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What should I learn first?

CrimsonDX

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Hello all. This happens to be my first post. Yoroshiku ne~ 🙂

any whos. I took 2 years of Japanese in high school, but since i really didn't learn anything im just gonna start from scratch. Im currently re learning my kana, but im curious as to whether i should, after that, learn Kanji or grammar first. does it really matter? What are your alls opinions and reasons.
 

Glenn

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Why can't you do them both at the same time (in a macro sense)? Just spend X amount of time on grammar, and then X amount of time on kanji, and that's your studying for the day. I don't see any reason you can't learn grammar with a book that uses kanji/kana with furigana, and study kanji individually as well.
 

CrimsonDX

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when you say it like that it certainly makes my question seem kinda stupid. :unsure:
 

ninjacatman

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I just started Japanese myself, but I speak Chinese almost fluently....
One of the biggest problems in language learning that I've seen, is
people not learning daily life words first. It might sound like common
sence, but its not, 'cause few people do it. When a child learns his/her
mother tongue, they don't learn from a text book like we do.

First: they are completely submerged in the language, even if you don't
speak any Japanese(which I of course know is not so), and even if you
are not living in a Japanese environment, you must create a Japanese
environment. One where you don't allow yourself to use English unless
absolutely necessary. (I have a friend who learn English with this alone)

Second:
Learn First things that you will use every day, and when you learn them,
use them every day, maybe even replacing there English equivalent when
you are talking. A child learns language from trial and error, don't be to
afraid to try to use what you know. After all, failure is the author of success.
What my friend that I mentioned earlier did, was she made some English speaking
friends, and when with them, they made a rule to never use Chinese unless they
didn't know a word; in which case they would look it up and say what they wanted
to say again, this time, of course in English.

Third:
Try to 'think' in Japanese, like when you count in your head, try to use
Japanese numbers instead of English ones. Replace in your mind, English
words with Japanese ones.
 

Chidoriashi

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I suggest doing both at the same time as well, but for me it was always easier to learn kanji as I learned new relevant vocab words, verses just learning kanji one at a time. It is always easier to remember if you know a practical word that uses the kanji. So if you learn a new word, learn its kanji too (but be careful cuz some words typically are not written in kanji very often, like animals etc..)
 

CrimsonDX

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ninjacatman: ive been submersing myself in the japanese language even before i ever wanted to learn it so thats not a problem.

Chidoriashi: I was really planning to forgo learning huge amounts of vocabulary until after i felt comfortable with the grammatical structure of the language and the 2000 or so general use kanji meanings. i wanted to get those 2 nailed down so that i could begin reading books, manga, visual novels and other written media using a dictionary to help me figure out words i don't know.

this method i want to use was born out of two years of frustration with formal classes. sloggling through vocabulary while barely learning any grammar and never learning any kanji. I'm surprised i learned anything at all.

I guess ill try both at once. and hour or so of one and then an hour or so of the other.
 

Chidoriashi

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If I understand you correctly, you are going to try to learn all 1945 of the jyouyou kanji.. without trying to increase your vocabulary level?...
I'm telling you this from my experience learning Japanese... that sounds like a very difficult way to go about it. Keeping all those kanji strait and just trying to learn meanings first does not seem feasible to me.
And i dont think you will just be able to pick up a novel and start reading it despite knowing kanji meanings, without having a good knowledge of words and word usage.

And hoping to gain a great grounding in grammar is going to be tough if you cannot understand the words surrounding the grammar. Gaining a firm understanding of Japanese grammar is not just about memorizing a meaning for a set phrase. Much of the grammar you will learn to understand from context, which requires a knowledge of words and word usage.... at least that is how picked up much of the not so easy to understand parts. I think you will find that if you have a large understanding of words.. despite maybe not knowing lots of grammar.. if you hear words you know.. you can figure out the meaning, and gain an understanding of grammar that is more internal and native speaker like.

Essentially what I am saying is.. there is really is no getting one down before the other, you never stop learning a second language especially one as massive as Japanese.. so to say you want to understand all the grammar first before you begin speaking and reading, amassing vocab etc.. is not a practical approach in my opinion.

BTW, I found my 2 years of elective courses quite helpful in giving me a nice foundation
My year I lived here (Japan) as student the classes were not so great, but then again.. i was here. So if you have a chance in college or whatever.. dont give up on taking formal classes, cuz they may help you.
 

CrimsonDX

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thats not really what i ment, sorry I'm not good at wording my thoughts at all >_<. i already know a lot of vocab from those two years. what i ment was that im not going to sit down with a dictionary and try to learn a bunch of abstract words that i have no way of using. and im not going to completely ignore learning vocab while i learn grammar and kanji. Kanji is vocab IMO so there's close to 1945 vocabulary words right there that ill be learning. I will be learning vocab as i go along.

what i ment by the barely learning anything in japanese was; i didn't learn much of anything outside of vocab. I know almost nothing of grammar, and i maybe knew 20 Kanji at best. Hell i knew a lot of simple vocab just by watching anime, i admit thats not a very good medium of learning, but it still put me ahead of the rest of my class in terms of pronunciation and listening skills.

i know that the learning language is a long and never ending process. english is my native language and im still learning new things. I read alot so im always picking up new things. I don't plan to ever stop learning.


Please forgive me for my stupid questions and please forgive me again if my posts make no sense at all...composition was never my strong point in school.
 

Chidoriashi

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Oh ok i see. Thanks for clarifying.

Well i would not recommend sitting down with a dictionary either. Just learn relevant vocab. When i took my first class, our text book was divided into topics. Such as directions, time, at the doctor, at the supermarket etc.. So we learned all the relevant vocab and some new grammar to go along with each topic (chapter). It was a great base. The other way i was able to increase my comprehension and vocab was by playing RPG games in Japanese. When i started doing this i probably knew about 400 kanji. It was tough but fun. i wrote down every new word and kanji from the text into a list and then i studied it in my spare time (this was while i was in Japan studying, and i did this in class as well). some words were very useful but some were not as useful. I think you can figure out what the not so useful ones are.

Also you might want to think about taking one of the JLPT (Japanese language proficiency test). I know studying for the 2nd and 1st level tests really helped give me something to shoot for. There are 4 levels right now 4 being easiest 1 being hardest, but i have heard they will be changing it to 5 levels soon.

I would highly recommend you get yourself an electronic dictionary too. They make life way, way easier.

Well anyhow good luck with your studies.
 

HarajukuxBoy

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You don't learn kanji or grammar first. You learn them both at the same time. That's how you learn a language, writing and grammar come hand and hand.
 
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