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Thinking about learning Japanese.

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Thinking about learning Japanese.

Postby Rion » Thu 12.15.2005 11:59 am

I am currently thinking about learning Japanese but I am not sure and I was wondering if anyone could help me get a better feel of what it will be like by awnsering a few of my questions. What do you think the hardest and easiest parts of Japanese to learn are? What were your favorite and least favorite things to study about Japanese? What do you think the best method for studing Japanese is? How long have you been studing Japanese for and are you pleased with what you have learned so far? If it turns out to be something I like I will take a few course in college but that is about a year away for me and if I do like I want to get started as soon as posible.
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RE: Thinking about learning Japanese.

Postby Mariya » Thu 12.15.2005 1:56 pm

Hi there! Hmm...my way of answering those questions would be, just basically that you need to have a passion for learning the language. There has to be something inside you that is pushing you to learn more, so I don't know what it'd feel like hesitating! Anyways, the answers to your questions...

Hardest part : Kanji, but also the most enjoyable ^_^
Easiest part : Hiragana/Katakana, maybe?..

All aspects of learning are my favorite, so I can't pick! I guess for your question's sake though, I'd say its practicing the skills you have learnt and putting them into practice. Least favorite...don't think there is such thing for me!

Study methods...all I really do is collect all my resources, look over things again and again. Even if I get five minutes spare, I either jot things down or run through them in my head. Maybe not so much a method, but more like a strategy.

I've studied for...*thinks*...since August. I've learnt Katakana, Hiragana, most basic/intermediate grammar and few Kanji. Considering I barely get time due to college work, I'd say thats good progress and I am happy with it. ^^

So wrapping this up...It really depends on the time and effort you are ready to put into it. It's not one of those things that you feel like committing yourself to one day, and not bothering the next. Hope I made you change/consider changing your mind somewhat~! Ja ne!
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RE: Thinking about learning Japanese.

Postby mandolin » Thu 12.15.2005 2:29 pm

I agree with Mariya. You pretty much need to have a passionate reason to learn the language for you to have fun with it and be successful. There will always be frustrating moments, and those are the times that you'll need your motivation to overcome the roadblocks.

Hardest part: breaking away from english associations

It's even more difficult to explain what I mean by this.... but I'll try.

When I first started learning japanese, (and even when I was learning German in high school) I think I had the idea that... it's just a matter of knowing the words and substituting them for english words and everything would work out nice and tidy.

But.. it's not that way. The sorts of things people generally want to translate are actually cultural phrases that don't have a literal equivalent in japanese. I'm going to pick on another thread in this forum... I hope I don't make the author angry.

"What am I going to do with you?"

I don't think this phrase can be translated literally into japanese. I think it is best to ask about the situation the question is used in. A disparaged mother might ask this to her child when she feels like she doesn't know how to handle them. What would a japanese mother say? She might not say "what am I going to do with you".

It is VERY hard to break away from attempting to associate idiomatic or culturally situational phrases in a literal sense. But once you do, learning flows along much more smoothly, there are fewer frustrations like "how does this translate if X word means Y? that makes no sense!"

Easiest: learning to write/pronounce the hiragana/katakana tables

My favorite part of learning japanese is the kanji. I think they are beautiful and functional. It is a challenge because there are many kanji, but I see little difference between learning kanji and any other vocabulary. Every language has thousands upon thousands of words, and it takes a special focus to start building a veritable database of terms to choose from when writing (or speaking).

I, like Mariya, don't have a least favorite part of learning the language. I am engrossed in my study. :)

I have taken my study seriously for about a year now, and recently had my first talk with a native japanese speaker. I surprised myself with how much I could actually understand, even though I am still poor at being able to construct my own sentences. I am very satisfied with how much I have been able to learn in self-study, and have even more motivation to keep at it!

Examine your motivations, basically. Without that, I think success will be more difficult to achieve.
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RE: Thinking about learning Japanese.

Postby Mariya » Thu 12.15.2005 2:50 pm

Hardest part: breaking away from english associations


I think we think alike mandolin :D.
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RE: Thinking about learning Japanese.

Postby spank » Thu 12.15.2005 11:59 pm

I think the hardest part of learning japanese is trying to make sense of what japanese speakers are saying. Many of their words sound strung together and only the occasional particle will punctuate the sentence, helping to grammatically guide you to what is being said. OTher than that, with all the homonyms, limited number of syllables and long and short vowels sounding similar, i think aural ability is hard to master.

As for the kanji: if you have a good photogenerative memory, and don't mind putting pencil to paper for literacy purposes, kanji isn't so hard to read or write. Remembering the various readings and conjugations can be daunting though.

My focus for the last 12 months has been on mastering 2000 essential kanji. I know close to 800 kanji - and those are 800 that i can draw on cue, from memory alone. Sure, i'll make the mistake here and there, and i can't remember all the readings, but this will come with time. In another 6 months, I hope to know all 2000 and about half of the readings.

good luck with your decision. language can be a powerful tool - remember that.
Last edited by spank on Thu 12.15.2005 11:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Thinking about learning Japanese.

Postby reimi » Fri 12.16.2005 12:18 am

i have a friend who lives in japan for two years. but he doesnt go to japanese school to study grammer. cz he is not interested in japanese(language). but he is really interested to have japanese friends. his japanese grammer is prettey bad and cant talk so fluently, but his gag or sense of humor in japanese help him to make a lot of friends. and he is not afraid of mistaken, he can cheange to joke.

what i want to say, is to think what you are interested in.

of course i ll help you. i am so happy that you are interested in my language.

good luck! daijyobu(dont worry)!:D
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RE: Thinking about learning Japanese.

Postby tgmerritt » Fri 12.16.2005 1:28 am

Hi! Glad you're interested in something near and dear to all the hearts here.

Hardest part of Japanese for me was breaking free of English-thinking.

Case-in-point: in Japanese, the passive voice is used excessively in my opinion.

You can say "I was pushed by him" in Japanese, but, since I have a degree in English Literature, I spent 16 years in school forcing myself to block out sentence structures such as this. In an English class at my Uni, you get beaten with sticks for writing something like this. Teachers would tell me "He pushed me" is proper.

Breaking free of stuff like that is still really hard. And I've been studying a long long time.

I think the best way to learn anything is to immerse yourself in it - so I recommend a study abroad in Japan. Anything short of total dedication to a subject will leave you with mediocre results. Any subject.

Short of moving to Japan (I did - you can too!), I recommend finding community groups - Japanese people live all over the world afterall, there are sure to be a few in your area who would take an interest in helping you learn. That might be assuming much, but most first-gen Japanese people are extremely pleasant. Once they've been in my country for too long, they get a little fiesty like the natives :(

Colleges always have groups and clubs you can join. Visit the foreign language department soon and look up a Japan Club.

Remember - constant exposure to Japanese is better for learning than classes and books (at least to me).

Afterall - did you take a class to learn your native language?
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RE: Thinking about learning Japanese.

Postby freshstart » Mon 12.26.2005 2:35 pm

Hi, everyone. I'm new here. Like Rion, I am thinking of learning Japanese. I am excited by all you have written here. As I'm a Vietnamese, I think learning Japanese for me will be just like learning English a long time ago. I have been learning English for the past 7 years as it is a required subject at school. I spent the first 4 years going to evening classes to improve my grammar. The last 3 years, I just stayed at home, reading books, listening to CNN, watching English movies, etc. I don't think I have an effective way of learning English cuz it took me such a long time. Now, as I am beginning to learn Japanese, I really need a better way of learning. Would you guys experienced learners tell me if it is good if I only stay at home to learn Japanese on my own without going to evening classes? Can I learn effectively through books, CDs, and the Internet without a teacher in class? Thanks a lot.
\"You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.\" - Friedrich Nietzsche
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RE: Thinking about learning Japanese.

Postby LaughingMan » Mon 12.26.2005 4:28 pm

Rion wrote:
I am currently thinking about learning Japanese but I am not sure and I was wondering if anyone could help me get a better feel of what it will be like by awnsering a few of my questions. What do you think the hardest and easiest parts of Japanese to learn are? What were your favorite and least favorite things to study about Japanese? What do you think the best method for studing Japanese is? How long have you been studing Japanese for and are you pleased with what you have learned so far? If it turns out to be something I like I will take a few course in college but that is about a year away for me and if I do like I want to get started as soon as posible.


Hardest part: Kanji
It is absolutely managable, I believe, but I am sure that it will take a lot of work. Memorizing thousands of characters for usage seems like a big wall to overcome. However, like mandolin said, it doesn't seem like much more than building vocabulary.

Easiest part: Hiragana
This, being the first Japanese alphabet that I learned, offered very little conflict with anything else I know. There are more characters than English, but it truly isn't hard since the characters are, for the most part, sorted in groups.

Favorite part: Grammar
I really like the complexities of Japanese grammar and how it can be different. The sentence order and the 'particle' all offered very interesting elements to a sentence. Sentences able to make sense without spoken subjects is interesting.

Least favorite part: There isn't an aspect of the subject that I really dislike, but if it means anything, I'll repeat that kanji is the most difficult part of the language to me, so far.

Study method: Review the old material you learned regularly whenever you think there might be even the slightest that you might not understand. Also... practice, practice, practice. You can expect to stumble on your language-learning journey, but such things are necessary in order to advance. Oh, and one more thing I want to add is this: Learning any foreign language would require you to disassociate word-to-word translations between your own language and the one you're learning. The same applies to Japanese, perhaps even more so. I don't think I had a strenuous amount of difficulty associating myself from the English language in terms of grammatical structure, - but then again, I'm not advanced in Japanese either - but I think that it is also very important to get the 'feel' and feel the 'flow' of the sentences, instead of translating everything you have in your mind into the English (or other) equivalent.

Length of study: Technically, I've been studying since about three years ago, but I wasn't that intent upon it those years ago. I studied from time to time during the summer of 2002 or so but then put it off for a couple of years due to certain circumstances. However, even if I wasn't studying it intently, I would make notes of some words I don't know as I encounter them, as well as occasionally looking up the grammar that it fits into. It was fairly recent, though, that I decided to start intently studying the language.

Satisfied?: I can't really say that I am, being that I put it off for a couple of years, but I am somewhat satisfied for being able to converse a little with my friend who is in second-year Japanese in his high school in the Japanese language. It's a good method of practice. I think we keep the sentences relatively simple to avoid any serious grammatical errors that might stick with us if we use it too much, but it is good practice to test out your kana and kanji skills, as well as your grammatical knowledge.

Anyway, I encourage you to try learning the language, as it is something that is worth experiencing. It is very complex and exotic to English, but that is what I love about it. I'm sure most of the learners here feel the same way.

freshstart wrote:
Hi, everyone. I'm new here. Like Rion, I am thinking of learning Japanese. I am excited by all you have written here. As I'm a Vietnamese, I think learning Japanese for me will be just like learning English a long time ago. I have been learning English for the past 7 years as it is a required subject at school. I spent the first 4 years going to evening classes to improve my grammar. The last 3 years, I just stayed at home, reading books, listening to CNN, watching English movies, etc. I don't think I have an effective way of learning English cuz it took me such a long time. Now, as I am beginning to learn Japanese, I really need a better way of learning. Would you guys experienced learners tell me if it is good if I only stay at home to learn Japanese on my own without going to evening classes? Can I learn effectively through books, CDs, and the Internet without a teacher in class? Thanks a lot.


In my opinion, with the dedication, I'm sure you can learn it on your own, at least to some degree. One of the roles of the teacher is to correct you in any mistakes you have, but since you have an environment that you can test your skills in and correct you (this site, of course), I'm sure it can be effective. After all, there are some native speakers here to help too. Also, at self-study, you can study at your own pace and not get overwhelmed by too much material at once. A downside to this is that it can lead to laziness (like the one that resulted with me) and gradually losing the material, so in this case, a teacher and a class would be helpful in regulating the workload. However, if you're determined, there is nothing stopping you from learning Japanese effectively. That is what I think.

By the way, your English is very good.
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