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Learning Japanese , probably a dumb question.

Dradoner1690

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I've started learning Japanese recently and I decided that I was going to learn hiragana katakana then kanji should I learn vocabulary words and how to speak it while I learn them?
 

nice gaijin

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...what?

OK, after reading your question again I think I get what you're asking. You should drill yourself with the sounds in the very beginning just so you can quickly identify them, like when you see "W" you immediately think "double-u," "T" is "tee," and "F" is "eff," and so on.

Japanese is merciful in that the name of the characters is the same as the sound it makes. So once you have a solid connection between the characters and their sounds, you can start stringing them together to create words.

TL/DR version: Yes, but not too soon. Practice the sounds first so you can get a grip on the characters and their pronunciation, then start applying that to vocabulary. Once you become familiar with the characters, practice reading and writing vocabulary words with them. And then get away from romaji as quickly as possible.
 

Dradoner1690

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...what?

OK, after reading your question again I think I get what you're asking. You should drill yourself with the sounds in the very beginning just so you can quickly identify them, like when you see "W" you immediately think "double-u," "T" is "tee," and "F" is "eff," and so on.

Japanese is merciful in that the name of the characters is the same as the sound it makes. So once you have a solid connection between the characters and their sounds, you can start stringing them together to create words.

TL/DR version: Yes, but not too soon. Practice the sounds first so you can get a grip on the characters and their pronunciation, then start applying that to vocabulary. Once you become familiar with the characters, practice reading and writing vocabulary words with them. And then get away from romaji as quickly as possible.
Is there any poems or books that are just in hiragana so that I can learn a lot more easily.
 

Mike Cash

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I've started learning Japanese recently
What materials are you using and what have you learned so far?

most children's books are written in kana
I got curious just how long and often I've been railing against the how utterly awful children's books intended for native speakers are as learning materials for foreigners, so I decided to make a compilation. Forgive the wall of text, please.

Children's books written for native speaking Japanese kids don't need to constrain themselves to a limited number of grammatical forms....and consequently, they don't.
Are you using any sort of textbook or other such structured material?

Story books, even for three year old children, will contain grammar that is far beyond what you have learned so far, or are likely to learn for probably another year or two. Studying for six weeks gets one nowhere near what a native speaking three year old can comprehend.

Reading is an important skill, but as I pointed out elsewhere, the language and the writing system are two different things. Plug along on developing reading skills as best you can, but don't let the pace of your learning be determined by your reading skills.
The problem is children may need to have concepts "dumbed down", but there is no corresponding need to have the syntax dumbed down. That plus the fact that any native-speaking child is almost certain to have a vocabulary massively greater than the beginning/intermediate foreign learner has acquired means that what practically everyone assumes will be Goldilocksian "just right for me" reading material turns into a tiresome slog through dictionaries and a brutal realization of just how much they still have to learn in the way of grammatical structures....and ultimately a humbling when they realize that despite all their study they really don't know as much as a small child after all. And even if they do successfully wade through the material, they realize they have done all that hard work and the upshot of it is that they found out what happened in a boring-assed children's story.

Children's books are lousy learning materials, yet seemingly EVERYBODY (myself included) hits upon what they think is the completely novel idea of using them. If the exercise worked, we would see it talked around a heck of a lot more.
Attempting to learn Japanese by using children's books is a very common idea. It is also a very bad idea.

Is there a better way to learn? Yes. Take a class. If you can't do that, then at least use a textbook (and associated materials, if any).
You have a lot of grammar and vocabulary to learn before you should even think about tackling books. If you're thinking children's books would be easy, just realize that children need thematically simple books, not linguistically simple books. Finding level-appropriate practice reading materials has always been a problem for beginning students of Japanese.
Children's books are limited to simpler themes, not simpler grammar. Any three year old native speaker already firmly grasps grammar you and I will spend years acquiring.
One thing early experience attempting to read children's books is good for is demonstrating to you how ridiculous it is when foreign learners say their Japanese is "about the same as an ____ year old Japanese child". Any child over three can run circles around us without breaking a sweat.
The idea of using children's books is universal among beginning students, who typically seem to presume they will be easy to read due to restricted vocabulary, heavy use of kana, and a mistaken notion that native speaking children learn grammatical structures in an order from easy-> hard as they mature (analogous to the way foreign learners do).

It doesn't take long to find using children's books is boring, frustrating, and largely a fruitless waste of time and effort.
The books are boring because they are thematically aimed at small children. They are frustrating because they contain lots of onomatopoeia, the lack of spaces and presence of unlearned conjugations and vocabulary items conspire conspire to make maddening to even know where one word ends and another begins, and grammatical structures which require tons of looking things up and turn the "reading" into a decoding session....at the end of which you learn how the bunny rabbit got the turnip out of the garden or some such equally inane thing.

Children's books suck as learning materials.
Beginners can't do any reading for quite a good bit into their studies, which is one of the discouraging factors of tackling the language and part of why so many quit. Sitting with a dictionary and sweating through a couple of poorly understood paragraphs full of unknown vocabulary and grammar per hour isn't reading; it is decryption.
 

nice gaijin

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For the record, I agree that children's books are not good learning materials, I was speaking specifically to using materials in hiragana to practice character recognition; I used to pick them up and read them aloud just to improve my reading speed, I had no idea what I was reading most of the time. Still probably don't.

In a similar vein, my friends and I would take turns transliterating entire English or Spanish sentences using katakana to improve our ability to write, then recognize characters and read them smoothly before trying to make sense of them. This strengthened the connection between the visual cue and the sound until the association between the two was natural and we didn't have to think about it.
 

Dradoner1690

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What materials are you using and what have you learned so far?



I got curious just how long and often I've been railing against the how utterly awful children's books intended for native speakers are as learning materials for foreigners, so I decided to make a compilation. Forgive the wall of text, please.
I've learned my first 10 hiragana and I don't want to go further just in case I'm making a mistake.
 

KyushuWoozy

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Yes, grabbing a kids' book to brush up on my hiragana and to escape for a few moments from the stresses and strains of adult life seems a great idea.
 

nice gaijin

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I've learned my first 10 hiragana and I don't want to go further just in case I'm making a mistake.
Ah, you are wayyyyy too early in the game to worry about that. Just tackle two or three sets each day, practice them for 10-15 minutes RIGHT before bed, then do a quick review in the morning, followed by a review of all the characters you've studied to date. There aren't that many kana, so rote-memorization is effective to start with, and then reinforce them by combining them for simple vocabulary.

I believe the Genki books introduces vocabulary in this way in the very beginning (but it's been a while).
 
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Mike Cash

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I've learned my first 10 hiragana and I don't want to go further just in case I'm making a mistake.
You aren't. Continue learning the hiragana. Learn the katakana as well.

When you've done that, if you still think you want to continue with learning Japanese then please do yourself a favor and get a good proper textbook to learn from. (Genki is widely used and recommended).

If you wish to try learning kanji before you start learning the language, as so many do, then knock yourself out. I will only point out that it is entirely unnecessary and without any knowledge of the language or any context for them is likely to be confusing and discouraging. You can learn them concurrently with progressing through the lessons in a textbook.
 

Dradoner1690

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You aren't. Continue learning the hiragana. Learn the katakana as well.

When you've done that, if you still think you want to continue with learning Japanese then please do yourself a favor and get a good proper textbook to learn from. (Genki is widely used and recommended).

If you wish to try learning kanji before you start learning the language, as so many do, then knock yourself out. I will only point out that it is entirely unnecessary and without any knowledge of the language or any context for them is likely to be confusing and discouraging. You can learn them concurrently with progressing through the lessons in a textbook.
Ok thank you all for the help I was a bit discouraged feeling I had done something wrong but I'm taking a one-day break to fully understand the first 3 sets and should i learn grammar before Genki books or after.
 

Mike Cash

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should i learn grammar before Genki books or after.
Textbooks will teach you grammar, vocabulary, etc all together in an orderly and sensible fashion. The heavy lifting has been done for you. All you have to do is read along carefully, do whatever exercises are provided, and feel free to start a thread here asking for additional help or explanations if you don't quite get some part.
 

KyushuWoozy

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I notice from your profile you're an 18yo guy. Suggest you go out and find yourself a nice Japanese girl - it'll probably be a much quicker, and certainly much more fun, way to learn Japanese than delving into grammar books.

Just be careful not to copy everything she says too carefully or you'll end up sounding a bit effeminate :)
 

Mike Cash

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I notice from your profile you're an 18yo guy. Suggest you go out and find yourself a nice Japanese girl - it'll probably be a much quicker, and certainly much more fun, way to learn Japanese than delving into grammar books.

Just be careful not to copy everything she says too carefully or you'll end up sounding a bit effeminate :)
How has that worked out for you?

I'm a Brit married to my Japanese wife for over 10 years.
Are there any shops in Akihabara where I can browse online in English,
Not terribly useful or convincing advice to give him, was it?
 

indojindesu

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I would also recommend "Minna no Nihongo" books. Very helpful for beginners.
 

Dradoner1690

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How has that worked out for you?





Not terribly useful or convincing advice to give him, was it?
So after I learn Hiragana and Katakana I should get the Genki or Minna no Nihongo books won't I be able to read it but not know what im reading?
 

Mike Cash

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So after I learn Hiragana and Katakana I should get the Genki or Minna no Nihongo books won't I be able to read it but not know what im reading?
Textbooks are a series of lessons. They teach you things a little bit at a time, with each lesson using and building on what came in earlier lessons. You start from knowing nothing... the people who wrote them know you don't know anything and they took that into account. They spoon feed you a little at a time so you can digest it and not choke on it.

The whole point of a textbook is "Here is something you don't know. Let me explain it to you".
 

KyushuWoozy

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How has that worked out for you? Not terribly useful or convincing advice to give him, was it?
Ouch!

After many years teaching English I realize that some people are good language learners, and some people aren't. This is not necessarily related to how much time they study. I've studied literally hundreds and hundreds of hours of Japanese and I'm still hopeless. It also doesn't help my language learning that my Japanese wife is fluent in English (she studied for a master's degree in the UK). Perhaps my original advice should be to find a girlfriend with bad English so Japanese becomes the default language in your relationship (unlike in mine).

Interesting to see that one of the recommended books on this thread is Mina no Nihongo because it's the book I studied from more than 15 years ago. It's definitely a good book for studying the basics but I found it very very dry. For a bit of fun, I would recommend supplementing with "Mangajin's Basic Japanese Through Comics" (there are at least two volumes of this book). It's a fun way to learn and has a lot of good stuff even for beginners.

Good luck in your language journey (and hope you do better than me).
 

indojindesu

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@KyushuWoozy

Studying or learning a new language doesn't necessarily have to be "fun" . You need to form a firm base of grammar. Understand it properly. Thats what the Minna no Nihongo series does.

Thousands of people learn new languages without using a native speaker as a free tutor. I find your callous attitude towards using a "girlfriend" with "poor english skills" and what not as a free Japanese tutor to be very disturbing. I am usually NEVER rude on this forum, but your posts irritated me.

As a fellow woman, I am not sure I would appreciate being used as a free dictionary or a tutor. Stop suggesting that.

Also I cant believe that a teacher is actually giving out advice like this.
 

Mike Cash

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Also I cant believe that a teacher is actually giving out advice like this.
I'm not sure if he's a teacher or not. You'd be amazed at the number of English teachers in Japan who after many years or even decades here have made little or no progress at learning Japanese. (They all have an excuse, one they've trotted out so long and so often that they could do it under general anaesthetic).

I think he was just having a goof, but the thread where a beginner was asking for serious advice was not the place to do it.

I found it most interesting that someone who has been married to a Japanese woman for 10 years and has made no progress learning Japanese suggests foregoing a textbook and using the old "sleeping dictionary" method while someone who has been married to a Japanese woman for 30 years and has made progress learning Japanese suggests getting a textbook.

People often suggest that tired old idea of learning the language through getting a girlfriend or wife, and many people seem to assume it works. Personally, I have never encountered a single example of it having worked at all, much less worked well. What one more frequently encounters, at least among western men, is people blaming their wife's language abilities for their own lack of progress; we have now had two recent examples of this right here on our forum.

Japanese people seem universally to believe the "sleeping dictionary" myth. Every one who has ever talked to me about it has come out with the, "Oh, your wife is Japanese. That's why you can speak Japanese". Uhh....Kiss my aśś...no. I can speak Japanese because I worked at it and because I consciously and intentionally put myself in an environment where i had to actively function in Japanese in order to make a living. My wife had very close to nothing to do with it.

If and when you get to Japan, you will discover that the thing that most western expats do best regarding Japanese is excusing themselves from learning it. Appallingly, you even find many who are ignorant and proud of it.
 
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joadbres

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OK, after reading your question again I think I get what you're asking. You should drill yourself with the sounds in the very beginning just so you can quickly identify them, like when you see "W" you immediately think "double-u," "T" is "tee," and "F" is "eff," and so on.

Japanese is merciful in that the name of the characters is the same as the sound it makes. So once you have a solid connection between the characters and their sounds, you can start stringing them together to create words.

TL/DR version: Yes, but not too soon. Practice the sounds first so you can get a grip on the characters and their pronunciation, then start applying that to vocabulary. Once you become familiar with the characters, practice reading and writing vocabulary words with them. And then get away from romaji as quickly as possible.
Your initial answer is 90 words long, and your TL;DR version of that is 52 words long. Thanks for giving us the option to save nearly 40 words.

TL;DR: Thanks for writing your reply in a way that can save us from having to read a handful of words.
 

Mike Cash

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Your initial answer is 90 words long, and your TL;DR version of that is 52 words long. Thanks for giving us the option to save nearly 40 words.

TL;DR: Thanks for writing your reply in a way that can save us from having to read a handful of words.
Thanks for your gratuitous and useless off-topic observation.
 

Mike Cash

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Thank you for communicating that in less than ten words.
"fewer" or "under".

By typing standards (one word = five keystrokes), it was twelve words.
 
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