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Authors: Simon Reynolde

How to Learn Japanese

BOOK: How to Learn Japanese
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How to Learn Japanese

Copyright 2007 by Simon Reynolds
All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be used, reproduced or transmitted in any manner whatsoever—electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any system of storing and retrieving information—without written permission from the publisher, except for brief quotations embodied in reviews.
Email:
[email protected]
Website:
http://sprstrikesback.googlepages.com/home
Manufactured in the U.K.
First Edition: 2007
Book and cover design by Simon Reynolds and Yuka Reynolds

TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.
WHY LEARN JAPANESE? 4

2.
LEARNING TO LEARN 5
l
Where to start
l
Should I learn to read and write Japanese?
l
Approaches to learning 6
l
Finding a teacher
l
Language schools
l
Language exchange 7
l
Self-study
l
Self study tips
l
Building vocabulary 8
l
Learning grammar
l
Listening 9
l
What did you say?
l
Speaking 10
l
Confidence
l
Less is more
l
Tips on starting a conversation
l
Get out of jail free 11
l
Troubleshooting
l
Slang
l
Practice
l
Writing

3.
PERFECTING PRONUNCIATION 13
l
Vowel sounds
l
Intonation
l
Thinking in syllables
l
Small
tsu
l
Dots and circles
l
Combined syllables 14
l
Su
l
Ha
and
he
l
Common mistakes
l
Homonyms 15
l
Pronunciation practice

4.
WRITING RIGHT 17
l
Stroke order
l
Learning the
kana
l
Flashcards
l
Installing Japanese fonts on your computer
l
Learning
Kanji
18
l
How many
kanji
do I need?
l
Approaches to learning
kanji
l
Component analysis AKA the fast track
l
Using the internet 19
l
Learning the pronunciations
l
Kanji
town 20
l
Kanji
game
l
Buying a
kanji
dictionary
l
Starting to read
l
Audio books 21
l
More reading on the web
l
Japanese tests
l
JLPT
l
J-test 22
l
Kanji
test

5.
BOOK REVIEWS 23
l
Textbooks
l
Kanji Dictionaries 24
l
Kanji
l
Grammar 25
l
Verbs 26
l
Adjectives
l
Particles
l
Miscellaneous

6.
MUST SEE MOVIES!
28
l
Seven Samurai
l
Tampopo
l
Woman in the Dunes
l
Kagemusha
l
Rashomon
l
A Taxing Woman
l
Ran
l
Spirited Away
l
Howl's Moving Castle

7.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR 29
Why learn Japanese?

Japan has a fantastically rich culture, wonderful people and the latest technology to say nothing of the great food and shopping. You may already be set on going to Japan and know that learning Japanese is what you want to do. Others may just want to visit for a short time. It's possible to enjoy a very comfortable life in Japan even without English but learning some of the language will definitely improve the experience a great deal.

Even those who for some reason do not intend to visit Japan may still gain from studying the language. I believe that almost everyone can benefit from learning a foreign language and that budding linguists could do a lot worse than choose to learn Japanese. It will certainly give you a whole new perspective on English. Your CV will stand out from the crowd of Spanish speakers. I use my Japanese to communicate with my wife, follow martial arts, read and watch
manga
and even to read basic Chinese signs. It's surprising how useful it is.

Learning Japanese is immensely rewarding and not as difficult as people think, providing you approach it correctly. When I went to Japan to work as an English teacher in 2001 I remember expecting to pick up Japanese within 6 months or so. With hindsight, this was rather naïve of me considering I had never gotten very far with the languages I had studied at school (or most of the other subjects either!). I was confident that before long I would be impressing everyone with my new-found language skills and that upon my triumphant return to Britain I would be able to answer “yes” to anyone asking if I spoke Japanese.

6 months later and my Japanese had not progressed much. Little wonder; I was battling with long working hours, English speaking friends, lack of academic discipline, expensive yet inefficient Japanese classes and general linguistic ineptitude. I did have two things in my favour: I liked studying
kanji
and I refused to give up. Eventually, I found study methods that worked for me and went on to pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Test level 1 in 2005. If I had known in 2001 what I know now, the journey would have been a lot easier.

With this book, it is my intention to pass on this hard-won knowledge to help you avoid the many pitfalls of learning Japanese and give you the tools to reach a high standard much quicker than I did. The Japanese themselves do not usually wish each other luck but rather say
ganbatte
(do your best
). Ganbatte
and good luck on your quest!

Learning to learn

Language learning can be divided into four interrelated skills. The active skills: speaking and writing, and the passive skills: reading and listening. The active skills are considered harder to acquire than the passive ones i.e. listening is easier than speaking, reading is easier than writing although this is not always the case. With Japanese, the writing system is quite complicated which also plays a part.

All four skills are built upon vocabulary and knowledge of grammar however, they will each need to be developed in different ways.
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