How do you study Japanese?

  1. Uchidi profile image60
    Uchidiposted 17 months ago

    Have any tips or tricks for studying Japanese? Everyone is different so what's your way to study Japanese? I've used textbooks, classrooms and watching a lot of TV! Also, living in the country has helped a lot... but I'm curious to see how everyone else does it smile

    1. RachaelLefler profile image95
      RachaelLeflerposted 17 months agoin reply to this

      A lot of times, a particularly often repeated word or phrase in an anime will prompt me to look it up. Like during the Madoka movie "Rebellion" a lot of characters say "chigau!" in an angry way to mean "you're wrong!" but it also just means "different" so I looked that one up. Also I was surprised that Evangelion used the word "shito" and not "tenchi" to refer to Angels. So I learn whenever anime sparks my curiosity, mostly. But, I also took two years of the class and have done some things with software. Not Rosetta Stone cause it's expensive and I think overpriced since they don't teach you grammar and probably not kanji either. I think the most important thing is grammar and learning how sentences form and how verbs are changed based on their meaning. I can't recommend just memorizing the dictionary. I've tried that but it's not the best approach. What helped me the most was taking a class, maybe there's an online class, but I liked the class because we had to give a lot of short spoken presentations in the Yokooso! textbook. You could get that textbook and just practice the dialogs aloud to yourself or with a friend. It really boils down to what is the most important thing for you to learn to do with Japanese. Writing? Translating text? Speaking? Understanding anime? Reading manga? Whatever your goals are will determine your approach. For example, if you just want to play naughty video games or obscure manga that haven't been translated, you probably want to just study the writing system, memorize hiragana and katakana, and learn a few hundred essential kanji, so you can get the gist of any sentence. If you want to travel abroad, you'll want to study the most important kanji related to signs and road maps and stuff (like enter, exit, bathroom, numbers, a few place names, etc.), and some basic conversational phrases, so I'd get a tiny phrasebook. I like romajidesu as an online dictionary because it lets you type words in romaji to look up in Japanese, so if you just aimlessly wonder "what's the Japanese word for _____" you can look that up, and also use it if you hear a Japanese word you don't know. The biggest and best dictionary I found in physical dictionaries is the black Random House one with a geisha on it. But a dictionary does not tell you grammar. Counting words are tricky in Japanese. Look up verb tenses. Japanese has transitive and intransitive verb pairs like "to come to an end" vs. "to be made to end" or "to fall" vs. "to cause to fall", "to stop" and "to be stopped", etc. So you have to memorize lists of those. Politeness and how the language changes based on the status of the speaker vs. the status of the listener is important. Also, you use the polite "desu-masu" way of talking in class a lot, but actual Japanese people seem to be negatively stereotyping people who talk like that as being a bit flowery and overly formal. It's nice to speak that way to a professor or older person though. The funny thing is, a lot of their cuss words aren't cuss words per se, just "talking down" language that imagines that the speaker's status is far above the listener's. Or there's sarcastically polite phrases that are like in English when someone says something like "Excuse me, your highness", or "Pardon me, princess". You know they're being insulting even though the language used is technically formal, because it's sarcastic. With any language, I think you have to hear it a lot, and speak it a lot. The TV helps that you mentioned, and like you said, living in Japan. I should study but it's been harder since I've been out of college Japanese. sad


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