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Learning japanese 1st time Need some tips :)

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

Learning japanese 1st time Need some tips :)

Postby Slite » Thu 02.12.2015 10:35 pm

Hello Everyone. First off let me congratulate this community for the simply amazing site they managed to get! I took a look around and I loved it!
So here's my story: I've always loved Japanese and last year I finally decided to get some lessons, so November last year I managed to get a Teacher and I'm trying my best to learn it.
But here are somethings I would like you guys to help me out with, if it isn't a problem. :)

1- First off, the book me and my teacher are currently using is Japanese for Busy People, but I heard some things about this book and whilst some were good others were really bad. What do you guys think on this?

2- The teacher I managed to get, he's, well, Japanese, and hes fluent in the language of my country, but honestly all we do is read the book, he says some things from time to time but... I don't know its just boring you know? He doesn't even give me homework. And apparently in 3 months I'm already moving to A1.5 (I find this ridiculous) he sends me the Tests through mail... and whilst I do them without looking at anything... that's not really a way to test someone is it? I also have a teacher for Mandarin and its NOTHING like my Japanese teacher, she prepares the classes, teaches one thing at a time, actually WRITES on the Board and CARES about how I write my Hanzi( Chinese Characters, Chinese version of Kanji), gives me loads of homework and I have a blast. It was after I get my Mandarin teacher that I spot the gigantic difference. You guys think this would be a big influence on my future in Japanese? Should I Try and change teachers?

3-I'm currently using "Basic Kanji book" and it's going fine. But I would like you guys opinions on a good book rather than that one so I can keep up (it only teaches 500 kanji or so). I want a book that really teaches me Kanji, not just some reference book. Some that caught my eyes are "Essencial kanji by P. G. O'neil", "Remembering Kanji" and "Kanji In Context".

4- Some good Books for self study, in the coziness of my home.

5- Any other tips you guys have! :)

I thank you guys in advance, I really really love Japan, it's Culture, Language and People(and it's Food? :D), and I hope to be a part of that world that I've dreamt since I was a little boy. I also apologize if this isn't the right section to place this post.

Love you all Japanese Lovers! :')
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Re: Learning japanese 1st time Need some tips :)

Postby Infidel » Sat 02.14.2015 12:42 pm

So these are private lessons or in college, or just some dude online? Generally it is best to stick with one course not look for another once you've started on one, because you'll just be repeating a lot of material and wasting time. However, if you just started and can determine the books well, what books would be best depends on your circumstances and goals.

All courses have good and bad things, but they all generally get the student to a high beginner or intermediate stage. They just do it differently. Some, like JfBP is geared towards business users, others are towards college exchange student, or tourists. Some are designed for self-study, others are meant to be used in a structured environment.

There are a lot of arguments for learning kanji from the beginning and they all make sense, but anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that the people that learn to speak first, then learn to write later are more likely to reach the intermediate or advanced stage. The important thing to remember is all courses get you there if you stay the course.

Kanji- I recommend studying kanji in tandem with your main coursebook not separately. It won't help reinforcement at all. Kanji in context is great, I have it, but it is geared towards upper beginner/lower intermediate. The workbook is all Japanese even the instructions, the reference book is mostly a glossery.

Some courses I know that use kanji early that are available on amazon.
Elementary Japanese
Introduction to Modern Japanese (bowring)
Rosetta Stone - turn on the kanji
Japanese step by step
Japanese for Everyone
Japanese Demystified ---Yea, a "dummies" type book but a good deal.
---this is hardly an exhaustive list and these courses above all have different utility.

If using JfBP, the kana edition eventually teaches kanji, but not very many, IIRC, it was like 20 or 200, one decimal is a big difference but I honestly can't remember.
なるほど。
さっぱりわからん。
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Re: Learning japanese 1st time Need some tips :)

Postby Slite » Tue 02.17.2015 9:31 pm

Infidel wrote:So these are private lessons or in college, or just some dude online? Generally it is best to stick with one course not look for another once you've started on one, because you'll just be repeating a lot of material and wasting time. However, if you just started and can determine the books well, what books would be best depends on your circumstances and goals.

All courses have good and bad things, but they all generally get the student to a high beginner or intermediate stage. They just do it differently. Some, like JfBP is geared towards business users, others are towards college exchange student, or tourists. Some are designed for self-study, others are meant to be used in a structured environment.

There are a lot of arguments for learning kanji from the beginning and they all make sense, but anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that the people that learn to speak first, then learn to write later are more likely to reach the intermediate or advanced stage. The important thing to remember is all courses get you there if you stay the course.

Kanji- I recommend studying kanji in tandem with your main coursebook not separately. It won't help reinforcement at all. Kanji in context is great, I have it, but it is geared towards upper beginner/lower intermediate. The workbook is all Japanese even the instructions, the reference book is mostly a glossery.

Some courses I know that use kanji early that are available on amazon.
Elementary Japanese
Introduction to Modern Japanese (bowring)
Rosetta Stone - turn on the kanji
Japanese step by step
Japanese for Everyone
Japanese Demystified ---Yea, a "dummies" type book but a good deal.
---this is hardly an exhaustive list and these courses above all have different utility.

If using JfBP, the kana edition eventually teaches kanji, but not very many, IIRC, it was like 20 or 200, one decimal is a big difference but I honestly can't remember.


Thanks so much for your reply!
It's a private lesson, face to face. :)

I see, so by my understanding I'll just go with the flow with the kanji? My goal is to learn Japanese, basically. Im a college student who dreams of studying on japan, and to live there of course!

And should I really keep my current teacher or try to find better one? I really feel that all we do on the class is read read read D:
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Re: Learning japanese 1st time Need some tips :)

Postby Infidel » Fri 02.20.2015 11:09 am

If you are not satisfied with your learning experience with your current tutor, it never hurts to look elsewhere. Just don't become obsessed with looking for the perfect tutor.

Some people are simply not good teachers no matter how skilled they might be otherwise. Have you discussed with your teacher your expectations and needs? A private tutor should adapt to your needs.
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Re: Learning japanese 1st time Need some tips :)

Postby SomeCallMeChris » Thu 02.26.2015 4:19 am

Japanese for Busy People is terrible. You would be better of using free online resources (like Tae Kim, imabi, and this site) than using Japanese for Busy People.
Minna no Nihongo (Japanese for Everyone) is decent, and Genki is also decent. Make sure you get the companion CD with your book (Genki has an edition with the CD and one without; I think Minna always has the CD sold separately but not sure.) Genki is probably the most popular, for what that's worth. It does mean there are a ton of premade decks available for SRS programs like Anki (ankisrs.net)


Introduction to Modern Japanese that was mentioned earlier is a really good textbook, but there is no companion CD for listening practice and it's not very friendly to self-studying. If you had a pro-active teacher who was familiar with the text it could be a decent choice for you.

I really like Heisig's Remember the Kanji system - but understand that it is essentially a mnemonic system for recognizing and writing the kanji, but doesn't teach any readings or words. However, once you have tagged each of the kanji with an English 'keyword' and can easily reproduce and recognize them, it becomes a cinch to learn vocabulary spelled with Kanji. O'Neills is a fine reference, but rather dated. It's not a particularly good kanji learning system although you can manage with it.

I have no experience with Kanji in Context, but people do successfully learn Japanese with it, it's at least not a trap product like Japanese for Busy People.
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Re: Learning japanese 1st time Need some tips :)

Postby Infidel » Wed 03.11.2015 7:06 pm

Japanese for Busy People is a structured course and as such free online resources that are not structured courses are NOT a substitute in any way.

Tae Kim's guide is a grammar guide, and might substitute for another grammar guide, but not a textbook.
Imabi - for all that it has structure and practice lessons, but it is the structure of a grammar guide not a textbook. It is still a bunch of random sentences out of context that are all chosen to cover a specific grammar point.
This site - more of the same. It is designed to supplement a textbook not replace it.


A textbook will have entire conversations that cover progressive grammar and vocabulary. Because they cover conversations in context, textbooks improve written and aural comprehension, not just vocabulary and grammar. So _as a textbook_ JfBP is actually superior to all all the free options you suggested. Because JfBP fills to some degree all the aspects of a textbook.

There are lots of better textbooks, but again, if the OP has progressed far enough then it is better to persevere to the end than throw all that work away and start over.

Just like Heisig teaches the wrong meanings of the kanji, but it can still pay off. JfBP might not teach kanji early or at all, but already knowing a bit of Japanese before you try to learn Kanji is just as helpful as knowing the kanji before you know the Japanese.
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Re: Learning japanese 1st time Need some tips :)

Postby PangWasHere » Thu 03.12.2015 9:17 pm

I'm a newbie here myself and this site has been very helpful in my learning Japanese. I hope it does the same to you. :D

I've only attended a Nihongo class in my college and turned out, I'm not quite good with following other people's pace. That's why I try to learn things with my own pace, looking for resources that would help me learn in a fun way :colonthree:

I'm not sure about your learning pattern but if you are like me who seems to have a hard time following lessons by other people and easily gets bored with structured formalized teaching, you might want to try these methods:

1.) Listening to Japanese conversation.
(Inspired from Dexter's Laboratory 'Omelette du Fromage')
I've been listening to Japanese audio files overnight or everytime I'm out walking. It has helped me understand basic (and sometimes, complicated) sentence structures. Plus, it has improved my listening skills and pronunciation of Japanese words :)

I use the audio files from this site. There are also PDFs that provide grammar explanation for each lesson.

2.) Expanding vocabulary.
I don't know if you've heard about Memrise but it's one of the best sites I've stumbled upon. I use this site to learn new Japanese words and the community provides these 'mems' which help you remember certain terms. Plus, it has this 'goal tracker' and 'points and badge system' which make the site very interactive and fun!

My first course was this. From there, you can search other Japanese courses to learn new vocabs.

3.) A dictionary on-the-go.
I also study new words using a dictionary. I don't have the money to buy a physical one so I opted to something very cheap and handy: an Android app. JED is my favorite since it's very simple yet it has everything I need :D It even shows the proper Kanji strokes!

If you have an Android phone, you can download it here.

P.S. I had a hard time configuring it for the first time so if you have trouble doing that as well, you can contact me and I'll guide you through it :bow:

4.) Read, speak, write.
Practice makes perfect. Or near perfect, at least :P

Apply the things you've learned so far by reading Japanese books or articles, meeting native Japanese speakers and talking with them and writing your own stories in Japanese.

As for reading, you can read this article to find resources.

I went to random Japanese learning sites to find native speakers and since I'm not socially-adept, I haven't found a good partner yet :whistle: But I was hoping I'd find one here :colonthree: Anyways, speaking with a native Japanese speaker will definitely improve your Japanese. (I've learned another language before and interacting with someone skilled with the language helped me become fluent in a year :pray: )

I have a Japanese diary which consists of simple Japanese sentences (as of the moment. Hoping my sentences will improve with the proper Kanjis and grammar). I write there from time to time so I won't forget my Hiragana, Katakana and Kanjis.

I guess that's all :sweatdrop: I hope it helped you even just a bit. Good luck with learning Japanese :dance:
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