I speak to myself sometimes. I don’t think my listening skill is good enough yet. I need to improve on my pronunciation first. I still need some verification on my saying those kanas that I mentioned at the beginning of this thread. Having played again and again those kana’s on YouTube I don’t think I have problem saying them separately individually, except when they are part of words. Do you think you can help me if I record my reading?
You need to start practicing listening and speaking Japanese with another person. (Do not worry if your kana-reading ability is good enough, it will not matter.) You will not improve your listening by speaking to yourself. The best way is for you to find a Japanese person who will help you with your Japanese, then you can help them with their English. Try to find someone in your area, perhaps at a university. Another way is to find someone online. I understand there are a lot of Japanese people online who would love to do this with you (especially because it is free). We also have people here on this forum who can help you find Japanese people. (Our member Hirashin teaches at a college in Japan that is full of students who would benefit from this. Perhaps even Hirashin himself would want to do such an exchange with you.)
Another idea is to find an English speaker in your local area who is also learning Japanese, is at your level of Japanese, and wants to practice Japanese speaking and listening.
Or you might find a Japanese person who wants to practice Cantonese or Mandarin with you.
Methodology: Write very short, meaningful dialogs in English on the left side of the page, then write the Japanese on the right side of the page. Start with greetings. Here is an example of what I do with Chinese students. (My apologies for this being in Chinese, but I have most recently been working with Chinese students.) Look at these examples and you will get the idea.
Start with greetings.
Hello. 你好。 Ní hăo.
How are you? 你好吗? Ní hăo ma?
I’m fine. 我很好。 Wǒ hěn hăo.
Thank you. 谢谢。 Xìe xie.
And you? 你呢? Ní ne?
I’m fine too. 我也很好。 Wǒ yě hěn hăo.
Then start with the verb to be.
Is this a pen? 这是笔吗? Zhè shì bǐ ma?
Yes, it is. 是的。 Shì de.
Is this a pen? 这是笔吗? Zhè shì bǐ ma?
No, it isn’t. 不是。 Bú shì.
What’s this? 这是什么? Zhè shì shénme?
It’s an eraser. 是橡皮。 Shì xiàngpí.
Then start with verbs.
Do you study? 你学习吗? Ní xuéxí ma?
Yes, I do. 是的，我学习。 Shì de, wǒ xuéxí.
No, I don’t 不，我不学习。 Bù, wǒ bù xuéxí.
Do you walk? 你走路吗? Ní zǒulù ma?
Yes, I do. 是的，我走路。 Shì de, wǒ zǒulù.
No, I don’t 不，我不走路。 Bù, wǒ bù zǒulù.
Do you run? 你跑步吗？ Nǐ pǎobù ma?
Yes, I do. 是的，我跑步。 Shì de, wǒ pǎobù.
No, I don’t 不，我不跑步。 Bù, wǒ bù pǎobù.
Do you teach? 你教吗? Nǐ jiào ma?
Do you cook? 你烹饪吗？ Nǐ pēngrèn ma?
Do you smoke? 你抽烟吗？ Nǐ chōuyān ma?
Add direct objects.
Do you eat vegetables? 你吃蔬菜吗？ Nǐ chī shūcài ma?
Yes, I do. 是的，我吃蔬菜 。 Shì de, wǒ chī shūcài.
Do you eat cabbage? 你吃卷心菜吗？ Nǐ chī juǎnxīncài ma?
Yes, I do. 是的，我吃卷心菜。 Shì de, wǒ chī juǎnxīncài.
Do you eat spinach? 你吃菠菜吗？ Nǐ chī bōcài ma?
No, I don’t. 不，我不吃菠菜。 Bù, wǒ bù chī bōcài.
What kind of vegetables do you eat? 你吃什么种类的蔬菜？ Nǐ chī shénme zhǒnglèi de shūcài?
I eat lettuce, cabbage, and celery. 我吃卷心菜，卷心菜和芹菜。
Wǒ chī juǎnxīncài, juǎnxīncài hé qíncài.
Slowly add dialogs with indirect objects, prepositional phrases, multiple prepositional phrases, it-for-to sentences, present perfect, subjunctive mood, on and on, until ending up with very complicated questions and answers.
Work with your partner to write these dialogues together. Print them out or copy them. First, read them out loud, with both people looking at the papers. Then practice them again, with one person looking at the paper while the other does not look at the paper. Take turns look/not looking at the paper. The goal is to practice both answering and asking the questions without looking at the paper.
This type of practice is for students at the beginning level. When you get to the lower-intermediate level, I have more ideas. But try this first and let us know what you think.
You may want to work with a Japanese person who speaks English at the intermediate or advanced level. You could use ideas for intermediate or advanced students while the two of you work on English, then use these ideas for you as you practice Japanese at the beginning level. (I have many ideas on how students can practice English/Japanese/Chinese at the intermediate and advanced levels.)
If you need help finding people online to practice with, let us know.
Thanks for your advice. I’m thinking at the moment just to focus on the grammar and vocabulary. After all the elementary studies I intend to go through some websites dealing with JLPT to make sure I have all the basic grammar and idioms covered. I don’t intend to do the test. I just want to be able to read and write before involving another person.