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Lestat84

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I have ZERO knowledge of the Japanese language whatsoever, but I would really like to learn the language. So where do you recommend I start? Do you guys know of any textbooks that start from the very beginning? I would really appreciate the help and thanks in advance.
 

Thaiboy

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I would reccomend for "Minano Nihongo". I started from this book and it was really good one.
 

Lestat84

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i checked that book out and found it confusing and at times even incoherent. i have looked at genki also. i like this one better but i seem to be progressing really slowly on the hiragana learning. does anyone have tips as to how to learn hiragana and katakana faster or just better?
 

Mike Cash

骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう
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What's the rush? Learning Japanese is a project that is going to require years. It hardly matters if it takes a few more days or weeks for you to get a handle on the kana.
 

Lestat84

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I don't know that there is a "rush", I just feel like it gets kinda tedious. I'm just anxious to get to the good stuff. And don't give me crap philosophy about language and patience. I get all that and realize the reality, I just am anxious. It's a natural feeling so don't criticize.
 

Mike Cash

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What progress have you made over the last five months?
 

Macrobiotic

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Below is an excellent free internet resource with only romaji examples. I have never encountered better or more easy to understand explanations. Only prerequisite to this is knowledge of verb conjugation.
After I had finished this site, learned kana and a few hundred kanji I had established a foothold in japanese without the confusion of dealing with books such as Genki. To be honest, I don't think Genki starts feeling natural and obvious until you're actually a bit above what it teaches. I never liked it and I have seen many high school students using that one or similar books for three years and then graduating without really having gained a true foundation in japanese.

Tim Sensei's Corner - Japanese Verbs - Introduction and Table of Contents

I also recommend you download a program called Mnemosyne for free. It's not as fancy looking as Anki but I think it's much better. A good way to kick off is to combine the site above with daily Mnemosyne repetitions of the phrases you learn. You transcribe every romaji phrase from that site into real japanese and enter them into Mnemosyne. It's easier than playing Tetris and it feels more like enjoying yourself than studying.

http://mnemosyne-proj.org/download-mnemosyne.php

Other free resources which are good are about.com japanese. This is a perfectly valid free alternative to Genki although it's sometimes a bit confusing to navigate and find the right menus etc.

http://japanese.about.com

If you still want the Genki dialogue all in one place, and redone with a much clearer and more easy to understand voice (still done by a native speaker), they can be found here.

http://japanesestudynow.com/?p=3923

Here is a good free resource for Kanji.

http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~ik2r-myr/kanji/kanji1a.htm

As for writing kanji, I suggest you don't wait too long. Write them two at a time when you're waiting for your tea or coffee or dinner to be ready. Do this without pressure, for killing time and after just a few days you will probably think it's fun. This is not mainly so you can handwrite letters in japanese before even knowing the language. It's meant to boost your reading ability early on. If you can write kanji, you have an easier time recognizing them which will limit the confusion you're bound to face initially. In fact, focus on writing kanji you might mix up, such as 裁 栽 我 etc etc and skip the rest until you're more confident in the language.

The best book I know, once you get beyond the basics, is "Japanese core words and phrases" by Kakuko Shoji. This is worth buying.
 
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NihonLover

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Well, I have been studying since September, so I am a newbie myself. However, I found flash cards extremely helpful and I also got the advice of avoiding romaji as much as possible. I learnt kana that way and after that, I moved on thanks to an iPad app. Lots of people here still prefer books. I too have books but I have found apps extremely helpful. It's divided into lessons and each one has an audio track. This helps a lot in understanding the pronunciation and many key first-step aspects to move on to "the good stuff" as you put it.
 

Macrobiotic

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However, I found flash cards extremely helpful and I also got the advice of avoiding romaji as much as possible.

I agree that phrases in romaji should never ever be used as flash cards or for any form of repetition. However, for the first months, transcribing romaji example phrases into real japanese (kana and preferably kanji too) and making them into flashcards might be even better than just copy pasting finished japanese sentences, I think. You actually get to build these sentences and think about them as you write them in kana/kanji.
 

NihonLover

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Furigana are instead really useful to learn both kana and kanji. I usually transcribe the lyrics of a song completely in kana and then kanji as well. Music and anime alike do help a lot in the process
 
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