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Where to start...

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Where to start...

Postby OT86 » Mon 01.09.2006 10:18 am

I was wondering. I've now learned all Kana and 40+ Kanji in addition to most of the basic grammar points. Seeing as I'm currently on the other side of the world (in a country that's known for its mono-lingual natives ;) ) my primary use of Japanese is to read / write and not to speak. Of course speaking is important too, but not quite as important to me right now (i'd only be speaking japanese to myself anyway) as reading.

Anyway, with my basic vocabulary, I had a stab at translating one of those kids stories on the "むかしばなし" site, and while there's the odd sentence I can translate fine, the majority of it is unintelligable to me. However, I think that perhaps reading children's stories is a good idea, as the language and vocabulary used is more basic and less varied than its adult counterparts.

So, this question may seem a little dumb to those more experienced in Japanese, but where should I go next?

I mean, I can carry on learning words and the Kanji that go with them (to build my vocabulary) and study grammar in more detail, but what I'd really like is to start with something basic (by basic I mean the stuff Japanese kids might do). I'm by no means below average intelligence-wise, but I often think that it can be a little confusing teaching full-blown adult language to a beginner.

To cut a long story short, I have no idea what I should try to learn next. I could go ahead and learn more vocab and Kanji, but this approach seems to lack a little "direction" considering I want to be able to read just basic text. To become proficient at anything in life, you need to work from the ground up, and at the beginning this is easy, as you know nothing. It's just, having grasped the basics, where should I go from here? It seems there's tonnes of information at the beginner and advanced level, but not a great deal to bridge the gap ( I appreciate im only at mid-beginner level anyway).

Apologies if this post seems like a big incoherent mess, but I'm not sure how better to word it. I'd just like to know how I could build up from my basic knowledge to be able to read simple mangas / texts, or at least be able to understand more of them than I currently do.

I appreciate that this isn't going to develop overnight, but right now It's a huge headache just trying to decide what is best to study and in what order

Many thanks in advance,

Ollie
Last edited by OT86 on Mon 01.09.2006 10:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Where to start...

Postby Infidel » Mon 01.09.2006 11:01 am

If your primary motivation and interest is reading and writing then your best bet is An Introduction to Modern Japanese textbook & workbook

This is hands down the best reading/writing resource. The down side is there is no audio which is why I rarely recommend this set that is so great. Most people are learning to speak and read with a bit more emphasis on the speaking. If you expect nearly all of your experience to be with the writing then this is the best course. Period, by a very wide margin. It will give your learning direction and get you to where you can read pretty much whatever you want with a dictionary at hand.

It is 52 lessons which you can do weekly or bi weekly. At the end of the course you'll know a over a thousand kanji, including name readings, ateji and other important stuff and the kanji is taught in a pretty good reinforcing manner. The first book teaches the grammar and has an example dialogue and has the word index. They really are a matched set. Get the workbook too, the exercises and word lists are key to retaining everything. The pace is strong but with the exercises it isn't so bad. All those writing drills pay off in for memorization. I had to buy them with seperate checks because they aren't cheap, but they are worth it in so many ways.

If you buy them seperate like I did, then get the grammer book first.
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RE: Where to start...

Postby SaigoNoBan » Mon 01.09.2006 12:01 pm

こんばんはOllieさん。 お元気ですか。

I don't know if this may help you or not... What I am currently doing is swotting through the JLPT4 vocabulary list (found it here http://www.geocities.com/joepark01/jlpt.html Forget about the word processor, any text editor can open the files). When they designed the test, they chose the words that would probably be more useful for us beginners from scratch. Once I'm through with the kanji+vocabulary for JLPT4, I'll immediately start with level 3 (although I plan sitting level 4 this year).

大変に勉強しなきゃ。。。ばんざい!!!

(How do you like my brand new avatar?)
とうとう戻ってきました!^_^ お待たせしました
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RE: Where to start...

Postby mandolin » Mon 01.09.2006 12:28 pm

Try to remember that a japanese kid already has a huge vocabulary before they start actually learning their own grammar. They were taught the language at a very young age. Think about it, you were speaking english before you knew what a definite article was, or that english is subject-verb-object.

So learning the way a japanese kid would is almost impossible, since you don't have the speaking background.

If you're not interested in buying a coursebook (though I agree with Ishnar, getting a coursebook IS your best option)... you'll probably want to mingle your vocab learning with grammar study. Grammar will help you clear up particle uses and conjugations of verbs/adjectives, help you identify noun phrases, and parse sentences in general.

I like Tae Kim's site for learning grammar... but his forums are pretty dead most of the time. Tae Kim's Grammar Site

Which ever way you decide to go about it, I wish you best of luck. :)
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RE: Where to start...

Postby SaigoNoBan » Mon 01.09.2006 12:49 pm

Mandolin, I second that 100%. Tae Kim is really great!! I just finished section 4 and will start section 5 after completing the vocab swotting. I am glad we have the same tastes (I started at Takasugi Shinchi's site too, and I loved it). If you don't read PMs, あけましておめでとう。

While I'm at it, I must mention the free material at meguro center (http://www.mlcjapanese.co.jp/Download.htm, thanks Kates;)). There are flash files with pronounciation and spoken sample phrases for 40 verbs and MOST JLPT4 adjectives which are very cutely drawn (it helps memorising, and I had a lot of fun learning with them. They also have some great conjugation charts and exercises). Plus, they are really nice people (I dropped a thank you note on the site and principal Hirata actually wrote me back!!). とても薦めますよ!
Last edited by SaigoNoBan on Mon 01.09.2006 12:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
とうとう戻ってきました!^_^ お待たせしました
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RE: Where to start...

Postby OT86 » Mon 01.09.2006 1:04 pm

wow.. i didn't expect such kind responses :)

thank you everyone for your advice - and particularly Ishnar. Those books look like they are exactly what I've been looking for

*big cheer*

also the JLPT idea is a good one - in fact I was thinking of that very same thing a little earlier, so thanks for the link, Saigon.

@mandolin - totally right there. i was reading and writing before i even got into school - something I totally take for granted. It's amazing how much you learn before you're even taught properly.

once again, my kindest regards for your advice!
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