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How should I start learning Japanese independently?

Mizuiro

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I have a very small knowledge of Japanese and reading both hiragana and katakana. I would like to begin to study more seriously, however, and there are no Japanese teachers in my area.

As an independent learner, I want to know the best way to begin. Are there Japanese classes online where you can actually e-mail a real teacher or something?

Thanks in advance for any help!
 

Damicci

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There is A LOT of resources online. But I would just start with learning hiragana then Katakana. then vocabulary lastly move on to grammar and sentence structure.

You should be able to find a lot of books and stuff at Barnes&Noble or Walden Books.
 

Ma Cherie

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You can also find books that will help you learn Katakana and Hiragana, and flash cards. You know, stuff like that. Start with basic everyday greetings and learn Japanese vowels. :emoji_thumbsup:
 

Emoni

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Look for the books "Genki" an intergrated course in Japanese. There are two volumes. I recomend you buy them. They are GREAT books. Online material should be a supliment to hands on book material in my opinion, as books are better contructed for learning. You will need online material however to understand the sounds of words and checking your answers from time to time.
 

Nils

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I agree with @Emoni. The genki books (two volumes) are really good. I used them myself for self-study. It's also possible to buy audio CD's that accompany the books and use the book's homepage for training grammar and kanji and this site for training vocabulary.
The only thing I missed in these books was a short description of kanji, like how they're constructed and a short historic background. But it's easy to find that on the Internet, so that's really no problem.

Whatever learning material you choose, I would recommend finding a book that you like and concentrate your study around that.
 

lastmagi

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My Japanese course used Genki, and I had a blast with them. I've only done the first vol., but it's got a very easy to follow structure, so you won't be lost. I've tried a handful of other Japanese textbooks from regular bookstores (admittedly cheaper than Genki), and Genki beats them all.

Other than that, maybe if you can practice speaking Japanese with another interested friend in your area while using the book, perhaps that might help, too, since speaking may help cement your memory.

I'm also trying right now to see if I can learn Japanese through an actual literary context now that I've got some of the grammar down pat (ie reading original Japanese manga and comparing it to the translated version; it's risky since the translations are off sometimes, but I can usually catch them when they're off; I also use manga to get used to the colloquialisms). Anyone know if "Breaking into Japanese Literature" by Giles Murray (https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/4770028997/qid=1123797475/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-5002077-2862351?v=glance&s=books&n=507846) is any good?
 

nice gaijin

Resident Realist
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Another vote for the Genki books, best basic grammar books I've seen yet. Anything Japan Times puts out is good, I've got Genki I and II, the intermediate book, the small blue intermediate grammar book, and two speed reading books (cultural episodes [速度用の文化エピソード] and rapid reading Japanese [速読の日本語]), all are very useful.

to study alone, all you need is the drive to achieve your goal.
 

usis35

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material to self study

This is what I am studying:
-Pimsleur 3 volumes
-Japanese for Busy People 3 volumes.
-An excel sheet to keep track of vocabulary learnt, so you can repeat them in scheduled dates.
-JWPce a word processor useful to learn Kanji (it comes w/dictionary)
-"Read Japanese Today" a small book w/most useful kanjis in everyday life.
-Try to read small paragraphs from a website to become familiar w/words from the topics that you find more interesting.
 

Limonette

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Thanks for the resources. Good thread Mizuiro. I'm just beginning to learn. I have a Japanese penpal who's helping me learn, also if you have the right equipment, you can talk through messenger I think, but we just type. And I write what he says on blank flashcards. He's helping with more colloquial Japanese.

I just ordered 'Learning Japanese in Your Car' hoping that will help out in addition the the other studying, because the time I have to study is limited, and I get so bored in my car. There's a book for kids with a cartoon Monkey on writing but probably not very good. I got a book "Learn Japanese the Fast and Fun Way". But maybe that's just wishful thinking.

Also, I watched alot of German films that helped cement my German, now I'm watching Japanese films, they talk soooo fast but maybe this will help me comprehend better when I go to Japan. However I think I learned alot of so called 'low-German' from the movies, instead of the 'high-German' we were taught in school. But I don't care. I wonder if there is such a thing in Japanese.
 

Tokyo-K1

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I'm thinking of learning to speak Japanese myself, thing is I don't really know where to start. Those Genki books mentioned sounds like a good choice to start!
I am more interested in learning to listen and speak Japanese first, the reading and writing will have to wait! ^_^;.

Since I'm an anime and manga fan I have discovered a Japanese learning book called "Japanese the Manga Way". I think this book could be real good because it says it presents the Japanese you learn along the way with manga strips from popular series.
Are there any good books or CD-ROMs you guys/gals can recommend?
 

Damicci

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I would suggest just staying away from Manga style Japanese.
Try just learning basic Japanese grammar then go from there.
Only b/c "IMHO" most manga will have friendly casual forms of Japanese. Which may make it harder to differentiate between being poilte or rude.
Learn polite then learn casual it'll make it easier to know when and how to switch between the 2. "IMHO"
 

Tokyo-K1

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Damicci said:
I would suggest just staying away from Manga style Japanese.
Try just learning basic Japanese grammar then go from there.
Only b/c "IMHO" most manga will have friendly casual forms of Japanese. Which may make it harder to differentiate between being poilte or rude.
Learn polite then learn casual it'll make it easier to know when and how to switch between the 2. "IMHO"

I suppose you're right, but I think I might get the book anyway. I'm interested to know how they've integrated the manga strips into the learning process. Also it'll make it a bit more interesting than just plain reading from a standard text-book.
 

Elizabeth

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Tokyo-K1 said:
I suppose you're right, but I think I might get the book anyway. I'm interested to know how they've integrated the manga strips into the learning process. Also it'll make it a bit more interesting than just plain reading from a standard text-book.

私は Damicci さんの意見に同意しています.

まず「正しい日本語」を 学んでから会話的な日本語も 勉強できれば、一番いいですね。 😌
 

Tokyo-K1

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Elizabeth said:
私は Damicci さんの意見に同意しています.

まず「正しい日本語」を 学んでから会話的な日本語も 勉強できれば、一番いいですね。 😌

:?
Elizabeth, are you saying you agree with @Damicci, or are you translating what I have just said into Japanese? 😌
 

Damicci

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She said.
I am the greatest mind ever........yeah thats a lie!

Really just that learning proper/correct Japanese would be a better benefit then learning casual/manga style Japanese.

Save the cool stuff for later. You never know when you'll need formal japanese. If your interested in the culture.

EX Meet a nice girl really like her but you guys are friends so conversational/casual is ok. Meet the parents you
~さんです。 よろしく~。
Basically I'm ~. Sup. :emoji_nerd:
 

Elizabeth

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Tokyo-K1 said:
:?
Elizabeth, are you saying you agree with Damicci, or are you translating what I have just said into Japanese? 😌
I was condensing Damicci's ramblings into a single Japanese sentence. :p
Although if you want yours translated as well, I (or anyone) can always give it our best attempt. 😌
 

Elizabeth

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Damicci said:
I would suggest just staying away from Manga style Japanese.
Try just learning basic Japanese grammar then go from there.
Only b/c "IMHO" most manga will have friendly casual forms of Japanese. Which may make it harder to differentiate between being polite or rude.
Learn polite then learn casual it'll make it easier to know when and how to switch between the 2. "IMHO"
漫画スタイルの日本語に近づかないようにしてください。
一般的に、漫画は「友達口調でわかりやすい文体で書いてあると思います。(Basically
常体、普通体)。

基本的な文法を勉強するのが大切ですね。それが出来てから会話的な砕けた言い
方を使うべきでしょう。それから、話し言葉と書き言葉にはっきりした文体の差が見えるでしょう。
どんなときにどちらを使ったらいいのかよくわかるでしょう。

日本語をを始めてすぐの頃は、基本ができてから、会話的な日本語を勉強するのは賛成です。

さて、直訳するより、意味を頭の中で整理して、日本語で表現しようとしました。  😊
 

Elizabeth

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Tokyo-K1 said:
Isn't "Gaijin" the term used by Japanese for "foreigner"?
冗談で違う意味で使う言葉使うと余計わかりにくくなりますね。 😌

Yes, you're quite right, Tokyo-K1, that is the word for foreigner.
 

-Rudel-

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It it used for very casual talk. アメリカ人 (amerika-jin)、日本人 (nihon-jin)、ドイツ人 (doitsu-jin)、would be a more polite meaning.

Of course, its all how you say it, in the context.
 

Elizabeth

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国籍を知っている場合は、 相手に面と向かうとき、具 体的に国籍を使うほうが無事だと思います。
 

Kaminari

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ammended

As one who has undertaken self study of both Koine Greek and of Japanese, I would find it hard to locate a better start point for self study of Japanese than this very site.

The opportunity to put into practice what is being learned and to receive advice, uninformed opinon and informed opinion is always invaluable in any study.

Also, I would recommend Ichigo 100% as a very good source material.
. obtain volume 1 in English (Anime-Source Manga Server !
. obtain volume 1 in Japanese (nippon export is a good place to source manga)
. obtain the anime (by bit torrent if necessary ... rats can't locate the URL.)

Reasons for recommending this particular series are that
. the anime very closely follows the manga - in many places the manga is the script, even. You get to hear the words that you are reading.
. the characters in the anime seem to speak standard rather than hogen. (I could be wrong on that, but it is at least more standard than a number of anime programmes that I have watched.)
. the manga's kanji makes heavy use of furigana.
 
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