Saturday, October 15, 2005

Studying Beginning Japanese

This is my first post. It was hard to decided on what to write about first, but I decided to write about how I study beginning Japanese, and what my recommendations are.

I have been studying Japanese for a number of years now, and have tried all sorts of books, tapes, and courses and have finally found a set of material that works for me.

First off I don't recommend taking courses. I took 2 1/2 classes. The only good aspect of them is that they force you to study, and maybe you might find someone from the class to study and practice with. Otherwise I feel they are not worth the time and effort. For example, if you take a Japanese conversation class with 20 other people, and the teacher goes around asking each person to say a phase. How many phases will each person actually get to say in an hour class? Maybe once, and if you are lucky twice. If instead you used that time to read a book or listen audio and say the phrases to yourself, you will get a lot more practice.

Okay now on to what I recommend. The four methods I think you should study with are: listening to audio and video instructional CDs and tapes, use study books, learn writing, practice speaking, and reinforce what you have learned.

1. The instructional CD set I highly recommend is Pimsleur's Comprehensive Japanese. I transferred the CD to my MP3 player and listen and practice in the car while commuting. I do not recommended doing this for safety, but it definitely makes for very time efficient studying. Make sure your MP3 player can be easily paused and rewound. Pimsleur has now come out with their our MP3 player and audio on chips.

2. I am studying two books Japanese for Busy People I: Kana Version and Teach Yourself Beginner's Japanese. The books will give you a larger vocabulary and explanations of the grammar.

3. You should learn how to write hiragana, katakana and later kanji. Learning to write will vastly improve your ability to read. I used Japanese for Busy People - Kana Workbook

4. If at all possible practice speaking with other people. It is real quite different trying to come up with the right words to say on the spot, than it is to answers prompts from the audio tape, or questions from the books.

5. I also recommend that you keep a word list of all the words you study. Make flash cards from this list or at least go over the list often to reinforce the words you've learned.

Ganbattene (Good luck and work hard.)