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First Time Learning Japanese

Discussion in 'Learning Japanese' started by Hikaru, May 19, 2017.

  1. Hikaru

    Hikaru Registered

    Hello everyone. I am new to this forum and so far, have found it quite useful. I went to Japan for the first time last year and had such a good time that I’m now learning Japanese for another trip later this year. My preference would have been to take classes from a local community/junior college and receive a more traditional academic approach to the language. However, the schedule didn’t work out so instead I am now taking a class offered by the Japanese Society of Northern California, in San Francisco. I’m not too crazy about what and how we learn in this class, mainly because it’s geared for working people who need to learn it quickly, rather than taking a more pragmatic approach. As a result, we sometimes learn things out of order or skip certain things. The classes are 12 weeks long and use a book called “Japanese for Busy People” I’m now in their beginning level 2 class and can comfortably read both Katakan and Hiragana, form very simple sentences to introduce myself, talk about where I’m going and where I come from, ask for things, count, identify days, date, month, tell time, etc., and have a small vocabulary of mainly terms a traveler or working person would need to know. I believe they do not introduce kanji until level 3.

    At the conclusion of this level 2 class I would probably further along than a level 1 college course, but probably not good enough for a level 2 college course, which more or less commits me to the Japan Society course program rather than switching over to the college route. Regardless I am interested in purchasing a college text to supplement my current class, so I can see what I’m missing out on from a more traditional course program. City College of San Francisco uses a book called Nihongo Gambaroo, which I believe might be published by the college and I can’t find it for sale online. The book I see most frequently recommended online for use as a college text is the Genki series. I will most likely get this one. For now, I have a question regarding what the standard, traditional (if there even is one) method for foreigners learning Japanese is. Do most establishments teach all the kana first, then introduce simple verbs, nouns, sentence structure, all in kana? Or, is kana taught concurrently with romanji to use as a learning tool? And how does learning kanji fit in?

  2. mdchachi

    mdchachi Moderator

    My first textbook was Japanese for Busy people over 20 years ago in university. Frankly I'm surprised it's still used. In hindsight it would have been better to start with more hiragana/katakana and less romaji. But I suppose if they did that a bunch of people would find it more difficult and drop the class. I guess it makes sense that it would still be used in your context, since, as you say, the class is kind of a cram course for people who probably won't continue their learning.
    Anyway I can't answer your question about current day teaching methods. Hopefully somebody else will chime in with that info.
  3. Majestic

    Majestic 先輩

    Learning hiragana is typically the first step to learning Japanese. This is also how Japanese kids learn to read and write: they start out with hiragana. Katakana follows that. Romaji is very useful in helping non-native beginners get used to Japanese words. Most people would find it challenging to start without any sort of crutch. Having said that, once you learn hiragana, you are ready to discard the training wheels of romaji.
    Japanese kids are gradually taught kanji. Here is a link to some tables that show which kanji kids are supposed to learn during each school year.
    If you are ready to start learning more (ahead of the rest of the class) then go for it.

    Maybe your class is intended to teach people primarily how to speak Japanese, and so there is more emphasis on the sounds of spoken Japanese, rather than the writing systems. If this is the case, make the best of it and study the writing systems on your own.
  4. Hikaru

    Hikaru Registered

    Thanks for the help! Those tables are great. Yeah, I'm going to have to do a lot of self study outside of the class.

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