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thomas.rolf
19th September 2001, 11:35
Even though the subject was supposed to be a joke, I'm interested in a japanese tutorial of some sort. I'm a beginner and I would like some tips on where to start, what book to read and so on.

Nothing beats hands-on experience, but util then...

TIA!

Thomas Rolf

Chi
19th September 2001, 11:54
...don't bother trying to teach yourself from scratch on your own... its extremely difficult to start learning, and I would advise at least getting some sort of a basis before furthering study on your own.

Instead check out your local school/college and see if they have any courses on basic Japanese. A night school course or something like that.

Some online tutorials courtesy of Yahoo:

http://uk.dir.yahoo.com/Social_Science/Linguistics_and_Human_Languages/Languages/Specific_Languages/Japanese/Lessons_and_Tutorials_Online/

As for recommended books... I quite like "Japanese for busy people" published by AJALT - Romaji version is ISBN: 4770018827 - A lot of people recommend getting the Kana version (ISBN: 4770019874), but this may be very hard to read initially, whilst you are still getting to grips with hiragana and katakana. I'm sure other poeple will have thier own particular favourites, so I leave that to them...

Hope this helps!

Chris.

Jeff Hamacher
20th September 2001, 06:39
Thomas,

i think Chris makes some good suggestions, but i beg to differ on a few points.

while a skilled teacher is very helpful, especially at the beginning, i don't think it's impossible to get started studying japanese without one. i would recommend that you do some of the rote work that a teacher cannot help with.

1) memorize both hiragana and katakana (using flashcards or writing them out from memory); if you work at them for 20-30 minutes every day it shouldn't take more than a few weeks to learn them. try to memorize them in ordered sets, e.g. "a,i,u,e,o", "ka,ki,ku,ke,ko", etc. knowing this order will be very useful when it comes time to look up japanese words in a dictionary.

2) get a good textbook with the listening tapes or CDs. i firmly believe that you should use one printed in kana and kanji, not roman characters. learning japanese printed in alphabetical characters at first only slowed me down. my favourite textbook is entitled Japanese For Everyone, and although the first four lessons have a romanized japanese text (as well as kana and some kanji), the rest have no alphabetical characters. the Japanese For Busy People series that Chris mentions is really good, and there is also another beginners' textbook (perhaps a series) called Minna no Nihongo, but it's written entirely in japanese with no english explanations. you would definitely need a teacher to guide you through that one.

3) try to focus your first steps of study on aural/oral practice. listen to your tapes/CDs, playing the first lesson several times until you can start to pick out grammar patterns or words. try repeating after the tapes and see if you can copy the sounds. after you've listened so many times that you're sick of hearing that lesson, take a look at your textbook and check the meaning of the expressions, do the written exercises, and so forth. go on to each lesson following the same pattern.

4) for dictionaries, try the Furigana Japanese-English/English-Japanese Dictionary published by Kodansha. all the japanese is written in kanji but the readings for the characters are shown in kana. again, avoid any romanized dictionaries.

well, that's my rather opinionated rundown of materials. i hope you find something useful in there. and keep us posted on your success!

thomas.rolf
20th September 2001, 07:05
Thanks Chris and Jeff!

I'm aware of the fact that I probably should get some "live" experience, but I was looking for a point to start by my self. And I got it! Great!

And as you suggested, Jeff, I've already started working with katakana and hiragana, and it feels like it'll take me a couple of months to figure them out... Katakana is however slightly less painful than hiragana...

I'll let you know when I've learnt useful sentences like: Kore wa watashi no biiru desu ka. That actually awoke a new question: I know that the particle 'ka' makes it a question, but does japanese use questionmarks? (i.e when writing rominized japanese of course...)

Thanks guys!

Thomas Rolf

yanceyw
20th September 2001, 12:34
Here in Gadsden we have a comunity collage with a large population of asian students. You can post a request at the student hall and usually they will "trade languages ". I found a great guy that way to help me with some of the pronounceations of techniques off of training tapes.:D

Jeff Hamacher
21st September 2001, 04:55
Originally posted by thomas.rolf
I'll let you know when I've learnt useful sentences like: Kore wa watashi no biiru desu ka. That actually awoke a new question: I know that the particle 'ka' makes it a question, but does japanese use questionmarks? (i.e when writing rominized japanese of course...)
i don't see much romanized japanese except on children's clothing and toys (really mangled english is everywhere in japanese advertising, though). the question mark is not used in formal writing, but it's becoming more and more common in casual writing, once again most commonly in advertising. i'm also very glad to see the practical approach you're taking to japanese study by giving beer top priority.;)

nihongo no benkyo ha kore kara mo GANBARE!!!

thomas.rolf
21st September 2001, 05:24
nihongo no benkyo ha kore kara mo GANBARE!!!

When I learn enough japanese I'll come back with a witty and intelligent remark to what ever you said...;)

But I'm pretty sure it had something to do with japanese...
Thank you for your swift answers, Jeff!

Thomas Rolf

kingwoodbudo
24th September 2001, 17:00
I agree with Jeff, you can do some stuff on your own, and starting with the hiragana, katakana and some kanji is the best way to go about it. Before I went to japan, i took a leisure class for the japanese language, it helped alot, since I learned that R's and F's have a different sound than in English, and that's where alot of japanese have trouble with english words. I still have trouble with RYU, RYO, RYA, my wife often laughs when i'm trying to pronounce them.

A live teacher is the best for learning of course. I don't suggest any of the tapes though, my wife heard one and started laughing very hard because the words they used are not common. One last point, trying to learn japanese grammar is the hardest thing i've come across, and with any language, the way they speak normally is not always the same as the way they write it.

just my two cents :)

Enfield
24th September 2001, 19:41
Originally posted by thomas.rolf
I know that the particle 'ka' makes it a question, but does japanese use questionmarks?

The only times I've seen a question mark used is when writing what someone said, and that can be with kanji, etc. (e.g. comics, books, etc.) The reason is pretty straight forward: though the sentence particle ka makes it a question, a sentence doesn't have to end in ka to be one. This occurs quite commonly in informal speech where intonation makes it quite clear (to native speakers anyway ;)) that the sentence was a question rather than a declaration.

Example: "Kaeru n desu ka" (Are you going home?) would often be "kaeru no" in a less formal situation. However, if I just right "kaeru no" it's hard to tell whether I mean "I'm leaving" or "Are you leaving?" So it's not uncommon to see "kaeru no?"

The difference between the two "kaeru no" is one of the reasons why a native (or other fluent) speaker is so important when learning Japanese or any other foreign language. One of my favorite examples of these subtle differences is when a friend of mine tried to say "kamawanai" ["I don't mind."/"That's okay."]. Our Japanese friend that he was speaking to started laughing and said, "I know what you meant, but it sounded like 'I don't have a sickle.'" ("Kama wa nai.")

kingwoodbudo
24th September 2001, 19:43
I agree with Jeff, you can do some stuff on your own, and starting with the hiragana, katakana and some kanji is the best way to go about it. Before I went to japan, i took a leisure class for the japanese language, it helped alot, since I learned that R's and F's have a different sound than in English, and that's where alot of japanese have trouble with english words. I still have trouble with RYU, RYO, RYA, my wife often laughs when i'm trying to pronounce them.

A live teacher is the best for learning of course. I don't suggest any of the tapes though, my wife heard one and started laughing very hard because the words they used are not common. One last point, trying to learn japanese grammar is the hardest thing i've come across, and with any language, the way they speak normally is not always the same as the way they write it.

just my two cents :)