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Beginner need help in direction

Have a textbook or grammar book that you find particularly helpful? What about a learning tip to share with others?

Beginner need help in direction

Postby Jay6 » Mon 04.28.2008 10:11 pm

Hello, i'm new here. I've learnt Hiragana and Katakana so far but i'm really stumped atm. There's loads and loads of information to learn, which is good, but I have no idea where to start ;P Should I be learning Kanji or grammar?, or maybe something else?

I've heard about a book called Genki, is that a good option?
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Re: Beginner need help in direction

Postby chikara » Mon 04.28.2008 10:24 pm

It is a very good idea to have a text book to guide you as you learn. I haven't used Genki myself but many people speak highly of it.

A good text book will guide you through learning grammar and will increase your vocabulary as you go and also introduce you to kanji in context.
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Re: Beginner need help in direction

Postby clay » Tue 04.29.2008 10:26 am

Yes, having a textbook is a very good idea. It will keep your learning structured in the very important early stages.

Having hiragana and katakana under your belt is great. Many textbooks (including Genki) pretty much assumes the student has mastered (or at least been introduced) to the kana.

Have fun with your studies!
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Re: Beginner need help in direction

Postby Jay6 » Tue 04.29.2008 4:00 pm

Thanks for help guys, I'll be trying to get some Genki books real soon. :D
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Re: Beginner need help in direction

Postby nukemarine » Wed 04.30.2008 7:11 am

If you go the kanji route first, one recommended book is "Remembering the Kanji" used in conjuction with the website "Reviewing the Kanji" at kanji.koohii.com

Problem is, it's set up for you to learn all the 1940 some odd Jouyou kanji in addition to 100 more and then only in English (or Spanish or German or French if you get those books). At 5 to 10 minutes per kanji including review times, that can be 250 to 500 hours worth of studying before you even begin learning Japanese. That's like a 5 credit hour college course WITH that 2:1 add on that you usually ignore with most classes.

If 2000 is not your cup of tea, there's a RevTK lite modification for Reviewing the Kanji website that starts with the JLPT 2 list of kanji (about 1000 or so) which can take you about a month to get through at 2 hours a day of studying.

Benefit of learning Kanji first is you can begin learning Japanese using full kanji sentences. The theory is you learn the On yomi and Kun yomi pronunciations as you go through the sentences. Problem then is finding a beginners book that uses all the Jouyou kanji in context.

Point being, if you start off with kanji first, expect to pay a lot of time up front. I think the pay off at the back end is worth it, but you may not. Hence, the warnings about the time investment.

I agree that Genki is a good book if you're starting off.
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Re: Beginner need help in direction

Postby chikara » Wed 04.30.2008 8:38 pm

nukemarine wrote:If you go the kanji route first, one recommended book is "Remembering the Kanji" ......

Both going the kanji route first (ie learning kanji in isolation) and James Heisig's book "Remembering the Kanji" are rather controversial recommendations.

If you (the OP) have a spare day or two have a read of this thread Why Are Newbies Learning The Freakin Kanji?!

Personally I would advise against going that route but that is just my opinion. :)
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Re: Beginner need help in direction

Postby nukemarine » Wed 04.30.2008 8:57 pm

Another method that was not mentioned is "Pimsleur Japanese". It concentrates solely on the spoken language. It's great for working on pronunciation on that native level that many seek. It has a good pace.

The downside is ZERO literary support. With other pimsleur you'd get a vocabulary and reading material. With Japanese Pimleur you get nothing, not even Romaji. This is not a show stopper for most people.

The other downside is it's expensive and gives you limited vocabulary. Now, what you're given you should learn well and will add on to other material you take for learning.

For the Kanji route, be wary of the overly long thread. There was a lot of hate and discontent up front due to the inflammatory title. Near the end, you get a better discussion on the pros and cons of learning Kanji up front.

Truth be told, theres' TONS of material out there for the beginner. Once you get past that, the pickings start looking a little bare.
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Re: Beginner need help in direction

Postby chikara » Wed 04.30.2008 9:07 pm

I agree with nukemarin-san's assessment of Pimsleur. I used it as an additional learning resource to improve my listening (which is still woeful) and pronunciation. As has been said though it is no substitute for a good text book.

"Remembering the Kanji" certainly seems to polarise people which is why I said it was a controversial recommendation. :)
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Re: Beginner need help in direction

Postby Snowflake » Wed 04.30.2008 9:18 pm

Jay6さん, I'm probably just about where you are in terms of learning Japanese. As a matter of fact, if you already know all your kana, you may be a wee bit ahead of me, since I'm only halfway through katakana :).

Like you, I'm pretty much on a self-study path. Following the advice I've read here on TJP (and research I've done on a number of other sites), I decided to add a bit more structure to my learning. I looked at a lot of different textbook options and, for my personal learning style, Genki seems to be my best choice. I took the plunge and ordered the Genki set (textbook, supplement CD, workbook and answer key) on Friday night (via the TJP Bookstore link, of course :wink: ).

Well, everything arrived today (YAY!!!). Talk about fast service, eh? I'm as giddy as a kid at the holidays :lol: . I know I should probably finish learning the katakana first, but I just have a few more rows to do. I think I'll try to finish them while working on Genki Chapter 1.

Long story short, if you feel you need more direction (and that's what you said in your post), and you can't take a class, it seems a good textbook will be a big help. If nothing else, it'll help you focus, because, as you said, there is a lot of information out there. Without some sort of structure, it's very easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged.

Good luck in your studies!
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Re: Beginner need help in direction

Postby GraceyLike » Thu 05.01.2008 12:11 pm

D= I need to start learning more Kanji =[. I don't know loads. My friend keeps telling me I shoudln't bother, her exact words are "Japanese students don't start learning Kanji until they're 5, so I'm not going to start until I'm at least half fluent". I disagree though. I'm not bombarding myself with kanji, but I can recognise about 100/110, and I can write about 50 from memory =3.
My Japanese friend said focus on speaking first, then Kanji though. I still try and learn Kanji though =3
I hate Kanji XD
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Re: Beginner need help in direction

Postby Jay6 » Thu 05.01.2008 7:18 pm

Thanks for all the replies guys I really appreciate it.

Need some more help in regards to what Genki book to buy. Which one of these do I get first?

http://www.amazon.com/Genki-Integrated- ... 4789009637
http://www.amazon.com/Genki-Integrated- ... 789010015/
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Re: Beginner need help in direction

Postby Snowflake » Thu 05.01.2008 7:46 pm

Jay6 wrote:Thanks for all the replies guys I really appreciate it.

Need some more help in regards to what Genki book to buy. Which one of these do I get first?


If you can swing it financially, Jay6, I'd say get them both. That's what I did. My reasoning? Since I don't have a class, I'll need as much practice as I can get. The workbook should provide that, and provide it in a way that directly complements what I'm covering in the text.

I also picked up the Answer Key. My reasoning? If I practice, practice, practice and it's all wrong, I'll have double the trouble (unlearning the wrong stuff I just stuffed into my brain and then relearning it correctly). As a side note, the Answer Key covers the exercises in the texts (Genki Volume 1 and Volume 2) as well as those in the workbooks (again, Volume 1 and Volume 2), so you won't need to buy any extras.

My plan is to approach this as if I were in a class. Study a chapter in the text (or a portion, if the chapter is long) and then do the corresponding workbook section to reinforce it. I started working on Chapter 1 today. Fun!
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Re: Beginner need help in direction

Postby p-chan » Fri 05.02.2008 4:29 am

question about genki ... what if i study the entire vocabulary first.... before the dialouge and grammar?
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Re: Beginner need help in direction

Postby Sairana » Fri 05.02.2008 5:33 am

p-chan wrote:question about genki ... what if i study the entire vocabulary first.... before the dialouge and grammar?


...? What if?

It's never a bad idea to at least read over the vocabulary ahead of time. I wouldn't bother with memorizing them before listening to the dialog and such, personally. I believe that things are easier to remember when you have some context to put them in, so.....

But if you prefer memorization, then by all means go ahead. Everyone's different. You don't need someone to tell you whether or not your method is OK. If it works, do it! :)
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Re: Beginner need help in direction

Postby p-chan » Fri 05.02.2008 11:11 pm

Sairana wrote:
p-chan wrote:question about genki ... what if i study the entire vocabulary first.... before the dialouge and grammar?


...? What if?

It's never a bad idea to at least read over the vocabulary ahead of time. I wouldn't bother with memorizing them before listening to the dialog and such, personally. I believe that things are easier to remember when you have some context to put them in, so.....

But if you prefer memorization, then by all means go ahead. Everyone's different. You don't need someone to tell you whether or not your method is OK. If it works, do it! :)


thanks, i konw it's better with content.. but the dialouge dosen't use much of the vocabulary as in the practice exercises..

at first i did was i followed the book.. dialouge->vocabulary->gramar->practice.. this was ok but sometimes the new words kinda bugs me..

so i did the vocabulary->dialouge->gramar-> practice.. this was better but i feel it's kinda takes long to finish a lesson because i try to cramp the vocabulary to my head.. based on renshuu.. from lesson 1 to 5 vocaublary i get around 67%..

now i was thinking what if i cramp the vocabulary first, listen to the dialouge (review some words) then i could focus more on grammar and practice later... after that maybe i'll tackle the kanji...

what you think? i'm planing to take the 3kyuu this year.. hehehe..
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