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Archive for the ‘Introduction’ Category

How to Learn Japanese

I thought I’d outline the basics of how I intend to learn Japanese and, while I’m not an expert, how believe anyone can learn a new language.

However, before I outline these steps, think back to how you learned to speak English. When you were born, you knew nothing. You were a blank slate waiting to learn how to speak. You’re mental capacity was also much lower than what it is today…I hope.

From this blank slate, you listened and learned through osmosis. First you started making sounds, such as ga, da, buh, duh, and so on. Eventually, these sounds turned into primative words, such as dada or mama. The amount and variety of words you learned continued to grow until you were forming primative sentences, like ‘i want mommy’ or ‘not tired’, until you eventually were able to form basic sentences and carry out simple conversations outside of the simple commands and statments.

Finally, you entered school and you are introduced to the alphabet for the first time. You may have come into contact with it a little earlier, but it’s around this time you start actively learning it and how to write and read words. Once you knew how to read the words, you went about learning more and more words as well as gradually learning more and more grammar until you arrived at where you are today.

Obviously, this is a simplified version and there are likely to many variations to this, but, in general, this is how you learned your first language. Let’s apply this to learning Japanese.

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Hello and welcome to Kirby no Nihongo. The purpose of the site is to basically document my learning experience as I go about learning Japanese. You can follow along, offer advice and join in along the way if you like.Before we start, I guess I should let everyone know just how bad I am at Japanese. I’m barely a step above beginner. I know all the kana, have a decent vocabulary for a beginner (yay anime!) and I can form basic sentences (no, not just random jibberish that I have no idea what it means and they are not quotes from Suzumiya Haruihi-sama). So, while I am absolutely brutal and no where near an actual Japanese speaker’s level, I’m not someone that hears Japanese and can’t even make out the sounds being spoken. I can also read as if I’m a fully functioning retard, provided it has no kanji in it.

Now that we know just how good (ie bad) I am at this, here’s how we’ll be rectifying the situation.

I am using the Absolute Pimsleur’s Japanese I audio mp3s through various means. I’ve worked my way up to about lesson 20 and I typically re-listen (if that’s a word) to each lesson once or twice before moving on to the next lesson. For instance, I went through lesson’s 1-3 sequentially, but redid them all once just for practice hearing and speaking the language and did this for subsequent lessons.

I also practiced my reading and writing kana while I’ve been building my vocabulary for the past couple of weeks to the point I now know every kana and can read them whenever I see them (ie not just rote memorization, but actually know them), although going through a word can be slow as I still can’t actively connect (-n) and various other connecting syllables, like はい(hai), where the a and i blend together. I still read those as ha – i and then realize it should have been hai.

So, that’s about it. I’ll probably post transcripts for the Pimsleur lessons for my own practice in writing the words and in case anyone wanted to follow along. I may post random other guides or tools I’ll be using to further my, and your, studies.

– Kirby

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