日本語

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Jett.

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In and out of learning Japanese, from time to time I get study sprees lasting about 6 months. I tried to learn kanji From the start, but I mostly end up forgetting half of them during the periods of rest.
Beside studying with learning books I like to watch Japanese TV Drama Series with the Japanese subtitles on.
Although not very practical at my stage of learning (language is too difficult), I find NHK Taiga Dramas superb for learning history.
よろしくお願いします!
 

Debio

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In and out of learning Japanese, from time to time I get study sprees lasting about 6 months. I tried to learn kanji From the start, but I mostly end up forgetting half of them during the periods of rest.
Beside studying with learning books I like to watch Japanese TV Drama Series with the Japanese subtitles on.
Although not very practical at my stage of learning (language is too difficult), I find NHK Taiga Dramas superb for learning history.
よろしくお願いします!
The only way to fix the bolded part above is to not have periods of rest. Even native Japanese speakers begin to forget significant amounts of kanji after six months abroad. They will remember it easily when they return. But it happens.

Try to watch a large variety of things. I've noticed that if you watch too much of one particular genre, you'll tend to pick up the language of that genre. For some things this is okay, starting to speak Japanese like someone from the Edo Period or a character from a manga isn't a good thing.
 

LupineMoon

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Even native Japanese speakers begin to forget significant amounts of kanji after six months abroad. They will remember it easily when they return. But it happens.

So true. Not that my reading, despite going to Japanese school for 12 years was very good to begin with, but I only really speak Japanese now and never write, so I've forgotten most kanji, though I can recognize which ones I want if I'm typing.
 

Shaba

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For a time, I was using Rosetta Stone and pimsleur simultaneously. I dedicated an hour and a half to learning every day. In the one month I was using them, I actually could watch anime and understand a decent amount, but when I began writing, I had no more time and I fell off. That was five years ago, but I can still understand a few things here and there. I want to learn it so badly though! When I went to Japan, I was in heaven and I want to return soon.
 

kuwisdelu

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When it comes to learning Japanese, I haven't heard many good things about audio-based methods like Rosetta and Pimsleur. I don't really know any Japanese-language learning community that takes Rosetta Stone very seriously.

Here are some of the best resources I've come across:

Review

Anki - pretty much the app for learning Japanese, along with a lot of other things. It doesn't come with any content. Anki is just an app for "intelligent" flashcards that use SRS (spaced repetition system) so that cards come up for review at the times most efficient for retention. Lots of online resources rely on Anki for review, and provide "decks" than can be used with it. There are desktop, iOS, and Android apps. Although great, Anki is a bit "bare-bones" compared to the more polished built-in review applications some sites provide.

Kanji

Remembering the Kanji - probably the seminal book on learning Kanji by Heisig, based on "primitives", many of which are based on the radicals that make up kanji. The Heisig method is based on using the primitives to create mnemonic stories to remember the meaning of the kanji. Exists in book form. The website is only a forum for the book. The first book doesn't teach any readings, only meanings or "key-words". Later volumes teach readings, too.

WaniKani - a part of the TextFugu family, focusing on teaching kanji and vocabulary. The method is Heisig-based, using radicals as building blocks. Like Heisig, many of its "radicals" are made up, where some are based on the radicals used by Japanese linguists, and many are made up for convenience of learning. It is a paid site, currently in beta, that uses SRS and is very nice to use. Teaches both meanings and readings, and a lot of vocab.

Kanjidamage - another site that uses the Heisig method, but again with its own system of made-up radicals. This site is free, but I find its radicals and the mnemonics are a bit lot more juvenile than Heisig or Wanikani, which can be a bit of a turn-off or a point of attraction for some people. The website only gives the order for learning and kanji information, but there are a lot of community-made Anki decks for Kanjidamage.

Grammar

Tae Kim - Like Heisig, Tae Kim is probably the seminal online guide for learning Japanese grammar. It's free, and has a lot of great material. Very nice site, and there is also an iOS app. Although it also has a lot of great tips when it comes to what's "natural" vs what's "correct", it doesn't always go into enough detail to be completely thorough.

Imabi - An extremely thorough grammar guide with almost 300 lessons. Imabi is much more in-depth than Tae Kim, so can be a very daunting to the beginner. This is probably the way to go when you get to intermediate/advanced, because the author goes to great extents to get things right. Lots of examples, and the author is happy to help anyone who asks questions there.

Textfugu - A very beginner-friendly online textbook by the same people as WaniKani. It's a paid site, but I think it's a nice and gentle introduction that still doesn't pull any punches (e.g., getting romaji out of the way as soon as possible). A better walkthrough than Tae Kim or Imabi, but not nearly as useful as reference material. It is due for a major content update soon.

Lang-8 - Not actually a grammar-learning resource at all, but a website to practice it. The idea behind the site is you make posts in the language you want to learn, and native speakers correct your posts. (You'll be expected to correct posts by other users who are learning your own native language, too.) Very useful for practice. Sometimes the corrections aren't the most helpful if you can't understand the reasons for them.

Vocab

iKnow - A paid site that provides its own online SRS interface (also available in iOS app). Its lesson and review interface is very nice, and mixes up the audio vs text and also recall vs recognition. Its various "Core" courses teach the most-used vocab. These "Core" courses are also widely used by the community as unofficial Anki decks. (The Anki decks are a bit outdated, from when the order was based on newspapers, so lots of less-useful political words are presented earlier than they are on the site, which has since revised the order.)

Memrise - A free site that also has its own SRS. Lots of people like it because you get to "choose" your own mnemonic from various user-created ones, but it's a little less polished than a paid site like iKnow. It's a great site overall, but I think it suffers a little from not being a Japanese-focused site like most of the others mentioned above.
 
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Shaba

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I actually know all of these programs you listed, and I highly recommend them because my sister uses them. My brother went to Yale and did it the traditional way, classes (he's completely fluent), and he champions learning it that way because you're doing it for a grade and your money. Having both of these sides, and my own side, I can only tell you from my personal experience. Pimsleur is definitely audio based but it also has a small workbook. The repetition does help. It actually drills phrases into your head, over and over, and has a practice conversation at the end of each thirty-minute lesson. Five years later, I can still remember those phrases and how to conjugate them better than in Spanish, and I took Spanish for seven years and was pretty good! Rosetta Stone is audio based and strongly visual based, as it combines a plethora of things, including flashcards. The good thing about Rosetta Stone is it is as close as being dropped into a foreign country because they never speak anything or teach you anything in any other language except the one you want to learn. My Japanese friends and friends who were taking Japanese (at the same time) were quite impressed that I learned so much in such a short time. In fact, I actually learned more in that month and a half than they did in two semesters. Rosetta Stone also teaches you kanji, katakana, and hiragana. It's definitely not for everyone (the price is expensive!), but if you have the money, motivation, and time, I'd give it a try along with every else you recommended.
 

Shaba

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All right, I'm going to amend what I said so I don't sound like a fanboy (nothing wrong with fanboys!).

First, the workbook I used was not made by Pimsleur. Someone online made a free workbook based on the lessons, which I used to quickly skim the lessons, so I was wrong there.

Second, if you think you will become fluent in any language using either Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur, you are sadly mistaken. They are useful in addition to learning it the traditional way. Kuwisdelu is more right than I am on this point, and I believe his links, in the long run, will serve you better than Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur.

Third, the reason I think it worked for me better than the-result-not-typical mumbo jumbo is because I already know another language. Don't get me wrong, English is my first language, but my parents have spoken another language to me ever since I was born. Some research out there suggests that those who grew up learning more than one language have an easier time picking up another language than those who were only raised learning one language (my sister learns it much easier than her roommate does). I can get into the science of this because science and research is my specialty, but I don't want to put you all to sleep.

Fourth, I suggest finding out what way works best for you, but when I decide to learn it again, I will definitely use the traditional method and maybe Pimsleur.
 
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sekime

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Another glaring miss to add to your list:

www.JapanesePod101.com

This is probably the best resource to learn Japanese other than taking lessons. The perfect trifecta is Mnemosyne, JapanesePod101 and Japanese lessons. The first two are free or pay a little for the extras of JapanesePod101.
 

Shaba

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Again, very subjective. Everyone has his or her own combination. No need to be condescending Sekime. Kuwisdelu has a great list, and your contributions are helpful too.
 

kuwisdelu

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Another glaring miss to add to your list:

www.JapanesePod101.com

This is probably the best resource to learn Japanese other than taking lessons.

Ah, yes it's one I have heard very good things about. I haven't taken the time to explore it yet myself (because I admit I'm often allergic to videos and podcasts; I prefer text-based approaches).

The perfect trifecta is Mnemosyne, JapanesePod101 and Japanese lessons. The first two are free or pay a little for the extras of JapanesePod101.

I agree with Shaba: the right combination will differ for everyone. It's best to explore widely and see what works best for you. What works for one person won't always work for another.

Personally, exploring the etymology of words and linguistics behind how a language works and developed helps me a lot. I like understanding things as opposed to memorizing them.
 
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sekime

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Again, very subjective. Everyone has his or her own combination. No need to be condescending Sekime. Kuwisdelu has a great list, and your contributions are helpful too.

Since when is providing additional information and more accuracy condescending? May your opinion and your high horse have a nice ride.
 

kuwisdelu

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Since when is providing additional information and more accuracy condescending?

I didn't want to say anything myself, but since Shaba brought it up: it was the way you expressed yourself.

It's hard to take any list seriously that doesn't mention

Another glaring miss

The additional resources are appreciated. The attitude is not. I hardly characterized my list as exhaustive.
 

sekime

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I didn't want to say anything myself, but since Shaba brought it up: it was the way you expressed yourself.





The additional resources are appreciated. The attitude is not. I hardly characterized my list as exhaustive.

I have been direct, and stated my opinion. If that is attitude, according to your definition, please recheck a proper dictionary. If 27,000+ posts give you a superior position in the thread to tell me I'm unwelcome in your thread, I failed to read that in the FAQ.

I provided useful information and links. I feel that is not unwelcome information. You also stated that you hadn't heard of some of the information I provided. I educated you. Usually people are thankful or respectful, but because I didn't conform to your ideal posting etiquette or form, I am now being given the "condescending" + "bad attitude" yet "your contributions are helpful too" feedback.

Well done. Well done.

I'd think other people in the thread might actually want some information from someone that actually lives in Japan. If your only looking for hugs from the way people post, consider adjusting your attitude also.

To summarize, you provided a list of information. I added to to. It was somehow in an unacceptable fashion for both kuwisdelu and Shaba. I disagree.

Let's focus on other things now. We've all had our say. On to more useful links and information.
 

kuwisdelu

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If 27,000+ posts give you a superior position in the thread to tell me I'm unwelcome in your thread, I failed to read that in the FAQ.

It does not, this is not "my" thread, and I am not a mod. I am only expressing my opinion.

I feel that is not unwelcome information.

It is welcome.

You also stated that you hadn't heard of some of the information I provided. I educated you.

Which is delightful. Here is to hoping we may both be educated.

Usually people are thankful or respectful

I am thankful, and I don't believe I have said anything disrespectful. 失礼。
 
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sekime

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Done.

Let's help each other learn and discuss things relating to Japan.
 

SaraP

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It's hard to take any list seriously that doesn't mention Mnemosyne with regards to spaced repetition learning.

http://mnemosyne-proj.org/

Another glaring miss to add to your list:

www.JapanesePod101.com

This is probably the best resource to learn Japanese other than taking lessons. The perfect trifecta is Mnemosyne, JapanesePod101 and Japanese lessons. The first two are free or pay a little for the extras of JapanesePod101.

Since when is providing additional information and more accuracy condescending? May your opinion and your high horse have a nice ride.

[Bolding mine]

There is a difference between simply providing information and sharing what one knows, and passing information from a standpoint of "I have all the knowledge". It's the second one that is not well received here because, as Kuwi and Shaba pointed out, what works for one doesn't necessarily work for others.

The how-to's of learning a language, and which resources are best for it, is such a complex subject, and I, for one, think it's a good thing that there are a variety of places one can go to to see what's the best fit for them. Thanks, guys, for sharing all of these. :)
 

Shaba

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Sorry. I didn't meant to start all this. I hope we can all be friends now.
 

Debio

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I need to get off my duff and start actually studying more. I don't read nearly well enough for someone who has been here as long as I have. I also still miss too much on the variety TV programs and such.

If I could add another two hours to my day, that would be how I'd fill it. As soon as Kobo gets itself a Japanese-English dictionary, I'll be reading more Japanese books.

I'm not 100% fluent, but I do work at a very high level high school and if I can't answer it, I do have a room full of excellent teachers who are used to me asking weird questions. So, as long as I don't get inundated, I'll be happy to try and get an answer, if you have any questions.

That will help me as well. Most of the Japanese I've learned in the past 10 years came from either helping students with their English assignments or finding answers to questions that people ask.

Maybe if you ask really nice, I will tell you what is happening in the latest installments of Bleach, or One Piece*.

*The only two manga I actually read. Not enough time in the day.
 

Kerosene

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Debio, you're in a better position than most of us as you live in the language--it is the best way to learn hands down.

I'm pretty sure Kobo has a Jap-Eng dictionary. Otherwise, one of the best purchases I've ever made was buying my Nexus 7 FHD for the free apps like JED and Ankidroid. I think those two apps are worth the price of the tablet itself.

Question: So, you work as a English teacher ("assistant") in Japan? I've got a bud who's really interested in doing that.
 

Debio

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Debio, you're in a better position than most of us as you live in the language--it is the best way to learn hands down.

I'm pretty sure Kobo has a Jap-Eng dictionary. Otherwise, one of the best purchases I've ever made was buying my Nexus 7 FHD for the free apps like JED and Ankidroid. I think those two apps are worth the price of the tablet itself.

Question: So, you work as a English teacher ("assistant") in Japan? I've got a bud who's really interested in doing that.

Actually, I only started out as an assistant. Way back in the beginning. My job since then is weird, but part of it, 3 days a week, are at a high school. I teach my own classes, which for the last several years have been essay classes to prepare them for their entrance exams. The rest of the time I work at a Yobikou, or that special juku for high school graduates who didn't pass the entrance exam to the school of their choice and want to try again.

If your friend is interested in coming, I would recommend the assistant thing. They will have a lot more support than other options.

And yes, I'm very happy to be in my position. The best way to learn is to immerse yourself in the language. I won't say it was easy. My first three years here were at a very low level high school. I had to improve my Japanese or go insane. No one around me spoke English except the two English teachers. It was sink or swim.

I'm glad it happened. But I'm not sure I would be willing to do that again. It was hard. It worked, but it was hard.

None of the apps or programs mentioned above were around when I needed them most unfortunately. It's amazing how things have changed in the last 15 years.

Anyway, like I said, I'm not 100% fluent, but I'm good, depending on how you define good. And I have teachers to ask sitting all around me. You don't have to limit it to language questions either. Though I can't promise an answer for obscure stuff.
 

kuwisdelu

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Has anyone else ever thought about how English and 日本語 are not so different from each other from a developmental perspective?

I mean, of course, they're completely different linguistically, but that's not quite what I mean.

I mean how they're both really bastard children when it comes to vocabulary, and most of their vocabulary doesn't reflect the language's origins?

English is a Germanic language rather than a Romance language, but the majority of its vocabulary uses roots derived from Latin words.

Likewise, Japanese is a language isolate completely unrelated to Chinese linguistically, but the majority of its vocabulary uses roots derived from Chinese words.

And in both cases, the vocabulary of everyday speech has a much higher representation of native words (Anglo or Japanese) than words with foreign roots (Latinate or Sino-Japanese) compared to written language.

I don't know. I find understanding the linguistics and origins of the language very helpful in trying to learn it. Anyone else think about this stuff?
 
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Debio

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I've had similar thoughts.

People say that English absorbs lots of words from other languages. I've heard the metaphore that other languages borrow but English hunts you down, beats and robs you, then leaves you lying sensless in an alley. Which isn't all that innacurate in a way.

But Japanese is pretty crazy about taking words too. If the word is remotely useful, it will end up in Japanese as a katakana word, eventually it may change to hiragana. Some professor type will at some time try to make a similar word with proper kanji, but those words rarely survive.

Kind of cool.:D

I like how English and Japanese steal from each other, too. :)