Mike Cash wrote:I'd like to add that I am constantly impressed by all the neato programs and databases folks have available to them these days for learning Japanese. The last time I studied Japanese was back before we had the internet, and even personal computers weren't yet common (or very advanced). My study materials contained sample sentences/conversations including references to listening to "records".
Mike, you always make the best observations. I only started seriously approaching Japanese two years ago and there's been far more made available to serious learners even since then.
Skype - talk directly with native Japanese
Torrents - "acquire" native Japanese media
Amazon.jp - buy native Japanese media
SRS programs - remember native Japanese sentences
Database programs - have all Japanese material sorted for you in progressive fashion
Subs2srs - turn entertainment material into learning aids
Online/offline dictionaries - quickly find what a word means, usually with sample sentences
Japanese forums/blogs - quickly get an answer to your question (within reason) or find new fascinating ways to learn.
I don't even think I'm approaching all that's available to help learn Japanese to be literate and fluent at a functional adult level. Plus then there's the techniques to best use that material.
20 years ago, the saying 'You should move to the country to best learn that language' was true. Now, although it'd be nice, it's not a necessity nor is it necessarily the best. With the above material, I think I've become better in Japanese while in Africa the last six months than in the six months prior living in Japan (though I'd rather still be living in Japan).