Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Is something slowing down your learning?

In my other post I said that people have no excuse not to be learning Japanese. While I don't resend this comment         
( though it was made at 3 or 4 am ), I want to acknowledge that because we often have so many resources it can become overwhelming.

Books, Apps, video's, courses. ...ect...blogs..

What you need to do break down the resources into what us essential for your learning

1. Dictionary  ( For beginners i suggest a phone application such as Jsho because it translates both ways, for advanced students keep in tune for my advanced study guide list.

2. A book or application that focuses only on kanji. I'll be putting up a list for this.

3. A grammar text book or guide I'll be dropping you essential and advanced grammar over the next few weeks.

4. Something to see the application if the language : choose one japanese television series, anime without subtitles (raw), manga without translation, a text book for speaking,  YouTube channel for japanese, listening apps/ audio work your way through ine then move onto another.

Keep updated for a detailed list on my recommended resources.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Why do people fail to learn Japanese (And languages in general)

I think a big part of teaching a language that often gets neglected is why people fail or don't achieve what they were hoping for or even give up.

  1. A big mistake in trying to learn a new language, is not understanding the fundamentals and grammar of your own language. People assume if you can speak a language it's the same as understanding it. If I'm trying to say a sentence in another language if I don't even understand how that sentence works in my own language , how can I expect to say that sentence in another language? Conjugate this! IS this the passive form? What's the present perfect? While I'm not suggesting for learners to become scholars in their own language you need to understand basic grammatical language!

    2. My way of studying or the high way- I've studied with various Japanese students and teachers as well as English. While natives can offer unparalleled expertise in he or shes language don't assume that the way they teach you is the only way. Whilst Japan do have a more regulated form of learning language than the west. IF you were not born in Japan that style of learning just might not work for you! Incorporate if you can ! But develop it to suit your needs!

    3. Proactive learners are the fastest learners: IF you're not getting better you're getting worse! Sounds harsh but it has some truth. Television, books, comics, lessons, groups ,pen pals, meet up..with the internet there really is no reason you can't be learning Japanese.

    勉強すれば 勉強するほど上手になります。

    (benkyou sureba benkyou suru hodo jyouzu ni narimasu).

    The more you study, the better you get.


Japanese alphabet system

When I talk to people about learning Japanese.. 

there seems to be a very western response to learning languages like japanese.. the immediate "Oh that's so difficult!" or "Isn't that completely the opposite to English?" However this is a misconception and Japanese is actually one of the easier Asian language systems to learn!

The Japanese alphabet is divided into four main writing systems:
1.) Hiragana  ひらがな
2.)Katakana カタカナ
3.)Kanji 漢字
4.)Romanji (English)

Whilst this may seem intimidating you'll find that there are a lot of overlaps and the simplity of japanese grammer and pronunciation in comparision to English more than compensates.

  • ひらがな Hiragana 
  • Hiragana is the fundamentally the key alphabet in Japanese and the alphabet you'll most urgently need to learn. While all the other alphabets can be substituted with hiragana, it remains as the building block to Japanese writing. Hirgana can be used to  create any sentence but this doesn't happen (See Kanji for why). The most common use of hiragana is for pronunciation and the expression of grammar such as articles 'A', 'The' and preposition 'To' and 'from' ect..As hiragana is a derivative of kanji you can see aspects of it repeated in the use of kanji.
  • カタカナ Katakana
  • Katakana has become more commonly used in the Japanese language over the last hundred years. As the use of katakana is reserved mostly for incorporating foreign words into Japanese, it wasn't used until western culture became more influential in Japan. While you often won't need it for basic learning, you'll find names, places and universally common nouns are now spelled out in katakana. Katakana is also a derivative of kanji and as you become more familiar with kanji you'll notice katakana is nearly identical to kanji radicals (Radicals -see kanji)
  • 漢字 Kanji
  • Kanji is considered to be the root of all other Japanese alphabets, it's literal translation is Chinese characters. I you're familiar with Cantonese or to a lesser extent mandarin you'll know that pictorially the characters are identical. However the meaning of Japanese and Chinese characters even if identical can be different. Kanji is the culmination of several smaller radicals or strokes that form one unit. Each line or stroke is a pictorial reference to a word and these radicals put together combined to make more complex meanings. By learning hiragana or katakana you will essentially be learning aspects of kanji but in order to be able to truly write in Japanese kanji is essential. Kanji is used to signify nouns, pronouns and verbs..basically everything but the exception of grammar particles (or articles if you prefer). If you are truly dedicated to Japanese, you'll be unable to level up without knowledge of basic kanji principles.
  • Romanji
  • I've included romanji in lists because it's not always explained in Japanese language studies even though at beginner level it is the most consistently used. This again can be literally translated as 'roman characters' in other words how we write Japanese in using English letters. This guide will be using romanji in order to introduce the Japanese basics!
Hiragana chart ひらがな字

this charts shows the hiragana characters and a kanji example beside