Archive for January, 2010

Need a New Year’s Resolution? Learn Japanese!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 20, 2010 by russellsreviews

Since it’s a new year people will be starting to make year-end resolutions, I say why not try to learn a new language? Talking to friends and people online about my trip to Japan I find lots of people wish they could learn Japanese, but just find the task too daunting or just don’t’ have the time or money to take classes. Although I’m still learning myself along the way I have picked up tricks that will help anyone break down the language and help them learn on their own.

Japanese is made of three written languages ( I guess you can call them alphabets) Katakana, Hiragana, and everyone’s favorite Kanji. The best place to start is to learn hiragana and Katakana. I suggest starting with Hiragana, because later when trying to learn complicated Kanji the will show how to speak it in Hiragana. Plus, over 50% of the words in Japanese are made up in Hiragana. Katakana and Hiragana have the same syllables so after learning them you no will be able to pronounce or break down any Japanese words. You can go online and find many workbooks that can help you study.

Kanji is a lot harder to grasp. I believe there over 2,000 characters with each one with a different meaning. Pretty insane having to memorize 2,000 characters. Lucky there over 200 essential kanji called radicals. Every Kanji is made up of these radicals and if you understand these radicals they can help you figure out or remember the more complicated Kanji. 200 plus is a lot, but a lot better than 2,000.  I suggest getting a book that shows pictures beside each Kanji to help you study. Thinking of funny pictures will make memorizing a lot faster and more fun.

You also always have the learning software option. Rosetta Stone is a great language learning software, but for Japanese I don’t recommend it. They throw you in and you really need some prior knowledge to even understand what they are asking you to do. They talk to fast or to slow and the mic is awful. A lot of times it takes over 20 tries for it to say you said it correctly even though you have said it the same way the last 10. I strongly recommend My Japanese Coach on the DS. If you don’t have a DS you can find one used for 80 bucks and then the cost of the game is around 20. You will have an easier way to learn for beginners and it will save 150 bucks not going with Rosetta Stone.My Japanese Coach you can adjust the speed of the speaking, test your speech, and even practice writing characters. It gives you silly games to help you study like word search, flash cards, or whack a mole.

Last piece of advice is to just listen to Japanese. Rent movies, shows, anime and don’t watch them dubbed. The more you hear it, the more you earn an ear for it. So hopefully after reading this you feel like learning Japanese isn’t as impossible as it may seem at first. Not going to lie, its hard, and I still got ways to go, but when you feel like you are getting closer and closer and things start to click its a very rewarding experience.