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Thread: It's so difficult to learn japanese!

  1. #1

    Default It's so difficult to learn japanese!

    Wonder if any bro or sis has any good advice for me as to how to make learning Jap pleasant yet effectively fast.

    Attended lessons and have been reading Learner's Jap books. Whew... I've done some self-study on German for eg, and it isn't that tough cos they use mostly the same English alphabet system.

    Juz realized in Jap, you need to learn so many types, the Kanji, Hiragana, and Katagana. I'm only starting with the Hiragana first, and oh boy.. So many characters and sounds!

    And I find even learning the Romaji (English form of writing Jap) doesn't help much cos what I'm basically doing is simply memorising words. Except for the simple greetings, I will forget them very soon!

    The many books for learners basically tell you common phrases to remember in Romaji. I find them pretty useless cos there are countless ways to express a sentence so I may memorise a question, but if a Jap were to reply me, no guarantee I can understand.

    So any good advice? Would it be better to concentrate with the character system first and do the memorizing part of common phrases later?

    Appreciate it...!

  2. #2

    Default Re: It's so difficult to learn japanese!

    Japanese has a steep learning curve. You gotta memorize vocab. Jap also has a very fixed sentence structure (at least for what you are learning, forget the slang).

  3. #3

    Default Re: It's so difficult to learn japanese!

    Do you enjoy it??? I find that as long as you love what you doing, you will not find it difficult, rather it will become a challenge instead.

    For kanji, at least it looks similiar to chinese, though I guessed prononciation is very much different...at least when I was in Jap, I can guess some of the meaning even though I dunno Jap lang.

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    Senior Member asterixsg's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's so difficult to learn japanese!

    Apologies, I don't have much to contribute to this thread.

    Just one minor point. I think we shouldn't be using the word "Jap" as it has a derogatory meaning and some Japanese people would find it offensive. I remember reading a discussion in Kopitiam about this topic, too lazy to search for it.
    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt....

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    Default Re: It's so difficult to learn japanese!

    Quote Originally Posted by asterixsg View Post
    Apologies, I don't have much to contribute to this thread.

    Just one minor point. I think we shouldn't be using the word "Jap" as it has a derogatory meaning and some Japanese people would find it offensive. I remember reading a discussion in Kopitiam about this topic, too lazy to search for it.
    its better to call them Nihon Jin des ka?
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    Default Re: It's so difficult to learn japanese!

    Quote Originally Posted by Del_CtrlnoAlt View Post
    its better to call them Nihon Jin des ka?
    You can say Japanese, but Nihonjin is fine, too since people will recognise the Chinese characters. I hated being called "Jap" while I was being beaten for being Japanese. I've gotten used to people using it as something other than a derogatory term, but I read "Nips" in a thread here the other day.

    Traditional Chinese and Japanese before the 1950s were written much the same, so it's easier for older people to read but both written languages have been simplified (in different ways) since then, except in Taiwan, right?

    Japanese is a subject-object-verb language, much like Korean and similar to German and Latin in some ways, also. It's complicated and simple at the same time.

    Basic Japanese sounds for Chinese characters are similar to Mandarin but without the 4 tones.

    少 = sho or shiao/xiao in Mandarin.

    The trouble is that some Kanji/Chinese characters may have something like 9 different pronunciations, depending on the combination.

    信 = shin or xin in Mandarin, but in my name, it's Nobu.

    Learning the spelling (kana) characters takes a bit but if you know their origins, it may speed things. They're extremely quick for me compared to trying to figure out in Chinese what they're using to spell a foreign name or word. katakana are mostly used for foreign words and hiragana are used for domestic words and modifiers for the kanji/Chinese characters.

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    Default Re: It's so difficult to learn japanese!

    Quote Originally Posted by David View Post
    Wonder if any bro or sis has any good advice for me as to how to make learning Jap pleasant yet effectively fast.

    Attended lessons and have been reading Learner's Jap books. Whew... I've done some self-study on German for eg, and it isn't that tough cos they use mostly the same English alphabet system.

    Juz realized in Jap, you need to learn so many types, the Kanji, Hiragana, and Katagana. I'm only starting with the Hiragana first, and oh boy.. So many characters and sounds!
    Memorise the Hiragana Table thoroughly first.

    あいうえお
    かきくけこ
    さしすせそ

    Once u'd mastered the Hiragana Table. Master the Katakana Table next.

    アイウエオ
    カキクケコ
    サシスセソ

    My personal bane is still Katakana.

    And I find even learning the Romaji (English form of writing Jap) doesn't help much cos what I'm basically doing is simply memorising words. Except for the simple greetings, I will forget them very soon!
    If u memorise words only, u'll be a goner in juz 1mth without practice.

    Like I'd said, memorise and master the Hira & Kata tables. Den go onto writing and speaking the vocabulary of words. Followed by Grammar simultaneously.

    Anyway, its like learning Chinese (unless u're not a Chinese or if u're a Jiak Kan Tang Chinese). If you know how to speak it but don't even know how to write it, u're still considered illiterate. Except Chinese is more unforgiving.

    Alternatively, try Bunka Language School or JCS. And last of all, if you are beginning to hate that language cos of any reason whatsoever, stop learning rather den force urself to learn.

    Enjoy.

  8. #8

    Default Re: It's so difficult to learn japanese!

    Quote Originally Posted by David View Post
    Wonder if any bro or sis has any good advice for me as to how to make learning Jap pleasant yet effectively fast.

    Attended lessons and have been reading Learner's Jap books. Whew... I've done some self-study on German for eg, and it isn't that tough cos they use mostly the same English alphabet system.

    Juz realized in Jap, you need to learn so many types, the Kanji, Hiragana, and Katagana. I'm only starting with the Hiragana first, and oh boy.. So many characters and sounds!

    And I find even learning the Romaji (English form of writing Jap) doesn't help much cos what I'm basically doing is simply memorising words. Except for the simple greetings, I will forget them very soon!

    The many books for learners basically tell you common phrases to remember in Romaji. I find them pretty useless cos there are countless ways to express a sentence so I may memorise a question, but if a Jap were to reply me, no guarantee I can understand.

    So any good advice? Would it be better to concentrate with the character system first and do the memorizing part of common phrases later?

    Appreciate it...!
    Hi David,

    Harry Potter is right on one point, if you enjoy the learning, you will find the difficulties bearable.

    For myself, I am having slightly better luck than you. When I started learning hiragana, it was initially not easy to remember the hiragana characters because we cannot attach the significance to each of the characters until you start using them as words or phrases constantly in your practice. It's the same with katakana too. It comes more naturally to the memory with practice.

    I am now struggling with various sentence structures and havent really have the time to do my homework ... which explains why i am struggling in the first place. but hey, i may not be able to match a 6-year-old japanese kid with my current capability but looking back, I sure am not Japanese illiterate now. I can read hiragana/katakana/kanji and understand them to a limited extent. But I am still learning to pick up on my listening portion, because Japanese can really speak quite fast, and I have a tendency to miss out on majority of what they say until they take breath for the next sentence, haha ...

    Anyway, if it is too easy to pick up, it's probably not worth your time to master it right? :P

    Ganbatte kudasai !

  9. #9

    Default Re: It's so difficult to learn japanese!

    by the way, I dun think there is any language in the world that is easy to learn. Learning needs effort... some languages (like icelandic) take more effort, some less effort...but since we all are learning from the beginning, it will be challenging...

    just like engrish and chinese, we take over 15 years to learn from kindergarden to A levels.

    dun expect to learn a new language within a few years, it times time, effort and practice and strong passion and interest.

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    Default Re: It's so difficult to learn japanese!

    I'm not sure it will help but I put together a little table that puts the hiragana and katakana together for easy identification.



    I also created a .pdf file, if that's easier.

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    Senior Member Sion's Avatar
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    Default Re: It's so difficult to learn japanese!

    Best to learn Japanese from hiragana, katanana and kanji rather than romaji as it is more useful. Learn to read, write, listen and talk equally.

    For reading I subscribe to a Japanese magazine for Japanese learners with the articles in both Japanese and English.

    For listening I tape the dialoque of Japanese movies and listen to it whenever I'm in MTR or strolling.

    For talking I make friends with the Japanese buy them lunch and in return I get to speak in Japanese and learn conversational Japanese from them.

    I have done 4 years of an evening course (twice a week) in Japanese certificate and only scratched the surface. However these days photography has taken up all my time.

    But if you parachute me anywhere in Japan I can get by e.g. asking for food and water, the direction to the station and of course to the home of the prettiest woman in the village.
    Last edited by Sion; 17th September 2007 at 03:05 PM.

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    Default Re: It's so difficult to learn japanese!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sion View Post
    But if you parachute me anywhere in Japan I can get by e.g. asking for food and water, the direction to the station and of course to the home of the prettiest woman in the village.
    "Mura ichi ban no bishounen no uchi wa doku desu ka?" izzit?

  13. #13

    Default Re: It's so difficult to learn japanese!

    Thanks to all for feedback!
    P.S I use "Jap" as abbreviation. There is totally no discrimation at all here.

    Quote Originally Posted by bousozoku View Post
    I'm not sure it will help but I put together a little table that puts the hiragana and katakana together for easy identification.



    I also created a .pdf file, if that's easier.
    Thanks to bousozoku. Appreciate it. I'm still in the haragana stage but will keep your neat chart in mind.

    So seems like learning the characters first is more effective to understanding Japanese well... The problem is as adult learners, and non-native speakers, we tend to want to get into things quicker and sooner. Just like learning music. Some can play very well but can't sight read.

    So for Jap-learning, learning from Romaji seems very natural. In fact, I find many books that teach beginning Jap for foreign adults tend to be start from Romaji. That's what I find very difficult. For German, for eg, I can jump straight to forming "real" words and can make out signs and instruction almost immediately. Not for Jap.

    So it's not practical to start only from the very basic Hiragana first like what a Japanese kid would probably do from young/kindergarten? Though I agree that's prob the best way to learn.

    Anyway, my lessons are not the super intensive type. It's more conversational with some Haragana thrown in initially. But like I said, the big difficulty is in memorising words pretty much blindly. There's nothing much I, or many beginning foreign learners of Japanese can do.

    Much said, I really admire those people who spend a super intensive 1 year of Jap lessons and can then go on to work in Japan. I can't imagine doing that! And some students could even write a thesis for their uni after an intensive course. For me, I don't need to acquire a level so good as to be able to write Jap essays or story books. Just to move around comfortably, read signs, simple chats with Japanese people.

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    Default Re: It's so difficult to learn japanese!

    Some things, no point to learn so fast and u can get up to speed very fast but once u lose touch, u'll lose it forever IMO.

    Where Asian languages are concerned, I still feel there's no 'shortcut' express method. Its still, memorizing hira & kata tables first.

    BTW, I believe a Japanese child doesn't memorise the hira & kata table so artifically like foreign learners. My sensei said that Japanese schools just start off the language straightaway IIRC.

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    Default Re: It's so difficult to learn japanese!

    Quote Originally Posted by David View Post
    Thanks to all for feedback!
    P.S I use "Jap" as abbreviation. There is totally no discrimation at all here.



    Thanks to bousozoku. Appreciate it. I'm still in the haragana stage but will keep your neat chart in mind.

    So seems like learning the characters first is more effective to understanding Japanese well... The problem is as adult learners, and non-native speakers, we tend to want to get into things quicker and sooner. Just like learning music. Some can play very well but can't sight read.

    So for Jap-learning, learning from Romaji seems very natural. In fact, I find many books that teach beginning Jap for foreign adults tend to be start from Romaji. That's what I find very difficult. For German, for eg, I can jump straight to forming "real" words and can make out signs and instruction almost immediately. Not for Jap.

    So it's not practical to start only from the very basic Hiragana first like what a Japanese kid would probably do from young/kindergarten? Though I agree that's prob the best way to learn.
    ...
    Just to move around comfortably, read signs, simple chats with Japanese people.
    Romaji generally works in train stations and some governmental buildings. Signs are generally straightforward and they're probably easy to memorise.

    There is another complication and it deals with Romaji. Someone named Hepburn originally put together the romanisation that a lot of people use because it's written the way it sounds. However, there is inconsistency, e.g. ta chi tsu te to. The government sought to fix this and the same group in their romanisation is ta ti tu te to but ti and tu don't sound like that at all.

    Children start out with e-hon, picture books and blocks with pictures on one side and characters on the other.

    Oh, another learning tool is available, if you're serious: electronic dictionaries. I noticed that there is even one for the Nintendo DS. Many have a beginner's dictionary, while others support many more words, and some have testing.

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    Default Re: It's so difficult to learn japanese!

    Get your basics right first. Hiragana, Katakana then if you are comfortable, the kanji. Reading by itself is useless, you will need to practice and practice and practice until you start thinking in Japanese as well. Easy to say but very hard to do since SG is still primarily an Eng and CHN speaking country. I tried this: Watching japanese dvds of movies and dramas without subtitles once, then watching it again with it. Helps in improving your listening comprehension. or best, watch NHK news all the time.

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    Default Re: It's so difficult to learn japanese!

    This may be too early for TS at this stage, but finding stuff to watch and listen to will help tremendously. Short of going to Japan, this would be closest to actually putting what you learn into practice. Doesn't do that much to helping you learn to speak though.

    Quote Originally Posted by jsbn View Post
    "Mura ichi ban no bishounen no uchi wa doku desu ka?" izzit?
    Shouldn't it be ichi ban bishoujo?? Unless...

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    Default Re: It's so difficult to learn japanese!

    Quote Originally Posted by Gengh View Post
    This may be too early for TS at this stage, but finding stuff to watch and listen to will help tremendously. Short of going to Japan, this would be closest to actually putting what you learn into practice. Doesn't do that much to helping you learn to speak though.

    Shouldn't it be ichi ban bishoujo?? Unless...
    Sion did mention "prettiest woman", so bishoujo might work better although that sounds odd.

    At least, NHK and others broadcast online.

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    Default Re: It's so difficult to learn japanese!

    Quote Originally Posted by Gengh View Post
    This may be too early for TS at this stage, but finding stuff to watch and listen to will help tremendously. Short of going to Japan, this would be closest to actually putting what you learn into practice. Doesn't do that much to helping you learn to speak though.



    Shouldn't it be ichi ban bishoujo?? Unless...
    Whoops faux paus....

    Oh damn, I think I had unwittingly let my darkest intention slip outta my mind thru my fingers.....

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