Part of the problem with this is that we all learn so differently. I remember way back, I had about a zillion people recommend a book to me. It was pretty expensive, but everyone kept saying it was the most amazing way to learn kanji. So I bought it...and found that it was utterly useless to me. The problem was not that the book was bad, but it didn't fit my style of learning at all. What it did was make cute little story out of the kanji characters, and use the stories to teach you the pronunciation and how to write it. I couldn't learn a thing from it! I hate mnemonic devices, because I learn by pure memorization and them I
have to memorize the actual thing and also the stupid mnemonic device. ^_^ And I'm not visually inclined, so I never saw the bird in a tree or whatever thing the book came up with.
I started with a basic workbook on katakana and hiragana until I had those mostly memorized. (I still mix up a few now and again.) Then I started to read manga and just kept looking stuff up in dictionaries based on the hiragana next to the kanji. I learn mostly by context, so the rules of grammar just sort of fell into place (except -nara and -ba/i endings and other conditionals, which took me years to figure out.) When I see a kanji many times I stop, make myself recognize and remember it and move on. So, my way of learning is annoying and unique to me and I can't suggest anything helpful.
I will say this - once you have a basic grasp of grammar and characters, don't be afraid to read way past your abilities. And don't bother with children's
books - everything is in hiragana and katakana, so without the context you'd have from having people around you speaking, it's actually harder to learn from those than books with kanji - which at least give you a very specific set of meanings to chose from.
Date: Tue, 10 May 2011 00:27:52 -0700
Subject: Re: [Yuricon] Suggestions for Learning Japanese
It might be hard to find books for beginners that mainly focus on reading, but perhaps they are out there.
For learning kana I started out with ’kana de manga’. It didn’t do that much for me in regard to memorizing the characters, but it’s good for learning how to write once you got them memorized (or as part of the process). And it’s inexpensive. I combined it with realkana.com - simple exercises designed for memorization. They also have a 'Kanji de Manga' series.
In my class we use ‘Japanese for Busy People’ because book one has a Romanized version so you can learn the basics of grammar and
vocabulary before the actual reading/writing. This of course has its problems, but if you take care to also focus on learning the kana you should be ok. The Romanized version also has kana.
My teacher says it isn’t anywhere near as good as ‘Genki’ and ‘Minna no Nihongo’, but her experience is that too many students give up with the other books since we only have one class a week – almost self study. It’s mainly geared towards being able to communicate while working in (or visiting) Japan, but you can’t avoid learning to read along the way. Also, it’s not as expensive as ‘Genki’ and ‘Minna no Nihongo’.
‘Japanese for Young People’ is also good for self study I heard. Same price level as
‘Japanese for Busy People’.
Combine it, or whichever book you end up with, with web resources like livemocha.com (free lessons like ‘Rosetta Stone’, but recently I have been receiving an increasing amount of spam messages from them!), or japanese.about.com.
--- On Mon, 5/9/11, Val <szeweii@...> wrote:
From: Val <szeweii@...>
Subject: [Yuricon] Suggestions for Learning
Date: Monday, May 9, 2011, 2:37 PM
Can anybody suggest some ways to learn Japanese that doesn't involve taking formal classes? I would like to learn both spoken and written Japanese, though I think I'd rather focus on the reading first.
Perhaps someone can suggest some helpful books to get me started?