When learning Japanese it’s often recommended to start learning Hiragana and Katakana to start out. Kanji comes later but these are the basics to getting you started with reading and writing. Romaji is simply romanization (or English writing) of Japanese characters. Personally, I wouldn’t become dependant on romaji, you will see it used at times in Japan and it is helpful to know but if your goal is to learn Japanese you’ll want to avoid becoming dependant on it.
Below I’ll post the Hiragana and Katana character charts but you can easily find them just about anywhere online and in books.
Remember that the “R” row doesn’t sound like the English “R” nor does it sound exactly like the English “L” which some will suggest it does. It sounds more like a combination of both letters. A tip was given to me by a native Japanese speaker: Make both the “R” and “L” sounds and pay close attention to how your tongue sits in your mouth when you make the sounds then try positioning your tongue in between those spaces to make a combination sound. It’s tricky since it’s not a natural movement for many but with enough practice, you will get it in no time.
In terms of Kanji, we are talking thousands of characters. Don’t be discouraged though most places like schools, books, the JLPT have recommended Kanji to learn. There may be a lot but if you dedicate enough time and patience, learning them won’t seem so hard. Everyone has a different opinion on how to learn Kanji but mainly I suggest whatever works best for you personally.
So there you have it a simple introduction to the beginnings of the Japanese language.
September 2018 is going to be a big change for me and my family. After spending some time throughout the past year focusing on my mental health, I finally made the plunge and applied to university! I got accepted as a Mature Student and will being studying part-time to start out. The best part is that I’ll be taking East Asian Studies!!!! I’ve been very excited to start school and very nervous.
So I’ll be attending York University for my undergraduate degree. I’m positive that East Asian Studies will be my major but I’m also considering specializing in Japan. Obviously my language of choice will be Japanese. My career goals are to promote Japanese language and culture and possibly to work as a translator or interpreter. I’ve definitely got some big goals ahead of me but my family and friends definitely have my back and are there to support me 100 percent!
The biggest challenges I face are going back to school after such a long time away, learning to manage a student life and family life and keeping on track with my mental health so it doesn’t majorly interfere with my learning. Student Accessibility has been great in helping me (with my doctor’s recommendation) in setting up some accommodations to help me succeed in school.
I definitely believe people shouldn’t let anything stand in the way of pursuing their dreams. You may not do it all “as planned” but as long as you work hard and are flexible you can accomplish anything!
I’ve decided to begin posting about the various Japanese language books I currently own and use to study. I have a decent amount of books that are great for beginners to low-intermediate. I haven’t used all of them yet but as I go through them I’ll provide my opinions of the books and whether or not I would recommend them for study. This post will focus on the books ‘Minna no Nihongo’ みんなの日本語.
I personally enjoy using Minna no Nihongo as part of my studying. It’s full of different kinds of questions and exercises that increase in difficulty as you work through the book. The main textbook sits to the far left of the image and of course is the largest book. At the back of the main textbook there is answers to some of the questions so you can double check your own work. The yellow book is the grammar and translation notes that I would also recommend getting. They are available in various languages to help you along with the main text. Obviously you would purchase this book in your native language. Mine is in English since I’m a native English speaker. The current edition includes the audio CD which is needed to complete the listening exercises. I believe the previous editions did not include the audio CD and you had to purchase them separately.
The entire set includes:
Minna no Nihongo Shokyu 1 Honsatsu
Translation and Grammatical Notes
Minna no Nihongo Shokyu 1 Hyojun Mondai-shi (workbook)
Minna no Nihongo Sentence Pattern Workbook
Minna no Nihongo Kanji Workbook 1
While not all the books are needed I personally like having them. I like the extra exercises that the other books provide and they compliment the lessons in the main text. If you are interested in picking these books up again I advise getting the Translation and Grammatical Notes book to go with the main text at the very least. It follows the same chapters in the main textbook to help you avoid confusion.
This image shows the second set of Minna no Nihongo Shokyu 2. Both sets are technically beginner level books however Shokyu 2 being harder than Shokyu 1. The Minna no Nihongo series does offer higher level books as well, I just personally haven’t gotten to the point of using them yet especially since I’m starting over with my studies. The sets beyond Shokyu 1 & 2 currently have not yet been revised and updated into a newer edition like these two but I believe the company that creates the books plan on updating the entire series over time. The updated editions had changes made to them to better and more accurately reflect modern Japanese.
So overall I would definitely recommend the Minna no Nihongo series to anyone learning Japanese. In my experience they work well in both classroom and independent study. If you are looking to purchase your own books you can always try buying from https://shop.whiterabbitjapan.com. This is the site where I purchase most of my books and their customer service is great.
We are already a few months into 2017 and I’ve been putting off studying for a while. Lately I’ve been dealing with some health issues which so far are not anything serious but almost always experiencing pain and discomfort to some degree make it hard to want to get back into the swing of things.
This past weekend my friend and I began discussing learning Japanese and our likes and dislikes of different books available to help us learn. It was great to chat about our different preferences in learning and really started to light that fire in me that makes me want to learn. So before bed tonight I dug out some textbooks and paper and got myself set up for tomorrow. Tomorrow afternoon I will be getting back into it.
I’m excited actually. I miss taking time out of my day to do this for myself.
Getting back on track to relearn everything I have forgotten has proved to be a bit difficult. Back when I was taking classes more regularly it was easier to study because you basically had a guideline on how and where to start.
So after a few failed attempts at just grabbing up some books I decided to go back and review my old course material. It was my best decision so far! Once going through some of my old notes I realized I remembered more than I thought however I still have a lot of work to do to get to the point where I can recall on what I’ve learned on my own during a conversation.
I never did forget Hiragana or Katakana and still remember some Kanji which is great and I have a pretty good start on a language book collection.
I personally enjoy the みんなの日本語 (Minna No Nihongo) textbooks and workbooks. I’ve also started using http://www.japanesepod101.com. I will probably do a post specifically on what materials and resources I have and personally like. If there is one thing I can suggest though is to start learning Hiragana and Katakana first! It’s really important when starting out to have the basics down so you can at least read the characters. Kanji and such will come later.