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Hi new learner, how should I go about learning Japanese?

Gomomon

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Hi こにちわ! I've recently started studying to learn Japanese because I am traveling next year and I really want to become fluent in the language. I have never learned a language before and can only speak english, so I don't know how to go about doing this properly, any pointers, tips, or things I really need to know?
 

mdchachi

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Start with a class if you can. It's very difficult to learn on your own without being OCD.
 

Buntaro

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Hi Gomomon and welcome to the forum. I am excited to hear that you want to learn Japanese. Let me give you some advice.

I know you want to learn vocabulary. I know you want to learn grammar. I know you want to learn greetings. But I am going to ask you to hold off learning these things for right now. There is something you must do before you start learning these things.

The Japanese writing system is very difficult. Because of this, in the beginning you need to devote a lot of your energy to learning a Japanese writing system called hiragana. (I see you have included some hiragana characters in your post. Have you already learned hiragana?)

Hiragana consists of 71 characters. I have included a chart at the bottom of this post.

Actually, there are only 45 basic hiragana characters. Look at the left side of the chart and you will see that a number of hiragana characters on the left side are merely repeats of hiragana characters on the right side but they also have a " symbol or a small circle in the upper right-hand corner of the hiragana character. (So there are actually only 45 basic hiragana characters.)

Watch this video. Copy along and write out the hiragana characters as you see them being written on the screen. Stop the video between each hiragana character and take your time to write them out.

Writing Hiragana - Stroke Order



Many beginning students of Japanese become discouraged because they find it very difficult to learn hiragana characters. Don’t get discouraged, hang in there, and take the time to master reading and writing hiragana characters.

Here are the first five hiragana characters.

あ pronounced “a” as in the name Kawasaki

い pronounced “i” as in the name Kawasaki

う pronounced “u” as in the name Suzuki

え pronounced “e” as in the word Zen (Buddhism)

お pronounced “o” as in the name Tokyo.

By the way, Japanese can be written from top to bottom (and then from right to left). If you look at my chart, you will see that I have placed あ, い, う, え, and お in the far-right column, from top to bottom. (Don’t worry, you can also write Japanese from left to right.)

Let us know when you have learned how to write the first five hiragana characters.
 

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Gomomon

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Hi Gomomon and welcome to the forum. I am excited to hear that you want to learn Japanese. Let me give you some advice.

I know you want to learn vocabulary. I know you want to learn grammar. I know you want to learn greetings. But I am going to ask you to hold off learning these things for right now. There is something you must do before you start learning these things.

The Japanese writing system is very difficult. Because of this, in the beginning you need to devote a lot of your energy to learning a Japanese writing system called hiragana. (I see you have included some hiragana characters in your post. Have you already learned hiragana?)

Hiragana consists of 71 characters. I have included a chart at the bottom of this post.

Actually, there are only 45 basic hiragana characters. Look at the left side of the chart and you will see that a number of hiragana characters on the left side are merely repeats of hiragana characters on the right side but they also have a " symbol or a small circle in the upper right-hand corner of the hiragana character. (So there are actually only 45 basic hiragana characters.)

Watch this video. Copy along and write out the hiragana characters as you see them being written on the screen. Stop the video between each hiragana character and take your time to write them out.

Writing Hiragana - Stroke Order



Many beginning students of Japanese become discouraged because they find it very difficult to learn hiragana characters. Don’t get discouraged, hang in there, and take the time to master reading and writing hiragana characters.

Here are the first five hiragana characters.

あ pronounced “a” as in the name Kawasaki

い pronounced “i” as in the name Kawasaki

う pronounced “u” as in the name Suzuki

え pronounced “e” as in the word Zen (Buddhism)

お pronounced “o” as in the name Tokyo.

By the way, Japanese can be written from top to bottom (and then from right to left). If you look at my chart, you will see that I have placed あ, い, う, え, and お in the far-right column, from top to bottom. (Don’t worry, you can also write Japanese from left to right.)

Let us know when you have learned how to write the first five hiragana characters.
Thank you ありがとう for the useful information. I have begun writing, and practicing my Hiragana characters. I have learned the first 5 hiragana characters and how to pronounce them, though sometimes challenging because the (i) sound, sounds more like (e) in English. I have memorized at least 30 basic Hiragana characters. Would you recommend me to contuine learning and practicing hiragana until I master all 71 charcaters?
 
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Buntaro

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Gomomon,

Yes, you must continue until you have mastered all 71 hiragana characters. This will take you several weeks, but it will be worth it.

Yes, the (i) (い) sound is a little confusing. Just remember how it is pronounced in the names Kawasaki and Suzuki. You may have also heard of the Japanese food flavoring called wasabi that is put on sushi. The words wasabi and sushi also have the (い) sound.

The most difficult part of using hiragana is hearing it and then writing it down. You need to do what I call ‘dictation practice.’ Below are some examples of Japanese words that contain the first five hiragana:

1. あい love (n.)
2. あう meet (v.)
3. いう say (v.) (pronounced like the English word “you”)
4. いいえ no
5. うえ up; upwards
6. おおい many
7. あおい blue

Here is how to do ‘dictation practice.’ Record your voice saying these words. Later, listen to your recording and write the hiragana as you hear them. Do you use a computer? An iPhone? Your computer, iPhone, or whatever has the ability to record sound. If you do not know how to record sounds on your iPhone or whatever, please do not hesitate to ask. There are several people on this forum who would be more than happy to help you learn how to record your voice on your device.

When recording, say it just like you see it, “Number one, あい. Number two, あう. Number three, いう.” etc.

If you have a ‘study buddy’, practice with one person reading hiragana and the other person writing down what they hear. If you don’t have a study buddy, you can find one online. Feel free to ask for help finding an online study buddy.

You need to get your ‘dictation speed’ up to where you can write one hiragana per second comfortably and easily. And you need to eventually be able to do this for all 71 hiragana. (Yes, this is going to be a lot of work. The sooner you get started, the better.)

Good luck. Let us know how it is going.
 
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