View topic - Hello! Intro and questions...
So back in 2001-2002 I decided I wanted to learn Japanese. I like the sound of the language and it would allow me to watch my Anime and Godzilla movies without subtitles...
I only started seriously studying it in 2008. After 6 months things were going more-or-less well, but I found I was having trouble memorizing the vocabulary. Learning English was easy because there's so much in common with French, my first language, and because we learn it at school and see it on TV. Not so with Japanese. Also, since I moved to another city, I kinda broke my routine and only just recently started studying again.
Sooooo.... I'm pretty much at the point I was before I moved, which means the main trouble is vocabulary. Most of the learning I did was with the help of books written specifically for that purpose, but I think I've done all I could on my own, and I wanted to ask for some advice. I need to know enough to be able to learn the rest by context.
Should I take private courses ? Kidnap a (female) Japanese exchange student ? What could I do to improve and actually, you know, be able to converse in Japanese ?
Tasukete kudasai !
Master of the Shining Darkness
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This is a good place to work with folks on issues, commiserate about the headaches of foreign language study, and just enjoy the company of fellow-travelers.
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If you are a fan of anime and Japanese film then watching and listening to those should help build up your vocabulary. Listening to spoken Japanese is still a weak point for me so I tend to read in order to improve my vocabulary. The more I read the less words I have to look up.
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For vocabulary, I offer the following tips:
- Word association. Try to find a concept or English word or phrase that helps you bring the meaning to mind. Example, "kau" (to buy), you could think of a cow ("kau"!) armed with shopping bags and a cart. "Miru" sounds a bit like "mirror", which you look into; if you're learning "-masu" forms rather than dictionary ("-u") forms, then just try to form associations with the stems ("mi" rather than "mimasu"), since the end will always be the same.
Word associations are only crutches, of course - they take too long for memory to be of real, long-term use, but they're very helpful and effective for bringing them to mind until you can get to a point where they jump into mind, unbidden.
- Usage drills. I'm a fan of the "Learn Japanese: New College Text" series, even if it's not as "fun" and a bit more technical in parts than some of the other popular series; the main reason I like it is its strong emphasis on drills of all sorts: sentence modification drills (where you start with a sentence, and are given one word at a time, each time being expected to modify the sentence to replace one word with the new one you were given, pattern/response drills ("kinou ginkou e ikimashita ka?" "iie, mada ikimasen deshita.") There is no better way to learn vocabulary than repeated exposure and use.
- Spaced Repition System (SRS), such as Anki (download to your computer or phone, or just use directly on the web: http://www.ichi2.net/anki/). Like flashcards, but designed to bring it to your attention less and less often as you become more and more comfortable with the material.
Hope that helps!
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