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Thread: where to start

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    Default where to start

    HI all, hopefully someone can point me in the right direction.

    I currently study Shotokan and Judo and hopefully in the next few weeks i'll be able to add Iaido. One day i'd like to make a pilgrimage to japan and train - before then I would really like to be able to speak the language, at least able to hold a basic conversation.

    I've seen hundreds of books, guides, websites etc but i really don't know what's best for a complete novice. Is rosetta stone any good? I do need structure to lessons. I looked at japanesepod but it didn't really follow a lesson plan, which I certainly need.

    any help would be fantastic

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Hiroshima, Japan.
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    I appreciate the difficulties. When I came here, I had no Japanese except a vague sense of what certain terms used in the art I practice meant. (I later discovered that these terms were highly artificial and that some native Japanese did not know what they meant.) I took an intensive course in spoken Japanese, designed to cover the basic grammatical structure of the language and introduce students to the sound structure of Japanese. Since I was hearing Japanese all the time, this introduction was very useful. I then found two teachers. One was a colleague who taught me how to read the kana syllabaries and Chinese characters and the other was a student who focused on the spoken language. He provided a strictly monitored environment in which I could learn to speak the language. Living in the country gave me a major advantage: that I was hearing the spoken language all the time and thus constantly interacting with living language models.

    A couple of my colleagues here are trying to learn Latin. One advantage is that there are two of them, which is much preferable to being a sole learner.

    Best wishes,
    Peter Goldsbury,
    Forum Administrator,
    Hiroshima, Japan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Seattle, Washington, USA
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    I've looked into Rosetta Stone, and took the free introductory lesson in Welsh, and it looks like a good program, although I don't know how well it works for learning to read and write in non-Latin writing systems.

    If you have a community college near you, you might see if they offer Japanese among their "World Language" or "Foreign Language" offerings. Many colleges have night and weekend classes for adult learners.
    Yours in Budo,

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK
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    Many years ago, I was enjoying a class in Shorinji Kempo and we used a lot of Japanese terminology. I decided to take evening classes in the language and it was a lot of fun. I had a reason to learn and I enjoyed the learning process, but as with anything, the study becomes a lot harder when you get more into it. As it turned out, I stopped the classes before I managed to get anything like proficiency, but I still enjoyed the time there and some trivial and obscure points will be in my head forever. I went on a trip to Japan and just being a little familiar with the most basic Beginners level made a huge difference in my enjoyment of the experience.

    A couple of years later I met Yoriko and although my interest in Japan increased, we seemed more focussed on helping her English to improve and my Japanese has never progressed beyond a few simple phrases. If only I had found time for some regular study I could have actually learned how to communicate by now (I married Yoriko in 1987 but we've lived in the UK ever since).

    My son had access to Rosetta Stone at school for the last 3 years and he used it extensively for French and Italian, which he has studied to GCSE level (he's 16 now). I watched him using the system and I can see some real benefits to it. The school had invested heavily in the program but seems to have quietly dropped it this year. It was perfect at introducing a lot of vocabulary, listening and pronunciation, but I think the main aspects of grammar and syntax were best done in class. He tried it a bit for the Japanese, but was already doing the other two languages so he hasn't taken it very far.

    Learning Japanese starts out as a lot of fun and I think it is rewarding no matter how far you get. A new journey is always going to be exciting and the real challenge comes somewhere beyond those first few steps when you start to get a feel for how much distance you have to go and how far you can get each day. I don't regret starting the lessons, but I do get frustrated knowing that I should be a lot further by now.
    David Noble
    Shorinji Kempo (1983 - 1988)
    I'll think of a proper sig when I get a minute...

    For now, I'm just waiting for the smack of the Bo against a hard wooden floor....

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