The Basics

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.

Hiragana

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Katakana

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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.

Good luck!

 

 

Starting University

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.

EUu44RWB_400x400So 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!

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Wish me luck!

Japan Crate *DokiDoki*

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Today I thought I would talk about something a bit more fun for those of you who like to see cute items from Japan. I’m sure some have already have heard of Japan Crate. It’s a subscription site where you pay monthly to receive a box or goods from Japan! The type of goods you get depend on your subscription choice. I just recently started the DokiDoki subscription and so far have gotten a parcel for July and August. Since I have a little girl at home I thought she would enjoy some of the things that would come with this subscription so we enjoy opening it together and sharing what is inside.

Here is a picture showing just some of the items (not all) that we have gotten in the past two months.

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Again there is a bit more that was included I just didn’t get a chance to photograph them. I personally enjoy the subscription and may even get another in the future for my husband. His subscription would be for the すごい (sugoi) Crate because he loves trying new snacks. They have other types as well. If you enjoy trying out new beauty products they have the KiraKira Crate and if you love noodles they also have the Umai Crate.

If you’re interested in checking it out for yourself you can head on over to www.japancrate.com and have a look. I’m pretty sure you can cancel your subscription at anytime if you find you don’t enjoy the service. Also if you are trying it out for the first time I suggest heading to www.groupon.com since they sometimes have deals on first time subscribers. Just make sure to read all the instructions first to make sure you use the deal correctly.

So is there any fun ways you like to try out items from Japan? Feel free to comment any tips, suggestions or advice!

Enjoy!

Current Language Books Part 1

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.

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First set of Minna no Nihongo みんなの日本語 (current edition)

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.

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Second set of Minna no Nihongo みんなの日本語 (current edition)

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.

 

Happy Studying!