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Does learning Japanese get easier?

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May 25, 2015
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I was just wondering because i am in my second semester of learning Japanese at university, if it gets easier?
I am currently learning kanji and its killing me. Also the counters are worse than kanji, i dont know why but i just cant remember when to pronounce it as fun, bun, pun, hon, bon, pon etc...
 

Mike Cash

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Japanese takes a lot of hard work for very little visible progress for quite a little while when you're starting. I would describe what you're going through as "normal" and "to be expected".

Yes, it does eventually get much easier.
 
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No.

At least so far for me it just gets harder. Things get more complex and vague, and I, on a daily basis, note how much less I know than I thought I knew. It had better be a labor of love, otherwise it will become a labor of hate.

Then again, I've had a significant amount of alcohol this afternoon, and my martinis have become successively drier until, at present, I merely glance at the vermouth as I pour gin over an olive. I may forego the olive next time, it's starting to seem superfluous...

I'm sure it's not that bad, only what, 17 different types of counters? No worries! And it's not like you need more than a couple thousand kanji, right? Pish tosh, you'll have it down in a jiffy!

Seriously, though, I keep telling myself that there's a point of critical mass and I just have to get there... Then I won't feel quite so constantly unsure and lost in a morass of particles and vocabulary and hazily applied grammatical rules.

Good luck!

Edit: Replied at the same time as Mike, who quite obviously knows infinitely more about this than me.
 
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I was just wondering because i am in my second semester of learning Japanese at university, if it gets easier?
I am currently learning kanji and its killing me. Also the counters are worse than kanji, i dont know why but i just cant remember when to pronounce it as fun, bun, pun, hon, bon, pon etc...
To me studying became much easier when it started to make sense, meaning that I saw it being applied. You are now probably looking at a chart with counters. Well of course you can study it, but it goes much faster if you hear people say it. You'll pick it up naturally. Same with Kanji. Kanji do not land fast with me until I see it in real life (commercials, stores, advertisements, restaurants, etc) I think the traditional method of Kanji learning is wrong anyway. At my university we were very much focused on stroke order, while I think it is much more about recognizing the kanji, and learning a bunch of related words. Most of the time you will write in on a keyboard anyway.

You can cheat a bit pretending you are in Japan, by practicing with a real person who is also studying Japanese. Speak out loud that you are giving someone 3 glasses, 5 books, 6 cats, etc, etc
 
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The pronunciation of counter words that start with F/H like 分, 本, 匹... often follows a certain pattern: if the number ends with a 3, change the first letter of the counter to a "B" (sanbun, sanbon, sanbiki); if it ends with 1, 6 or 8, change it to "P" (happun, happon, happiki); in other cases, don't change it (yonfun, yonhon, yonhiki). There may be exceptions to this rule that I don't know of, but it's a common and therefore helpful pattern to remember.
 
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Hang in there, Hashy. Studying (and remembering) gets easier, just like any other task or skill. Also, like any other task or skill, the more groundwork you put in and the more stable your foundation ("the basics"), the greater the heights you'll be able to achieve.

So, work hard and embrace the confusion and frustration now, knowing that one day--if you stick to it--an entirely new world is going to open up to you. There's a saying that I love: "To have a second language is to possess a second soul."

That being said...to help you remember counters, try and find one representative for each counter. It's pretty safe to extrapolate to similar items from your example item

hon - pencil (round skinny long)...so carrots? "hon" will work
ko - apple (small, round) ... so eggs? "ko" will work
mai - paper (thin, flat) ... so pages (e.g. I wrote three pages) "mai" will work
satsu - book (printed material, bound, lots of pages) ... so printed manga? "satsu" will work
etc.

Not a hard and fast rule (is there one?), but it'll get you 80% of the way there.
 
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It does get better. You'll recognize more, those quirky grammar tricks will become second nature, and when you come into an immersion situation, you may find yourself more confident to learn and ask questions.

As a fellow student of Japanese we both have chosen what is commonly accepted as a VERY HARD THING TO DO. But that shouldn't be a discouragement. Instead, be encouraged, this kind of thing is a privilege and joy!
 

Toritoribe

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Also the counters are worse than kanji, i dont know why but i just cant remember when to pronounce it as fun, bun, pun, hon, bon, pon etc...
Here's a list of euphonic changes of counters. As already pointed out, they actually change relatively regularly.
Japanese counter word - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

分[Fun] (minute) changes to "pun" after "n" (e.g. 3[san], 1000[sen] or 10000[man]). 4[Yon] is an exception. Although it ends with "n", both "yonfun" and "yonpun" are valid.
分[Fun] never changes to "bun". "Bun" has different meanings, for instance, denominator in fraction (5分の2[go bun no ni] = 2/5 "two fifths").
 
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This week i have to learn all those counters mentioned by others and talking about my family members plus other topics related to buying and making requets.

Also i did my first test last week and got 42/50 and average was 37/50 so i guess that means something. But that was for kanji.

I guess studying japanese through university is pretty intensive.
 
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Counters are a thing that a lot of people get hung up on, but it'll just come to you eventually. And it's really not a big deal. You can always fall back on -tsu if you're not sure, and nobody is going to be offended. Strangers will be impressed that you speak any Japanese, and hopefully closer acquaintances and friends will be understanding and helpful when you make mistakes.
 
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