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Can I learn Japanese without taking a class?

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

Can I learn Japanese without taking a class?

Postby sdhaku » Wed 08.23.2006 12:41 am

My work schedule is so hectic I don't think I will be able to take a college course in Japanese but I would still really like to learn the language. From my research so far I've gathered tips like don't waste time on romaji, learn hiragana before katakana, learn a few kanji at a time while learning kana, etc.

There seem to be many good resources online about Japanese so I think I can do it but I wanted to pose the question here to see what kind of feedback I get. I am a total beginner...
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RE: Can I learn Japanese without taking a class?

Postby Infidel » Wed 08.23.2006 1:02 am

With resources like this site all you need is a good textbook, motivation, discipline, and time, lots and lots of time.
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RE: Can I learn Japanese without taking a class?

Postby magma » Wed 08.23.2006 1:28 am

Infidel summed the requirements up nicely:

TEXTBOOK
Look for textbooks with lots of audio and practice exercises. (Japanese textbooks are often skimpy on the exercises).

MOTIVATION
Make friends with Japanese people and see them on a regular basis. They will encourage you (both consciously and unconsciously) to persevere. Try to keep a firm handle on what attracted you to the language in the first place, and when it all feels overwhelming, take a break and remind yourself of why you're doing it. Listen to some Japanese music, watch an entertaining Japanese tv program/movie, read some interesting literature, etc. If you make studying too much of a chore, you won't want to do it, and studying anything, even entertainment material, is better than nothing.

DISCIPLINE
I've never been married, but my experience of studying Japanese resembles what I think married life must be like. You start out infatuated with the language, and every little thing about it seems wonderful. Then as you get more acquainted, you start to see some of the big challenges that are ahead of you. You will have times of ease and joy, and times of pain and suffering. But in the long run, if you stick it out, it's unspeakably rewarding.

TIME
If you neglect your wife, she will leave you, so make sure you spend time with her every day--even if you can only spare a few minutes. Women need to know that you love them, and your brain needs to know that Japanese is something it should get used to, so practice every day. Even 15 minutes a day is better than 4 hours on the weekend.
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RE: Can I learn Japanese without taking a class?

Postby sdhaku » Wed 08.23.2006 1:58 am

Thanks for the feedback. What should I focus on now since I'm just beginning? Learning kana? Grammar?
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RE: Can I learn Japanese without taking a class?

Postby chikara » Wed 08.23.2006 2:16 am

Start by learning hiragana and then katakana. At the same time as you are doing this start going through the basic grammar lessons on this site. These have the kana as well as the (heaven forbid) romaji so you can practice your kana as you go.
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RE: Can I learn Japanese without taking a class?

Postby Beau » Wed 08.23.2006 2:20 am

Get a textbook, and it will teach you them all at the same time.

Japanese is grammar and kana (and kanji too, later on).

For example, if you are going to spend 30 min each day studying,
you should spend 15 minutes on grammar and 15 min on kana.

Ultimately, when you are familiar with all the kana, you can start practising model sentences and dialouges- and you can write them in kana. So, you can study grammar, using kana to do it and vice-versa.

An advanced student for example, wouldn't write grammar practise sentences in romaji, then write other sentences just to practice kana and kanji. They are all intertwined. Likewise, if you have a lot of kana knowledge and no grammar or vocabulary, then writing practice sentences will only train you in kana, when they could be helping to improve everything.

To sum up, a sentence, and likewise the Japanese language, is made up of GRAMMAR, KANA+KANJI and VOCABULARY. They all rely on each other, and the more of any one you know, the easier it will be to study the others.
Last edited by Beau on Wed 08.23.2006 2:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Can I learn Japanese without taking a class?

Postby paul_b » Wed 08.23.2006 2:40 am

chikara wrote:
Start by learning hiragana and then katakana. At the same time as you are doing this start going through the basic grammar lessons on this site.

{wiki=Lessons}basic grammar lessons{/wiki}
[wiki=Lessons]basic grammar lessons[/wiki]

Here endeth the lesson in wiki linking. ;-)

Of course the majority of the articles are still not transfered so see the links top 'n' left as well.
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RE: Can I learn Japanese without taking a class?

Postby chikara » Wed 08.23.2006 2:47 am

paul_b wrote:
Here endeth the lesson in wiki linking. ;-)


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RE: Can I learn Japanese without taking a class?

Postby neo2407 » Wed 08.23.2006 7:37 am

Hey, any other tips?
I just found out that I can't do my Highers (Scottish version of the English A Levels except harder, don't know what the American equivilant would be) for at least a year, and I needed them to do Japanese at University (only 1 University in Scotland does Japanese as an actual course, and 1 other does evening classes but it's about 80 miles from where I live :( ) So I need to learn on my own.

My neighbours are Japanese but in the 11-12 years I've lived next door to them, none of my family has ever said a word to them. And it just seems extremely rude to walk up to their door and say "Hey I know we have never talked but can you help me learn Japanese".
I could try the only book shop in the area, but I have no idea if they sell anything about learning another language. Also I can't find a Japanese tutor in the area (Yeah I know, the area I live in sucks!), but I've already got someone teaching me to play the guitar so I don't know if I'd be able to do both at once.
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RE: Can I learn Japanese without taking a class?

Postby hungryhotei » Wed 08.23.2006 7:44 am

neo2407 wrote:

I could try the only book shop in the area, but I have no idea if they sell anything about learning another language.


I don't think that Scotland is so remote that amazon doesn't deliver there.
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RE: Can I learn Japanese without taking a class?

Postby neo2407 » Wed 08.23.2006 8:20 am

hungryhotei wrote:
neo2407 wrote:

I could try the only book shop in the area, but I have no idea if they sell anything about learning another language.


I don't think that Scotland is so remote that amazon doesn't deliver there.


Only the Highlands and islands in Scotland are remote, and I just have no money in my bank account so I can't order anything online at the moment. And going to a bookshop allows you to see the contents of the book before you buy it.
For example: I recently bought a book about an anime from amazon, the description said it contains pictures of all the characters, character bio's, and an orginal story based on the series.
Then when it arrived I found that in most of the pictures of the female characters they were...dressed kind of ecchi-ish. And Amazon didn't mention ANYTHING like that.
Know I know a Japanese textbook wouldn't have anything like that in, but I may need to go in to town tomorrow anyway so no better time to pick one or two up.
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RE: Can I learn Japanese without taking a class?

Postby clay » Wed 08.23.2006 9:30 am

I don't think that Scotland is so remote that amazon doesn't deliver there.


Or... http://www.TheJapanShop.com ;)

Also I have heard they provide more personalized service and information. Of course I am a little biased.
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RE: Can I learn Japanese without taking a class?

Postby neo2407 » Wed 08.23.2006 9:43 am

clay wrote:
I don't think that Scotland is so remote that amazon doesn't deliver there.


Or... http://www.TheJapanShop.com ;)

Also I have heard they provide more personalized service and information. Of course I am a little biased.


A "little biased"? Lol. I probably would order from there but as I said I have no money in my bank account so I can't order anything online. And I've almost gotten through all the articles on this site and I need more material quick and it would be faster just to go to the bookshop and see if I can get some stuff. But if I can't find anything I'll definatly order from there. Even if I do find something, I'll probably still order some stuff lol.
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RE: Can I learn Japanese without taking a class?

Postby clay » Wed 08.23.2006 9:56 am

:) If you can find a good textbook (stay away from romaji like the OP said) that would be best. That is really all you need.

I spent way too much money on books and stuff when I first started. All I really needed was a textbook. Today with Internet forums, kanji and online grammar helps you can get just about all the information you need if you have any questions. But there isn't a good replacement for the old fashioned paper textbook.
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RE: Can I learn Japanese without taking a class?

Postby neo2407 » Wed 08.23.2006 10:25 am

clay wrote:
(stay away from romaji like the OP said)


If only someone had told me that to begin with :'( .
Although I am aware of the problems with romaji and I've been using that for the moment, seeing as it seems to be the easiest for people like me, but I think I can sort my way through the problems. If the technique I'm using (my own "home-made" technique) works it might help people who, like me, did romaji first. It's seems to be OK so far.

And please don't ask me to explain the technique because I probably won't. I won't explain it for a few reasons, 1. 'cause I haven't figured out every detail yet, I'm working on it 24:7. And 2. because it's kinda hard to explain at the moment.

It should be OK though. Luckly I have the kind of mind that's almost perfect for learning Japanese ;) .
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