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Hello, my name is Anonymous and I have been studying Japanese for 1 year. A few months ago I was giving some advice to a friend and decided to write a guide. I hope you read it and tell me what you think. The language is rude, no I won't change it.
EDIT: Apparently some faggots have been saying shit like "1 year? nigga you know shitty Japanese. Why should I listen to you?" ああいう奴らが最低だと思うよ。知らない人に噂を流して、意地悪いことを言う。それは許さないよ。文句あればコメント書いてみて
A little background on the writing system
First of all, let me explain what hiragana, katakana and kanji are. Hiragana and katakana are the main writing 'alphabet' of Japanese. Each funny symbol corresponds to one sound, like "ka, ki, ku, ke, ko" ”かきくけこ” or something. A hiragana/katakana will ALWAYS sound the same when you read it. This is not like English where the letter 'a' can sound different in 'father' or 'fate'. In Japanese, things will always sound exactly as they appear. So, what is the difference between hiragana and katakana? In short, hiragana is used for words that were originally Japanese and katakana is used for words that are foreign. You will find that Japanese use lots of foreign words, like "pa-so-kon パソコン" = "personal computer" and it is written in katakana. Katakana looks very rough and straightened, hiragana looks very rounded. What does all this mean to you? This means you have to memorize two alphabets and whenever you get to read katakana you get a treat, you can read some funny Engrish.
Now, what is Kanji? As you may have guessed, Kanji originally came from China. One Kanji represents one idea or action. In written Japanese, Kanji replace most of the hiragana in standard words and there is no way to know what hiragana it replaced meaning you cannot 'read' unless you already know what it is supposed to sound like. This means you have to memorize it. Like if I said "Good 朝(morning)!" If you did not know that 朝 meant "morning" you would be fucked. Kanji is a pain in the ass, but dont let it get to you. It gets easier with time. I'm not just saying that, it really is true.
There really is a lot more to Kanji than I want to explain, so go read the wikipedia page if you want to know more. By the way, something cool is that the Chinese use the same ass kanji as the Japanese and the meanings are the same. This means that if you know the kanji for 'water' 水 or something in Japanese, it also means water in Chinese. Anyways, on to the actual guide, go to wiki if you want to learn more (I seriously reccomend this).
TLDR: 3 alphabets. hiragana/katakana are the two basic ones. Kanji is the complex ass one that everyone hates.
STEP 1: Kana
Nama Sensei. Watch all of the videos
Watch nama sensei. He is rude as hell, but he is a good motivator. I wouldnt have bothered to be where I am if it wasnt for nama sensei. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZEA54VJEdE&list=PL9987A659670D60E0 -Whenver you learn a hiragana, katakana or kanji, write it fifty fucking times, CORRECTLY, you bitch! Use these sites below for learning them.
You're going to learn hiragana and katakana and ditch romaji as soon as possible. Romaji is BAD FOR YOU. It will fuck you up if you get used to it. What is romaji? It is when people write Japanese with this alphabet, the alphabet we are using now. The roman alphabet. Shit like "watashi wa sensei desu" or some shit. AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE. Once you learn hiragana and katakana, never go back.
While watching nama sensei, when he teaches a hiragana, go to this site: http://www.umich.edu/~umichjlp/Hiraganapro/ and learn to write the correct stroke order. Learn 5 at a time. and then go to http://www.realkana.com/hiragana/ and practice what you learned until you have a strong grasp at the ones you know. And when you learn 5 more, practice with just the 5, then all the ones you know. Before even going further, you must know, without a doubt, every single hiragana and katakana. Its like the fucking alphabet. Cant read without that! Also, hardmode: The two fonts on the right. Those are handwritten, and you best be able to recognize them.
Step 2: Grammar
After you get all the kana down, download Genki I and II. This is a proper textbook. The best, if I say so myself. Eead it ALL. Here is their setup: They have a paragraph for each chapter, then they explain what they did in the paragraph. So read the chapter, then go BACK and read the paragraph. At the back of the book they have kanji. You best be learning these too. Every 2 chapters or so, learn 1 chapter of kanji in the kanji chapters in the back. Don't worry about their audio CD, I found it a bit shitty. Try to do 1 or 2 chapters a day.
Some time after you finish Genki, or are very close to finishing, do this. Download Rosetta stone, then the Japanese II and III language packs (skip one if you want). Here's my take on Rosetta stone: It will teach you a lot of bullshit words and sentence phrases, terrible in teaching grammar, but is AMAZING for listening comprehension. Turn that shit up and listen to what they're saying. It REALLY helps you identify words in speech. Sucks dick at everything else. Don't bother with their 'writing' portion or anything that does not involve you listening, really.
ATTENTION EVERYONE SERIOUS ABOUT LEARNING JAPANESE. YOU MUST DOWNLOAD THIS ADDON. IT'S NOT A RECOMMENDATION, IT IS AN ORDER. Get this Firefox addon for all your random translations, which you WILL need. Expect to translate hundreds of things, over and over.
It translates anything you mouse over, 1 word at a time. If you don't know grammar though, you wont be able to figure it out, so that's what you read Genki I and II for. If you don't know what a word means, just write it down and mouse over it. This is, without a doubt, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN HAVE. Its better than a normal dictionary because it will unconjucate for you and show all possible answers to your words.
Again, I recommend Rosetta stone for listening practice only. They don't teach grammar for shit, but it keens your ears to listening. MAJOR FUCKING HELP. Use Rosetta side by side with Genki, if you want.
Step 3: GET YOUR FEET WET
Finished all those books? Time for practice. Find any SNES, GBA, GB or NES game you like... in Japanese. They don't use kanji, so after you know your kana, you can start playing. If you know zero grammar, you wont get very far, though, so best get some grammar first. GENKI teaches you grammar, do that first. When playing, if you come across shit you don't know, and fucking believe me, you will constantly be doing this, --- Type the whole sentence into some text box, turn on rikaichan (the FF addon), mouse over words you don't know, then piece the sentence together. I found that games like Pokemon were easier than the easiest manga ever. Just make sure that you READ EVERYTHING. Do not skip shit. I know its a game, but keep in mind that you are playing only so you can learn. Get to work bitch.
Also, I advise playing/reading something that you already know what happens. Many of you already pretty much memorized what everyone said in Pokemon, or your favorite manga or some shit, but when you read it in Japanese, if you know what to expect, reading will go much smoother. Also, Manga is nice because you can actually see the goddamn shit that is happening.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Now for remembering words, you will need anki. Anki is a little timed flash card thing. EVERY time you come across a word you decide is worth remembering (which should be like 95% of the words you see), add it to ANKI. Do it however you want, but I recommend having the front of the card be kanji + kana reading, then right below it, full kana reading (so you can read it), then on the BACK of the card, the meanings.
Let me rephrase that.
- Find new word that you want to learn
- Open your word deck in anki
- Add new card to deck
- Cut paste the entire definition of the word onto the back of the card
- Cut paste the entire reading of the word (they have a reading with kanji, then a reading without, copy both) onto the front of the card.
- Add to deck
PS: Set your card timers to this (there are 4 timers). hard- show in 6-12 hours, medium-show in 1-2 days, hard-show in 3 days.
When you review your deck (FUCKING DAILY), if you cant guess the meaning, flip the card, then set it to 'soon', so its back in your queue. If you can guess it, choose whether or not it was easy medium or hard. Eventually words will burn into your head, so you can throw those out of the deck.
In Anki, get the pre-made JLPT1,2,3,4 decks
Look through the options in the menu bar for "download shared deck". Search for JLPT and you can find JLPT1,2,3 and 4 decks. Start off by downloading JLPT4(they count down to 1). It includes 80 kanji, all the kanji that little kiddos in Japan learn in first grade. Genki will teach you these, but use the flash cards to see if you can identify them out of a lineup. Start with 4, then after you learn ALL of them, grab 3. DO NOT REMOVE 4. Review deck 4 while learning deck 3. Continue until you are working on JLPT1, then cancel the 5-a-day approach. I've found that some of the kanji in JLPT1 are just too fucking rare. At that point I just add them to the 'should be reviewed' list if I have seen it once in practice. If I come across a kanji that I don't know in practice, aka in a manga or game, I add the word to the list of words I should know AND I add the kanji to the list of kanji I should know. You do this by reviewing the kanji just once, then from there on it will automatically be put into your 'should be reviewed' portion.
- JLPT4 - 80 Easy as shit
- JLPT3 - 245
- JLPT2 - 984
- JLPT1 - 2100+ Contains all of the joyo kanji (I think). I noticed it has all of them up to grade 8, just an observation.
Note: later decks include the previous deck in them.
Every day learn 5 of them. Reviewing is a breeze too. It takes like 2-5 seconds to identify a card. even if its 100 cards, that is less than 10 minutes a day, goddamn. Minimize 4chan and do anki. EVERY DAY. Protip, never use the "easy" button. The more you see the kanji the more you will understand it. Even if it is firmly burned into your head, seeing it more can only help.
Also, for those of you that don't know what JLPT is, it is short for Japanese Language Proficiency Test. People who learn Japanese can take a test to see what 'level' they are at. Along with grammar and vocabulary differences, each level uses a different amount of kanji. JLPT1 is the highest level, and is said to be equivalent to a student ready to apply to a Japanese university.
http://jisho.org/ here is another dictionary. It is the exact same dictionary is rikaichan.
So how long will it take before you feel pretty good about Japanese? After 100 hours or so you should have most of the core grammar down. At this point, you should be able to read things, with the aid of a dictionary. For all you WOW players, that's like level 60. If you stick through with the Rosetta stone listening comprehension, you can probably hold your own watching children's shows like "Anpanman" at this point. You won't get everything, but you should be able to get at least 20% of it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TblYJkcNCkQ&feature=&p=CCC703EC66A730D1&index=0&playnext=1
How long until you are an expert at Japanese? Someone once said it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything. I wouldn't disagree here. You won't feel native until 10,000 hours, but don't let that hold you back. If you put 1000 hours into it you will have a solid grip on the language and can likely understand normal conversations. You can watch anime and know what is going on, with the occasional dictionary reference. 1000 hours and you will feel like you know the language. Think that's a lot? Please, I put 7000 hours into WOW itself. What do I have to show for it? I can fucking tell you anything about WoW between the years of 2004-2009. Means jack shit for everything else though. Anyways, 1000 hours you should be sufficiently pro at Japanese.
PS: When you watch your anime, try to listen to what they are saying. Fuck the subs, just listen sometimes.
And for god's motherfucking sake. PRACTICE DAILY. do SOMETHING japanese for a while every day. You can watch anime with subs as long as you LISTEN to the shit they are saying without reading much. Every single day you must do something in Japanese. Read 1 manga chapter. Play your game for 30 minutes. Listen to jpop for an hour while reading the lyrics.
Good luck bitch. One month from now you could know basic japanese. Remember though, learning isnt a function of total time since you started, but how much time x work you put into it. Every day you don't learn japanese, you forget something. Get your shit together faggot!
Remember, if you are not having fun learning, there is going to be a problem. If you aren't having fun, you're going to get bored and stop practicing daily. If you get bored, for gods sake, find something interesting to do in Japanese. Find a new game, or a new manga or something. Translate some songs or whatnot, fuck around on nikoniko douga. For god's sake, HAVE FUN.
The HARDEST PART is when you are still learning the basics and shit feels so slow. It takes 5 mins just to read a small paragraph and you may still be unsure of the meaning. Just stick with it. After you drop 200 hours and you get a firm grasp at the basics, learning will be MUCH easier. Before you have a leg to stand on, and you have to look up 2-3 words per sentence, shit is tough. Stick with it, it gets easier. Kanji gets easier the more you know them. Many times I can guess the meaning of a word (correctly) just by recoginizing the kanji. Hell, I can even pronounce it right, too.
More shit you shoud look at:
- Remembering the Kanji: Some people like this, I dont. At least check it out though. Hiragana in mangaland: Read this after genki. They have lots of stuff genki didnt cover, but genki is still beter
- Kanji in mangaland: A bit childish, but good kanji reading practice. Definitely reccomend it. More to do with ANKI: Look at the shared decks, you will see JLPT 2,3,4 kanji decks. Start with deck 4, once you conquer it move to deck 3, then 2. If you finish 2, you are a god.
Note about Kanji:
Learning kanji can be a bitch, a real bitch, but deal with it bitch. You NEED to know this if you're learning japanese. Dont think you can just ignore it. Too hard? Cry more. People learning English have to learn a thousand odd grammar rules. And for every word in Japanese there are probably 5-10 words in English that mean the same thing. People learning Japanese have to learn a thousand kanji or so kanji. If you know this much you should be good enough to hold your own. Every now and then I see people post about "boo hoo, I have to learn 5000 kanji just to read a simple newspaper" it aint like that.
How many Kanji are there, really?
- Kyōiku kanji: 1006 kanji that you learn in grades 1-6.
- Jōyō kanji: Another 939 kanji taught in middle/high school.
Theres a few hundred more you learn after high school, and an extra thousand if you go to college.
So thats what, like 3000 kanji right? Does that make you want to quit? Fuck off, its not that bad. Once you get started this shit can roll easily. First of all, you dont even need to learn all fucking 3000. If you learn only a few hundred you can be pretty functional. Sure you would need to know about 2000+ just to read the newspaper, but be honest, could you read the newspaper in 6th grade? I couldnt. Too many big fucking words. I could, however, function in daily life, watch TV and understand everything, read shit like harry potter, all that. Really, dont let kanji turn you off from learning Japanese. Besides, that 3000 is for the enthusiasts. Rare kanji used in medical settings, complicated equipment or rules, etc. Dont even aim for that, aim for 1000.
I bet everyone here can name all the 151 original pokemon. Some of you could probably name 300. You could name their attacks, their types, when they level, items in the game, all that bullshit. Admit it, you never once sat down and decided to memorize pokemon, it just happened. You were probably 10 at the time, too. At whatever age you are now, you're probably much smarter than your child-self and if you work hard, you can easily do this. If as a kid you can accidentally learn 150+ pokemon, as an adult you can purposely learn 1000 kanji.
Also, if you like anime songs and shit, translate those for fun. A nifty little word is 歌詞 read as かし (kashi). It means lyrics, as in, song lyrics. google the same name + 歌詞 and you should find what you want.
If you want to know "Well this is great and all, but what about writing and talking experience?" After you put in 200 or so hours and get pretty solid, start finding some Japanese buddies. Google "language exchange site" or some shit. http://www.language-exchanges.org/content/welcome or something. SO MANY PEOPLE WANT TO LEARN ENGLISH. You should have no problem. Get skype, go to that site, make a profile, message 5+ people asking to be friends and whenever they are on try your best to talk in Japanese. PS: Find someone who sucks at English. If you talk to people who are pro at English you wont spend any time in Japanese.
Anyways, better get started. Believe me, learning Japanese was a very fun experience. Think of it as like, playing WoW or something. Only when you reach level 80 does the game begin. If you need any help, my skype: skrxxxx1p7xxxxx1xxxxxxdd (remove the x's)
Bored of endless study?
- Read some manga. Look for "raw" meaning 'not translated'. The easiest one ever is "Doraemon" but even that has the occasional kanji with no reading. Annoying really. Any shounen manga should be good because EVERY kanji will have the reading. This means you can type it up yourself and dictionary it.
- Play some games: Stick to SNES or earlier because they use zero kanji. Pokemon, chrono trigger, final fantasy, legend of zelda. Play that shit.
- Listen to J-pop and google the lyrics. If you like the song, try translating the lyrics so that every time you hear the song you can remember the meanings.
- Do something FUN in Japanese. Visit a Japanese site just to look around.
If you aren't having fun, you aren't studying right.
Ready for your first challenge?
http://www.portals.co.jp/isopp/ Read these stupid ass stories and translate them. They are 100% hiragana. Translate them and post them as a comment.