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Good book to start learning japanese?

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

Good book to start learning japanese?

Postby lucasaurelio100 » Sun 12.22.2013 2:25 pm

Hey I'm about to start learning Japanese :) I've researched a lot in the last days. And I figured out that I need to start learning Hiragana then Katakana and then move through the language (grammar, structure, vocab etc). My question is: which book to use to help me on learning Kana (Hiragana/Katakana)? And then which book should I get to keep studying?

And if you know some website and/or iOS app that could help me feel free to recommend!

Thanks in advance. xD
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Re: Good book to start learning japanese?

Postby Shiroisan » Wed 12.25.2013 8:31 pm

IMO: Stay as far away from the Japanese for busy people volume and the "My Japanese coach" on ios as possible.


Now that that's out of the way. For assisted study I would recommend minna no nihongo, for self-study I would recommend the 2nd edition of Genki. The only people I've heard talk negatively about genki were using the outdated first edition.
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Re: Good book to start learning japanese?

Postby celticflower » Sun 12.29.2013 6:56 pm

Hello,

If you want to learn to write them as well, I like 'Let's Learn Hiragana' and 'Let's Learn Katakana' by Yasuko Kosaka Mitamura. There's also a 'Let's Learn Kanji' book.

For grammar you might consider Tae Kim's website and book, 'A Guide to Japanese Grammar', they're supposed to be good, easy to find via Google search.

This site also has the Kana up with the added benefit of sound files, and they do Japanese Readers for beginners in paperback and a basic grammar book, I have them and they're good value.

I also have 'Japanese Verbs' by Tim R. Matheson, though I'm not using it yet. He has a website too with most of the info available for free, but I like paperbacks best for study.

Good luck learning :)

Clare

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Re: Good book to start learning japanese?

Postby Infidel » Sun 12.29.2013 9:00 pm

I do not recommend learning a language with a number of disconnected works. What you need is a Primary tool, and then supplements.

Your primary language book should really cover everything. Grammar, writing, sample sentences, vocabulary, etc.. So you need to be looking at multimedia from the start. The minimum is a good textbook with audio. Or you can get a full blown multimedia like Rosetta stone..although it is a bit expensive. Then, all programs will be too bulky, to carry as a ready reference, or you might want to have alternate explanations handy, or a more developed reference this is where supplements come in.

A lot of what makes a program "best" is matching it to your goals. How soon are you going to Japan, are you mainly interested in learning Japanese for reading or are you more interested in speaking, or listening comprehension? Of course, in the end all these programs have the same ultimate goal, but they get you there in different ways with different priorities.

So a quick dirty guide
Long time horizon:
Money no object
[list=]Rosetta Stone
Private Tutors[/list]
Online Interactive
    Japanese from Zero via YesJapan.com
    Rosetta Stone
Books
El Cheap!
[list=]Japanese DeMystified
Japanees Step-By-Step
Colloquial Japanese
Elementary Japanese[/list]
Not so cheap
Genki - although this is more geared towards a classroom setting.

An Introduction to Modern Japanese - Bowring and Laurie has no audio, but it is the definitive work for anyone wanting to specialize in Japanese writing. By the end of the course you should be able to read a Japanese newspaper.

If you have a short time horizon. Maybe you are going to Japan next month. Then a 30 day Japanese, or Japanese for travelers is a good start. Also, if you are going to Japan soonish you will want to focus on conversational courses that get you speaking faster, and leave learning the writing for later.

The most important thing isn't having the "best" course, it is ticking with whatever course you started. The worst Japanese course will still get you there if you stick with it.
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Re: Good book to start learning japanese?

Postby Shiroisan » Mon 12.30.2013 8:42 am

I've read that Rosetta Stone is much more geared toward the romanic languages, and that for languages like Japanese it offers a more stilted/ unnatural dialect. I'm no expert on Rosetta though.
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Re: Good book to start learning japanese?

Postby Infidel » Mon 12.30.2013 11:02 am

I got a hold of a copy at the local Navy Exchange. It's not perfect. Sometimes the pictures are ambiguous, and some times the game is ambiguous (a translation game appears to be a response game), so I miss the odd question here or there purely from misinterpreting the game.

But it has a roumaji mode, a kana mode, and a kanji mode. Putting it in kanji mode really brings this program into its own. It also has an online component with more games, and easy access to assistance, but I'm at sea too much to take advantage of it.

As for the stilted speech. It's not any more stilted than any other programs or audio that I've heard, when spoken at the same speed. What I LIKE is that it IS spoken slowly enough that the pitch accents really sink in compared to other programs, so later when you start speaking faster, and listening to faster speech, the stiltedness smooths out and the differences between words becomes more apparent. I also like the alternation between a male and female speaker so you don't come out sounding like the girl or man that did all the audio samples.>> females seem to emphasize the stress accents more while male speakers tend to be more subdued etc..
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Re: Good book to start learning japanese?

Postby Vaelant » Mon 12.30.2013 11:14 am

I wouldn't recommend Rosetta Stone to a complete beginner, it'll throw you straight into te-imasu forms and other grammar points you just wont understand from it. It makes a good aide though, wouldn't use it as a pure source of learning.

Personally I use Genki and Basic Kanji Book, I have Rosetta as a revision aide
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Re: Good book to start learning japanese?

Postby Infidel » Mon 12.30.2013 8:42 pm

Vaelant wrote:I wouldn't recommend Rosetta Stone to a complete beginner, it'll throw you straight into te-imasu forms and other grammar points you just wont understand from it. It makes a good aide though, wouldn't use it as a pure source of learning.



Now you're just focusing on priorities. Like I said above, each system has different priorities, but the end result is the same. Because each system is focusing on getting to the same place but by a different route, using a full system as a supplement just doubles the work and time it takes to get there, actually my experience has been more like quadruple.

If you are using Genki as your main system, use more focused supplements if you feel the need. If you are using Rosetta Stone as your main system, your natural confusion and curiosity are actually intended because it will improve your learning curve, but if you still feel the need for a supplement, you can buy a grammar guide for less than $20 USD.

I think that is one of the points that a lot of people don't get about the "game" language systems. Traditional systems are designed to immediately educate and clarify and move in a linear fashion from ignorant to educated. Game systems are more focused on the mind's natural learning process, they used spaced repetition, and create confusion, and curiosity through the use of multimedia. So the progression from ignorant is more like a mountain road with constant switchbacks but a constant rise in elevation.
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