Where to start when learning Japanese??

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Hey guys, I have always been interested in Japan, the culture, the language, everything about it (especially Downtown and gaki no tsukai!) but I really want to learn Japanese. I know it is a massive language and I haven't learned many other languages before... I had mandarin classes about 4 years ago but it was academically and I didn't have the chance to carry it on but thats about it. I am however committed to start learning Japanese so maybe sometime I can visit :D (and also watch gaki no tsukai without waiting for it to be subbed :P)...

I know about the 3 basic scripts, Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji and aware that the basic forms of Japanese are Hyounjungo? (i think) and Kyoutsugo (I probably spelt them all wrong :P) one is standard and the other one is common? and then you have dialects tokyo i.e.

Anyway I just want to know from the people who have learned japanese as a second language (or are learning) to point me in the right direction. I know teachers help a lot but I don't have much money and I don't know any... So my resources are pretty much restricted to online. Is there any resources, websites, programs, books etc. that are a good start for learning japanese. Also where would it be best to start regarding scrips and the forms of Japanese etc.

I appreciate all your help :D
Although I know next to nothing in Japanese, the little I know (and remember) was learnt with a free program called BYKI (before you know it). It has some basic vocabulary and phrases and many of the words have voice clips too so you can listen and study them. BYKI has plenty of other languages you can learn too.
Definitely university.
However, since you say "online only", you'll have a problem that you won't have any kind of person to actively talk to, which is extremely important.
The next problem is, you won't have a person that corrects your (written) sentences for grammar errors, so you won't be able to fully understand grammatical structure. This is not possible just by reading explanations and example sentences.
You might be able to get a basic understand of stuff and know some vocabs, but I don't see you reaching even just intermediate level all by yourself.

Also, remember that learning a language is more work than just spouting "hello" and "cute" all the day.
@Major Helper

Thanks I will check it out :D

@Ap2000

I realize that you do need someone who knows japanese to converse with but because I am beginning I think I am going to try and understand as much as I can about the basic language, as much about grammatical structure and some vocabulary....

I just googled some Japanese tutors around where I live and the one I clicked on was £20 an hour (I don't know where you guys live so I can't change it into your currency) but I'm still studying at college so I don't have £20 an hour :P... Maybe if I go university though like you suggested Ap2000...

It's always good to get a head-start though, right?
Or if you have a shitload of money, you can go for a teacher that comes to you or you come to him/her.
I did that for 2 years, definitly the best. Unfortunatly she had to leave becasue of the earthquake :/
MattTheGreat2008 wrote:

I just googled some Japanese tutors around where I live and the one I clicked on was £20 an hour (I don't know where you guys live so I can't change it into your currency) but I'm still studying at college so I don't have £20 an hour :P... Maybe if I go university though like you suggested Ap2000...


You could also look for a language course in your area.
Here's my recipie for written Japanese.
1) Learn the phonetic scripts (hiragana and katakana)
2) Learn some basic vocab. 100 basic words (assorted verbs, and nouns will do at first).
3) GRAMMAR! Learn all the grammar you can using your current vocabulary.
4) Add to your vocab as needed to continue your grammar studies.
5) Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you have just about all grammar covered.
6) Now you can focus on vocab building. With the previous steps covered, your vocab building will be much more efficient and easy. The duration of this step is indefinite.

Also, don't put of learning kanji. It will be hard whatever you do, but it will only get harder if you put it off.

For spoken Japanese, get a language exchange partner after spending a few weeks at step 6.
I agree with Espen. The very first step to take is learning the kana. It may sound horrible, but there are many easy ways to do it. In my case, I used a book with graphical associations, and it was really useful, like for instance hiragana 'ku'/'く' as in PacMan (Pakkuman) reminds me of his mouth while he's eating the tiny balls. Once you learn the associations, your mind gets used to read them at a slow pace. Katakana surely might be more difficult than hiragana.

I know there are some japanese methods in romanji, but they are not so adviceable since they won't fix to the reality of language.

Surely when you learn a language, you need to use it. The forementioned language partner is a great thing to have. Language exchanges, tandems... there are several ways of it.

Even though there are lots of downloadable content on the net, I think there's nothing like 'real contact' with the language... but you can get good notions of Japanese on your own prior to that.
Here's the technique i used to remember the Hiragana and Katakanas easily.

Print a table with the Hira or the Kata.
Also print a blank version of that table ( use paint or whatever to make it blank )
Try to remember the table, then hide it, and write as much Kanas you can remember.
Bring up your table again ,then correct the ones you got wrong and the ones you didn't write in an other colour, wich will make it easier to follow your progress and see wich one you got trouble remembering.
Proceed to learn, write, check and correct again and again until you can fill it.

Should work easily in not so much time.
You shouldn't take more than a week to remember the Kanas.
Here is how I'm doing it:

- Watched over the years 2000+ anime episodes (you'll get a familiar tone & get used to the sounds)
You'll also pick up key phrases. For me I tried to keep 1 episode a day, to keep it regular.
- learn the hiragana & katakana charts buy heart (both ways: hir > english // english > hir) & make sure to learn the correct keystrokes)
I used the free program called 'anki' to learn the hiragana & katakana. As for the keystroken, took the charts off the internet.
- Bought a book 'japanese for busy people'. For the grammar & vocabulary. Now that you know hiragana & katakana you should be able to read the conversations from the book just fine. Along with a basic understanding from the words due to all the anime.
- to practice hiragana & grammar, I searched the internet for child books. Often easy sentences, repeated in various ways, with hiragana. Quite good to learn vocabulary and grammar. Of course each word you don't know has to be searched. This is sometimes an issue though.
- I now bought a second book 'easy kanji' to learn the starter kanji's. You can also use the ANKI program for it, but since I'm still deciding which is best (anki or book) I'm doing both.


There are a lot of different ways, you need to find out which one is best for you.

One thing is sure though: always keep working on it and don't give up/leave it for too long. it's bad xD
The only thing (as I went from 0 ability to JLPT1) is determination and constant practice. I recommend 4 things:
1. Get Japanese friends.
2. Get a Japanese teacher.
3. Used kids comics (KoroKoro etc) to help educate you on slang.
4. MAKE SURE TO SPEAK PHONETIC JAPANESE. Many foreigners that I knew in Japan spoke "gaijin nihongo" and it sounded so weird that even I couldn't understand their Japanese.

After 3 years of intensive work, I went to Japan and was able to live their comfortably with no problems in communication.
FlydayChinatown wrote:
4. MAKE SURE TO SPEAK PHONETIC JAPANESE.


Could you give an example of what is and isn't phonetic Japanese?
Artheas wrote:
FlydayChinatown wrote:
4. MAKE SURE TO SPEAK PHONETIC JAPANESE.


Could you give an example of what is and isn't phonetic Japanese?


I think "phonetic Japanese" isn't the correct term, but he's probably talking about the pronunciation.

North Americans usually have a very strong accent the first few years when they start learning Japanese.
Artheas wrote:
FlydayChinatown wrote:
4. MAKE SURE TO SPEAK PHONETIC JAPANESE.


Could you give an example of what is and isn't phonetic Japanese?


In other words, when I lived in Japan, I was constantly encountering foreigners that spoke "gaijin Japanese." They spoke the way it was read in Romanji, like ohaigozaymass instead of speaking in Japanese syllables o/ha/yo go/zai/i/ma/su flatly and with no inflection. Learn the syllables and how they sound and piece them together as the Japanese do. Learn to say i/ta/da/ki/ma/su and not "eataturkeymuscle."