The Language-Learning Thread

Fed up talking videogames? Why?
User avatar
Parksey
Moderator
Joined in 2008

PostRe: Learning Japanese/Chinese (The Language Thread)
by Parksey » Tue Aug 24, 2010 11:50 pm

To be honest, Igor, I was in the same boat - Japanese characters just so look alien to us, that it makes a simple sentence look much more daunting than it actually is.

However, a week ago, I knew nothing about any kana, and now I can read pretty much most hiragana sentences. I'm still a bit rusty on katakana, but I'm getting there.

So in a week, I've pretty much deciphered simple Japanese script (of course, knowing what it actually translates to is another thing, but at least I can romanised it myself... and kanji is a different kettle of fish altogether).

I'd probably still be reading romaji if it wasn't for Chris and StayDead advising me otherwise. In fact, I'm now reluctant to go back to my romanised Japanese for Busy People (should I?) as I fear it may slow me down. I'm reluctant to spend a tenner on the kana version of the book as well, mind, seeing as I already own it, technically.

I'd try and immerse yourself in it as much as possible. Even if your progress is slow, once the mist around the script clears you should speak back up, and you've not spent anytime using romanised words that, really, has no place in texts of that language.

User avatar
Parksey
Moderator
Joined in 2008

PostRe: Learning Japanese/Chinese (The Language Thread)
by Parksey » Tue Aug 24, 2010 11:54 pm

Oh, and one other thing (I sound like I'm suddenly an expert on the language, but I've noticed small stuff) is that learning the Japanese phonetically alphabets really helps with pronouncing words.

It may not be the same for Russian, but when you see a word broken down into respective phonetic symbols, pronouncing each part of that word - and putting stresses in places - is easier.

Like "konnichiwa", you learn to pronounce each bit clearly - "ko-n-ni-chi-wa".

Or "namae" as "na-ma-e" rather than botching it and saying it like "namai".

User avatar
Qikz
#420BlazeIt ♥
Joined in 2011

PostRe: Learning Japanese/Chinese (The Language Thread)
by Qikz » Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:45 am

StayDead/Chris, have you found it necessary to learn Japanese script first, as an aid to learning the spoken language? You could learn to speak Japanese at near native fluency without understanding a lick of the written language, but have/were your lessons in Japanese script? Obviously, written Japanese is a lot more complicated than written Russian, I'm just slightly worried about learning another alphabet...


Well, all my Grammar I learnt on YesJapan which is all in script minus the English telling you what it is to help explain it. I doubt I would of gone as far without learning the written language first as currently, until I get to Japan I'll mostly be reading the language, which is what I'm trying to do as much of throughout the day.

Parksey wrote:To be honest, Igor, I was in the same boat - Japanese characters just so look alien to us, that it makes a simple sentence look much more daunting than it actually is.

When I first started, well when I started Hiragana I really couldn't work out how it could make sentances, then when you realise all it is, is the different kana are just phoenetics it makes it alot easier to understand, I have no idea how it works with Russian though.

However, a week ago, I knew nothing about any kana, and now I can read pretty much most hiragana sentences. I'm still a bit rusty on katakana, but I'm getting there.

Good work! Now you've just got to work out what the sentances mean, that's where it gets hard. :P

I'd probably still be reading romaji if it wasn't for Chris and StayDead advising me otherwise. In fact, I'm now reluctant to go back to my romanised Japanese for Busy People (should I?) as I fear it may slow me down. I'm reluctant to spend a tenner on the kana version of the book as well, mind, seeing as I already own it, technically.


I have no idea really as I haven't used any textbooks, but if I was to go get one now, I'd definately get the kana version, I just find romanji confuses me more than helps now. It's like sometimes seeing what a word is in kana which I already know in Kanji I forget what the word is, Kanji really has helped me remember things somehow.

I'd try and immerse yourself in it as much as possible. Even if your progress is slow, once the mist around the script clears you should speak back up, and you've not spent anytime using romanised words that, really, has no place in texts of that language.


Absolutely this, the best way to get better at a language is to try and have it thrown at you every five seconds of the day, that's why it's so much easier to become fluent in a language if you live in that country. It's why learning English for all of us was so easy, as every second after we were born and maybe even before it's all we ever heard.

Ways of combating the fact you're not in the country really helps if you're obsessed with the pop culture/culture like I am. Half of my day when I'm doing other things is usually spent listening to Japanese music, or I'll be trying to read a Japanese website or now writing my blog, or of course watching anime. I suppose that's one of the godsends of learning Japanese, you can do that, where as with Russian it might be harder.

Image
The Watching Artist wrote:I feel so inept next to Stay Dead...
User avatar
Parksey
Moderator
Joined in 2008

PostRe: Learning Japanese/Chinese (The Language Thread)
by Parksey » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:02 am

I must say, YesJapan is pretty good. George's videos, especially, are really helpful, as it's like having a teacher in front of you (just hearing a dislocated voice on a CD is not the same).

I'm still a bit reluctant to pay £20 a month for it, mind. As it'll all add up and cost me a fair bit. Especially if I end up buying all these other books from Amazon (they are currently all sitting in my shopping basket, as I still have only got the amount down to £49).

EDIT - I think I may cut out the "Dictionary to Basic Japanese Sentence Patterns" for now. I may be trying to run before I can walk with that one.

User avatar
Qikz
#420BlazeIt ♥
Joined in 2011

PostRe: Learning Japanese/Chinese (The Language Thread)
by Qikz » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:07 am

Parksey wrote:I must say, YesJapan is pretty good. George's videos, especially, are really helpful, as it's like having a teacher in front of you (just hearing a dislocated voice on a CD is not the same).

I'm still a bit reluctant to pay £20 a month for it, mind. As it'll all add up and cost me a fair bit. Especially if I end up buying all these other books from Amazon (they are currently all sitting in my shopping basket, as I still have only got the amount down to £49).

EDIT - I think I may cut out the "Dictionary to Basic Japanese Sentence Patterns" for now. I may be trying to run before I can walk with that one.


It's not 20 pounds, it's 20 dollars, which is about 14pounds I think? I'd say it's well worth it for everything they have on offer, but that's just me. Basic is like a fiver a month but you don't get infinate amount of watches on all the videos.

I'd say just go with what suits you best, I've found internet learning alot easier as I find it hard to concentrate on a book for too long.

Image
The Watching Artist wrote:I feel so inept next to Stay Dead...
User avatar
Parksey
Moderator
Joined in 2008

PostRe: Learning Japanese/Chinese (The Language Thread)
by Parksey » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:14 am

Is that site still all you use? Or is it the site which taught you most of the things you know?

If so, I suppose one month's subscription won't harm me. It seems to have done you no harm and I spend quite a bit of spare time on my laptop, so I could combine that with Internet learning.

As I said, George's videos are quite useful - are those not included in the basic package?

I've only just started looking at the first pages of some of my potential purchases on Amazon, and a few of them are definitely above my level! Best to get some very simple sentences, verbs and vocab under my belt first or I'll just be utterly baffled, and the grammatical lessons may not even sink it at all.

User avatar
Chris
Member
Joined in 2008
AKA: Chris B

PostRe: Learning Japanese/Chinese (The Language Thread)
by Chris » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:18 am

Herr Dark Wolf wrote:Just set up a really shittyblog to practice my japanese: http://johnsjapanesepractice.blogspot.com/2010/08/blog-post.html if you are interested. No way as good as StayDead :(.


Don't put yourself down! That's a very good blog! Good luck at uni... I did a history degree too! ;)

Seriously, for 6 weeks of study that is very good. If you hadn't have said that you had been studying for that long, I would have assumed longer.

Switch Friend Code - SW-2270-8931-7619
Playstation Network - hydroburn87
User avatar
Qikz
#420BlazeIt ♥
Joined in 2011

PostRe: Learning Japanese/Chinese (The Language Thread)
by Qikz » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:24 am

I'm currently using:

Grammar, Conversation and Comprehension:

YesJapan

Writing:
My Blog, also speaking to my new friend I made on another forum who's Japanese via email in Japanese, he speaks back in English so I can help him with that and vise versa.

Listening: (need to catch back up with this)

Watching unsubbed Japanese Dramas.
Listening to Japanese Radio/Music.

Reading:
Reading anything I can for Reading, literally anything. Anything that'll force me to learn a new word I'll do it. Like I helped Alpha and Shas with their Air conditioning when they were in Japan and helped Alpha find somewhere on a map. I look at signs, boxes, websites, anything to force me to translate. Same goes for playing Japanese games, like I've been playing through Persona 3 PSP and translating my way through, Alpha bought me the second Tingle RPG while in Japan so I'm going to translate that and I was a few weeks ago trying to translate a Visual Novel but I stopped when I realised I was way over my head, might go back and try again soon though.

So basically, my main source of learning now is still YesJapan but most of my learning is from throwing as much at me as I possibly can. Never am I far from something Japanese, that's why learning languages now is so much better than learning them like 30 years ago before the internet. The internet means there's ways of immersing yourself in a language without actually being there.

EDIT: Also Dark Wolf your blog is probably better than mine, I want to go through yours and pick out the Kanji that I didn't understand, always helpful! So thanks for writing it, hopefully you can teach me more Kanji/words I don't know by reading your blog. ^_^

Image
The Watching Artist wrote:I feel so inept next to Stay Dead...
User avatar
Parksey
Moderator
Joined in 2008

PostRe: Learning Japanese/Chinese (The Language Thread)
by Parksey » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:40 am

That's probably how you have progressed so fast - you've really let yourself get it from all angles.

I think that's what you need to do with language if you're teaching yourself, as it kinda replicates living over there, when you learning by necessity as it's all around you.

The fact I don't really watch anime, read manga or listen to j-pop may hinder me, especially as my listening is traditionally my weakest part (it was with French and Spanish).

I've managed to cut my Amazon spending to £26. I got the Busy People Kana workbook, Making Sense of Japanese (a humourous account of grammar, basically), The Dictionary of Basic Japanese Sentence Structures (maybe I will regret this) and Easy Peasy Mandarin Chinese (for later, if I find I can do Chinese and Japanese together).

At the moment, I am wholly focussed on Japanese. I don't think I can start learning both from scratch at the same time, but once my level in each language is firmly differentiated (i.e. I am intermediate in Japanese but a beginner in Chinese), I will devote more time to that. This Chinese book will be way better than the two phrasebooks I foolishly expected to learn from.

I think I will give YesJapan a go seeing as I cut my spending down. I'll get to the end of the free lessons and see how it all is.

Getting a Japanese pen-pal who is learning English is also a great idea, so I may put a few feelers out. Not in a perv, grooming kind of way.

The Internet is great though, as you can almost be "in Japan" with it. It's not quite a distant land when you get on any website.

Have you ever been to Japan at all?

User avatar
Chris
Member
Joined in 2008
AKA: Chris B

PostRe: Learning Japanese/Chinese (The Language Thread)
by Chris » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:46 am

Parksey wrote:
The fact I don't really watch anime, read manga or listen to j-pop may hinder me, especially as my listening is traditionally my weakest part (it was with French and Spanish).



I have absolutely zero interest in manga/anime either, but there are plenty of great normal TV dramas to watch.

As for music. I would say don't fall for the stereotypical image of j-pop. Most people are depressingly clueless about it. If you do want to explore it then click the last.fm link in my sig. I don't really listen to anything else.

Switch Friend Code - SW-2270-8931-7619
Playstation Network - hydroburn87
User avatar
Parksey
Moderator
Joined in 2008

PostRe: Learning Japanese/Chinese (The Language Thread)
by Parksey » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:51 am

I see you were born in 1987, Chris - the same age as me, then. How did you end up over in Japan?

I'm looking at going sometime this year for a recreational visit. I've just graduated with an English degree and am taking a year out before I do a Master's, so I've got some time to kill (hence all this sudden language learning).

My friend did a TEFL course in South Korea, and I'd like to do something similar (if not in this year, then after my MA).

User avatar
Qikz
#420BlazeIt ♥
Joined in 2011

PostRe: Learning Japanese/Chinese (The Language Thread)
by Qikz » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:54 am

Have you ever been to Japan at all?


Not yet, but damnit I will go. I'm going to try signing up to the JET Program this year to see if I get in, if I don't I'll try again next year. (Basically it's a program where you're paid by the Japanese Government to live in Japan for a year and teach schoolkids English or something) but it's a year in Japan paid for by someone else and I'm going to keep trying until I get in (you can do it up until the age of 40 apparently).

If that fails this year, I'm going to either go the end of next year or the start of the next when I have some more money for a month, so either way it's a long wait and a long time to try and focus my language learning. :P

Image
The Watching Artist wrote:I feel so inept next to Stay Dead...
User avatar
Chris
Member
Joined in 2008
AKA: Chris B

PostRe: Learning Japanese/Chinese (The Language Thread)
by Chris » Wed Aug 25, 2010 2:03 am

I teach English in Japan right now. I did a little bit of Japanese study on my own prior to coming here, but only really started learning properly once I had arrived. I would say studying Japanese is my main hobby, which is fortunate as it means that the motivation to study is always there.

One of the biggest benefits of living in Japan is that initially, you are living in a country where you understand nothing. Some people can live like that, but I can't. I can't stand not being self-reliant. There are still things which I don't understand, particularly when you are put into a situation that you don't encounter often (hospital terminology etc) It definitely gets easier, but especially during my first few months, that frustration was a real motivator to study very hard.

EDIT: Reply to Parksey.

Switch Friend Code - SW-2270-8931-7619
Playstation Network - hydroburn87
User avatar
Parksey
Moderator
Joined in 2008

PostRe: Learning Japanese/Chinese (The Language Thread)
by Parksey » Wed Aug 25, 2010 2:11 am

That's hopefully what I will end up doing - getting on one of those Programs while I still have the time and lack of ties holding me here.

If not, like StayDead, I aim to scrap together some money to enable myself to go there before my MA, however long I can actually stay there.

How long have you been in the country, Chris? And would you say you're now fluent? Obviously, fluency can vary from being able to read a newspaper to reading a modern novel, but I'd define it as being able to hold a conversation with anyone about anything, and understanding the core stuff as well as being understood.

I'm hopefully going to enrol on a weekly course at a local college. My problem now may be that the first of the two courses (Japanese 101, if you will) may be, at times, too basic and, at others times, just what I need. For example, they will most likely start from scratch so my ability to read kana will stand out as quite advanced and probably something introduced in the second course (coincedently, called Japanese 2). However, my speaking will definitely be at the lowest level, having not spoken to anyone in Japanese yet. Progression in Japanese 1 is needed, but will often cover old ground as well as be a form of progression. It's only £41 for the course, mind.

EDIT - On a side note, the Japanese way of saying 60,000 sounds like a J-pop Elton John cover.

User avatar
Chris
Member
Joined in 2008
AKA: Chris B

PostRe: Learning Japanese/Chinese (The Language Thread)
by Chris » Wed Aug 25, 2010 2:24 am

I have been here for just under two years now.

I'm not fluent, and although it is hard to judge yourself, my conversational Japanese is improving at a rate which I am happy with. There are still things that I don't understand, but I can have a good conversation about stuff which I know about. For example, I would struggle to a have conversation about politics in English, so Japanese would probably be tough too! Fortunately my friends aren't too insistent on talking about it either!

As for reading. Newspapers are pretty much the holy grail of Japanese reading ability, and I am not there yet. However I can do things like send e-mails, and read karaoke lyrics in Japanese (this is actually great for improving reading speed), which is fine for now!

EDIT: Ah! 'Rocket Man.' Had to think about that one. My initial thought was that it sounds nothing like 'Circle of Life.' :)

Switch Friend Code - SW-2270-8931-7619
Playstation Network - hydroburn87
User avatar
Qikz
#420BlazeIt ♥
Joined in 2011

PostRe: Learning Japanese/Chinese (The Language Thread)
by Qikz » Wed Aug 25, 2010 2:41 am

You want to know something funny? Reading a Japanese newspaper is so hard with the sheer number of Kanji they actually use, that even most middle aged Japanese people can't read them fully, but luckily as with most languages they can understand what's going on. Seriously, reading a Japanese newspaper is basically a way of saying, I am a god at this language, look upon ye all mighty and despair.

Might have a speaking partner prepared now with that friend I was mentioning, Kaz. He said he wouldn't mind maybe using Mumble or Skype to just talk to me in Japanese to sort of help me with my Speaking as that's probably the hardest thing to learn I'd say, I would say fluency spoken wise is more being able to just make up your own sentances on the fly without really needing to think about it and to obviously be able to make sense while doing it. Written and Reading fluency in Japanese or any language with Symbols is completely different however, I'd say it's much harder to become fluent at reading and writing as it's something you can do by yourself.

Image
The Watching Artist wrote:I feel so inept next to Stay Dead...
User avatar
Chris
Member
Joined in 2008
AKA: Chris B

PostRe: Learning Japanese/Chinese (The Language Thread)
by Chris » Wed Aug 25, 2010 2:50 am

StayDead wrote:You want to know something funny? Reading a Japanese newspaper is so hard with the sheer number of Kanji they actually use, that even most middle aged Japanese people can't read them fully, but luckily as with most languages they can understand what's going on. Seriously, reading a Japanese newspaper is basically a way of saying, I am a god at this language, look upon ye all mighty and despair.


Yeah, sometimes when I have a bit of spare time, there's nothing better than buying a Japanese broadsheet, sitting down in a public place and pretending to read it, at regular intervals exclaiming out loud ええええ!マジ??嘘でしょう?あり得ない!!! Just to make sure everyone sees the foreigner reading the paper.

Not really... Well, not yet! ;)

Switch Friend Code - SW-2270-8931-7619
Playstation Network - hydroburn87
User avatar
PCCD
Member
Joined in 2008

PostRe: Learning Japanese/Chinese (The Language Thread)
by PCCD » Wed Aug 25, 2010 4:13 am

There's a Kanji learning tool (Learning Japanese for Beginners) up on XBL marketplace in the indie section. It's pretty comprehensive by the looks of it and 80 points is pretty cheap, could be worth a look.

The Holly and Delusi wrote:PENALTY: Blatant lies. Five minutes in the Sin Bin.
User avatar
Chris
Member
Joined in 2008
AKA: Chris B

PostRe: Learning Japanese/Chinese (The Language Thread)
by Chris » Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:12 pm

On that note, another avenue to explore with regards to Kanji learning is DS software. I have no idea how available that is in UK stores, though. I would imagine not very.

amazon.co.jp ships internationally though, I think.

Switch Friend Code - SW-2270-8931-7619
Playstation Network - hydroburn87
User avatar
Qikz
#420BlazeIt ♥
Joined in 2011

PostRe: Learning Japanese/Chinese (The Language Thread)
by Qikz » Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:17 pm

Chris wrote:On that note, another avenue to explore with regards to Kanji learning is DS software. I have no idea how available that is in UK stores, though. I would imagine not very.

amazon.co.jp ships internationally though, I think.


漢字そのままDS楽引辞典
(Kanji sonomama DS rakubiki jiten)

Is a really good dictionary for the DS, it's quite cheap on PlayAsia and is very helpful for learning Stroke Order, also when you get to that point it's very good for learning new words in full Japanese as it's a Kanji dictionary with Japanese and English meanings listed.

Image
The Watching Artist wrote:I feel so inept next to Stay Dead...

Return to “Stuff”