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Is This a Sound Strategy?

Fantt

Envious of Nabeshin's Fro
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Here's my current strategy for learning Japanese:

I have already learned all Hiragana and Katakana, and I know them well.

I have started, on and off using Heisigs Remembering the Kanji, but it seems like I battle between learning what the Kanji mean and learning Japanese. It's cool to know the meanings (not pronunciations) of 500 kanji, but I felt stupid because I didn't know any actual Japanese. So, I decided I want to learn some Japanese first and THEN start on my long journey of Kanji education.

I'm going through the entire Pimsleur Japanese audio lessons - all 90.
I'm using the Rosetta stone Japanese lessons - these are weird and I'm not sure how useful they are, but they're fun and strangely compelling.
I'm using some other Japanese vocabulary games to increase my very limited vocabulary.
I'm also using the Nakama 1 text as my formal grammar teacher and for more vocabulary.

After I feel like I know (really know) some Japanese, I'll start learning more Kanji and I'll crank back open my Heisig book.

Do any of you guys who have learned Japanese to a decent level have any suggestions, criticisms or advice? I can't move to Japan and I currently don't know any Japanese to practice my skills with.

My goal is to be able to read Japanese web sites and newspapers and to understand Japanese television (yes, anime and jdoromas). At some point, if I ever feel proficient, I'd like to get a job which would take me to Japan once or twice a year - I have no plans to move there for a long period of time.

Thanks for any advice!!
:)
 

Emoni

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First let me say I'm impressed. You sound quite dedicated and are working hard at this. Don't stop, you are doing good.

However, the way you are doing this, while dedicated, may be misguided. Self teaching is good to a certain extent. I taught myself hiragana before my first Japanese college course, and it helped a great deal. I'm also self teaching myself a Japanese course while taking another full time.

When you are beginning though you really need to consider taking a class. Community college, hell even highschool. Just something so you can go to the teacher and converse with and ask questions that aren't going to be covered in the books, or when you run into trouble understanding a topic.

As for reading a newspaper, I think that will probably take you about four years if you work at it. This is damn fast though considering newspaper reading is considered a sign of good knowledge of Japanese. It will be quite sometime before I reach there myself. You need to get into a class of some sort, especially for grammar! Community college is what I recomend, due to the fact it opens you to personal tutoring that helps even more. If you really want to learn, do it this way.

In fact I'm going to go as far as recomend you go and get a Major in Japanese Language. From what you are saying, you sound quite dedicated and if you truly are going to go all the way with the language, then get a degree if you are young enough and nearing college. At least a minor in it. Education is critical, and you might as well get a degree for the effort you are putting into it. If you need to take out loans, do it.

Anyway, I'll end with recomending a book that you get. I tend to hate the "Learn Japanese Fast with this neat program/learning trick" method. Genki 1 by Banno is one of the best Japanese books I've seen, and with you already knowing Hiragana you would do wonderful. It teaches very well, but of course could use more detail, but that is what a teacher is for. You would learn an amazing amount from this book even without a teacher, and just post on the learning Japanese forum when you run into trouble or have questions. I'm sure many beginners will run into similar problems and you'd be helping by doing this. It isn't easy to find, but usually college book stores have them still around this time, so check sites like University of San Francisco's bookstore.

Private Message me if you have any questions. Good luck on your studies! :D
 

Buntaro

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I remember that learning Japanese meant learning three different things: Kanji, grammar, and conversation. The trick is to balance all three; do not spend too much time on only one or two.
 

Fantt

Envious of Nabeshin's Fro
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Thanks for the advice emoni! I have considered taking Japanese at a community college, but the one that I checked at didn't have a Japanese teacher. I'm not too thrilled about that. As for majoring in Japanese or anything like that, that would be difficult for me. I'm 35, married and have a son. I also have a well paying job that I'd have to give up to go back to school.

As for the rest of your advice, I pretty much agree that I need some Japanese folks to speak with. Trusting to the odd nature of the universe, I'm pretty sure that when the time comes that I need some native reinforcement of my skills, a way will become open which will provide that. We'll have to see.

I've heard about the Genki 1 text book, though I just paid almost $50 for Nakama 1. I have spent a lot of money on learning Japanese, and I think I'm going to do the best I can with what I have for a while.

I intend on spending many more years studying Japanese. I'm not in a tremendous hurry to get to any goal at this point.

Thanks again for the advice!

Yeah Buntaro - I felt like I was spending too much time learning Kanji when I didn't really know any of the language. After I aquire some vocabulary and a better sense of the grammar, I will go back into learning the Kanji.
 

Scrivener

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Basically you want to maximize your everyday exposure to the Japanese language. Of course the best way is to go live there, but if you can't:

(1) Take evening classes
(2) Find a conversation partner
(3) Try to watch Japanese cable TV, listen to community radio programs in Japanese, and rent Japanese movies, turn off the subtitles, and sit there with a dictionary pressing the rewind key.
(4) Find a manga that you really like, so that you will be motivated to get the dictionary out

Someone should make a thread for "what is the best manga for learning Japanese". Personally, I recommend "Crayon Shinchan". You may have seen anime of this, but the anime sucks big-time compared to the manga. It is very funny, great comic timing, but most importantly, it is about a normal family speaking conversational Japanese. You don't learn how to talk about robots, but rather loads of very very useful vocab and grammar. Also you learn a lot about how to make puns and plays on words that will knock the socks off Japanese people who don't expect a gaijin to be able to do that sort of thing. Also it has full furigana, so you learn kanji by osmosis.
 

Emoni

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Probably community college classes would be the best for you then, like Scrivener said, take an evening class.

Don't be turned off of a Japanese class just because it is taught by someone who isn't Japanese though! You could be missing out on a great deal of knowledge. I actually plan/hope to teach Japanese community college courses later after I finish my Master's degree, so I wouldn't want to lose someone as a student who sounds as dedicated as you are just because I am not Japanese!

Just keep trying and doing your best, sounds like you have made it a long ways on your own already, but there is a long way to go still! Just study study study and you'll make it there eventually!
 
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