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Self taught Japanese?

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So this isn't completely IB, but I took IB Japanese Ab Initio and well ... I totally sucked. I only got a 3, but that's not what I really care about at the moment. I just want to learn the language on my own now. So I was wondering if anyone had any tips, or advice on how to do this. Apparently the way i was studying the language before didn't stick. I tend to always go back to translating everything in my head back to English and then having to translate it back to Japanese before actually saying it.

So really I think I need suggestions on how to approach learning it, and maybe some books or CDs titles that may help out with that too. Thank you ahead of time (:

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This should be an interesting thread XD I recently started self teaching myself about 2 weeks ago so I'm probably at a way lower level than you. Just including what I'm doing or what I plan to do just in case someone is interested in starting off...

Anyways, I tried learning the kanas first using Heisig's Remembering The Kana book which wasn't too hard, I still mess up with a few of them and it takes me forever to read and write them, but it's a start. I'm planning on picking up Remembering the Kanji Vol. 1, also by Heisig. It's sort of an interesting concept where you teach yourself all the Joyo Kanji and their meanings but not their pronunciation, that's saved for later. It was something like since a Chinese person learning Japanese already knows the characters but not their pronunciation, he'll find it easier to learn them. The book's intro, preface etc. should be way better than me in explaining all this anyways :) Can't comment much on his method but I read it's pretty effective since it relies heavily on imaginative memory and other people have found that it works well. You can grind through as many or as little as you want per day and not forget it if you use an SRS (Spaced Repetition Software), which is basically an intelligent flashcards program that shows you the flashcards based on which ones you don't know and which ones you know very well. I've had my eye on Anki and you can read more about them on the Anki homepage. Anki has a sweet Japanese plugin to get you started making a Japanese deck so I would recommend it :D

As for knowing the pronunciation, I already watch Anime so I pick up a word here or there and I guess it's not so bad since most books/courses etc. only teach you formal Japanese anyways, you're learning on your own so picking up anything is progress. There's also music, dramas, manga, games and children's books etc. so whatever medium you enjoy you can probably find it in Japanese. Supposedly there's this pretty good textbook that can easily be used for self study called Genki, haven't tried it myself but supposedly it's pretty good so it's worth checking out. I was also able to find this weird Japanese program called Let's Learn Japanese, looks like it's from the 80's XD It's not so bad and quite entertaining at time so something else to check out if you're interested.

As for not translating stuff into English and back, I'm still thinking in English so I doubt I can help much but recently I've been doing it a little less with common expressions, probably since I hear them so often, the meaning sticks (I have no idea how my brain work though XD). I just know it probably takes quite a long time so watching and listening to stuff in Japanese would probably help a lot. Also, I dunno if it works in Japanese but sometimes when I think in English I can see the word and letters so maybe reading and writing more Japanese would go a long way. I still don't know enough to open up a Japanese children's book but I imagine if you can, you might be able to go through it slowly, checking up words you don't know along the way. It might be slow but at least a kid's book is way more interesting than a Japanese textbook :) I try to write down the expressions I know in Kana, and although it takes long I'm getting slightly faster at doing it. I still don't visualize any kana in my brain but maybe I just need more time. Also, I haven't started yet but if you take the idea of using an SRS to remember stuff, you can do it with sentences you learn, so if you pick up say 10 new sentences/expressions a day, you put them into the SRS and end up remembering them.

Long post, but hope you find something useful in there :D And here's a bunch of links from my bookmarks, I got most of my ideas from around the internet, mainly from Khatzumoto's blog. The rest are random easy to find stuff like stroke order.

AJATT Blog - Great blog run by Khatzumoto, he's got a really great method so I picked up quite a bit off of it. Also great for motivation if you're feeling lazy. He organised his method on a contents page here.

Reveiwing The Kanji - Has a system to help you remember Kanji if you're following Heisig's Remembering The Kanji. I prefer Anki but it also has a forum so it's worth checking out.

Kanji-lish - Interesting Firefox addon which combines English and Kanji a bit so you can sort of practise Kanji while reading English online, don't use it yet though so can't comment more than that.

If you want to check out some of these before trying them, drop me a PM, should have them somewhere...

Edited by TidusBlade
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Wow, this is extremely helpful, thank you!

I really like that Anki program. I downloaded it a couple days ago and have been like adding a whole bunch of verbs and vocab words. Really helps you figure out with words are the troublesome ones.

Not too sure what to say about the kanji method of learning their meanings and not the pronunciation, but I am willing to try anything right now. Maybe after I try that for a bit I will update this thread to how successful that is. I suppose it will be useful in trying to translate simple sentences or something where they stick in a random kanji. Just read around it like in the exam.

That AJATT blog is also looking pretty useful. Haven't really looked too carefully at it, but I liek the format of it.

So I will see where all this stuff leads me and I will probabaly come back in a few months and write on what works for me and see what happens then. Thanks again for the VERY helpful post. Much appreciated.

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If you want to better your language skills in Japanese I suggest you checkout a website called http://lang-8.com/. Basically you write journal entries in Japanese and native speakers will correct it and show you your mistakes etc...

You can also correct english journal entries written by foreigners in order to correct them if you feel like you need to pay back the favour. It just seems like an interesting and relatively good way to improve your sentence structure and grammar etc.

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I did this for CAS, and the best thing is to watch the films and animes- unless you can actually go to the country and immerse yourself in the language :)

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I have Japanese1-3 at my High School but they don't have the IB Japanese, it's a total blower. I'm taking both Spanish2 and Japanese2 at the moment. I like the site smart.fm =D u can look up different lists that people put up and it's been pretty useful for me and my friends. =]

smart.fm

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Hey there, I'm also another follower of the AJATT method xP

I've been at it for about 3-400 hours so far and the learning is sensational. If you havent, go to Youtube and search up All Japanese All the Time. Its Khatzumoto talking about his experiences with the Japanese Language. Every time i'm discouraged, I got watch his videos for inspiration :D

For those unaware, try to get as much input as possible!

For example

Download as much Raw Manga as possible and just keep looking at it until you can read it, or just make out random characters ;)

I get mine from here: http://mangahelpers.com/

Also, just downloading japanese podcasts would be a big help. Listening to informal street Japanese is way, way different from listening to the formal Japanese taught in classes.

I get mine from itunes.

Other sites that i've used so far to help me with self teaching Japanese are

http://kanji.koohii.com/

http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Japanese/Kana/Lessons/Hiragana/Lesson_1

And pretty much everything else listed on the AJATT website :P

Sorry if im being redundant or anything like that, just wanted to give my own opinion. +1 for TidusBlade

P.S. leeching off of a friend that takes Japnanese helps a little. Learning sentence structure and becoming grammatically correct never hurts XD

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