part of practical. But have not continued to properly study japanese with textbook, etc. until now. And currently I'm lacking lots of kanji/vocab, that is why I'm using the Obenkyo app as solution. 

However, I'm intending to take the JLPT N2/N1 this July, and if I fail, I'll take the November session. In regards to this, my time is quite limited so I'm afraid of studying it the wrong way, that would jeopardize my JLPT for this year. Therefore, I would like any of your advice some other methods that I should carry out while I'm studying the Obenkyo app (for kanji/vocab). For example, should I start doing some translation work, etc. 

Thank you so much for the attention!

Don't simply read through a grammar guide, you should make notes for everything to quickly refer to them later (plus it stimulates your memory as you write it down). DO NOT learn vocab using JLPT N's, aside from N5 and N4 just to get you started, unless you specifically need a JLPT certificate for something. You should read untranslated material (without machine translation), no matter how slow it goes at first, and add words you find to your vocabulary. You can use Memrise or Anki for that, as they would be very helpful in revising those words in a way that you don't spend too much time on those you remember and spend enough time with those you struggle. I personally would recommend grinding 2000 kanji in heaps before any vocab as that would let you overcome the biggest wall, but if you don't want to bother with that then simply use some program that adds furigana to text (idk which one to suggest, I've never used one but I think VNR does that).

Never, ever use machine translation.

Edited by Funnerific

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Ask yourself what your goals are. If they are to pass N2/N1 and get your piece of paper, it might be best to get books specifically teaching to the test. If they are to learn Japanese, I would forget the N series of tests for now and try to ingest lots of native material of some or various kinds.

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