How I Learn Japanese (Long)

Like I said in my First Entry, I’ve been studying Japanese for 1 Year. Yeah Compared to those people Who’ve been learning for 7 years +, Thats not a lot. But even so, You can Learn a lot in 1 year depending how much you put into learning it itself. So anyway this is How I learn Japanese & I hope these tips help you the same way it helped me (^•^) :

MY BEGINNING STAGES –

I was the average person who wanted to learn Japanese but didnt know how & where to start. So I found my best friend (Who is Still my Best Friend Today ^^ ) —— The Internet. I remember going on Genki Japan (Website) & looking at all of their videos. The songs he created for learners of Japanese to remember stuff like Numbers, Days of The Week, Colors … Etc. Were really catchy & stuck with you. The one I partically liked was the video which talked about pronunciation. By watching it my Japanese Pronunciation became really good unlike my other fellow “Gaijin” who can slaughter some words big time with their accent (Yes you know what Im talking about XD ). But using that video from early on set me for life.

I dont about you but I love inspirational stories or someone to “Look Up To.” So at this time the Youtuber who I really came to appreciate was Loretta. (YT account : kemushichan) Now she didn’t Just make videos speaking it but she made her own little “web-seres” to help other people stay motivated. She was one of my absolute favorites but unfortunately she hardly makes videos now on YT because she now works for YesJapan (Website) but when I can catch one of her videos for free there I make use of it. Check her out! So when Loretta was gone it was time to find a replacement. That’s when I found Carolyn an ordinary girl from Chicago (YT account kerokerorin813). She’s amazing really (Check out her videos & you’ll understand) She’s been studying the language less than 8 years & is amazingly good. She’s even went on Japanese Tv & Sang plus her interview in Japanese itself. On You Tube (YT) you can find Billion, Gagillions of people learning Japanese just like you & me. Whether they speak it good or not … Well that’s another story lol. But once you find those couple of people who ARE good be the loyal follower you are. (^•^) Watch their videos and think “This is how I want to be.” and to me that gave me a lot of inspiration & shows me Japanese is NOT IMPOSSIBLE!

WITH A TUTOR –

I dont know If I would be where I am today if I didnt have a tutor. But my Tutor didnt have certificates stating she was a tutor, she was just … Japanese. So because I was just in my “Beginning Stages” of Learning Japanese I was really enthusiastic. Lol She didn’t even have to make lessons ‘cuz I had so many questions haha. Stuff ranging from Particles to How to make a Sentence to The Differences of Kore, Sore & Are were just some topics. One thing though that helped imensely was the Writing Exercises she gave me. Now let me mention on my second lesson she bought me my first Dictionary (My Baby ♡) “Random House Japanese – English English – Japanese Dictionary.” Wow Lets just say I used it so much the pages are falling out & im considering buying a new one. Anyway back to topic – The Writing Exercises. She would make me write one page long writings of things like Family, School, Why Im Learning Japanese & w.e. Else. I would write it in English first then translate it in Japanese BY MYSELF. Now some people may be like “Woahh thats nothing” well when you’re 5 months into studying the language that IS SOMETHING. Now eventually she did check it only after I put my sweat in tears into it lol. But I find that making sentences is a big challenge when Learning Japanese especially as English Speakers. But lets talk about that later. What was always good about this too was that I could recall what I wrote so if I was talkin about my Family to a Japanese Friend I remembered what I wrote. I had great times with my tutor (And her cute little son :-] ) & Im happy to say We’re really close friends now. I really want my tutoring lessons to start again, But anyhow I really reccomend getting a tutor, Exchange Partner ANYTHING with a NATIVE speaker because theres always just going to be some stuff only they can explain.

CHALLENGES OF J-PESE –

1.) Sentence Structure : Recently my own flashback of how hard sentence structures were relived when one of my friends emailed me about their current struggle of making sentences. So you go online and it says this :

“Japanese is a SOV (Subject-Object-Verb) language & English is a SVO (Subject-Verb-Object) language. Please look below.

English: Peter ate Spaghetti.
Japanese: Peter Spaghetti ate.

Follow this Format to make a Japanese Sentence.”

PUH-LESE! While this is pretty much true, it’s not as simple as they put it which is frustrating. But when you want to make sentences like “I didnt go to work because my Son was really sick and throwing up.” It doesn’t seem so easy anymore right? That’s what confused me & got me frustrated. Plus with particles its even more confusing. But how am I today with sentences? Im comfortable. Yeah I have a few slip-ups but now I can pretty much figure things out. But lets see the reasons why: Like I said before I jumped into the “shark-infested waters” of writing japanese very early. Not only with those writing exercises but I did those pen pal exchanges & I wanted to talk to them in japanese & I did my thing. Were they always correct? Aha! No! But it got me in the hang of Writing & im not scared of it anymore. So to that friend I mentioned before & anyone else having this issue – “Jump In!” You’ll “Float” eventually! 🙂

*So How Do I Fix This Problem? EASY! Im a firm believer of copying down sentence structures & memorizing them. So go to websites like Tae Kims Guide To Learning Japanese (BTW, he also has an ipod app for it too for free so if u can get it) & Learn ALL of those sentence structures till you memorize the whole website (Seriously. I mean get it out of the wayy now.) Then from those patterns you can make sentences. Yay !! (^•^)

2.) Conversation : “I can Read, I can Write, I can Understand BUT I CAN’T SPEAK!!” You say. Well to tell you the truth out of all the asian languages I think Japanese has the easiest Pronunciation so hopefully thats not what you meant. More so maybe as the challenge above: I cant make sentences to speak. Im not going to repeat myself again with that but if you somehow forgot by the time you are reading this please look above ^^; Anywho in times like this, This is when its good to have a Japanese Friend, Tutor, Exchange Partner w.e as long as they are Japanese. And Speak! Thats all. To tell you the truth I have this problem too only because I cant find Any native tutors around me But … There is always Skype. Now I never used skype but im sure it works. Apparently you just exchange ID’s with a native speaker of the language you’re learning & Exchange the time you want to talk & video chat. Easy as that. So you might want to check that out too!

3.) Writing : “Aah ~ Every Japanese Learners Favorite Thing. Japanese Writing! Oh no not the Roman System Romanji” (coughcoughwhichsucksbtw) “But Katakana, Hiragana & Oh Joy KANJI” If any of you like Kanji I envy you cuz I really think I could be half way to complete Japanese fluency without it. Though it does have it’s Pro’s. If you didnt notice I was being sarcastic with the stuff in parenthesis then … No comment. The Kana & Kanji. Joy oh Joy. To tell you the truth I think the kana is easy-peasey & should take you no more than a month max, heck It took me 2 weeks (And some people say 1 day … Though im not sure about that :-\ ) How did I? With a book called “Kana pict-o-graphics” which is a book of mnemonic devices of each of the Kana to help you remember them. Since Im a visual learner it helped me alot & yes I retained it. So yeah. Now Kanji? Do I know all the Kanji? No. Do I know 1,000 Kanji? No! Do I know 500 Kanji? NO! Point is … Well I still need to learn Kanji. And to those people out there searching for the “Best Way to Learn Kanji” —- There isnt one. If you find it though let me know 😉 ! Now here are some Kanji Methods & you can choose the best for you :

* Heisig RTK (Remembering The Kanji) – Ive never used this method but alot of people praise this product like its something sent from heaven. The thing I didnt like about it was that it didnt teach you the readings in book 1 but idk I guess you can always learn the meanings another time I guess. (?_?)

* Kanji Look & Learn – Since Im a big fan of Mnemonics this book looked really useful. So im going to start using this, If all fails I guess Heisig it is. Even so This book only teaches you 512 Kanji (Which I would be happy if I learned all the while). Maybe they’ll make another book? Idk? Anyway not just focusing on this book, you can make your own mnemonic devices for Kanji also.

* FlashCard Method – Get Alot of Flashcards & Start Writing! The Meaning & The Readings on one side & the Kanji on the other? Idk Itz up to you. I think you can also buy some from White Rabbit Press ….

* Old School Method – Yes. Writing it over & over & over & over & over …. & over again until the muscles in your hand has the Kanji writing engrained in it. Ive tried this method (For 1 week lol) & Idk if it was for me. But I did like how I remembered The stroke order better. I like knowing the stroke order, some people dont care. But anyway try combining this with Heisig or w.e method you use for the “Ultimate Kanji Practice” lol. It definately helps you remember stroke order. I give it props for that.

I know I didnt cover every method or book out there so if theres more tell me. Kanji is as-we-all-know-it the hinderance of Japanese but it can be useful. For example when you do actually know a kanji a sentence goes by so much easier. Tatoeba (For Example) :

* I went to the Beach.
* Watashi wa Umi ni Ikimashita.
* わたしはうみにいきました。
* 私は海に行きました。

In the last sentence it has 3 kanji’s –

* 私 – I
* æµ· – Beach
* 行く – To go

With these Kanji’s I like to see it as “The seperations of a Japanese Sentence.” The only things in Kana really are the particles & the Verb ending. Imagine if you knew all the Kanji there is — Life would be pretty darn easy then. You could read a sentence very easy & not saying you cant with Just the Kana but idk I cant really see the “Seperation of Words” in it. But again thats just me.

** Is Kanji Worth it?

Yeah, it is. But personally I would rather know how to read & pronounce all the Kanji than know how to write it. Of course be able to recognize the kanji to go with it, but if you can Read all of the Kanji with all the correct readings (Even if you didnt know how to write them) you can read Japanese fluently. Idk if that makes you feel better but it does kind of for me.

4.) Pronounciation : This is going to be short because Idk if I can really consider Japanese Prounonciation a “Challenge” but you never know. I always thought a Japanese word’s pronounciation could be broken up into syllables. Its so easy.

* A – Ah as in Father
* I – Ee as in Eat
* U – Ooh as in Food
* E – Eh as in Egg
* O – Oh as in Old

Then you know the rest the Ka, Ki, Ku, Ke, Ko & so far & so forth. But maybe your problem isnt prounciation itself but losing your “accent” better yet. How can you fix this? Im sure you heard this plenty of times but try to copy native speakers. It makes sense actually you’re trying to be fluent in their native language so why dont you learn from the pros themselves. But what I specifically did (and still do) involved my beloved J-Pop Music. Here’s my story:

In order for me personally to like a language enough or me to want to learn it is that A.) It must sound nice B.) It must be “Unique” or useful in a sense C.) I MUST LOVE THEIR POP-CULTURE! (Movies, Music, Dramas w.e.) So Before I learned Japanese I was an avid listener of J-Pop. Some Songs like Namie Amuro’s “Wowa” & Koda Kumi’s “Boyfriend” was enough to make me say : “Wow Japanese Music is cool!” Now This might seem off topic but it comes together.

Im not really you’re typical Anime or Manga Lover. In fact if you saw me you would never guess I was into Japanese better yet Learning a Foreign Language. Besides that I was never Crazy about “Anime or Manga” But I had my cousins who enjoyed it oh-so-much. And eventually I did find that Manga that I liked ALOT (To the point where now I want to buy the whole manga set) – Hana Kimi. So im sure when You see that you’ll be like “Oh yeah From that Drama With Ikemen (Good Looking Guys)” Yes, that was my addiction. So as a fan, when Hana Kimi came out as a drama, I watched it. And can we all remember that oh-so-cheerful ending song “Peach” by Otsuka Ai. At first that song was wayy too cheerful but after listening to it for 8 + episodes it grew on me. And I listened to it over & over again until I basically memorized the song & it was stuck in my head. And I wanted to try sing it too. So I got my Romanji Lyrics & tried singing it (Keyword: Try) Now this song isnt comparitively slow, quite the opposite actually so in my first month of learning Japanese this was really hard to follow along with. But I tried over and over again until I got & I did. (Yay!!) Point of this Story is: “Singing along with your favorite songs can help you too!” You’re basically trying to mimic them in order to sing their song & trust me if you say the wrong word or Have the wrong Pronunciation, YOU WILL KNOW. lol. Thats why I like it (and I still do it today :-] ) So you have my testimony: THIS WORKS!

5.) Reading – So you go to a Japanese Website, maybe your favorite Japanese Singers website & “WAH-LAH” you’re worst nightmare, Kanji, Hiragana, Katakana all put together in long sentences & you dont have any Romanji to help (Heck the Kanji doesnt even have Hiragana Readings next to it) So youre depressed & upset & say “Man Im never going to be able to read all of that.” Yes it breaks your spirit but WAIT! You see that 1 Sentence you Understand (or word or Hiragana Symbol lol) & you smile. Have you faced this? I have & Im sure you have too. Reading Japanese is one of those things that even if you can read 1 sentence you feel like your studies are going somewhere. But lets face it. In order to read Japanese you need to know Hiragana, Katakana & Kanji & Psh with Kanji it may seem like youre never going to be able to read it then. Japanese is just one of those languages you cant expect to read a whole 2 pages in like 10 months. Im sorry to crush you. But … If you start out little as a little (cute :-] ) Japanese kid & maybe start out with childrens book then that could be a start. They usually are written in just Hiragana so quite useful for the beginnner learner. Another thing is (Once you have a basic understanding of Japanese &Kanji) make an Twitter Account. Yes Twitter. Preferably a Twitter just for your Japanese Studies. Follow Japanese Twitters & try reading their little tweets so you’ll see :

「バイト行ってきます〜!」or

「ラーメンを食べたい!」

And so on & so forth. But they are so short usually that you can read & understand it even if you need to have your dictionary besides you all the time. Now Im personally doing that & tweeting in Japanese. Its fun actually. And when you get to this level too I really encourage you to do it ~!

6.) Understanding – Attune your ears to the language. If you could understand everything than Wow! Almost to fluency (Assuming you can speak as well). But yeah thats just a dream for beginners. But Listen to Podcasts & Music & Dramas and see if you can “Hear the Seperation of Words.” In any drama if it doesnt have some kind of “Sou desu” something … i’d be shocked.

「今日はいい天気ですね〜!」
Today has nice weather don’t u think.

「そうだね〜!」
Yeah, You’re Right!

So because I hear that word so much, in Dramas I can pick it out quite easily. And dont we love when we just learn a word & we hear it in the drama we’re learning. I love that ! So again attune your ears to the language, eventually youll understand … One day.

So I wrote alot in this post but I’ve been promising people I would do it. I covered alot of stuff (and my hands hurt … Im typing this on my ipod touch)
And I really hoped it helped so I really would appreciate it if you comment. Excuse any mistakes or typos I made. So you wanna know the materials I use to study Japanese? Well here they are:

MY LEARNING MATERIALS –

* Random House Dictionary – As I said before this is my first book & my Baby. I love it! (Plus under $10)

* Japanese DeMystified by Eriko Sato – This book does not get the credit it deserves. Its amazing, especially for the self-learner. Highly Reccomend it.

* Kanji Look & Learn – Trying this book out cant give reccomendations yet. I made flashcards with all the kanji & redrew the picture that came with it.

* Notebooks ! – Must I say anything more :-]

* Twitter – Good Reading Practice & Writing Practice if you actually use it for Japanese.

* Japanese in 10 minutes a Day – Beginner Book but still liked it.

* Japanese Magazines & Books – Reading Practice. I you’re in NY check out Kinokuniya & Book Off. Buy some online maybe at Amazon.jp & Yesasia.com

* Japanese Music & Dramas – Listening Practice. And of course for Enjoyment.

* JapanesePod101 – Podcast. Actually need to start listening to it again but I liked what I heard. (It helped me realize wat “Jan” meant. If you dont know go check it out !)

* Yahoo Answers – If I didnt have my tutor around or anybody to help me with aquestion, most likely someone had the same question as me & an answerer explained it.

* Youtube – I have my Idols on there plus I get to see Yamapi translated Interviews (Thats a plus)

* Online – The source of whatever your heart yearns for —- it can be found here.

* Language Exchange Sites – Find a language exchange partner like from mylanguageexchange or epalworld 🙂

* Genki Japan Net – Mostly for the Beginner but sign up for his Japan Faq newsletter, really insightful!

* Japanese Phrasebook – When you learn a new Slang or Phrase write it down immediately. I get alot of phrases from maggiesensei.com One of the best Sites ever!

* Japanese Kanji & Kana Book – Love it! Since I dont have a Japanese Kanji dictionary yet I pretty much use this as one *hehe*

* FlashCards – Works for anything! Kanji, Vocabulary anything!

So yup Those are my Daily Used Materials for Japanese. Again if these methods or tips worked for you comment & I encourage everyone to do as I did & write “How they Learn Japanese” I think we could all help each other by this. So tell me in the comments or write a blog about it. Thanks so much for Reading :-]

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自己紹介

自己紹介 (じこしょうかい)
Self – Introduction

English: Hi! (^•^) My name is Deja & I live in New York. I’m a High School Student & I want to become a Interpreter or Translator. I’ve been studying Japanese for 1 year now. At first I had a Native Tutor (From Osaka) but right now my Lessons are on Pause. My tutor’s name is Iori.
She’s very nice ❤ I really love Japan! I love it's culture, food, music, drama's, fashion! I also think the language is very beautiful. My hobbies are Reading, Dancing, Watching J-Drama's, Singing, Listening to Music & more. Hmm … My favorite Japanese Celebrities are Yamashita Tomohisa & Horikita Maki. Yamashita Tomohisa is soo Cute lol. And Horikita Maki is a great, young actress I think. I've never been to Japan before (T_T). I want to go but it's too expensive. One Day I plan to go to Japan. Everyone let's try our best!

日本語: こんにちは!(^・^) 私の名前はデージャです。そして、ニューヨークに住んでいます。あたしは高校性だし、通訳か翻訳者になりたい。今は日本語を一年勉強しています。初めはNativeの家庭教師がいました(大阪から)でも今は日本語のレッスンは休止中です。家庭教師の名前はいおりです。彼女はとても優しいだね ♡。私は本当に日本が大好きです!日本の文化とか料理とか音楽とかドラマとかファッションが大好きだよ〜!私は日本語がキレイな言葉だと思います。私の趣味は読書やダンスやJ-Drama'sを見たりや歌うや歌を聴いたりとなど。ふーん、私の好きな有名人は山下智久と堀北真希だ。山下智久はめっちゃ可愛いし、堀北真希は若くてスゴイと思います。日本に行ったことありませんけど行きたいだよ〜!それでも、高すぎますよね〜!いつか日本に行くつもりです。じゃあ、皆さん頑張ります!

MAKE YOUR OWN SELF-INTRODUCTION (自己紹介)

1.) My name is ____________
Watashi no namae wa _____Desu.
私の名前は _________です。

Watashi wa ______ Desu.
私は_______です。

3.) I am ___ Years Old
Watashi wa ____ Sai Desu.
私は____歳です。

2.) I live in ________
Watashi wa ____ ni Sunde Imasu.
私は____に住んでいます。

3.) I am a ________
Watashi wa ______ Desu.
私は_____です。

4.) I like / Love ______
Watashi wa ____ Ga Suki / Daisuki Desu.
私は_____が好き/大好きです。

5.) My Hobbies are _____
Watashi no Shumi wa _____ Desu.
私の趣味は______です。

6.) I want to go to _______
Watashi wa _____ ni Ikitai Desu.
私は_____に行きたいです。

7.) My Favorite ___ is ______
Watashi no Sukina __wa __Desu.
私の好きな___は____です。

8.) I'm studying ________
Watashi wa _______ (w)o Benkyou Shiteimasu.
私は_____を勉強しています。

Watashi wa __ (w)o Benkyou Chuu desu.
私は_____を勉強中です。

________________________________

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